Posted on 30 May 2014 with categories: Mushishi

Now this was such a beautiful episode. We often see Mushi portrayed as parasites. In fact, they are pretty much based on the insects and viruses of their world. There probably are enough real viruses and insects living in the Mushishi world, but they just aren’t the focus of the series. Anyway, what they did here was highlight the duality of these little critters: they have both their positives and negatives. This episode really focused on the positives, while again not ignoring the negatives.

The woman who is cursed to keep all of the moisture inside her body. It killed a few people due to unfortunate circumstances (again, nobody is at fault here), however it also brings so much joy to the people when she arrives. What made this episode work so well is how well this series characterizes just about everyone: even the minor characters feel real. I mean, have you looked at the animation for this series? EVERYTHING IS SMOOTH AND LIFELIKE. I cannot recall a TV-series that has such consistently detailed animation for characters, and this series can pull it off because it’s not an action series: budget doesn’t need to be spent on elaborate action scenes, so instead it can go into the detail.

Mushishi really is a mature series like no other. Most series when they tell a story, resort to black and whites: there are clear heroes and clear villains, and even when the villains have reasons for their actions, their reasoning is often crazy in some way to the point where you can’t really hold a nuanced conversation with them. Here, everything has multiple sides to it, and it’s done in a really cool way.

And yeah, pretty much now that I’ve seen the preview of the upcoming summer season: I’m currently 95% sure that Mushishi is going to end up as the best show of 2014. There never has been a series that stood so far above all of the others in all other years that I’ve been blogging. It’s just consistently fantastic and detailed and in seven episodes I have yet to spot a weak moment. This show is just THAT special, and it justifies a second season really well: every episode continues to build upon the lore of the mushi, and we still see new stuff.

Posted on 12 May 2014 with categories: Mushishi

I have not forgotten about this show. Not at all. I just finished marathoning these four episodes, and holy cheeseballs on a stick! this is the best anime in years! This was everything I could have hoped for and blows just about everything else out of the water. Talk about raw, powerful storytelling.

I now know again why Mushishi is such a unique series. Sure, there have been similar series in the past, like Natsume Yuujinchou, telling about creatures who live alongside us with mythical powers, usually youkai or something in the like. Mushishi however, takes the concepts of Shinto, and goes further than any other show has done. In the eight years inbetween the first and second season, I have never encountered a series that did the supernatural as well as what we see here.

But even then, these four episodes were something else. Here we saw people’s arms getting eaten off, suffer from horrible frostbites, people disappearing into nothingness while still being alive, losing all their senses, chopping off heads and swapping them. It’s one thing to be brutal, but Mushishi does it without showing blood, it does it with such variety, and every single time it puts them in the middle of so many moral dilemmas. It goes in deep on the source, and shows how easily uneducated people can fall into these traps despite proper warnings. This show is nearly a medical thriller with its own set of rules.

And yet the beauty in each of these stories, is that you can’t completely blame the mushi. That also was the brilliance of the first season: the Mushi are also just living their lives, which just happens to sometimes clash with that of humans. This is driven forth even more here, with these mushi without a physical form who try desperately to escape that incredible loneliness.

And the presentation of these four episodes. It’s just perfect. Okay, perfect doesn’t exist… er… some frames showed characters with no mouths! There, critiism! Kidding aside: the animation is beautiful: the movement is slow, but you can really feel the characters. The background art is better than ever. The CG that is used is used consistently and only for the mushi, making them look stunning and out of this world, exactly what they are supposed to be.

The end of episode six: that was actually increidly beautiful how everything came together. It was never told that fire was meant to draw out the mushi in the tree, but when you saw it, everything just made sense. If there was ever an example of what I mean by storytelling, characters, animation, pacing and atmosphere all coming together in one moment, then that is a textbook example of how to do it. All stories were beautiful, but my highlight was episode 03. I cried okay! That’s the first time I cried at an anime in probably over a year!

Creators of anime! LOOK AT THIS! This is how you make an anime!

Posted on 17 April 2014 with categories: Mushishi

Oh yes. This is it. This is what storytelling should be about: telling real stories about real people, all with their own problems that need to be overcome. And this show does that time and time again in just one episode.

I still can’t believe how authentic this series is. The thing is, when I first started watching this series, I was still very young: 18, and I hadn’t even been released in the real world yet. Now that I’m much older I can appreciate the attention to detail even more. This episode was about a fishing village, probably in one of the southern parts of Japan, and what the people there generally had to do to come by. The Mushi here symbolize the tragedies that come with such a life, however I love how they’re only telling a part of the picture: they hint at other big problems, and they’re far from the only thing playing in the world: the world doesn’t revolve around them, they’re just part of it. I have seen no other show that does that better than this series.

What’s also wonderful to see is that the creators really seem to try to fit in character-development into these one-episode stories. I loved how that one guy was finally able to set his grudges aside. And it was done in such a natural way: for once there wasn’t some big life choice that he was forced to make “return or else you’ll die!”. In theory, they could have figured something out with the village, heck he just could have given them the pearl while still remaining isolated. It just was the push he needed to set his feelings aside and become part of the village again.

Another way in which anime has gone down, is how its directors have gotten much less freedom. What I mean by that is this: when in 2005, Mushishi was made, Hiroshi Nagahama was perhaps a well known episode director and storyboard artist, but he never directed a full series. Here he got the chance, and BAM, he gave it the best possible adaptation it could have hoped for. I mean, if you look at some of the other series that Artland has worked on: the animation is completely different, much more generic, their pacing is way off. A debuting director managed to do that and they gave him a lot of freedom here.

Fast-forward eight years, and you can see that the established directors can get the freedom they want: Masaaki Yuasa can just push forward his style like he wants. But really, when was the last time that we really saw a first-time director try to push his own style and stamp on a series? My guess is that as anime has matured since the digital age, it has become more consistent. Consistency is boring! Be ambitious! Take risks! Show your personal style! Be intelligent and show authentic stories!

Posted on 3 March 2014 with categories: Mushishi

Mushishi holds a really special place in my heart. Back in November 2005, when I started up this blog, Mushishi was one of the first shows I picked up to cover weekly. At first I didn’t think much behind it: it just looked interesting and I wanted to cover it, but as it went on I started to enjoy it more and more. But even then it took me a long time, even after the series had finished, to realize what a special series it was, and that we’d never get anything like it again.

Many series tried, but none got as many things right as this show did. That’s something I definitely realized after I watched this OVA, and how we’re in for something really, really special here. I mean, my big fear was that they’d compromise, and that the second season would feel underwhelming. But amazingly, this OVA kept everything that made Mushishi to be one of my favourite shows out there.

And I know that usually, I’m not one of those people who lauds shows who do just the same in their sequels, but Mushishi is one of those series that is the exception to the rule. It knew exactly what it should keep doing, and yet this OVA contained a new story that adds to the Mushishi universe, and that story was amazing. You can see some CG here, but the creators kept it within limits and bounds.

Apart from that, the soundtrack is just amazing as usual. The voice acting is still brilliant and subdued, the atmosphere is still there. It still has the single best ED ever created for an anime, It still knows how to tell a perfect short story. I mean, really. This will be big. If the TV-series is like this then it’s got the potential to be the best series in years. But no, expectations should not be too large. Something’s going to mess up. Something will go wrong.

I mean, seriously. I don’t know whether it’s because of heightened emotions of finally seeing one of my absolute favorites again, but I still cannot believe how much I enjoyed this episode. I actually got teary-eyed from watching it and it made it seem so easy. I mean hell, this is EVERYTHING I’m looking for in an anime. The story wasn’t necessarily incredibly complex or so, but it was told perfectly. The focus was on bringing all of the different characters to life, and the creators really succeeded in showing that this really is about ordinary people living their lives. It’s incredibly relatable as it dealt with simple, but relatable problems.

Now for those who are wondering: Mushishi is a collection of standalone stories. In order to understand everything about this episode, all you need to have watched are episodes 1 and 20 from season one. That’s nothing, especially because these episodes are awesome to watch anyway.

Posted on 30 September 2013 with categories: Rozen Maiden 2013

The best ending of the season? I think that was from Gatchaman Crowds, closely followed by Silver Spoon. Rozen Maiden had the potential to top both of them, but no, they had to come with that damn cliff-hanger!

And that is pretty much the only complaint I have about the final two episodes. The character development really was great, for a lot of the cast. Hina Ichigo, beautifully redeemed herself for a season of absence, Jun grew in both his versions and Suigintou… the reason she did not take Souseiseiki’s Rosa Mystica promises great things for the future.

The same goes for Jun: he always looked up to his younger self, and now it becomes apparent that younger Jun was great because he just never challenged his own weaknesses. Putting him in a coma will have a great effect on the rest of the cast, and put them into the roles that he previously occupied. Which brings me back to how this is the end of the season.

So yeah, whoever is producing this: you had better have planned a second season, instead of using this as a stupid sequel hook, putting off the decision for a sequel based upon whether or not the sales are right. Nothng has been announced yet, and that cliff-hanger could have been completely omitted and we would have had a satisfying finale. A bit of anime original aftermath for Jun, and Voila! That would have worked easily, and Tomomi Mochizuki can write that without a doubt to make it leave a good impression.

It’s not like I can hunt you down or something… but yeah. I’m watching out for that sequel…
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 29 September 2013 with categories: Uchoten Kazoku

The final third of Uchoten Kazoku to me… is probably its worst part. Allow me to elaborate why:

Basically it boils down to that the conclusion was too cliched for its own sake. And I don’t really say that for the sake of it being cliched, but rather the implications that this had on the rest of the series. Two implications really stood out:
– The frog, the second son. I really liked how he actually felt responsible for the death of his father. That was some really good drama, and I loved the episode earlier that was dedicated to his feelings about it. But no, the father was just caught by his brother who turns out to be this stereotypically evil bad guy who just justs after some woman. True, without being drunk there was a chance that the father would have seen through the trick, but nevertheless he doesn’t feel guilty anymore about his actions.
– Wat made Uchoten Kazoku great? Its dialogue and its focus on cultural values, customs and legends. The whole succession story just took too much time away from that, and unlike the first two thirds of the series it brought relatively few new things to the table. You can also see this in the character-development, which while there, could have been much more if the plot was a bit more catered to it. Benten for example: we never really got to see what goes on inside her head.

Does that make these four episodes bad? Nah, just not as good as what they could have been. These episodes still were fun to watch, and at least it did try to stay somewhat true to itself by never forgetting that the simple minds of the characters who on one point can be entirely serious, and then can be goofing off or really stupid again. The chaos in the final episode was a neat anti-climax, and the whole frying tram rocked. Uchoten Kazoku was definitely unique and really refreshing as an anime.

Yojou-han, Uchoten Kazoku. This writer needs to have more of his stories adapted to anime!
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

Posted on 27 September 2013 with categories: Anime Reviews, Tamayura


I’m not going to dedicate a post for my impression for the final three episodes of this series. It was just too boring to write much about. I guess that that gives a pretty accurate indication of what I think about this series.

Right at the start of Tamayura’s second season, I asked one question: why did this series, of all shows, get a second seaso? What can it add to the OVA and the first series? The big problem with this show is that now that it’s ended, I still haven’t gotten an answer to that question. Yeah.

So what does this second season end up doing? Well, in terms of characters… Potte starts a photography club. You’d think that that would train her leadership skills, but in the end only one girl ends up joining it. That one girl gets the most character-development out of the entire series, but it’s surprisingly similar to the development that Potte went through in the first season. The best part was probably the attention to Potte’s dead father. Again most of it was already done in the first season, but there was one particular episode that brought something new to the table.

And as for the side-characters… oh dear god. They were definitely the worst part of this sequel, because all of them have been reduced to simple stereotypes. In the first season they were diverse character. Here however, they eitehr are neutral, or force their quirk way too much, with hardly anything else. This series seems to think that once you have developed your characters, you can just leave them as they are and they’ll keep magically working. Quite a misguided idea!

As for the stuff that the characters do in this season… it’s okay. It’s still a good show to relax with and all, but everything they do is again so surprisingly similar to the first season: they go on random trips with Character A, they go to visit Character B;s house, they drop by Character C. Everything just strikes me as if the creators had no idea what to really do with this series once it started, and then just settled with some vague idea that just kept the status quo.

Tamayura was supposed to be the spiritual successor to Aria. Aria’s second season took its characters and developed them to actual characters. Tamayura’s second season likes to repeat itself. Perhaps those with more patience than me will appreciate it for what it is, but I’m quite a bit disappointed.

Oh and if you want to know why the second season has such a weird subtitle: ‘More Aggressive’ is just a bad translation to which the creators got the contextual meaning completely wrong. Sortof like that guy who got a Chinese tattoo on his arm.
One-Sentence Review: It’s not really necessary to watch this: it doesn’t really add anything to Tamayura, nor its characters.
Suggestions:
Aria
Kaze no Shoujo Emily
Maria-Sama ga Miteru

Posted on 25 September 2013 with categories: Anime Reviews, Silver Spoon


When Noitamina started airing two series per season, it was amazing. It’s a timeslot that on average tends to be aimed at a much older audience than usual, and having two series with the same mentality definitely helped to bring more diversity to anime overall. Unfortunately it’s a schedule that could not be kept up forever: last season saw a rerun, and this time there only is one new anime, with the name of Silver Spoon. But it’s worth the watch!

The series you can compare this to the most easily is probably Moyashimon. Both series are about agricultural college with an oddball entering. Where Moyashimon focused on plants and germs, Silver Spoon focuses mostly on actual farming, and farm animals. The big differences come in the way the series are laid out: Moyashimon is random, silly, and overall rather shallow, compared to Silver Spoon being very meticulously constructed, and deep. And don’t get me wrong, it can get silly at times, but even that is very well plotted out. Compare it to how precise the comedy in Full Metal Alchemist always was.

Watch this show for the depth though: this series takes a look at the less pleasant sides of farming. And it does so with such grace! It doesn’t shy away from showing the fact that the animals in this series are destined for the slaughterhouse. It managed to create these very sympathetic characters who all have different roles and views on it, and they’re all affected by each other’s actions: some people accept it like it’s normal, others really need to take more time. The main character in this series is actually a really good one, because he challenges that view in nearly all of the characters. Of his age, in any case.

Beyond that it’s just an all around fun series to watch that goes into a lot of detail in some of the other aspects of working on a farm. There’s a second season coming up, but you can just as easily view this series standalone. There are a few episodes that perhaps break a it of the flow, or go on for a bit too long with the drama, but overall it’s a series that’s well worth the watch.
One-Sentence Review: This show is about farming, and it shows this in depth.
Suggestions:
Moyashimon
Nodame Cantabile

Posted on 24 September 2013 with categories: Silver Spoon

Silver Spoon: you definitely have earned the right of the saddest death of a pig in any anime ever. The final four episodes of the first season put the focus back from the part time job, to the little piglet we saw in the first number of episodes. For me this was by far the most profound part of the series.

It definitely does help that there was a lot of development between the main character and the pig. I mean, it really had impact when the date for its trip to the slaughterhouse got closer and closer, and he just kept on growing.The creators played well with that, and it’s definitely done better than with Moyashimon: the series feels much more cohesive and with a purpose. The central themes of this series? Brilliant!

If I had to pick a least favorite part of this series, then I’d say that it’s the part that took place in the holidays. It feels detached from the rest of the series, it abandoned half the cast, which broke the flow of the series a bit. In Moyashimon it would have fitted, but not here where the series is so well constructed otherwise. Anyway, looking forward to the second season!
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

Posted on 19 September 2013 with categories: Rozen Maiden 2013

Rozen Maiden, I applaud you. This series definitely has the best plot of the Summer Season series. In these three moments, this series really displayed that it was building up to something.

It’s great to see series that actually pay off. There are too many series that seem to be building up to stuff, only to not really do anything and go for a standard climax that just boils down to “defeat that bad guy” while doing drama things. Things like those are boring, and most often just pointless. Yeah, I guess that it’s all about the satisfaction of seeing an all-powerful being break down and all. But we’ve all been there. You need to spice things up.

I usually try to stay away from using other shows as examples, but ah. Screw it. I’m going to list some series that did this wrong (in my humble opinion, of course!). Slight spoilers may follow, but I’ll try to be as vague as possible.

K is a good example of a show that started off with promise, but didn’t do anything with it. And yeah, I know that it has a sequel coming, but that is no argument: I’ve said before that I don’t want to sit through an entire season if it’s just going to be build-up. It had all this build-up about these kinds… yet all of it didn’t really amount to anything: it was all very predictable, the characters took the most predictable turns in order to try and prevent things from going stale… not once did I feel like the creators were being really creative in where the plot was going.

Another area where this series could have gone wrong is in devolving into plain bad storytelling and devolving into plain stupidity. For that Tamako Market is a good example: you build up this nice and interesting family, who live in this interesting neighbourhood, only to completely derail the plot with that stupid prince subplot that never really went anywhere. And in the end, none of the build-up was really used.

Here, however. The first half of the series focused on the world of Jun who didn’t wind the key. It withheld a lot of characters. It put the entire cast of the show on a bus, save for Shinku and Suigintou, and focused on the intimate development between a very small set of characters. In these three episodes the characters went back to the other dimension, and it was glorious. Instead of one group of characters completely dominating the other, everything was balanced! Every character got his or her chance to shine and make impact!

A great example: in the second season of the original Rozen Maiden, Suigintou also made way for a different villain. However, here, her role as an anti-hero is SO MUCH BETTER. I love how she pretty much acknowledged that the reason why she held onto Suiseiseiki’s Rosa Mystica is pointless, and that she’s all doing it for “Father”. She’s neither good nor evil, she just has a huge price and doesn’t care about anything other than herself, and the creators haven’t overdone this by making her derail into either good or evil so far: she stayed true to herself, yet she also developed slightly, in the way that she stopped letting her pride get in the way of things that really don’t matter.

Also, Jun. I love what the creators did with him. For a while it was a bit weird how he created this new body for Kirakishou and all, but his development really put everything into place. The entire series is about people being trapped, trying to get out. In the past three episodes, a lot of characters actually succeeded in that. Jun did so by finally making decisions for himself. Going after his own feelings, rather than going with the flow. And the thing is: episode nine emphasized that his strongest bond is NOT necessarily with Shinku, the main doll of the series. Instead, Souseiseki is the doll HE made for himself. Not a replica or anything, it’s something he put together, outside of Shinku’s knowledge. The end of episode 11 remained vague about the outcome with the much hinted collapse of Shinku that could go either way here.

These episodes had so many things intertwine with each other, Really well done!
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

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  • K-Off
    (Sunday, May 29. 2016 06:24 AM)
    @Bam Finally going to start DSIII this monday, I’ll have to see what’s so special about this one since I wasn’t the biggest fan of DSII.
  • K-Off
    (Sunday, May 29. 2016 06:17 AM)
    Pretty pleased with my Vita so far, finished Danganronpa 2 and completed 100% of Ray Gigant this week. June looks like a pretty good month for the Vita, currently deciding whether or not I should purchase Odin Sphere or Grand Kingdom when they release. Of course I really should repair my WiiU gamepad before Mirage Sessions comes out.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, May 28. 2016 08:11 PM)
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, May 28. 2016 08:10 PM)
    @Wicked: I might read that I liked Kodocha and parts of honey bitter.
    @Mario: I think shion sono made a live action movie of that.
  • SuperMario
    (Saturday, May 28. 2016 11:57 AM)
    @Maamoo: if you like datk twisted psychological thriller I would recommend my favorite manga: psychometrer Eiji. It’s a shame that they haven’t adapted it to anime yet
  • Wicked
    (Saturday, May 28. 2016 09:22 AM)
    @Maamoo I got one that might be right in your wheelhouse called Partner by Miho Obana. It’s dark, twisted, and crazy. Problem is I just can’t find it licensed and published in english anywhere.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Friday, May 27. 2016 08:02 PM)
    @Maamoo: I suppose if you’re looking for a shoujo manga I’d recommend Black rose Alice, afterschool nightmare, Count cain(and its sequel Godchild), angel sanctuary.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Friday, May 27. 2016 07:59 PM)
    @Mamamoo: Keep in mind that although monster will be suspenseful/nailbiting/chilling/a mature thriller with one heck of a villain, it will have filler/drag/too many arcs. Berserk will be an experience of highs and lows and it kind of declines after a particular arc. Good decision choosing cardcaptor sakura’s manga over the anime, the anime I think left some stuff out.
  • mamamoo
    (Friday, May 27. 2016 05:35 PM)
    I’ve decided to get into manga on whim today after exclusively only watch anime for 6 years. I’m thinking of getting Monster, Berserk, Cardcaptor Sakura and 1 more. I think I want another shoujo manga in there to just keep the balance. Any recommendations? I like complicated\\pyschological dark stuff which sounds a bit contradictory to the shoujo genre but I’m just putting it out there for a recc
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, May 27. 2016 04:11 PM)
    @K-Off, I do have the option to update WordPress but to do so I need psgels FTP password. I could try sending him a message to see if I can get that or if he can do it himself.

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If you frequent the frontpage of Imgur or r/manga often, you may have seen some of my past manga recommendation lists before, but here’s some ongoing manga that I’ll recommend for now. This is in no particular order of best-worst, I’ve also embedded the links to the scanlations into the images for your convenience. 1. […]

New Manga Spotlight – Konya wa Tsuki ga Kirei Desu ga, Toriaezu Shi ne, Shoujo Fujuubun and Shimanami Tasogare

New Manga Spotlight – Konya wa Tsuki ga Kirei Desu ga, Toriaezu Shi ne, Shoujo Fujuubun and Shimanami Tasogare

Konya wa Tsuki ga Kirei Desu ga, Toriaezu Shi ne Two chapters so far. Ah love, that sweet nectar which all seek to experience. And truly there is nothing more romantic than gathering up your courage, inviting the girl you love up to the roof, taking her by the shoulders and proclaiming with all your […]

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Langrisser Re:Incarnation Tensei video game review- 35/100 (avoid it like the plague)

To preface, I’d call this the poor man’s Fire Emblem if it wasn’t so damn expensive for its quality, not to mention so difficult to find. Here in New York City outside of lower Manhattan, there’s game stores in Brooklyn, Queens, Flatiron, and Newport, to a total count of 12 game stores in a 20 […]

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DanganRonpa 2: Goodbye Despair Video Game Review – 90/100

There may be those of you who know this series more by its anime adaption instead of it’s video games and if you haven’t watched the anime of this I highly recommend that you don’t watch it. Instead play the games which have been recently ported to Steam. The reason I say this is that […]