Category Archives: Anime

(✿◠‿◠) Anime!!! – One Piece

List Item:  Watch the 100 best anime TV series
Progress: 21/100Title: One Piece
Episodes Aired: 790+
Episodes Watched:
61
Year(s): 1999-present

When I added the anime list to this bucket list I never stipulated a point that I would have to reach before being able to give up a show. For a show like Erased this would never be a problem since 11 episodes is almost nothing to just get through, however I don’t fancy the idea of making my way through nearly 800 of these.

I saw some people online discussing the mammoth task of starting One Piece from the beginning and questioning whether it was actually worth it. The standard advice was to get to episode 42 and make your decision from there. I overshot this a bit because I figured it was worth an extra pop, but I still had my issues.

For those who don’t know: One Piece is a show about a boy called Luffy who sets sail to become ‘King of the Pirates’. He also has stretchy superpowers that pretty much make him a rubber man.

Most of the episodes I saw revolved around Luffy getting members of his crew together and the beginnings of some of the mythology. Mythology that is actually quite interesting. However, this is a shonen series and that means that most of the episodes revolve around fighting sequences. Where the fights in Hunter x Hunter felt unique and had an interesting bent, the fights in One Piece got old pretty fast.

The other big problem was the repetition. In a 25 minute episode of the episode about 5 is taken up by the credits, another 5 by a recap of the previous episode and then 1-2 minutes previewing the next episode. It doesn’t make for a satisfying binge watch when you keep reaching for the fastforward.

With this crossed off there are few long series left on the list. I think I’ll be reaching for Assassination Classroom next. I mean, who doesn’t like an anime about a yellow space octopus?

(✿◠‿◠) Anime!!! – Gintama’: Enchousen

List Item:  Watch the 100 best anime TV series
Progress: 20/100Title: Gintama’: Enchousen
Episodes Aired: 13
Episodes Watched:
13
Year(s): 2008-2009

After watching the previous iteration of Gintama I was beginning to get a bit tired of how hit and miss this series could be. I think that with Gintama’ Enchousen I might have seen the best and most consistent series to date.

I managed to watch all 13 episodes of this on a recent work trip to Wales where I spent two nights in a hotel with weirdly limited wi-fi. By limited I mean that I had to lay in front of the door to the hotel room in order to get a strong enough signal for Crunchyroll to work. So, this was watched in a makeshift nest of pillows and extra blankets. On the floor. Because I am an adult.

Within Gintama’ Enchousen there are three arcs and one standalone episode. The second arc, known as the Courtesan of a Nation arc, was one of the best that I have seen from the franchise so far. Is it because it heavily features Tsukuyo (my favourite side-character) in a serious story about promises and toppling the patriarchy that ended up making me cry? Yes, yes it is.

The thing is, there is no way that you can watch Gintama’ Enchousen without seeing any of the previous seasons. The first arc is extremely meta and only works if you know the characters really well. However, this is a show that’s big enough and far enough in that it doesn’t really need to use a season opener to introduce new viewers.

I say this, but Gintama’ Enchousen actually included some remastered episodes from the previous that could have provided some sort of introduction… but I didn’t see the point of watching repeats when I have so many great animes calling my name.

(✿◠‿◠) Anime!!! – Clannad: After Story

List Item:  Watch the 100 best anime TV series
Progress: 19/100Title: Clannad: After Story
Episodes Aired: 24
Episodes Watched:
24
Year(s): 2008-2009

I think it goes without saying, but it’s hard to talk about what made Clannad: After Story without delving into spoiler territory. There are few shows I have come across that have taken a complete left turn in their storytelling and been all the better for it.

As the title might give away, Clannad: After Story is actually a sequel series to the original Clannad. You have to watch Clannad to get as much as possible out of After Story. It does make an effort to re-introduce some of the characters between seasons, but there are jokes and certain relationship dynamics (see: any scene between Tomoya and Kyou) that only make sense if you have watched all the previous episodes.

You would be well within your right to think that you are watching a standard harem anime. In fact, until you get to about episode 9 of After Story this is a harem anime; a good one, but not exactly an example of expert storytelling. Then everything changes.

Suddenly the very moe-style animation isn’t complementary, but juxtaposing. Why? Because life starts to hit home for the main couple of Tomoya and Nagisa. In fact, every hurdle that a regular person would have to deal with as they leave school isn’t just there, but 20 metres high and without any sort of ladder to clamber over.

Nagisa gets sick, Tomoya takes on a manual and exhausting job, Tomoya misses out on job advancement because his father ends up in jail. Oh and Nagisa dies in childbirth. Then Tomoya deals with 5 years of depression before his own daughter dies. It’s blow, after blow, after blow. You watch it wondering how fate is going to rear it’s ugly head episode after episode after episode.

Interwoven throughout the series is a more magical and sci-fi idea of an Illusionary World and a myth that if you collect enough balls of light (created by happiness) that you can be granted a wish. This world makes no sense out of context or in the context of the rest of the series – until you get to about episode 18 of After Story. Then there are enough pieces of the puzzle to figure out how this series will end. Okay, it’s a little bit of a cop out, but dear God Tomoya has earned a happy ending.

I can easily say this was not how I expected this anime to go. In the space of a few episodes it jumped from a 3.5/5 rating to a 4.5/5 rating. Sure there are things that could have been removed, such as the gang fighting episodes, but it’s a very interesting look at what it means to be an adult.

(✿◠‿◠) Anime!!! – Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion

List Item:  Watch the 100 best anime TV series
Progress: 18/100Title: Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
Episodes Aired: 25
Episodes Watched:
25
Year(s): 2006-2007

“You can’t leave it there!” screamed anime fans when the first season of Code Geass ended in July 2007. They’d already had to wait for months to see the two part conclusion to this amazing series for it only to end in this extreme stalemate. Did the ruddy job though, I just want to get on with watching Round 2.

Starting off, Code Geass is one of those anime set in a world somewhat parallel to our own. It’s a world where, much like in 1984, there are three large empires of the world: China, the European Union and Britannia. It is 2017 and Japan has been a subject of the Britannian Empire for 6-7 years.

This is a world where Japan (now called Area 11) is downtrodden, Mt Fuji is being mined for rare materials and the tools of oppression are mecha suits known as Knightmares. Oh and there is a witch that can grant supernatural abilities known as Geass.

code_geass_ep10_the-guren-dances_720pblurayx264_-_gg-thora03035706-18-34Seriously, the world that has been created for Code Geass is remarkable and this is only scratching the surface of a highly political series. Given the conflicts happening around the world, where the terms ‘terrorists’ and ‘freedom fighters’ appear even more interchangeable, a lot of what happens in Code Geass feels very relevant.

At the centre of it is Lelouch, an exiled Britannian prince out for revenge against the empire for killing his mother and using him as a bargaining chip in the take over of Japan. The first series is very much us seeing the annihilation of Lelouch’s moral compass as he finds himself wading in too deep into the world of rebel groups.

Thanks to his superior intellect, tactical genius and a gift of Geass that allows him to order any person to do his bidding (although this only works once per person) Lelouch finds himself as the charismatic figurehead of the Black Knight movement. To protect his identity he adopts the guise of Zero – an equivalent of V in V For Vendetta.

He only has one care in this world: his blind, wheelchair-bound sister Nannally. Whilst he does care about others around him many are pretty much dispensable for as long as he is able to achieve his act of vengeance against his father the Emperor and those who killed his mother.

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We are introduced to a wide range of strong characters during the run of the show; Kallen being the ultimate example. She truly is a badass and the ultimate soldier of justice. As a member of the Black Knights, whose actions under Zero can be questionable, she is able to remain both just and true to her principles.

However, one character who needs to be mentioned is Euphemia. She is the epitome of kind-heartedness and seeks peace. Despite being a royal princess of the Empire of Britannia, what she really wants is to bring peace to Japan and end all the needless bloodshed. It is because of her undeniable goodness that makes the final episodes of this first season all the more devastating. This, after all, is not a world built on good intentions.

So yes, despite how amazing this series was I will not be heading straight for the second season.

(✿◠‿◠) Anime!!! – Zoku Natsume Yuujinchou

List Item:  Watch the 100 best anime TV series
Progress: 18/100Title: Natsume Yuujinchou and Zoku Natsume Yuujinchou
Episodes Aired: 26
Episodes Watched:
26
Year(s): 2008-2009

As I mentioned when I first added this list to the blog – the MyAnimeList is very volatile. To its credit this means that series from 2016 and 2017 are able to gain a place. On the flip side it means that with the 6 month gap between writing and posting there are series that will fall off.

The first series of Natsume Yuujinchou is an example of this. As of writing this post for the second series it is still in the list at #100. However, by the time this goes up in May I have no doubt that it will fall out of the list. Hey ho. I would still have watched this in order to understand the four further seasons of this on the list.

In a nutshell, the Natsume Yuujinchou series is about a boy named Natsume Takashi who can see spirits (or yokai) and his yokai guardian that looks like one of those lucky cats you see in every Chinatown souvenir shop .

At the start of the he comes across his grandmother’s ‘book of friends’ (the ‘yuujinchou’ of the title), which she used to control spirits by stealing their names. How did she do this? Mostly by punching them in the head. It’s anime/manga, so it doesn’t have to make sense to us in the West.

The episodes are pretty slice-of-life and follows a ‘yokai-of-the-week’ style formula with the overarching theme of Natsume’s lonliness. He is one of those unusual examples of a main character who lives with foster parents (well, very distant relations but they act as foster parents). He is a lonely boy as, due to his ability to see spirits, Natsume has not been able to make many friends as people just think he’s a bit weird.

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The big arc for Natsume is his gaining of friends and, effectively, his re-integration into the human world whilst also becoming more aware of his spiritual powers. There are a number of recurring characters, including a charismatic actor who is also a spirit hunter.

As viewing goes it is pretty gentle and, going by the level of fandom I see online it is not a series that I think has hit me as hard as other people. It’s a fairly nice palate cleanse after the weirdness of Gintama’ and whatever I choose next. I am eyeing a bit of Clannad: After Story or maybe even Cowboy Bebop now that it is on Netflix.

Who knows.

(✿◠‿◠) Anime!!! – Gintama’

List Item:  Watch the 100 best anime TV series
Progress: 17/100Title: Gintama’
Episodes Aired: 51
Episodes Watched:
51
Year(s): 2011-2012

So here we are again (so soon) in the wacky world of GintamaThis is the odd part of using MyAnimeList as a source for this Top 100 – if a show takes a year or two out they class it as a new separate show rather than a continuation. Good news for shows you like, not so much for those you dislike (not come across any of those yet, but it’ll probably happen at some point)

For a show like Gintama, which has follow through but no serious serialization, the break in seasons is beneficial. The world is weird and inconsistent enough as it is without there being too many anime-only arcs and storylines to muddy up the waters.

gintama235

Now, whilst I still found many a laugh out moment in this season of Gintama it felt slightly more inconsistent than previous series. There were some great episodes like the Renho, Glasse, Four Devas and Scandal arcs. On the other hand there were episodes where it went over the top with the idiocy/crudeness (see: the Jugem and Bath House episodes) or the whole Thorny arc which dragged along.

It was most definitely more hit then miss, but the ratio was not as good as the previous season. There were still a lot of laughs and feels though. The episode where the three central characters sit down to eat crab just encapsulates everything I love about this show. It’s wacky, it escalates quickly, it’s overly dramatic at times and it is unpredictable.

Another episode or two worth a mention are episode 23 (with the haunted blu-ray player) and episode 47 (or any episode with Hasegawa as a main character to be honest)

I am in two minds whether I should continue on with Gintama or finish it off. Thoughts on the subject would be greatly appreciated.

(✿◠‿◠) Anime!!! – Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2

List Item:  Watch the 100 best anime TV series
Progress: 16/100Title: Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2
Episodes Aired: 10
Episodes Watched:
10
Year(s): 2017

This is the second time where I am watching an anime live and it just happens to end up in the anime list. Previously there was Yuri!!! On Ice, which plummeted down the rankings after the Crunchyroll Anime Awards. I am under no illusion that KonoSuba 2 will no longer be in the Top 100 this time next year, but who cares – I enjoyed this.

So where are we? The KonoSuba series are based off of a fairly success light novel series about a NEET called Kazuma who, having died of shock after being nearly run over by a truck, gets reincarnated in a fantasy world resembling those of his favourite video games. The ultimate goal? Destroy the Demon King.

The issue of the thing is that he, and the people who end up making his adventuring party, are utterly inept. First off he is pretty much a mean pervert. There’s Darkness – a paladin with a 0% hit rate and 100% a masochist, Megumin – a mage who only knows explosion magic… which needs a day to recharge between uses and, finally, Aqua – a whiny goddess who is a drunk and was tricked into becoming part of the party by Kazuma.

The strength of this series is that this is a comedy-fantasy series that is able to satisfy and overturn a bunch of video game tropes whilst also building a successful world of it’s own. Also, it’s pretty funny in a pretty stupid way.

Yea, this is not a high brow watch by any means, but it’s a whole lot of fun and I really hope we get more seasons of it because this is nowhere near over. Honestly I am not holding out much hope for this, but it would be good to have another chuckle with the KonoSuba crew.

(✿◠‿◠) Anime!!! – Shokugeki no Soma

List Item:  Watch the 100 best anime TV series
Progress: 15/100Title: Shokugeki no Soma (Food Wars)
Episodes Aired: 24
Episodes Watched:
24
Year(s): 2015

Japan sure is a country that loves their food. I witnessed this first hand during my honeymoon and have become addicted to their amazing competitive cooking show Iron ChefI had not expected to see this love of food to cross-over into my anime list, but little did I know.

Competition is one of the main threads running through this anime and, as such, you can summarise the plot of Food Wars really easily – a boy who wants to take over the family restaurant and tries to gain his father’s approval by being the best student in the country’s top culinary school. True, being an anime this is no ordinary school, but one with cooking competitions between it’s members fought in the style of pistols at dawn. It is also pretty damned cutthroat – at one point we see a student being expelled for wearing hair gel with a citrus scent.

honeyshower

Unlike any of the other shows I have watched so far for this list Food Wars engages in a large amount of ecchi (think of it like seeing softcore graphic content that is played up for laughs as well as fan service). It happened every now and then in Gintama as well as some other shonen animes I used to watch like The World God Only Knows. 

For Food Wars the ecchi content weirdly ties into the second of the two central themes of the series – a rapturous adoration of food. Everyone in this anime is passionate about food and these weird scenes are all related to how the characters envision the taste. Some of them are questionable (think tentacle porn…. and now stop thinking about tentacle porn), but they pretty much all played for laughs; somehow they actually succeed to do this once you get over the weirdness of it all and that this isn’t something just reserved for female characters.

milkshake

As much as I really enjoyed the wide range of characters (although some needed a lot more fleshing out) the thing that kept me watching was the food. The writer of this has clearly done a lot of research into so many different areas of the culinary arts. You just need to look at the characters of Alice (specialism: molecular gastronomy) and Hisako (specialism: medicinal cooking) to see some of the variations you get within the same episode.

A bad thing about this anime? You can’t watch Food Wars on an empty stomach. The food all looks so appetising that you can’t help but feel awkward about your own attempts at cookery. It makes me wish for an actual cookbook, but I’ll get by on watching YouTube videos where people try to make these dishes themselves. Who knows, I might try and make my own Gotcha Pork Roast soon.

(✿◠‿◠) Anime!!! – Your Lie In April

List Item:  Watch the 100 best anime TV series
Progress: 15/100Title: Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April)
Episodes Aired: 22
Episodes Watched:
22
Year(s): 2014-2015

After recent watches, whose length can only be described as mammoth, it was time for a series of a more modest/normal length of 22 episodes. So short that I actually managed to watch it over the course of a few evenings.

Let me set the scene: I am in Daventry (don’t worry, I hadn’t heard of it either) helping out with a training event and have a few evenings to make the best use of Netflix. There aren’t many animes from my list on Netflix – but luckily one of those available was the one I wanted to see most.

your-lie-in-april2

The basic synopsis of the show is that you have Kousei Arima – a former piano prodigy who, after the death of his mother, has been unable to hear the sound of his own playing. Two years after giving it up he meets up with the manic pixie dream girl of a violinist Kaori Miyazono and he finds himself being pushed back into the musical work that he left behind.

When I write it out this series sounds like something to roll the eyes at. However, Your Lie in April starts to twist the manic pixie dream girl storyline in the final 5-6 episodes. There are a number of hints of these twists coming, but it doesn’t make the ending any the less powerful. I could see it coming a mile off and yet my husband still came down the stairs to find me blubbering on the sofa.

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So is it a touch melodramatic? Yes. Does it include familial abuse and cancer? Yes. Is it all doom and gloom? Heavens no. Whilst a lot of that will be thanks to the source material, I cannot help but point a secondary finger at the studio behind the anime: A-1 Pictures.

There is a hopeful sense of humour that winds its way throughout the whole 22 episodes (well, maybe not the last 2 as much) in a similar way to another A-1 Pictures production: AnoHana: The Flower We Saw That Day. Now THAT was a show that left me emotionally drained after each and every episode.

Your Lie In April is also my first foray into the world of music anime and I am thankful that it will not be my last. A lot of the pieces showcased in this anime are by Chopin (who I will sadly not be listening to for my 1001 Classical Works listenthrough) with my favourite performance being of Étude in A minor Op. 25 No. 11 aka Winter Wind:

Having watched something completely different to my more recent anime watches I literally have no idea what I will be watching next. Tatami Galaxy looks like a possible contender, as do Kuroko no Basket and Food Wars.

Guess I’ll just have to see where my fancies lead me.

(✿◠‿◠) Anime!!! – Hunter x Hunter (2011)

List Item:  Watch the 100 best anime TV series
Progress: 14/100hunterhunterTitle: Hunter x Hunter (2011)
Episodes Aired: 148
Episodes Watched:
148
Year(s): 2011-2014

There is a big part of me that wishes that I had decided to review this anime as I went along. It didn’t matter as much with the longer series Gintama as that didn’t exactly rely on separate story arcs. With Hunter x Hunter I have the issue where SO much has happened in the different story arcs. Still let’s make the best of it!

To say this was the anime series I was expecting would be a lie. From the title and the spiel I was expecting an anime more along the lines of Monster Rancher – a fairly light and comedic anime where they hunt and collect various beasties. NO! I was very wrong. There was a lot more depth and interest to be found in this.

Like with Fullmetal Alchemist this is not the first adaptationof the Hunter x Hunter manga. In fact, the 1999 adaptation currently resides in the lower section of the anime list. This is how beloved this series and its characters are amongst the anime-watching community – so it’s a good thing that I enjoyed it!

At the very centre of Hunter x Hunter are best friends Gon and Killua. It is the friendship between these two that grounds the entire series. As characters go Gon is pretty simple. He is the optimistic innocent in search of his (deadbeat) Hunter father. Then you have Killua, an initially emotionally damaged boy from a family of assassins who grows in emotional strength throughout the series’ run. He is the hands down favourite of all readers of the manga, for obvious reasons, as he is definitely the best.

No matter how far the series veers off track you are brought back to this gorgeous friendship. A lot of the emotional punches in this show comes from the moments where this relationship is tested. This is especially evident in the fantastic (if slightly long) Chimera Ants arc where Killua is no longer able to reach a broken, vengeful Gon.

hunterhisoka

The moment that this anime went away from my expectations as after the introduction of Nen – substitute magic powers – as a fighting ability. We suddenly get fight sequences that are varied and more in-depth than before. These powers can vary from an almost invisible elastic manifestation used by the incredibly twisted Hisoka (pictured) or something more simple like mind control activated by a kiss.

Yes, there is quite a bit of exposition parcelled out over the course of several episodes, but it’s all done with the peppy Hunter x Hunter music in the background and with such enthusiasm that you don’t really notice. Sure, I am still not entirely sure of the difference between Zetsu and Hatsu… but it doesn’t matter that much.

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Considering the main powers in this are magic-based, like the shikai and bankai in Bleach, it is admirable that this show doesn’t keep on ramping up the power levels. There is no Dragonball Level 9000 – just people who are more naturally gifted at using Nen and those who work their socks off. There is also the acknowledgement that to get to ‘Level 9000’ you need to put in restrictions. Kurapika, for example, can use an ability that’s near instant death – but if he uses it on someone other than the 12 people he set out to hunt down his life is forfeit. It just makes it feel more real and less hurdled.

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The thing that really has to be commended is the use of set pieces in this show. There are times where it does through some rather beautiful Nen powers – such as the golden dragon of Killua’s grandfather – but the one that struck me most was the use of Mozart’s Requiem when the Phantom Troupe stage a massacre. It’s all being conducted by their leader as he overlooks Yorknew City in a hotel suite.

Another beautiful set piece is done in near complete darkness at the end of the Chimera Ant arc. It’s done simply with flickers of fireflies and the voices of two opponents playing a board-game as they slowly succumb to poison.

Having finished Hunter x Hunter I do find myself suddenly bereft of the show I have been watching for the last 1-2 months. I still don’t feel up to the mammoth task of starting the 750+ episode behemoth of One Piece. I’m thinking something without fisticuffs like Your Lie in April, Major or the adaptation of Nodame CantibileLet’s just see how I feel on the morrow.