Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime Characters Who Smoke

This post is a little earlier in the day than normal and that’s because in about 7 hours (give or take) Raistlin and I are going to reveal our super secret project we’ve been teasing about on Twitter. Be sure to check back later for the post.

There’s a definite distance created when watching anime. In real life I cannot stand the smell of smoke or cigarettes and yet there are some anime characters out there that just look perfectly right when they light up their smoke, pipe, or whatever else. So today I am counting down my favourite 5 characters who are smokers and I invite the readers as always to give a shout out to your favourite characters as well.

Please note, there will be spoilers below.

Honourable mentions: Jean Havoc (Full Metal Alchemist) and Toshio Ozaki (Shiki).

Number 5: Shinya Kougami (Psycho Pass)

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It seems kind of odd for Kougami to only come in at number 5 and yet that is definitely the case. Mostly because his smoking always seemed like a crutch to show he’d become broken down after everything and it never really fit with his excessive exercise and drive to find the culprit. That said, like with most things Kogami did, he looked very good while doing it.

Number 4: Worick (Gangsta)

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Unlike Kogami, smoking really does fit with Worick’s character and lifestyle. It would actually be harder to imagine him not being a smoker. In the gritty world of Gangsta the cigarettes are pretty tame compared to the many other entertainments that could be found.

Number 3: Mikoto Suoh (K)

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At least Mikoto will never have to worry about finding a light. The Red King again manages to make the cigarettes seem an extension of his character rather than something that is tacked on. It fits with his image and firey nature. It also makes a nice moment toward the end when he shares a smoke with the Blue King.

Number 2: Franken Stein (Soul Eater)

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Could anyone else imagine this crazy character without his smokes? There’s something very careless about Stein and his overall appearance and temperament seem to lend themselves to living in the now. Though I have to wonder if smoking while dissecting a rare creature is particularly good practice.

Number 1: Yuuko (xxxHolic)

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She’s such a classy and beautiful character and her elegant pipe just kind of finishes her image perfectly. Again, it is harder to imagine removing this aspect from the character as it really is a part of who she is. Besides, despite her outward appearance of being together and focused, when done with her work Yuuko is quite the whimsical individual who definitely lives for the pleasure of the moment.

There they are, my top 5 anime characters who smoke. Be sure to share your favourites in the comments below.


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Karandi James

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Tuesday’s Top 5: English Dubbed Anime

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

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

Honourable Mentions: K

Number 5: Bleach

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

Number 4: Soul Eater

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

Number 3: Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood

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

Number 2: Sword Art Online

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

Number 1: Steins;Gate

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

What are some of your favourite dubs?


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Karandi James

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B: The Beginning Netflix Anime Series Review: There’s Murder and Mayhem But What Comes Next?

Overview:

The anime series, B: The Beginning, came out on Netflix and styled itself as a task force (known as the RIS) working a double murder that involved a notorious serious killer known only as ‘Killer B’. However, things soon take a turn for the strange when a military vehicle is stolen and taken for a joyride, poisonous gas is developed and used to threaten hostages, and other unsolvable crimes occur.

Review (Probably some spoilers – just warning you):

I think B: The Beginning wants to be a lot of things and I’m not sure it actually succeeded at any of them, at least not in any meaningful way. It is fun enough if you do just want to watch the mayhem unfold before they then painstakingly explain how clever they’ve all been for the last two episodes, but realistically there isn’t enough groundwork for any of it to have any effect. After finishing the last episode I pondered for awhile about what my overall opinion of this series was. Because, while I didn’t particularly like quite a lot of it, I didn’t exactly dislike the viewing and finished it off in three consecutive days of binge viewing and it wasn’t just so I could review it.

While I was pondering I actually sorted my main issue with the whole thing out, and that was that it just felt too similar to other shows I actually liked a lot but it didn’t manage to really hit on what made those stories work. I’ll admit that problem is entirely my own, but it helped me understand what I didn’t like about this show and why, even though it is definitely watchable, I probably won’t go for a second round. And that means this review is going to do something I normally don’t do, and it is going to rely heavily on comparisons to explain the points I want to make. It isn’t really something I like to do as I feel each show should be judged on its own merit (or lack of it) but it is a way for me to sort my mixed thoughts on this show.

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Terror in Resonance

The first and obvious comparison would be Terror in Resonance. Stylistically these shows are quite similar and the tone of the later episodes of this most definitely strikes a Terror in Resonance vibe. As do the kids being used as experiments, the burning down of the lab, and the central character, Keith Flick who is incredibly reminiscent of Shibazaki. Where B: The Beginning falters to capture my attention and interest in the way Terror in Resonance seemed to, was that it didn’t seem to have anything to say.

Whether you agree with the actions and ideas presented by Terror in Resonance or not, the show gets you thinking about the world and about the way the media manipulate events, about the decisions of governments and large institutions, about relationships between countries, and about the actions of those who are labelled radicals or terrorists. B: The Beginning doesn’t seem to have anything to say unless ‘murder is bad’ is somehow a message that I missed under all the cool trapping and laughter of those committing incessantly, or that you should always work in a ‘team’ which is definitely a sermon from the second act of this story but doesn’t really ground itself on anything substantial other than the team working together for about three seconds before Keith goes off on his own again.

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But despite the heavy and easy comparison to Terror in Resonance, that actually didn’t feel right to leave it there. Sure there are some parallels, but B has it’s own kind of edge that Terror in Resonance never aspired to taking itself far too seriously at times (though when dealing with terrorists who have a potential nuclear device I guess you should have some level of solemnity to your tale). And then it hit me. B is kind of what would happen if K was somehow crossbred with Terror in Resonance only about a third of the connecting plot points got dropped out of both shows.

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K

Once I realised that I understood the excessive fight sequence full of flash and grandeur (even if they only seemed loosely connected to the narrative) and the shifting tone between frantic and snail crawling exposition. See, K was all about the style and presented its supernaturally charged characters in the coolest light possible, even when they were just thugs. It gave each action sequence flash and bang and a sense of movement. Essentially what we see during the first two episodes of B. The trouble is, that B doesn’t have an interesting enough lead on the supernatural side to pull it off and the villain ultimately has no plan of note other than death to the protagonist.

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To a degree though, B works. It does get your attention in the early episodes, even if it is the hyperactive child shrieking at you for attention kind of attention. In fact, the show’s format reminds me very much of how most of the other characters describe Koku’s actions. He was screaming out that he was there but no one was listening. B declares it is here as it splatters blood across the screen, constructs incredible acts of violence, and generally does everything possible to grab the dark and edgy label that seems to be a flavour of the last couple of years (surely we’re ready for sunshine and rainbows again, or at least a dark and edgy that doesn’t rely just on making all the characters we meet horrible for every second of screen time).

Then it tries to segue into actual plot and that’s where it comes off the rails a bit, not unlike a train that somehow managed to land in a somewhat precise pattern and aren’t they glad the killer chose a sign that train carriages could actually form. Totally coincidence I am sure. Leaving beside all the comparisons, it is the plot that really drops the ball for this show because there are two central conflicts and while there is a connection and the characters, clues and mysteries intersect, their resolutions are essentially independent and neither ultimately feels like the actual climax or big finish because they’ve both been fighting for your attention and as a result you don’t much care about either.

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Koku wants to know his past, about the people who destroyed the institution, and to find a girl. There is always a girl. This story is full of supernatural characters, a very K like ancient tablet that has been deciphered and has some impact on his powers (though don’t expect that to be explained), and I’m guessing there is kind of a revenge goal in their somewhere but Koku isn’t exactly articulate in explaining what he is after and it wouldn’t matter anyway because it all comes down to rescue the damsel in distress. It isn’t a particularly satisfying narrative arc on its own, the powers just kind of exist and once you learn a bit more about Koku and what is going on you kind of realise exactly what the outcome of that plot-line will be so you just then wait for it to play out. Which it does, in cut sequences of bloody action which break up some of the driest dialogue I think I’ve endured for a long time between a protagonist and antagonist.

And this takes us to the second story involving the detectives. Because as much as their solving the crimes does involve a lot of the supernatural goings on, ultimately they do nothing about that part of the story. They track down the human element behind it all, and if you were paying even vague attention early on you will know precisely who the culprit is as soon as Keith mentions there are two culprits and sends Koku after one of them. It is another case of lack of options for suspects making it more or less impossible to miss.

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We then get what could have been an interesting attempt by the detectives to set up and ensnare the culprit but the story isn’t really happy with the whole power of team work dynamic and decides to overthrow it for a final attempt at tragedy. After that attempt essentially ends in failure, Keith takes the final clue (or signpost however you want to look at it) and tracks down the perpetrator and then calmly leans against the wall in front of a projector showing images of the killer taking out previous victims, including Keith’s sister, while he holds a conversation with the killer. There is no sense of tension or drama in this scene and any attempt at a serious tone is unhinged by the constant cuts to Koku and his fight sequence or the other detectives racing to the scene.

Anyway, it does wrap up and we see the next steps for the country and characters. There’s plenty left open that could still be explored should they want to do a sequel, but the current situation is done and you have a sense of closure.

This isn’t a train wreck by any means but nor is it particularly well done. It has elements that could be quite interesting, tones that I appreciate in other shows, and ideas that certainly could have merit, but ultimately it feels largely empty. I’m drafting this mere hours after watching the final episode and already details are escaping me because there’s nothing to ponder or consider and nothing to take from the viewing. And while that is fine in and of itself, and some people won’t see that as a negative, for me it feels like this show just missed its mark.

Anyway, if you’ve had a chance to watch it, I’d love to know your thoughts so leave me a comment below.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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K Season 1 Series Review: Is Looking Good and Being Cool Enough For A Series?

Overview:

There are 7 Kings and each King can bestow their powers upon their clan. While the Blue King works to keep order, the Red King is pretty much all about anger and right now the entire red clan is out for blood because one of their members was murdered by the self-declared colourless king.

Review:

For anyone who watches this story, there are two things that will become immediately apparent. The first is that there are a lot of males characters and most are drawn to be seen as the various types of attractive that they usually use in anime. So lots of tall and slender guys with various hair colours and accessories so that you can be sure to find your favourite type. Or why not just collect them all? And the second is that this show isn’t above relying on spectacle and shock to grab your attention if you aren’t into the predominantly bishonen cast.

The opening scene see HOMRA (the clan controlled by the Red King) essentially break into an apartment and beat the guys inside up for information (that they do not even have). This is break and enter followed by assault, and low level torture before the loli girl walks in and declares they know nothing and they all just walk out. If that isn’t actually enough to get the audience engaged and their hearts pumping, the red clan then walk smack into the blue clan for a fight that ends with the red king handing himself over.

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Throughout all of this, no explanation as to what kings are, or their swords, or why they have powers, or even what information the red clan are after, is given to the audience. It’s just expected that you are going to be so mesmerised by this cool and confronting action and gorgeous cast that you’ll shut up and buckle in for the ride.

And you know, it actually works pretty effectively.

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Admittedly, the good looking guys in the cast are kind of wasting their efforts trying to charm me, particularly the crew from HOMRA who they later on try to endear us to but to be honest they’ve come across as thugs and little that happens later changes my mind about that. So while they are the most exciting characters to watch, mostly because every scene they are in explodes with violence or humour, I don’t really care about what happens to them. Anna, the girl I described as the loli earlier, is the exception as she actually gets quite a nice character arc and isn’t quite so prone to violence, at least not the direct kind, as the others in the clan. Admittedly though, you’ll be waiting through the movie and season 2 before you really care about her.

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Still all of this is actually background because this is the story of Yashiro Isana. He starts out as a seemingly normal student who likes cats but is then chased by both HOMRA and Kuroh (a vigilante sent by the previous colourless king to kill the evil king).

The problem being that the carefree guy who slips in and out of trouble and through all the chaos of the clans throughout the series isn’t that compelling to watch when compared with the scenes dominated by the Kings and their clans. Most scenes involving Isana are only interesting because of Neko (the cat) and Kuroh and the banter between the two. While I don’t dispute that ultimately Isana’s story turns out to be interesting and quite compelling (and I’m not going into any spoilers here), as a character he is the low point of a lot of the early part of the first season. Part of this can be attributed to the trope of protagonist with missing memories. It is very hard to be compelling as a character where basically you get to tilt your head a lot and wonder about things you have no clue about.

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Fortunately, the rest of the cast, including the normal school students surrounding the central trio, have more than enough personality and presence to make up for what Isana is lacking. And I do mean more than enough. We have rivalries between clans, long standing histories, potential romances and bromances, old grudges, and just so many details that are touched upon or hinted at but because this story isn’t about them they seldom get to take centre stage and when they do it is at the cost of the actual central narrative.

But I have to wonder if that even matters in a story presented as this one is?

The pace keeps moving along as we go from one conflict to another. One chase sequences blends in to the next, and there are only a few moments in the early couple of episodes where the focus is on the school and kids getting ready for a festival where you have to wonder if things are going to actually progress. The sheer size of the cast and the complexity of the world (not the story because it is pretty straight forward when you separate it from setting) works in its favour because it means you are seldom bored by what is on the screen and the number of details makes it feel like a rich and real reality that has existed prior to the writing of the story and will continue afterward.

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And of course the fight sequences look fantastic. They are full of energy and interesting uses of powers. They are visual feasts and usually accompanied by suitably energised music, and all and all they are just fun to watch. The final sequence between the blue and red king at the end of the series is both grandiose and heart breaking, and gets the balance right between visual spectacle and portraying the human emotions of the scene.

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So while K is actually pretty easy to criticise for some of its story telling choices and its over-emphasis on looking good over actual characterisation, the end result is something that is reasonably compelling to watch and ultimately fairly rewarding for the viewer as things do come together. Obviously there is then a movie and a second series so don’t expect all the loose ends to be tied up, but Isana and the mystery of how and why he lost his memories, and who the real murderer was, all of that is concluded and you are left with a sense of real satisfaction.

I’d love to know your thoughts about K.


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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)

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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)

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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)

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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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Tuesday’s Top 5: Characters that are not all there.

Okay, anime is full of zany, quirky characters but every now and then we come across a character who you just have to wonder what is going on inside their head (if anything). There characters can be fun and amusing or they can be completely annoying but they usually leave a fairly lasting impression. For the most part I’ve tried to avoid genuinely insane characters (or characters that have a mental illness where it is being treated seriously) or master mind villains because they fall into a category all of their own.

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

Honourable mentions Sylphy (Amagi Brilliant Park), Isaac and Miria (Baccano), Cassandra (Black Blood Brothers), Barry the Chopper (Full Metal Alchemist), Seo (Gekkan Shojo Nozaki-kun) and Hajime (Hamatora).

Number 5: The Colourless King from K

While at first he seems like the mastermind behind the violence between the Kings and it feels like he might have fallen into the villain category, once we get more time with the Colourless King it becomes clear that this is a very unhinged character. What we don’t ever find out is whether or not they were unhinged prior to taking on the personalities of all the people he had taken over or whether he had slowly become that way. Whichever way, this character (brief though their appearance is) definitely manages to steal the show with their multiple personality monologue. That said, this character while unhinged is still very effective at working through their plan and very nearly succeeded at achieving their goals.

Number 4: Schokolade from Jormungand

Sometimes I don’t know if she is effective and actually smarter than she looks or if she is just a food and money obsessed ditz. In a show about arms dealers and government organisations, Schokolade is decidedly a small time character working under other people (or being bribed by them). While it is clear she is being used, it is also clear that she seems to be enjoying herself and usually come out of the situation with what she wants. I have no idea how this character survived through this story though.

Number 3: Karuta Roromiya from Inu X Boku SS

Karuta is another food obsessed girl and she is one spacey character. It is difficult to know what she is thinking but as Watanuki points out, she always knows what she is doing even if the rest of us don’t get it. Besides, how can we hate someone who helps small animals, likes to eat, and can transform into a giant skeleton if push comes to shove?

Number 2: Ladd Russo from Baccano

While he is definitely a villain he isn’t a crazy evil genius. Ladd is just… obsessed with violence? An egomaniac? Completely disconnected from reality? It’s hard to know but a character who chooses to wear white in order to show the blood better definitely deserves a mention as someone who isn’t all there. And Ladd is such an upbeat murderer. That said, other than hunting the thrill of violence and death, his motives remain totally in the dark as does any reason for his warped personality. I wasn’t even a little upset when he was beaten and had to abandon the train though his survival was a little regrettable.

Number 1: Grell Sutcliff from Black Butler

There’s not a lot you can really say about Grell except that he knows exactly who he is and he isn’t about to change. This is one flamboyant character who enjoys a good fight as much as a good flirt (though in Sebastian’s case Grell would love to go beyond flirting). Grell’s favourite colour is red and he personifies the fiery and diverse nature of this colour from passion through to violence. That said, we know next to nothing about Grell’s real feelings beneath the antics and we know next to nothing about how Grell came to be how he is. This character marches to the beat of their own drum and it works.

So that’s the list this week. Who would you have put on yours?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday’s Top 5: Characters Voiced by Daisuke Ono

While I’m not a massive follower of voice actors, every now and then a character’s vocal performance catches my attention. Daisuke Ono has voiced a lot of my very favourite characters (both characters I like in their stories and characters I just love to listen to). So this is my top 5 list of characters voiced by Daisuke Ono. Feel free to add your favourites below or just suggest your favourite voice actors and actresses.

Please Note – List is relatively spoiler free today.

Honourable mentions this week: Hugh Anthony Disward (The Mystic Archives of Dantelion) and Seishuu Handa (Barakamon).

Number 5: Kazuma Yagami from Kaze no Stigma

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I genuinely cannot watch this anime in English because Kazuma’s voice is just wrong. Having heard the original Japanese dub and really loving this character, the English voice just can’t compare. Kazuma has just the right amount of playfulness and darkness in his voice to really draw you in.

Number 4: Kuroh Yatogami from K

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I was actually surprised when I learned that Daisuke Ono was the voice for Kuroh. The character is quite different from other characters I’d already associated with the voice. Kuroh might be creepy at times but he has a no nonsense air about him as he pursues his own views of justice. And he manages that without sounding like a naive adolescent.

Number 3: Yakumo Saitou from Psychic Detective Yakumo

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This character always sounds either bored or ticked off (occasionally he manages both simultaneously). Despite such a limited range of emotions on display, listening to him never get’s boring.

Number 2: The Fourth from Heaven’s Memo Pad.

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It’s hard to be the leader of a gang and not come off as a mindless thug, and yet THe Fourth does it admirably with the help of some very effective voice acting. Normally the type of character I would barely tolerate, he actually managed to make me somewhat sympathetic and by the end I actually liked his character.

Number 1: Sebastian Michaelis from Black Butler.

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Who else? I could seriously listen to this character all day long. It’s the reason I will not watch the English dub of this series. While some of the other characters sound really good in the English, Sebastian just isn’t right without Daisuke Ono delivering the lines.

Who would your picks have been? Or which voice actor/actress do you really love to listen to?

Top 5 Tuesday – Male Characters with Blue Hair

As promised, here is the male list for characters with blue hair. Hopefully you enjoy this selection as much as I did making the list and if you didn’t see it, check out my post featuring the females.

My selection is very much based on how interesting these characters are and how integral having blue hair is to their character. So, maybe I left off one of your favourites. Feel free to add suggestions in the comments below.

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

Honourable mentions to Nova (Arcana Famiglia),Okumura Rin (Ao No Exorcist), Black Star (Soul Eater), and Jellal (Fairy Tail).

Number 5: Toru from Hitsugi no Chaika

Toru is notable because he’s the only character on the list who has hair that changes colour, which makes his hair an absolute part of his character. Usually it is blue and he’s useful as a saboteur but not too flash; he kind of sucks at life but that’s because he spent his whole life training for a war someone ended before he had a chance to get into it. When he get’s serious though he does an iron blood transformation (signified by the red hair and eyes) and at the point he because a fairly impressive fighter. Toru is a likeable character and certainly quite distinct (even if he does at times come off as generic protagonist type b).

Number 4: Reisi Munakata from K

When I did my list of red haired characters, the red king made my list because of his volatile and fiery personality. Munakata is his perfect opposite and the dynamic between the two in K is phenomenal. Every bit the blue king, Munakata has a towering sense of pride but unlike his explosive counterpart, Munakata is the ultimate example of self-control. Whether he is having a smoke with a friend or commanding his clan, he is composed and focussed. Okay, not so composed when having to kill his friend but that just made us love him all the more.

Number 3: Kanda Yuu from D Gray Man

If the Munakata shows us blue’s cool and composed side, Kanda Yuu shows us just how explosive a character with blue hair can get. Deeply troubled and excessively violent, Kanda is one exorcist you do not want to mess with. Even before D Gray Man came back with Hallow, Kanda was one of my all time favourite fighters. After the last weeks of Hallow, knowing more about his back story, he may very well become one of my all time favourite characters ever. Certainly one of the most tragic.

Number 2: Ikuto Tsukyomi from Shugo Chara

This may seem a weird choice after the last two entries but Ikuto had to be here. Blue haired cat boy who plays the violin. I’m sorry, it doesn’t get much better than that. Whether he is playing the jaded teen, the playful (and sometimes slightly cruel cat) or is getting lost in the sound of his violin, Ikuto is the mysterious blue haired stranger that most girls kind of hope will show up in their lives (although not in their cupboards). He’s a great character with a troubled past (surprise) but his connection with Amu and his ongoing transformation is one of the strengths of the series.

Number 1: Grimmjow Jaggerjack from Bleach

I wonder if there was ever any doubt in my mind that Grimmjow would come in at number 1? For anyone who has watched Bleach, you know there is a ridiculously large cast of characters. Even amongst that enormous cast, Grimmjow distinguishes himself and drives himself into the mind of every single viewer. Whether they remember him for being psychotically violent, ultimately tragic, or as the guy who actually got Orihime to heal Ichigo so that he could have a fair fight and then lost that battle, Grimmjow made his time on screen count. His electric blue hair is every bit as important to who he is as a character as his sneer, his laugh and his insane levels of violence even in a world where everything is settled by violence. Grimmjow, you are definitely my number 1 male character with blue hair.

Who would you have put on your list? Share your thoughts below.

Tuesday’s Top 5: Characters With Convenient Missing Memories

It’s an overused plot device, a cliché, and a cheap way to build a big reveal into a story, and it’s a staple in far too many anime. That said, not every story built around amnesia (or every character with convenient amnesia) is all that bad. Sometimes this well established storyline is delivered well and it is these small miracles that convince other writers to try and duplicate the efforts leading to such an oversaturated field.

That said, this probably isn’t a list of the best characters but rather the ones where I actually enjoyed finding out what they had forgotten. As always, it’s entirely subjective and I invite you to give your own suggestions below.

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

Honourable mentions this week go to: Tuxedo Mask (Sailor Moon), Teito Klein (07 Ghost), Nel (Bleach), Chaika Trabant (Hitsugi no Chaika), and Tada Banri (Golden Time). I love all of these characters and enjoyed their journey’s but they just didn’t make the final cut.

Number 5: Yashiro Isana from K

As someone accused of murder and with more than one group of people out to kill him, it would probably help is Yashiro Isana remembered who he was or what he’d been doing. The fact that his amnesia was imposed on him from outside (with the best of intentions) makes him interesting as most anime characters just seem to lose their memories from either shock or blunt force trauma. The other reason I like Yashiro is that it is only through him having no recollection of events that he is able to ask the questions the audience needs answered. And yes, this definitely falls under the category of cheap plot device, but imagine being dropped into K without a clueless protagonist to ask all those questions. The audience would be even more lost than most of them are when watching the show. Besides, I find him a genuinely likeable individual.

Number 4: Zwei from Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom

Of all the characters on the list, Zwei is the only one I actually feel sorry for. He was an ordinary tourist who witnessed something he shouldn’t and then got kidnapped, had his memories erased, and was forced to become an assassin. While eventually his memories return, this is (at the time) more a curse than a blessing as it only reinforces that he’s gone too far down the road of an assassin to return to his normal life. His identity and his future become very muddled for a fairly long time. Zwei is definitely more of the blank slate amnesiac than Yashiro, but despite limited interactions with other characters, he still manages to leave quite an impression. His development when contrasted with equally blank slate character Ein is really interesting to watch.

Number 3: Akira Takizawa from Eden of the East

Akira’s amnesia is entirely self-inflicted, or so we learn as the story progresses. Quite why his former self thought this would help the situation is never really made clear, but his current self is forced to try to learn more about what is going on and what he needs to do now. Eden of the East is just an interesting story and much like K, the main character having to learn about the rules of the game from the ground up really is the only reason the plot is accessible to the audience without lengthy expositions that seem to serve no purpose. So, definitely a plot device, but also a fundamental part of Akira’s character. He felt cornered enough to have his own memories erased. It leaves you seeing his character in a very different light. It also casts some shadows over his growing relationship with Saki as you can never tell what is really going on in his head.

Number 2: Yuuko from Dusk Maiden of Amnesia

Right from the title you know that this one is about a character who has lost her memories. The fact that the character is a ghost who is rumoured to haunt the school makes it a little bit different but that by itself isn’t enough to really add Yuuko to the list. While this is a big spoiler, Yuuko’s amnesia is caused by her essentially denying anything bad ever happening to her. She literally throws off any bad memory to a shadow version of herself. And boy does she not want to confront these memories. I really enjoy watching Yuuko and the way she interacts with the human characters (those who can see her at least) but she isn’t exactly demonstrating a healthy approach to dealing with trauma.

Number 1: Chiyuki from Death Parade

I think I like Chiyuki the most because even though she has lost her memories, it isn’t the crutch for the entire plot. Everyone who visits the bar has missing memories. Chiyuki knows things aren’t right and she puts a lot of things together on her own, but even without direct memories, she is most decidedly a complete character. She isn’t stumbling around trying to figure out who she is and what’s right and wrong. At times you even forget that there’s anything missing. Which fits in with the theme of the show of trying to determine who people are at their core. When the truth is finally revealed it is more a natural next step rather than a shocking revelation which makes this character feel more like a real person than a plot device. Finally, it is Chiyuki’s developing relationship with Decim that is just a pure joy to watch in an otherwise fairly dark show, that allowed her to top my list of anime characters with missing memories.

So, which character would you choose to add to the list? I’d love to know.

Words of Wisdom – June Recap

My second month of blogging is now complete.

I want to thank those who have supported 100WordAnime over the last two months. It has really been great hearing about different anime and different views on anime. I hope that you are all still visiting at the end of my third month and I look forward to seeing what you post on your blogs in the coming month.

To start July I am re-sharing my favourite quotes from June.

By the way, if you have a favourite bit of anime wisdom you’d like to see, let me know. I will only be posting Words Of Wisdom on Wednesday’s from now on but will try to include 2 – 4 quotes each week.

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