Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime I’d Like to See Rebooted

Clearly this list is just a personal wish list. Essentially, there’s a lot of anime out there with great premises and interesting ideas, but so many anime just don’t make use of that potential or end really badly. Like, incredibly train derailed into mountain pass before sliding into a chasm badly. So this is my wish list of 5 anime I feel could be really amazing if redone (and by that I don’t mean following the manga or other source material more closely, but I mean they actually think about the story they want to tell and just tell it without all the clutter or distractions and with a clear purpose and end point).

I’d love to know what is on your wish list for anime reboots so please leave a comment below.

Please Note – There will be spoilers below.

Honourable mentions this week go to Higurashi, Sword Art Online, and Gilgamesh.

Number 5: Vampire Knight

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As much as I have mocked vampire knight when talking about it (the anime version of Twilight) there is actually something quite interesting about the idea of a vampire hunter starting a school where humans and vampires co-exist. And the pure blooded vampire with his own agenda living at the school is kind of interesting. As is the child of the hunter family who has been bitten by a vampire and is slowly turning into one. I’d love to see this story redone with a little more focus on the darker aspects and a little less on Yuki’s indecisive love triangle (okay, every Vampire Knight fan now hates me).

Number 4: Claymore

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I really loved Claymore. Until we got to the end which was rushed and inconclusive. Seriously. This is a great concept for a story and the characters are interesting. The world building was well done. Why did we get that ending? I’d love this anime to be redone with a clear focus on where it is going and an actual ending.

Number 3: Fruits Basket

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My issue with this one is I did go and read the manga. The story in the anime was so inconclusive. We still knew nothing about the curse or why Akito was such a psycho or anything. There’s so many interesting characters and the central story around the Souma family is fascinating but the anime is happy to just follow Honda around on her daily life. Reboot please with the focus on the cursed family. It may not be the happy healing experience that the current anime is, but there’s definitely a good story to tell here.

Number 2: Soul Eater

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Soul Eater has been showing up a lot lately. As much as I love this anime, that ending was bad. Inexcusably bad. That and there’s probably a lot of padding that the series could afford to lose. I’d love to see a much tighter focus on the main villain rather than all the other villains they face off against and actually just watch the students and teachers prepare for and fight that battle. It would be different but I think the show could really benefit from a much stronger focus and a conclusion that doesn’t leave people stunned by how lame it is.

Number 1: Bleach

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It had to be. As much as I am in love with Bleach as a series and as much as Bleach is a big part of the reason I became an anime fan as an adult, there are some real issues with Bleach as a story because of its excessive length, scope, and endless rounds of filler. Now that the manga is finished can we decide what the main point of the story is and just tell that story. 50 episodes. Bleach in 50 episodes. Really trim everything unnecessary from the mix and just tell the core story with the characters you actually need. I would absolutely love to see this. Either that or give Hitsugaya his own show. I’d be pretty happy with that (joking – kind of).

Okay, so over to you. What would you like to see rebooted?


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Tuesday’s Top 5: Visually Appealing Anime Titles

One thing  I learned absolutely while trying to write this list is I have a clear taste when it comes to how a series title should look on screen. Basically anime titles fall into three categories for me. Completely forgettable, eye-sore, or nailed it. There’s very little middle ground. The ones in the list below are titles that stuck in my mind long after I finished watching the show. They are iconic without being crazy busy with details. More importantly, they fit the show that they are preparing you for. As always this list is very subjective so I’d love to hear your choices on anime titles that have visual appeal and why in the comments below.

Please Note – Probably no spoilers this week.

Honourable mentions go to: Vampire Knight, Blood Lad and Tsubasa Chronicles. Though from more recent titles, 91 Days was pretty impressive and probably deserves a spot on the list below.

Number 5: Sailor Moon (1990’s)

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Alright, it doesn’t look like much these days but back when I first saw this anime the opening song and the final shot with the girls striking a pose behind the title really left an impression. You have the main cast, including the cats (even before all the characters were introduced so you knew who was coming), you’ve got the crescent moon in both the sky and behind the title, you have the love heart over the I, and the weird spot light on the scouts with the rest of the background detail left kind of hazy but still quite pretty. By my tastes today, I probably wouldn’t think too much of this title, but the lingering impression it left forced me to concede this title serves an absolute purpose in appealing to the target audience of the show so it deserved a place on my list.

Number 4: Another

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There’s definitely something to be said about simplicity and Another get’s it right. Basic red on black is pretty standard, particularly for horror, but the letter design and arrangement, all just that little bit off, adds to the general creepiness of what you are about to watch.

Number 3: Evangelion

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When I first thought of this topic for a list, I believed Evangelion would end up being my number 1 choice however when I looked closely at each of the titles in my short list, it just didn’t quite measure up. Much like Sailor Moon, this one has the advantage of me watching it when I hadn’t watched a lot of anime, and it left a lasting impression so even as I look critically at it now, I remember the genuine sense of excitement that title used to invoke in me. Okay, it’s simple text but the colour choice and composition are striking enough to draw you in and the general feeling of a whole bunch of things mashed together kind of fits the story you watch unfold.

Number 2: Attack on Titan

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I’ll be the first person to admit, I’m not actually that big of a fan of Attack on Titan. I really enjoyed it and the first episode really did make me sit up and take notice but by the end of season one I found the whole thing to be slowly losing momentum. That doesn’t stop the title being very visually appealing and the promotional posters for this anime, with the title centred and the whole thing causing our eyes to sweep from Eren in the front all the way to the looming giant at the top just works (incidentally this one promotional poster that came with a DVD that I actually have up on a wall because I really enjoy looking at it). The title itself isn’t the most flashy, but it is distinct enough in its choice of font that it is instantly recognisable on any of the promotional materials and is hard to miss when you run your eyes over the spines of many DVD’s.

Number 1: Bleach

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Okay, don’t start prepping all your reasons why I am wrong. This title screams what the show is, which is larger than life. More importantly, this basic text title with it’s red, white and blue colour scheme is absolutely recognisable and stands out from the crowd. The flames out the side frame it perfectly. The whole thing is fun and not taking itself overly seriously while at the same time making you feel there’s something more to it.

Bleach actually gets a double hit here because in addition to the series title being iconic every single episode gets it’s own eye-catching thematically appropriate episode title screen. Preparing you for the episode to come in both subject matter and tone (even if you don’t get it when you see it at the start of the episode by the end you’ll know exactly why the title looked like that). Eventually I’ll do a top 5 list of episode titles for Bleach because they have some very cool designs.

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Alright, over to you. What anime titles have grabbed your attention?


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Tuesday’s Top 5: Male Characters With Gorgeous Long Hair

While I try not to write too many posts about the physical characteristics of characters, this was a list I’ve wanted to write for awhile. Long hair on guys is just kind of amazing (or at least I think so). And when it billows in the wind and invites you to run your fingers through it, there’s just something really magical about that. Here are my top 5 characters with gorgeous long hair who I would absolutely love to spend some time with. Yes, this list is entirely my own personal preference and uses no criteria worth mentioning.

And then for patrons, be sure to check out my lesser top 5 list. This week focussing on male characters who have long hair but still don’t really impress and I’d rather not get too near.

Please Note – There will be spoilers below (particularly number 4).

Honourable mentions this week go to: Edward Elric (Full Metal Alchemist) and Malachite (Sailor Moon).

Number 5: Kanda (D Gray Man)

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I’ll admit there is very little chance of Kanda actually letting me touch his hair even if he wasn’t an anime character and if I happened to meet him, but that doesn’t stop me very much wanting too. That glossy shine, the way it moves when he fights, his hair is amazing and completely sold this character even early on in D Gray Man when he was a bit of a jerk (okay, he’s regularly a jerk but he kind of grows on you).

Number 4: Weismann (K Project)

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This one is an odd choice I’ll admit given we barely get to meet this character in his actual body (which would be the long haired version). A few flashbacks are really all we get and the next time we meet this character with memories he’s in Yashiro’s undeniably short haired (not too short) body. Still, you have to admit his hair is just kind of inviting you to touch it.

Number 3: Tomoe (Kamisama Kiss)

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Another character who doesn’t usually have long hair but the few times he does, it is unbelievably gorgeous. It almost makes you wish for more flashback episodes just so you could see more of Tomoe with this hair. Plus the ears kind of work. Then again, he was pretty violent then so maybe we should just stick to present day Tomoe.

Number 2: Shichika Yasuri (Katanagatari)

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He may not be the sharpest tool in the shed but Shichika is honest, earnest, and deadly. Combine that with some odd but strangely compelling fashion sense and a great hairstyle (albeit one that cannot really exist outside of an anime) and you have a character that is going to fascinate from minute one.

Number 1: Zangetsu (Bleach)

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I know, so many characters in Bleach with long hair, and so many anime characters, so why choose Zangetsu? Because his hair matches the torn and scrappy edges of his outfit, because its almost always windy when we see him, because of all the characters on the list his would be the closest to a hairstyle you might be able to encounter in the real world… Mostly just because I really love his hair.

Okay, and a total cheat bonus addition to the list. Victor from Yuri On Ice (from when his hair was actually long).

So that is my list this week. Which anime male with long hair would you have had on your list? Or female if you prefer.


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Friday’s Feature: We’ve Got a Problem Here – Man vs Man

For the month of March I’ve decided I’m going to focus on the negative. Quite literally. I’m going to focus my features this month on exploring types of conflict in stories using examples from anime. To start off with I decided to go with the most straight forward: Man vs Man.

Or Human vs Human.

Or Alien Robot Thing vs Interstellar Goop.

Whatever works for you. What’s improtant about this type of conflict is that there are at least two sides each represented by a character or group of characters. Pretty much every Gundam series ever nails this type of conflict by setting up different factions with conflicting agendas and then the story sits back and waits for the inevitible chaos.

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This type of conflict works for a few simple reasons.

01. Generally the goals fo the opposing forces are known and clear. This guy wants to save the girl that the other guy kidnapped. That army wants to overrun that land and the army over there wants to stop them. This girl is going to hunt down the guy who killed her father and return the favour, meanwhile the guy doesn’t want to die. Whether the audience sees all perspectives or not is irrelevant. We pretty much know who is who and what they want.

02. Because the characters have opposing goals, they are moving toward each other and the story pushes them into conflict adding excitement and tension to the story. Basically, because they all want things, they are actively seeking them out and this gives plenty of opportunities for interactions, skirmishes, surprise ambushes, negotiations, or any of dozens of other things that could make the story interesting.

03. People get it. They face conflict with other people every single day so when they see a character getting blocked from achieving their goal they can relate. They also get really happy when the ‘bad’ guy gets taken down because it gives them some vicarious satisfaction that somehow their obstacles will eventually get mowed down.

How does this work in anime?

Like most medium for story telling anime has done pretty much everything imaginable with this particular theme however where we see it most obviously is in action anime.

Case 1: Bleach (Not yet reviewed)

While there are other types of conflict driving the events of Bleach from time to time (with over 300 episodes you would hope it was more complex than he stole my chewing gum), the story continues to come back to the idea of man vs man.

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In the early seasons, Ichigo literally works his way up through increasingly stronger opponents to reach his goal of saving Rukia. It’s why the first seasons of Bleach are incredibly satisfying. After a season of learning how to kind of be a shinigami, Ichigo has a simple goal placed in front of him. Save Rukia from execution in Soul Society. The audience gets this, they respect that goal, and most of the viewers want to see Ichigo succeed.

However, the various shinigami of Soul Society don’t want Ichigo to succeed (and yes we do cross a little into Man vs Society but for the most part Ichigo isn’t focussed on bringing the society down, just the next opponent standing in front of him). The shinigami he faces have a variety of motivations, which ultimately keep the story interesting, but their goal is simple. Stop the intruder. Once again, the audience gets this goal. Ichigo has barged into a world he doesn’t belong in and is disrupting things. It makes sense that those who live there are choosing to defend it.

ichigo-v-ikkaku

Ichigo vs Ikkaku is a great example of this. While Ikkaku isn’t exactly the hard working drone of society, he does love a good fight and Ichigo more or less falls into his lap (which results in the lucky dance, and please let us never remember that). I like this battle for a few reasons. Ichigo isn’t yet ridiculously overpowered and it really is just grit and determination that keep him from being seriously killed (that and Ikkaku isn’t really being too serious which costs him). I also like Ichigo’s logic as to why he chooses to fight rather than run, as a certain other character did. His decision to stand and fight wasn’t totally pig-headed for once but rather a simple understanding that if Ikkaku was stronger than him, running was not going to help. Ichigo essentially has to cut Ikkaku down in order to continue his quest to save Rukia because Ikkaku is not going to back away from this fight.

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However, it is Ichigo vs Byakuya that most clearly expresses this idea of opposing goals. Byakuya is 100% convinced that he must follow the law and so has personally made it his absolute duty to ensure Rukia’s execution is carried out in accordance to the law, even though she’s his adopted sister. This fight is one of the best in Bleach and comes as Ichigo’s power is really coming into its own. What really works about this conflict is that we’ve seen these two characters coming toward each other for quite some time and we knew by this time that neither character could or would back down. While the outcome is kind of obvious, it is definitely a fight worth watching, although you are advised to watch out for cheesy shonen dialogue being shouted mid-battle.

Case 2: Death Note (Not yet reviewed)

Alright, let’s take the swords, bows, and other pointy weapons away and look at this type of conflict in a more modern setting. Modern but with a note book that can kill you. Arguably, Light and L absolutely define the man vs man conflict. From the contrasting blue and red colours they are painted in during the opening to their declaration that they both represent justice (and cannot both be right) everything about Death Note pits these two against each other. There are other characters hunting Kira down but we all know that this story revolves around these two characters and the mind games they play with one another.

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What works particularly well about this story is that both characters have strengths and weaknesses. L has the power of the police and large information networks for much of the story meanwhile he is missing the crucial bit of information he needs. That is, he doesn’t know about the existence of the Death Note and even once that is revealed he is given false information as to how it works which throws him off. Light on the other hand has access to police information, knowledge of the notebook and death gods, but has a massive ego and tends to act rashly when provoked.

Watching these two maneuvre around each other and manipulate situations to try to get more information is truly fantastic and one of the best man vs man conflicts I’ve watched. What is really fascinating is that you honestly don’t know which side you want to see win. Yes, Kira is a mass-murderer and Light progressively becomes more unhinged as the story goes on (or was always unhinged and finally revealed it). But, he is taking out criminals and the world is changing. More importantly, we spend time with Light early on and he’s a charming character. While you probably wouldn’t want to meet him in real life, as a character you are sympathetic to his cause and as he is arguable the protagonist of the duo he is kind of the one you are positioned to stand behind. L on the otherhand is introduced later and it takes a fair while before he becomes anything more than an intriguing idea in the story. By the time you warm up to him, it is hard to really want his victory even though technically you know Light should be stopped.

I won’t spoil how this ends for those who haven’t seen it but it is definitely a story to check out.

Conclusion

While man vs man might seem like an overused plot line, when used well it can be highly effective and entertaining. That doesn’t stop lazy writing from causing some big problems. Like what happens when there is no opposition worth noting or the opposition exists but you don’t really know why they care about stopping the protagonist. We see this a lot in romantic storylines where a girl will declare herself a rival but other than being painful they serve no point in the story and mostly we all just wish they would go away so we could focus on the actual relationship and its genuine drama rather than plot contrived ones (not looking at Orange).

So let’s open this up. I’d love to hear what your favourite man vs man conflict in an anime is and why.


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3 Day Quote Challenge – Day 3

So this is the end of the 3 day challenge. If you missed days 1 and 2 (book quotes and movie quotes) you should definitely check them out. Today I’m sharing 3 of my favourite anime quotes to end the challenge. I’m not nominating anyone but if you want to take part the challenge is 3 quotes a day for 3 days and nominate 3 people per day.

My quotes today:

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(Bleach)

Quote - anime2.png

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Challenge completed now. I really had fun with this as I really like thinking about quotes from various stories.

Tuesday’s Top 5: Annoying Anime Tropes

While we all know that there are some clichés in anime that just won’t go away (girl running to school with toast in mouth, guy falling on girl and hand accidentally landing…) we all have to admit there are some tropes that we just wish would disappear. This is my list of the 5 common tropes that annoy me and I’d love to hear yours in the comments. No criteria this week other than personal annoyance.

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

Honourable mentions to weird shot types, dense MC’s, pretty much anything from a harem anime, and the skinny guy that can eat the entire pantry bare.

Number 5: The School Idol or Prince

I don’t know if this is a cultural thing or whether this is an anime thing, but having an entire school of girls fawning over one guy to the point where they make pacts and sign agreements not to date him or speak with him unless there is someone else there just strikes me as ridiculous. It’s impossible to take this character seriously or any of the fan club for that matter. What really surprises me is how many anime this comes up in. While highschool based animes aren’t my favourites the few I can think of instantly are Kazehaya (Kimi ni Tadoke), Yuki (Fruits Basket), Kuran Kaname (Vampire Knight), and even Rem (Dance with Devils)

Number 4: Characters having lengthy discussions about their attack techniques mid-battle

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You know what, we get that your power is awesome and amazing and that we may not quite get exactly what you are doing without the explanation but, I’m kind of certain no winning strategy in history involved giving a detailed description of your power to the enemy. This is an ongoing annoyance for me in anime as it seems like if the audience had to know how that power worked we probably should have prior to the battle, and if it wasn’t that important all that dialogue is doing is slowing down the pace. Bleach is my main example of this one but honestly, I really would like to gag some characters in some of the fight sequences I’ve watched.

Number 3: The stuttered confession

I get that being too direct in Japanese is kind of rude but why are so many characters unable to express how they feel when they are alone with the person they like. Seriously? From Edward in Full Metal Alchemist, Kadoka in Haganai, to Tomoe in Kamisama Kiss, these characters avoid, use pretext, out right run-away, or divert the issue rather than just give or receive a straight confession. Not to mention the slew of girls running around with love letters that never get delivered or are pushed into shoe lockers to be detonated (Full Metal Panic style).

Number 2: The club is going to get shut down

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Oh the horror. We might have to join another club or find somewhere else to hang out because if we don’t have X members by X date we’ll lose our room. While in a slice of life or comedy anime this is all well and good as something to get the characters moving it is hardly sufficient conflict to build an entire show around. Equally irritating is the we want to start a club but we don’t have enough members. While we’re at it, why do so many clubs seem to not actually follow their purpose and just have students hanging out?

Number 1: The protagonist wins the fight because they are the protagonist

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I know that this is true of all stories and not just anime but when the protagonist pulls out a deus ex machina mid-fight it really kind of kills any reason to care about any of the events up until that point. If they had this mysterious power or ability why didn’t they use it earlier?  I know that some anime try to give their protagonists reasons for being unkillable overpowered fighting machines but really this is a bit of a contrivance and sometimes could be avoided just by showing the character build up to that point or maybe making the villain just a little less unkillable. While I don’t normally throw rocks at SAO this is probably my biggest complaint about the first arc. Yeah, they foreshadow that the game is a game and therefore is subject to cheats and that the human spirit might be able to overcome some of the limitations but I don’t think that justifies not dying when your health bar runs out. However, Kirito is not alone in the list or protagonists who really should have just dropped dead mid-battle.

So that’s my list of annoying anime tropes. The thing is, an anime could have some or all of these tropes and still be fairly entertaining to watch. Just having a cliché doesn’t mean that the entire story is derivative or dull. However, sometimes anime leans just a little to heavily on these tropes to fill in for actual character development or plot and that’s when it become a touch annoying.

Tuesday’s Top 5: Bleach Characters

Much like my Top 5 Sailor Scouts, it was kind of inevitable that I’d eventually do a list for Bleach (and trust me favourite Captain, best attack, best fight sequence, worst joke, and several other options have been considered and written down for future posts because Bleach is one of those anime that I just can’t leave alone). It seemed reasonable for my first Bleach list to focus on just my top 5 favourite characters from the show. That said, those of you who have followed my blog for a while will already know my 1 and 2 as they’ve appeared in other lists before (but the question is which order did I put them in when I made this list). The thing is, with such a huge cast, narrowing this list down was actually kind of difficult.

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

Honourable mentions go to Rukia Kuchiki, Renji Abarai, Ulquiorra, Aizen, Grimmjow Jaggerjack, and Urahara.

Number 5:  Soi Fon

Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that Soi Fon’s personality stinks, but as a character she’s kind of fun. Her desperate and clingy nature early on disguised very thinly by loathing for Yoruichi eventually passed and what we have is a fairly capable leader who isn’t above underhanded methods if it means success. Also, her weapon is fairly interesting even in a show full of strange and interesting weapons. Not the ridiculously large and overpowered kind, hers requires a lot of skill and precision to maximise the effect (okay, later they go for ridiculously large but it is Bleach). It lends itself to a different kind of battle and that makes Soi Fon stand out from the crowd. Possibly the worst thing for Soi Fon though is she is a background character and that means that she doesn’t win all that many fights. That must be all manner of frustrating for a perfectionist like her.

Number 4: Hollow Ichigo

So much cooler and more interesting than Ichigo on most occasions, Ichigo’s Inner Hollow is hilarious and terrifying (usually at the same time). Whether he is taunting Ichigo inside, giving him vague clues to his power, or just taking over and over-powering Ichigo’s enemies, an appearance by Hollow Ichigo is always exciting and definitely entertaining. Sorry Ichigo, but I spent a lot of my time watching Bleach wishing Hollow Ichigo would take over for awhile.

Number 3: Yoruichi

Right, given my thing for cats and strong female characters, this one was kind of a give-away. Yoruichi enters Bleach in cat form but later reveals her female form to Ichigo (and in true anime fashion isn’t too picky about how much of her he sees). Anyway, Yoruichi, other than being the object of Soi Fon’s obsession,  among many other titles was once known as the Goddess of Flash and she is pretty amazing. Actually, I spent a lot of time wondering why Yoruichi and Urahara needed Ichigo at all given the two of them together seem pretty unstoppable. That said, she’s an amusing character and seems a bit flippant at times, but when the battle is on she is all business.

Number 2: Uryu Ishida

I said in my post about Top 5 Characters Who Wear Glasses that Ishida was second only to my number 1 choice when it came to Bleach characters. It isn’t hard to see why.  He thinks and strategizes, has an array of interesting attacks, continues to evolve and get stronger throughout the series and is quite amusing at times because he plays the straight man in a show full of crazy people. My one complaint is that Ishida is not the main character so his plans fall apart (usually through Ichigo racing in and doing something stupid), his attacks regularly don’t finish an enemy (because then what would Ichigo do), and all his evolution seems to be for nothing when the series continues to take the best moments away from him. That said, I’ll still put him as number 2 on my list.

Number 1: Toshiro Hitsugaya

It had to be. I already gave him a rave review when I did my Top 5 Cool Users of Ice Magic (amazingly Hitsugaya didn’t top the list but that is mostly because while Hitsugaya does in fact use ice he isn’t exactly relying on magic). Hitsugaya is an amazing character. He’s serious and hardworking and has an incredibly cool sword. Add to it his complete freak out when his childhood friend was in danger and just how scary he can look when angry and you have a truly fantastic character. Did I mention his sword? I’m sorry, his sword (which he carried on his back due to its length), allows him to control water and ice and he can use water in the air to regenerate his bankai (which is interesting), he can create ice pillars to encase his enemies, make a shield out of ice and so on and so forth. It’s a highly versatile weapon compared to the hack and slash some of the characters in this show are saddled with. Hitsugaya, can we get a spin off show just about you, please?

So that’s my list but I’d love to hear from other Bleach fans who they would have put on their lists. And yes, I know I left Ichigo off my list. That was a deliberate choice and not an oversight.

Tuesday’s Top 5: Pets and Mascot Characters

Mostly pets and mascot characters are either superfluous to a show or just plain annoying (yes, Kinako from Twin Star Exorcists I am looking at you), however every now and then one of these characters actually does draw you along into the show, or help the plot along significantly, or just lightens the mood and makes you happy to see them. This is my list of my favourite pets and mascot characters.

Feel free to add yours in the comments or to comment on the most annoying pets and mascots (which will definitely be a future list though I’m not sure when).

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

Honourable mentions to Hawk (Seven Deadly Sins), Mokona (Tsubasa Chronicles), Maru (Kimi ni Todoke) and Fuzzy (The Morose Mononokean).

Number 5: Kuro from Ao no Exorcist

You have to admit for a demon cat, Kuro is pretty adorable. And useful in terms of a pet to own. He talks telepathically and can become big enough to ride into battle. Anyway, I’m glad Kuro stuck around for the remainder of the series. He plays an important role in helping the brothers reconnect with their ‘father’s’ memory and that also ultimately helps them get over some of their own relationship baggage.

Number 4: Kon from Bleach

 

There’s something about a modified soul stuck into the body of a plush lion that just really makes me laugh no matter how many times I watch the episode where Kon first appears in Bleach. Admittedly, after the first season, Kon’s role becomes very much comedic relief he initially plays a reasonable role in allowing Ichigo to transform into a Shinigami and to ensure people didn’t ask why Ichigo kept passing out all over the place. While Kon is at times borderline annoying, just when you would write him off he does something incredibly selfless or touching, or just manages to nail his comedic timing.

Number 3: Happy from Fairy Tail

 

I think it would be kind of mean to actually imply that Happy is a pet. He’s definitely a character in his own right and quite a cute one at that (sorry, who doesn’t find a flying cat adorable). Whether he is playing the comic relief, the heart of the group, a mode of transportation, or just chiming in with his usual ‘Aye’, Happy lives up to his name and is a great character.

Number 2: Timcanpy from D Gray Man

Whether we are talking Hallow or original, Timcanpy is a great character. Originally belonging to Cross Marion, Timcanpy was given to (left with) Allen Walker after Cross went missing. Timcanpy is silent (unlike every other character on the list) but still manages to convey a lot of personality. More importantly, he shows Allen genuine affection at almost every turn in the anime which is kind of needed given how dark and horrible most of the things are that happen to Allen.

Number 1: Nyanko Sensei from Natsume Yuujinchou

Much like Happy, I’m not sure we can actually call Nyanko a pet (or a mascot) but for a youkai transformed into a maneki-neko he is pretty adorable even as he is fat, self-centred and a little bit of an alcoholic. That said, he is amazingly funny and he does look out for Natsume when it really matters (though he frequently let’s lesser threats just run their course). There is of course the concern that one day he might try to eat Natsume for real, but the longer the show runs the less likely it seems. It really feels like Nyanko Sensei is getting just as much from hanging around with Natsume as Natsume is gaining. Okay, I also included an image of his true form. So this little cutie is my number 1 pet or mascot in an anime (and is hanging off my phone).

I did realise after writing this that three of my five top picks are cats. That’s probably saying something about me but I’m not going to think about it too deeply.

That’s my list. Who or what would you have included on yours?

Tuesday’s Top 5 – Characters who wear glasses (male)

Last week we looked at the ladies who were rocking glasses so this week we turn to the guys. No self-interest in this but I was really looking forward to writing this list. There’s something about a guy who knows how to wear a pair of glasses…

As always, feel free to add your suggestions or who you would have chosen in the comments below.

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

Honourable mentions to William (Black Butler), Maiza (Baccano), Yukio Okumura (Ao No Exorcist), and Reisi Munakata (K). Okay, leaving Munakata out of the top 5 hurt a little but I just couldn’t put him above some of the others.

Number 5:  Murasaki from Hamatora

Murasaki is an awesome character and a great partner to Nice in Hamatora. That said, he may have still lost out to Munakata except that this is a list about glasses wearing characters and not only are Murasaki’s frames amazing but he actually uses his glasses to activate his minimum (super power). While Murasaki is doomed to be the sensible decision maker in the pair, he is a solid friend and a naturally hard worker. Certainly one of my favourite characters from the series.

Number 4: Akito Takagi from Bakuman

I feel bad for Akito a lot of the time while watching Bakuman. He is the motivator and the driving force behind the pair initially and yet Mashiro continually sets the pace. Okay, Akito’s decision to become a manga author isn’t exactly the most sincere dream in the world but he commits everything to achieving the goal. Anyway, he looks amazing in those glasses and they make an otherwise generic face actually slightly memorable.

Number 3: Io Otonashi from Acchi Kocchi

Alright, Io is probably a weird choice but he’s fantastic (and arguable the best thing about Acchi Kocchi though that’s a whole other discussion). As the straight man in a group full of nut jobs, Io has it tough. That said, his mad pen spinning skills, his allure to felines, and his general level headedness all make him a great character and the glasses just help make him stand out even more. There was never a doubt that Io was going to end up on this list.

Number 2: Loki from Fairy Tail

Another great character, Loki kind of slips under your radar early in Fairy Tail but his story with Lucy was one of the moments in Fairy Tail that really moved me. On rewatching the start of this anime I paid a lot more attention to Loki and gradually found he was one of my favourite cast members. Yeah, his womanizing habits early on are irritating, but just look at that smile. Anyway, from the glasses point of view, I like that his are a little bit out of the ordinary.

Number 1: Uryu Ishida from Bleach

Second only to Hitsuguya, Ishida is my favourite character in Bleach. I feel really bad every time he get’s sidelined in a battle because he’s actually more interesting that Ichigo and at least he thinks his way through battles. Plus, it’s all about the gaze. The way he looks at his enemies through his glasses with absolute contempt. Okay, Ishida has an issue with arrogance (so does everyone in Bleach), but you must admit that is one intense gaze.

So that’s the list this week. What are your thoughts?

Friday’s Feature – What Do You Mean Spoiler?

I’ve been wondering this for awhile; how much information can you give in a write up or a review before you enter spoiler territory? And even if you do tell people what something is about, or what happens in it, does that actually spoil the watching of it?

Keep in mind, I’m not discussing murder mysteries where telling someone who the villain is would kind of defeat the purpose of the story.

And if you want to avoid any spoilers I’d recommend stopping.

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If we look at the fantasy genre specifically, there are a lot of quest stories. Joe ordinary has his life turned upside down by some sort of extraordinary event and has to begin a journey. Somewhere in the early stages he’ll meet someone who can act as a mentor character and point him in the right direction (so at least we don’t spend half the story with no clue about what the end goal will be). Then there is usually the rushed attempt to succeed whereby our ordinary Joe loses something of value and in the process learns some valuable life lesson before he rallies again and we get to the real confrontation whereby Joe employs all of the skills he has learned (usually in short montages) and defeats the whatever and succeeds in his quest. Then he may or may not return home, sometimes with a girl, and sometimes he’ll choose to go on questing.

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It’s the plot of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings and Katanagatari and Bleach and about several thousand other fantasy based stories.

So does telling someone that the mentor dies count as a spoiler for most of these shows? I mean, they don’t in every single one, but it is certainly a consistent theme. The act pushes some emotion into the early stages of the story, gives our protagonist a reason to grow up or a personal investment in the challenge (if they weren’t already), and also usually provides a reason for an early fight that is awesome but not quite as awesome as the final one will be because that would ruin the climax.

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Likewise, does saying our protagonist wins count as a spoiler? Really, they are either going to win or lose. It seems unlikely that in a finished story they are going to compromise or  walk-away (though I guess that is possible). If the show feels like it is setting up a tragedy, be prepared for the protagonist to die. If the show feels like your typical fantasy, prepare for the victory march. You can’t spoil basic plot elements because most people will have already seen where things are going.

Then what about the details? If the basic plot really can’t be spoiled because there’s only one or two ways it can end anyway, can we ruin some of the fun of the journey by giving too much information about the details?

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So Ichigo has to save Rukia from Soul Society and he does it by mastering… Is that spoiling or simply engaging in a discussion about the plot?

I’m going to admit, I’m fairly indifferent to whether I know the details of a story before I watch or read it. This is probably because I read a lot of classics (as well as a lot of pulp fiction) and to be honest I usually know everything that is going to happen in a novel by the time I actually get around to reading it. Does that make it less enjoyable? Not really. The way it is written and the way it delivers that story is what will make me love it. Knowing where it is going usually just heightens a sense of anticipation.  However, if I don’t know, as I usually don’t with anime because I don’t read all that much manga, it is still enjoyable. Seeing how things unfold and trying to work out what will happen next is also pretty fun. It’s a different kind of pleasure from a story but still perfectly pleasurable.

So here is where I’d like to open the discussion.

  1. What’s the worst spoiler you’ve ever been given? (Dumbledore’s death doesn’t count.)
  2. Do you care if you know what’s going to happen in a story before you begin?
  3. How much information do you consider too much?