Editorial Grab-bag: Birthday, Blog-facelift, Episodic Posts, more

Well, I’ve got quite a few things I want to talk about, and not a lot of time, so let us begin.

First, today is my birthday. Go me, survived another year :3 – For those of you who wonder, I’m 28 years old now. Plans for my birthday? I’ll go to a restaurant with my family next weekend, watch a movie with friends next weekend, meet with my grandparents some weekend. I’m busy this weekend with Aristotle, so no fun allowed! I did buy myself a thing or two on Black Friday sales online though.

Google Birthday Wishes

Visiting Google, I was surprised seeing a personalized message.

This blog is nearly 5 years old now, and it was time for another face-lift. In order to make the blog’s content easier to read (and that is what this blog is all about, after all), I chose a slightly wider theme, with a more legible font, spacing, etc.  I modified the theme further with some CSS-changes to eliminate some warts related to images and links.
The blog-header is the same header I’ve used two themes ago (see this post about its creation).The header had to be created anew since the old resolution looked appalling when stretched; Neontaster helped me with adding shadow to the letters. In case you wonder, the image used is of roleplaying game books I own, that shelf looked like that back in June 2006. You don’t want to know what it looks like right now.
What do you guys think, do you like the new theme? Do you like the old-new header?

Continue reading

Handling Flashback Scenes and Respecting Your Audience

Total Recall - It totally fits! :3Some recent anime episodes led me to discuss flashbacks in a bit more length; I think this topic is interesting enough to devote more time to. The discussion and examples used will follow anime, western television, films and books. It is not an anime-only topic, but anime might get a bit more space and examples because I have examples on hand and it’s what made me revisit the topic conceptually.

Flashbacks obviously can come in the form of showing us content from earlier episodes, say, so we’ll remember what happened. An anime infamous for flashbacks in this way, which had episodes where up to a third of the content was recycled was Naruto – this was done because the anime was catching up to the source material and they wanted to use as little content per episode as they could. We’ve even had some examples of a flashback within an episode to something that happened the very same episode.

Note, however, that sometimes such “remembrance” sequences aren’t only required, but drive a point home – you can see it where someone is surprised by a new development and the flashback serves to have them narrate to us what actually happened, or show it again now that we’re armed with new knowledge and can put in the proper context – it’s very common in thrillers – think of the resolution of The Usual Suspects, The Sixth Sense, Fight Club, or recently in anime the case of Akatsuki in Log Horizon thinking of how Shiro and Nyanta had defeated Demiklas – we’ve seen the content we’ve just seen, in slow motion, accompanied with her trying to work out what happened which we’ve missed.

Continue reading

Anime Isn’t Special – And Neither Are You For Watching It

When people asked before “Why do you watch anime?” – I never really had an answer, I watch anime because I like the way it looks and it has enough stories I enjoy. I also watch western television and don’t think one form is better than the other. I also read a lot of books, and I love reading books, and you’ll be hard pressed to convince me most anime beats most books I read (though the reverse is slightly tilted in books’ favour). I always noted it at strange that I do watch all this anime, but it’s just TV, and I happen to watch it to a large degree instead of western television, but I’m not sure there’s any deep reason for it.

 Hikigaya Hachiman from the anime version of

Hachiman from OreGairu telling us how special he is, a notion the show spares no sympathy towards.

So, what got me off my rocker this time? Last week I posted to my blog 10 shows I think someone who had watched a show or two, or a couple of anime movies, should watch in order to get a better feel/understanding for anime, its genres, and to use them to inform future queries – “I liked X, I didn’t like Y.” My post’s comments, and comments on a forum dedicated to suggestion/requesting anime to watch where I posted the post last week, and an anime article-sharing site that linked to my post and discussed it, and Google+, and in each of these places people have been falling all over themselves telling me how wrong I am to suggest Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gurren Lagann and Madoka Magica to people who are new to anime and can’t possibly appreciate these shows without watching aaaaall these shows which these shows deconstruct, reconstruct and/or reference. In the case of NGE (and to a small degree Steins;Gate) people said that the story is “too dense.”

Continue reading

Fall 2013 Anime Mid-Season Impressions (Part 2/2, L-V)

So, another season of anime reached its half-point and it’s time to watch my mid-season impressions, where I talk a bit of the show and rate it. This part’s shows have some really catchy OPs/EDs, so you’ll get more of them.

Due to how many shows I have to cover (15), I’ve cut them into two halves, sorted alphabetically. The shows within each episode are sorted roughly by excitement generated within me or how good they are. I’ve also bolded in the following lines what shows I’ll recommend people without reservations.
The first post will cover: BlazBlue: Alter Memory, Coppelion, Galilei Donna,Gingitsune (Silver Fox), Kill la Kill, Kyoukai no Kanata (Beyond the Boundary), and Kyousougiga (Capital Craze).
The second post (this one!) will cover: Log HorizonNagi no Asukara, Outbreak Company, Samurai Flamenco (Samumenco), Strike the Blood, Tokyo Ravens, Unbreakable Machine-Doll, and Valvrave the Liberator’s 2nd season (Kakumeiki Valvrave).

Samurai Flamenco:


Samurai Flamenco / Samumenco anime

Samurai Flamenco in a striking pose, telling us all we need to know.

I think this show is a classic in the making, which isn’t as surprising since the art style, the direction, they all make me think of shows from the glory days of Manglobe shows such as Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo.

Well, putting that aside, the characters have great chemistry, so the show is enjoyable to watch. The mixture of naivety and cynicism amongst the characters and within each characters helps make them interesting, both as people and as characters, and further enriches their relationships.

The comedy in this show is pure gold, in a manner similar to Genshiken Nidaime last season the comedy isn’t reliant on gags that’d work in any show, or references to outside material, but is actually built on the solid foundation of the characters’ personalities, relationships, and situations.

The exploration of growing up, ideals, and wishful thinking also lend this anime a more serious side even during moments of high hilarity, and help me in thinking it’s a great show not just for younger audiences, but older ones as well.

Episodes Watched: 5/22. I’d marathon this show right now if I only could.
Current Grade: A to A+. I think you should be watching this.

Continue reading

Fall 2013 Anime Mid-Season Impressions (Part 1/2, B-K)

So, another season of anime reached its half-point and it’s time to watch my mid-season impressions, where I talk a bit of the show and rate it.

Due to how many shows I have to cover (15), I’ve cut them into two halves, sorted alphabetically. The shows within each episode are sorted roughly by excitement generated within me or how good they are. I’ve also bolded in the following lines what shows I’ll recommend people without reservations.
The first post (this one!) will cover: BlazBlue: Alter Memory, Coppelion, Galilei Donna, Gingitsune (Silver Fox), Kill la Kill, Kyoukai no Kanata (Beyond the Boundary), and Kyousougiga (Capital Craze).
The second post will cover: Log Horizon, Nagi no Asukara, Outbreak Company, Samurai Flamenco (Samumenco), Strike the Blood, Tokyo Ravens, Unbreakable Machine-Doll, and Valvrave the Liberator’s 2nd season (Kakumeiki Valvrave).

Kill la Kill:


To those who don’t know, I avoid reading most online discussion of this show, so the hype and anti-hype and plain old disappointment won’t affect me too much (I try). So, what do I think of it? I think it’s a very interesting show. The clothings as an external power source that runs counter to normal shounen sensibilities where true power must originate from within, and clothing as dignity/humanity had been very real thematic threads in the show’s early episodes, until it came time to shed them as second-hand skin, and to proudly don one’s clothes, and be proud of not wearing one’s clothes… I feel the yarn had got a bit tangled for the writers in that segment, but since it’s early, not every reversed thread must truly find its way into the final tapestry.

The source of power still seems a very relevant thread in this tale, and I’ve noticed that not only are the antagonists in this show potential shounen-show characters/allies, but a few of them could even be the stars of a shounen action show in their own right, especially considering what happened in episode 6, where Sanageyama had to show his will for power was greater than everything else, his desire to win, to fight a strong opponent, and maintain his dignity. I’m still curious about all the “Balance of power” talk we’ve had, and hopefully the lessons of Nazi Germany and the George Orwell references in episode 1 (both 1984 and The Animal Farm) wouldn’t just be discarded from here on out.

I really wonder what the show could do with more money. The artistic direction and use of stills is brilliant, but it’d be nice to still see it augmented with more money. The musical direction and the choice of classic pieces throughout the episodes greatly enhance the experience of watching this show.

Episodes Watched: 6/25
Current Grade: A? Some episodes are amazing, some episodes are really good, a couple didn’t hit the mark, and within each episode there are also moments of greatness within an ok episode and weak moments in a good episode. So I’ll give it an A? for now.

Continue reading

So You Want to Watch Anime? Part 1 – 10 Shows to Start You Off

People often ask me what they should watch if they want to get into anime or have watched only a couple of shows. Obviously, it pays to ask people what genres they like, as anime is just another sub-medium of television and TV, movie and book preferences are all valid. Some of the shows listed here are often noted to be aimed at people who are very knowledgeable about anime, but they are on the list because they stand on their own, and none of us are rookie media consumers.

This list is designed in part to present you with a variety of genres, so you could watch these shows in order to have a better place to start from when looking for additional material – based on what you like and don’t like. Future posts will cover movies, and some more shows based on genres and themes. All posts will be organized on this page.

Note, unless noted otherwise, episode length is roughly 23-24 minutes, with 3-4 minutes per episode spent on opening song (OP), ending song (ED) and next episode’s preview.

1) Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995):

Neon Genesis Evangelion - Introduction to Anime - Psychological mystery mecha classic

One of the most influential shows of the last two decades on anime, referenced in many other shows, from small cameos to scene composition, to whole motifs being taken wholecloth, aside from the fact Shinji, Asuka and Rei are the archetypes on which countless other main characters had been modeled. That of course isn’t sufficient, but it’s a well told story about a group of teenagers who must risk their lives, relationships and psyche in order to defend humanity.

The show begins slowly, but as you go, the emotional hits and the mysteries keep ramping up, until you find yourself with nary a time to take a breather in between. This show had been considered a reconstruction of the mecha genre when it aired, but the story stands well on its own, and with how influential it is I think holding off on watching this show can only be detrimental.

The “twist to mystery” which also often includes references to the supernatural and real-world mythologies at times had truly been ever-present in longer shows after NGE. Its effect on the anime world can’t be overstated.

Genres and Notes: Action, mecha, psychological, teenagers, mystery. Give it at least until episode 8, where it truly shows you what it has to offer. Watch the main series and then watch End of Evangelion, an alternate ending to the last two episodes. Skip Death and Rebirth as it is entirely superfluous. “Rebuild of Evangelion”  (Evangelion 1.11, 2.22, etc.) are an alternate retelling via movies, and aren’t as highly recommended. I don’t suggest this show under the age of 15 – blood, violence, psychological wounds, etc. Often referred to as “NGE” or “Evangelion”.
Episode Count: 26 episodes. End of Evangelion is 90 minutes long.
Buy on Amazon: The complete series. End of Evangelion had unfortunately been out of print for about a decade now.

Continue reading