Favourite Anime of 2013


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It’s always a difficult task coming up with a simple list of my favourite anime that aired throughout the year, the list always seems to extend over several pages, only to be pruned and cut down to a simple selection of the series and films I truly enjoyed watching. This year I have decided not to put the anime in any specific order, or even give them a number as I feel numbering, and ordering the anime to be rather arbitrary. Apart from one specific series the anime in this list have all been equally enjoyable for a variety of different reasons. Interestingly most of the really popular series, ones that acquired lives of their own are missing from this list, largely because I found them almost universally boring, or didn’t particularly interest me in one way of another. But before the list proper a few special mentions, series that I certainly enjoyed, but have not made it onto the final list for a number of reasons. Read more of this post

Girls und Panzer – Review


shot0257Girls und Panzer is absolutely brilliant and sits as a perfect example of how even the most innocuous series can be turned into a veritable masterpiece with the right direction, writing and a truly engrossing story that has been created by a group of people who truly love classic war films and all they entail. I, like many others on twitter, was quick to laughingly and quite ironically proclaim this series to be the best of the season and perhaps the year just before it premiered. However, having sat through the gripping action, wonderful character development, and truly superb soundtrack it is safe to say that I can now, entirely un-ironically proclaim it to be a spectacular success. I have never really had any problems with the ‘cute girls doing cute things’ aspect of many anime, finding the ordinary, if rather romanticized portrayal of Japanese school life often charming and entertaining. What we find in Girls und Panzer however is an entirely different take on this well warn aspect of anime, and while it still has cute girls doing cute things, the constant presence of tanks and the important part that they play in life helps to subtly change the way this anime portrays the lives of school girls. Read more of this post

Boku wa Tomodachi Ga Sukunai NEXT – Unwilling to change


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Over the last few episodes we have seen Kodaka’s inability to change, and his unwillingness to even consider the idea that there are those who may care for him as something more than just friends. He is a character that is stuck in a particular way of thinking and viewing the Rinjin-bu, and is someone who fears the change that accepting the girls feelings may bring onto the club that he holds so dear. As we have seen during the first season, and throughout the run of Haganai, Kodaka is an individual with a complicated past, and has to deal with the scared faces of those around him due to his English parentage. As a social outcast, labelled as a yankee, and effectively ignored or avoided by everyone in school, Kodaka has lived a relatively isolated life, other than caring for his sister Kobato. This also means that his life has been incredibly simple until he started attending the Academy and in a way had very little to worry about, although he obviously felt a little lonely. By attending the Academy and then helping to form the Rinjin-bu with Yozora, Kodaka has gained a good group of friends as he has wished for, but in doing so his life has become far more complex than it once was. Read more of this post

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai NEXT – The artist formally known as………Pegasus……


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One of the most fascinating elements of Haganai is the way people approach the notion of friendship and what it means to be popular. As we already know from previous episodes, and indeed, previous season, the members of Rinjin-bu all have rather curious, and at times, warped perceptions of what it means to be popular with others. Furthermore, the various characters that occupy the Rinjin-bu are also (mostly) oblivious to the fact that their very presence within the club, and the increasingly close relationship that these characters have constitutes a form of friendship. Rika and Kodaka are clearly conscious of their current situation; although in Kodaka’s case we get the impression that he remains oblivious to everyone around him. Haganai also helps to present the notion of judging a book by its cover in relation to its central characters, particularly Kodaka and Sena. In the most recent episode for example we learn more about how Sena is viewed by the rest of the student population through the ranting of Yusa Aoi. Read more of this post

Maoyuu Maou Yuusha 08 – The Coming Storm


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As with all things, regardless of how successful you may have been in helping others change their way of life, and even helping in the creation of new trade routes, if this course of action threatens the Hegemony of society then they will inevitably be cast out and labeled as a traitor or a heretic. In the case of Maoyuu Maou Yuusha, this was an obvious conclusion to the work that Maou had been doing in creating localized economies and an independence from centralized government. In Maoyuu Maou Yuusha, demons and by extension the Maou are easy scapegoats that humanity uses to blame for all of their problems rather than take responsibility. But in doing so, various rulers and other nobles are able to prosper from the war and reduce the possibility of popular uprisings due to commonly held beliefs about the nature of demons and what they have done to this world. The constant presence of the demon world, and the ever-present threat of invasion (at least according to central nation and the church) helps to maintain a delicate power balance within the human world. Maou and her new methods of farming, along with the new crop and her increasing power within the Economic Alliance of Free Merchants and Southern Independent Cities (at least in terms of trade) is a clear threat to this power balance. Her very existence, coupled with the miraculous work that she has achieved in Winter Kingdom, including the retaking of Bright Island turns her into a figure that central nation and the church fear. Read more of this post

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai NEXT – A question of friendship


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As most people may know, friendship is hardly an exact science; we can’t always choose who our friends are, or even work out exactly why we became friends in the first place. Friendships, while important are also a curious aspect of human interaction and can create lasting relationships, or simply be a brief period in our lives, but one that is no less important than longer lasting friendships or relationships. The central aspect of Haganai is that of building or creating friendships in a highly artificial, and often rather bizarre way. This series brings up some rather fascinating points about friendship and closer relationships in general, and particularly in the context of anime. The majority of high school anime involve a close group of friends, and for the most part we don’t really know why or how they became friends, just that they are, and this is the group that the series will be focussing on. Generally speaking these groups are far from being particularly well known or popular, although they are at least acknowledged in their classes. What we see in Haganai however is the complete opposite; instead of an already formed group of friends we are introduced to a number of different character who for various reasons lack any real human interaction or a deeper friendship with those around them. Read more of this post

Maoyuu Maou Yuusha 07 – Changing the course of history


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The story of Maoyuu Maou Yuusha is more of a retelling of western civilisation than anything else, with the characters of Maou and Yuusha acting as the key figures in the creation of many important, and even essential inventions. Maou is the enlightened one with knowledge that no one else possesses, and an ability to look at what humanity needs in order to survive and create a sustainable society and economy. At the same time, her wish to stop the war is highly idealistic, and arguably futile given humanities propensity towards destruction, conflict and greed. Her wish to stop the war isn’t wrong, because as we have already seen throughout the series so far, this particular war, one without end or even beginning has caused hardship and strife throughout the human and demon realms. But her goal is almost too grand to ever be fully achieved, and yet, to even wish for, and strive towards such a goal will bring about the necessary changes to help stop, or at least slow down the circle of violence between demons and humans.

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Maoyuu Maou Yuusha 06 – The Curse of the Strong


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The reasons for war are never really clear, partly because there are numerous reasons for a country or nation to go to war, and these reasons largely depend on the time, place and society. Also, even when war is declared it is important to note that different social and political groups may support or advocate for war for numerous different, and often contradictory reasons. Then of course we have the tricky area between the public perception of war, with state propaganda and the real reasons that a state or nations leaders will choose war over other courses of action. If we look at wars during the Middle Ages and beyond they happened for a number of reasons (at least according to historical documents, that are in many cases highly biased and must be taken with a grain of salt, even if the grain is pretty big) ranging from religious to economic. The crusades for example happened not just because of religious beliefs, but because of economic and social issues in Europe, with the crusades themselves acting as a means with which European rulers deflected attention from their countries problems by focussing on the apparent need to destroy ‘infidels’ in the Holy Land. While the conflict, at least in historical records is framed in terms of the religious significance of Jerusalem and other neighbouring territories, there are also elements of the states involved responding to political and social movements within their own countries, and the church itself. Read more of this post

Tamako Market – Looking at the world through the eyes of a talking bird


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Tamako Market is a fascinating series largely because of how normal it is, with the characters going about their daily lives without having to contend with demons, magic or giant mutated monsters or aliens from outer space. The very presence of Dela Mochimazzi is also rather curious because of how normal a talking bird is in the context of this series; far from being weird or out of place he has quickly become just another character in the Market. The normal world that we see in this series is however a highly romanticised one; we never see any crime, violence or social disharmony; instead everyone goes about their businesses and generally remains happy. In many respects Tamako isnt necessarily the main character of the series, rather the community of shop and business owners in Tamako Market make up the single most important character, or more accurately existence within the series. Tamako and her friends are a part of this community of traders and we are given a glimpse into their lives through her families business and everything that revolves around it. Read more of this post

Maoyuu Maou Yuusha 05 – Living in another world


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As Maoyuu Maou Yuusha has progressed it has become increasingly clear that while the war between the demon and human worlds helps to maintain the balance of power, it is also a cause of many hardships and strife. Numerous kingdoms and groups are all attempting to make as much from this war as possible, with the conflict used as justification for their policies and attitudes. We have already seen the naked ambition of Seinen Shounin with regards to the knowledge, and by extension power that Maou possess, however, now we are seeing the ambitions of Economic Alliance of Free Merchants and Southern Independent Cities and their wish to control trade routes on land and at sea. But, to do so they need to retake Bright Island from the demons that hold it, and true to form they are also helping to supply various armies and fleets in order to bring their dream of a fast trade route to fruition. The Alliance aren’t the only ones who benefit from this war however, with other countries and nations maintaining a strong military and political presence due to their role in providing arms and men for the war effort. They are however away from the fighting and arguably exist in another world where they can sit back and see what happens rather than take part in any form of fighting directly. Read more of this post