Anime Kenkai: Looking Back On Yesteryear

Titlecards-looking back

Welcome faithful students, today we will have a simple lecture, consider it a brush up of the basics and nothing more. However if you’ve seen what is listed on here please don’t be afraid to make a comment about them, share in your opinion about whether you agree or disagree. After all, nothing is gained without questioning about it in the first place. Now, shall we begin?

It’s been fun watching Anime evolve as I’ve grown up. When I was a kid, the coolest anime I ever saw was Gundam Wing on Toonami but as series like Outlaw Star, Tenchi Muyo, the transference of Sailor Moon, and other anime that graced my tv screen made me hunger for more. I didn’t really get into actually analyzing anime’s story lines until much later as an adult, paying attention to themes and actually caring about things such as character development and story arcs. At the time anime for me was just cool robots, hot women, and violence I never saw in american cartons. Sure I watched Batman the Animated series, Gargoyles, and other cartoons that were focused on superheroes but people forget that the most violent things on those shows was cut away to a reaction shot. While the cut versions of anime also did that, enough was left in if there was a silhouette of a character being split in two or the blood would be edited out in case of gunshots or stabbings. Anyways the point I’m trying to get across was that for me and others who got into anime were introduced to something that really was different from what we had grown up with.

Right now though I want to take a look at a couple of anime that came about last year, the ones I’ve really gotten into, some of these will probably be familiar and others might be obscure.

Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma

foodwars_imagesOkay before you write this one off, here me out on this; Food Wars is actually really damn good. The premise of the series is this: Yukihira Soma is a teenage chef who wants to surpass his father in cooking; when his father leaves to go traveling around the world and improve his own skills, he sends Soma to a culinary school that is one of the most world renowned culinary schools for having only ten percent of their student body graduating. Soma now has to prove he’s worthy of being seen as a chef by competing in cooking challenges against other young prodigies. Shenanigans ensue with plenty of cheesecake shots. Look I’ll be the first to admit that anime lately seems more to be about showing glorified cheesecake shots of under age girls who are sometimes ridiculously stacked than actual characters and story. That’s not to say all anime is like that, it is just a trend the medium has been going with more and more. Food Wars however has fun characters and a fun story as well, sure there is cheesecake but then when your artist is an ex-hentai artist who just wanted to make something non-hentai, you realize it adds to the comedic charm of the series. Soma himself is a pretty fun main character as he realizes he isn’t the best in the bunch but actually sees that as a fantastic challenge for himself to get even better. Highly recommended by me and a few of my friends even, the animation is fantastic, the humor is on point, and the story itself is well told; in fact it’s easy for me to get invested in the cooking battles because of the animation and cooking lessons along with it, give this a watch when you can.

Rokka -Braves of the Six Flowers-

rokka_imagesRokka is one of those anime I literally looked at and went “This…could be interesting…” and you know what? I was right. Happily proven right in fact as the show is gorgeous to watch in motion. It’s bright, colorful, and the 3D blends in pretty damn well. You know what anime doesn’t do a lot? Latin American aesthetics. I’m talking about using Mezopotamya styles, Inca and Maya inspirations in world building. That’s one of Rokka’s best strong points, and it’s others are just as good. The set up is this: in a fight between good and evil, the goddess of fate chooses six champions, or the Brave Six Flowers as they’re known in legend to fight against the god of evil and his minions. However when Adlet and his soon to be companions gather, it turns out there are seven, something that has never happened before. While Adlet is our main protagonist, the other six are also given plenty of screen time to show off their skills and some backstory. The big thing with Rokka is the actual mystery of the seventh Brave, which they logically assume is an imposter meant to destroy the group from the inside. It was fun for me, and some others you might know on this site guessing about who the fraud is, and if there’s probably a double bluff coming in the future. Rokka is something I hope desperately gets a much needed second season as the ending of the first raises more questions and this is definitely a world I’ve loved to see explored. Please watch this series, and hopefully you’ll be right along with me wishing this is one of the anime that gets that much needed second and possibly third season.

Iron-Blooded Orphans: Mobile Suit Gundam

ironbloodedorphans_imagesWatch. This. Series. No seriously, go watch Iron Blooded Orphans. I want to talk about it without spoiling it but I’m not sure how I can do this… Alright here I go: Iron Blooded Orphans is about a group of child soldiers from Mars Colony who decided that they don’t want to be the tools of war. From there it’s fantastic writing, beautiful animation, and music that is sublime to listen to. I can’t spoil Iron Blooded Orphans, I just can’t. It’s something you have to watch on your own and then when you do share it with whoever loves anime and Gundams. Seriously, why are you still reading this? Go watch it, it’s getting another season too, in fact it’s offseason right now so you can totally watch it and catch up to it before the next season. It’s on Hulu and Crunchyroll, or if you want it’s probably on other streaming sites. Don’t pirate this series though, please this is one of those series that deserves a high viewership that translates into the creators getting paid money. Just watch it, take like a holiday and binge the whole thing if you want, make the time for at least one episode per day. It doesn’t treat the audience like morons, it actually is subtle about the message and does want you to think. That’s the sign of a good series, one that makes you think while you enjoy it. Like I can write an entire thing about why Iron Blooded Orphans is probably one of the best anime that has come out in this decade, at least so far, and why it deserves to be remembered with stuff like Code Geass or Gundam Seed. Just… Just watch this series.

My Love Story

mylovestory_images“Slice of Life” anime aren’t something I’m into, most of the time. I’ve probably said this before but I just avoid that type of anime because I’m not interested in sitting through what is essentially teen-soap operas in animated form. However, every now and then a series comes along with something that actually peaks my interest. “Actually, I Am…” (which is on this list), Ouran Host (a fantastic classic), Nisekoi, and now here is  My Love Story does that. The plot to the anime is pretty simple: you’re watching the story of Gouda Takeo as he experiences what is his first relationship. The twist about this though? Takeo would normally be the side character to any other romance series. He’s not a bishi (good looking guy) like his best friend, in fact he’s not good looking at all. He’s a giant guy, he’d be the comic relief you’d see in every other romance anime. The best part? The girl he’s dating IS someone you’d see as the other protagonist in a romance series. Yet she totally loves Takeo, and the fun is watching these two experience their first love together and actually hoping they don’t lose it. It’s hilarious to watch Takeo do super-human feats while also proving why he shouldn’t be single. He’s nice, he’s caring, he sees the god in people, and honestly when you see the other women he associates with you realize that he really is too good for them and that they’re just shallow. Anyways this is probably one of my favorites and it’s something I definitely recommend to anyone. Good animation, funny writing, and a very likable cast, this one didn’t disappoint me and my friends.

Is It Wrong to Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?

isitwrong_imagesThis was show was such an infuriating and fun watch for me. On the one hand I love the world, I’m a sucker for taking every pantheon of gods and having them run around with mortals, the show even gave me the dungeons from Magi again, which is great. Hell the characters aren’t bad either, in fact I genuinely like the protagonist, even when the show is getting borderline Harem-esque because he does have a personality that isn’t “milk-toast”. Look here’s the premise of the series: in the world of Orario, gods and mortals live together. We follow the exploits of Bell Cranel, a young adventurer who, along with other adventurers, explore a place only known as “The Dungeon” a labyrinth where monsters are fought and amazing treasures are found. However Bell isn’t interested in the fame and money, he’s looking for a special gal! Okay so the series might not have the best of intentions summary wise but hey, let’s not be rash here. The  Animation is great, but this is where the show kind of ticked me off: so much blatant cheesecake. You know, I don’t mind this kind of fan service, I actually like it too but guys, there has to be a line here at some point where too much can really ruin the good things in your series. Don’t be like No Game, No Life; another series I really wanted to see keep going but was so drenched in unnecessary amounts of over sexualization, that I just couldn’t bring myself to miss it when it wasn’t renewed. I want to love you show, I want to proudly put you in my collection of anime that I can watch again and again, but you gotta stop pushing so much on the freaking cheesecake. Still, this is a series I enjoy and do recommend despite the shortcomings. I just won’t be surprised if you find it lacking among the other recommendations.

Actually, I Am…

actuallyiam_imagesOh hey look, it’s something I mentioned in another recommendation of mine! This is another fun “Slice of Life” series that was recommended to me by our Priest of Gamers. Except with Werewolves that have a sex change when they “transform”, tiny Aliens in robot versions of themselves, and Vampires. Oh also there was possessed magical glasses too. The premise is pretty simple but fun: Asahi Kuromine just can’t keep a secret, and when he tries to finally confess to his latest crush, Yoko Shiragami, his feelings but he stumbles upon her secret: she’s actually a vampire! The worst part is that she’s only allowed to attend school by her parents as long as she isn’t found out! Now Kuromine is going to do everything he can to keep this secret and get closer to Shiragami in the process. It was clever, the jokes were funny, and while I feel “My LOVE Story” is superior, I still want more of this series too. The shenanigans that Kuromine and company get into are actually fun to watch and the relationship between him and Shiragami slowly develop is pretty sweet. I’m really not expecting this one to get picked up for a second season though, but hey if it does I’ll be watching it just to see where the story goes and maybe hope for a third season in the process. Heck if you can’t stand the popularity of “Everyday Life with Monster Girls” and want to be a bit of hipster (please don’t), you can watch this instead and try to get it to be the “actual good series involving anthropomorphic girls”. Only don’t, just watch the series and not be a douche about it like an actual human being.

Monster Musume “Everyday Life with Monster Girls”

monstermusume_imagesYou probably heard of this one but I’d be remiss if I didn’t say something about this. Monster Musume is the more interesting version of Actually I Am, the girls are likable, the main character isn’t a complete blank slate, and I genuinely wanted to see how the world is affected by the revelation that mythical beasts have always existed and wanted to live among humans. The premise is pretty much how I stated earlier: the world finds out that mythical beasts really do exist and that they’ve been hiding until modern day. Now they’re slowly reintegrating themselves into modern culture, with the help sponsor families and the government itself. The most frustrating part about this series is that there clearly is a much more interesting premise outside of the “Harem” story going on with a different group of Monster Girls who are part of a special forces group specifically designed to take out Monsters that intentionally commit crimes that would put the peace of Humans and Monsters at risk. The Harem side is nice though, and the main character genuinely cares for the various girls that live with him even if he isn’t pursuing any of them for sexual gratification, although he’s not completely brain dead to that notion thankfully. The girls themselves have pretty standard Harem-esque personalities: the dominatrix, the tragedy lover, the lolita that’s actually legal age, the well meaning ditz, the honorable one, and of course the risque but loving one. That’s not necessarily their defining traits but again you’d need to watch the series to see what I’m talking about. Really want that spin-off though, in fact can we just change the second season to that? Well maybe it’s second season will be more interesting as they’re hinting at some pretty interesting issues that have been touched upon in the show itself but not fully fleshed out. A good watch that’s easily recommended.

Last Word…

As I said before, no need to put these in any specific ranking or ordering, but I still recommend each series to you. When we come back we’ll dive into a proper lesson so come prepared. Again if you have anything you’d like to share with the class about today’s subjects, please don’t hesitate. Until then, you are dismissed.