Inquiring Minds Want To Know #34: How did you decide on your avatar?

Another week and another fantastic question. I’m still seeking questions to keep this series going a little longer so if you have something you want to know, be sure to fill in the simple survey below and I will definitely get to it.

Question: Perhaps someone asked this at one point, but how did you decide on your avatar? Did you draw it yourself, and does that reflect in any way what you look like? From Moyatori

horriblesubs-inu-x-boku-secret-service-04-720p-mkv_snapshot_04-20_2012-02-03_22-04-52

I think I’ve mentioned it somewhere before on my blog, but my avatar is just kind of there. Honestly, I didn’t expect my blog to last very long so I didn’t put a lot of thought into it when I started. I’d previously been trying to discuss anime with people in the Crunchyroll forums (with incredibly limited success) but one day someone started a thread for people to create an anime version of themselves and post it. I don’t even remember what I used to create the avatar but she’s designed to look like a cuter version  (much, much, much cuter version) of me when I was in my teens.

The colour of the hair and clothing is pretty accurate but the eye colour is way too bright as mine are closer to blue-grey or blue-green and pretty pale. The chin is too pointy and the nose is well just totally wrong. I like the accessories she’s wearing in her hair and her necklace because they kind of fit with what I was going for as a teen, though they are a little bit dated for me nowadays.

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I actually really liked how it turned out though as I’ve thought more and more about making my blog a full time thing, I’ve started to think I need something designed specifically for the blog (if for no other reason other than not being sure about whether or not I’m supposed to be using that image the way I do). And that is why I set up the account with Ko-Fi as my goal with that is to have enough to commission some art that is made for the purpose of the blog.

I think if I ever do reach the goal and look at getting an avatar made specifically for the blog, I’d probably like her to look a little bit older (I am in my thirties after-all) and while the book is a cute prop, it really doesn’t have anything to do with being an anime blog. There’s also a specific style pendant I’d love to have included as I wear it almost continuously.

On that note, if you are or happen to know someone who is looking for an art commission, I’d love it if you could pass their name along and some samples of work because it is something I really would like my banner, logo, and profile pic to all kind of look like they were designed purposefully and not just kind of thrown together. While I’m not at a point where I can pay for this yet, I’m working on it so research is always good.

maka2

This was a great question and as always I’d love to know about my readers as well. So, how did you decide on your avatars?


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Inquiring Minds Want To Know #33: What do you think of live action adaptations of anime?

Thanks to everyone who responded to the question drive but if you didn’t get a question in, remember you can still fill in the survey at the end of the post or use the link in the sidebar to send me a question. This week we get a very timely question and I really enjoyed going back and thinking about some of the live action adaptations I’ve watched since becoming a blogger.

Question: What do you think of live action (dramas or movies) adaptions of anime? Any favourites? from Rise

Netflix Live Action Bleach

I’m going to be perfectly honest here, live action adaptations of anime have an incredibly patchy history and a fairly well deserved reputation for being less than stellar. The Dragonball Evolution isn’t just a poor adaptation of the source material, its just a terrible movie to have to endure watching.

Still, that isn’t every adaptation. Okay, the Full Metal Alchemist adaptation wasn’t great but it wasn’t terrible.Ghost in the Shell worked well enough for me but that’s probably because I’m not a fan of the anime in the first place and just took it as a generic sci-fi kind of movie and it succeeded at that. Death Note angered me at first and then I detached my expectations from the anime and realised that as a cheap horror movie it could work just fine so got over it, but none of these have really stuck.

DeathNote5

That actually leaves me with two live action adaptations I really enjoyed just because they were really enjoyable and not because I looked for some positives amongst a mess of an adaptation.

The first is Erased the series. I really enjoyed seeing this story brought to life and feel they did a great job of it. I know the live action is based more off the anime so most of the changes between the anime and the live action are more because the anime veered off course, but I actually feel from a plot point of view the live action is stronger. I still really love the anime but I prefer the ending as presented in the live action series.

Erased2

The second is one that just came out and that is Bleach. Given how incredibly on the fence I was about the idea of a Bleach movie and the fact that I went in really expecting to be severely disappointed, this movie actually put my concerns to rest and delivered what is a fairly decent movie in its own right and probably the best kind of adaptations I could have hoped for. It remains true enough to the feel of the anime that what I loved about the franchise is recognisable but it makes sufficient changes to sit relatively comfortable as a movie. It really is just good fun and one I definitely recommend.

Bleach Netflix Live Action

Thanks for the question this week and I’d love to know what my readers think and what some of your favourite live action adaptations of anime are (or if you hate them). Please leave me a comment and remember if you have a question for me you can simply complete the survey below.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Full Metal Alchemist the Sacred Star of Milos Art Book

Friday’s Feature: 3 Lessons To Be Learned From Bleach Movie Adaptation

Netflix Live Action Bleach

While it was less than a week ago that I watched this movie for the first time, despite having an incredibly hectic work week I forced a second watching. For a movie I wasn’t dreading the release of, but was fairly nervous about how it would end up looking, the Bleach live action movie that landed on Netflix certainly managed to get my attention. My review a few days ago was fairly glowing and I’m standing by that review even after a second watch through.

While I will admit the movie is hardly a modern masterpiece and a lot of the enjoyment came from being a fan of the franchise, what has been delivered by Bleach is perhaps the surest sign that writers and directors are starting to learn from the many failed adaptations of the past (or maybe they just lucked out this time). However, while there are certainly negative reviews to be found if you look for them, the majority of posts I’ve read covering this movie have been surprised in tone and largely positive of the choices made in adapting it.

I’m normally not one for scoring shows or movies, but I was curious how this was playing out on popular sites like IMBD and Rotten Tomatoes so decided to take a quick peek at the scores Bleach had compared to other recent adaptations.

The break-down looked more or less like this:

Bleach: IMBD = 6.8 Rotten Tomatoes = 84% liked it

Full Metal Alchemist: IMBD = 5.9  Rotten Tomatoes = 75% liked it

Death Note: IMBD = 4.6  Rotten Tomatoes = 24%

Death Note Live Action Movie

Now it may not be fair to compare them given audience expectations, fans of the franchise, and all the other factors that are going to play into the end result that really have nothing to do with the quality of the movie at all, but it seems like at least most people agree that the Bleach movie is all right and likewise most people seem to agree the Death Note movie missed its mark as an adaptation (I still think it is perfectly fine as a movie in its own right – not great but fine – however it isn’t Death Note as anyone knows it or wanted it).

So I started wondering what Bleach did that seemed to work in its favour as a live action adaptation compared to some other adaptations that have fared less well and I came up with a few points that worked in Bleach’s favour.

01: The amount of content chosen wasn’t too ambitious.

We get that when adapting an anime or manga into a movie the time is getting cut down. A lot of things have to go. And it is tempting to try to adapt a lot of content. It makes perfect sense. Fans want to see such and such a scene and will be disappointed if X gets cut out. Cram it in and just keep cramming. You have to appeal to everyone.

Well, no, you don’t. You have to make a decent movie. One with pacing and a clear narrative in its own right. You don’t have time to shove every single plot point that might ever exist into your story and you certainly don’t have time to give the vast cast that probably exists all their shining moment.

Where Bleach worked beautifully was it chose one arc to tell in its movie. A simple story with a beginning and an ending. Then it cut almost every superfluous point from the source material that didn’t help that arc progress out.

Bleach live action movie - Orihime
I’m fairly certain that people who have never read the source or watched the anime probably have no idea that Orihime is actually supposed to be important.

I say almost every point because there are certainly characters and ideas that exist only for the sake of allowing a sequel to be made and to make sense. But these are minimised and given the barest of attentions. Fans of Orihime or Chad will probably be appalled at the way the characters were side-lined and there are certainly entire swathes of characters who were just completely ditched from the story altogether. And Kon? Gone entirely and who can tell if that is ultimately a good choice or not because the idea of a live action plush lion wandering around with a perverted attitude kind of amuses me but somehow I’m just not sure it would have added anything of value to the movie here.

02: They weren’t slaves to the source material.

I actually argued in a feature I wrote after the Death Note movie that the biggest issue with it wasn’t that it changed the source material. No, the bigger issue was they didn’t commit to changing the source material and made changes but wouldn’t cut out particular points making a movie that ended up as an unsatisfying compromise between a new vision for Death Note and a slave to fan expectations.

In my Full Metal Alchemist review I pointed out that while the costume design was gloriously similar to the anime (and I assume the manga) the end result was a not-so-real feeling like the world was inhabited by very sophisticated cosplayers.

Fullmetal Alchemist Live Action - Edward

In both of these cases the movies were bogged down by trying to reproduce source material in a different medium and they didn’t pull it off. Ghost in the Shell also suffered from the need to recreate sequences that didn’t fit into the new context and while fans of the original may have squealed with delight at these overall they don’t make for a better movie unless they are well integrated.

Bleach didn’t suffer from this. As with the content selection where ruthless and sensible cuts and changes were made, with character designs and the world they undeniably created Bleach in a way that fans could recognise it but at the same time they weren’t laboriously simply trying to bring drawings to life. They seemed to really think about how to make the characters come to life without losing the sense of who they were. For the most part they largely succeeded with both character and world design.

03: They understood what makes Bleach popular.

I think this is where Death Note really lost its viewers. The anime is a slow build with some interesting mind games between two intelligent human beings who both like to keep their hands hidden until the last moment. The movie abandoned this atmosphere making Light far less intelligent and more brazen in his need to gather attention and L far less patient and contemplative. The end result was that a lot of fans felt like the core of what made Death Note had been ripped out and trampled on.

Bleach is a long running series (not the longest but certainly one where the episode count becomes daunting to newcomers) and it blends some fairly stupid slap-stick humour with some intense drama and action. The first season introduced Ichigo to a world of Hollows and Soul Reapers and a lot of it is spent balancing Ichigo’s everyday high school life with the new responsibilities thrust on him. That balance of normal and supernatural, some moments of light hearted humour, and some moments of life threatening danger is what draws a lot of fans into the world that is Bleach (okay, the soundtrack as well but the movie can’t have everything) and as much as later seasons of the show become increasingly bloated and filled with overly long fight sequences, season one is where the show’s heart is and where the core of the story is crafted.

Bleach Movie Training.jpg

The movie did an excellent job of replicating the supernatural side and that turmoil in Ichigo’s life as he’s forced from high schooler who can see ghosts into the role of a shinigami and there was enough humour and light hearted moments between Ichigo and Rukia during training montages for it not to become too much of a drama. The fight sequences were intense and there was definitely a sense of danger in them and while we missed out on Ichigo’s normally copious buckets of blood pouring from wounds, the movie once again favoured some sort of realism over staying slavishly true to the source.

Wrapping It Up

So, great choices in content, in how to adapt characters and settings, as well as capturing the spirit of the story even while making necessary changes seem to be helping Bleach stay a little ahead of the pack of recent anime movie adaptations. Does that mean Bleach made no mistakes? Of course not. There’s plenty that could still be improved upon. Still, I kind of feel like Bleach is my light at the end of the tunnel and the possibility that I won’t be defending anime movies with the ‘it could be worse’ statement into the future.

That said, my inquiring minds question that I’m answering tomorrow also focuses on Live Action adaptations so I’d love to know your thoughts on them and if you’ve seen the Bleach movie, what did you think?


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Nendoroid Bleach - Ichigo Kurosaki

Bleach Live Action Movie Review: I Loved The Anime But What About This?

Bleach Live Action

There’s always some trepidation when hearing about a live action adaptation of a beloved anime. It’s a feeling that I might try to push to the side because I want to give something a go on its own merit rather than lumping it in with predecessors that may have failed to leave much of a positive impression. But just like with video game adaptations, while there are certainly a fair share of truly dreadful ones to be found there are also adaptations that have worked and given a fairly satisfying watch. So the question becomes whether or not Bleach survived this adaptation? There’s no way I’m not comparing as I go given how much I love Bleach but hopefully you’ll join me as I look at this movie.

Review:

I’ll get to the point fairly quickly and then explain my reasoning, but I found myself incredibly engrossed in this movie while watching it. I pressed play with that same sinking feeling of trepidation, wondering if I should put it off and wait until more reviews were out and wondering if I should possibly just forget it was even available rather than risk the feeling of disappointment that would come from a poor movie. I didn’t want much from this film, but what I absolutely needed it to do was to be fun to watch.

Netflix Live Action Bleach

Bleach was my ultimate pop-corn viewing anime that swept me up in its grandiose (albeit overly stretched out and bloated) story and cast and just its sheer brazen silliness at times. In short, it seemed the kind of thing that absolutely would not translate very well to real actors because anime fans have kind of learned to cope with the hero losing more litres of blood than that human body holds and still managing to stand up whereas when it happens on screen it kind of makes you wonder what is wrong with the writer.

However, Bleach actually managed to defy my expectations in a lot of ways as I watched this live action unfold on Netflix. The characters were not attempting to copy exactly the look of the anime (or if they did they clearly gave up for practicality’s sake). As a result Ichigo and Rukia look pretty awesome in their roles (and thank-you for someone having enough sense not to put that stupid fringe down the middle of Rukia’s face). Orihime and Chad are likewise altered so that while they retain some of what makes them distinct in the anime they come across looking fairly much like the belong in the setting rather then looking like they escaped a cosplay convention. My only real disappointment with Orihime was the look of her hair-clip which seems like it is missing a few petals which kind of means they are going to have to do some modification later on with how her power works, assuming of course they go there at all (which they definitely should).

Actually, the only character who really came across poorly in appearance was Urahara. Possibly I’m just being overly critical because I really like Urahara’s look in the anime, but to be honest I found his human counterpart here to be the only character who just looked out of place and garishly cosplay like rather than a real character. Even Renji’s hair came out fairly believably (at least within the context of the movie) so I was a little disappointed with Urahara.

Netflix Bleach Live Action

Outside of their appearances, I really liked the way these characters interacted. Again, they weren’t identical to how they behaved in the anime. None of Orihime’s silliness is on display nor does she get countless scenes eating bizarre foods. Karen, Ichigo’s sister, is certainly toned down and while I appreciate the need for that from a time point of view I kind of missed the spunky anime Karen. But these changes all make sense and with the plot having a much tighter focus on Ichigo and Rukia the changes are necessary.

And that was probably my favourite part of this adaptation. Scenes from the anime were merged and pushed together or deleted entirely for the sake of having a coherent story that felt like it was well paced in the time given. We meet Ichigo and very rapidly move to his meeting with Rukia and the transfer of her power to him. However, we then rapidly move on to Ishida confronting Ichigo at school (so no Chad and bird story, no Orihime and her dead brother, and no random encountering Hollows) and we see the Hollow bait getting used. This doesn’t spark a full on fight in its own right though as they combine this conflict with a later one and we see Ichigo and Rukia being confronted by Renji.

The upshot of this is we are dealing pretty much entirely with Rukia’s transgression and need to get her power back with other events that are crucial for introducing characters for later occurring but in a way that feeds into this main plot. Anyone who has watched the anime of Bleach will know how regularly the main plot gets kind of put on hold while the characters run around and do other things or get diverted by other issues, or just how long some of those fight sequences last as you deal with each and every person involved. This movie is well aware of its time limitations and maximises what it can show us through some fairly deliberate modification of the narrative.

However, if you think I’m just going to sing the praises of this movie I’m about to turn this around. There are two points that really stop this from being the truly excellent experience it was pretty close to becoming.

The first is the ending. We get to essentially the end of the first season where Rukia returns to Soul Society and that is a great place for the movie to end. But the fight sequence against the Grand Fisher is… well I hesitate to call it bloated given compared to most of the fight scenes in the Bleach anime it is pretty succinct. Yet, we have Ichigo running from the Hollow through crowded streets (wasn’t he just in a graveyard) and fighting the Grand Fisher in a fairly public space.

Bleach Netflix Live Action

I get that partly this is because they combining events from the fight in the park in the anime where Ishida and Ichigo team up, with the Grand Fisher fight, and then they are transitioning to the fight against Renji, so there were going to need to be some fairly major adjustments to this sequence to make it work. However, it doesn’t fit with Ichigo’s character to lead a Hollow into a public space where others might be put at risk. It also shows off the CG Hollow for far too long. Its first appearance in the graveyard is pretty amazing and in short bursts it could have looked exceptional and had real impact. But, because of the length of the screen time, it ends up looking pretty cheap by the end.

I’ll also point out through the whole chase sequence I was just reminded of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and the totally unnecessary dragon chase across the rooftops that ate screen time, wasn’t in the book, and totally wasn’t needed. Yes, we get your wind effects look cool and you are damaging a lot of buildings. We’re at the climax so big boom. And yet, this scene could have been so much tighter and had so much more impact.

The second complaint I’ll raise is the music. Bleach has one of the best soundtracks ever – I’m totally not biased. Every single OP is amazing – again, not biased. The fight music that accompanies Ichigo as he gets geared up to take down anything is unforgettably cool – alright, fine, I’m totally and completely biased when it comes to Bleach music. I’m not going to say the soundtrack to this movie is actually bad… it’s just kind of forgettable. There isn’t one track which just made me sit up and take notice or drew me into a scene. And that was probably my biggest disappointment about this entire movie. The music.

Right, objectively the acting isn’t amazing though it certainly isn’t dreadful. The script is fairly average with dialogue serving its purpose but not doing a lot more. I’m not entirely sure how caught up in events non-Bleach fans will be because I can only watch this film from the perspective of a major fan of the series.

But, this movie was fun to watch. At no point did I feel bored or like I was wasting my time. I didn’t have a single moment where I considered stopping it (Full Metal Alchemist on the other hand I had several moments where I wondered if I should cut my losses and move on).

Do I recommend this movie? Certainly. If you are a Bleach fan but open to necessary changes to accompany the changed format, you’ll have a great time. If you’ve never watched Bleach, this movie will give you a good taste of the plot of season 1 though I’d still recommend watching the anime. That said, if you already jumped in and watched the movie, I’d love to know what you thought of it so leave me a comment.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Bleach Original Soundtrack

Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime That I’d Like To Rewrite

Now I would like to note that I don’t think I’d actually do a good job or rewriting the story, but there are anime that I really like to see go in a slightly different direction than what they did. It’s entirely my own personal choices and I’m sure there are viewers out there who like these anime exactly as they are. That said, I am not just picking anime that are terrible but rather anime that are pretty reasonable as they are but just thinking about what personally I would have liked to have seen changed. On recently completing a tag where I was asked what cross over I’d like to see, I started thinking about how I’d like to modify a few anime and so this list was born.

As always, I’d love for you to share your choices and reasons so please leave me a comment below.

Please note, there will be spoilers below.

Honourable mention: Vampire Knight – A little less twilight and a little more of the politics of the vampire world and I probably would have really loved that anime.

Number 5: Chaika Coffin Princess

Chaika is an interesting anime to discuss because it is actually quite a fun watch. However, most of the fun comes from the characters themselves and individually scenarios and action sequences. The over-arching plot is a bit of a mess and is ultimately pretty rushed to a conclusion at the end of season 2. I’d love to see this story redone with the time and attention it needs to really build up the different Chaika’s and their mission as well as the conspiracy and ultimately I’d love to see some of the other factions and groups get more time to feel like real characters rather than simply obstacles to overcome. As much as Chaika is an anime I enjoy, I really think there is a potentially much better story that could be told with a bit of rewriting.

Number 4: Junjo Romantica

Romantica

Right, so I’m not going to pretend this particular anime is problem free. It is quite a popular title mostly because of the particular niche market it fits into and the absence of other titles that actually get DVD releases outside of Japan in the particularly genre, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t issues. A number of reviews I’ve read come from people who outright skip episodes focused on one of the three main couples due to those problems. For me the biggest issues come from episode 1 and how the relationship between Misaki and Usagi begins (which is to be honest a criminal act and while it isn’t that explicitly shown the fact that Misaki doesn’t immediately report Usagi leaves a fairly sour taste). And honestly, the power imbalance and the possessiveness shown between this couple right through to season three continues to be a bit of a problem for the show when it is trying to sell it as a true romance. I think though that if that first encounter wasn’t as confrontational and off-putting, the rest of it would be a lot easier to swallow so I’d love that first episode to get a rewrite. It would still be a problematic relationship, but it wouldn’t cross that particular line.

Number 3: Parasyte

Parasyte is one of those anime I really enjoy though for me the second half and then the ending feel very much like the show didn’t quite stick its landing. For all the excitement and tension early on in the show when the parasytes are mysterious and scary and Shinichi is dealing with coming to terms with sharing his body, the second half kind of loses a lot of its emotional tension and by the end when the show drops a save the environment message on the viewers lap it just doesn’t quite have the impact it could. I’d love to see this anime get rid of the super parasyte guy with four (?) parastyes in one body and actually just deal with the issue facing the world of humans being over taken. Rather than ending on a shounen style smack down it would be fantastic to actually just see the ongoing paranoia and fear as people aren’t sure what is going on. I’m not entirely sure how this would work as a show but I’d love to see it.

Number 2: Bleach

I love Bleach. I really do. It has a very special place in my heart when it comes to anime. But realistically I think you could tell the entire actual plot of Bleach in about fifty to sixty episodes if you cut out all the fluff, silliness, and unnecessarily long fight sequences. If we just wrote out the core story points and got rid of the extra characters, subplots, and random asides, we could have a much tighter, much more thrilling story and one that never felt bloated or weighed down. If anyone makes a Bleach abridged story, I’m totally in.

Number 1: Kado The Right Answer

Anyone who followed my reviews of this one will know how disappointed I was with the ending of this show. I really loved the set up and I was so into the story and then it decided to go for a standard fight sequence and a defeat the bad guy ending (with a time travelling daughter thrown in just for laughs I suppose). It was somewhat devastating to watching a show I’d really gotten excited for become something so standard and while it isn’t actually as bad as it sometimes feels, I’d love for this show to be rewritten with a different ending.

So those are the top 5 anime I’d like to rewrite (or see rewritten). What would be on your list and how would you change it?


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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OWLS Blog Tour: The Pride of the Protagonist

Here we are in June and I’m writing my second post for OWLS (OWLS stands for Otaku Warriors for Liberty and Self-Respect). I will admit, it took me a bit to get going with this month’s theme but I’m pretty happy with the end result.

For those who don’t know: OWLS  are a group of otaku bloggers who promotes acceptance of all individuals regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and disability. OWLS emphasise the importance of respect, kindness, and tolerance to every human being. Each month, OWLS will look at a specific theme. If you want to know more, please do click on the logo in the side bar.

The theme for May: Pride

In honour of “Pride Month,” we will be discussing the word, “Pride” and its meaning. We will be exploring pop culture characters’ most satisfying and joyful achievements or skills that they possessed and whether or not these qualities could be seen as a positive or negative aspect in their personal lives and/or society.

The Pride of the Protagonist

I really struggled with this theme at first. Mostly because for me ‘pride’ is one of those double edged swords. Characters with too much pride annoy me as they come off as arrogant. Characters with too little pride also annoy as they come off as doormats. Though it is much the same in real life. I feel people need to have pride in themselves but it shouldn’t cross the line into being egotistical or conceited. And I kind of looked at this issue when I wrote a feature back in 2016 on anime characters who want to be the very best (no Pokemon in the post but a focus on Ichigo from Bleach and Light from Death Note).

ichigobankai2

However, my personal thoughts on pride aside, in narratives pride is a driving force for characters. For better or worse, characters can make decisions and take actions to protect their pride and this moves both the characters and the plot forward. Still, at times you have to question what that pride is based on and whether or not it was particularly beneficial to act in that way.

For anime I’m watching at the moment, the immediate one that sprang to mind when thinking about whether or not pride was helpful is Record of Grancrest War. Now, there’s a lot of questionable decisions in the narrative outside of character motivations and yet I think a lot of the audience would be happy to accept a lot of the things that have happened if the character motivations would make sense.

Grancrest11e

Now we could look at the choices made by so many characters in this anime. Marrine deciding she has to unify the continent herself and willing to even resort to chemical warfare to achieve that end. Milza being Milza. The number of commanders who have ridden out to their deaths rather than surrendering. The number of characters who have committed suicide upon losing a battle (and has anyone ever inquired as to the mental health of the mages because they seem particularly suicidal). But instead of looking at all of that, because it is messy and doesn’t relate well to other stories that actually have some logic behind them, I want to look at Theo and his decision to face Milza in a one-on-one fight.

Realistically, this just reminded me of Sarah in the Labyrinth:

Sarah: No! I have to face him alone.

Didymus: But why?

Sarah: Because that’s the way it’s done!

Didymus: Well, if that is the way it is done, then that is the way you must do it. But, should you need us…

Hoggle: Yes, should you need us…

Sarah: I’ll call.

Labyrinth.jpg

So, why does she need to face the Goblin King alone? She has a whole group of friends waiting and yet she’s going to go fight the guy with magic powers by herself, armed with… Confidence she’s the protagonist so it will all work out somehow? Even as a kid, this scene never sat well with me.

As does Theo’s decision to fight Milza one-on-one. It has already been established that Milza is by far the stronger fighter of the two. Despite Theo’s preparations to wear down Milza’s army and to isolate him, fighting him by himself is pretty much suicidal, given that in a realistic world, Milza would have broken through Theo’s defense and killed him early on.

That isn’t what happens though. Instead, Milza beats away at Theo, hitting his guard and sword continuously, and in the process he wears himself out before Theo prattles at him and then runs him through. And once again, we get an excellent look at why pride is not a useful trait for character survival when Milza is given an opportunity to just surrender and flat out turns it down allowing Theo to kill him and somehow justify it.

Milza

An argument could be mounted that Theo has to beat Milza to prove he is worthy of leading the alliance and inheriting Vilar’s crest, but realistically if Theo lead the army that reclaimed the castle and wiped out Milza’s troops, would it matter if Theo had actually personally killed Milza. Furthermore, would it have mattered if the other characters had brought Milza down to the ground where Theo could have still walked up and done his little speech and offered Milza a chance to live before delivering the finishing blow?

But let’s expand that argument to more or less any story about a lone hero who rises up and some of the convoluted reasons narratives come up with as to ‘why’ they end up facing the villain alone.

Lethal Weapon gives us an excellent example of this in the fight of Riggs vs Mr Joshua. They are fighting on the lawn, literally surrounded by police all armed with guns, and yet they continue a smack down. Running around the perimeter, we see Murtaugh claiming he’ll take responsibility as it is Riggs’ arrest and the others shouldn’t interfere.

Um…

I’m not sure where that fits into any kind of standard police procedure or common sense. It makes for a great fight sequence. We get to see how tough Riggs is and how awesome he is at fighting. We also get to see him being the benevolent man and not killing Mr Joshua, you know, until Mr Joshua grabs a gun. But it doesn’t make a huge amount of sense.

From a character point of view, we can see why Riggs wants to fight him. That is clear. And the reason he might want him dead. But that drive, his sense of pride in wanting to be the one to take him down, is pretty silly in the grander context leaving him quite badly injured and almost killed. More importantly, despite what Mutaugh is saying, I’m not sure the rest of the police would just chill and watch for the sake of Riggs’ personal vendetta.

Over and over again we see these kinds of protagonists who push the limits and boundaries in the pursuit of defending their pride. And while there might seem to be something noble about this particular action, the end result is something that seems slightly faulty to me. To assume that an achievement is one you cannot be proud of unless you do it alone is really inaccurate and realistically, collectively having pride in the achievements of a group is more likely to lead to social cohesion than lauding individual achievements. Would Theo have been any less a character for not facing Milza alone? Would Sarah have failed to realise she could beat the Goblin King if Hoggle and Sir Didymus have accompanied her? Would Mr Joshua be any less dead or arrested if the full force of the police had simply swarmed him on arrival at the scene?

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Having pride is important as people all have value. But protagonists regularly go too far. They cross the line into believing that they must stand alone and it is only their strength that will succeed. While it definitely makes for some great viewing and has lead to some truly epic scenes, the application of this kind of pride into the real world would definitely be problematic.

So let’s bring this back to Pride Month. Pride Month isn’t about the lone wolf going off to bring down the villain in a showy display of individual strength and self-glorification. Being acknowledge for either your individual self or for your achievements (both individual and collective) don’t equate to tearing someone else down.

In that sense, Sailor Moon with her ‘love and friendship’ mantra is probably a better role model as she reaches out to her friends for support when facing her enemies and even reaches out to her enemies where possible.

Sailor Moon I Need You.gif

The Schedule for June: 

5: Matthew Castillo (Matt-in-the-Hat)

7: Mel (Mel in Anime Land)

12: Zoe (Let’s Talk Anime)

14: Mistress of Yaoi (Yaoi Playground)

15: Zel (Archi-Anime)

17: Karandi (100 Word Anime)

18: Irina (Drunken Anime Blog)

19: Naja B. (Nice Job Breaking It, Hero)

20: Marth (Marth’s Anime Blog)

21: Dylan (DynamicDylan)

22: Gloria (The Nerdy Girl News)

23: Marina (Anime B&B)

24: Dale (That Baka Blog)

25: Gigi (Animepalooza)

26: Takuto (Takuto’s Anime Cafe)

27: Scott (Mechanical Anime Reviews)

28: Crimson (Crimson is Blogging)

29: Carla (PopCultureLiterary)

30: Matt (MattDoyleMedia)


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Friday’s Feature: Let’s Try Something Different and Build A Harem

I’m going to thank Cactus Matt from Anime Q & A for throwing this tag my way. I have never even considered building a harem and so when I was nominated my brain suddenly went a little bit crazy with the possibilities. Then of course I had to think about when I could respond to the tag and ultimately I decided just to make it my feature for the week. I think this is going to be fun if only because I decided to go all out and not think for a moment about the reality of what such a gathering would be like.

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The Idea:

You are the central protagonist of a harem anime. Pick five characters (of any gender) that fit into a different harem character type. The characters must be from existing anime (but can come from any anime). If you want the full list of original rules, click here.

My Amended Idea:

You are the central protagonist of a harem anime. Pick five characters (of any gender) that will play a particular role within the harem. The characters must be from existing anime (but can come from any anime).

The reason for the change is I don’t really use labels from the types and tropes that this list should probably include (Tsundere, etc). I actually find these labels really limiting as they only focus in on one part of a character, much like the ‘manic pixie girl’ label that gets thrown around. So while I do understand these terms, I tend to avoid using them except when I’m being really sarcastic toward something, so I decided not to use them in my harem.

My Harem

01. The Dangerously Perfect Guy

Okay, we all know this type in fiction, though fortunately few of them exist in real life. This guy can do anything. Literally anything. And he does it perfectly, flawlessly, and looks really good while doing it. Too bad he’ll chew you up and spit you out and not even look back as he moves on to the next meal. And of course, to fulfil this role in my harem I’ve enlisted the aid of one hell of a butler, Sebastian Michaelis, from Black Butler. The one advantage of this, is by default I get Ciel Phantomhive to be part of the harem without using one of my five because Sebastian isn’t going to just join someone else’s harem. So realistically, I’ve somehow connect Ciel into it and Sebastian came along for the ride.

Ciel and Sebastian.jpg

02. The Smart and Sexy Guy

He doesn’t necessarily have to wear glasses, but why would you turn down a gorgeous looking guy with glasses who also has a brain to back up the look. He’s probably a little bit sharp tongued and he’s probably talked down to you on more occasions than you can count, but he genuinely smiles when you argue back and win a point or two in the verbal sparring match. This guy has a plan at all times, doesn’t respond well to sudden shocks, and isn’t great at expressing emotions, but he’s just too cute because of his awkwardness. So yes, I’ve selected Uryu Ishida from Bleach. He’s smart, deadly with a bow and arrow, he sews, and the guy is seriously stubborn. Plus, he really does rock those glasses.

Uryu Ishida

03. The Guy You Just Want To Hug

He’s like your little brother, only fortunately not. His smile is infectious, his tears make you melt, and all and all, this is the guy you want to hang around and spend time with. He tries hard at everything, he’s always looking out for you, and when he falls down he pulls himself back up but you just know one day he’ll need you. Yep, I had to throw Katsuki Yuri, from Yuri on Ice, on this list. Partly because I actually needed someone nice in my harem, and partly because I really would like to give Yuri a hug. It probably doesn’t hurt that if Yuri is around there’s a good chance Victor might show up.

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04. He’s In His Own World, But One Day He’ll Need You

It’s amazing how many girls in anime fall for the guy who barely know they exist and yet insist on just waiting patiently. And yet, there was one guy I thought of who might just be worth waiting for. Natsume Takashi from Natsume Yuujinchou. The guy literally lives in his own world and at times his human friends get quite forcibly pushed aside, and yet, for someone like that, I could definitely see them being worth the wait. As he slowly opens up to people, there’s such a kind and gentle soul there. Much like with Yuri Katsuki, I’d just like to give Natsume a hug.

Natsume.jpg

05. Finally, The Bad Boy, Because Every Harem Needs One

I’m going to be honest and point out that I’m not a big fan of bad boys in real life, but in stories they work beautifully. The joy of watching a rebel or rule breaker in a narrative is fun and safe, in real life they are a destabilising factor that is best avoided. But for my fictional harem, I’m throwing one in because that allows me to toss this truly gorgeous guy in, and I’m pretty sure most of you will agree he belongs in the list: Shinya Kougami from Psycho Pass. He’s fighting for his sense of justice, or revenge, and he doesn’t worry about whether or not he has to break the rules to do it. His single-minded focus is attractive as hell, but also dangerous as it is likely to burn those who come too close.

Kougami

Your Thoughts:

Given I’d never put together a harem before, or even considered it, this ended up being a lot of fun. Of course, I then visualised these five guys (six if you count Ciel) in a room together and realised there is no way I’m stepping foot into that room. And with the exception of Natsume, am I noticing a trend in my type of anime guy? Definitely. Now the question would be, if this was a real harem, who would be the OTP? Karandi and…

Nope. Can’t see it. Not with any of them.

I tag (no obligation):


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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OWLS Blog Tour: The Compliance Trap Within Soul Society

Welcome to my very first OWLS (OWLS stands for Otaku Warriors for Liberty and Self-Respect) post. I’m super excited to be on board this month and joining in the tour. OWLS  are a group of otaku bloggers who promotes acceptance of all individuals regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and disability. OWLS emphasize the importance of respect, kindness, and tolerance to every human being. Each month, OWLS will look at a specific theme. If you want to know more, please do click on the logo in the side bar.

The theme for May: Movement

We join movements, organizations, and systems that align with our own personal values and beliefs. Sometimes we join these groups because they believe in doing good and making positive changes in society. However, these movements can turn sour when a dictator arises or behind the good intentions, there’s a hidden agenda of oppression. It is in these groups that individuals start to shape their identities by questioning their values and beliefs or conforming to the system. This month, we will be examining “real and/or fictitious” movements, organizations, or systems in anime and other pop culture mediums, and the positive and negative effects they have on individuals and society.

Soul Society

Soul Society (Bleach seasons 1 – 3):

There’s no denying that organisations and governments get an incredibly rough representation in the vast majority of literature. They make for easy targets to be portrayed as impersonal, corrupt, violent and oppressive. They can easily symbolise everything that is keep you the individual from reaching your potential and keeping you down and there’s something quite cathartic about watching one headstrong individual take the mammoth organisation down. Very David and Goliath really and it speaks to a wide audience as the vast majority of people are not part of the them that these stories are vilifying for our pop-corn entertainment.

Soul Society5

That isn’t to say that a strong message about the need for individuals to be aware of the power of organisations and to watch for corruption isn’t a valuable thing. 1984 in particular left a lasting impression in the minds of many and has been imitated multiple times since because the fear that our individual freedoms will be eroded without us even noticing is fairly sound in the modern world.

Be that as it may, there’s one organisation that immediately sprang to mind when I saw the topic for this blog tour and that was Soul Society in Bleach. What I find truly remarkable about this is we do in fact have a mostly faceless organisation rife with corruption and power mad individuals, where people are reduced to numbers, there’s a definite ‘us and them’ mentality, and yet despite this, Ichigo’s charge into Soul Society to rescue Rukia didn’t end in a fiery explosion bringing an end to this cesspit of a governing body but rather simply rooted out one individual who took advantage of the corruption and then left the corrupt leadership pretty much in-tact to continue business as usual and yet that was meant to be some kind of triumphant ending to an arc.

If you’ve never watched Bleach that would probably confuse you but there’s some definite points that need to be raised here as well as speculation as to the reason we don’t simply burn it all down and start over at the end of season 3.

Firstly, Ichigo never actually cared about Soul Society or its rules or laws at all. He barely knew about Soul Society, went there with limited knowledge, and his goal was not to liberate or create some kind of Utopian afterlife for souls. He went to Soul Society to save Rukia. Once she was saved, his work was essentially done and he had no further issue or reason to meddle in Soul Society’s affairs. And let’s be honest, Ichigo wasn’t exactly a political figure. He was a relatively jaded high school boy. Realistically he wasn’t interested in Japanese politics so what business did he have caring about Soul Society. The only thing he ever fought were those individuals who directly stood in his path. The fact that they worked for Soul Society was pretty much a non-point for him.

Secondly, those who reside within Soul Society tended to accept the situation as it was. There were the outer districts with the poor and then there were the extreme wealthy and then there were the Soul Reapers and everyone had their place and with one or two exceptions people complied with the expected behaviours of someone within that strata. Even if Ichigo had decided to destroy it all, they essentially would have rebuilt the exact same system because those living within it didn’t desire change. They were compliant within the system and it seemed most couldn’t have even imagined a different system.

Soul Society6

This is despite the obvious flaws that were identified with this system during this arc. The only reason the villain got away with his plot was because he exploited these obvious weaknesses. Those who gave orders were faceless individuals in Central 46 but none of the Captains ever seemed to go there to speak with them directly. Messages were distributed via butterflies and not one of the Captains ever questioned those orders even when the extreme nature of Rukia’s punishment kept getting pushed. Okay, eventually some did question but this was a long way down the line and it was already well and truly too late.

Furthermore, the division between the squads and their captains, not healthy rivalry but outright division, ensured that each group was more or less blind. Information was not shared between all squads and individuals until very late in the piece and by then the villain had already pretty much achieved his goal.

Also, the system itself reduced people to skills and numbers. Qualities such as empathy or forethought or just being level-headed were not valued as such things aren’t really quantifiable. Instead fighting abilities and spiritual energy were raised up as the mark of strength and strength ruled regardless of how inappropriate for the role or where it was leading others to. This meant that a great many with clear abilities and gifts of value were overlooked or looked down upon. Most of squad 4 in point of fact were treated horribly despite the fact that they serve an incredibly valuable function in healing others as well as a myriad of other essential functions within the society. Those with such a gift should not be scorned and yet here they are treated largely like baggage.

Soul Society4

Finally, the society was stagnating. Stuck in a past model where new ideas and approaches were openly scorned, the society was unable to grow and evolve with the individuals within it. One thing that remains true of all societies is that they evolve over time and a society that openly tries to stop progress is one that is pretty much doomed to failure or to at least repeating the same errors over and over again.

The entirety of Soul Society and the tenants it is built upon is fatally flawed, which probably explains why so many bad things happen and take the residents by total surprise each and every time.

Soul Society3

And yet, unlike any Western film that would tackle such a story, the hero did not kill the leaders of this corrupt body and blow up some symbol of their power and then declare the people free. Instead we see him listening to Rukia, acknowledging her choice to stay, and then departing. He even agrees to work with Soul Society as a substitute shinigami in the future.

The thing is, by the end of season 3, most of the Captains know there is a problem. Most of their lieutenants are starting to look at their society with fresh eyes. While change doesn’t then occur immediately, over the course of Bleach we do see small steps forward for Soul Society that could not have occurred if a violent uprising had been the catalyst. Instead we see those who are leading the organisation starting to communicate more, starting to work in slightly different ways, and trying to avoid the pitfalls of the past. They aren’t exactly successful or rushing things by any means, but there’s certainly evidence of a change.

What this leaves the viewer with is a very different outlook from other stories and movies where we are left with the notion that corrupt systems must be immediately dismantled, violently if necessary, or are left with the notion that the government cannot be beaten. Stories like Bleach, and even Psycho Pass, make the viewer consider the slower but potentially more lasting change that can be constructed by working within a system and taking on each problem one at a time. Building on past successes and building bridges with others to try to overcome the past.

There’s no long term answer given as to whether or not this approach would work within the anime, that isn’t really the point anyway. So we’ll say goodbye to Soul Society here and turn our attention to those who rule in the real world and whether we are falling into the compliance trap and accepting things we should not, or whether we lack the imagination to even perceive what might be changed. And more importantly, turning our attention to our attitudes towards organisations we don’t like. Sometimes systems that seem terrible to an outsider work for those who uphold the system and work within it and even if the system isn’t working for those within, change driven from an external source may not be the best option.

Soul Society7

The Schedule for May:

If you’ve missed any posts on the tour or want to know who is up next, the schedule is below. Be sure to check out some of the great bloggers and their posts this month.

1: Matthew Castillo (Matt-in-the-Hat)

2: Kat (GrimmGirl.com)

4: Auri (Manga Toritsukareru Koto)

7: Miandro (Miandro’s Side)

8: Irina (Drunken Anime Blog)

9: Matt (MattDoyleMedia)

10: Mel (Mel in Anime Land)

15: Zoe (Let’s Talk Anime)

16: Scott (Mechanical Anime Reviews)

17: Karandi (100 Word Anime)

18: Carla (PopCultureLiterary)

20: Marth (Marth’s Anime Blog)

21: Marina (Anime B&B)

22: Gloria (The Nerdy Girl News)

23: Takuto (Takuto’s Anime Cafe)

24: Dylan (DynamicDylan)

25: Andrea (All Andrealinia)

28: Shokamoka (Shokamoka’s Blog of Wonders)

30: Mistress of Yaoi (Yaoi Playground)

31: Naja B. (Nice Job Breaking It, Hero)


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Tuesday’s Top 5: English Dubbed Anime

While I’m pretty much a strictly sub-watcher under normal circumstances, there are the occasional anime that for whatever reason I’ve enjoyed in English or had to watch the English dub of. Today I count down my five favourite anime that I’m pretty happy to watch in English. At some point I’ll have to count down my top 5 least favourite dubs, but for now I’m counting down my favourites and I’d love to know what some of your favourite dubbed anime is and why.

Please note, there will probably be no spoilers this week.

Honourable Mentions: K

Number 5: Bleach

Fight-Bleach

Bleach is a weird one because I know the dub isn’t that great (not that bad, but not that great). However, given this was one of the earlier anime I watched and initially I was watching episodes in smaller than ten minute chunks on YouTube so the subs were not always done by the same group and some episodes were in English with Spanish subs, actually getting to listen to it in English and not try to work out what the slightly different translated term or name was in the subs was kind of a relief when I could access it in English. There’s definitely a fondness and a nostalgia factor at work here and realistically I mostly watch this one in Japanese now that I own the DVD’s, but when watching with others I’m pretty happy to watch this either subbed or dubbed.

Number 4: Soul Eater

Maka + Soul

Is it wrong if I admit I prefer Maka’s English voice over her Japanese? She’s one of my favourite female characters of all time, one I’ve bothered to cosplay, and I think she’s amazing but something about Laura Bailey’s delivery in the English dub really lifts this character. Again, no actually issue with the original Japanese and I prefer Black Star in Japanese to English (though personally I’d prefer him on mute) but overall this is one of my favourite anime and I watch it in English about half the time I watch it.

Number 3: Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood

Full Metal.jpg

This is another anime I originally watched online, somewhere, because everyone said it was amazing and I didn’t have access. The version I watched just happened to be an English dub and I really fell in love with the characters. By the time I was able to by a DVD copy of this anime, I kind of felt the English voices fit things just right and I actually find it odd when watching this one in Japanese. There’s a real energy to the cast and the characters really do come through beautifully in the dub.

Number 2: Sword Art Online

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While I love the Japanese of this one, this is an anime that I’ve used on multiple occasions to get people into watching anime so I’ve watched the dub, a lot. At first it kind of bothered me but over multiple watches, the voices have definitely grown on me. There are some characters that really do give a fairly impressive performance in the cast and while I prefer Kirito speaking Japanese, he works quite well in the English dub. More importantly, most of the people I’ve watched it with have been impressed by the voice acting given most of them had previously had limited experience with anime and most of the dubs they had been familiar with were 90’s ones which we should probably all agree just weren’t very good.

Number 1: Steins;Gate

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Yes, it is the original Steins;Gate series. I’ve mentioned in more than one comment online that this one of the few series where I prefer the dub. Not only are the cast amazing, it relieves the problem of the very quick dialogue and multiple characters speaking at the same time. While I have no issues with subs, when the subs cover a third of the screen and pass so quickly you can’t read it all at times, it becomes a slight distraction from the overall enjoyment. Watching this in English is a joy and one I would happily recommend skipping the subs on and just switching straight to dub.

What are some of your favourite dubs?


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Tuesday’s Top 5: Smart Anime Characters

Before getting into this list, I will point out that one of the most annoying things in stories than an anime character who the audience is told is smart who then acts like a complete air-head for the entire run-time. I get that some characters are smart in one specific skill and therefore have issues at other things, but some supposedly smart characters just act really dumb. Therefore, my list is focusing on consistency. Characters who are smart and who consistently seem to think through their actions, even if they don’t always draw the right conclusions.

That said, I’d love to know who you would have included on your list of smart anime characters so please leave a comment below.

Please note, there will be spoilers below.

Honourable Mentions: Light (Death Note), Uruhara (Bleach), and Ami (Sailor Moon).


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Number 5: Lelouch (Code Geass)

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Realistically I understand the Lelouch made a lot of mistakes. Still, given he was a high school student who was presented with a sudden opportunity to take what he wanted, he actually thought through quite a few things and had a lot more success than he might have if he wasn’t such a quick thinker. Ultimately, for all the mistakes Lelouch made, he found a way back and some of his plans were pretty brilliant. Probably Lelouch’s biggest problem early on was over-confidence but after the end of season 1 he seemed to overcome that and from then on he was pretty good at what he was doing.


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Number 4: Rei (March Comes in Like a Lion)

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Rei is a genius Shogi player. He doesn’t get much about life and what he does get, he overthinks horribly, but considering his age and experience, the boy is pretty smart. Even though he puts himself down all the time and, particularly in season one, he paints himself in a negative light, he’s someone who is managing to live on his own, study his craft, and attempt to finish school mostly on his own. He’s one smart cookie and one who deserves to give himself a bit of praise every now and then for what he has achieved and he shouldn’t worry so much about his failures.

Number 3: Kurisu (Steins;Gate)

Steins - Microphone

I had a hard time deciding between Okabe and Kurisu, but ultimately Kurisu is the more logical and the one more likely to put the hard work in to figure out what makes things tick. Okabe’s more manic approach may stumble upon a success every now and again, but Kurisu is the one who can begin to understand the how and the why and the limitations. Almost all of the adaptations to the phone-microwave as the series went on were because of Kurisu’s testing and meticulous work and so she well and truly deserves her place on this list. That and she managed to not kill Okabe for calling her Christina.


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Number 2: Tatsuya Shiba (The Irregular at Magic High School)

Irregular5

For someone who can’t perform well on the standardised tests of his world, Tatsuya Shiba more than makes up for it everywhere else. Brilliant at magical theory, manipulating magical devices, and generally figuring out ways around his limitations, he’s more or less unstoppable (which would kind of be why so many people throw the overpowered label at him). Be that as it may, he’s a very smart character and one I would not want to be up against in any battle of wits – though that’s probably true of every character on this list.

Number 1: Korosensei (Assassination Classroom)

assassination-classroom

For all that he ended up an experiment that went a bit wrong, Korosensei proves over and over again that he knows his stuff as a teacher. He delivers the curriculum across a range of subjects and also expands the students’ knowledge into a whole range of fields.  If it wasn’t for the whole blow up the world thing, he’d be the perfect teacher and he certainly deserves his place as number one on my list.

And that’s my list but I’d love to know what would make your list.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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