pluvia33's Blog

January 14th, 2017
So every year MAL does Anime/Manga Challenges, a way to encourage people to watch more and different kinds of anime by providing a number of specific criteria to fill in with different items. I've been interested in trying this before but never took the plunge until now!

So I have signed up, and at the largest level to boot! I don't know if I might be overestimating my ability to watch a ton of anime, but we'll see if I'll be able to complete all 49 anime. I even made myself my own Participant banner, since I didn't like any of the banners they had well enough to use (also includes a link to my sign-up post):

So this year they added this BINGO card thing which adds a random aspect to the challenge which is kind of cool, but my sign-up post can be a little rough to read, especially since they want you to keep the list in the order that each item is listed on the BINGO card you get. But I have already chosen everything that I'll be using to fit all of my criteria, so the questions don't really matter much at this point. So to chronicle my progress I'll just list all of the anime that I'll be watching in alphabetical order. Each post I make, I will say a bit about each anime that I either finished or am currently watching. Once I have Completed a show, it will be removed from the list for future posts so eventually there will only be a few items remaining (make sense?). So here are all of the anime that I'm watching for the challenge this year:

-30-sai no Hoken Taiiku
-Arcade Gamer Fubuki
-Boku dake ga Inai Machi (ERASED)
-Boku no Hero Academia (My Hero Academia)
-Bungou Stray Dogs
-Carnival Phantasm
-Cheating Craft
-Date A Live
-Death Parade
-Dwaejiui Wang (The King of the Pigs)
-Flip Flappers

-Gabriel DropOut - Watching:
This is one of only two currently airing shows that I am watching as part of the challenge. I've only watched the first episode so far because that's all that's out, but I'm really liking it so far! I especially like Raphiel; she's such a mean bitch, but she is hilarious in the process! And the "torment" that she causes (at least in the first episode) is really pretty harmless. All of the main cast is pretty amusing. A pretty nice surprise!

-Gakkougurashi! (School-Live!)
-Gi(a)rlish Number
-Hana to Alice: Satsujin Jiken (The Case of Hana & Alice)
-Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita (Humanity Has Declined)
-Kekkai Sensen (Blood Blockade Battlefront)
-Kimi ga Nozomu Eien
-Kizumonogatari I: Tekketsu-hen
-Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! (KonoSuba)
-Kubikiri Cycle: Aoiro Savant to Zaregototsukai

-Kumo to Tulip (The Spider and the Tulip) - Completed:
So this was an anime actually picked from someone else's list (challenge item #60). To make it simple, I used the first person who signed up. This was one of the only items that was finished on that list and since my BINGO sheet didn't pop the "began airing between 1917 and 1959" item, I thought it'd be interesting to see this vintage anime. It was pretty cool. I didn't quite enjoy it as much as Kobutori, but it was close. It's always interesting to see really old anime. You can watch it yourself here.

-Little Witch Academia - Watching: The other currently airing anime that I'm watching. LOVED the first episode! It was pretty much like another one of the short films. I really hope they're able to keep up the energy and quality. Really looking forward to watching this week-to-week. Kind of sucks that I have to watch fansubs of this though since Netflix has the rights to it and they probably won't put it up until after the series is finished.

-Love Live! School Idol Project
-Natsume Yuujinchou (Natsume's Book of Friends)
-New Game!
-No Game No Life
-Oshiete! Galko-chan (Please tell me! Galko-chan)
-Prison School
-Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu

-Sakamoto desu ga? (Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto) - Completed:
The first full-length TV series I finished for the challenge! It's a fun, silly comedy so it was pretty easy to marathon over two days. I usually had at least one good laugh every episode. All of the characters were really likable other than the only real villainous guy (and it's not his job to be likable). Good stuff!

-Sakura Trick
-Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis (Rage of Bahamut: Genesis)

-Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu - Watching:
So this is a show that some people have called one of the best anime of the year, if not THE best. After watching the initial double-length episode, I can see why. It's cleanly animated and has an interesting story presenting a very interesting art form (rakugo). Although I'm really looking forward to watching more, I'm not sure if I'll be able to marathon this show. It's not a light comedy at all (though there are some funny parts). I'll see how deep I can get into it for the rest of the long weekend, but I really doubt that it will be the next thing that I finish.

-Uchuu Patrol Luluco (Space Patrol Luluco)
-Watashi ga Motete Dousunda (Kiss Him, Not Me!)
-Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru. (My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU)
-Yuri!!! on Ice
-Zero no Tsukaima F

So that's it for now! Looking back, I'm a little sad that I didn't try to fit in more shows for the current season as there are three others that I'm really interested in watching and I don't think I'll be able to watch much more other than stuff for the challenge this year. But hey, if I actually finish this challenge I'll have watched a lot more anime than I did in 2016! I put a bigger priority on finishing stuff that I'd had stuck on my Watching and On-Hold lists for a while. It's not encouraged, but it is an option to watch an anime that you had previously watched part or all of, as long as you go back and watch it all from the beginning in 2017. I'm not doing that with too many entries though, just: Another, My Hero Academia, Humanity Has Declined, Kaiba, Karas, Potemayo, Re:Zero, and Trigun; so 8 shows. Most of these I had either only watched one episode of and/or it has been YEARS since I'd seen any of it. Trigun I'd actually only ever seen one episode of it, on TV, dubbed, and I'd seen that particulate episode three times and it wasn't even the first episode. I've felt a little bit of a hit to my otaku cred for having never watched more of the series so I'll be taking this chance to fix that.

And with that, I'll be saying good night. I don't know how often I'll be doing posts to update my progress; maybe at least once every two weeks? We'll see. Until next time, laters!
Posted by pluvia33 | Jan 14, 11:21 PM | 0 comments
January 6th, 2017
So I haven't been writing very regularly lately, but Happy New Year! Although 2016 has been a crazy year (both in the overall world and on a personal level), I am rather optimistic about 2017, at least in my personal life. A big part of that is my wife and I both starting new jobs soon which both pay significantly more than our current jobs and will hopefully be much less stressful as well. Yay!

However, first and foremost this is a blog that's primarily meant for my ramblings about anime. To inspire discussion in today's post for the end of 2016, I'll be doing Article Commentary on this:

Top 20 Best Anime of 2016

Now, before I begin, I do want to mention that I'm a little unprepared for this topic as I'd only watched about 15 things from this year and of those only 7 are TV anime that I've actually finished watching to date. Yeah, it's been a bit of a rough year for scheduling anime viewing time (damn adulting). But whatever, I'll still talk about this article and the year as a whole.

So these types of articles are relatively simple, usually boiling down to doing a search of a specific type of anime (2016 TV anime in this case), sorting them by Score, and talking about them. There's not really much to say about the format and writing in general; it's fine and serves the purpose of this type of article.

However, the most striking thing about this list is something that's a bit of a general "problem" with average scores on MAL: Franchise Bias. Basically, if a show is a second season/prequel/spin-off of an established franchise, a large percentage of the people who are likely to watch it already love the previous work(s) and those who hated previous entries in the franchise are likely to skip it all together, causing slightly inflated scores for items from established franchises (assuming the new entry mostly stays on par with its predecessor).

This Top 20 list includes 12 entries which are sequels or prequels of previous shows. Such shows also make up the entire top 4 series. With this in mind, I'd like to cut out all of the franchise entries and show the top 20 NEW anime of 2016:

20. Orange
19. Ajin
18. Poco's Udon World
17. New Game!
16. Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash
15. Flip Flappers
14. 91 Days
13. Alderamin on the Sky
12. March comes in like a lion
11. KonoSuba: God's Blessing on This Wonderful World!
10. Drifters
9. Tanaka-kun is Always Listless
7. My Hero Academia
6. Mob Psycho 100
5. Saiki Kusuo no Ψ-nan
4. Yuri!!! On ICE
3. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu
2. Re:ZERO

Personally, I see this as a much more interesting list. Also, I consider it to be much more useful as a "what should I watch?" tool. For one, it doesn't have the Franchise Bias factor which can inflate scores, and two, if you had already seen the old seasons (such as me already being a Durarara!! fan and currently being about half way through the first season Assassination Classroom) you already have an idea of if you would want to watch the next entries in the franchise. It's also interesting to note that this shows more evidence for the existence of the Franchise Bias as the first seasons of both Ajin and Bungou Stray Dogs also aired in 2016. The first season of Ajin barely made it on the "New Anime" list at 19 while the second season was right behind ReLIFE on the article's list. And the first season of Bungou Stray Dogs would have been #21 if I went that far on the New list while the second season beat out My Hero Academia. Also, the second seasons of both shows have less than half as many non-PTW members attached to them, showing the drop-off from season one to season two.

As far as my personal year in anime, as I already said, I haven't watched as much as I should have. I have watched a bit from previous years, such as getting mostly caught up on the Monogatari Series, chronologically by release date making it all the way through Owarimonogatari after starting the year not even half way through Nisemonogatari. Yay progress! I still have a lot to work though with over 100 items between my Watching and On-Hold lists, especially when I want to also watch new stuff at the same time. Too much anime, too little time.

I've also been trying to get back into reading more manga this year, as mentioned in my first blog post of 2016. From that list, I've now finished:

-Anne Freaks
-Kabu no Isaki
-Soul Eater

With Berserk, I'm fully caught up and the series is currently on hiatus. -_-

With Kimi ni Todoke, I recently bought the 24th and 25th English volumes and have read them both, so I'm fully caught up with the official English release. Japan has two more volumes in print right now, the 26th of which will be out in English in March. Again, I really, really hope it ends soon so it doesn't drag on too long, but it still has me interested as my favorite shoujo series!

I am currently reading Nodame Cantabile, having recently finished volume 20. Just five more to go!

I haven't touched any of the other series since my post, but I'll probably be picking one of them to start back up after I finish Nodame. I've gotten into a few other things over the year, but in the interest of not dragging this on for too crazy long, I'll stop there. I'll just say that I'm glad to at least be reading manga pretty regularly during my lunch breaks if nothing else. Hopefully I'll get much more read this year!

The last thing I'll talk about for 2016 is that I've recently been getting into watching YouTube people more. On the anime side of things, I've taken a liking to a relatively new channel called Mother's Basement which will be active for two years this May. His main shtick is doing in-depth analysis videos on anime openings. I wasn't really interested by this at first, but they're actually pretty interesting and I like his style of speech. He also does other videos like anime season/year reviews which are nice to get a good grip of anything you might have missed. I really enjoy watching his stuff and look forward to watching more. Although, since he talks about stuff in great detail, it does make me want to watch more recent anime before I watch videos he's done about their openings and such. I guess that's kind of a good thing, but I do still have my backlog to tackle.

Well, this is probably a bit of a disjointed entry, but it's been a while and I had a lot to talk about, with a lot of things that I'd wanted to talk about not even getting mentioned. Oh well. I wanted to at least get a new entry out there. Hopefully I'll start writing more regularly again from now on. Until then, laters!
Posted by pluvia33 | Jan 6, 11:14 AM | 0 comments
October 27th, 2016
Anime Relations: Shuumatsu no Izetta
So it's been a while (2 and a half months) since I've done a blog entry. I've had an idea for a post, but haven't fully fleshed it out yet. But I figured I should give kind of a general updated, mainly talking about a piece of disappointing news.

As the title mentions, the main focus of this post is concerning the end of the Magic Kaito's Blog Patrol club here on MAL which I mentioned a little while back.

Yes, sadly the club is gone. It hasn't just gone inactive like many other clubs do on MAL; the club seems to have been deleted or been restricted to private access or something. It's no longer listed in My Clubs and when I try to get to it from the link in my old post linked above, it gives me an error that it's "No longer active" and "This club restricts public user access." I have no idea why the creator(s) of the club would decide to kill the club instead of just letting it live and see if other people might want to take over admin/mod duties for the Club.

But it seems that the guy who created the club is a bit flaky and makes quick decisions on a whim. He seems really cool and I became friends with him, but yeah. I was doing a lot of commenting back and forth with him on our profiles and that was fun, but then he ended up closing down comments on his profile because he was doing that with a LOT of different people and it was becoming too much for him. Well, just slow down, dude. You didn't have to kill your comments! Then I began messaging him back and forth on MAL a bit instead, but then one day when I was going to respond to one of his messages after a bit of a delay, I got an error back saying that he no longer accepts private messages. Like, what? After the blog club disappeared, I checked his profile and he now has a message on his page stating:

Offline due to living my dreams finally. Thank you to everyone who has supported me and provided excellent input through these past few months of hard work and training : ). Friends truly make the difference through it all. Much love!

In addition to having this (to me) cryptic message, having comments turned off, not accepting private messages, and killing his club, he has also made his entire blog private. And this was a guy that was making blog posts almost every single day, many times multiple a day, with well over 100 posts total. Really, I'm very confused by all this. With all this, why does he even keep the friends on his profile? Why not just unfriend everyone if there is no way to communicate with him anymore? He sounds all appreciative of all of his friends and their support and such, but is he really? He honestly just comes off as flaky/fake/inconsiderate/etc.

Now, I shouldn't really badmouth the guy. He really is a pretty nice dude and it'd be pretty difficult to message all of his friends (131 of them) plus all of the people from the club to make sure everyone knows what's going on with him and the club. But still, I can excuse everything except killing the club. What he wants to do with his own profile and permissions on MAL is his own business. But even though he may have started the Blog Patrol, just killing it after getting hundreds of people to join is pretty messed up. I don't know. I have been kind of in-and-out with the club so maybe he posted a thread about deactivating it and maybe he even solicited for replacement admins/mods. Maybe I'm being a complete dick about this. But from my perspective, I'm really disappointed.

I'm especially disappointed because what's the way forward? Pretty much nothing. After I noticed the Blog Patrol was gone, I searched for similar clubs on MAL. There's pretty much nothing comparable to the Blog Patrol. There's the Anime Bloggers Union, but even though it still has 199 members, it is rather inactive and it seems to have a bigger focus on blogs done on other sites (such as Wordpress) instead of blogs actually done on MAL. And yes, blogs still kind of sucks/aren't supported on MAL, but the basics of the blog system is functional and it's nice to blog directly on here since this is the main anime website that I use (aside from ANN for most of my news and their columns).

So yeah, Magic Kaito's Blog Patrol was really a breath of fresh air and very helpful in filling in need of blog promotion on MAL since the website itself sucks at it. I'm really sad to see it go and hope that it may pop back up again someday. Until then, I guess I'll just be talking to next to no one.... -_-

Anyway, a quick general update, I've been playing a lot of Neverwinter on PS4 these past couple of months (probably part of the reason that I haven't been blogging much) and have otherwise been feeling kind of lethargic. As a result, I haven't been keeping up with anime much. Hopefully I'll be getting back into the flow, finish the shows I started from last season, and check out more stuff from the new season. So far I've only check out Izetta: The Last Witch and of that only the first episode. There are a bunch of other shows that I have my eye on, but so much anime and gaming, so little time....
Posted by pluvia33 | Oct 27, 2016 11:42 AM | 0 comments
August 11th, 2016
Anime Relations: Koutetsujou no Kabaneri
***Spoiler Warning***

So this will probably be a relatively short "Article Commentary" post. So I saw this pop up on my Panel's Featured Articles feed today:

Why Did People Hate the Second Half of Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress?

First, I'd like to say that I have actually never watched a single episode of Attack on Titan and at this point I don't know if I ever will. The art style and the concept doesn't appeal to me and it seems like it is heavier on military themes than I typically prefer. Also, at this point I've missed the initial buzz of the series, so it doesn't really matter so much anymore that I can't relate to it when friends talk about the show since the hype has calmed down.

So, to the point, the fact that many of the same people from the Attack on Titan production team also created the original Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress anime had no influence on my enjoyment or disappointment in the series. Actually, this fact made me a little hesitant to watch the series at all since AoT has been such a turnoff for me. But alas, I ended up checking it out, mainly because it was the only new anime on Amazon Prime and just about the only anime on there I could find at all which seemed decent and I hadn't already seen. So yeah, I was mainly just trying to get some use out of my Prime subscription since I haven't been able to buy much from Amazon lately.

So, more to the point, the article talks about why people seemed to hate the second half of Kabaneri and I have to mostly agree with the writer here. The first half was a pretty fun, stylish twist on the zombie genre, with some relatively interesting characters. However, when Biba entered the picture, things really went downhill fast. Now, he's not my most hated character in anime history (that would probably go to Light from Death Note), but he is pretty stupid and annoying.

But really, for me, it wasn't so much the very end that really bothered me; it was around the middle point when Biba and the rest of the cast started traveling together. That part really started to drag and really annoyed me. It was kind of rough to push through, but I wasn't really watching much else at the time, so whatever. I actually thought the final climax of the series was pretty entertaining. I mean, yeah, the way they got to that point where the rescue needed to happen was kind of dumb and it was a pretty generic "damsel in distress" situation, but I still felt that the last couple episodes brought back some of the excitement of earlier episodes.

In the end, I ended up giving the anime an 8 score. Now that's not an absolutely fantastic score from me, like, OMG MUST BUY!!, but it's better than just "pretty good" as well. I felt that it did well riding its style and the good characters in the series, while they still had some good character to them. Really, the only major problem I had with the very end of the series was when they tried to redeem Biba as some kind of tragic villain figure in conjunction with the cop-out saving of the main character. It seemed really forced and Biba didn't deserve to be any kind of savior. If they wanted to make sure Ikoma lived in the end, I really wish they would have found another way. But I guess it's like the article says: "The show was so clearly in love with [Biba] that you grew to resent his presence."

The writer of the article also mentions the suspicion that a second season may be coming. I have to agree in saying that I'd be very interested in watching it, hoping that they don't pull another Biba.
Posted by pluvia33 | Aug 11, 2016 7:05 AM | 0 comments
July 28th, 2016
Since I've started paying attention to articles on MAL, I've found articles that annoyed me and I've found articles that were really interesting. There are also a bunch of articles that fall somewhere in between. Some are just 'meh' while others are actually pretty amusing 'dumb fun'. This article falls closer into the 'good dumb fun' category:

Achievement Unlocked: Greatest Personal Anime Achievements

So I'm a bit of a Trophy whore on PS3/PS4, so the concept of "Achievements" is something kind of close to my heart. While many of these Achievements were amusing, most of them kind of seemed a little dumb to me. In ways, some were really subjective while some directly contradicted others which isn't really in the proper spirit of an Achievement list (if you can't get 100%, what's the point?!). But anyway, again, they were mostly amusing and this is an article I've categorized as 'dumb fun' so I'll try not to take them too seriously (but no promises!)....

No Drop Policy: Oh dear god!! I'm sorry, but no no no nonono!! On my list, I currently have 199 anime dropped (and also 112 manga if we lump that in these Achievements, too). There is no friggin' why I'm going to go back and watch all that stuff that I didn't feel was worth my time, ESPECIALLY when there are things like Naruto: Shippuden which I'd have over 400 episodes to catch up on, and oh god! Over 1,700 episodes of Doraemon?! NOPE!! Not happening!

Perfect 10 Only: So this one is kind of twisted and a direct contradiction to the previous Achievement. Now, I've seen people who rate everything as a 10, but I think they just do it because, "Someone worked hard on it! They deserve a 10 no matter what!" not really because they actually truly feel every entry on their list is a perfect masterpiece in their eyes. The actual concept behind this entry is that you only watch things that you think are truly great and drop everything else! Eh, don't really seem all that realistic. I mean, what if they're watching a movie or one-shot OVA or something? Do they just stop it half way and be like, "Nope! This isn't perfect!!" Just kind of weird, but whatever. =P

Going in Blind: This one is extremely un-measurable for an Achievement. The concept is that you don't pay attention to reviews and recommendations and trailers and descriptions and stuff and just dive into shows as blindly as possible. Not only is this Achievement near impossible to measure other than from your own perspective, it is also rather irresponsible if you're trying to be a Perfect 10 Only person and would make some of the other "Achievements" extremely difficult as well. Meh!

Nostalgia Addict: Hey! An Achievement that I can get behind and one that is very measurable! Watch your favorite anime three or more. Yep! I've watched the original 2006 episodes of Haruhi 6 times, apparently! ^_^

Up to Date: Welp, I really don't typically watching extremely long-running shows (I'm really glad that they seem to be getting away from that practice with more recent shounen anime). However, I was actually current and watching Bleach week-to-week when the anime ended! So yeah, that'd count for something, right? I suppose this is a decent Achievement, but do you only "have" it while you are up-to-date? Can you "lose" it if you fall behind or if the show ends?

For Love of the Plot: EXTREMELY subjective Achievement here; seems kind of more like a joke than anything else. You can SAY you watch any anime for the plot, but that isn't really something that can be judged objectively by others in any way other than taking your word for it.

Genre Addict: This one can be a decent Achievement if it had more specific stipulations. Maybe something like "80% of the entries on your list share a single genre." Although that can be kind of easy with some genres since MAL tends to be kind of liberal with some genre labels. It's also kind of rewarding close-mindedness. I'd definitely never fit into this category.

Recommendation Guru: This is closer to a category that I can fit into, but this is also one that'd be really hard to measure for an Achievement. Although I'm not crazy active in the forums, I have chimed in a few times to recommend things to people looking for something specific. I also have a number of things that tend to be go-to recommendations, the most common being: Do you like Hollywood action movies? BLACK LAGOON!!!

Expert Binger: I can totally binge an anime when I like it; even when I don't like it sometimes! My most notable binge has to be watching all of School Days on Valentine's Day 2010. Yeah, it's only 12 episodes, but man was that rough.

Karaoke Master: When I used to watch most of my stuff on DVD, I'd normally skip the OP and ED sequence most of the time unless it was a song I REALLY liked. These days, watching most of my anime via Crunchyroll or downloaded copies, I usually don't bother skipping them anymore unless I'm watching multiple episodes of something with other people and don't want to bore them. Besides, sometimes shows these days actually have important things after the ending credits! I used to also listen to a lot of anime music back in the day, but I don't find as many songs that I absolutely love anymore.

Seiyuu Recognition: I can get really good at this. As mentioned in the article, I was getting pretty good at recognizing Yui Horie, and Yuu Asakawa was an old favorite of mine that I could always pick out. These days, Rie Kugimiya and Tomokazu Sugita are pretty much unmistakable to me, though it helps that they voiced my two most favorite anime characters. But again, kind of hard to measure this as an "Achievement" other than in your own head.

Well-versed in the Classics: Like the "Genre Addict" entry, this one is kind of close minded and it'd also be extremely difficult to maintain if you are still an active anime fan. Sure, you can have a TON of older anime on your list, but to have the MAJORITY of it made up of pre-2000 anime when there is so so much anime being produced these days? You'd have to ignore a lot of stuff to pull that off. Also, the statement of, "Before all anime became fan service in one way or another, there were good anime," kind of rubs me the wrong way. Really? Do you know how common sex was in older anime? Almost everything had a shower scene at some point or another. Even the screenshot for this entry is Ghost in the Shell which included a decent amount of gratuitous nudity. Most of the OVA stuff in the 1980s and 1990s was pointless action/gore porn that seemed required to have boobs in there at some time or another. Now, I'm not saying that everything from that time period was crap or that even when there was nudity that something couldn't also be a great piece of art. What I'm saying is that ALL ANIME EVER MADE was "fan service in one way or another." I mean, what the hell kind of statement is that anyway? Yes, every piece of art and entertainment in general is service to fans in one way or another, even if the only person it is serving is the person who created it or commissioned its creation. Ahhh, sorry to get hung up on that. It just really bothered me, even though the statement was likely mostly being sarcastic. Anyway, rant over. =P

Endless Patience: Haha! Yep, I have this one. Although, I actually checked and my list tells me that I've only rewatched the 2009 Haruhi episodes once. I could have sworn I've watched them at least three times. I really need to watch the series again, and yes, including all 8 Endless Eight episodes. ^_^

One List to Rule Them All: This one is almost as bad as the "No Drop Policy" entry, but not really. There are half as many one my "Plan to Watch" list as I have on my "Dropped" list, and this is all stuff that I'd actually want to watch some day. Also, I have tried to restrain myself from adding too many things to my "Plan to Watch" list these days. Maybe someday I'll get through it. ^_^

No Anime No Life: Ahhh, current status: 680/1,000.... Not too far off. If I finish everything in my "Watching" and "On Hold" sections, I'd only be about 200 away. Someday! And hey! A completely measureable Achievement!! Way to end the article strong!!

So there you have it. While there were some rough spots in the article, I was mostly amused and it was a nice little diversion. Until next time!
Posted by pluvia33 | Jul 28, 2016 8:52 AM | 0 comments
July 11th, 2016
In this entry I'll be talking about an article which was just posted today:

Subs vs. Dubs: Is Anime In English Really That Bad?

Yes, the old Sub vs. Dub debate. People still love talking about it. Now I do touch on the subject of my personal preference in the "My Anime History" section of my MAL profile page, but I've never really elaborated on it. With this article coming out, I figured it'd be a good time to do so. For ease of reading, this is all that I mention about the subject on my profile:

I used to primarily watch anime dubbed and only watch things subbed on occasion. Boogiepop Phantom was the first series that I loved much more with subtitles. Then after watching the Love Hina anime I hated the dub so much that I became a total sub-only anime fan.

Now that's a bit of an oversimplification when it comes to my full opinion on English-dubbed anime, while it also doesn't really share my complete thoughts on the subject. Yes, I have become a bit of a purist when it comes to language not only in anime, but is pretty much any foreign entertainment. If I'm watching something, I'd prefer it to be in the original intended language, be it Japanese anime, a K-drama, kung fu movies, French films, etc. However, my preference when it comes to anime is particularly strong since I consume it more than any other foreign entertainment and because I'm more familiar with Japanese than any other non-English language. Although I'm not anywhere near fluent in the language, I took two years of Japanese courses in college and have gained a familiarity with it from watching tons of subbed anime over the last 15 years.

Before I go any further, I do want to emphasize one very small yet very important word in what I've been saying and what I will continue to say: I. Although I may have had some elitist feelings in the past when it comes to the Sub vs. Dub debate (my wife and I used to call people who watch anime in English "forks" as a reference to eating Chinese food with a fork instead of chopsticks; it's just not right!), but I just don't really care anymore. My opinions are just that: Mine. This is all a personal preference and if people like watching English dubs, then that's just their preference. The only thing that really worries me about dub fans is that poor English voice acting can make them think a series is worse than it should be, like if someone has only experienced Toradora! or Madoka Magica in English. But in the end, I've just come to terms with the fact that dub-only/dub-preferred fans are just experiencing a different form of entertainment when they watch stuff in English.

Anyway, since this is supposedly an "Article Commentary" post, I should probably talk more about the points that the article made, huh? I'd say I pretty much agree with all of the points brought up by the article:

Late to the Party: With the primary form of delivery for anime now being subtitled streaming on sites like Crunchyroll, many people are actually being introduced to anime in subbed format. This is vastly different from the old days when the majority of people consumed their anime on TV or home video which was almost always dubbed; my generation was exposed to English dubs more and were therefore accustomed to how it sounded. These days even if new fans first caught a glimpse of anime dubbed on TV, as they get deeper into the hobby it's only a matter of time before most of what they watch is subbed online. In recent years Funimation has actually been making an effort to make English dubs more relevant again. With their streaming service they have begun doing broadcast dubs of more than half of the shows they put online at the same time the subtitled version is released. Since they dub nearly everything that they put out on home video anyway and since they have the means, they are able to make this work. I'm not sure if this is enough to make more English dub fans, but I'm sure it goes a long way to keep dub fans happy.

Lost in Translation: Now, the article that was linked in this section is primarily composed of rather old anime. Even though I'm not a fan of English dubbed anime, I do acknowledge that most dubs released in recent years are vast improvements over those released in the early 2000s or earlier. However, the essential thoughts behind the mention of "moe" is basically why I'm primarily a sub-only anime fan. While the article specifically calls out moe, I'd personally expand this to all attempts to emulate Japanese-style speech. Personally, if any series is "too Japanese" (mainly meaning it primarily takes place in present day or past Japan), the possibility of me even considering the English dub for my own personal consumption is a resounding "Hell No!"

Past and Present: Give Dubs a Chance: So the last sentence of the previous paragraph actually implies that I am willing to give an English dub a chance under the right circumstance. And yeah, that's kind of true. While I'd almost never choose to watch an anime dubbed for my first viewing when left to my own devices, I am okay with watching some things dubbed if watching them with other people who are not used to subbed anime. And again, as implied above, the main criteria to make this determination is if the series is not "too Japanese". What I mean by this is if a series primarily takes place in a non-Japanese setting or it takes place in a fantasy or sci-fi world, an English dub is much less likely to bother me. For example, I watched the first few episodes of Black Lagoon in English with a group of people and that was rather well done and appropriate since most of the characters are actually speaking in English most of the time as far as the story is concerned. My wife and I also watched a number of Miyazaki movies with her grandmother and Howl's Moving Castle (a non-Japanese fantasy story) was actually rather good in English! Then there's Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt which was mentioned in the article. Desirae and I watched the first two episodes of this subbed and had to drop it. The dialog was so fast that it was hard to follow (at least for me) and the humor didn't really seem to translate well; it just came off as dumb and boring. If there was ever an English dub that I may actually try watching by myself, this would probably be it. The dub has been praised not only in this article and by other anime writers online, but it was also highly recommended by a close friend of mine.

It's still kind of hard for me to get into the mindset of watching anime in English, but again, it is just a personal preference. I may have my own personal bias, but if someone likes English dubs, good for them. Whichever way you like your anime, it makes you no more or less of an anime fan. Just know that whenever I am talking about an anime, assume that I'm referring to the original Japanese audio with English subtitles.
Posted by pluvia33 | Jul 11, 2016 11:58 AM | 0 comments
June 27th, 2016
A little over a month ago, I wrote a blog post criticizing an article here on MAL which supposedly listed the Top 20 Best Slice of Life Anime of All Time. Now, I don't know if I was a little blind and didn't notice it before or if it was added later, but that article actually has a disclaimer stating: Based on the MAL Slice of Life page in order of the amount of members as of the date of publication. Continuations or related anime are listed as honorable mentions. Even with it being upfront about how the list was made, I still think it's a pretty un-thoughtful way to put together an article, especially with how liberally the Slice of Life genre tag is used for shows.

However, since I spent an entire blog post criticizing an article, I feel that I should also talk about articles on MAL that I actually like. So yeah, "Article Commentary" posts might become a thing!

So, today I came across this article:

Anime vs Cartoons: A Comparative Analysis

The article talks about a subject that is rather close to my heart. I grew up watching American cartoons. Almost everyone in my family had an official favorite Looney Tunes character (mine was Marvin the Martian). I loved TMNT, X-MEN, Mighty Max, Conan the Adventurer, Spider-Man, etc., etc.... As I grew to love Japanese anime, I never began to look down on American animation. Yes, there is a lot of crappy stuff out there and a bunch of shows that are offensively aimed at a very young audience with no attempt made to make them tolerable to anyone over the age of 10; however, if you look close enough at Japanese animation, you'll find the same kind of stuff. As I went through my teen and early adult years, I could always find a few pieces of American animation that I could love. As I began to obsessively collect DVDs, I alphabetized everything and divided everything into one of two categories: Animation or Live-Action. I would never separate Japanese and American animation. So I would have things like Samurai Jack right next to Sailor Moon or Powerpuff Girls right next to Paranoia Agent. I enjoyed "offending" other anime fans by calling Japanese animation "cartoons" and calling American animation "anime" just for fun (anime is really just short for animation after all) when I would show them my collection. Really, they never had anything to say back because my collection was always bigger than theirs.

So anyway, I really liked this article. A lot of thought was put into it and it looked like a good deal of research was done as well. Now, I've heard about how early anime producers were heavily inspired by Disney and other early American cartoons (such as Betty Boop), but I haven't really heard that much about how Japanese anime evolved past that. Why did American animation become primarily a for-kids/comedy affair while anime branched off into nearly every conceivable genre in Japan? I've always assumed that it had a connection with how diverse a medium manga is compared to American comics, but then why had American comics been so predominantly a single-genre medium?

This article gave a very simple and logically appropriate answer to this questions: The Comics Code Authority. Leave it to unfounded fears of corrupting children to impede the growth of an art form in America. Yes, there are many other contributing factors to why animation and comics have been treated the way they have over the last half-century or so in America compared to Japan, but this does seem like a very key factor and one that I find to be the most interesting. If the majority of comics are forced to be kid-friendly then it's no wonder why comics and animation have got the reputation of being kid's stuff.

These days, things are definitely looking up in the world of American animation. Over the years, Disney, Pixar and other studios have made the enjoyment of animated movies a little more acceptable for adults that don't have kids. The Simpsons and South Park have pushed for the acceptance of mature animated comedies. And in more recent years more animated shows have been able to come out with continues and smart plotlines. It is also a good sign that after being adjusted for a few decades in the 1980s and 1990s, The Comics Code Authority was abandoned in the early 2000s.

As the world continues to get smaller and different cultures keep influencing each other, it is a very interesting time to be a fan of animation. I look forward to the coming decades.
Posted by pluvia33 | Jun 27, 2016 1:32 PM | 0 comments
May 28th, 2016
Anime Relations: Orange
I’ve been hearing about the upcoming Orange anime from time to time. It looks like it will be a rather great anime. Because of the anime, I looked up the original Orange manga and saw that it is rather highly rated on MAL. Late last night I noticed that the entire series was out and available to Crunchyroll subscribers. I started reading it and couldn’t put it down. I stayed up until nearly 5am to read the entire manga and just loved it. Another “Masterpiece” for me; a new series that I’m going to have to find room for on my Top 100 List. Extremely touching and hits very close to home.

But I’m not writing today just to gush about how great the Orange manga was; if I was going to do that, I’d consider finally writing my first review. What I’m writing about today is the genres that Orange falls under. While I was reading the series, I was wondering what Japanese gender/age genre it fell under: shounen, shoujo, seinen, or josei. It kind of felt like shoujo, but it also dealt with very mature subject matter and had a very different storytelling structure than most shoujo manga that I’ve read. MAL simply categorized it as shoujo, but when I looked up more information on the series, both Wikipedia and Baka Updates Manga described it as both shoujo and seinen.

Most people know what shoujo anime and manga is (material targeted towards young girls), but if you’re not familiar with seinen, this is a gender/age genre that designates the series as primarily targeted towards adult males. The most common/well known type of seinen tends to be hard and gritty fantasy and sci-fi stories such as Berserk, Akira, Blame, and Hellsing. But one of the things that Orange has brought to light for me is that it seems with many stories, especially those that have romance as a central theme, the difference between if they are either shoujo or seinen is very slim. For example, with a quick genre search MAL, Chobits, Rozen Maiden, Girl Friends, and A Bride’s Story are all classified as seinen.

Now, at least in my own experience, explicitly classifying entertainment based on gender and age demographics seems like a somewhat exclusively-Japanese thing. Yes, the US and people in other Western nations have terms like chick flick, guy movie, and boy’s/girl’s shows, but you typically won’t see those as labels on store shelves or on the back of DVDs to describe what genre it is. We’d probably have people complaining that such things are sexist here, but in Japan it’s pretty normal. Now, as the above genre search results show, it can be a little rough at times to know what a series is technically meant to be. However, there is a somewhat easy and usually definite way to final out what category a series falls into: Marketing. It’s all about who the intended target market for the series is. Sometimes using this rule is very simple: is/was the manga serialized in a shounen, shoujo, seinen, or josei magazine? That will probably give you your answer 9 times out of 10 and if you dig a little bit deeper you should be able to find more-or-less who the other 10% of series were going after.

But back on topic, why do some series straddle the shoujo/seinen line? You’d expect some series to blur the line between shoujo and josei (adult females) such as with Nana, or between shounen (young boy) and seinen like with Blood Lad. But why the similarities between shoujo and seinen? As I said, it seems that romantic themes tend to be a common factor for many shoujo/seinen mixed series and I think that’s a pretty key part of this. It is said that girls mature faster than boys and I would say that many men never reach a particularly high level of social/emotional maturity. For some men, this means that they still enjoy a good fart joke well into their 40s. For others, and I think this is particularly more common with introverted geeks, they tend to (on some level) still have the emotional maturity of a 14 year old girl. That might sound weirder or creepier than I intend for it to, but I can put myself up as a case for this type personally. I’m a 32 year old man and I tend to find shoujo series to be the most relatable to me. It also reminds me of when I used to regularly read Megatokyo. The main character Piro was a very introverted geek and he would actually go read through shoujo manga when he needed help with relationships. There was even a T-shirt based on this which I actually still have (although it was in light blue instead of black when I bought it). Even dating sims and their corresponding anime adaptations like Air, Kanon, and Clannad deal with very emotional shoujo-like themes even though the original material was explicitly marketed towards men (evident by the sexual nature of most of these games).

So yes, as the title of this post says, many men (especially those in geek culture) are just little girls all grown up. But again, as someone who’s first real anime that he got into was Sailor Moon and went on to like things such as Cardcaptor Sakura, Powerpuff Girls, and Fruits Basket, this isn’t really news to me. This established knowledge is also why I wasn’t at all surprised by the adult male fan base that developed for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (and yes, I am a Brony). But I was still very interested by the fact that at least two sources actually labeled Orange as both a shoujo and seinen series. The gender/age descriptors are usually pretty rigid in Japan and MAL seems to take that to heart as I couldn’t find any example of a series that used more than one of the four descriptors. But I don’t really like these descriptors all that much anyway. I mean, they can be helpful at times by using typical stereotypes of what these labels usually mean to determine if you might be interested in a series or not, but they can also automatically turn people off from something before they even give it a chance. I think everyone just needs to be smart about things and not let a target demographic determine your enjoyment of a piece of entertainment. There is always the possibility to find something great in the most unlikely of places.
Posted by pluvia33 | May 28, 2016 5:46 PM | 0 comments
May 27th, 2016
Anime Relations: Paprika
It may be a bit late in the game for me to want to discuss this, but the Facebook page for the online store J-List made this post a few days ago:

Paprika (2006) Vs. Inception (2010)

First, I just want to say how much of a pain in the ass it was to track down this post again after seeing it just a few days ago. J-List makes WAY to many posts each day.

Anyway, the image shows how the American movie Inception supposedly rips off some aspects of Satoshi Kon’s wonderful movie Paprika (which, as stated in my Top 100 List, is my favorite standalone anime movie of all time). Some people commented on the post and came right out to say that Christopher Nolan blatantly stole ideas from Paprika and other works of fiction to make Inception. However, Nolan had specifically said that Paprika was used as inspiration for the character played by Ellen Page in Inception. This makes it pretty obvious that at the very least, the first image comparison in the Gif is a direct homage to Paprika. I feel like the second comparison is grasping a bit and the third can kind of go either way. But in addition to Paprika, Nolan has gone on record to say that there were other works of fiction that inspired Inception. He cited Blade Runner, which I still need to get around to watching, for the sake of my geek cred. And he was also inspired by the works of Jorge Luis Borges. I actually read some of Borges stories for a Sci-Fi/Fantasy Literature class that I took for college a while back, but honestly most of it really just went right over my head.

So this brings us to the question of, what is the difference between being inspired by something/paying homage and just stealing ideas? I’d say that it’s a really fine line most of the time and different people place the line in different spots. Me? At the very least, I don’t think Inception was a rip-off of anything; I think Christopher Nolan treated his inspirations with respect and created something new and interesting with it. Others seem to be a bit pickier while some are just ready to call anything they can a rip-off as quickly as possible! Personally, I think that mentality comes off as being extremely elitist. But on the other end, if someone comes out and says that something is officially based on/inspired by another work, there are just as many people who will come out and say that it isn’t faithful enough to the original source material. With a few changes, Inception could have easily had “Inspired by the film Paprika by Satoshi Kon” in the opening credits and many otaku would probably have lost their shit! I remember seeing people bitch and moan about Heroes was an X-men rip-off, but I’ve also heard people talk about how Smallville wasn’t “Superman” enough to be called “Smallville” and should have been its own original story that wasn’t officially connected to the DC world.

So what’s my point here? Well, I think it pretty much comes down to the simple fact that you can never please everyone. Almost anything made these days will piss someone off for some reason and due to the internet and how connected we are, they’re going to be heard somehow. Also, there are very few original ideas anymore. Pretty much everything draws inspiration from something at some point. I’m reminded of the Simpsons Already Did It episode of South Park. You just have to make sure that whatever you do, you make sure that you put your all into it, put your personal touch on it, and prepare for people who are inevitably going to talk smack.
Posted by pluvia33 | May 27, 2016 9:26 PM | 2 comments
May 22nd, 2016
So as the title says, this post provides a list of my current top 100 favorite anime/manga series, complete with an image and description of why I love the anime and/or manga for every entry on the list. You may be asking why I would find the need to make a top 100 list. Well, there’s a story behind it:

A few months back, a couple of guys came over for some tabletop gaming at our house for the first time. They were talking to me in our game room and one of them asked what Collectable Card Games (CCGs) we are into.

I said, “We (my wife and I) don’t really play any. We both used to play Magic, but don’t really play anymore. I’m not really into that sort of gameplay.” (I do actively collect the My Little Pony CCG, but no one really plays so I didn’t find the need to mention it.)

He then said, “Oh, well, you know they’ve brought out a new version of the Dragon Ball Z card game!” (He sees the anime wall scrolls in the house and seems to think this might be a way to entice me into getting back into CCGs.)

I respond, “I’m not really that big of a DBZ fan.”

And the two guys look at me like I’m some kind of alien for a second then say, “So your wife is the big anime fan then.”

“No, I’m the one who got her deep into anime. I liked DBZ well enough back in the day, but it’s not really one of my favorites anymore. It wouldn’t even be in my Top 100.”

And the other guy was like, “You have a Top 100?!”

So yeah, that’s how we got here. A conversation with a couple of casual anime fans planted the idea in my head and made me feel like it must be done. Just a quick description before I get into this thing, each entry in the top 100 is for the overall series/franchise. For example, my Evangelion entry includes the original TV series, the End of Evangelion movie, and the new Rebuild movies. The link provided is either the most relevant entry in the series for why I love it or just the first part of the series. So anyway, let’s get started!

And that’s it! I’ve made a Top 100 list of my favorite anime and manga series! Hope some people found it fun to go through. If you actually read every word I wrote, damn, thanks! You must have either been really bored or I’m a more interesting writer than I thought. This list will likely evolve and I might post an update it a few years. I have it on an Excel spreadsheet for easy adjustments. So anyway, until next time!
Posted by pluvia33 | May 22, 2016 3:51 PM | 5 comments