Inquiring Minds Want to Know #23

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A deceptive question this week. It looked so easy and harmless and then I started thinking about it and my mind went round and round in circles like a mouse on one of those little wheel things. Eventually I sorted out an answer, kind of. So here we go and remember to share your answer in the comments.

I’d love to answer a question from you so fill in the survey below or DM on twitter.

What are your top three genres in anime and manga?

From Dez

When I first read this question I thought I finally got an easy one. One where I knew the answer straight away without hesitation. Of course it would be fantasy, horror and sci-fi. That’s what I’ve always loved in films and television and then into anime. However, then I started thinking about anime I have really, really loved like March Comes in Like a Lion or even Natsume Yuujinchou which is kind of fantasy but is more of a character drama than anything else, and what about Snow White With The Red Hair which is definitely a romance.


So I was a little bit torn and confused while I mulled this over. The conclusion I came to however was that the three genres that are the staple of my book and DVD collections, are genres that I am likely to low key enjoy even when they aren’t particularly well done. Okay, I’d prefer it if they were decent, but even average or cheesy works for entertainment and so a lot of my mid-range likes and comfort shows fall into these categories.

That includes anime like Shiki, Higurashi, and High School of the Dead for horror. Supernatural titles like Natsume, The Morose Mononokean, Black Butler as well as isekai anime (there really are very few pure fantasy anime out there so I kind of appreciate it when we get a high fantasy anime that isn’t isekai) make up a huge chunk of my loved and mid-range anime. Then there’s the sci-fi’s with Steins;Gate, Psycho Pass, and even Evangelion (kind of).


I know for a fact that if an anime carries any one of these labels at the start of an anime season I’ll at least try an episode and it won’t need to be all that brilliant for me to watch it. As long as I don’t actively hate it, I’ll pick it up each week. Odd though, how few anime that I would actually declare to be really well told and well made stories fall into these categories considering how many of them I watch and enjoy.

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Manga is a bit of a different story, mostly because I haven’t read a lot and more because I know that I don’t like action scenes in manga. Natsume’s Book of Friends works for me because there’s very little action and a lot of quiet and contemplative moments in the story that allow you to enjoy the art as well as the characters. Rather than just a splashy line fest over pages that becomes a convoluted mess (you can tell I have never read very far into any action manga ever).


The only other manga I’ve read at length to date (though I’ve started a few now) is Vampire Knight because a friend of mine was obsessed with it and bought the lot and lent them to me. I quite enjoyed the school/romance parts of it and even the fights weren’t that messy to read so I had fun with it.

Though, I do read some BL manga online so I guess the three genres of manga I’ve got any familiarity with are supernatural, BL and romance.

So what are your top 3 genres? Of course if you want to ask me a question please DM me on Twitter or complete the survey below.

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

Why Summer Is The Time To Watch Fantasy Anime

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Another anime season has rolled in and while there are still a few titles left to get rolling the Summer season has already proven beyond a doubt to be a boon for fans of fantasy. For those who find fantasy a little harder to take, they must be scratching their heads in search of anime to watch this season but for me the difficulty is in deciding what to prioritise for my watch list. It has been a long time since I’ve felt so spoiled for choice.

So what is good this season for fantasy viewers other than the sheer number of anime?

  • To The Abandoned Sacred Beasts Episode 2
  • Isekai Cheat Magician Episode 1
  • Cop Craft Episode 1
  • Arifureta Episode 1
  • Astra Lost in Space
  • Granbelm Episode 1
  • Demon Lord Retry Episode 1
  • Fire Force Episode 1
  • Dr Stone Episode 1
  • Uchi no Musume Episode 1

Starting with the non-isekai stories we’ve got the ridiculously cute ‘If It’s For My Daughter I’d Even Defeat a Demon Lord‘. This one is looking to have more of a slice of life focus within a fairly generic fantasy setting. For me this one is one that I’ve enjoyed the first episode of but I’m still on the fence overall. That slice of life aspect isn’t exactly my favourite and anime about cute kids only have about a 50/50 hit rate for me particularly if they spiral into the overly cutesy. Still, this one gave us a fairly solid opening act and set up an adorable father/daughter dynamic and there’s plenty of potential for it.


For something a little bit different, we’ve got the odd-couple detective team being set up in an alternative reality version of Earth with ‘Cop Craft’. This one had a bit of a shakier start but for those who are into gritty detectives and like the idea of the grizzled and jaded detective teaming up with a fairly clueless fairy girl who is apparently handy with a sword then there is some fun to be had. Not to mention at least this one gets us out of that generic pseudo-medieval setting that so many fantasy stories default to.


For magical girls and giant robots simultaneously there is the visual spectacle of ‘Granbelm’ which may or may not be setting up yet another magical girl death match. As usual we have clueless protagonist suddenly finding themselves in the midst of the battle and when push comes to shove turns out to have super magic robot powers but there’s actually some potential here for this one to end up being alright. I guess it depends on where it goes next but the first episode sure got my attention.


Then we have something that I really haven’t figured out if it is supposed to be fantasy or horror (not sure whether it has figured it out yet either) with ‘The One’s Within‘. For now I’m on the fence about it but again there’s plenty of room for growth in the story and any premiere that can mix giant pandas with ghosts certainly gets a second episode to at least try to explain itself.


However even the big hitters like ‘Dr Stone‘ and ‘Fire Force‘ have trappings of fantasy about their premises and ‘Astra Lost in Space’, while technically sci-fi really just seems like a fantastic voyage set in space. ‘Demon Slayer‘ is ongoing as is ‘Fruits Basket‘ and both of these integrate fantastic and supernatural elements into real world settings fairly seamlessly for an enjoyable watch for those who didn’t pick them up during Spring.


And of course we still have the return of ‘DanMachi’ (Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in A Dungeon) to look forward to. Believe me, I’m looking forward to that.

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Oh, and I didn’t mention ‘To The Abandoned Sacred Beasts‘ which has actually had a really solid opening two episodes and is looking at being up in my favourites for the season.


There’s others but then we turn our attention to the isekai fest that has begun this season. Hot on the tail of ‘The Rising of the Shield Hero‘ and ‘Kenja no Mago‘, this season has a plethora of protagonists being wrested from their everyday lives and thrown into fantasy land where they inevitably end up as over powered juggernauts. For those over the usual isekai trappings this will be met with a groans however for those who find the standard tale of unlikely protagonist in magic land, this is certainly a season to celebrate.

The bottom of the barrel so far seems to be ‘Demon Lord Retry‘. While there’s certainly room for growth here it certainly delivered the least inspired opening episode of the bunch and left me wondering if it intended to actually do anything that would even make it stand out. Then the second episode aired and I realised the tone they were going for with the anime and between the butt spanking and other poor attempts at humour this one is the one I feel I’m most likely going to drop of the three isekai I’ve picked up so far. On the other hand, the main character isn’t a high schooler so at least points for the non-generic isekai protagonist, now if only they’d make him interesting.


The second isekai I’ve got on my list this season is ‘Arifureta’. Now, I loved the first light novel in this series. I devoured it almost over-night because I was drawn in and couldn’t stop reading. I was kind of excited about it getting an adaptation and then I watched the first episode. While Arifureta can certainly get better given the source material they are working from, that was a really uninspiring first episode and one that feels like the people making the anime missed what was appealing about the source in the first place. Still, it isn’t as though it was actually bad, it was just that it kind of felt like they were just trying to skip over all the set up in order to have an edgy opening and in the process shot their own story in the foot.


However, the isekai that has so far got me most interested in the anime is ‘Isekai Cheat Magician’ which again gave us a fairly generic set up kind of episode but managed to give off the comforting vibe of a story that knows what it is trying to be and is happy to deliver a reasonable job of it. As the added bonus here we have not one but two characters carried off to magic land however the rest plays out as expected with them getting into trouble almost immediately, getting rescued, joining up to be adventurers and then learning they both have crazy strong magic power.


So yes, the Summer 2019 anime season is shaping up to be an excellent one for those who enjoy fantasy. I haven’t tried everything and I know there’s still a handful of shows to start so I’d love to know what your favourite fantasy titles for the season are and which ones you think will end well.

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

Friday’s Feature: What Genre Is That?


As kids, when we first start watching anime, we kind of get the impression it is all giant robots and lots and lots of fighting (or magical girls, which are much the same except that they’ll hit you with sparkly hearts instead of a sword and the results will be more or less identical). For me, growing up with Sailor Moon and the like, that is what anime was and while it was cool and all, I probably wouldn’t have become the obsessed anime fan I am today except that there is so much more to anime than that.

As the internet actually became functional for watching videos (believe me if you didn’t grow up being introduced to dial up where waiting for even a single page of text to load was torture you have no idea how painful it was to try to watch or access anything else and even after dial up was a thing of the past slow internet speeds continued to be a major problem for access in Australia) there came the realisation that there were all these other types of anime out there. Suddenly, anime wasn’t just the beat ’em up amusement for when you felt like turning your brain off but was something that could be explored and where stories of all sorts could be found.

Genre list from AnimeLab.

And that’s where this feature actually gets started because realising that anime wasn’t just about kids beating monsters meant that you then had to say more than just watching anime. You were watching a shounen or a mecha or a romance or a myriad of other types of anime. And then you get those series that you just can’t explain what genre they are at all.


Let’s look at Angel Beats. I love this anime even if it makes me cry every single time I watch it; even if it is deliberately contrived to pull on your heart strings. So it’s a drama then? Not really. Certainly there are dramatic elements and the conclusion of the series would have you believe it is a drama or a romance but the show itself deals out healthy doses of comedy, action, slice of life, and fantasy. To simply call it a drama would not really get the point across at all and anyone who started watching it expecting a drama would probably hate it by episode 2 because the first two episodes deal very much with the comedy and fantasy elements of the show.

Now mixed genres are certainly not exclusive to anime stories. Many movies and books cross several genres particularly romances. The number of hybrid genres that have become mainstream such as romantic-comedy, historical-romance, and supernatural-romance are clear indicators that while romance is indeed a big genre people tend to prefer their romance paired with something else these days. It helps keep things interesting and moving.

Full Metal.jpg

If we were to look at a show like Full Metal Alchemist defining genre becomes really difficult. MAL lists it as an action, adventure, comedy, drama, fantasy, magic, military, shounen. And yes, all of those genre elements are there. But what genre is Full Metal Alchemist? If we were going to file it somewhere under a genre title which one would we choose? I’d probably go with adventure given the whole thing follows the journey of the main characters but you could legitimately choose any of the other genres listed there and justify why FMA should be there.

So the question becomes, does genre matter? Why classify things if they are going to cross between genres and incorporate other elements?

From my point of view I think it is because regardless of the window dressing, stories tend to follow set patterns and that pattern is embedded within a genre. That is why Angel Beats ultimately is a drama and Full Metal Alchemist ultimately is an adventure story at least from my point of view and I fully accept that other people will classify them differently. Despite the comedy and all the other elements that come in to create subplots, excitement, or just fill time, these stories when broken down follow patterns that we are very familiar with. It is this adherence to basic story patterns that makes something mixed genre rather than just a mess of ideas that may or may not come together into something comprehensible.


One thing I’m fairly certain of is that we’re going to see more and more stories (anime or otherwise) that will push the boundary of the genre they are in and draw on elements of other genres. Whether they do this well will remain to be seen.

What are your thoughts on genre in anime?

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Karandi James.


Betraying My Own Expectations as a Viewer


Admittedly, this is not so much a feature as a ramble about my own expectations as a viewer.

If you were to ask me directly what kind of anime I liked and didn’t like most of my regular readers already know that I would put comedy, slice of life, and cute girls doing anything pretty much on the side of generally not liked and horror and darker anime on the side of anime I quite enjoy. Shounen titles and drama tend to fall somewhere in the middle depending on their focus.

So imagine my surprise as I began the process of finalising my picks for reviewing this Spring and realised quite an odd trend. With the exception of Attack on Titan and My Hero Academia (both of which are only medium priority because while I’ll enjoy them well enough neither one had a first season that I would add to my list of favourite anime ever – with these I watch, I enjoy, I move on) the majority of the titles I’ve picked are pretty low key and there’s a lot of cute going on. Though I will admit I’m not even going to try to classify Kado at this point because I have no idea what that is going to become.


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Am I Betraying My Expectations As A Viewer?

Starting with the sequels: I’ve got Natsume Yuujinchou which can only be described as a slice of life with a supernatural paint job just to give me enough justification to say that I’m watching a fantasy rather than a slice of life (it’s a slice of life, I’ve more or less accepted that) and then The Eccentric Family which is much the same. Slice of life with a supernatural paint job. Just for an added weirdness, The Eccentric Family relies heavily on comedy and for some reason I still didn’t run for the hills but actually loved the first season.

The other two titles I’ve pretty much decided on are both fantasy. I’ll insist that forever but both of them also feature healthy doses of cute girls and other suspiciously cute characters and objects. Granblue Fantasy and WorldEnd have both given me enough reason to smile while watching that I’m going to continue. I don’t know if I’ll end up regretting those choices but for now it seems like a reasonable call.

Admittedly, I still have a whole bunch of other titles to decide on before I have a final list, but there’s an interesting number of comedy, slice of life and cute coming through this season. Meanwhile, some of the more action focussed shows have been pretty bland (through to awful) in their first episodes and in terms of horror there’s pretty much nothing going on (The World Yamizukan did not appeal).

Am I betraying my expectations as a viewer if I enjoy this?

Of course, this is why I don’t make a watch list before the season starts. Just because something ticks a genre box doesn’t mean I’m going to like it and if I didn’t at least try some of these other shows I really would miss out on things that I end up loving.

I watched the first episode of Natsume after seeing a random screen cap of one of the yokai in the show. I remember the feeling of being disappointed as the soft music played and the pastel colours filled the screen. Then I remember getting to the end of the first episode and immediately skipping to episode 2. And then binge watching the whole first season in a single afternoon.

Add to this the fact that I kind of enjoyed the first episode of Eromanga Sensei and either my taste has completely warped recently or some of these first episodes managed to execute ideas I would normally find repellent in an interesting manner (of course that doesn’t bode well for me finishing the season). And in the case of Eromanga Sensei I dropped it pretty swiftly as that first episode good will didn’t last very long.

Spring 2017 is going to be a weird season for me in terms of reviewing and I’m still not sure what my final list looks like but hopefully it will be fun discussing all of the shows with everyone.

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