The Movie Lounge: Godzilla, King of the Monsters and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

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As a Godzilla fan I really wanted to love Godzilla, King of the Monsters so much more than I did. While I didn’t see the first Monsterverse Godzilla film, I can boil down most of my objections for this film as focusing on the human’s perspective, and on a corny and contradictory message. This film spent way too long on a boring and cheesy human story, rather than on the monsters which was a huge mistake. While I did chuckle at a few elements put in the film specifically for the fans and did enjoy certain moments with the monsters, the human characters just drag the movie down so much. It’s a real shame that this movie was not the Godzilla film I was hoping for, and missed the mark so badly.

The writing for this movie is just awful. While this isn’t a surprise to me, it was actually worse than even I expected. In most Godzilla films it is clear that even when they are serious or have a message that the message is usually simple and the plot understands that the film is still about a giant fire breathing lizard monster. The filmmakers for this film though seemed to understand neither of these two concepts. A message is pounded into the viewers by the monster research team about coexisting with the monsters, and that the monsters are here to balance humanity. This message though is very soon contradicted when one of their scientists, a disturbed mother who is morning the loss of her child decides to fake own her kidnapping. She does this in order to use a special sound device to then unleash the monsters upon the world in order to “fix it.” All the rest of the humans tell her that she is wrong, but in effect she is only carrying out an extreme version of what the monster researchers advocated for in the first place. It isn’t until she realizes that King Ghidorah is from space that she later regrets her actions, and even then her change of heart doesn’t really make sense (I guess she liked Godzilla destroying things better?).

To make matters worse as mentioned above the human perspective is used way way way too much in the cinematography and within the stories focus. If you ever thought that a film like The Dark Knight or Cloverfield needed more flashing lights and confusing shaky cam then this is the film for you. Far too many of the shots are from a human angle, and are designed to be disorienting. This would have been fine if this style of shooting was used maybe a few times in the film to be dramatic but instead this technique is used throughout the film to the point where it becomes annoying. Then there is the character writing which is a flop. The characters are annoying largely because they are so underdeveloped, have confusing/cliche motives, and are often way too serious (and when they weren’t I was wishing they were). It seems like the writers forgot that the main focus of Godzilla films should be Godzilla, not the hapless humans stuck within the conflict. I kept wishing for the human’s characters to be destroyed so that the movie could stop wasting time watching them run around or having them have to save Godzilla. While the monster scenes in this movie are fun there are far too few of them, instead having way too much of the humans trying to save or ruin the day while the camera shakes a lot.

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My experience with The Sorcerer’s Apprentice couldn’t have been more different then with Godzilla, King of the Monsters. I had very little expectations for the film coming into it, and ended up watching the film mainly because I love Nick Cage and it was available for free at the library. I was worried though that Cage would be the only interesting or fun part of the film, but the film as a whole turned to be a lot of fun. Despite the films negative reviews, again I found myself drawn to this film because it was so enjoyable and I feel that it deserves so much praise then it has received.

What makes this film work so well is its acting and special effects. Films like The Sorcerer’s Apprentice live and die based on these elements which can make or break the film. The plot for The Sorcerer’s Apprentice pretty simple, it has a nerdy grad student learning to be a wizard in order to defeat evil and recover a macguffin with the help of grizzled mentor Nick Cage. Where the film really shines though is in the creativity and characters it employs. It would have been very easy for the characters to have been annoying or cliché, but in this film they are neither. The film does a great job of making the hero Dave an awkward, clumsy, and goofy guy, while still making giving him a burden of having to save the world, an awkward but sweet romance, and a growth as a person that seemed believable. Of course Nick Cage is once again amazing in this film; he ends up playing a role that is perfect for him, a grizzled and sarcastic ageless mentor. I love Cage’s performance, and contrary to the stereotypes about him in this role he once again shows he can be just as good in a calm collected role as a frenetic one. Alfred Molina’s role as the villainous Horvath is also outstanding. Molina makes the villain swab, drab, and menacing, which is a great contrast to his stage magician henchman who is awkward and highly flamboyant.

The special effects are also wonderful for this film. This movie is filled with amazing and cleverly done special effects that really work. I feel that the effects in this film easily puts other magic based movies like the Harry Potter to shame because of how creative they are. This movie employs creatures, objects, and spells that were exciting and that added to the film rather than being distracting. I also never felt the special effects were not overdone or compensating for bad writing, and that they fit with the film’s mood. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is another film I feel the critics were wrong about when it comes to Nick Cage, and that defied my expectation by being a really a great simple thrilling and fun go

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Reviews from the Screening Room: Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection

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I wish I could say that the Code Geass Movie was the triumphant sequel that I was wishing for. I had hopes that it would somehow within its short run time live up to and continue the original series legacy, but I ultimately I was underwhelmed. If the creators were looking to resurrect the Code Geass franchise they really should have worked harder to make this film more meaningful and stand out beyond the average anime series based film. Instead this movie felt mostly like it should have been a stand-alone work and like it was falsely advertised as something more than it really was. For these reasons I would recommend this film only for diehard fans of the series, and even then I would not recommend going out of your way to see it.

The music and voice acting is good quality throughout the film. While it doesn’t really cover any new ground, it is one of the best features this film has to offer. There isn’t really anything bad I can say about the subtitled casts performance (I saw the film with subtitles). The voice acting continues to be excellent and memorable from both the old cast as well as the new characters. The music evokes many of the classic Code Geass musical themes, but doesn’t really provide much in the way of new music. This use of nostalgia isn’t necessarily a bad thing though as the music is one of the most effective elements the film, and does a great job connecting the film with the original series. There really isn’t anything to complain about within the movies sound work; while I do miss the Jibun wo for the most part the movie doesn’t really change much from the TV series and is one of the biggest things the film got right.

Despite some good animation being added, Resurrections animation doesn’t really improve on the TV series. I did like some of the surreal elements that were added into the visuals, and a lot of the backgrounds did create a really impressive sense of setting for this film. The biggest issues with the animation, however is that it looks too much like the original TV series in terms of planning and budget. While many of the animation shortcuts used within TV series are things I can usually forgive from a weekly show with a limited animation budget, in an anime based film I typically expect a much bigger budget and more available time for planning to go into the animation. One scene that particularly bugged me was one taking place during a party where two characters are talking. Animation in this scene is just painfully sloppy and embarrassingly underdeveloped. While I did enjoy the scenery and the surreal elements added, I expected a lot more from this movie in terms of animation especially as a film advertising itself an important sequel.

Resurrection has a major identity crisis. While it markets itself as a sequel, it’s really a standalone film that required certain continuations to work. This poses a major problem because how the film markets itself isn’t what the film turned out to be. The plot of Resurrection starts with C.C. and a revived but doll like Lelouch meeting up in a desert region with Kallen, Sayoko, and Lloyd who are battling a squad led by a Geass wielding soldier from a Middle Eastern kingdom. After the battle the group ventures into a prison within the Kingdom where C.C. uses a temple to revive Lelouch, and with the help of Suzaku who was captured by the kingdom they all eventually escape. After this they unite with UN forces including many important characters from the original show in order to battle against the kingdom and rescue Nunally from the clutches of the Middle Eastern kingdom’s Geass wielding princess. The problem with this plot is that all of it other than Lelouches revival and different characters teaming up could have just as easily been standalone and are elements that end up being inconsequential to the series as a whole. The other major plot issue is that the parts that are important to the franchise feel extremely out of place. These parts end up feeling like they were tacked on and end up being very downplayed, confusing, and underdeveloped compared to the rest of the film or the plot of the original series. These elements also poses additional problems as well, because they clash so much with the rest of the stand-alone plot while also trying to be a jumping off point for the revival of the Code Geass franchise.

Some of the characters are actually really enjoyable in this film. While I would have liked for certain characters to have gotten more screen time, I was generally happy with attention each returning characters got. I especially like how the film furthered C.C. and Lelouch’s relationship, and how traumatized Lelouch is before he is returned to his usual self. While it might have been nice to have the rest of the cast (especially Suzaku) take over, I thought that the filmmakers did a good job making the revival of Lelouch meaningful, and furthering his and C.C.’s relationship. Many of the other characters such as Lyod and Kallen also get interesting arcs and action. The biggest disappointment I had with this films portrayal of returning characters though was how Suzaku and Nunally were treated. It disappoints me that Suzaku never really gets a chance to have his own arc in the film outside of his complex relationship with Lelouch. Things are even worse for Nunally though who ends up for most of the film being a damsel in distress and not given a chance to expand as a character.

 

The biggest issues with the films characterization though are how the Middle Eastern kingdom’s villainous brother and sister leaders are portrayed. The film wastes a great opportunity to parallel their relationship as siblings with the relationship of Lelouch and Nunally, and also how the movie never really explains their motives. While it might be implied that the princess is trying to help her disabled brother, it is never clear why she wants to break into the mystical C.C. realm other than to obtain power. While her Geass time travel power creates an interesting challenge for Lelouch and his allies, what she hoped to gain from the conflict between Lelouch and his allies was not. By not including some previous grudge against Lelouch or his allies, or having a personal stake in succeeding it makes her motives feel weak and makes it difficult to care about her. While many of the returning characters do have interesting arcs, and Lelouch and C.C. do get developed in a meaningful way, others in the movie especially the new villains really lack the development or depth I was hoping they would get.

Despite my griping as a stand-alone film Resurrection is alright. It isn’t about to change the world, but it does have some fun throw backs to the original series, battles, and neat character arcs. As a sequel though it just doesn’t work. The film seems to go out of its way to downplay the hype it was trying to build with less than stellar animation, weak or missing plot details explaining Lelouches revival, and villains and a plot that are wrapped up by the end of the movie. This movie really should have been created as its own stand-alone work, rather than the beginning of a brand new Code Geass franchise. I really hope that if the creators do continue this series that they present something that is both new or at the very least created with more effort to stand out.

I wish I could say that the Code Geass Movie was the triumphant sequel that I was wishing for. I had hopes that it would somehow within its short run time live up to and continue the original series legacy, but I ultimately I was underwhelmed. If the creators were looking to resurrect the Code Geass franchise they really should have worked harder to make this film more meaningful and stand out beyond the average anime series based movie. Instead this movie felt mostly like it should have been a stand-alone work and like it was falsely advertised as something more than it really was. For these reasons I would recommend this film only for diehard fans of the series, and even then I would not recommend going out of your way to see it.

The music and voice acting is good quality throughout the film. While it doesn’t really cover any new ground, it is one of the best elements this film has to offer. There isn’t really anything bad I can say about the subtitled casts performance (I saw the film with subtitles). The voice acting continues to be excellent and memorable from both the old cast as well as the new characters. The music evokes many of the classic Code Geass musical themes, but doesn’t really provide much in the way of new music. This use of nostalgia isn’t necessarily a bad thing though as the music is one of the most effective elements the film, and does a great job connecting the film with the original series. There really isn’t anything to complain about within Code Geass films sound work; while I miss the Jibun wo for the most part the movie doesn’t really change much from the TV series and is one of the biggest elements the film got right.

Despite some good animation being added, Resurrections animation doesn’t really improve on the TV series. I did like some of the surreal elements that were added into the visuals, and a lot of the backgrounds did create a really impressive sense of setting for this film. The biggest issues with the animation, however is that it looks too much like the original TV series in terms of planning and budget. While many of the animation shortcuts used within TV series are things I can usually forgive from a weekly show with a limited animation budget, in an anime based film I typically expect a much bigger budget and more available time for planning to go into the animation. One scene that particularly bugged me was one taking place during a party where two characters are talking. Animation in this scene just is painfully sloppy and embarrassingly underdeveloped. While I did enjoy the scenery and the surreal elements added, I expected a lot more from this movie in terms of animation especially as a film advertising itself an important sequel.

Resurrection has a major identity crisis. While it markets itself as a sequel, it’s really a standalone film that required certain continuations to work. This poses a major problem because how the film markets itself isn’t what the film turned out to be. The plot of Resurrection starts with C.C. and a revived but doll like Lelouch meeting up in a desert region with Kallen, Sayoko, and Lloyd who are battling a squad led by a Geass wielding soldier from a Middle Eastern Kingdom. After the battle the group ventures into a prison within the Kingdom where C.C. uses a temple to revive Lelouch, and with the help of Suzaku who was captured by the kingdom they all eventually escape. After this they unite with UN forces including many important characters from the original show in order to battle against the kingdom and rescue Nunally from the clutches of the Middle Eastern kingdom’s Geass wielding princess. The problem with this plot is that all of it other than Lelouches revival and different characters teaming up could have just as easily been standalone and are elements that end up being inconsequential to the series as a whole. The other major plot issue is that the parts that are important to the franchise feel extremely out of place. These parts end up feeling like they were tacked on and end up being very downplayed, confusing, and underdeveloped compared to the rest of the film or the plot of the original series. These elements also poses additional problems as well, because they clash so much with the rest of the stand-alone plot while also trying to be a jumping off point for the revival of the Code Geass franchise.

Some of the characters are actually really enjoyable in this film. While I would have liked for certain characters to have gotten more screen time, I was generally happy with attention each returning characters got. I especially like how the film furthered C.C. and Lelouch’s relationship, and how traumatized Lelouch is before he is returned to his usual self. While it might have been nice to have the rest of the cast (especially Suzaku) take over, I thought that the filmmakers did a good job making the revival of Lelouch meaningful, and furthering his and C.C.’s relationship. Many of the other characters such as Lyod and Kallen also get interesting arcs and action. The biggest disappointment I had with this films characterization though was how Suzaku and Nunally were portrayed. It disappoints me that Suzaku never really gets a chance to have his own arc in the film outside of his complex relationship with Lelouch. Things are even worse for Nunally though who ends up for most of the film being a damsel in distress and not given a chance to expand as a character.

The biggest issues with the films characterization though are how the Middle Eastern kingdoms villainous brother and sister leaders are portrayed. The film wastes a great opportunity to parallel their relationship as sibling’s relationship with the relationship of Lelouch and Nunally, and also the movie never really explains their motives accurately. While it might be implied that the princess is trying to help her brother, it is never clear why she wants to break into the mystical C.C. realm other than to obtain power. While her Geass time travel power creates an interesting challenge for Lelouch and his allies, what she hoped to gain from the conflict between Lelouch and his allies was not. By not including some previous grudge against Lelouch or his allies, or having some personal stake in succeeding it makes her motive feel weak and her difficult to care about. While many of the returning characters do have interesting arcs, and Lelouch and C.C. do get developed in a meaningful way, others in the movie especially the villains really lack the development or depth I was hoping they would get.

Despite my griping as a stand-alone film Resurrection is alright. It isn’t about to change the world, but it does have some fun throw backs to the original series, battles, and neat character arcs. As a sequel though it just doesn’t work. The film seems to go out of its way to downplay the hype it was trying to build with less than stellar animation, weak or missing plot details explaining Lelouches revival, and villains and a plot that are wrapped up by the end of the movie. This movie really should have been created as its own stand-alone work, rather than the beginning of a brand new Code Geass franchise. I really hope that if the creators do continue this series that they present something that is both new or at the very least created with more effort to stand out than this film was given.

Anime study time: Dashikashi (season 1), Is the Order a Rabbit (season 1), Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket, Mobile Suit Gundam Seed, and No. 6

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I love watching anime, but often it is hard for me to watch as much anime as I use to. Because of my work schedule and of how tired I often am after working I find it difficult to always dedicate time to watching shows like I use to. I tend to watch shows at a slower pace now, enjoy savoring them more, and tend to get distracted by other shows more easily. Currently though I have/had watched five really great shows that I really wanted a chance to write about. These shows have sparked my desire to see more anime, and to try to set aside more time to watch anime when I can. I hope to do more of these reviews in-between lists so that I can keep producing fresh content for this blog, but also to keep me watching.

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Dashikashi (season 1): Easily the strangest series on this list Dashikashi is a show about traditional Japanese candy and snack stores called Dagashi. Dashikashi focuses on Kokonotsu Shikada a boy who wants to become a manga artist and move out of his small town to a big city. His father wants him to be the 9th inheritor of his family Dagashi store though. Things only get more complicated for Kokonotsu when Hotaru Shidare a weird Dagashi adoring girl appears in town wanting to incorporate the store into her father’s snack company. Kokonostu father only agrees to go through with this deal however, if she can get Kokonotsu to take over the family business. Kokonostu’s life soon becomes chaotic as Hotaru and his father try to convince him to take over the store, as well his childhood friend and local café owner Saya Hotaru who has a crush on Kokonotsu and doesn’t want him leaving to help her.

Well it could be fairly argued that Dashikashi is just one big Japanese candy and snack commercial, there are elements that make it stand out as worth watching. First off the information about these snacks might seem common place to those who grew up in Japan, but here in the US where these snacks are not engrained as part of our culture the information provided is fascinating. As someone who grew up in a small town culture where I would go to the local snack shop, and as someone who still loves snacks I found myself drawn to the concept of a show set in small town with a focus upon Japanese snack shops and snacks. I am fascinated by the information provided within Dashikashi, I enjoy how it is presented and how it connects to my own experiences growing up.

The second element that sets this show apart are characters, and how they present information. The plot is very thin which is fine in this case because it allows the show to go in just about any direction it wants to (which it does). Dashikashi often consists of a series of small sketches that mostly involve food, drink, or toys and games found in Dagashi. What pulls all of this together and makes this format work are the characters. The interaction between the lead characters are great, but I especially love Hotaru. Hotaru is a perfect foil for the Kokonotsu due to the fact that she is so off the wall and zany, often contrasting his more down to earth personality. While they both are dreamers Hotaru’s obsession with Dagashi’s and her personality makes her stands out as more than some advertising mouthpiece. Hotaru’s interactions are always weird and unexpected, and can range from a history lesson on snack mascots, eating tips, playing games, or just getting drunk off of fake beer or constantly losing contests. The characters and subject matter make this show really engaging; I’m really glad I purchased this series when it was on sale, and I’m really looking forward to finishing it.

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Is the Order a Rabbit: Lately I have really been getting into Slice of life anime thanks to this show. While I have a number of other Slice of Life I still have to watch, this one holds a special place in my heart and is one of my new favorites. Is the Order a Rabbit stars Cocoa an energetic and goofy girl moving to a coastal town and into the Rabbit House café the home of the Kafuu family. Cocoa soon ends up helping within the café along with the stoic middle schooler Chino Kafuu and her pet rabbit/secret grandfather Tippi, and the part time worker Rize Tedeza a military officer’s daughter. Eventually they all end up meeting two other café workers who often join them including the traditionally Japanese and poetic Chiya, and Syaro a poor lesbian with a crush on Rize who everyone other than Chiya thinks is rich. Together the group spends time together enjoying each other’s company.

This is another Slice of Life where the characters rather than the plot drives the show. That isn’t to say there isn’t ever a plot, but mostly the stories revolve around the leads spending time together. While some of the stories are serious, many of them are just watching the characters interact and enjoy themselves. The series plots are often minimalistic, allowing for the entire show to focus on the characters and their heartwarming experiences. This show is definitely not for everyone though, and the enjoyment of it largely dependent on how much you enjoy watching characters just living their lives. I personally feel that Is the Order a Rabbit is a ton of fun though, and that when I revive my favourite shows list it will definitely be added.

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Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket: Gundam War in the Pocket is very different from any other show within the Gundam franchise. It focuses on the perspective of Al a child living on “neutral,” colony during the end of the One year war (which is the focus of the original Mobile Suit Gundam series). Once again in this story the Earth Federation decides to hide one of its advanced Gundam mobile suit (a giant robot) on a neutral colony causing their enemies the Federation of Zeon to plan a mission to either steal or destroy the new advanced weapon. Al ends ups being getting himself recruited by a team of Zeon special operatives including a big brother figure named Bernie to help them spy on the Federation and help plan the capture or sabotage of the Federations new robot. Meanwhile Al’s neighbor Christina also returns to the colony in order to secretly test the new Gundam for the Earth Federation, unaware that Al and his new role model Bernie are working with Zeon.

War in the Pocket presents a story of war from a child’s perspective. While it does have a lots of great action and suspense, ultimately the story is different from other Gundam series in that it doesn’t focus on politics or war strategy. Instead it is almost entirely about the experiences of people caught up in conflict and the cost of war. Al finds out throughout the series that war is isn’t glamorous, and often comes with serious costs. The best elements of this show is how it develops its characters. Despite being short War in the Pocket doesn’t rush character develop, and spends most of its time developing the characters and building up suspense. While it is only six episode OVA of average length long, I grew really attached to the characters in this series which made the conflict and suspense carry so much more weight than even many longer anime series. This series lives up to the high bar set by other great Gundam shows like Mobile Suit Gundam, Char’s Counter Attack, and Gundam Seed.

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Mobile Suit Gundam Seed: Gundam Seed was clearly designed as a more modern update to the classic Gundam elements. The series focuses on a war between the natural humans of the Earth group, and the genetically modified Coordinators who formed Zaft (which is basically the shows Zeon) caused by the destruction of a major Coordinator colony during the Bloody Valentine incident. Once again the Earth group decides be terrible by this time hiding not one, but six secret weapons on a neutral colony including five advanced Gundam Mobile Suits and the new battleship the Arc-Angel. As a result Zaft comes to colony, proceeds to take all but one of these Gundams and ends up destroying the colony. While this is happening Kira a coordinator who desires peace ends up being roped into piloting the remaining Gundam with the remaining Earth soldiers in order to protect the Arc-angel which contains colony members and his friends. This puts Kira on the opposite side of the conflict from his childhood friend Athrun, who is working with Zaft and trying to convince Kira to join him.

At first I didn’t know how to feel about Gundam Seed. While it had a number of Gundam staples, I was concerned that the show couldn’t differentia itself from the classic Gundam series and that it would be entirely about the conflict between Athrun and Kira, and the two opposing sides. As the series went on though it just kept getting better and better focusing much more on the crew of the Arc-Angel, the moral dilemma’s facing Kira when he is forced to battle his close friend, and his struggles with being placed into a war against his own people that he didn’t really want to be a part of. This doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of great politics, exciting battles, and other character development through in the series as well though. After watching more of this series it quickly became clear that it offers a lot of new elements that are similar to Code Geass (special thanks to my friend Gerrard for pointing this out), while still keeping many of the classic elements that are so great about Gundam series. Gundam Seed quickly got me hooked and is a program that I think is well worth investing in despite its large episode count, especially for Gundam and Code Geass fans.

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No. 6: No. 6 is a great example of how to write a dystopian series and gay romance. The series stars Shion an incredibly gifted boy living in a futuristic city where the state rules over its citizens. One day though he helps a young fugitive named Nezumi who sneaks into his house during a storm, and he helps feed and bandage the wanted boy. The security personnel of the city find out about what Shion did though, and strip him of his special rights leaving Shion as an outcaste within the city. He is forced later to take a job as a park janitor managing trash cleaning robots. Shion eventually discovers though that a strange bee is infecting people within the city, and he begins to doubt No.6’s government just before his work partner is also killed one of these bees. This causes Shion to become wanted by the city for disloyalty, and has him framed for his workmates death causing the cities defense force to arrest him. Shion is rescued though from the security forces by Nezumi and travels with him to a wasteland outside the city.

No. 6 is great because of the way it deals with romance. The development of Nezumi and Shion feelings for one another happens slowly, and is filled with up and downs. Both have very different upbringings and world views, including about the city. Shion’s mother and friend lives in No. 6 causing him to want to save it, while Nezumi views all of the city as corrupt and wicked, and hopes that it will collapse entirely. Despite their differences though they both love one another, and their love grows throughout the series. No. 6 is not so much about fast action, as it is two characters trying to survive, find each other, and fall in love. While parts of ending I think tried too hard to be shocking, the ride and romance makes this series definitely worth watching for Sci-Fi and Yaoi fans.

Where are the New Posts? The Answer: Kitsune guest stars Poplurker!!!

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Many of you may or may not know my most recent blog posts have actually been on Loryn Stone’s amazing website: https://poplurker.com/ I’m very grateful have been invited to write for her pop-culture blog, and I hope that maybe one day she or the other Poplurkers will appear here. For those who haven’t seen my latest posts on Poplurker I did two very major ones, one on The Top Ten Best and Worst Godzilla Films, and a series on the 20 Most Important Transgender Manga and Anime Characters in two parts (part one & two).

For those waiting though for more of the standard blog content on this page, I promise you that I am still working hard on it and that you won’t have too long to wait. I have a number of exciting anime lists I’m working on, as well as some other fun content that I’m really looking forward to posting.

See all you foxes soon,
Kitsune

Secret House of Anime: Anime Series that I love and have influenced me (in no particular order)

nami blog

After lots of editing I’m incredibly excited to finally be able to release this list! This is no means a definitive best of list, but I wanted to create a list that reflected series I personally love and that have affected me. A lot of the series on this list come with stories and wonderful memories that make them very special to me. I hope that you enjoy reading about my experiences with these series and that you discover some new and exciting shows to watch through it.
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  1. Cowboy Bebop: Cowboy Bebop changed my life in so many ways. The first time I saw this show was during middle school at a friend’s house. I ended up seeing this show on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, and instantly fell in love with it. This was also my first experience watching Adult Swim, before it became super popular, and way before Toonami became a part of Adult Swim and streaming anime online was common. Cowboy Bebop was still a relatively new program at that time, and Adult Swim had a special marathon showing the entire show in one night. I was memorized by less than half way through the first episode, and I stayed up until around 3AM marathoning all of it. I had and have yet to see a show with so many amazing features and that set so many major standards for the US anime industry. Cowboy Bebop’s animation is mind blowing, the plots of each episode vary greatly in tone and yet are often masterpieces despite being radically different, the characters are cool and detailed with each character having their own interesting story arcs developed throughout the show, and the music is also radically varied yet mind-blowingly amazing.
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    This anime series is also a masterpiece because it is largely responsible for setting the standard for what a series and an English dub could be. All the voice cast was top notch, fit with their characters seamlessly, and helped push for a higher standard of translation and voice acting. Another element of this show that had a major impact on me was how it introduced me to many important and life changing topics such as how complex and important gender identity can be, and the complexity within various relationships. To this day I don’t think I’ve seen another show that has had the same impact on me as Cowboy Bebop. This series a must-see series, and a rare instance where the English dub is a must watch.

gankutsuoublog

  1. Gankutsuou: the Count of Monte Cristo: Gankutsuou is an anime series that draws inspiration from one of my favourite books. At the beginning of undergraduate degree I was loaned a copy of Dumas’s The Count of Monte Cristo and ended up falling in love with Dumas’s ornate tale of revenge and loss. The Count of Monte Cristo is epic filled with drama, excitement, and a tale of love and hate, and it amazed me with how the drama in the story seemed to contrast my personality and how I felt my life was at the time. Gankutsuou manages to stir up those same feelings found in the novel, while adding its own twists to the tale and making the story its own. By changing the focus of the story from the Count to the naive son of one of the men that the Count seeks revenge against I felt a real sense of how mysterious, painfully driven, and larger than life the Count appears. Somehow the addition of a science fiction theme, the odd animation style that overlays fabrics, the new characters, and change of focus really does work in this series, and doesn’t detract from the originals themes, but instead is done carefully in a way that enhances them while setting the series apart from a mere retelling. This series is one of the best retellings of a classic work that I have ever seen, and whenever I watch it I am left by the end of the episode amazed and always eager for more.

Wolf rain blog

  1. Wolf Rain: Wolf Rain is the sort of anime that people usually either love or hate, personally I love it. Other than the director many of the staff for Wolf Rain had just come from working on Cowboy Bebop. It was clear that they wanted to create an even more mind-blowing style of animation and it shows in Wolf’s Rain. Wolf Rain looks amazing and stands up still as one of the most beautiful looking series of all time. Also returning from Cowboy Bebop was composer Yahko Kanno who provided an appropriately different, but just as breathtaking mostly symphonic orchestral score. This series once again had an incredible voice cast and script with many amazing dub voice actors continuing to uphold a high standard (including the amazing Steve Blum). These technical elements were combined with an interesting and complex show mixing folk tales with science fiction into a journey of discovery. While I know that this series is not for everyone, I would recommend that everyone at least give it a try, because those who enjoy this show (like me) usually love it, and even those that don’t like it will at least appreciate the technical elements that went into Wolf’s Rain.

sailor moon blog

  1. Sailor Moon (original): Sailor Moon has had a huge impact on me not only as an anime fan, but as a person. When I was young before transitioning, Sailor Moon played a huge part in the self-discovery and affirmation of my gender. Despite being teased by my family about it, I would often watch the DIC dub of Sailor Moon usually in secret on Toonami when I could. I would day dream about having the female body I needed, being a part of the Sailor Moon world, and going on adventures while wearing beautiful outfits.
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    Sailor Moon also provided a story and world I could relate to. While some people feel that Sailor Moon has too much monster of the week material, I personally found the format great for getting to know the cast.  Often the most important element of the show for me was getting a chance to know each of the characters, to the point where I felt like I knew how they would react in many situations. The Sailor Moon series balanced the action and the cosmic, with the mundane and everyday life well, keeping both interesting, fun, and exciting. It also maintained its feel and elements, while adding exciting and at the time cutting edge elements such as LGBTQIA characters. On top of that the series has an excellent and stylized hand drawn look and a musical score that always gets me pumped. Even without the nostalgia glasses and with the personalized impact this show has had on me, I still think that I would declare it one of the best Magical Girl shows of all time.

ranma blog

  1. Ranma ½: For a lot of older anime fans like me Ranma ½ was a very generationally significant show. Early in US anime fandom Ranma ½ was one of the most popular shows of its time and was a show everyone was talking about and watching. I grew up during the tail end of Ranma’s immense popularity and really got into Ranma during Viz’s second printing of the manga. I was quickly hooked and made Ranma ½ the first manga I consistently collected, despite having only a small allowance in High School. Its comedy, action, world, and concepts all drew me in, and it also became another part of my day dreams and a place of escape from difficulty of the world as a teenage transgender woman.
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    While I don’t think that the anime is nearly as good as the manga, the anime series has also had a huge impact on me. Despite not being as good as the manga, the anime series was something that I spend a lot of time watching. Ranma was one of the first anime series that I actively purchased, before DVD’s or streaming anime existed. I vividly recall purchasing a fan translated copy of the 2nd Ranma movie at a local used book store near my grandparent’s house and watching it with my brother. That experience has always stuck with me as one of the most important and enjoyable experiences I have had with an anime. After that I would sometimes find VHS copies of Ranma at Goodwill which I would purchase and watch religiously.  While the world has changed a great deal from when I was first buying and watching the Ranma ½ anime, it still has a unique charm to it with a memorable and unusual soundtrack, and an interesting hand drawn style that reminds me a lot of Sailor Moon and early cell animation. It also remains important to me as a series. I continue to love watching the Ranma anime series, OVA’s, and movies to this day. Ranma ½ for me is the sort of show that I don’t view so much on an empirical level, but rather as an important part of my life and an important experience for me as an anime fan.

haibane_renmeiblog

  1. Haibane Renmei: Despite my first complete viewing of this series being less than five years ago, this show already holds a special place in my heart. Haibane Renmei is like no other anime series I have seen. Despite being a fantasy series based around coming to another world, Haibane Renmei couldn’t feel more different from most series of these kinds. Haibane Renmei explores an over arcing plot about personal salvation and saving others emotionally, but it is also often slow moving and typically focuses on everyday life for the characters. Haibane Renmei has a lot more in common with shows like Mushishi and Kino’s Journey then it does other coming to a fantasy world based shows that proceeded it like Sword Art Online and Log Horizon, which drew more strongly from shows such as .Dot Hack Sign. I appreciate Haibane Renmei’s slow emotional feel and can relate to many of the internal struggles and questions the show poses about life and death. This show helped me get through my first breakup and a bout of major depression during my busiest period of graduate school. This show also helped me find a way forward through these struggles. For those looking for a series that is smart, relaxing, emotional, and takes its time crafting a detailed and thoughtful story Haibane Renmei is the perfect series to view.

spice and wolf blog

  1. Spice and Wolf: Horo is one of my favourite anime characters of all time. From her design as a red wolf young woman, who is cute while also remaining wild and free; to her personality, which combines extreme wit with a sense of animal like danger, but also a helpful warmth Horo is a character that appeals to me greatly. In many ways she reminds me of the sort of person I want to be or at least be friends with. That isn’t to say that Horo is the only element that I love about Spice and Wolf, the merchant Lawrence’s often laid back, cynical, and deal making personality nicely contrast Horo’s personality and helps develop an odd relationship between them. The plot about changing times, religious shifts, and medieval economies are all fascinating as well, and are highlighted well with the series style and memorable score. This is a great anime for those who love Kemonomimi like me or those who want an unusual anime about economies and changing traditions.

captain harlock blog

  1. Space Captain Harlock: I’m hard pressed to think a character more badass and iconic than Captain Harlock. Though Leji Matsumoto’s works have largely been forgotten or seen as relics in the US, it’s hard for me not to admire the work and story that went into this classic series. Its passionate music and striking scenes are burnt into my mind. Captain Harlock is a series that I personally think holds up as one of the most important Space Opera epics of all time despite its age. Harlock is a character who is larger than life and represents the importance for standing up for what you believe in and being free to be yourself. He and his crew of misfits sail the stars as pirates fighting for what is right, rather than what is easy. These messages I think are largely timeless and have held up for me in a profound way, which makes it one of my personal favourite shows.

wandering_son_blog

  1. Wandering Son: Finding an anime series that seriously talks about being transgender is nearly impossible. Often transgender characters are at most side characters or comedy reliefs, and their lives aren’t explored fully. As a transgender person I often feel sad that transgender people are often underrepresented or to be treated like a punch line within media. Wandering Son’s treatment of transgender people, however is very different. Staring two transgender kids growing up, this show beautifully explores what it is like to be transgender and young within Japan. Wandering Son takes itself seriously, exploring the perspective of how transgender kids deal with a strictly gendered society. Wandering Son is very emotional in this exploration, and doesn’t stray from talking about the confusion, fear, awkwardness, and sadness as well as the happiness and personal triumphs of its cast. I found myself as a transgender woman sucked into this narrative and the shows gorgeous animation style.
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    Seeing a realistic and positive transgender story that presents transgender kids and people’s narratives was so important for me. It felt as though this show was created to give transgender people a voice, and to try to express the complex feelings of being transgender. It’s very hard to explain to others what it personally is like surrounded by a world that often doesn’t see or witness the feelings, challenges, and needs of transgender people, especially transgender children. While no one representation could even cover the transgender experience in its entirety and although this show focuses specifically on the experience of transgender children in Japan, I do feel that it has a universal quality to it that talks directly and frankly about the transgender experience. I think that this show does an excellent of job of trying to represent what it is like to be transgender and can speak not only to me on a personal level, but also to those who aren’t transgender and seeking to understand some of the transgender experience.paranoia-agent blog
  2. Paranoia Agent: Paranoia Agent is a show that I was sadly wrong about when I was younger. When the show first premiered on Adult Swim the advertisements seemed to suggest it was a gritty crime drama about a boy with baseball bat and roller blades who went around whacking people. In some sense I couldn’t have been more wrong about this show. Paranoia Agent like many Satoshi Kon works I would later see is about mental illness, where the story is far deeper and more complex than how it appears on the outside. It wasn’t until years later that I saw this show on anime streamer’s channel and lamented my previous misjudgement. It was so much better than I initially had anticipated based on the ads and was like no other series I had ever seen. Paranoia Agent was the show that pushed me to read and watch ever other Satoshi Kon work I could get my hands on because of its complex plot blending the real and surreal, and the deep characterization of its cast.

bubble gum crisis blog

  1. Bubblegum Crisis: While I was picking up Ranma VHS’s at Goodwill I also stumbled upon this 80’s gem of a series. Bubblegum Crisis is a science fiction anime classic that drew from so many different and interesting sources, combining them into a thrilling world. It included dystopian science fiction, 1980’s culture, terminators, mech suits, and a powerful female superhero team taking on a powerful and evil corporation. This series set the stage for so many series to follow it, and presented a new urban science fiction style.
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    I was most impressed by how interesting and powerful the lead women were in Bubblegum Crisis. During the time I was first watching this show, the United States rarely had any empowering female role models, and I hadn’t seen anything as empowering and rocking like Bubblegum Crisis. Girls and women on TV were at best typically relegated to helping male leads or as tokens. Women in U.S. cartoons at the time didn’t usually kick ass or have prominence in the same way they do today. It still sticks with me just how cool and empowered the characters in Bubblegum Crisis were. This series is worth watching if for nothing more than its historical significance and rocking soundtrack, but I feel it is much more than just a historically important show and should be checked out by all superhero, action, and science fiction fans as well.

ghost sweeper blog

  1. Ghost Sweeper Mikami: Ghost Sweeper Mikami proves that not all anime shows must be deep, entirely original, or artistically unusual to be a lot of fun and memorable. Despite being the latest show on this list that I have watched, Ghost Sweeper Mikami earns its place here due to how much fun I had watching it. Mikami clearly draws a lot from Ranma ½’s style of slapstick and action, mixing it with an interesting exorcism-based plot. It didn’t take long before I was drawn into the series wacky humour and characters such as the money hungry Ghost hunting expert Reiko Mikami, her pervert and cowardly assistant Tadao Yokoshima, and the underpaid naïve ghost assistant Okinu.
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    What really made this show stand out for me was just how well it executes its jokes. Ghost Sweeper Mikami’s constant references, wacky scenarios and comedic timing reminded me a lot of why I loved Ranma ½. On top of this the show has an amazing opening, a wonderful stylized hand-drawn animation (I’m a huge lover of the hand-drawn style), and interesting characters designs. Despite an interest theme of ghost busting, the primary draw of this series for me is how entertaining it is, and how well it adopts and adapts familiar comedic traditions and material. I have been having a blast watching this series, and feel it is one of the best hidden gems I have stumbled upon and one well worth checking out.

utena_blog

  1. Revolutionary Girl Utena: Revolutionary Girl Utena is a show that very weird and very good. Utena stands out because of its imagination, drawing from many unusual themes such as Yuri, Surrealism, comedy, tournament action, apocalypse, drama, and a show with psychological elements. Trying to explain Utena in terms of these genres though is very difficult. For those who haven’t seen this series the best way of describing it would be that it stars a female prince, who is sent to participate in sword fighting contests in an upside-down castle to win the hand of the Rose Bride. Utena ends up quickly “winning” the Rose Bride Anthy Himemiya and tries throughout the season to help Anthy break free of her demure personality and to protect her against other duelling students, including the school’s student council.
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    There is no show quite like Revolutionary Girl Utena, which also stands out due to its unique elements of animation style, score, opening, and plot. I think it’s once again this uniqueness that draws me to so much to this series and makes it one of my favourites. One episode in Utena could be deadly serious, while the next could be about boxing with Kangaroo or body swapping curry. I always get a sense with this show that it’s never clear what will happen next, but that whatever does happen will make sense within the series context. I applaud Revolutionary Girl Utena for taking chances, doing so many original things, and doing those things in a way that worked and enhanced the show. Those looking for something different and interesting will not disappointed if they watch this series.jellyfish-princess blog
  2. Princess Jellyfish: Princess Jellyfish is another show that makes my top 16, because it can effectively blend multiple elements. The story of a Jellyfish loving nerd, working together with other super nerds and a cross-dressing fashionista in order to save their apartment building from redevelopment, this anime blends weird yet relatable comedy and drama together spectacularly. I can’t get enough of this series both in sub and the surprisingly great English dub. Of all the series I have watched this is probably the one I am most hoping gets another season. Every moment of this series was great from seeing the opening of this series which has the most movie references I have even seen in an anime opening, to the final episode that left me wanting more. It is a shame this series has been largely forgotten by others, because it does so many things right and leaves such a great impression.
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    I first got to see this show when someone shared this series in anime club, and I was immediate captivated. This show was so good that it ended up becoming something as a club that we would watch each week, and I was fortunate enough to get to see it start to finish. While I have seen and learned about many amazing shows in anime club such as Madoka Magica, Space Captain Harlock, Space Dandy, and Hajime No Ippo this show stands out as one of the best shows I was introduced to. I enjoyed this show so much that I waited with bated breath when this show was licensed and immediately bought a copy of the series at Comic Con after it was released. Surprisingly seeing the series again on my own with the English dub did not diminish my experience with the show. The dub was solid and enhanced my feelings about seeing the show again, which is something that rarely happens.

Tutu blog

  1. Princess Tutu: Princess Tutu is a show that I watched after several anime reviewers recommended it, and I can safely say that it deserved the hype it was given. Princess Tutu is one of the best children’s anime and magical girl series I have ever seen with great animation, unique characters, and a fantastic classically themed score. I was also quickly drawn into its uses of fairy tales, dance, and classical music to tell a beautiful and complex story, while also drawing from magical girl shows. Princess Tutu is especially exciting because it doesn’t talk down to its viewers. Despite being aimed at children, Princess Tutu has complex themes, emotions and many twists that would feel at home in a great more adult aimed anime like Revolutionary Girl Utena, while retaining a classical magical girl feel. While many other magical girl shows are based on a formula, Princess Tutu did something incredibly original by including its stylized music, dance, and story book elements directly into the story. Princess Tutu is the perfect example for me of a show that lives up to the hype and blends its themes directly into the story.

lum blog

  1. Urusei Yatsura: Originally, I was planning on making sure that this list of my favourite picks was limited to fifteen shows. I wanted to tell stories and talk about the impact that only the most important anime had on to me. At first, I had thought that I had established the list and I didn’t have this pick on it or the honourable mentions. When I saw more of this show with my girlfriend Hana though, I was reminded why this is one of my favourite series and adaptions of all time. After watching this series, I knew it had to be on the main list somewhere but wasn’t sure what I would drop too keep it to fifteen. I realized that although I felt this series needed to be on the list, I also couldn’t bear to move any of the other shows to the honourable mentions or remove any show from my fifteen. In the end I ended up finally caving in and adding this series to the list as number sixteen, which is something I do not regret.
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    Urusei Yatsura is a comedy where it feels like anything can and will happen, and that the show makers took great care to capture the manga’s series feel. Though the animation has not dated as well as Ranma, I feel that empirically this show does a better job of capturing the originals off the wall slapstick humour and wacky characterization. This show is mainly on the list because it is so incredibly wacky and funny. Takahashi clearly had a lot of fun writing the show’s many odd setups and plots, and this adaption captures that joy perfectly. Urusei Yatsura is a show that I often get lost in, where I’m always wanting to see more of and lose track of everything else. As a fan of all things Takahashi and growing up reading her comics the manga for this series was one that I always wish I could have read more of. I’m super excited that the manga is being reprinted so I can finally read it and I hope that this release will help to get the anime’s license rescued by Discotek or Viz.

Honorable mentions

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  1. Magical Emi: As many of my readers and friends know I love obscure magical girl shows, especially from the 1980’s. Magical Girl shows in the 80’s were often aimed at young girls, and often featured more emotional content and less violent conflict than the magical girl most people are now generally use to today. Of all the shows of this genre from the 1980’s so far my favourite has been Magical Emi. Magical Emi is a cute show with an interesting premise. It stars the girl Mai who gets the power to transform into the teenage stage magician Magical Emi so that she can help her grandparents magic act. Like many 1980’s anime series this show is very simple and focuses largely on Mai working to promote her grandparent’s magical act when it becomes noticed by a TV producer, while also working out her feelings for her teenage love interest Shou Yuuki. The series is so powerful because it is so simple, fun, and sweet, but stands out because of its focus on stage magic which presents a wonderful twist on the 80’s magical girl genre, while also exemplifying it.(Blank)
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    Magical Emi captures the essence of magic, heart, and wonder found in 80’s magical girl shows effectively, making it one of my personal favourites of the era. Despite this show being my favourite of the 80’s, I tend to love the wonder and awe that many other Magical Girl shows of the time also represent. Shows of this period bring me back to the joy I felt as a child watching and exploring exciting fantasy worlds filled with love and the magical. While I appreciate the diversity, creativity, and action that later Magical Girl shows have, many shows recently have taken more violent, cynical, and sexualized content, and dark routes. There is definitely a place and was a need for these twists, and diversity of content and themes, but I still feel an attachment for 1980’s style of show that tends to be simpler and more focused on more positive emotions.CLAMP group blog
  2. CLAMP Anime series: I thought long and hard about which of the many series created by the all women creator group CLAMP would be on this list. I was finding it hard though to pick just one out of the many amazing series I have seen. Each series by this team has something unique to offer, and a good reason why it might have belonged individually on this list. Magical Knight Rayearth has a beautiful design, an amazing blending of concepts, a surprising plot twist, amazing music and a cute Chibi aesthetic; while XXXHolic has wonderful characters, a dream like aesthetic, and does a great job of contrasting animation between characters to define them; Angelic Layer was a great adaption with lots of heart and an amazing blend of Shonen tournament and Shoujo drama themes; while Chobbit’s features an unusual story and a conversation on the human relationship with technology; Card Captor Sakura is an amazing Magical Girl show with two amazing series, a more gentle and emotional aesthetic, and an interesting take on relationship dynamics; while Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles featured amazing dimension hopping stories and mind bending twists. All these shows and more have been very important to me, so much so that I found it impossible to choose just one. Rather than filling up and expanding my honourable mentions list or having to make the difficult decision of choosing only a limited few CLAMP work’s, I instead decided that it would be best to put all the CLAMP series I have seen into this one spot. CLAMP as a group has had such huge impact on me and the anime industry, which is why I wanted to highlight all their outstanding works in this entry.laughing blog
  3. The Laughing Salesman: The Laughing Salesman makes it on this honourable mention list alone for its title character’s frightening appearance. Moguro Fukuzo’s unnerving huge smile, and gleefully sadist eyes and laugh helps to make him one of the scariest figures of all time. What is even more frightening and effective about his two series though is how the salesman antagonizes his victims. The Laughing Salesman takes pleasure in destroying people by getting them to destroy themselves. He often gives people exactly what they want or think they want, knowing that they will either be consumed with their passion and/or that they will disobey his conditions and suffer for it. He then departs each episode with a disturbing grin on his face and his terrifying signature laugh. This is one of the strangest and most disturbing horror anime series of all time relying on physiological horror within rather than with graphic violence or nightmarish imagery.
    mononoke blog
  4. Mononoke: Mononoke is series that immediately stands out for its artistic nature. Not only does its animation stand out with a style similar to a surreal woodblock painting, it also presents a unique for the way it focuses on traditional styles of Japanese storytelling. Mononoke is like Japanese traditional ghost or Yokai stories blended with mystery. Each story is slow and thought out, designed to take advantage of an otherworldly tension. As a fan of Japanese folk tales and artistic anime, this series immediately caught my attention when I first viewed it and drew me into its unusual aesthetic, making it one of my favourites. After first seeing this show in my college anime club I sought out and purchased this series when it was first released at Comic con, and happily marathoned it. This series is one of the best anime series for fans with an acquired taste and is hidden gem series there are and is well worth trying out.

 

  1. Monster and Master Keaton: Naoki Urasawa is a genius and nowhere is this more apparent than with two the anime adaptions of his series Monster and Master Keaton. Both did his amazing stories justice, directly adapting them brilliantly to an anime setting. Whether bringing to life the nail-biting story of the doctor who accidently saved a human monster or the down to earth story of an amazing multitalented man, both series capture the complex characters and design used by Urasawa in his comics. What is most incredible about these adaptions though is how they handle the story. Somehow, they both capture the pacing and plot of the original manga, but do not come off as inferior copies or as ill paced. It’s incredible how well these two series handle Urasawa’s incredible work, breathing life into them while showing great respect.
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    These series were too good not include on this list for this reason. I grew up reading Urasawa and consider him one of my all-time favourite manga creators. I remember when the book store chain Border’s was going out of business buying all of his manga series Pluto, and then not being able to put it down till it was finished. I always admired how he made the dramatic feel real. Nothing in his writing even when it fantastical feels forced in, and even the best and worst characters in his stories often feel very human. These anime series capture that humanness, recreating his manga and adapting their tone carefully. It’s clear that a lot of work went into capturing the original’s vision, and that work really pays off in the Master Keaton and Monster anime series.land_of_the_lustrous blog
  2. Land of the Lustrous: Generally, digitally animated anime not only doesn’t interest me, but feels pointless and ugly. In most cases I find the cg style is needlessly distracting, something that could be done better in traditional animation, and something that interferes with the story. None of these things, however are the case with Land of the Lustrous. This series feels like it strongly belongs in the digital style which fleshes out its world and character designs, without hurting the plot or being distracting. Not only is Land of the Lustrous the best digitally animated series I have seen, but it is also quickly becoming one of my personal favourite anime series. The only reason this series wasn’t included on the main list is that I have yet to finish it, and it is still such a new show for me.
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    I not only admire Land of the Lustrous for its physical aspects though, I also love its story. Like many wonderful anime series like Gankutsuou, this show’s science fiction story continues to grow and develop, and always ends on a suspenseful cliff hanger. Land of the Lustrous also is interesting in that its characters lack a defined gender, and although they are humanoid they have unique properties depending on how they evolved. This series is probably the closest one on this list at the moment to making the main listcase close
  3. Case Closed: It would be impossible to talk about some of my favourite anime series without talking about one of longest running and best mystery shows Case Closed (Detective Conan). While I have had more experience with the Conan manga series and prefer it over the anime series, I still very much admire the anime’s adaptions. I love mysteries and am a huge fan of classic mysteries novels such as the Maltese Falcon, Sherlock Holmes, The Fiend with Twenty Faces, and the Long Goodbye (to name just a few). This series pays great tribute to these classic books and holds up with the best of them. Often despite having very short format, Case Closed managed to get me gripped by the mystery unfolding and trying to solve the crime along with the show’s lead Conan. The mysteries are well written and often offer just the right amount of challenge to keep me guessing, but also are not so obscure that they make me feel cheated by the conclusion. Case Closed is so much fun to watch and is something that I could pretty much watch forever, with constant new episodes, movies, and manga stories continuing to be released despite the series starting back in 1994.
    sherlock hound blog
  4. Sherlock Hound: Miyasaki’s anime adaption of Sherlock Holmes holds a special place in my heart. I first got to see this series as a kid, where I would rent Sherlock Hound VHS tapes from my local video store in Storrs, CT. I was the perfect age for this humanoid dog version of Sherlock Holmes, and I loved the classic light mystery and action feel. What immediately stuck out at the time as unusual about this show was the fantastic English dub. Not only did the dub far exceed the typical dubbing quality of the time, but it also used English voice actors with realistic traditional English accents. Sherlock Hound was also great because it was filled with creativity, drawing from its source material and adapting it for a Japanese children’s action show with the help of famed director Hayao Miyazaki. This show remains one I have a lot of fond memories of, and that I still to love to watch.
    ajikko
  5. Mister Ajikko: Food Wars owes a lot to Mister Ajikko, a cooking show from the 1980’s that originated many of the cooking contest tropes. Personally, as much I love Food Wars, I prefer this show to it. Mister Ajikko’s over the top competitions and characters, mixed with interesting cooking information is something that I don’t even think Food Wars tops. What I really love about this show is how its lead Ajikko is directed so much towards a dream. Despite his skill and his desire to continue his father’s restaurant and legacy he continues to be dragged into competitions where he helps people in his neighbourhood, learns, and grows.
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    I feel that Mister Ajikko has a slight edge on Food Wars for several reasons. First, because the lead character is younger and more localized than in Food Wars, we get a chance to learn and become invested in his family and have them be an important direct part of the story. As the viewer I want Ajikko to succeed, because he tries to help others around him while continuing to follow his father’s dream. It also it doesn’t hurt that the eventual villain of the show becomes an evil cooking group run by Dracula (he has both the castle and cape) and that his young rival is basically a younger version of Ryoga from Ranma 1/2. Another reason I love this show is because it was one I watched along with my girlfriend Hanna. We got to share the joy and excitement of this series together. It was always so much fun talking about the various characters and contests, while watching the show at the same time as she was. While I know that cooking contest shows are an acquired taste, this is show that I would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys Food Wars and other similar cooking competition shows.maison_blog
  6. Maison Ikkoku: I don’t think it is a surprise by now that I love the works of Rumiko Takahashi. While there are many adaptations of her works, those adaptations can be very hit or miss. Maison Ikkoku is without a doubt one of the hits. This show does a great job capturing romance and drama, along with Takahashi’s zany slapstick provided by the lead’s obnoxious neighbours. Unlike series such as Ranma or Urusei Yatsura, a large part of Maison Ikkoku is serious romance and drama. Blending these with slapstick is a challenge, thankfully this adaption is up to the task. While this is another series that I have read more of the manga than I have seen of the anime adaption, I don’t feel the anime lags in any apparent way when compared with the manga. Both do an excellent job of telling a story that is both heart-warming and funny. Watching this series always makes me smile, and I’m glad I get to share my love of it with others.

Secret House of Anime: Food Series

Food
This month Secret House of Anime will be looking at cooking shows. Cooking anime series have been a major part of the anime industry for a long time and have taken many forms. While cooking based shows are not as widespread as other genres of anime, such as sports or magical girl shows, cooking still has been a major theme for many great shows. Whether cooking anime is primarily focusing on the food, drink, or its characters, cooking anime tends to feature interesting and often delicious mouth water recipes. For those who are fans of food or cooking, there are so many amazing cooking shows to see, covering nearly every element of food and drink preparation.

cooking papa

Cooking papa: Not all cooking anime are portrayed as fast paced competitions or shows about learning to be amazing chef. This is evident by the show Cooking Papa a family slice of life and light comedy show. Cooking Papa follows a working family, where the Japanese traditions of cooking are subverted. In Japan traditionally, the wife typically provides meals for the family, but in Cooking Papa this is subverted. The father of the family Kazumi Araiwa cooks well and is the one who cooks for the family. This becomes a source of both pride and embarrassment for Araiwa who often passes off his great cooking at the office as his wife Nijiko cooking. Cooking Papa is a great early example of anime series featuring male chefs, such as Sweetness and Lightning.

ajikko

Mister Ajikko: Mister Ajikko is one of the first food competition anime series and remains one of the best. The show combines the Shonen focus on children adventure, with the fierce competition of cooking tournament style show. Mister Ajikko stars the boy Ajikko a young cooking prodigy who is carrying on his father’s legacy, with the help of his mother and relatives.  Throughout the show he is placed in intense cooking contests to help his restaurant and the local neighbourhood. This attracts the eye of a major cooking group lead by Japan’s most famous chef and restaurant critic. The show is jam packed with cooking action, but it is the period where Ajikko struggles, and must use his wits and skills to improve that is most thrilling. This show helped to influence and establish the tropes of the tournament style cooking show used by shows such as Chūka Ichiban! and Food Wars, and also remains one of the best food-based competition shows.

oishinbo

Oishinbo: Oishinbo is a classic and one of the first major food-based series in Japan, remaining popular to this day in both Japan and the United States. Oishinbo focuses on reporter Shiro Yamaoka who is tasked with the creation of the “Ultimate menu,” for his newspaper. Yamaoka is an excellent chef and food critic despite his sarcastic and slacker attitude. This series has a straightforward feel but contains a lot of details about food and food preparation. With 136 episodes, a long running manga series, and several OAV’s and movies this show has clearly has shown lasting power and earned its place among some of the most important cooking series.

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Chūka Ichiban!: Chūka Ichiban! Is another important landmark in the cooking tournament genre. This work features Mao the son of a legendary Szechuan style chef Pai, who is training to one day carry on his mother famous cooking legacy. What sets Chūka Ichiban! apart from other shows of its kind is it’s setting of ancient China. This show draws upon China’s deep regional cooking traditions to create show based entirely on Chinese cooking, while balancing action with Shonen style drama and comedy.

yakitate Japan

Yakitate Japan: Yakitate Japan is a cooking show all about bread. Featuring Azuma, a teen with the special talent for making bread known as the “Hands of the Sun,” this show focuses on Azuma’s hope to create a uniquely Japanese style bread and to earn his place in the famous Japanese bakery Pantasia. This show combines a tournament style, with over the top themes of Shonen comedy and odd character design. With an unusual theme of cooking bread and strange characters this series stands out as wacky and memorable.

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Bartender: Bartender is all about making drinks and helping people. It stands out as a series that focuses primarily on relaxing and how people can be helped with their problems through cocktails. This show features Ryuu Sasakura the bartender for the special bar Eden Hall, a bar designed to help those with problems find respite. The series frequently focuses on a variety of perspectives and is convincing in its portrayal of the power of drinks. Even if you have never drunk alcohol or stopped drinking a long time ago like me, this series still feels powerful and enchanting.

resturante

Ristorante Paradiso: Ristorante Paradiso is very different from many of the shows on this list, in that it focuses primarily around the characters rather than the food. This series stars Nicolette who at first wants revenge on her estranged mother but ends up being swept up by the older glasses wearing servers and chefs of the restaurant Casetta dell’Orso, a restaurant that her mother frequents also frequents. Another distinguishing factor of this series is how well preserves the character driven emotions and the unique designs of the original manga series created by Natsume Ono. Complex and emotional this show is nice break from food anime based around cooking and competition.

Yumeiro Patissiere

Yumeiro Patissiere: While many great cooking series combine cooking with Shonen elements, there are few great Shoujo series that also feature food. One of the best of these is Yumeiro Patissiere where Ichigo Amano a beginner chef with amazing tasting abilities is placed in a top-level cooking class with a group of cooking “princes.” Determined to succeed she works hard with the help of magical fairies to become a great chef. This series is wonderfully sweet and can be enjoyed by all ages.

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Toriko: Toriko is a Shonen show all about hunting and cooking fantasy food. Unlike most cooking shows, Toriko is aimed at the fantastic and not base on real dishes. Toriko is instead primarily about the hunting of fantastical and monstrous creatures to cook. Toriko himself is a muscularly Shonen hero with more in common with heroes from other Shonen shows like Naruto, Bleach, Dragon Ball and One Piece, then other cooking leads. Despite this, for Shonen fans this show is a blast and is often unfairly over shadowed by other Shonen works.

food wars

Food Wars: I know I’ve talked a lot about the Food War manga and series in previous posts here (http://teens.santaclaritalibrary.com/2018/05/08/secret-house-of-anime-shonen/) and here (http://teens.santaclaritalibrary.com/2018/04/30/namis-review-corner-april-2018/ ), but it is a show that can’t be left out of this category and needs to be mentioned. One of the most recent and influential cooking shows of all time, Food Wars features a combination of modern Shonen and tournament style features. With a great variety of characters both in personality and design, and an amazing variety of delicious foods this shows stands out as one of the best food-based anime series. As previously mentioned Food Wars stars the teenager Soma as he battles along with his friends to become the best chef he can, while remaining humbled and helpful to those around him. Food Wars currently is the top selling food-based anime in the United States, and it’s easy to see how it’s refinement of cooking into a battle has made it a fan favourite.

sweetness and lightning

Sweetness and Lightning: Sweetness and Lightning is another amazing Shoujo style title that focuses on defying traditional Japanese gender norms. After the death of his wife, Kouhei Inuzuka is left to care for his young daughter Tsumugi, despite having little experience in cooking nutritious meals. Things being to change, however when he accepts the help of his student Kotori Iida, whose mother owns a family restaurant and is often out for dinner leaving her alone. Kouhei comes to learn through his experiences at the restaurant about cooking and the importance of fresh meals with the family; through his experiences cooking at the restaurant and providing Kotori with company. Sweetness and Lightning is a very sweet series about people helping each other, and about seeing the value in things people often take for granted. It stands out as another wonderful series focused on single (or mostly single) parenting such as Usagi Drop, Wolf Children, and My Neighbor Totoro. (Special thanks to Breana Ceballos for reminding me to include this important series)

silver spoon

Honourable mention: Silver spoon: While not primarily based upon food, I feel it would be wrong to not mention Silver Spoon. In Silver Spoon Yuugo Hachiken enrolls in a farm school to get away from the stress of his daily city life, but quickly finds that this style of school is far from easy. What really makes this show stand out as a food show is its explanation of farming and how food is developed. Particularly noteworthy is the episode where the students of school decide to make pizza from scratch and then gather and cook pizza together as a team. Silver Spoon is a pleasant comedy show that is notable for its interesting characters and discussion of farming, a topic rarely focused on in anime and manga.

Welcome to Secret House of Anime

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Welcome to The Secret House of Anime, a place to learn all about anime. This is a continuation of the previously blog series that I (Kitsune Hatfield) started at my previous job as a teen librarian at the Old Town Newhall library where I talk about important anime series, movies, and creators (Found: http://teens.santaclaritalibrary.com/tag/secret-house-of-anime/ and http://teens.santaclaritalibrary.com/tag/the-secret-house-of-anime/ ). As someone who has been a fan of anime for a long long time and have seen a lot of shows, I thought it would be nice and fun to use my experience and give back to those who are new to anime or looking for shows outside of what they usually see. In this blog I will often feature top ten lists about important shows and movies within a genre that I feel represent anime best and that are important to anime history. Also, I will be including other aspects of fandom such as and anime/manga character discussions and will also be reviewing books and non-anime animated shows. In addition to this I will also even occasionally look at other things that interest me such as local restaurants, comic book shops, or ginger beer in this blog. I hope you find this home exciting and find the topics within interesting. For other great blogs on fandom including anime please visit the amazing fandom sites, nerdbot.com and poplurker.com