Archive for the ‘Anime’ category

Anime Recommendations

March 3, 2014

Someone asked me for recommendations and I’d thought to collate things at one link instead of using several at once.

Really good action scenes with a strong cultural backdrop and parental guide. Designed originally as a novel for youths, but appeals just as strongly to more mature adults or warriors.

One of the first “sports” anime. Never really understood how you could make a good story from a sports game, but this series cleared up that issue for me. If you like baseball or want to learn about baseball in Japan and how people can craft a story around it, this is the one.

An educational look at farming and what’s really going on there. It’s like a world without PETA. It’s strange, but fulfilling. Also great backup material to On Killing by Grossman. While the Japanese may consider themselves nationally as pacifistic and weak, their research is solid and they know more about this subject than they realize. Far more than the omnipotent military in America land, at least. It’s slice of Japanese cultural life, but on a farming and teaching environment.

The quintessential feudal Japanese experience, in a modern reframe.

Really long shounen series designed for younger boys and older teens, that really hits upon the emotional tones of nobility and passion. Even without finishing the long story arcs, the shorter arcs are satisfying. Successfully adapted from manga. I read the manga first and the old moments still shone as true in the anime.

An action adventure movie about redemption and feudal era sword fighting.

A modern take on slice of life and Japanese political philosophy. Although since it involves kids, many don’t take it seriously. It may be termed a philosophy and political thriller.

Really nice story composition about supernatural alchemy. The ending has a bang.

Old science fiction and romance favorite. It’s about a ship on a journey, like the Yamato spaceship.

Really emotional story about a group of friends.

These were all rated 5/5, in retrospect by me. While hearing it in Japanese and reading the translation isn’t required, it is what I recommend for people looking for the most original experience. You’ll need that experience if you want to de-brainwash decades of Hollywood gunk. Choose between changing the world or changing yourself.

Seirei no Moribito: Review

January 30, 2014

I finished re-watching this series for the 4th time at least: this Seirei no Moribito review is thus somewhat belated.

It’s still very entertaining, especially the realistic fight scenes. There were times when I wanted to fast forward through an episode because I already knew what was going to happen, but once the episode began I just watched it normally because it was good.

When I read the wiki article about it, I was surprised it came from a novel. Generally novel adaptations are tricky to do, although at least they are given more freedom than light novels (demographic limitations). Originally written as a fantasy novel for children, it is said to appeal to adults. Later it was adapted to a manga and then the anime which we see today. The anime was so well constructed I thought for sure it had to be an original script and character design work.

Single parent raising a child is one of the themes in the anime, but the material isn’t about the themes so much as it uses plot development to illustrate realistic characters living in a realistic setting. It reminds me of another anime adapted from a novel: The world is a fantasy construct similar to Japanese legends about demons and spirits; yet the culture of the world would be very familiar to a feudal history buff.

Warrior virtues were featured, which appeals to me given my interests and hobbies. It is certainly easier to use killing techniques vs non-lethal ones, as non-lethal techniques have a higher chance of getting the user killed and is not particularly easy to apply either. But that just means for a warrior, there is a higher level that can be achieved even if you can win all life and death duels. The 1 on multiple enemies tactic is also applicable, in both the anime as well as physical life scenarios. The sheer maneuverability of the spear users, usage of leg attacks in combination with weapon attacks, is also consistent with Ancient Chinese and Asian martial techniques designed for the battlefield. When students like me learned the bo and bojutsu (long staff techniques), I always did wonder how long it would take to predict which part of the staff a blocked sword would slide off into, thus allowing me to extract from fingers from that area. Since a long staff is held with both hands at the 1/3rd mark on both ends, there are no metal guards protecting the hands from enemy objects. One reason I prefer the sword over the staff is because even though the staff has more range, it is more difficult to learn how to use at all ranges. The staff and spear is very easy for beginners to learn how to use, at its maximum distance (in Eve we might call that kiting range). But in brawling range, where the enemy is right in front of you in arm distance, the number of tricks you need to pull off in staff techniques are no joke. The spear or staff is considered a peasant or lowly infantry’s weapon, not something aristocrats or cavalry used. Mostly because it is made of wood and thus can be more easily crafted than a pure bar of metal that a sword requires. Although the war naginatas used by the Chinese and the women samurai, were probably partially or fully metal.

The Japanese artistic usage of women as weapons of mass destruction, both on a serious and joking manner, may be from their feudal era where samurai were expected to fight, male or women. In the Western or US sphere, the frontiers woman utilizing a gun for home defense would be the closest approximation. Something so far from our mainstream Hollywood culture, that it takes effort to recall or apply for those that were not born or raised in that kind of atmosphere.

The characters and character construction doesn’t feel designed for larger than life people. It’s not about the greatest soldier or warrior, nor is it about an Emperor, nor is it about the Emperor’s son that is brought up on the streets as a peasant. The themes are prismatic and flare like a fractal design. They support strong human emotions, but I don’t get the feeling it has a specific message other than the title itself. One may take each individual character and build a story on it, but as you see more and more characters the stories begin to interweave and support each other. In that sense, it feels a lot more like a family drama or slice of life production.

A close Western comparison would be the Croods movie. American popular concepts for raising children is a little bit strange. I’ve seen it in the mainstream enough times that I’m getting suspicious. Of course not everyone behaves like that, just as not everyone behaves like Moribito’s parents in Japan. However, mainstream art and communication tends to influence people more than democracies wish to accept.

P.S. One extra thing in the anime I considered an omake, was the howl or yell the primary protagonist and warrior did in calling out an enemy above. It really felt like a kiai or a sonic projection using chi gong: manipulation of air and energy production in the body. It’s things like that that make me want to read the novel, to see if any additional details or instructions were given.

Girls Cosplaying

January 19, 2014

This isn’t so much a “tribte” to girls that do cosplay right as an excuse for people to collate pictures of hot (moe) or cute (kawaii) girls in cosplay.

But I’ll take it. It’s a good compilation, no matter what the original reasons were.

Mushishi: Anime Impressions

January 13, 2014

I saw the special Mushishi OVA they released this season and it was amazingly good. Slow, portrait based story telling, utilizing ancient or traditional Japanese setting craft. The fact that it is also a life and death drama appeals to my current tastes as well.

These are initial impressions, I might write a full review later on once I finish the series.

Narcissu Steam Greenlight Campaign

November 10, 2013


I like the video. This was one of those freely translated and released by the copyright owner, which somehow found its way to Western hands.


Most people can probably get an idea of whether they’ll like the visual novel by their reactions to the Japanese song.

A Greenlight is something Steam uses to gauge interest in a product, and if there is enough they will put resources into listing it. Steam is an online digital distribution service mostly for downloadable content and PC games. As it also serves as a chat, message, and website, a game listed there will receive a lot of ancillary support as well as advertisement to a broader audience and market. A broader audience and market is something visual novels need to create, if the subject matter is going to succeed here in the US.

Battleship Yamato: Star Blazers

November 3, 2013

I didn’t realize these two titles were related until someone told me the details of Star Blazers and I recognized it as the same plot in Yamato.

The opening song, for the launching of the ship, is fiery.

Is an orchestral arrangement.

They recently re-made the series

If you can’t find the English spelling, use the Japanese spelling Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199.

Dysfunctional Systems Review

October 1, 2013

The visual novel in episodic format released on Steam and elsewhere.

It has been a few months since I’ve read it but given that it has been released on Steam, I’d thought I’d provide an insertion point for those unfamiliar with the genre/theme.

Dysfunctional Systems is a science fiction short story with an introduction of the characters, a journey where they meet challenges, and a satisfying ending. Like Brandon Sanderson’s novels, the short term goals will be finished up, even though the long term goals are still long term (it’s Episode 1, with possibilities for further episodes). Other episodic VNs are うみねこのなく頃に – Umineko no Naku Koro ni – When the Seagulls Cry and Gun Rose Days (by same authors).

The theme and environment setting is very easy for Westerners to understand once you start reading. The main protagonist is essentially on an apprenticeship to a job, overseen by a superior. Similar to those paid internships college students go through. However, her job is to go to different alternative realities and ensure that no threat manifests that can harm their Origin universe.

Unlike a longer visual novel or Western novel, there’s not any filler. There’s no time or room for filler. Everything is vital and critical to the task at hand or the short term goal the characters have set for themselves.

The gameplay itself is only “role playing” in the original meaning, where you ‘play’ a ‘role’ that someone else has given you. In this short (kinetic) VN, you play the role of the main protagonist, but the setting, her emotions, and her goals are set by the dungeon master, or in this case the writer and programmers. You have a few limited choices, but only when programmers (or DM) lets you make a decision. Most of the time you’ll just be clicking along, like moving pages in a book or watching a movie. So first of all, don’t expect a VN to be like a number crunching RPG simulation of fantasy or sci fi weapons.

As for what about the novel I liked and why I liked it; to put it into a fundamental level, I liked it because it dealt with a high level analysis of cultural imperatives and cultural changes due to technology and external influences. If you ever got excited with First Contact, where you have a superior or different level of technology and thinking but come into contact with a whole new civilization on a planet no human has ever visited, then you will come to understand the feeling that Dysfunctional Systems give off. For instead of studying aliens or civilization, it studies the dysfunctional systems inherent in other cultures. Things that don’t function right, in our judgment, but still exists as a “system” that is maintained or expanded by human hands. Examples might be North Korea, Jim Jones’ death/suicide cult, and so forth. Unlike Western science fiction shows, the main protagonist and her allies aren’t reliant on their technology to accomplish things: their primary role is as an observer, not a fixer or ruler. This novel feels more like a survivalist story or about an individual being a stranger in a strange land, than as the normal sci fi alien invasion story or the sci fi Cool Gadgets theme found oftentimes in stories like Star Wars 1-3.

It didn’t take me more than say 20 hours to read the story. So for those that want to have a easy to read entry on visual novels, I would say this product is a good option.


For those that want to read more about VNs, check out my archives here.

Sankarea + Suisei no Gargantia + Shingeki no Kyojin

May 20, 2013

After having watched 3 episodes of Sankarea, 7 episodes of Suise no Gargantia and Shingeki no Kyojin (Gargantia on the Verdurous planet and Attack on Titan), there are some things I’ve been thinking about.

Shingeki started off almost on the classic hero/shounen story line. A young child faces adversity and obtains the motivation to strive for power in order to defeat a foe or obtain a goal. However, it readily departed into a Muv Luv Alternative universe where the concepts of life and death drive the plot and characters.

Gargantia started off in that total war of extermination/extinction, just like MLA, but then started providing a cultural glimpse into a different lifestyle of peace and cooperation. Shingeki appeared to be predictable in the plot, but that’s not how it turned out. Gargantia felt like it was going to do the military high casualty war but most of its episodes so far went in the other direction. These unexpected surprises and changes in the plot setup are refreshing and keeps me guessing.

Sankarea is also getting deep on the dramatic moments. Even though on its surface, it appeared like a romantic comedy about utterly fantastic/fantasy elements portrayed against regular teenage high school life.

All of them I like, if only because the power of life cannot be appreciated until one accepts the power of death.

Rewrite: Visual Novel Review

May 7, 2013

This was pretty good. Either at the top 5 or near it in my personal estimation.

I started normally, finishing the routes for the 5 heroines. 3 were open at first, 2 were unlocked later. I suspected, however, that there was some secret ura stories like in Muv Luv. It turned out to be true. The details, of course, I will leave the reader to find out for themselves.

The dramatic component was done quite well, with different combinations of sadness and sublime beauty combined together on each story plot. Each route essentially tells the story of one world line in quantum mechanics, split based upon player decisions and then plot forking.

The romantic elements were varied between action sequences, dark heroic moments, hero of justice moments, and various gray shades between. Multi themed, I would say it was. This VN is listed as having routes being completely different in plot from each other. Thus it makes it similar to Fate Stay/night, the first VN I read. Very exciting and far less boring to redo the common route from the beginning.

Those with weak mental or stomach tolerances, perhaps should watch out or at least train yourself to a higher tolerance as you read the story. Many of the things in the story I have experienced myself, faced the question of doing, or otherwise dealt with in my life, so I found it easy to accept some of the more dramatic confrontations. Others may feel different.

Overall, the protagonist was someone, especially at the end, that I felt very close or comfortable with. In that sense, it takes away some of the adventure (people doing crazy things that would be too scary to do yourself) and excitement from it for me. In compensation, I felt comfortable and pleased with the True End. No disagreements or fundamental disgruntled emotional opinions. For those with little or no experience of certain human phenomenon in the world, they may be more disturbed emotionally by the events depicted in Rewrite. Which is part of the fun, challenging your own self to change emotionally or intellectually. See if you are up to the challenge.

This is a great story for males that want a combination of romance, action, and seinen (teenager grows into an adult) story lines. I can’t speak too much for what females may like in the story, except that the romance is quite well done. Romance is often a side plot in action movies, a way to justify two characters being together but not much else. When I say “romance” in Rewrite, I mean the kind of story where the man is motivated to save or destroy the world because his love of his woman demands it. That kind of epic romantic adventure.

Muv Luv Total Eclipse Anime

July 24, 2012

Total Eclipse is a side story about my favorite subjects: love, war drama, and military survival.

It was a toss up whether it would come out as glorious or a train wreck. The first two episodes were definitely a good run and made me remember all those fond (or psychologically damaging, depending on your perspective) memories concerning Takeru’s role in MLA and MLU. (Muv Luv Alternative/Unlimited)

I’m not sure if they changed the sequence of the character’s backstories or not, but for new comers to the MLA franchise, that set piece battle definitely sets the tone for the story and the world. It is a very accurate portrayal too. If you couldn’t handle episode 2, chances are you would try to kill yourself at the end of MLA. So it’s a good thing people that can’t handle adult material, drop it early on.

The original Muv Luv Alternative/Unlimited and Total Eclipse were visual novels and light novels respectively. The anime industry has gotten quite a bit of experience adapting light novels to the anime screen, so I have marginally high hopes that they can carry it out. Train wreck still possible though.


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