Feature: I Am Human – But What Does That Mean?


Anime does a lot of things. It shows us amazing places and takes us on wild adventures. It can make us laugh or cry or wince or groan. It can make our eyes widen in shock and it can bore us to tears. However, what it does every now and then is really make us think. So when a character declares, “I am human”, anime can really make me question what that statement even means.

This is part of why I love stories. Even stupid comedies sometimes hold a much greater truth than we might realise and thinking about those themes and messages, while enjoying a great show, is really rewarding.

I am human!

This week I want to look at anime that look at what it means to be human and have characters declaring, metaphorically if not literally, that “I am human”. And the list is huge and there are plenty of amazing quotes and gifs out there that deal with this and I’m sure that people will tell me I missed some of the most obvious in the discussion below.

I will say I deliberately have avoided Evangelion. At some point I’m going to get into that anime on this blog and I’ll leave that discussion for that later.

Now, some anime are pretty heavy handed when making a statement or delivering a moral message. One that immediately springs to mind is Parasyte. This is a really enjoyable anime but the conflict of our main character, Shinichi, as he wonders whether he is human or not after his arm is taken over by a parasite and his ongoing moral dilemmas about killing people, fighting and the like is anything but subtle.

Ultimately Shinichi does make his metaphorical declaration: “I am human” though his definition of human ends up being somewhat realigned.

Shinichi - Parasyte
I am human - right?

Basically Shinichi wants to protect people from the parasites but is too weak to do this by himself. So he is forced to cooperate with Migi (the name he gave the parasite that is his right hand) in his attempts to protect his friends, family and occasional random stranger. However, Migi isn’t all that cooperative. He doesn’t see the point in risking his own existence for another. Cue long conversations about right and wrong and the value and meaning of life.

While it might sound like I’m belittling it, I’m not.

I really loved Parasyte and at least it didn’t try to be smarter than it was. Both Shinichi and Migi evolved as characters through gaining insight into the others point of view. The blending of what is originally a clear binary opposition and what the compromise looks like really is the take-away from the show and leaves you wondering where you would have ended up if placed in a similar situation.

I Might Be Human

Then we have Gundam, a franchise that is so heavy handed with the morals and messages that at times it is difficult to see individual characters as anything other than the voice of whatever moral viewpoint they have been appointed at that point in the plot.

But really, all these characters want the world to realise: “I am human”. They suffer and die but they fight for what they believe and they want to be acknowledged.

While most of these revolve around war and the futility of fighting and dying while also trying to acknowledge the necessity of these things, they also sometimes dive headlong into the overall discussion of what it means to be human and what motivates us to act.

Weapons or humans. I am human - but I hurt others?

Asking why sometimes seems incredibly futile but it is these questions and reflections that actually make up the stronger emotional side of several of the Gundam series (you know, the parts that aren’t giant robots shooting or stabbing each other).

Similarly, asking what it means when someone claims “I am human” is a question that cannot be so simply answered.

The strength of Gundam is the sheer number of characters which gives more or less every audience member someone to agree with in terms of how they feel about the essential weakness of the human character.

I Forgot but I am Still Human?

Yet life and death aren’t the only elements of what it is to be human. Golden Time tackles several questions about the human experience including a sense of self and personal identity as well as how we define ourselves through relationships. And it is on how we create and maintain relationships with others that Golden Time really manages to shine.

I experience the human experience - I am human for sure.

The other questions the show asks always feel a little forced given most of us aren’t an amnesiac with a dual personality caused by the soul of our past self trying to bump out the soul of our present existence. It kind of makes it hard to relate to.

However, the romance and the heart break and how we deal with others, that we can watch and understand and really feel for some of these characters even as we wonder how we would cope in such a situation.

And the statement “I am human” becomes so much more important to this character as so much else is hidden behind a veil of mystery and confusion. What else do they have to cling to if their humanity is denied?

I Will Know Who I Am Even If I Don’t Yet

But if you were after an anime that decided to tackle identity, Charlotte gives it a good go, though you may find this theme hard to follow as at times it confronts it head on and at others it leaves you to fill the gaps in how the characters respond. That and the story itself more or less derails (though still worth the watch).

Who am I? I am human.

Although, reading the quote above I’m always reminded a little bit of Alice In Wonderland and begin wondering, “Who Am I?” Though the answer here is: “I am human.”

I am not human.

Then we have the sheer number of ‘inhuman’ characters who cast their judgement on the human race. Which of course leads to the I know that this character was actually created by a human so it’s a human pretending to be a demon/ghost/arbiter/god/whatever speaking about their views of humanity.

When done poorly this comes off as cliché and a little inane. But, this trope can actually be done well. Sebastian from Black Butler makes numerous observations about human nature, usually in comparison to himself. He generally views humans with disdain and so lumps most of humanity into very overly generalised groups but at the same time, it is difficult to argue with his conclusions at times.

I am not human - but I will judge you.

Though demons and devils in anime are regularly used to make us wonder who the real demons are as we frequently have human characters acting far worse than the demons within particular stories. Works symbolically but one has to wonder where all the good, old-fashioned demons have gone.

However, I don’t want this post to get too caught up in the ins and outs of philosophy in anime. Keep in mind, mostly it is a form of entertainment. So sometimes, even in anime that seem like they are working very hard to have a serious message, you get a comment so off the wall it just kind of sticks with you. Hence, Potato Girl from Attack on Titan.

To be human is to eat potato.

So what anime have made you think about what it means to be human? Or just made you laugh with an incredibly obvious observation (such as people die when they are killed). I’d love to know.

And remember regardless of anything else (unless you happen to be a space alien or inter-dimensional traveller) you can always declare: I am human!

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

Princess Principal Series Review: These Spies Are Cute and Deadly



Five girls attend a prestigious school in the Kingdom of Albion (a Kingdom split in half by a wall). However, these girls are actually spies using their specific skills to complete their jobs.


Princess Principal is going to be a hard show to review really. Mostly because I loved the experience of watching it and had a lot of fun, but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t have its faults. The problem being, the longer you think about this show the more those faults become apparent. Still, there’s a lot to enjoy in this steampunkesque spy series.


Firstly, the characters are fantastic. They all seem pretty standard at first and their designs are excessively moe (to the point where I wasn’t actually planning on watching this show at all because one look at the character designs made me roll my eyes). But each of the five girls is given time and attention and back story over the course of the first half of the series and by the time we get back to seeing them operating as a full unit I had really fallen in love with these characters and their relationships. For all the holes I’m going to poke in the plot of this story later, I am not going to throw rocks at this main cast. They are a great team and a lot of fun to spend time with.


Obviously Ange and the Princess get the lion’s share of development, and that’s fine because I love both of those characters. Ange’s stoic nature and her quirky references to the Black Lizard Planet just make her an enigma that you want to figure out. She’s cold as ice when needed, illustrated clearly in the first episode where she shoots a traitor, but behind the scenes she’s definitely got a softer side. Again, seen when she made sure said traitor had insurance so that his daughter would receive medical attention. The Princess begins much as you would expect a Princess playing spy to act, but as the story progresses you see there is so much more to her than the external character she has perfected playing. These two were such a delight and when you throw in Chise, Beatrice and Dorothy this becomes one of my favourite teams in an anime I’ve seen in a long time.


Secondly, the music. Loved the opening theme to this show. It is incredibly energetic and fun. Visually it works and it does give some sense of the characters, but mostly it sets a tone for the show that it mostly lives up to even if the events aren’t quite as loud and vibrant as the opening might have you believe. Still, this is an opening I didn’t skip even once and actually went back and listened to after episodes just because it was fun to hear.


Thirdly, the setting. Okay, steampunk Victorian era is kind of done to death but I really appreciated the setting here. For the most part technology is within the realm of plausible with only one or two contraptions that seem fantastical. Mostly, it could actually be just historical (with the usual inaccuracies) and not steampunk at all but there’s enough going on that you kind of have to put it in steampunk category. Be that as it may, the world these girls live in is rich and dynamic. It isn’t a setting that they’ve been dropped onto. There are so many different groups and factions all with their own goals and motives. Even just the random workers they encounter are all crafted to feel like real people with their own story to tell. The setting is pretty fantastic.


Alright, so now we have to address the issue with the plot. To start with, the show is broken into cases that are shown to the audience in a non-chronological order. This means we meet the characters in the order the show wants us to and learn the information we need about the characters when we need to, but it means there is no real drive toward any kind of final goal. Each case has its own goal and mostly the case is irrelevant. What is important are the characters, how they interact, and what they learn from the experience. As a character piece, Princess Principal is superb but it comes at the expense of plot. There’s no real buy in from the audience as to whether it matters is the team succeed of not in many of these missions as we are never really clued in as to what the missions are trying to accomplish. While that isn’t such an issue early in the series, it is what leads us to a fairly ordinary ending.


The one plot thread we do follow most of the way through the story is Project Changeling which was a plan to have Ange kill and replace the Princess. Somewhere along the line that plan included having the Princess become part of the team, though where that left Changeling was never really determined. Then, in what seems like a desperate effort to push us into a climax when there was no real overall end goal, suddenly the guy in charge of the spies is replaced and the new guy orders Ange to kill Princess. The final two episodes follow this drama to its conclusion.


However, the wall is still there, the Princess still isn’t Queen, the old spymaster is back, the girls are for some reason in Casablanca and still carrying out missions, so the question has to be asked whether from a plot point of view this show accomplished anything? Certainly the characters have come along way and it was really fun watching them do that, but it kind of felt like the story wanted to be more than just about the power of friendship (although that may just be my own wishful thinking). Mostly, this could be resolved by giving us a second season and actually addressing the set up that this show has now that the girls have dealt with their issues and become a team.


I recommend checking this show out. It may not be for you but there is a lot of fun to be had here. It manages to balance its cute moments with some far darker tones and for the most part gets the balance right.

If you’ve seen Princess Principal I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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

Princess Principal Episode 12: Everyone Wants To Go To Casablanca


Review – Some Spoilers:

It is no surprise that Ange returns this episode, though the sheer length of time it takes her to come to that decision and act is a little questionable. Once she’s in motion though it is hard to imagine she was ever going to fail.


This episode takes us back to the feeling we had back in episode 1. Things are moving along at a good clip with car chases, gun battles, a plot to kill the Queen, and Ange desperate to save her friend. It is good fun even while the show hits some of its darker moments.


I still feel Zelda’s character would have worked better in this final arc if we’d met her earlier and had a bit more time to care about her character. Instead she comes off as a fairly ordinary villain which makes the reveal about who she is really working for seem a little last minute rather than intriguing. Also, her grand escape sequence would be cooler if I cared about her or if we knew there was going to be a second season for her to return in.


But what really shines this episode are the main characters as they reunite and save the day before heading off to Casablanca… Wait, didn’t Princess reject that idea? Why did they end up there. Just one of many questions to be asked about the ending of this show given the various groups and plots still exist, the issues in the Kingdom haven’t been resolved, the Princess still isn’t going to become Queen, and I’m not sure the spies actually accomplished anything of significance. How can a show be so fun and yet so full of holes?

Anyway, I will get around to a full series review of this show, but in the meantime, go listen to the theme song again because that can have you smiling for half a day.

Thanks for reading.

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Karandi James.


Princess Principal Episode 11: Another Fine Mess



This episode was everything you could have wanted from Princess Principal after the bombshell ending to episode 10. Ange stayed true to who she has been and attempted to throw off pursuers and then run-away with the Princess. Princess however also stayed true to who she had become and pretty much told Ange she should run off by herself.


This is kind of fantastic not because it was unexpected (because by this point it wasn’t), but because of how well this series has built up the relationship between these two characters. They are both hurt by the outcome of this confrontation and it isn’t just that they drew some tears, the audience is feeling the pain of this encounter.


That said, the rest of the episode was pretty ordinary in terms of setting up for a final. It is functional but not exceptional and the introduction of Zelda at this late stage didn’t help things along. Still, looking forward to where this goes next.

Thanks for reading.

If you enjoyed this post and like the blog, consider becoming a patron to support further growth and future content.



Karandi James.


Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime from P.A. Works

Tuesday's Top 5

While P.A. Works doesn’t excite me as much as BONES when looking for anime to watch, I have to admit, over the years P.A. Works have definitely been responsible for some of my favourite anime – and some that I’m not so fond of. Today I’m listing my favourite 5. No real criteria other than I enjoyed them. Basically all of these are really pretty anime (though the other common feature will be slightly problematic storylines). Feel free to add your favourite in the comments or tell me which studio you like.

For patrons my lesser 5 are up though there are actually only 3 titles on my list of P.A Works anime that I just don’t like (though there’s a few I’ve yet to see).

Please Note – There will be spoilers below.

Honourable mentions go to: True Tears and Hanasaku Iroha. A more recent entry would be Sirius the Jaeger. I really enjoyed it but couldn’t justify moving anything else off the list.

Number 5: Charlotte


For all the complaints about the story in this anime, I loved Charlotte. It started off really ho-hum and then it just took off and while not every part of it landed smoothly it was ambitious and it worked really hard. Plus, there was just kind of something about Charlotte that appealed to me. Whichever way, this is an anime that stuck with me after I finished watching it and every now and then I go back for another run through it just to see if I’m deluding myself but I always enjoy that watch.

Number 4: Red Data Girl


Another one where it is pretty easy to make fun of the story. Admittedly, I don’t like the rest of the series as much as I loved the first three episodes, but I still really enjoyed it. There are some good ideas and visually it is great. The story itself doesn’t really manage to achieve what it sets out to do, much like Charlotte it is overly ambitious, but it is entertaining and I quite liked the journey this anime took us on.

Number 3: Another


Classic horror, of course Another made the list. When you take P.A. Works and their very pretty, atmosphere dripped animation and couple it with horror you have a recipe for something very beautiful (in a gore covered fashion). Again, it isn’t like Another isn’t without a few issues in its story but it is great for the horror fans fo the world as this slow burning story plays out before we go to the climax where clearly the writers just went for maximum carnage (though they weren’t willing to knock off the main characters which kind of took a bit of the suspense out of it all).

Number 2: Angel Beats


It really was difficult to not put this at number 1. It is one of my favourite anime ever and it makes me laugh and cry every single time I watch it. There are some amazingly beautiful scenes in this anime as well as some awesome music. The characters are all really interesting (not very believable but interesting) and the story just drags you in and you just want to know why the characters are where they are and what they will do next. I love the crazy and over the top violence of this paired with the quieter refective moments and while I know it isn’t to everyone’s taste Angel Beats will always come up if I’m discussing my favourite anime.

Number 1: Uchouten Kazoku


So what can beat Angel Beats? Try a family of Tanuki living in Kyoto. Four brothers all working to overcome the death of their father in their own special way (including one who chose to transform into a frog and live in a well) while trying to avoid being eaten themselves. This has magic, great dialogue, humour,  interesting characters, some interesting action sequences, and a lot of heart. It’s brilliant. It’s also one of those anime that I keep forgetting about until I see it again and then I remember how amazing it is. Definitely worth a watch if you haven’t seen it before. And they’ve announced a second season which normally doesn’t get me overly excited but this world was just amazing fun (please don’t mess it up).

So that’s my list this week. Your thoughts?

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

Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime to Watch For Halloween

Tuesday's Top 5

Okay, I know Halloween was yesterday and I know it is mostly ignored in Australia as a day in general, however I just felt that this list was needed. So what criteria did I use to determine what I should be watching on Halloween? The main criteria was definitely atmosphere and tone but also looking for anime that gave me pause for thought or a little bit of a fright.

Please Note – There are spoilers below. You have been warned. Also, graphic visual warning for number 1. You have been warned.

Honourable mentions to Tokyo Ghoul (season 1), Ajin, Death Parade, Another and Higurashi. All of which would be awesome to watch for Halloween.

Number 5: D Gray Man

If you are looking for something that is dripping in atmosphere, you don’t need to look much further than the original D Gray Man. While there are comedic moments and moments of hope, these quickly get buried under the tragedies that befall each and every character (and continuously fall on protagonist Allen Walker). When his parasitic arm isn’t getting injured (leaving him defenceless and in severe pain and facing fairly painful treatment to get him moving again) he is witnessing those he has promised to protect get killed, sent on missions that he frequently doesn’t agree with the objective of, being tormented and or tortured by his enemies (and sometimes his allies), and generally suffers from severe trauma from a childhood that takes terrible anime upbringings to a whole new level.

Even ignoring the general tone and atmosphere of the show, the akuma in this series are the stuff from nightmares and the thought of a friend or loved one having been possessed is enough to award this a place on the list. Why it didn’t get number 1? The main characters remain far too upbeat given the circumstances for this to truly be the number 1 pick for a Halloween list.

Number 4: Charlotte

Yeah, if you’ve only seen the start of this you probably won’t get the choice given the start is anything but deep, atmospheric, or anything else other than generic. However, I think that makes the direction this takes even more horrific (or at the very least it catches you unprepared). As truths are revealed and our main character is forced into a fairly impossible situation, this show doesn’t hold back on showing the full cost of ‘saving’ the world on the individuals that attempt to do so.  I’m not going to say anymore about this because it’s kind of hard not to spoil, but just know going in it is going to get dark.

Number 3: Bokurano

If you haven’t seen this, stop reading and go watch it now. There’s no way to say anything about this without spoiling. Okay, so you’re still reading so I’m just going to dive straight into this. When you first see Bokurano you kind of get a very ho-hum feeling. Group of kids, chosen to pilot a robot, a lot of them have issues, yep, seen this. Bokurano very much relies on the youth of the characters to drive home tragedy but just when you think you know what you are in for, they take it to a whole new level of cruel. The impossible situation these kids find themselves in is heartbreaking and this anime possibly has the highest death count ever (mostly because every battle has entire realities on the line in the most literal sense – so while we don’t see all that many deaths outside of the main cast if you stop and think about the casualties caused every battle…).  All and all, this anime creeped me out with its concept and left me feeling just a little bit broken after watching it. Points for worst game of musical chairs ever.

Number 2: xxxHolic

This one isn’t scary or even traumatising, but it does drip atmosphere and that is why it shot so high on the list. Consistently hitting that slightly off-putting and creepy tone while exploring both supernatural and human conflicts, xxxHolic is well worth a watch and kind of fits perfectly with the overall idea of Halloween. If you want something a little less graphic and violent and just a little bit unsettling, xxxHolic is probably the perfect choice.

But if you were after graphic…

Number 1: Pupa

Now, I am going to put a warning label on this. Extremely graphic, unsettling and incest overtones. Given my fascination with horror anime, I would still class this as the darkest and most unsettling thing I ever sat through. The episodes only run 4 minutes each and the story doesn’t progress too far given there are only 12 episodes, but that is still enough to leave a very significant impression and that impression is definitely one of being thoroughly unsettled. Focussing on an abandoned pair of siblings where the younger sister is transformed into a flesh eating monster by a virus. The brother is also infected but manages to hold on to some of his humanity (though gains some remarkable regenerative abilities). In order to ‘protect’ his sister, the brother allows her to feed upon him and things only get worse from that point. Don’t expect a resolution to any of this however. If you watch this you are signing up for a one way trip down the worst thing that could ever happen without ever finding a solution or even letting the nightmare end.

So what were your picks for Halloween viewing? Were you wanting to be mildly thrilled or were you going for full on zombie and gore action?