Tuesday’s Top 5: Males with Silver Hair

Here’s the list of my top 5 male anime characters with silver hair. I’m going to admit, this was a far harder list to put together than the female one. There are so many silver haired males out there that I wanted to include. Plus, splitting the one and two spot this week was all but impossible so I finally went with overall good looks which means I now feel really bad about number 2. Anyway, my primary criteria, other than having silver, white or gray hair, was that they are an interesting character that I enjoy watching. Still, this one was really difficult. I’d love to know who you would have included so please leave me a comment.

Also, next week I have a Top 5 list suggested by Kendra Ressler who is one of my patrons. As part of their reward tier they get to suggest three post topics in a year and this is their first one and it is focussed on My Hero Academia. I’m really looking forward to writing it and even though the post will come out after I’ve gone on break, I’m hoping everyone will enjoy it. Thanks to Kendra for the great suggestion.

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

Honourable mentions go to Undertaker (Black Butler), Tomoi (Kamisama Kiss) and Lag Seeing (Letter Bee).

Number 5: Hitsugaya from Bleach

 

 

It feels kind of wrong for Hitsugaya to be so low on this list given I absolutely love him as a character but when I thought about why I liked him, his hair doesn’t feature very high. his attitude, his sword, his eyes and his very cool ice power featured heavily, but his hair style and colour were more of a side note. Still, Hitsugaya is an amazing character so I’m glad he didn’t fall off the list altogether.

Number 4: Zero from Vampire Knight

 

 

As much as I do tend to mock Vampire Knight and its storyline, I have to admit Kiryuu Zero is a really fun character to watch. That’s probably slightly mean to say given most of what you are watching is his descent into depression as the vampire hunter transforms into a vampire and feels incredible guilt over sucking the blood of his crush but I just enjoy him as a character. As for his hair colour, other than providing a strong contrast with the other love interest, I really couldn’t imagine Zero with any other colour. He always seems a little washed out and detached from the world and his hair kind of helps give that impression.

Number 3: Weismann from K

 

 

This issue with Weismann is that we see so very little of him. Flashbacks are all well and good but given his body is snatched before the events of the first episode of K, we really don’t see much of him. That said, his silver hair, given he’s the silver king and all, is kind of important and I really enjoy his character (what little we see of it). Brilliant and detached with a slightly off-beat sense of humour, he remains an enigma even after he regains his memories and I absolutely love every moment of screen time he gets.

Number 2: Allen Walker from D Gray Man

 

 

I know. I can’t believe Allen isn’t number 1 on this list either. Much like Zero, Allen is a pretty tragic character to watch and I can’t get enough of it. He’s one of my favourite characters of all time. Want a strong and loyal character who will literally fight to the death and even beyond for what he believes to be right but isn’t exactly a saint? Then Allen will entertain you for hours (and hours and hours given the run time of the show now). Though I definitely have a preference for his character design in the original series rather than Hallow (too colourful in Hallow).

Number 1: Victor from Yuri on Ice

 

 

I did warn you at the beginning I split 1 and 2 by overall looks and as much as I love Allen as a character, Victor is pretty impressively charming. I think it was the fact that for once there was an anime character who was actually in his late twenties that was being treated as desirable by pretty much everyone rather than as an old man (typical of high school anime) that really got me focussed on his character. Then, of course, there’s his talent, charisma, and developing relationship with Yuri, and all and all I really did fall in love with his character during Yuri on Ice – even if I know that in reality his personality would drive me completely crazy.

So there is my list of silver haired anime males. Who would you include on yours?


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Friday’s Feature: What Does Orihime Really Contribute To Bleach?

There’s no denying that I’ve been a massive Bleach fan for a fairly long time now. It was one of the first anime I watched as an adult and it really contributed to my ongoing love of anime. However, despite finding Bleach hilarious, entertaining, exciting, and just fun to watch, the flaws of the series are pretty much open secrets not just to those who endured all that filler to get to an ending that ultimately went about sixty episodes past where it should have (though that’s debatable) but also to those who just listened in to the discussions about Bleach.

So why am I picking on Orihime?

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I’m going to put it out there, that in the first season of Bleach I really liked Orihime’s character. Then she kind of became mostly useless either sitting on the sidelines or wringing her hands in fear as everyone else contributed for a few seasons. In season 7, she had few moments of genuine cool. Really, the start of season 7 actually gave her a little bit of agency as she made her choices and worked at becoming stronger. Then she became a Princess in a cage; worse, just bait to lure in everyone else. She wasn’t even actually valuable as a hostage.

This actually isn’t a problem just for Orihime. Bleach suffers from an extraordinarily large and frequently underutilised cast. Regularly the various Shinigami are prevented from acting by the most arbitrary of reasons just to ensure Ichigo and company can actually be the ones who swoop in and save the day. Then even amongst Ichigo and his friends, the others are almost always sidelined by the final battle. They might get their match up and few moments to shine with in a fight but ultimately the show is all about Ichigo and they aren’t allowed to steal his thunder (even when it seems like they’d be better suited to take on the current threat).

However, I’m going to pick specifically on Orihime for three reasons.

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01. The show expects us to take her seriously as a love interest eventually and while we know Ichigo loves saving Damsels in Distress he isn’t the Captain of the Enterprise sweeping them off their feet. Why is Orihime unique compared to the other characters or the other girls he rescues along the way?

Part of the answer to that lies in season 1 where we see that Ichigo has some genuine feelings toward Orihime as a human being. He remembers (after some prodding) the death of her brother and how she cried. He also works to remind the brother of his love for his sister (given he empathises with the older brother’s plight). While this might not seem overly significant, Ichigo’s character is pretty insular and doesn’t have a lot of genuine connections. Other than Chad, the guys he hangs out with at school are just there. He talks to them but shows little human warmth toward them. Same with most of the girls. Ichigo even remembering Orihime (vaguely though it may be) was a pretty stand out moment.

However, the show then drops this line of thought for a lot of seasons. And I mean, a lot. While it is clear Orihime is fixated on Ichigo, he’s just doing his thing swinging his sword around and other than treating her like every other person who tries to help him out, there’s really not a lot there. Realistically, if it weren’t for Orihime’s ongoing friendship with Rukia, you might have forgotten she existed at all.

Then, we get Orihime’s farewell after she gets given 12 hours to say goodbye. For all that it makes sense for Orihime to feel the way she does as she has remained stuck on Ichigo, Ichigo’s reaction to Orihime being missing seems blown way out of proportion given how little attention he’s paid her in any of the previous arcs since the first one. The end result of this is that you often aren’t sure if this is a relationship developing or merely a girl making puppy dog eyes at an indifferent guy.

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02. The second reason I’m going to pick on Orihime is the severe underutilisation of her power. Not only is she not used well as a character, she has quite possibly the coolest power in a show full of characters with crazy powers, and other than the healing (which isn’t actually healing so much as rejecting past injuries right out of existence) Orihime almost never gets to do anything. She shields occasionally but either gets blown back anyway or just gets stuck standing and holding a shield. But that’s about as far as it goes.

Let’s imagine the fight between Grimmjow and Ichigo for a moment where Orihime is standing on the pillar looking on all frightened and concerned. She’s occasionally shielding herself but mostly she’s just standing their looking worried though her inner monologue tries to convince us she knows Ichigo will win (and hey, plot armour certainly agrees with her). What if she’d actually thrown the shield in between them as Grimmjow had tried to land a hit on Ichigo and then, after Grimmjow’s momentum was lost, she dropped the shield allowing Ichigo pretty much a free hit. Think how much faster that fight would have been over.

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Okay, Ichigo would have been ticked off at the cheap stunt, but who cares. Life or death situation people. But no, Orihime will stand quietly and wait because Ichigo asked her to. She may as well be a golden cup waiting to be claimed for all the good she’s doing as a character in this sequence and this isn’t the only time Orihime is given a similar role during a fight.

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03. Finally, worse than simply not being an empowered female character (we get that it is a male action anime and while there are some tough women in the story, it isn’t exactly the champion of equal opportunity) Orihime makes the fatal error of losing any sense of a personality. Season 1 introduces us to a girl who has had tragedy in her past but makes up for it by smiling brightly and throwing herself at whimsical fantasies. She makes creative food choices, laughs with her friends, and liberally interprets school assignments. At no point does she succumb to simply being an air-head as she is a keen observer of those around her and is one of the few that notes Ichigo’s change after Rukia arrives and one of the few who notices Rukia’s disappearance.

By the end of its run, Orihime may still be the one who consoles others and has a word of encouragement but all of her other personality traits have been diminished to almost nothingness. Other than the occasional silly line, she’s mostly a flat character who is almost impossible to differentiate from any of the other supporting cast members.

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So what does Orihime contribute to Bleach? She’s a plot point, a trophy, a get-out-of-jail free card with her healing ability, and an occasionally remembered love interest but what she isn’t, at least not consistently, is a character.

Again, that criticism could probably be levelled at over half the cast of Bleach, but for Orihime, who started out so dynamically, it seems like such a shame that she was reduced so much over the seasons.

What are your thoughts on Orihime or any of the characters in Bleach?


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Tuesday’s Top 5: Girls in a Shonen Anime

I was inspired to write this list after watching My Hero Academia episode 22 on the weekend and then seeing this tweet:

Tweet - Shonen.JPG

It got me thinking about all the female characters in shonen anime and how usually they get sidelined or end up in support roles (healer, archer, etc). So I started thinking about my favourite female characters in these shows who defy the odds and actual get to be a front line fighter (even if only in the lead ups to final battles where the male protagonist of course steals back the show – it is shonen afterall). My other criteria for a spot on the list was I actually had to like them as a character. Just being a crazy fighter didn’t quite cut it if I couldn’t stand them whenever they were on screen.

Anyway, this is my list and I’d love for you to tell me who you would have included on yours.

Please Note – There will be spoilers below.

Honourable Mentions: Mikasa from Attack on Titan and Morgiana from Magi.

Number 5: Lenalee from D Gray Man

I really wondered about Lenalee and whether to include her or not. Mikasa was looking fairly tempting given she’s undeniably a better fighter, but Lenalee wins in terms of mostly having an actual personality other than save Eren. So what makes Lenalee awesome? During the early half of D Gray Man, she’s a very active fighter. She shows Allan the ropes of being part of the order and she holds her own in some pretty horrific fights. The first battle Lenalee and Allan have against Road Camelot takes a massive toll on both Lenalee and Allan but Lenalee is in that fight all the way. The second half of the original 103 episodes Lenalee gets a couple of exceedingly cool moments with a fight that literally destroys her innocence and ends up encasing her in crystal. She’s pretty much out of active combat at that point until we get to the final battle of that particular run of episodes where Lenalee’s innocence evolves and she gets a brand new power up just in time to help Allan win the fight. Admittedly though, you are just as often going to see Lenalee serving various characters cups of tea.

Number 4: Rukia from Bleach

Rukia is another strong female character that suffers from having her power broken/stolen/whatever in order to allow the male character a chance to actual grow and catch up. It would be lovely if we could just a female character strong and not need to be crippled for a good chunk of the plot for narrative convenience but apparently that is asking for a little too much (back to Mikasa, she hasn’t been crippled physically but emotionally she’s pretty stunted). Anyway, Rukia doesn’t get to show us how amazing she is for pretty much the entire first three seasons given Ichigo takes her power at the end of episode 1. Still, if you make it past that point, when Rukia comes back into the show you see the very capable shinigami that she is and her sword definitely does have one of the prettiest attacks in the show, if freezing your enemies solid can be considered pretty. What I really like about Rukia is her versatility. She uses her sword but she also uses a range of other attacks and thinks through her fights.

Number 3: Uraraka from My Hero Academia

Okay, one tournament fight does not make her an awesome fighter but seriously, Uraraka has been hanging in there right from the beginning. Despite a pretty timid personality she has stepped up to every challenge so far. She’s also a nice person. We’ve recently learned how fierce her desire to be a hero is and yet she still tried to give away her spot to Midoriya after the entrance exam. That’s a pretty impressive move for someone who is desperate to succeed. However, nice or not, hanging in there through every challenge including villains attacking the school, none of that is the reason for her place on the list. That one tournament fight is enough to show us that this girl is deadly serious about becoming a hero one day. She may not be there yet but her tenacity, skill, and focus were amazing and this girl really needs more attention on her.

Number 2: Akari from Hitsugi no Chaika

This one might be a weird choice and I will admit her weird brother focus does kind of make her a weird character at times, but Akari is fantastic. As a saboteur she’s got a fair range of skills at her disposal. I know most of the focus is on Toru, but Akari is in pretty much every fight and the majority of them wouldn’t have succeeded without her presence given the two siblings plan and one acts as bait or a distraction while the other usually either sets up the trap or pulls off whatever goal they are currently working towards. Also, there are two occasions where Akari turns on Toru (once for fun and once after brain washing). Both times, Akari pushes Toru hard. If you think Akari is just there for comic relief or rival love interest, think again. She’s a cold fighter and you better not be her opponent.

Number 1: Maka from Soul Eater

Okay, this was a given from the get go. Maka is not only an awesome fighter, hard worker, and academic, she’s also one of the few girls on the list who doesn’t lose her powers midway through a series and gets to be the main character and doesn’t lose out to the main guy in the show. Admittedly, she does go a little mad during one of the story arcs, but crazy Maka is kind of fun too (and a significantly stronger fighter due to a lack of care for personal safety). Actually, Soul Eater gets a double hit here because I’d love to also add Tsuabaki (Black Star’s weapon) to the list. She doesn’t get the spot light much but when she does, she really shines (plus she deserves a medal for putting up with Black Star).

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So that’s my list this week with my top 5 girls in shonen anime (okay, technically 6). I’d love to know who would have been on your list and which girls stand out to you.


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Tuesday’s Top 5: Fight Sequences

I thought this list would be pretty easy but then I ended up with a short list so long I couldn’t even begin to figure out where to go from there so I’ve narrowed the field. This is my choice of top 5 fight sequences that involve a blade of some description. So magic fights, gun fights, hand to hand fights, and random other weapons are being ruled out before this list even begins (though if one person in the fight is using a blade, I’ve kept it in the running even if the opponent isn’t). I’ll have to go back and do a list of fights that involve some of those at some point but that’s not today. Pretty much what I am looking for in a fight sequence is that it looks good, is entertaining, and serves some purpose in the overall story.

As always, I’d love to know what you would include on your list so please feel free to leave a comment below.

Please Note – There will be spoilers below.

Honourable mentions this week go to Angel Beats (Yurippe vs Tenshi) and Attack on Titan (pretty much any time Levi is actually fighting).

Number 5: Higurashi (Rena vs Keiichi)

For an anime about school children, Higuarshi regularly get’s quite dark. However, there aren’t all that many direct fights as the characters are more prone to acts of torture, drugging opponents, setting traps, and generally go about things in a less direct but still fairly lethal manner. That’s kind of what makes the fight between Rena and Keiichi on the rooftop of the school extraordinary. It is one of the few stand up fights of the series and is an excellent way for the first season to draw to a close. Now I’ll be the first to admit, Higurashi is not a good anime to look at. Characters are off model a lot and the animation is awkward at times. That didn’t interfere with this fight being very cool to watch as it really brought out the characters, addressed some of the ongoing questions about what was going on, and it certainly had high stakes given the situation they were in. All and all, this fight was a great mid-way point in Higurashi’s ongoing story and one I thoroughly enjoy watching.

Number 4: Sword Art Online (Kirito vs The Gleam Eyes)

As much as people like to criticise SAO, I really enjoy it and one of the fights I never get enough of is Kirito vs The Gleam Eyes. Partly its the impossible situation the characters are in. Neither Asuna nor Kirito were looking for a boss fight and it was only because the other group of morons trudged into a boss room unprepared that they get involved at all. partly its because we finally see Kirito use the dual welding skill and the sword that he had made. But a lot of the reason I like this fight is it is just fun and dramatic to watch. Okay, we know Kirito is going to win the fight from the beginning, but that does not take away from the way this sequence builds excitement and tension. Although, from a visual point of view they really do get a bit excessive with the light show at times and I’m guessing if you look at fights for actual technique this one probably won’t do much for you. Mind you, a lot of the credit has to go to the music in this scene. They really nailed it.

Number 3: Soul Eater (Maka vs Jack the Ripper)

The very first episode of Soul Eater delivers one of the best fight sequences I had ever watched (when I first saw the episode). It was the reason I fell in love with the series and Maka as a character. She’s cool, confident, and she is rocking that scythe. Anyway, if you’ve never seen this particular fight, you should check it out (it is literally all over YouTube or you know, watch the anime). Though I still love this fight, Soul Eater is full of interesting battles between characters, and some fairly interesting weapons, and really ends up being visually fascinating to watch.

Number 2: Bleach (Gin vs Hitsugaya)

Alright, you kind of had to know Bleach was showing up on this list sooner or later, and here it is. The reason for this fight over most of the others is that even though both Captains use their swords there are no bankai going on here, no over the top silly powers, just a nice simple fight between two characters, that may or may not end up involving bystanders, Gin really does fight dirty. Part of me loves this fight because Hitsugaya really has lost his cool entirely and part of me loves this fight because even though Hitsugaya has the upper hand most of the way through the fight, because he doesn’t consider that Gin will use underhanded methods, he still technically loses. It is great fun to watch and in a show filled with epic, ongoing and long winded fights, this one is short, brutal, and fairly effective (even if not quite as spectacular as some of the others).

Number 1: DanMachi (Bell vs the Minotaur)

Given the series starts with Bell getting cornered by a Minotaur, the turning point for the story and Bell as a character is when he finally is forced to take on a Minotaur single handedly in order to buy time for others to escape. Eventually other adventurers show up but by that stage Bell is pretty committed to taking the thing down by himself and what follows is one of the best fight sequences I’ve ever seen. Tiny dagger and character against very large and strong minotaur, it literally takes everything Bell has got (speed, magic, endurance, as well as a lot of tenacity) to win the fight and it is so worth it. It is one of those moments you can’t look away from. For all the silliness that DanMachi has littered through it, it is the moments like this one that really make the show shine. This sequence is cool to watch, it has a lot of memorable moments, there’s some real tension and fear for the protagonist’s safety (though you know he’ll live there’s definitely the question of how injured they’ll let him get), and the pace is fantastic. All and all, this is a fight that I love rewatching.

So that is my top 5 fights (using blades of some description). What would you have put on your list? Looking forward to your responses.


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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)

long-hair5

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)

long-hair2

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)

long-hair1

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.

ichigo

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.

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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.

Ichigo v Kuchiki.png

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.

death_note

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:

Quote - anime1.jpg

(Bleach)

Quote - anime2.png

quote-anime3

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

Club.jpg

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.