Tag Archives: anime

March Comes In Like A Lion: I Am My Biggest Hurdle

March Comes In Like a Lion was my favorite show from 2016 for a variety of reasons, but one of the main reasons I enjoyed the series so much was because of its characters. They were full of life and emotion, constantly changing moods and outlooks as the story progressed. The show did a great job of creating real emotion in its characters, no matter if they were happy or depressed. It made the characters relateable and made me sympathetic to their hardships as well as happy when they were having a good time.

Of all the characters, Rei was by far the most relateable to me. Some of his struggles and experiences are things that I had gone through at some point in my life. As an athlete in middle and high school I too came across many tough opponents who were better trained and more skilled, but by far the most challenging opponent I had ever come across was myself.

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Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid: With You, I Belong

To belong is to feel complete. Either belonging to someone or some place, to have something where you know you belong is to feel joy, true joy. As people, we are always looking to belong somewhere whether it be with friends to laugh with, a home to return to or a family to love. Turns out, dragons do too.

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Tokyo Ghoul’s Amazing Use of Symbolism and Short Stories

If there is one thing I look for in a good manga, it’s a good story. A series can feature some of the best art I have ever seen on a manga page and still fail to captivate me if the story itself fails to deliver. I will still appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into an incredibly detailed image, but I won’t be thinking about it as much as some of my favorite manga series. One such series that I often think of is Tokyo Ghoul, because it tells an interesting story of characters living in a strange world that just isn’t fair. It isn’t just the overarching plot of the series that has lead me to thinking about it in my spare time though. What really interests me with this series is the authors use of symbolism and foreshadowing throughout the story, that help bring deeper meanings to single images and scenes.

SPOILER WARNING: I will be discussing heavy spoilers for Tokyo Ghoul (the original manga series). There will be no discussion of Tokyo Ghoul: RE in this post though, so if you have not read it you can read on freely without fears of being spoiled.

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Year In Review – 2016

It’s a new year, and new anime and manga are already starting to flood in. Before checking out what this year has to offer though, I wanted to look back at 2016 and talk about some of the highlights. I’ll be covering Anime, Manga, Video Games and Music, so hopefully there will be a little something in here for everyone. Hopefully I can get someone to check out something new from 2016, so let’s get started.

Anime

2016 was a pretty good year for anime. Not great, but not horrible. It was definitely weaker than some recent years for me, with a serious lack in anime I rated in the strong 9’s. Still, I found quite a few shows that I really enjoyed my time with that many other anime fans seem to have also enjoyed as well.

At the start of the year, Erased was triumphed as the anime of the year. As it went on, opinions started to change on just how good it was, but for the most part everyone walked away satisfied. Erased had a pretty common problem for anime, in that it was not able to stick its landing after a great run. Still, Erased had started off on such a strong note that ot undoubtedly deserved to have a spot in my 2016 highlights. It features one of the most precious characters of the year (Kayo, the abused girl the story is centered around) and most heartwarming scenes of the year as well (In Kayo’s first home-cooked meal and bath with Satoru’s mom). It has its problems, but Erased is still a great watch for those who have yet to check it out.

If you are in need of some cheering up, Kono Suba is the perfect anime to check out. A hilarious take on the stuck-in-a-fantasy-world story, Kono Suba doesn’t take itself too seriously and it works perfectly. The world of Kono Suba may be generic and boring, but the show uses it to its advantage. Ever wonder how you make money in these worlds? Turns out you do hard, physical labor. What skills would a new adventurer learn? Crappy party tricks and the ability to steal panties apparently. What really makes Kono Suba work though is its quirky cast of charactes. Just check it out and you will soon be shouting “EXPLOSION!” and be getting giddy at the fact that season 2 is right around the corner.

Like awesome animation in your show? Mob Psycho 100 is for you. Aesthetically Mob Psycho 100 isn’t the prettiest, since the original artist for the manga series was One (of One Punch Man fame). If you were unaware, One Punch Man’s manga was redrawn by Yusuke Murata, and it as redrawn for a reason. Simply put, One’s art is pretty bad (he could probably give Attack On Titan a run for worst art in a popular manga series). That didn’t stop Bones from making it look amazing though, as it features some of the best animation I have seen in a while. The show keeps the “unique” style of One’s art and touches it up a bit to make it more presentable, but uses superb animation to really bring the show to life and provide a visual treat.

The next show on the list is My Hero Academia, a show perfect for any Marvel fans out there. The concept is simple, the world is inhabited by super heroes and having super powers has become the norm for most people. The main character Izuku Midoriya was unfortunately one of the few people born without powers, though he still hopes to some day become a great hero like his idol All Might. At its core, My Hero Academia is a typical shonen story about an underdog that is given / has incredibly abilities that they do not know how to control. So naturally, the story follows Midoriya as he trains to become stronger and reach his goal to be a professional hero. There are some great fight scenes in this season, with one of the more memorable fight scenes of the year for me occurring at the end of the series in a grand finale. It has Saitama vs Boros levels of hype surrounding it (though the power levels and stakes are far less of coarse). Its a visual treat for sure though, and will undoubtedly make you anxious for more My Hero Academia.

Moving on to something that came as a bit of a surprise to me, Yuri on Ice was certainly a show that impressed me from 2016. The reason why this one surprised me was because I had no expectations going in to get so caught up in the sport of male figure skating, and I had no idea that it would look so good in animation. Each of the skaters in Yuri on Ice are given distinct personalities and styles, which is all reflected in their performances. There were quite a few times where I felt the art and animation took a significant hit, but all in all found myself enjoying the performances regardless (there are some really beautiful moments in there too though). This is probably the weakest show on my list for stand out anime, which is not bad considering how much I enjoyed it. It should go to show how much I loved the other shows on this list, and why you should make sure you check out each of them.

The next show should come as no surprise to those who had watched season 1, and that show is Hibike! Euphonium S2. Season 2 was as stellar as season 1, in fact I found it to be even more enjoyable. Still beautifully animated and featuring a killer sound design, season 2 brought more drama to the table than season 1 and focused more on its wide cast of side characters. It should go without saying that if you have watched season 1 and enjoyed it, season 2 should be top priority. If you haven’t watched season 1 yet though, than get on that and start watching it! A great series that needs more love.

Even though it has not finished yet, what I have seen from March Comes in Like a Lion has been fantastic. It follows a young shogi player who is able to make it into the professional leagues while in middle school, solidifying his place in the shogi community as a prodigy. Rei Kiriyama’s life isn’t all roses and rainbows though, and he has a lot of emotional baggage following him around stemming from the loss of his family at a young age and a falling out with his foster siblings. The show is a great look at the effects depression can have on a person, and gives us plenty of inside looks into Rei’s mind as he contemplates his life. Once he secures himself into the professional leagues he debates why he should keep trying to improve his rank, since it doesn’t really matter to him. Once you add in a fun family of sisters that Rei becomes accompanied with (and their cat) and you have one of the most melancholic yet heartwarming shows of 2016. Everyone has something bringing them down in this show, but the show focuses more on how the characters deal with their past and emotions and carry on then it does just wallowing in their sadness. A great watch and I cannot wait to see what the rest of the second half has in store.

The last show I wanted to talk about is probably the most underappreciated show of 2016, and that is Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu. The show is a drama that starts off with an ex-convict going to an old rakugo performer to become his apprentice, but quickly becomes much more than that. After some prying, the old rakuga master Yakumo decides to tell a story about his upbringing, beginning with his childhood leading all the way up to his adulthood. The story is filled with drama, tragedy and comedy as he and his new brother / rival Sukeroku grow up and learn rakugo together. It is a bit of a slow burn, but those interested in Japanese history and culture should find every minute interesting. The fact that it has one of the most tragic scenes from 2016 that legitimately depressed me is also a bonus, if you want to go on a bit of a feel trip (it will take a while to get to the heavy emotional stuff though).

Manga

I didn’t read as much new manga as I would have liked in 2016, but what I did read turned out to be pretty good. In terms of what was eligable for this list, it needed to have a North American release in 2016 for me to consider it. Therefore series that are old and finished are probably going to appear on here as new series for me. With that out of the way lets talk about some manga.

The first two series on the list didn’t actually start their North American publication in 2016, as they are ongoing series. The first of the two is Food Wars, and 2016 was a kind year to this series. Food Wars has rarely dropped its ball with its arcs for me, and consistently is able to keep me interested and hyped for the big shokugeki and challenges that face Souma and his classmates. In 2016 we got the school festival arc which remained exciting as Souma finally got to face off against one of the elite ten. The battle was fierce and consistently had me coming back for more. Thanks to Viz Media’s Weekly Shonen Jump we could also stay up to date with series like Food Wars, reading the newest chapters as they come out in Japan. The latest arc that the series is going through (and the tail end of 2016 was able to start into) has me the most interested in Food Wars since perhaps the beginning of the series when it was all fresh and new. Seeing Souma get a rematch against an old rival, leading into a battle of the century style shokugeki where Souma and his crew will have to face off against a crew of Tootsuki’s cooking elite has been keeping me on the edge of my seat.

Similarly, Tokyo Ghoul had a good year in 2016 as well. Though the series is long since finished in Japan, over here in North America we have only just gotten volumes 5-10 in the past year, leaving the last 4 volumes for 2017. Unfortunately 2016 has probably stolen all the thunder for this series as my favorite section of the manga had happened around volumes 7 and 8. The scenes I am talking about are Kaneki’s capture and torture by Jason which happens in volume 7, and the aftermath of these events. Aside from the initial shock Kaneki goes through when he finds out he is now a half ghoul, this is the second time Kaneki goes though intense psychological trauma. This time however, his psyche doesn’t really make it out all intact and he goes through some pretty crazy character developments as his ghoul side starts to take hold. If you have not read Tokyo Ghoul yet, get on it. Especially now that some of the best parts of the manga are finally officially available.

The next manga is one I had already written about in 2016 so it should come as no surprise that it made it on here, and that manga is The Gods Lie. I called it one of the best volumes of manga to come out in 2016, and I still stand by that (though another series takes the number 1 spot with its incredible volume 1). It’s a complete and fulfilling story in one tiny volume, and every bit worth your time to check out if you have not. Check out my first impression on it if you want more details regarding it plot and what it’s about. Just know that it was an incredible read for such a short story.

Goodnight Punpun (also known as Oyasumi Punpun) has to be my favorite series I read from 2016. Volume 1 captivated me with its odd charm so much that I consider it to be the single best volume of manga that I had read in 2016. Its quirky yet deep, incredibly deatiled but simplistic, Goodnight Punpun is probably impossible to describe in a short paragraph without leaving out what makes it such a great series to read. Its a look into the life of a kid going through life and his hardships, and it perfectly captures what the life of a young boy is like while adding in all kinds of crazy and trippy scenes. Even if you aren’t in to all of is eccentric storytelling (that is just down right insane sometimes) I would still recommend checking it out just for its beautiful artwork alone. This series is not ranked #5 in MAL for nothing.

The last series I wanted to talk about is one that should be a safe choice for most manga fans, since it is created by the creators of Death Note and Bakuman, two hugely popular manga series. Obata and Ohba’s new series is called Platinum End, and even though it is extremely early into the series it already has a dark and engaging story similar to Death Note. For those who loved Death Note and wanted more from the duo once it was done (which was most people who read the series I am sure), Platinum End may be the next big series to sink your teeth into. Like The Gods Lie I already wrote up an initial impressions last year that you can check out for some more general info on the series first volume and setup, so check that out if this is your first time hearing about the series. If you have already heard about it though and still haven’t read it, this is the series you won’t want to pass by, and the fact that it is being created by such a legendary duo should give the series enough credability to trust that it won’t all fall down hill a few volumes in.

Video Games

Although 2016 was pretty alright for anime and manga for me, I found it to be severely lacking in great video game experiences for me to sink my teeth into and fall in love with. After such a great year that was 2015 which brought out games like The Witcher 3, Metal Gear Solid V and Rainbow 6 Siege, all of which still remain on my list of favorite games of the generation, 2016 really needed to bring some top notch titles to stand up in comparison. There were a few great games that I was able to check out last year, but much like my experience with anime the truly amazing experiences that I was seeking just weren’t there. That’s not to knock these few games I am about to talk about though, as they were each fantastic experiences for me through and through.

Overwatch was probably the first game from 2016 that I played, and I had been waiting for it for some time. When Blizzard first announced the title with its CG trailer, I thought the games artstyle looked fantastic and really brought the characters to life. When gameplay started to be shown I was hooked, since I love first-person shooters with a passion and I also love the strategic elements of games like League of Legends in that you need to create a team of characters that work well together and can take on the enemy characters. For the first month or so after Overwatch’s release I was completely hooked and playing it almost daily. I have fallen off a bit now but that mostly has to do with computer problems and my not wanting to deal with the xbox one players. If I had a good pc to run it again, I would still be playing this day after day.

The rest of this list is pretty much just a list of great games on Nintendo’s consoles, and that mostly has to do with the fact that nothing on the Xbox One really interested me this year (and I don’t have a PS4 or PC to play games on those). That’s not so bad though, since Nintendo had a pretty solid year, if not a bit of a slow one. The 3DS got new games for two highly beloved franchises of mine in Fire Emblem Fates and Monster Hunter Generations. The new Fire Emblem brought everything I love about the series back again. Strategic gameplay, fun characters and a blend of RPG and turn-based strategy that the series always gets right. I started off with Birthright, which even on hard mode felt a little easy. The game doesn’t shy away from giving you new characters who match or out-level your current characters meaning grinding isn’t really necessary, especially when you consider some of the come with legendary weapons that do insane amounts of damage. I have not gotten around to the other two paths of the game yet, but I hear Conquest ups the challenge quite a bit, giving seasoned veterans of the series a run for their money. It was definitely not my favorite entry into the series, but it still was a great game from beginning to end.

Likewise, Monster Hunter Generations brought back the classic Monster Hunter gameplay that I know and love. Hunting Monsters with groups of friends is still as fun as ever, and fighting your way up to the biggest, baddest monsters is satisfying to the very end. I liked the new addition of abilities that Generations added, where you could mount monsters and do massive damage with other abilities. If you liked past Monster Hunter games than Generations is more of the same, so it should be a safe bet to try out. If you are new to the series however, I will warn you that the game is pretty notorious for not being too welcoming to newcomers. I thought it did an alright job explaining the basics for new players, but I am sure there are a lot of things left out that you will have to figure out yourself as there are so many different mechanics when it comes to crafting items and gear and many other activities. Getting used to combat and learning each monsters attacks and behaviors can also be tricky, but that’s half the fun of a new Monster Hunter game.

On the Wii U side of things, it was a pretty slow year for Nintendo. Luckily there were a few gems released in the slow trickle that was the Wii U’s 2016 games lineup. Pokken Tournament was one of these games, bringing a unique blend of Tekken and Pokemon. I am a bit of a fighting game enthusiast, but I never really get very competitive with them. I just like figuring out their systems and doing cool stuff with the characters. Pokken was a bit different though, since it forgoes complex button inputs for simple one r two button inputs that often combo into each other with some pretty easy to learn timing. The complexity of its fighting system comes from the rock-paper-scissors gameplay that the attack-counters-grabs mechanic brings to the table. Essentially, it is up to the player to decide what the best approach is going to be based on what their opponent is likely to do, making it a bit more of a mind game and less of a competition of execution of specific button inputs. I found this to be incredibly fun and addicting since it didn’t take to long to figure out a new character and start kicking butt. On the flip side though, a smarter, more experienced player would always come out on top compared to someone who just picked up a new character and smashed buttons. It eliminated the frustration of not being able to execute the moves I wanted do to lack of practice day in and day out, but kept a competitive side to the game to make the wins feel rewarding. It would be wrong to think this game is a dumbed-down fighter, because you can dig deep into this game and still find yourself losing.

The last game of 2016 that I will be talking about is Tokyo Mirage Sessions, the Japanese idol RPG. As a huge fan of JRPG’s and Japanese pop culture, it was as if this game was made for me. It combines the worlds of Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem into a bright world full of j-pop and idols.  It features an incredibly fun and deep battle system and a fun cast of characters to hook you in, just don’t expect anything too amazing in terms of story (its passable, but nothing groundbreaking). Honestly, it is one of the few JRPGs where I was consistently able to pick it back up after hours and hours of playtime without needing a break.

Music

Running with the theme of “I didn’t get into as much of this as I wanted” we finally stumble upon the music of 2016. This theme is incredibly true for music though, as if I were to guess I probably listened to a total of 10 or less albums from last year. Honestly, I spent a lot of my time with music in 2016 revisiting old favorites from Green Day’s American Idiot to some of Billy Talent’s first albums. In terms of Japanese music, even then I spent a lot of time listening to Asian Kung-fu Generation’s early albums such as Houkai Amplifer. There were a few albums(two really, the other is a single) from 2016 that I listened to however that got me off these nostalgic albums for a bit, and I think they were good enough to warrant a listen if you haven’t already.

The first album is by Super Beaver and is titled 27. Super beaver has been a personal favorite band ever since their album Aisuru came out with their hit single Rashisa (the Barakamon opening for those who may be familiar with the show). I love the style of upbeat and catchy songs, and they can always put a smile on my face when I listen to them. 27 had some great singles on there such as Kotoba, Aiharu and Urusai (all of which I believe are available on youtube for those interested). A great album to jam out to in an afternoon, and I played the album many times while working on things in my room.

The next might come as no surprise for those who have seen the movie, but the other album that really caught my attention last year was the album Your Name by Radwimps. I haven’t actually seen the movie, but have been following the band for some time now. Every once in a while they come out with a song I love, and in this album the song Zen Zen Zense was that song. That’s not to knock the rest of the album which is mostly comprised of the instrumental soundtrack for the film (which is pretty great), but that song was stuck in my head for weeks after I first heard it, and I still play it on my way to school in the mornings. Truly fitting for the main theme of a blockbuster hit, the song is catchy as hell and will probably remain as one of my favorite anime themes for some time. I honestly cannot wait to see the movie just so I hear this song play with the beautiful animation of the film.

As I said above, the last one on this list is a single rather than an album, but it was such a good single I just had to put it on here. Ever since I first heard the song in March Comes in Like a Lion’s opening I knew I just needed it to listen to on the go, and as soon as the single Answer by Bump of Chicken dropped I picked it up. I don’t really know what it is that makes me love the song so much, but something about it just kind of puts me at ease. Its a song I can easily relax to or play in the background as I do work. You can check out the song yourself on youtube to see if the single is something you might be interested in as well.

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So there you have it, all my favorite stuff from 2016. It may not have been a great year for anything, but there were still some gems in there that I am glad to have experienced. Hopefully 2017 can give me some more great experiences, preferably more than 2016 was able to. I wouldn’t mind some new shows to enter my top 10 either, so lets see what 2017 has in store!

 

Death of A Loli: Thoughts on Mohou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku

I think my ability to feel empathy may be broken. I just watched a series that consisted of nothing but cute characters absolutely murder each other and not a single string in my cold heart was pulled. Perhaps the problem doesn’t lie with me and my inability to feel human emotions. I think the problem lies with the series itself, and its inability to make me feel anything. Yeah. Lets go with that…

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I want to feel things too!…

The specific series that I am referring to is Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku, but honestly this isn’t the first series to bring these thoughts to the front of my mind. There have been a good few shows that have tried to make me pity their poor, innocent characters as they are brutally murdered. Just last season, Re: Zero finished its adventure through Suzuki Subaru’s newfound life. Again, I was hardly fazed when characters would drop dead in front of Subaru’s eyes. I will give Re: Zero’s episode 15 a pass on the fell-o-meter though, as there was a great scene where Petelgeuse plays with Rem in front of a helpless Subaru that I found to be quite saddening, but more on that some other time. For now, lets start with what makes a meaningful character death.

The most important thing a show needs to do for maximum impact of a characters death is to make the character relatable. This isn’t even a fact that I believe can be contested with “Well that’s just your opinion!” because if you don’t know the character, why should you care if they die. When I say “relatable” I don’t just mean likable either, since the death of a hated character can be just as meaningful and fill you with emotion (though, the emotions felt are probably going to be vastly different than that of a likable character). All I am talking about is making sure the audience has a good grasp of what that character is like, and some sense of likeness of dislike towards the character.

This is where shows like Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku fail, and it mostly has to do with its large cast. An anime that has a handful of characters has a distinct advantage over a show with a large cast when it comes to getting to know the characters. Each character is going to get more screen time in general, and more time can be spent on developing these small casts over the series run.  Take a show like Cowboy Bebop for instance, and its cast of four main characters. If you were to shorten it down to just 12 episodes to put both series on par, I have no doubt in my mind that we would still know much more about Spike Spiegel and his dark past then we know about Koyuki Himekawa (“Snow White”). Most of Spike’s personality could be seen in the first few episodes of Cowboy Bebop, and his past was expanded on throughout the series in multiple flashbacks and conversations. Since Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku has to try and fit 16 characters into its series, we just never get a chance to look into Koyuki’s past or really anything about her outside of her love for magical girls. Her personality is then limited to a single dimension for most of the show (loving magical girls and wanting to do whats right). Near the end of the series when there are less characters to focus on, we get to see Koyuki more and some of the growth she has undergone, but by then it is too late in the series to make anything feel like natural character progression. The problem is much worse in the rest of the cast, since some are not introduced until a few episodes into the series and some die early on. These characters don’t even get the courtesy of letting us to get to know them aside from some basic details, making it even harder to care that they are not continuing on in the story.

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Scenes like this are what make me care about characters. The more I know about them and what their personality is like beyond first impressions, the more I become invested in them.

What is kind of frustrating with Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku is that it had the right idea, it just didn’t execute it well. The creators obviously knew that to get the audience to care for these characters (and then fall in despair when they were gone) they had to make you feel like you really understood them on some level. Looking at Sister Nana and Winter Prison for instance, we get a series of flashbacks and present day scenes throughout a few of the episodes that show how they met and how they interact with each other. During these scenes, we can clearly see how much they mean to each other. This isn’t really shown in their magical girl forms (you could assume they might be good friends based on how they are always teaming up together, but their relationship is obviously much more than that), so scenes like these are essential to get the audience to understand these characters. If we had gotten more screen time with these two characters earlier on in the series, I could of easily fallen in love with them because of their strong bond. The fact of the matter is that the show rarely got much time to explore their characters, with most of their appearances being in random conversations or fight scenes that didn’t tell us much about them. The same is true for other characters as well, who we only got to explore in short flashbacks that were shown much too late for a connection to be made.

I think if the series had take more time in the beginning to introduce its characters and really let us get to know them I would have enjoyed it so much more. Sadly we never did get to know most of the characters, so I ended the series not really caring about anything that had happened. This had to be my biggest complaint about the show, which is why I wanted to focus in on it. My overall opinion of the show was that it was pretty mediocre, so I wouldn’t really recommend it to anyone. Watch Madoka Magica instead, I hear that one is pretty good.

It’s My Blogiversary!

A whole year has passed since I first started atop the clouds as my personal blog to talk about manga, anime and games. A lot has happened since then, or in some instances (my blogs…) not much has happened. I thought it would be cool to look back at everything I have done on here in the past year.

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At first glance it probably seems like my blog is pretty much dedicated to manga! There is a reason for that. I generally have only been writing about things I want to talk about. Whether after doing something and I just want to share my thoughts on it or if I get the urge to write something so I just write about whatever I have been into recently. Either way, manga has been my go-to thing to do over this past year when I am not busy wasting away hours online. It just ended up being on my mind more-so than most things because of that.

So over the past year I have looked at 12 different manga series, some were better than others. Of the series I did a first impressions on, Food Wars is probably my current favorite of them. I am currently up-to-date on the latest chapters thanks to weekly shonen jump, and man does it get good. The story doesn’t really take many breaks, with each arc building on the last. Currently the story is in the middle of a heated rivalry between two different factions, and things just keep getting better. (Chapter 189)

Tokyo Ghoul has also been a great read so far. Kaneki is a fascinating character, as he is made out to be both incredibly powerful and weak. His human side is in constant internal conflict as his morals are constantly put to the test. Eating humans is obviously not something he want to do (whether done through “humane” practices or not) and he wishes to protect his friends while avoiding conflict with others (seen in his fight with Amon). At the same time his ghoul half is constantly craving flesh and to take over his body, unleashing unbelievable power at the expense of his sanity. Honestly, its one of the better manga I have read in a while, and could possibly end up in my all time favorites for sure.

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Nothing out of my first impressions has let me down yet, but I haven’t really been keeping up to date with most of them. I finished Prophecy, which turned out to be a pretty decent read. It was no Death Note, but the cat and mouse game played in the story was still fun to see unfold. The ending was a bit bitter-sweet for me. I didn’t like some of the later targets honestly, as they came off as just giant stereotypes rather than characters I should care about. They were there to serve one purpose really, which was to be giant ass-hats that I felt like were getting their just-desserts. The ending itself was kind of nice though (if not a bit predictable). It wrapped everything up nicely, and pretty much gave you an idea of how the characters lives were after the events of the story.

If I were to tell you to go and read just three of the series I looked at over the year though, it would have to be Food WarsTokyo Ghoul, and Claymore. Claymore’s ending was both cool as hell and anti-climatic at the same time. The concept on how they defeat Priscillia was awesome, and I didn’t expect it to happen like that. I honestly loved how it happened. What felt anti-climatic to me was the fact that the fight lasted no longer than any other fight in the series, it was actually shorter than some of the big ones. I would have loved if there was more back and forth, or if the warriors had to fight Priscillia for a bit longer before the trump card was played. I get why it all went down so fast (I am not going to talk about it because of heavy spoilers) but it would still have been cool to see more fighting. It also left a lot of open ends in the story that I doubt we will ever have addressed, but we will see.

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Hoestly, I’m a bit ashamed about how little I talked about anime on here. I didn’t really talk about much on here really, I really didn’t do a whole lot of blogging at all… but still there were so many shows I watched that I had some strong opinions on and I just sat on them. I may one day go back and try to re-formulate some of them, but I feel like the best time to talk about something is when it is in the spotlight and your opinions and feelings towards it are fresh. Not only will your arguments and points be that much clearer and stronger, other peoples thoughts and feelings towards it will also still be fresh making it a more interesting read for them. If there is one thing I will be doing a lot more of in the coming year, it will be talking about anime.

A Byte of Gaming

Much like anime, I didn’t talk too much about gaming in the past year. I started Game Bytes hoping I would do it at least on a monthly basis, talking about whatever game had really struck a chord with me recently. The only problem was that I didn’t do too much gaming through most of 2016. Whenever I did play games, it was a multiplayer game like Overwatch or Rainbow Six Siege which I spent way too much time playing.

My backlog has been growing over the past few years though so I have started to try and focus on getting through more games over the past month. I started Tokyo Mirage Sessions back in September, and though I have yet to beat it I am still having a blast with it. One of the better games on the Wii U, especially for those hungry for a fresh new JRPG. I have a funny feeling it is going to be one of the harder to find (and expensive) Wii U games in the coming years, so if you have yet to pick up your copy I would advise you do so now if you plan on checking it out.

Also, if you own a 3DS and are into fun little games (and Japanese stuff!) make sure you check out Attack of the Friday Monsters: A Tokyo Tale on the eShop. There is not much to the game, as most of it is just dialogue and running around town. It gets the feel of an old and quite Japanese town down just right though, making it a pleasure to play. If you ever feel like playing a short and comfy game (especially over the holidays which are fast approaching) give it a shot.

All The Mumblings

I did a lot of more personal, random topic blogs over the year as well. During the holidays last year I participated in the 12 Days of Anime event that is held on Youtube every year by the anime community. I started off the first two days with videos, but quickly found it was too much work (especially with everything going on) and began just writing quick little blogs. I didn’t even finish the event sadly, missing the last two or three days of blogging. I plan on tackling it again this year, though this time I plan on doing all the hard work in advance so I am not last minute trying to put everything together.

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I also talked about a few music albums that I had been listening to over the year. There were many, many albums that I didn’t talk about that were released (or I had picked up) over the past year I might do a big “listen to these albums” type post at the end of the year. Maybe a top 5 or top 10 of 2016.

Looking Forward

Well, that’s it! As I said earlier, I didn’t do a whole lot of blogging in the past year. I hope to kind of fix that moving forward by creating a schedule for when I put out certain blogs. Obviously writing when I feel like it doesn’t really work, often just leading to one blog a month (and some of those blogs only coming out because I felt guilty that I had left my blog alone for so long…).

As of right now, the schedule I will be aiming for is one manga blog per week, on every Monday (Either a first impressions on a new series I picked up or a series review). I haven’t figured out how often I would like to write about other stuff, but I will be writing about anime and games randomly as I get through them. At the begging and end of each anime season I will probably be writing more about anime, and in the middle I may try and fill in the gaps with gaming blogs and other types of content (like more music blogs).

To those who read this, thanks for sticking around and checking out my blog! I hope it has helped you in some way, whether finding a new manga or game to play, or just to help pass by a few minutes of your boredom. It’s only going to be getting better from here, so if you like what you see make sure to pop back around in the future to check out whats new. Until next time, peace!

Anime of Summer 2016 First Impressions – Part 3

My first impressions blogs have now turned into mid-season impressions because of my inability to manage my time effectively and stay on task. The good news is that I have a pretty long blog series in the works (which is where most of my time has gone) and a video series to accompany it (I’m going to start making videos, wooo!). I’m not going to say “it should be out soon” because when I do it’s always like three weeks or more before I get it out, so instead I’ll just say it will be done when it’s done.

Anyways, time to talk about some anime!

Sweetness and Lightning

This is one of the cutest shows I have seen since Barakamon, which was one of my favorite shows from summer 2014. It goes without saying then that I absolutely love this show.

The story is simple yet interesting, as we follow the life of a single father (Kouhei Inuzuka) and his daughter (Tsumugi Inuzuka) as they cook meals and enjoy their time together. Kouhei’s wife had recently passed away a few months before the show begins, so we don’t really have a sense of what she might have been like outside of a typical loving mother and wife. She took care of most house chores it seemed, including cooking meals since Kouhei has no idea how to cook anything besides the basics. With his wife no longer with them though, Kouhei decides to try and learn how to cook so he can give Tsumugi good meals instead of the store bought lunches they had been eating since his wife had passed. They go to one of his students family restaurants once a week to cook a new meal they haven’t tried to make before, and this is where a bulk of the story takes place.

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The show mainly consists of Kouhei and Tsumugi going to his student’s (Kotori Iida) family restaurant, where they learn to cook new meals based off of recipes her mother leaves them. The reason why they go to Kotori’s place to cook food is pretty simple, her mother is always busy leaving her alone a lot of the time, so Kotori likes the idea of spending time with Kouhei and Tsumugi once a week (and it is sort of implied through Kotori’s actions and emotions towards Kouhei that she has a bit of a crush on him, or at least looks up to him in some extent). The show doesn’t get weird though so no need to worry about some cringy relationship forming between recently widowed teacher and student. Kouhei doesn’t seem to be looking for any new partners and instead is focusing all of his energy on making Tsumugi’s life a bit easier and enjoyable. He also is keeping these visits as professional as he can, by staying out of Kotori’s business for the most part and ensuring that her mother is ok with them staying over and cooking meals once a week.  It doesn’t seem like this hint of romance Kotori has for Kouhei is going to evolve into something that makes you want to shake you head at the page as you read it, so expect nothing more than a heartwarming story.

The main reason why I like this show so much is because of Tsumugi’s ability to just put a smile on my face. Its right up there with Barakamon and Non Non Biyori Repeat, both of which are currently on my top favorite slice of life shows of all time. Sweetness and Lightning is such a refreshing and delightful show to brighten up the season, and I recommend anyone looking for a lighthearted show to pick this one up.

Orange

Prepare yourself for the impending feel trip, because Orange is going to try and pull on those heart strings as hard as it can. In vein of other melodramatic shows such as The Flower We Saw That Day (AnoHana), the show tries to engross you in its story and to empathize with the characters by having something tragic happen to somewhat normal and relateable people. The group of characters the show follows are all pretty normal highschool students, so it is easy to get to like the characters for who they are. Once you find out that one of them commits suicide in a few years, and 10 years in the future all of his friends feel nothing but regret for not noticing what he was going through you begin to feel kinda bad for the events that had unfolded.

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Orange isn’t just about trying to make you feel sad though, since it gives hope to the fact that perhaps the past could be changed. Through some unknown means, the main character of Orange (Naho Takamiya) is able to write letters detailing the events that surround Kakeru (the character who ends up committing suicide) and send them to her past self. These letters usually just detail what she wished she could have changed in the past, and some important events in their lives that influenced Kakeru’s overall psyche.

The main crux of the story in Orange revolves around these letters Naho receives from her future self. As she starts to follow the directions (or not follow them) she starts to realize that they are able to predict the future to a certain extent, and that Kakeru’s mind had been in a very dark place ever since they first met. I personally am enjoying the story greatly, as it focuses on Naho’s experience as she tries to save the life of her new friend and overcome her only shortcomings. Instead of just passively sitting on the side lines letting things just play out she now has to actively try and shape the future to avoid tragedy.

All in all, it is a great story so far. I have heard some complaints on how the story never explains how the letters are getting sent back, and why don’t they say tell Naho about larger tragedies so she could stop them. Personally I don’t find a problem with the story not diving into this aspect, as it leave an air of mystery and supernatural elements to the story. For all we know, these letters were just written by Naho’s future self as a way of coping with grief. For instance, she just writes down a diary of everything that happened in her past that is causing her regret, without any intention of anyone ever really reading it. We don’t know, and I am not sure if it will ever try to explain it at this point, which is fine with me. Its not a show about time travel or anything, so explanations on time traveling letters not what you are really watching it for. This is a show for those who want a heartfelt story that is going to try and bring on the waterworks as you root for the characters to move forward.

New Game

The last show I have to talk about this season is New Game, a show about a group of girls who all work at a video game company. The story follows Aoba Suzukaze, a recent highschool graduate and new hire at Eagle Jump. At Eagle Jump, Aoba is a part of the character design team in the art department, where her and various other girls all work on getting their new game looking as pretty as possible. Plot wise, this show is about as deep as a kiddie pool. This isn’t really something that is going to hold the show back a whole lot though, since New Game is a simple slice of life that is largely character driven.

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These types of shows are no stranger to most anime fans by now, and because of that it should be easy to tell if you are going to like it or not from a first glance. The story is almost non-existent, as there is very little plot progression at all. There isn’t really a sense of how long they have to complete their game other than “it will soon be crunch time”. Each characters tasks are not really explained in much detail outside of Aoba’s in the first few episodes (where she is given some small tasks to start her out as she learns a new program). Instead, the show focuses on the day-to-day interactions and activities of the girls that work at Eagle Jump and lets their personalities take over. Like 99% of all other cute-girls-doing-cute-things types of shows, New Game’s characters all have unique personalities and designs that help differentiate each character from one another.

I actually really like these simple slice-of-life shows that are full of cute girls doing fun things. They can really brighten your mood and make you smile when they are done well, and New Game is fortunately done pretty well. The characters are cute and likeable. The setting is fun and unique, and it relates to something that most people that watch anime probably enjoy. It is also a very good looking show, with nice bright and colorful visuals to compliment the girls cute appearances. All in all, a fun moe show that will be sure to keep you entertained. Don’t go into it expecting it to dive deep into video game design or anything though, as it rarely touches the subject. It is merely the backdrop to the show, with almost all focus being on the characters themselves rather than what tasks they are doing.