Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime Vacation Spots

Tuesday's Top 5

You know sometimes when you are watching an anime and you realise how much you would love to travel more and see more places and experience more things? I get that feeling a lot though regularly it isn’t for places that actually exist and most of the time I think if I ever actually went there  I would probably die. However, I’ve decided to put together my top 5 vacation spots picked from watching various anime. Here I go on my fantasy tour of 5 places from anime I’d love to visit.

Please note, there will be spoilers below.

Honourable mentions: Anywhere in Japan from almost any anime.

Number 5: Piffle World (Tsubasa Chronicles)

Tsubasa Chronicles

I know, it is a really silly name, but I loved this world when I was watching Tsubasa. While so many of the worlds they visited were pseudo medieval either westernised or Japanese, Piffle World was a futuristic city world with flying cars and it just looked like a lot of fun. It wasn’t so far removed from our own technological level that it was incomprehensible, but it felt a few generations ahead of us. What I really appreciated was that despite the sheer amount of industrialisation and traffic, somehow the air and sky were beautifully clear. It might be a fantasy but balancing technology without polluting the skies has a lot of appeal. Okay, Sakura may have helped sell this world a bit as she looked truly adorable.

Number 4: Aincrad (Sword Art Online)

Sword Art Online - Aincrad

Needless to say this is after Kirito defeated the game and released all the players and the game was rebuilt without the whole death trap aspect. Let’s be real, Aincrad is a beautiful world. Each level has its own look and feel so you can take your pick of scenery, there’s plenty of variety in the creatures to fight, and it is a fair world in that the rules are what they are (unless you have the power of love in which case go crazy). I would definitely love to visit this world (just got to keep checking that the log out button exists).

Number 3: Future Japan (The Irregular at Magic High School)

The Irregular at Magic Highschool

When looking at future versions of the world there are a lot of dystopian, after civilisation have ended type stories, and realistically Irregular fits right in with those, but I just love the way they’ve blended magic and technology in their vision of the future. It is like the best combination of sci-fi and fantasy to produce something that feels wholly unique and yet fits with what we know from those genres. As to the world itself, I’m not entirely sure it is safe, but just the thought of being able to try out some magic with technological aide is enough to make me at least want to visit.

Number 2: Kyoto (The Eccentric Family)

The Eccentric Family Season 1

Oh look, it is an actual real location coming it at number 2. And The Eccentric Family isn’t the only anime that has sold me on Kyoto. My first trip to Japan I got to Osaka but didn’t have time for Kyoto and I really regret that and my second trip I went north from Tokyo so didn’t get near Kyoto then either. If you’ve never seen the Eccentric Family, it is a wonderful blending of folklore with modernity in a way that just made me really intrigued to see the place it was set and while I imagine it won’t look all that much like the anime, I’m hoping that the anime has captured some of the feel of the real location.

Number 1: The Moon Kingdom (Sailor Moon)

Sailor Moon - The Moon Kingdom

Much like Aincrad, I am putting the explanation in here that I want to visit the Moon Kingdom prior to it being destroyed. It looks gorgeous. Admittedly I’m not so sure about the whole lack of atmosphere, change in gravity thing, but you know the anime didn’t worry about small details like that so I’m not sure I should be all that concerned either. Parties, gardens, fountains, great food, fireworks; these all feature heavily in flash backs of the Moon Kingdom prior to its destruction and it looks like a great time.

I’d love to know where you would like to take a vacation and which anime you saw it in so leave me a comment below.


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Karandi James

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Tuesday’s Top 5: Smart Anime Characters

Tuesday's Top 5

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

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

Please note, there will be spoilers below.

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


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Number 5: Lelouch (Code Geass)

Lelouche

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


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

March43d

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

Number 3: Kurisu (Steins;Gate)

Steins - Microphone

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


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

Irregular5

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

Number 1: Korosensei (Assassination Classroom)

assassination-classroom

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

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


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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The Irregular at Magic High School Series Review

Overview:

In 2095 magic have become scientifically broken down and magicians are part of various countries basic defense strategy. The Shiba siblings, Tatsuya and Miyuki, have been accepted into First High School but Miyuki is accepted into the first course where as Tatsuya, who scored brilliantly on paper but poorly in practical tests, is only accepted into the second course. The series covers three arcs: The Enrollment Arc, The Nine Schools Competition, and the Yokohama Disturbance.

Review:

Let’s address the obvious straight up: yes, Tatsuya and Miyuki are way too close as siblings for conventional comfort and Tatsuya does in fact get his own little fan club of female students (I’d say harem but given his complete lack of sexual awareness or demonstrated desire realistically they could fan girl forever and he’d just ask them if they needed their CAD adjusted). Tatsuya also gets hit with the label of bland protagonist and hopelessly overpowered a lot.

Irregular6.jpg

I’m not actually going to deny any of those claims given they are all pretty valid (with the exception that Tatsuya is bland – I’d say more personality neutral for a deliberate purpose) so if that’s enough to make you throw in the towel on a series, this one isn’t going to work for you.

However, if you can get past all of that, and Miyuki’s clinginess in the first arc doesn’t make you throw up a bit in your mouth (seriously, Miyuki is an incredibly powerful magic user in her own right, why is she that needy) then you will actually find quite a fun high school fantasy here.

Irregular3

Starting with the world itself. I love that magic has been reintroduced into the world but turned into a science. Magical technicians work on CAD’s to help spell processing speeds and theoretical papers are written about applications for magic in terms of energy production and similar (in fact the final arc focusses on the disturbance surrounding a thesis competition). As a result, the world feels fairly authentic. Characters don’t just chant latinish sounding phrases and poof whatever happens. Each spell is the result of sequences of magic and activation codes with large numbers of variables. That is where Tatsuya is truly an irregular.

See, while Tatsuya is put in the second course at the school, he himself explains that he is poor at practical skills, which in terms of how the school tests and assesses is correct. His spell activation speed when using traditional processes is poor. However, they make a clear point of explaining that Tatsuya can calculate multiple variables exceedingly quickly which means he can produce some impressive effects with fairly basic spells and use spells in unconventional ways. Later on we also learn that he doesn’t need to build an entire sequence anyway because he can instantly recall the entire spell for a ‘flash cast’ which means while he isn’t going to ever ace school his military application as a magician is pretty impressive (hence the overpowered label he gets smacked with even though there are a couple of obvious limitations).

Irregular5

For a brief moment it looks like this story might actually be taking a jab at the use of standardised testing in schools, however after a less than subtle conversation between members of the student council, the issue is quickly brushed under the rug and we just get on with Tatsuya being awesome despite being a course 2 student. This is probably my biggest complaint about this series. There are actually quite a few moments where there could be some good social commentary but rather than embracing these they become more throw away plot points as the story rushes to get on with the next bit of obvious narrative development. The end result is a fairly shallow story that might be entertaining but doesn’t have any lasting impact despite the fact that it has several opportunities to rise about this.

From a fantasy point of view, I found the magic in this story fascinating and I liked how it developed and we learned about different types of magic and different ways of using it. That’s where the three arcs are each distinct and fun in their own way.

The first one we meet the students at school, watch them fend off an attack (introducing a range of spell types) and then some of the stronger students go and massacre the attackers (because who doesn’t send students to do that). However the first arc does well to introduce us to Tatsuya the student.

The second arc is a sports tournament. There’s no getting around that. However with sabotage, secret agents, and the Chinese mafia (I think) all getting involved, it isn’t your standard tournament and this is where we learn more about Tatsuya the weapon. The innovative ways magic is used in a variety of events though is kind of fun. Even something as simple as target shooting has a range of approaches.

Then we go to the third arc which crosses between the thesis competition as well as more about Tatsuya’s military and family ties. Arguably this is the weakest arc because we spend a lot of time in battle and quite a few of the students we’ve come to like are pretty well sidelined for the duration. It’s kind of a shame the story ends on this arc. It is also where I lose any ability to defend Tatsuya from the overpowered label. Some of the spells he uses in this arc really do make him seem pretty unstoppable and also kind of remove any tension about his friends suffering permanent harm. If you want to see some cool spells though, this arc is for you.

Irregular4

Outside of the magic and the way that is explored, the characters are a lot of fun. I really like a lot of the supporting cast members. They each get their moment to shine and most of them are just fun to watch in action. Okay, we do end up heavily female heavy in the cast particularly after the second arc where Tatsuya is assigned to the junior female competitors as their technician. Despite that, the guys manage to make their presence felt and it was nice that this wasn’t a literal one man show.

Visually this anime is really pretty. Character designs are pretty standard, but I love the girl’s uniform and the magic itself is really beautiful to look at. Each setting is distinct enough from the school to the hotel where the sports tournament takes place to Yokohama. I also really like the feel of the cafe where they hang out occasionally.

Irregular2

So yes, I loved this anime. Despite all the clichés that come along (the bath sequence, bouncing breast, misunderstandings leading to a guy getting slapped, rivals, etc) this world feels like a plausible future and the magic is fascinating. The characters hold their own in the story and while Tatsuya may not be the most exciting protagonist, he’s capable and sure of his ability without being cocky (though at times he definitely let’s it known that he does have an inferiority complex which given his family situation seems warranted).

I will point out that not all the loose ends are tied up and there are still a lot of secrets that the Shiba siblings have not yet explained when we reach the final arc of the series (particularly what is going on with their family). Still, it’s a relatively fun watch.

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IRREGULAR AT MAGIC HIGH SCHOOL ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK 1
	IRREGULAR AT MAGIC HIGH SCHOOL ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK 1

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

Tuesday's Top 5

I’m trying very hard to not get bogged down on lists that all focus on physical appearance but characters who wear glasses always seem to fascinate me. Particularly characters that only wear them in certain scenes. So this week and next I’ll look at some of my favourites, starting with the females.

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

Honourable mentions to Chizuru Honshu (Bleach), Margery Daw (Shakugan no Shana) and Ririchiyo Shirakin (Inu X Boku).

Number 5: Sheele from Akame Ga Kill

I still am not a big fan of this anime but on my rewatch I found Sheele a definitely breath of fresh air amongst a cast I wasn’t too keen on in the early episodes. Her death is suitably tragic and one of the few that I actually cared about while watching. The mix of glasses and her generally clueless expression is kind of awesome but it’s when she switches into assassin mode that she really steals the scene. Sheele is a great character and she really makes the glasses work.

Number 4: Kirihara Misaki from Darker than Black

Misaki is probably one of my favourite female characters with her down to earth nature, love of junk food, and general desire to actually find the truth and protect people rather than accept hearsay and rumours. She’s also good at her job and just a nice person while still being cool, calm and logical. Her glasses are very much a part of who she is and when she takes them off (during a party) we really see just how disconnected she becomes (mostly because she can’t see). All and all, Misaki is definitely a character who wears her glasses with style.

Number 3: Mizuki Shibata from The Irregular at Magic High School

While her glasses serve a practical purpose, you have to admit Mizuki looks pretty adorable with her glasses on. While she’s not as talented as many of her friends (then again, who is) Mizuki certainly pulls her weight in the series. I’d have loved for her character to have had more screen time, but from a cast of mostly generic characters, Mizuki managed to stand her ground. She may not be as direct and forthright as some of the others on the list but she’s hanging in there throughout every conflict in the series.

Number 2: Mirai Kuriyama from Beyond the Boundary

The main character of this anime has a glasses fetish so who better to try and kill him than a bespectacled beauty. Okay, it might have worked better if she wasn’t terrified of her own power and hadn’t actually fallen in love with him, but you have to admit, she does look great in glasses. This show talks a lot about her glasses and she spends a lot of time cleaning them (which makes you wonder whether she actually needs them at all given how often she takes them off). Mirai is a great character. She’s amusing and sulky and traumatized by her past, but she’s also really just wanting to reconnect and find her place in the world. While the plot may not have resolved beautifully, Mirai’s character is fantastic and she completely deserves the number 1 spot on this list but I just couldn’t put her ahead of the next character.

Number 1: Nagato Yuki from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

When I started this list there was almost no doubt that Nagato would end up as number 1. Even though her glasses wearing days are limited to a few episodes before she forgets to recreate them after a fight and Kyon tells her she looks good without them, Nagato Yuki is the definitive glasses wearing female.

So, who would you include on your list?

Remember to check in next week for the list of glasses wearing male characters.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
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Tuesday’s Top 5: Top 5 Red-Heads (Female)

Tuesday's Top 5

I mentioned in a previous post I was thinking of adding a list feature and I’ve decided to jump in feet first and see what happens. I will probably be a bit hit and miss at first but eventually I hope to make this a weekly feature.

As the title suggests I’m going to attempt to do a top 5 list every Tuesday. Why did I start with Red-Heads? Because it was an easy list to write and really shouldn’t lead to too many people wanting to tell me exactly how many different ways I am wrong. I could be wrong about that, but time will tell.

After thinking this through, I decided I needed to split the guys and the girls so technically my first top 5 list is actually a top 10 split into two parts. Why are these characters in my top list other than having red hair? Mostly because they are memorable and I like them (further explanation will hopefully come below).

However, mostly I want this to start a conversation. Feel free to tell us your top crimson heroes or heroines and reasons why.

Let’s start with the ladies – we’ll save the guys for next week.

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

Honourable mentions to Yona from Yona Akatsuki and Felicita from Arcana Famiglia. Both amazing red-headed characters but unfortunately did not make the final cut.

Number 5: Madam Red from Black Butler

Why is Madam Red on my list? Because she is a female doctor in the 1800’s. She’s amazing at social gatherings and still a doting aunt to Ciel (who may just be one of the most obnoxious nephews in history). And then there’s the whole serial killer thing. Admittedly, that is where her character kind of comes undone (in more ways than one) but Madam Red’s story – while short- has a massive impact when watching Black Butler.

Number 4: Yoko from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

And no, I didn’t choose Yoko for her fashion sense, though I’m sure many of the males in the audience appreciated her many fine physical attributes. Yoko’s on the list because she is an incredibly dynamic character. She is fiery as her red hair suggests, but she’s also incredibly sensitive and gradually becomes the voice of reason in amongst a very male dominated and highly unreasonable crowd. That said, she’s still in the fights with the best of them.

Number 3: Erika Chiba from The Irregular at Magic High School

Another fiery red head on the list, but Erika manages to keep it mostly in check. For a school heavy on magic, Erika definitely relied on her physical prowess as much as her magical capabilities. She’s hanging out with Tatsuya and that means she’s kind of thrown into dangerous situations at every turn, but Erika does not mind. In fact, that’s probably part of the appeal for her. If I could change anything about The Irregular at Magic High School, I would so increase Erika’s screen time.

Number 2: Erza Scarlet from Fairy Tail

This one shouldn’t need much explanation. She’s tough enough to terrify even Natsu and Grey into acting like friends. She has a cute side. She travels with enough weapons and armour to equip an entire army. Everything about Erza is awesome. In a guild filled with extraordinary people, Erza stands out and takes control when the occasion calls for it but is fiercely loyal to those she considers friends. And just because Natsu has saved her once or twice doesn’t mean she’s going to go easy on him in a fight. If he wants to beat her he is definitely going to have to work for it. Erza kind of defines what is mean by fiery red head.

So after so many combatant entries, number one may come as a surprise.

Yep:

Number 1: Shirayuki from Shirayuki no Akagami

Let me explain. Shirayuki embodies the same qualities of the other characters on this list. She is forthright, upstanding, fights for justice, loyal to her friends, and packs some amazing emotional punch for one character. Unlike the above characters, her strength doesn’t come from a weapon or physical abilities (though she certainly won’t just sit in her prison cell and wait to be rescued and she isn’t above diving out a window if she deems it necessary). She’s just a strong character who does anything she can within her means. And when she finds something is beyond her, she doesn’t give up, she finds a path that will bring her closer to where she wants to be. Shirayuki is a character you just can’t help but watch and hope that she succeeds and that is why she is my number one red-haired female character.

Is your favourite red-headed character on the list or have I missed someone amazing. Feel free to tell us below.