Inquiring Minds Want To Know #38: Comparing Modern Anime With Classic Hits

This week the question really threw me because I kind of disagree with the basic premise of it, but here we go and I’m a trying to take in on anyway. I’d love to know your answer to the question and remember that if you have something you would like for me to answer, please fill in the survey below.

Question: When compared to the anime in the past, these days it is really hard to find a good anime that can stand neck to neck with all the classic hits. Is it because the studios now-a-days are concentrating in releasing more no. of anime each season rather than 1 or 2 good, quality anime? From anon

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Okay, there’s a lot to think about in that question but underlying it is an assumption that modern anime is not as good as the classics. Which is an argument I’ve seen a lot of but  don’t necessarily agree with, no disrespect to whoever asked the question. While there are certainly some amazing titles that have left a legacy and influenced a large number of modern anime, to assume that the titles coming out today aren’t that good or won’t have a lasting impact is something that seems a little overly pessimistic.

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More importantly, are modern audiences really after something enduring or do they simply want something that moves them in the moment? With the plethora of media available to be streamed instantly, it really does seem like most people are moving away from the idea that something needs to be watched over and over and be enduring and more that something needs to start a conversation in the now and then we’ll find something new to discuss. What qualities are we looking for in a ‘classic’ or a hit and are these actually things that can be compared over time given changes in technology, society, and the way we consume media?

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The other issue is that people remember the stories that worked in the past, but conveniently forget all the duds of anime history. And there are a lot of them. Some have hung around and can still be viewed for the amusement of the interested but most have simply disappeared into the nebulous past and won’t be mentioned again as they have no reason to be. So while there are certainly a large number of anime coming out each season, and a lot of them won’t be consider enduring classics or modern masterpieces, this isn’t overly new. The only thing different now is a general larger volume and while that means there are certainly a large number of titles we can point to if we wished to make a case about the declining quality of anime, that overlooks some of the truly extraordinary stories that anime has brought us in the last decade.

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Ultimately, each viewer is going to decide for themselves whether they prefer the older and more stately classics, or whether it is something newer and shinier that will push their buttons, or some combination of the two, but there are strengths to older and newer anime as well as weaknesses. So while that doesn’t really answer the question I think it explains why the question itself isn’t necessarily something that can be answered if the underlying assumption that modern anime aren’t as good as older ones is disagreed with in the first place.

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Right, would you like to make me think? Have a question you’d like discussed? Be sure to fill in the survey below. In the meantime though, I’d love to know your thoughts on the question this week so drop me a comment.


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Karandi James

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Inquiring Minds Want To Know #37: What is the longest series that you have finished, that you regretted watching afterwards?

Thanks for another great question to deal with this week. As always, I’d love to know your answer to the question and remember that if you have something you would like for me to answer, please fill in the survey below.

Question: What is the longest series that you have finished, that you regretted watching afterwards? From Yomu

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This is a hard one to answer mostly because generally speaking I drop long anime long before I start regretting watching them. Of course, that means I have a number of long anime that I just haven’t finished. Hunter x Hunter, which I was meant to finish last year is still in my unfinished list and I’m really close to the end I just haven’t completed it. Fairy Tail is another one where I got about 70 episodes in and didn’t actually continue.

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Now, neither show actually made me want to drop it. They are both really fun and there are some great characters and great moments in both. However, what I find with longer anime is that events get dragged out, there’s a lot of bloat in the story-lines, there’s arcs that focus on characters or events I’m less interested in, and ultimately I tend to just veer away from these or put them on hold and forget to get back to them.

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If I’m going to look at slightly shorter stories, I’d probably have to say the original Full Metal Alchemist anime was one that I regret watching. Mostly because it doesn’t really end and the movie follow up is actually a little painful to get through. Brotherhood doesn’t do the beginning of the story as well but the conclusion is significantly better and so I end up with a much better feeling about the story overall even though realistically the original series does a much better job in the set-up.

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Thanks Yomu for a great question this week. Over to the readers now and I’d love to know what long anime series you have watched that you regret (if any). Otherwise, please remember if you have a question for me, just fill in the simple survey below and I’ll hopefully get to it soon.


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Karandi James

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Inquiring Minds Want To Know #36: What kind of fantasy setting do you find most appealing?

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Another week and another fantastic question. I’m still seeking questions to keep this series going a little longer so if you have something you want to know, be sure to fill in the simple survey below and I will definitely get to it.

Question: With Goblin Slayer being one of this season’s most talked-about shows for various reasons… what kind of fantasy setting do you find most appealing? Traditional Tolkienesque? Witcher-style dark fantasy? Or something else altogether? From MoeGamer

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This is such a great question and the answer is not so straight forward because it really depends on my mood and the medium I’m engaging with the story in.

For books, I’m very old school in my fantasy preferences. Give me a classic sword and sorcery style setting, maybe with a bit of Tolkien in there but I prefer a bit of humour so Eddings stories with their dry sarcasm in the narration or Pratchett with his absurdist humour really work for me and I love the worlds they create. Still, I had a real fondness for the Dragonlance books as a teen and scavenged second hand booksellers to try to collect as many of the titles as I could. My collection is still very much full of holes.

That said, when I’m in full work mode and I don’t have time to get 100% absorbed in what I am reading then I need something a little lighter and I find modern urban fantasy a bit more my thing. Still I find a lot of these books very much a consume once and move on kind of deal and that’s more or less what I like about them. They don’t take a lot of my attention.

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In anime, I’ve settled for isekai stories, that watered down vaguely fantasy-esque setting they hit us with in almost every show. The few real fantasy settings, like the one found in Chain Chronicles, was really appreciated and I liked the darker nature of the world and the conflict even if the story didn’t exactly rise to meet the challenge of the world building required to pull it off. But these are few and far between. Still, Goblin Slayer isn’t isekai, it is straight fantasy, and while there are undeniably some game-like mechanics to the world building, it isn’t as blatant as some light novels and that’s a large part of why I really enjoyed it as a book and I’m really looking forward to what the anime does over the coming weeks.

In movies I find fantasy very hit and miss. While there are of course classic kids fantasies like Labyrinth and the Neverending Story, adult fantasy movies that really work aren’t exactly common. With that said, I’ve kind of settled for more steampunk themed stories because these ones tend to look visually pretty amazing and still give quite the fantasy feel. I really liked the world created by The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (even if again the story was a little lacking).

And finally onto gaming where we are back to straight sword and sorcery D&D style fantasy. Baldur’s Gate 2 is still my all time favourite fantasy game. Though I do enjoy the world’s constructed in Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy XIII.

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So long answer, but I really had fun. Thanks MoeGamer for such a great question. Remember if you have a question please just respond to the survey below and in the meantime, I’d love to know what your favourite fantasy setting is so leave me a comment.


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Karandi James

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Friday’s Feature: What a Waste

Have you ever had that feeling of disappointment that comes along after you’ve read a really cool premise or a story seems to have an incredible setting and then literally nothing is done with it?

Well for me, 2017 really delivered a lot of these sorts of shows where you had to wonder why they even bothered. While many anime are set in the generic school type setting or average Japanese city/town, others try for a more ambitious set up, but if the story doesn’t utilise it basically all the show ends up doing is waste its time trying to explain concepts that don’t amount to anything.

This was a major issue for Knight’s & Magic. Forget the fact that the majority of the show takes place in a fairly generic fantasy setting that is largely indistinguishable from any other. Also, forget the fact that we’re introduced to monsters that need to be fought off (the justification for the Knights’ existence in the world at all) but by about three episodes in you’ll never see another monster (okay, slight exaggeration). No, Knight’s & Magic just had an overly complicated premise which fizzled into nothingness more or less the instant the show actually started.

Now, I noted this in my series review of this, but Knight’s & Magic isn’t a straight fantasy but rather an isekai story. Meaning the main character is transported into another world. But Knights Of The Incorrectly Used Apostrophe isn’t satisfied with just opening a portal or whatever. Instead it feels the need to kill off Joe Average computer programmer (in a fairly uninteresting manner) and then have him reincarnate as a genius in the magic world due to his memories of programming. About all we learn of him prior to him dying is that he programs and is kind of respected by his colleagues and he likes robots.

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And that sounds fine. You want a character to be exceptional in a fantasy land so give him advanced knowledge of programs. Only, other than one or two comments about magic being similar to a program, you could almost forget this was the premise after about half an episode. Which means the show wasted precious time establishing a premise that it never used. And given there is at least one other character in the fantasy world who seems to be almost equally a genius, unless later developments claim he was also reincarnated, the entire point seems pretty trivial given the amount of set up time it ate early on in the series.

Now the obvious direct comparison of this premise would be the currently airing Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody. While there are plenty of things you can criticise about the show (and believe me, I have been in my episode reviews thus far) one thing I appreciate is that Satou never lets us forget he is a visitor in the world he has found himself in.

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He reacts with surprise to information that is surprising to someone from modern day Japan, complains about things like bathing outdoors, and he uses his working knowledge of the games he was assisting with in his life before getting transported into the game to essentially cheat the system. So while I would argue that Death March is in any way a better show than Knight’s & Magic (both shows have plenty of other issues), I would argue that the premise is actually better utilised and so the set-up actually feels meaningful.

Essentially, if we cut out all of the other world stuff from Knight’s & Magic, you would barely notice the difference, whereas if you cut it out of Death March, you’d have to be confused as to what the main character was thinking.

But Knight’s & Magic wasn’t the only show last year that had me scratching my head about it’s premise. Sengoku Night Blood (another show that wasn’t exactly a genius work either) really has me wondering about a few points. Specifically, why an alternative history take on the warring states era?

It isn’t as though this era is new to anime premises. It may in fact be the most overused era for historical anime. But alternative history by turning the warlords into vampires and werewolves? I’ll admit, I was kind of intrigued about what they would do with this.

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However, I’ll save you the anticipation. They did nothing. other than two of the vampire boys biting the girl, the only consequence of the characters being vampires and werewolves was that they had pointy ears or dog ears. Literally the only thing that changed was cosmetic. All the plot points were essentially identical even if they had left the characters human (about the only thing that would have changed I guess is they wouldn’t have bitten her but maybe given her a kiss for that power up at the end).

It is almost as if they had a planning meeting to discuss how to make their generic warring states anime feel fresh and new and someone plucked the word vampire out of thin air. But then they did nothing with it. The characters run around in daylight, they eat a normal diet, they are all perfectly pleasant human beings, and essentially this is the single most throw-away premise that 2017 delivered.

The problem with shows that do this is that it makes them feel worse than they are. Because they had ideas, and they threw those ideas in front of their audience, and then the audience was forced to watch them just sit there and have nothing done with them episode after episode. And it begs the question of why include these elements if they don’t want to use them or don’t have time to develop them? Why not trim your show down to the parts that matter and deliver them well?

I don’t exactly know the answer to that but I’m going to turn this over to you and ask if you’ve ever been let down by the premise of a show?


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Friday’s Feature – Journey To Another World

This week I’d like to open a discussion about anime worlds. One of the great things about anime is its ability to transport the characters to literally anywhere that can be imagined and because of that we have a field of vibrant and amazing worlds, planes, realities, planets, dimensions, time periods, and so on to travel through.

When done well, you can be completely absorbed by the world constructed by an anime. I’m only going to explore a few worlds that I’ve encountered through anime, but I’d love to hear about your favourite anime world in the comments.

When I started thinking about the worlds anime had taken me to, I realised I remembered the ones that were visually striking, seemed to have a rich history and political world, and seemed more than just a gimmick for the story (meaning that it felt like life was happening there anyway and we just happened to be seeing one story that took place in amongst a whole range of stories that could have been told).

1. Disboard (No Game No Life)

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For the moment, let’s ignore the over-the-top and slightly psychedelic colour scheme, and the fact that the name of the world feels like the creators just gave up arguing about what to actually call it. What I like about Disboard is that everything in the world is decided through games and there are clear and known rules that everyone must abide by. Imagining a world where everything follows a very clear logic and all conflict has an established method of being solved opens up all sorts of possibilities. Now our protagonists, collectively known as Blank, set about ruling the world. Not so much because they really want to rule but more because they like to win and they thought it looked like a great game. But what else could someone do if they were transported into this world? Suddenly that scrabble game has a lot more riding on it than just pride.

2. Everywhere in Tsubasa Chronicles

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I’ve been told, by someone who could not stand this series, that this is worth watching just for the travel through multiple dimensions. Every few episodes we’re hitching a ride to a new world with its own rules and logic, but beautiful even while uncovering its host of problems. The biggest problem with the worlds in this series is you never get to stay long enough and you feel like you’ve really only scratched the tip of the iceberg when you are whisked away to another location. That, and after awhile you have to wonder where are the worlds where things aren’t all coming to an end right when the protagonists show up (very much like the Sliders TV series way back when). Still, if you are after some truly gorgeous fantasy worlds (and some sci-fi ones as well), Tsubasa isn’t going to disappoint.

3. The world of Hitsugi no Chaika

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It may be pretty standard fantasy fair when it comes to appearance, a quasi medieval setting overlaid with a bit of magic and steampunk inventions, but the world Chaika travels through is fascinating (even if inconsistent). The magical creatures are varied and dangerous. An array of magical powers are being used and magic power itself can be drawn from memories and remains, which has a whole extra layer of creepiness when you think about it. The world is recovering from a war but hardly at peace leaving an intriguing political situation to learn about and the landscape has enough variety to certainly keep you from getting bored. Honestly, I have no idea what this world is called as I don’t recall it being mentioned in the anime (specific locations are named but I don’t know about the world), but of all the similar fantasy worlds out there, this would be my pick in terms of interest.

Other anime worlds I’d love to see include Soul Society (Bleach), anywhere in Full Metal Alchemist, the world in Sunday Without God, and as long as I had a lot of protection, the world from The Irregular at Magic High School.

So what about you? What anime worlds caught your eye?