Sunday, October 27, 2013

Fall Season 2013

I’ve started watching a few new series which began this month, so here I decided to talk about my three favorites so far.  They are:

Kyoukai no Kanata:  This first one I probably like the best after 4 episodes.  The premise of this series is a world where humans and youma (youkai, demons, akuma, spirits, evil supernatural beings – take your pick of titles) co-exist.  The youma take many different forms, including looking completely human.  They have ways of masking their forms and locations to most humans so normal humans can’t and don’t routinely interact with them.  There are also humans who are Spirit Warriors or Barrier Guardians (depending on your subbing group).  These humans have supernatural powers and use them to destroy or contain the youma that cause trouble.  For every youma they kill, they get paid.  The more dangerous the youma, the higher the pay for killing it.  The owner of the establishment where they go to get paid is herself a youma, so not all youma are bad. 

The story revolves around a special, very powerful Spirit Warrior, who also happens to be a short, cute, glasses-wearing girl named Kuriyama Mirai.  Kuriyama, the last member of her warrior clan, is ostracized by other warriors for being dangerous, and she also seems to have trouble killing youma, apparently because she killed her best friend who had been possessed by a youma.  The other main character is a half human, half youma boy named Kanbara Akihito who has a fetish for girls who wear glasses.   The interactions between these two, and among the other main characters is pretty fun so far.  Besides the interesting plot and nice animation style in this one, it’s also quirky.  Quirky character interactions, quirky things happening that I don’t expect to happen, quirky character personalities.  After three episodes I’m enjoying it a lot.  I hope it keeps it up.

Next in order of how much I’m enjoying it is Nagi no Asukara.  This series has a pretty unique premise.  Humans are divided into two subspecies, ones who live on land like regular humans and ones who can breathe both in air and underwater and live in a village underwater off the coast.  Kids from both groups attend a high school on land.  So far it looks like this series is going to be about relationships, with love triangles/quadrangles occurring between the five main character kids, Hikari, Manaka, Chikasa, Kaname and Tsumugu.  Four of these kids are sea kids.

This series, other than the underwater humans, started out looking like a very predictable plot of high school relationships where everyone is in love with the person who is in love with someone else.  The plot has started to go beyond that basic premise though, so hopefully it won’t get boring.  There are rules around interactions between land humans and sea humans and an interesting sea god involved, so I have hopes for it.   This one is also really gorgeous too, so I’ll watch it for a while.

The next series is called Coppelion.  Coppelion is a post-apocalyptic series.  Some type of major disaster occurred in a major city (we’ll say Tokyo), rendering it unfit for habitation unless you like living in barrier suits to stave off radiation poisoning.  The story revolves around three girls, Naruse Ibari, Nomura Taeko and Fukasaku Aoi, who are created beings.  They have been genetically engineered to specifically be able to withstand the radiation and live in the world without the need of barrier suits, as well being engineered with some special talents.  What the story line is after three episodes is that the three girls are sent into the city to locate and retrieve any humans foolish enough to try to be living in isolated secure locations and moving around in barrier suits.  Their job seems to be locating these humans and making them available for retrieval by the people running things. 

I’m still struggling bit with several issues within this premise. One is, if you were going to genetically engineer and create humans capable of withstanding radiation and you had plans to send them into dangerous, overgrown, high radiation areas, why would you create three young girls?  And don’t even get me started about if you did create three young girls, why would you send them into the aforementioned areas wearing short-skirted high school uniforms?  The whole high school uniform thing is a pet peeve I won’t go into here. Despite these obvious fallacies, the series so far has been interesting enough to keep me watching.  I’ll be  waiting to see whether a deeper plot evolves or whether they simply do episode after episode of rescues or failures to rescue.  I’m hoping for the deeper plot, otherwise this series may become boring besides being borderline depressing.

So those are the anime series at the top of my list so far.  I’ll let you know how they go, and also if any other series catch my attention along the way.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Shingeki no Kyoujin - "ending"

Shingeki no Kyoujin, as expected, ended with a bad ‘non-ending’ ending.  I realize they had to end it that way because the anime series is essentially caught up to the manga, but it’s frustrating to have so many questions left unanswered.   I’ve already given the basic premise of this series in a previous blog post (, so check there if you haven’t watched it, and I’m going to spend the rest of this post doing even more spoilers than usual.

For all my complaining though, the “ending” could have been worse.   The positives on the ending are these:  Eren is gaining more and more control over his Kyoujin (Titan/eotenas/giant) form.  The Survey Corps is alive and well having managed to survive the bad guys’ attempts to disband and destroy it.  The main characters are still alive, which in itself is no small feat in this series.   The intelligent female kyoujin was found out to be Annie Leonhardt, one of Eren-tachi’s comrades, and she was effectively neutralized, even though they conveniently aren’t able to get any answers to the major questions out of her.   The Survey Corp’s Commander Erwin Smith, as well as Levi, Eren, Mikasa, Armin and Jean know that their enemies are among the humans, and the Survey Corps is beginning to find ways to fight those enemies.

The negatives on the ending are pretty significant though.  Soooooo many questions aren’t answered, but then they’re probably not answered in the manga yet either.   High on that list is WHY is someone among the humans trying to destroy humanity?   WHY were kyoujin created, because at this point they seem to be human creations.   Were the intelligent ones created on purpose and the slow and stupid ones are a byproduct of that creation, or were the slow and stupid ones intentional also?
And then there are all the questions around Eren.  How is it that Eren’s father gave him the ability to transform into a kyoujin, and the bad guys didn’t know about it?  Was Eren’s father a part of the group that created kyoujin in the first place, and where is Eren’s father now?  He must have split with them enough to give Eren his abilities, unknown to them.   The bad guys are obviously trying hard to collect Eren, probably partly because they figure he belongs with them, but mostly because he gives the humans a way, and the ability, to fight them.  And the big question:  Who are “they”?!  Who are the “bad guys”?

My only hope is that once the manga gains enough ground, they will produce another season or two of Shingeki.  It would be a real shame for it to end at this point, with no further anime series and only the manga going on.   I’ll warn you again though.  This series has a boatload of death and blood in it, including things like people getting chomped in half, people getting heads and other body parts chomped off, and people getting smashed into pulp against trees and buildings.   The story line and characters and anime style and music make it worth watching for me, despite all that.  Only the non-ending (and probably the massive amount of death) keep it from being a great series.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


Hakkenden is an anime series that comes from a manga series that comes from a novel series about eight dog warriors.  The novel series was made into an anime series previously in 1990.  This current series bears almost no resemblance to the previous series, luckily.  So leaving all that history behind, this post is just about the current, two season series.

The main character of Hakkenden is a young boy named Inuzuka Shino.  The other characters who are dog warriors include Inukawa Sousuke,  Inukai Genpachi,  Inuta Kobungo,  Inusaka Keno,  Inuyama Dousetsu,  Inumura Daikaku and  Inue Shinobu.  Besides having “inu” (dog) in their names, each of the eight dog warriors bears a flower-shaped birthmark and carries a glass bead with a symbol in it.  The symbols are devotion, duty, integrity (faith), brotherhood, wisdom, loyalty, gratitude, and benevolence, in the same order as their holders, above. 

Other main characters include Satomi Riou, Osaki Kaname, Ao, (the series villain), and two females characters, Hamaji and Mizuki Ayane, although those two female characters could be considered minor side characters, for the amount of screen time they get.
The plot in this series is slow starting.  The first 13 episodes don’t even introduce all eight dog warriors, and just begin to hint at the issues surrounding the characters of Ao and Sousuke.  Essentially all the first season does is set the stage.  It covers the story background: that Rio rescued Shino, Sousuke and Hamaji when their village was destroyed and gave Shino the living sword Murasame in exchange for keeping him alive, or in order to keep him alive.  Shino harbors Murasame in his body and can extract it and use it at will.  Murasame can take the form of a large black raven, or a sword, which Shino knows how to use.  Because Shino holds Murasame inside himself, he looks 13 years old instead of the 18 he actually is.

The first season slowly introduces the characters as Shino and Sousuke come across them.  A little background is provided for each dog warrior, including each warrior’s connection to the supernatural.  As the story slowly progresses, Shino and Sousuke help each character solve issues when they meet.  Essentially the first season is the eight warriors beginning to gather together.

The second season is where all the plot lies.  The reasons for Ao’s and Rio’s machinations come to light.  Ao is somehow Sousuke’s “shadow”, which is why he looks just like Sousuke except for a golden eye.  Ao is attempting to steal Sousuke’s life force, and essentially to become him.  Rio is having Shino gather the eight beads and their warriors together in order to prevent their collection by the bad guys, but also because when they’re all together it’s possible to have a wish granted.   At the end, when the eight are all gathered together and it looks like Ao and the bad guys will win, it’s Shino’s wish that is granted, that Sousuke will survive.  So the good guys win in the final hour and life goes on.  Ao is still in play though, so it’s a non-ending ending, but not a bad one.

This series is full of really gorgeous characters and decent music, so despite the plot being slow, it’s very nice to watch.   I would say it’s not one of the great series, but definitely worth watching.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi

Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi is a short series with a really unique plot premise.  Basically, God has abandoned the world.  Yup, just washed his hands of it and disappeared.  The result of that abandonment is that people don’t die.  Or rather they do die, but they continue to function as human beings.  So the world is full of both the living and the dead.   Unfortunately, if the dead keep functioning for long enough, they become very self-centered, leading into insanity, so in this new world there are also hakamori.  Hakamori, or grave keepers, are human-looking creatures who can use a special shovel to bury the dead.  If you are dead and are buried by a grave keeper, you stay dead and in the ground and your soul departs.

The story is centered around a young girl named Ai whose mother was a hakamori and father was a living human.  Ai is a hakamori.  She has grave keeper powers, but she also has the instincts and feelings of a human, unlike most grave keepers who are cold and unfeeling and just do the job of burying the dead.  After her mother’s death, Ai is raised by the members of a small village, who she doesn’t realize are all dead humans until a man comes to town whose mission is to put all dead humans in the ground.   Ai and this man, who goes by the name on Humpnie Hambart, don’t start out well, but because of him, Ai ends up burying the whole town and leaving on a personal mission to save the world that God has abandoned.

The rest of the series is Ai’s travels and interactions with people who become her friends.  Two of them, a man named Yuri and a woman hakamori named Scar, travel around with Ai in a beat-up van.  These two are her constant friends and travel companions, with other characters being introduced as this trio enters their lives and changes things. 

This short series is composed of five short story arcs.  The original arc is where Ai meets her father and is set on her path of saving the world.  The second arc is where Ai, Yuri and Scar deal with an entire city that is composed of dead humans and only allows dead humans to live there.

The third arc is one where Ai helps free a group of school kids with special powers from a restrictive academy, including a kid named Alis who is followed around by a ghost named Dee.  Between this third arc and the last arc is a one episode arc where Yuri and Ai struggle to help Scar deal with becoming more human than hakamori.  The final arc is where Ai and Alis fight to release a time loop that has trapped a class of students and thousands of other people in an alternate reality that resets and loops through the same year forever.  When you think about it, that’s a pretty amazing number of story arcs seamlessly woven together in this 13 episode series. 

I really enjoyed this series for a bunch of reasons.  Obviously I’m attracted to unique environments and story lines and this one has those things in spades.  In addition, the music from it is just gorgeous.   Really, really nice.  Also the animations style is pretty, and the characters are cool, even if they did kill (and bury) my favorite character in the second or third episode.  That’s pretty standard for my luck though.  I almost stopped watching the series there, but I’m glad I didn’t.  It’s well worth watching all the way through.