Twelve Days of Anime – The True Face of Theme Park Mascots


I have to say that I didn’t really know a lot about Amagi Brilliant Park at first, only that it was adapted from a light novel series by Shoji Gatoh, and Kyoto Animation were producing it. As a series I was pleasantly surprised by the madness that unfolded before my eyes as we were introduced to a whole host of unique and memorable characters. But, it was the mascots that really stole the show with their mischievous, and hilarious behaviour. Read more of this post

Twelve Days of Anime – Bakumatsu Rock and the Creativity in Anime


One of the main draws of anime for me has been its almost limitless creativity. The number of anime series with little inventive moments, or an entirely different concept is both fascinating and wonderful to behold, and even when the central premise of a series may be tried and true, there are usually little flourishes of inventiveness on top. This year had one such series, Bakumatsu Rock – on the surface it’s a fairly standard story of an up and coming group attempting to take down the kings of pop in a battle of the bandsesque story. However, the entire series is set during the Bakumatsu, a name given to the final years of the Shogunate, when the Shinsengumi were in charge of defending Kyoto, and various anti-Shogunate elements were attempting to reinstall the Emperor as head of the state (even if this had never actually happened in the past). Read more of this post

Twelve Days of anime – Dandy gets stuck in limbo

Space Dandy Limbo

Space Dandy was many things; it was a series of one off episodes showcasing some of the most creative storytelling and animation within the anime industry, whilst also presenting the audience with the ongoing adventures of Space Dandy, the dandiest guy in space. It was also a series that I have mixed emotions about, sometimes amazing me, other times sending me to sleep, owing in a large part to the numerous different guest directors and writers involved with the project. In a very real way the sheer number of people working on Space Dandy and the creativity that they brought to the project was its greatest strength, and greatest weakness. Read more of this post

Twelve Days of Anime – The Brilliance of Girls und Panzer


Girls und Panzer was one of those series that I initially looked at as something silly, which I might enjoy in an ironic fashion. However, it quickly became one of my favourite anime of that year, and is now one of my favourite anime ever made. There is an intangible quality to this series, one set in a universe that seems utterly ludicrous at first, and yet works so well it is hard to find any real faults with it. By positioning the operation of tanks, and engaging in tank warfare as something only done by women the series is able to overturn particular attitudes and assumptions regarding tanks, and warfare. For a significant period of our history warfare has arguably been the domain of men, not because they were superior, but because that is what society proscribed. Tank warfare is similarly portrayed as inherently masculine – we just have to look at WWII films that involve tanks (Kelly’s Hero’s, Battle of the Bulge, and so on) to see lots of gruff men driving tanks and blowing each other up. While the realities of war have always been different from those portrayed in popular culture – men, women, and children are all affected, and take part in war in different ways – it is the popular perception of warfare, and particularly tanks that has remained within the public consciousness. Read more of this post

Twelve Days of Anime – When Good Ideas are Squandered

Zankyou no Terror 2

Zankyou no Terror, an anime that could have been brilliant, one that explored particularly fascinating elements of Japanese culture and society, such as Japanese relationship with nuclear power, youth rebellion and dissatisfaction with the political oligarchs, and the realities of broken and dysfunctional families in a society that attempts to maintain a vision of social hegemony. All of these themes have been explored before in one form or another, sometimes producing fascinating stories, other times being merely interesting. But, Zankyou no Terror did none of this, and instead of focusing on these potentially fascinating subjects, the series simply becomes a standard thriller with terrorists attempting to blow up buildings, and then suddenly stop the American government who wants to blame them for other atrocities. Zankyou no Terror is a failure, and a spectacular one at that, but, unlike Guilty Crown, or Valvrave, it did not go off the rails gibbering and cackling into the gorge of madness and stupidity, inhabited by the likes of Code Geass R2. No, Zankyou no Terror did something far worse, it did nothing, and squandered the themes and character relationships introduced early on, either forgetting they ever existed, or ignoring them. Read more of this post

Twelve Days of Anime – Garo-Papa

Garo 1

Garo has been one of those series that snuck up on me, something that I knew almost nothing about and has surprised me at every turn. The story is interesting; with well thought out characters, and a nice art style. But one character stands out from the crowd, Herman ‘Roberto’ Lewis, aka, Garo-Papa. One of the main reasons that Leon as a character works is because the series has Roberto as a foil for his angst and anguish. It’s great watching his character switch from comedic womaniser to serious warrior in an instant, only to switch right back when he sees a beautiful woman walk past. This contrast between the silly and the serious helps to make his character great fun to watch, whilst also breaking up the more serious elements regarding horrors, Leon, and Mendoza. If anything I feel that I would certainly not be enjoying Garo as much as I am without the presence of Roberto. Read more of this post

Twelve Days of Anime – Kill la Kill, an Enjoyable but Forgettable Experience

Kill la Kill 3

Whenever someone mentions Kill la Kill people seem to go into trances, explaining the brilliance of hand drawn animation, the wonders of Mako and her eccentricities, and eulogising about the brilliance of studio Trigger and the geniuses behind it. The only other series I seem to see as much hype surrounding have been those from Type-Moon, and perhaps a couple of Shaft anime. As for me, I found it an enjoyable, but entirely forgettable experience, and one that left very little impression on me. During the winter season I explained that Kill la Kill was a series that I enjoyed watching, but never really found anything remarkable about either the story of characters. It was a series that took the madness of vintage Gainax anime, turned everything up to eleven in true Spinal Tap fashion, and threw what was created at the audience, hoping that something would stick. Unfortunately for me, nothing about the series ever made me look at it and think that it was a truly wonderful, memorable anime, one that may become a classic with engaging characters and enjoyable story. Even now my thoughts remain the same, even more so as until recently I had completely forgotten that the series even existed. Read more of this post

Twelve Days of Anime – Kamigami Transformations

Fairly self explanatory really, I mean, just look at them?

Twelve Days of Anime – Old Man Jojo

I am not the biggest fan of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures, while I enjoy the manga; there was something about the anime that just didn’t quite click with me, regardless of how much fun it could be to watch. But then Stardust Crusaders came along with what has to be one of the most boring characters I’ve seen in anime in a while. Many of the elements introuduced in Stardust Crusaders such as Stands helped to add more depth to the characters and story. But, Joutaro helped to spoil some of that fun – he is a boring character who spends more time sulking than doing anything particularly useful.

Joseph Joestar

Joseph Joestar on the other hand stole the show from Joutaro, adding a mix of the absurd and ridiculous to the fairly normal, if a little silly Jojo antics. Without Joseph I wouldn’t have got as far as I did with Stardust Crusaders, he is the true Jojo star and Joutaro should’ve been kept in prison for the whole series.

Twelve Days of Anime – Hozuki no Reitetsu

Who knew that hell was actually a fully functioning Japanese company, complete with ineffectual boss, and senior management that keeps everything running? Hozuki no Reitetsu was both fascinating, but infuriating to write about, I attempted on a couple of occasions, but those posts remain unfinished in a folder on my computer.

Hozuki no Reitetsu

What is so fascinating about Hoozuki no Reitetsu is how well it presents hell as merely a series of districts to be watched over with proper administration and the correct understanding of paperwork. With seven divisions and 272 subdivisions we are left with the impression that while terrible tortures happen throughout, the whole thing would collapse without a clever mind at work, making sure the right sort of people are hired to ease a particular departments short fall in staff and production. Hell is basically a government department, with the Great King Yama as more of a harassed manger with too much work than a deity with the power to destroy all who oppose him. This is particularly important because in Buddhist mythology, Yama is a dharmapala (wrathful god) said to judge the dead and preside over Narakas (‘hells’, or ‘purgatories’ and the cycle of birth. Hoozuki would be the judge who accompanies Yama (or in this case Enma as he is known in Japan) who carries a brush and book listing every soul and the allotted death date for every life.

What Hoozuki no Reitetsu does so brilliantly is turn this aspect of the mythology surrounding these characters into the workings of a government institution, with Yama as a harassed manager and Hoozuki as the conscientious and above all efficient bureaucrat. His dismissal of Shangri-la for example suggests that far from paradise, it is merely another department that doesn’t want to deal with its own problems and constantly tries to push them onto someone else. Shangri-la is another simply more paperwork for Hoozuki, with other issues down the line, and probably an awful lot of complaining and insisting that he deal with their problems. Indeed, as we follow Hoozuki you get the impression that he gets more annoyed when characters like Momotaro – the character from an Edo period story – give him more work to do when he is already trying to deal with a staff short fall, and problems with various divisions budgets. He even uses the encounter to solve the staff short fall, although appears to be annoyed that an iron maiden was installed without first consulting him about the cost and whether their budget can allow it.


Hozuki no Reitetsu’s humour is both dry and dark, the characters are entertaining in their own special way, and the opening was also fun to watch.