Mekakucity Actors – Creativity just got Shafted


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What a chore it was to sit through this first episode, desperately trying to grasp the slights bit of meaning and enjoyment from an experience that made me wonder if I wasn’t just watching a series from 2010. This remains the general feeling I have when watching anime from Shaft, that studio with an inexplicably large fan base – well, the Monogatari franchise is likely one reason – but has effectively released the same anime every season (at least those they have produced work for) since 2010. Even with this feeling I went into Mekakucity Actors knowing very little about the series, and wanting to enjoy it, wanting to find that one series by Shaft that dispels my worries, my annoyance, and my boredom for good, unfortunately this did not happen. Read more of this post

Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei – It’s a bit like the real world, but with magic


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Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei has to be one of the most hyped anime of the season, with fans of the light novel series proclaiming it as the best thing since sliced bread, and a truly wonderful piece of storytelling. Now while I have absolutely no knowledge of the actual story, the light novels, or any idea of what to expect I have to say that such claims are stretching things a little. Which is not to say that the first episode wasn’t enjoyable, introducing a main character who seems to be rather over-powered in much the same vein as Izayoi from Mondaiji-tachi ga Isekai kara Kuru Sou Desu Yo, although in the case of Tatsuya, rather than flaunt his (apparently) extraordinary gifts he is forced to hide them due to the nature of the society he lives in, and likely pressures from his family. Read more of this post

Selector Infected WIXOSS – A mash-up of dark fantasy and card games


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This series got off to a relatively interesting start, introducing us to a world where a card game can bring your desires and dreams to life, providing you win of course. As premises go this one reminded me Yu Gi Oh, along with elements of Rozen Maiden, C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control, Black Rock Shooter, along with aspects of Angelic Layer. It seems a mash-up of these different series and their premises, with a world where darkness appears to be lurking just out of sight. Read more of this post

Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha – Inari meets, Inari


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Inari Konkon is a fascinating little series that introduces popular ideas of belief surrounding the Kami called Inari into a relatively light-hearted romantic comedy set in Kyoto’s Fushimi ward. There are certain elements of the series that are of note, mostly related to the deity Inari and the various symbols and symbolism found within the series. Like a lot of anime there are aspects of Japanese society and culture that may be unfamiliar to people from other countries. These can come in the form of language used in certain situations, social, or cultural norms, and religious beliefs that may seem strange to visitors, but carry with them important meanings to those who take part. This is not unique to Japan of course, but is worth pointing out when watching, and exploring an anime that specifically focuses on a particular deity and the symbolism and beliefs that surround it. Read more of this post

Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku no Zvezda – Conquering the World, One Stabiliser at a Time


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When the idea of world conquest is brought up one generally thinks of historical empires from Rome to the British Empire, even through to the Japanese Empire and the Third Reich. These empires were a demonstration in ruling over the entire known world, or perhaps controlling major trade routes and supplies of material wealth. They certainly weren’t the complete totalitarian dictatorship over earth’s population that world conquest would entail, with such visions often confined to the pages of comic books and Bond villains. World conquest is therefore the domain of the criminally insane, utterly delusional comic book villain; the kind who thinks a hollowed out volcano makes for an excellent inconspicuous evil lair. Read more of this post

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren – The Complicated Nature of Chuunibyou


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As I discussed in previous posts about the first season of Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai, Chuunibyou is quite a complex term that encapsulates numerous ideas surrounding youth, adolescence and ones own imagination. At the very beginning of the first series there is a brief introduction to Chuunibyou, explaining that it is a complex idea, one that encompasses a variety of behaviour, and other social issues. What is interesting is that while there are clearly elements of the fantastical in Chuunibyou, with the role-playing of Rikka, Dekomori, Yuuta, and even Nibutani, it is also used to describe a far wider variety of ideas and behaviour. Read more of this post

Hoozuki no Reitetsu – The Mundane Lives of Bureaucrats


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One would think that being a denizen of hell could be quite entertaining for those inclined towards sadism, perhaps masochism, and a love of fine barbeques. Not so for Hoozuki, aide to the Great King Yama, his life is full of endless paperwork and the ever-present problem of being understaffed and over-crowded. Hell is simply overflowing with spirits either coming for a short break, or taking their time and enjoying the various tortures available, enough for a true connoisseur. Hoozuki is more a bureaucrat stuck in middle management than a devil, someone who has to make sure the wheels of hell turn efficiently and everything works properly. Read more of this post

Nobunaga the Fool – Who needs Historical Continuity Anyway?


vlcsnap-2014-01-07-17h54m49s27There are numerous anime series and films which take the historical past and twist it around certain ideas and concepts, adding steampunk aesthetics, robots, and even swapping the gender of important, and famous historical figures. Nobunaga the Fool does just this, splitting the world in two in a way that reminded me a little of  Aquarion Evol, although at the moment one of the worlds isnt trying to abduct the women of the other. What is particularly interesting about this setting is its ability to have numerous historical figures appear at the same time (although Jeanne d’arc did live about 100 years before Oda Nobunaga, so there are certain liberties taken) on worlds that are both similar, and different to the historical past. We also have an injection of Kawamori style madness that manages to take the grand, the incidental, and the plain silly, putting them together into something immensely entertaining.

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Gingitsune – The Fox and the Orange


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The Fox or ‘Kitsune’ is one of the most well known spirits/youkai in Japanese religion and belief. Kitsune are believed to possess superior intelligence, long life, and magical powers, they are also tricksters and many local traditions and stories tell of unwary travelers, or drunken revelers being tricked by a cunning Kitsune. These spirits are rarely malicious, although there are stories and myths of people being terrorized by kitsune for a variety of reasons. Whereas the tanuki in Uchouten Kazoku are fun loving, and a bit silly, as shown in their love for drink and care free attitude, kitsune can be seen as a more serious, occasionally solemn creature. Significantly, Inari is associated with the kitsune to such an extent that the kitsune is often seen as Inari and vice versa. Foxes are ichnographically ubiquitous and many practices at Inari shrines involve them, such as the pair of guardian fox statues in front of the main sanctuary or on the altar. Read more of this post

Kyoukai no Kanata 01 – It’s all in the blood


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Kyoukai no Kanata is a series about cursed existences and the continued importance of blood within Japanese belief. Both of the main characters live cursed existences due to their connections with blood and the realms of gods and spirits. There is no moral notion of sin within Shinto belief; death is not the ‘wages of sin’ as it might be for Christianity, but rather the outcome of evil-doing. Because purity is valued above all else, evil is defined as that which is ‘pollution’, or ‘polluting’. The primary pollutions within this belief system are sickness, death, and blood, and exposure to such pollution can offend the kami, resulting in disasters such as plagues or famine. Because of this Shinto shrines usually do not conduct funerals, leading the to familiar adage, ‘Shinto for weddings, Buddhism for funerals’. Nevertheless, Shinto has historically dealt with ideas of dead; with practitioners believe that spirits of the dead go to the mountains, above the sky, below the ear, or beyond the horizon (Kyoukai no Kanata). Living beings from this world may visit those from the other worlds in borderlands such as cliffs, caves and coastlines, places where the boundary between the two worlds is considered weak. Read more of this post

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