Tuesday’s Top 5: Things I Learned From Anime Last Year

Tuesday's Top 5

It’s been an interesting 12 months as an anime reviewer and I love thinking back about all the shows I’ve watched and the lessons I’ve learned, or at least been reminded about. These are the top 5 things I learned from anime last year but I’d love to know if anime taught you anything, or reminded you about something you shouldn’t forget.

Please note: There may be spoilers below.

Honourable Mentions:

  • Don’t try and take on the mafia alone: Banana Fish
  • When summoning a demon lord from another world, be sure to read the label properly otherwise you might end up with an otaku gamer or a loli and neither one is exactly what you would be after if you decided to summon a demon lord: How Not To Summon a Demon Lord

Number 5: How my immune system works from Cells At Work

This one is pretty obvious when you think about it, but watching Cells at Work each week reminded me about all that high school biology stuff that I promptly just stopped thinking about after graduating. I also learned about a couple of cells I’d previously never heard of. While my primary reason for watching anime is not educational, when an edutainment like Cells at Work comes along that is informative and fun and adorable, you just can’t pass it up. The only problem is every blood test I get now I worry about the millions of Red Blood Cells that just found themselves torn from their home.

Number 4: Longer running stories need to work harder to keep me interested

I kind of already knew this with Bleach being the only really ‘long’ running anime I ever fully completed. My Hunter x Hunter watch has stalled so incredibly close to the end and yet I just haven’t finished it, and otherwise Soul Eater and D Gray Man are probably the only other two long anime I’m a massive fan of. But last year this became really clear to me as Black Clover got cut from my watch list thirteen episodes in (though it may have been the shouting and not the episode count that lead to that), GeGeGe no Kitaro was abandoned even though I didn’t dislike the show, Attack on Titan was on notice until it delivered a fairly strong third season and even My Hero Academia that I’d previously really enjoyed just felt a bit tired.

It probably says more about my attention span than the anime, but the larger episode counts seem to make me want more from the anime and expect more from the story and when I don’t find it I seem to lose interest. Then we have the new Sword Art Online series with its mammoth four cour run announced before we even started and while initially excited I’m finding that it feels like they’ve stretched out content to fill those episodes rather than having enough content for it to begin with (though we’ll see what they do next with it). Either way, last year very much reminded me that I prefer my anime with 11 – 13 episodes and a conclusive ending.

Number 3: In relationships communication is key.

Again, this is something I already knew but we certainly had a tonne of examples of why this was important last year. Just looking at the Autumn season we can see that Nanami and Yuu would have been better off if Yuu had been more open about how she felt early on and even after she resolves to do something, she still doesn’t actually talk to Nanami about it directly instead taking a round about route (Bloom Into You). Takato and Junta from Dakaichi could have solved their break-up drama in a heart beat if either one had actually consulted the other before taking action. Then we have Sakuta and Mai (Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai), the one couple that mostly communicated beautifully and managed to navigate around so much relationship drama and yet Mai still didn’t tell Sakuta it was her birthday and he had to find out second hand from her younger sister. If anime taught me anything last year it was definitely to talk to your partner, whoever they may be.

Number 2: Heroes come in all shapes and sizes

While not from a specific anime, there were so many different kinds of heroes from so many different shows last year. My personal favourites included traditional heroes such as All Might from My Hero Academia, but also encompassed characters such as Hina from March Comes in Like a Lion and Yuu from Bloom Into You. Big or small, saving the world or reaching out to a friend, there were so many different heroes to choose from that surely there was someone a viewer could look up to last year.

Number 1: Definitely ignore the pre-season hype and judge shows for what they are

Whether it was going in with too high an expectation, possibly considering passing on something because of no expectations, or just not enjoying something because I wanted it to be something else, last year taught me the value of taking things as they are and not as I wanted them to be. Then again, even going into Darling in the Franxx with no expectation would not make me like it anymore. But perhaps Clear Card would have been better received if I wasn’t endlessly comparing it to the nostalgia fuelled image I had of Cardcaptor Sakura. And consider some shows I ended up really enjoying, such as Rokuhoudou Yatsuiro Biyori that wasn’t even on my radar and from the description of it doesn’t seem like my kind of story I really just need to try each show on its own merit. So this year I am as much as possible going into shows without expectations, watching the first episode (or as much as I can stomach) and giving them a go. That said, W’z still isn’t getting more than 5 minutes of my time.

Right, so what did you learn last year while watching anime?

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Karandi James
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In Case You Missed It 2019 #3

Week three of the new year has given Australia an extreme heat wave. Now given I live in the middle of nowhere anyway and our standard January temperatures are in the 40’s (celcius), I’m coping but I’d be lying if I said it was pleasant (and I don’t even want to know what my power bill will look like because there has definitely been a need to run at least one air-con in the house more or less continuously during this period – if nothing else, my computer keeps overheating if I try and use it without cooling the room). Then of course I get told that other bloggers are all but snowed in.

Given the outside is hostile, it seems like a great week to indulge in anime – though who am I kidding, I don’t really need an excuse to do that. As always I’ve found some great posts during the week and I’ve linked below to some great posts from the community. There’s also links to my posts from the week below in case you missed them and hopefully we’ll find some more great content for week 4.

Posts from the Community

From PeregrinePrincess there is an incredibly beautiful analysis of a Natsume Yuujinchou episode in a post called Fleeting Light. It is the firefly episode and if you haven’t seen it there’s definitely spoilers here, but if you have seen the episode definitely go and check out this post. It beautifully captures the magic of Natsume and why these episodes speak to so many of us.

The Archive is on Fire has a post about Goblin Slayer and how the series looks at the title characters slow building of relationships and healing. If you are wanting a bit of a thoughtful and reflective take on an anime that has gotten a lot of criticism, this post might be a great read for you.

Crimson shares their thoughts on Soul Eater having finally finished the anime (Yay!). Here they discuss the characters, the pacing and that ending. There are a couple of spoilers here though for such an old anime it probably isn’t an issue and if you are looking for a fresh take on the series this is one to check out.

Soul Eater - Little demon

Aldael explains fairly wonderfully how the Boogiepop anime adaptation failed its first arc. They provide some excerpts from the light novel and compare to how the scene was depicted in the anime and suddenly the feeling that something was missing while watching the anime all makes sense. It really was just missing.

Irina brings us another thought provoking post about positive negative reviews. It examines different ways people approach writing negative reviews and how they come across to the reader. The comments section makes for some great reading, as is usual from one of Irina’s posts that get the community talking.

Tokyo Ghoul - Keneki Ken

Marshmellow Pastel has a really intriguing post about Pastel Memories and asks the question of ‘who is this for?’ With a lead in discussion about the disconnect between subject matter and style for Ready Player One, this post is an intriguing read and one well worth the time so be sure to check it out.

Pick of the Week

Floating Into Bliss does it again with another thought provoking video/transcript discussing the Actual Problem with Subtitles. This one looks particularly at translations that add gendered terms to sentences where they did not exist and it comes with a myriad of anime examples and discusses why these might be a problem and why translations need to address this issue. Very thoughtful post and one worth watching/reading.

And a late entry and bonus pick of the week. Kapodaco did a bit of a follow up from my feature on Light Novels looking at his own viewing habits and ratings for anime and whether or not Light Novel adaptations scored lower. It’s an interesting post and takes the conversation in a different direction and is well worth reading.

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Karandi James
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Up Close with Maka Albarn

Maka Albarn from Soul Eater

I mentioned last year while completing the 12 Days of Anime that I had really enjoyed writing posts focused on single characters and so I was looking to make it more of a feature in 2019. I don’t know if I’m going to do this every week or not at the moment, though I probably will for awhile just to see how it goes. Still, when thinking about what character to start with for 2019, I couldn’t go past my favourite female character, the hard working scythe-meister Maka Albarn.

Maka Chop

Maka is one of those rare female characters who manages to be tough and yet still adorable. She’s emotionally strong and yet she isn’t emotionally shut down. She has friends, yet likes to stand on her own. In short, she’s kind of a delight to watch in action whether she’s fighting with her partner Soul (fighting using him and fighting with him), reading a book, studying, trying to pretend her father doesn’t exist, or just going about her daily life preparing breakfast and the like. When I decided to cosplay as an anime character for the very first time, it seemed obvious that Maka would be the character of choice.

Maka reaching out.

Now, for those who haven’t seen Soul Eater (and why not), Maka is one of the main characters in a series that splits its focus mainly between three main pairs. Maka and Soul, Black Star and Tsubaki, and Death the Kid and Liz and Patty. Maka and Soul are my favourite of these but their interactions with the others are a large part of what makes them so fantastic.

Maka starts the anime as an already fairly determined student. She wants to reach the same heights her mother did and she’s going to work very hard to get there. In the very first episode though she suffers a little bit of a set-back but we see her continue on her path working toward making her scythe (Soul) the strongest death-scythe ever.

Maka fighting

As with many characters, Maka shines most when she faces adversity and while she is awesome to watch in a fight, helped by some very flashy animation, where Maka really excelled was in the arc where she had to deal with her guilt at letting her weapon protect her and Soul getting hurt in the process. They didn’t dwell overly long on this or allow Maka’s character to stagnate, but rather she took the time to process what had happened and where to go from there. We saw that she needed Soul as well to help her overcome the trauma and that the two became stronger partners because of it.

Maka and Soul dancing

This is one of my favourite arcs of any anime ever and I love where it leads. I just love Maka as a character and wish we had more characters like her. While I’m still not sold on the end of the Soul Eater anime series (please let it get rebooted), Maka alone makes the anime well worth the journey.

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Karandi James
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Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime Characters Who Smoke

Tuesday's Top 5

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)

Psycho Pass.jpg

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)

Worrick.png

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)

Suoh.gif

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)

Franken Stein.gif

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)

xxxHolic2

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: Anime Bookworms

Tuesday's Top 5

As an avid bookworm myself I definitely appreciate seeing characters who read, who talk about books, and who generally respect stories and it is no surprise that some of my favourite characters ever are bookworms (though there are plenty of book reading characters who are neither here nor there really). Today I’m counting down my top 5 anime bookworms and why I enjoy them so much (though those who have been following the blog for awhile will already know who number one is sure to be).

Please note, there will be spoilers below.

Honourable mention: Sunako from Shiki and Makashima from Psycho Pass. Okay, I seriously want to add Makashima onto the list and I just can’t fit him so here’s a picture anyway.

Number 5: Jibril (No Game No Life)

jibril.png

Jibril loves knowledge. As a member of the Flugel race she craves it and after defeating the King of Imanity in a game she claimed the library as her own. There’s something really special about a character who is powerful enough to have more or less anything and she picks the library and while her reaction to a tablet full of books from a world she didn’t know may have been a bit over the top, you have to appreciate the enthusiasm and thirst for knowledge.

Number 4: Kaneki Ken (Tokyo Ghoul)

Kaneki.jpg

While I haven’t much liked much of Tokyo Ghoul since season one, it is undeniable that I quite liked Kaneki’s character way back when. The shy book loving boy who just wanted the pretty girl to notice him and discuss books with him was adorable and the tragedy that befell him suitably heart wrenching. If only they’d continued to evolve his character sensibly from that point I probably would still love Kaneki as a character. Still, any guy who thinks of a bookshop for a date is definitely going to get a spot on my list.

Number 3: Nagato Yuki (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya)

Nagato.jpg

The only member of the literature club who then is forcibly joined into the SOS brigade, Nagato is very seldom seen without a book. She even passes message to Kyon about meeting by lending him a book (a failed strategy when he at first just forgets to read the book and it isn’t until the second night he gets the message). Still, she’s persistent. It is hard to figure out whether Nagato actually enjoys reading or whether it is just a habit, but she’s one bookworm you do not want to mess with, or apparently try to verse at any kind of computer strategy game.

Number 2: Chito (Girls’ Last Tour)

GLT11a

Chito’s genuine joy and love at finding a book and her genuine horror at Yuu’s callous destruction of a book, is something that really drew me to her character during Girls’ Last Tour’s run. There’s a lot to like about the quieter and more contemplative of the pair, and I definitely think that anyone who wants to save books even at the end of the world deserves to be mentioned on this list with love.

Number 1: Maka Albarn (Soul Eater)

Maka1

In fairness, I think Maka loves studying more than she actually likes books, and yet she’s a badass character who takes time to read, to learn, and to genuinely bury herself in words. Although, she isn’t above using a book as a weapon of mass destruction should the person near her annoy her enough. Honestly though, Maka and books are more or less inseparable in my mind and they are a part of what made her character so incredibly relatable and memorable to me all those years ago. I love Maka as a character and she well and truly deserves the number one spot on this list.

Maka Chop

So I’m dying to know who your favourite anime bookworm is. Be sure to let me know in the comments.


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Karandi James

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Tuesday’s Top 5: English Dubbed Anime

Tuesday's Top 5

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 and Ghost Hunt

Number 5: Bleach

Fight-Bleach

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

Maka + Soul

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 actual 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

Full Metal.jpg

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

SAO7

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

steins2

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? Let me know in the comments below.

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Karandi James
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BLEACH ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK
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Tuesday’s Top 5: Antagonists With Inhuman Characteristics

Tuesday's Top 5

Antagonists and villains are visually quite fun characters because they usually end up as fashion disasters or twisted into weird caricatures. Today I want to look at five villains and antagonists that have inhuman characteristics that I think are still pretty cool looking (or at the very least they are memorable). I’d love to know your picks so please leave me a comment below.

At some point I’ll have to look at love interests and protagonists with inhuman characteristics but those will be a lot harder to narrow down.

Please note, there will be spoilers below.

Honourable Mentions: Pretty much every villain in Sailor Moon ever.


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Number 5: The Beast Titan (Attack on Titan Season 2)

Beast.jpg

I wasn’t the biggest fan of Attack on Titan season 2, but I did love the beast titan. I would have loved for him to be more important in the season and spend more time on screen. He was a fascinating presence in the first episode and his return later to royally mess things up for the group in the tower was fantastic. More of this character definitely would have made the viewing experience a bit better.

 

Number 4: Amaimon (Blue Exorcist)

Amaimon.gif

Again, not an anime I’m majorly in love with but Amaimon was kind of cool. Okay, he was a jerk who likes messing with people, but the nails, the ears, his tail, and just his general playful yet cruelly malicious personality just kind of work. And they aren’t trying to make him out to be one of the good guys. He is a nasty piece of work, but he does the job well.

Number 3: Neferpitou (Hunter X Hunter)

Neferpitou.jpg

I still haven’t gotten to the end of Hunter x Hunter but Neferpitou is fantastic. Okay, she’s horrible, but she’s kind of supposed to be. Plus, look at that face. She’s truly adorable. Actually she reminds me entirely of my cat who will happily sleep on my pillow but try and move her and you suddenly discover she has four claws and teeth and she isn’t afraid to use them.

Number 2: The Millennium Earl (D Gray Man)

D Gray - Earl.png

I can’t help but wonder about the kind of crazy person who would agree to a deal with the Millennium Earl. I know he doesn’t always look quite that sinister, but even at his most innocuous, he’s still pretty creepy. This is the face of someone who can and will destroy the world. Not just monologuing about how bad he is, this guy is going to actively work towards his goal and he’s pretty successful at it. If this was live action that would be the stuff of nightmares.


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Number 1: Little Demon (Soul Eater)

Little Demon - Soul Eater.jpg

Not so much a villain or antagonist so much as an inner demon to be faced and overcome by the central characters. The Little Demon starts out fairly small and manageable as a voice in Soul Eater’s subconscious. But as Soul and then Maka give in to madness the Little Demon grows and becomes far more menacing. One of my favourite characters from one of my favourite shows, The Little Demon is both adorable and terrifying and has great taste in music.

That’s this week’s list and as always, I’d love to know who you would have included on yours.


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Karandi James

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