Animated Suspense

There’re certain genres in anime that I feel will work better in live action, and also certain live action shows that are more effective in anime. For instance, magic, epic battles and anything exaggerated should in my opinion stick to animation. There is simply no way a live adaptation of Dragonball or Avatar: The Legend of Aang is going to beat the animated version, or even come close. However, there are 2 genres that I believe would work much better in live action, and they are: mystery and horror.

I’ve been watching Kindaichi Returns recently. It’s pretty okay, nothing spectacular yet, but I often feel a sense of emptiness watching the anime. I suppose it is pretty close to horror, because I remember when I watched murder mysteries (including Trick) I would feel a chill in my spine, wondering what was going on, and how the characters would ever get out of it! In anime, the sense of fear is somehow lost. When watching anime, I fail to get into the reality of the situation. After all, this whole thing is animated. The characters aren’t real. The animator can just draw something out to save everybody.

Another more important point is that in anime, you have a sense of doubt, that everything works because the artists can simply draw it that way. For instance, many murder mysteries like to use science to explain solutions. For instance, an episode of Detective Galileo showed how liquids react and change colour, and it was convincing because it was live action. Whereas if you see it in anime, you might think, “ah, the artists can re-colour it anyway they wish, since it’s all phony”. The miracles of nature fail to be convincing.

Same goes with horror too. I don’t feel that I identify with the characters because the situation seems very made up. This also includes romance. The true feeling of real flesh-and-blood characters isn’t there, so I don’t identify with them. The characters are too perfect, too well-drawn, everything is too ideal, that realism is gone. This is why fantasy works particularly well in anime, though, because every single artistic detail can be pinned down perfectly, and complexity and intricacy show off the artists’ expertise.

It’s not that all realistic stories fall flat in anime though. After all, Kotoha no Niwa, a Shinkai Makoto film, worked because the natural surroundings were drawn with such lifelike detail, the music stirred the emotions so much, that everything felt natural and real. Characters were drawn realistically and painstakingly, without the exaggerated anime eyes or breasts. If the storytelling had been a bit better, the movie would have been perfect. As it stands, the film isn’t particularly good because the plot was executed poorly, not because of the animation.

Of course, we also tend to cast a critical eye on live action adaptations of anime. No real-life person can ever look like their anime counterpart (though Koike Teppei does look like a perfect anime character). We will always feel dissonant when we see, say, a live action version of Sailor Moon, because it’s obvious they’re wearing wigs, and their complexions simply aren’t the same. It probably works the other way around too. I watched Kindaichi as a live action TV drama first, which is quite different from the anime version, and so I felt a bit out of touch with the character too. That said, I still think that live action and anime afford different viewing experiences, and really, some shows still work better in 1 than in another.

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The New Future of Anime and Manga

I was reading the manga Hoshi no Samidare recently — haven’t gotten to the end yet so I shan’t speak about it — and the manga brought to mind (quite intrusively) the defining element in all anime and manga of the 21st century. This is usually present in many anime — sometimes even anime that take themselves seriously — and certainly no less in Hoshi no Samidare. Even in anime that don’t have it, we keep a sub-conscious eye out for it, especially during the action scenes.

Ready to guess what it is? Panty shots.

Panty shots have always dominated the anime scene, even in Miyazaki Hayao’s My Neighbour Totoro (and some other Studio Ghibli projects), where the girls had such strangely billowing skirts and their little petticoats were always peeking. However, in recent years, the rise of hentai allusions in even non-hentai anime has resulted in panty shots being a thing. Even without them, characters would remark on them, as in the case of Mondaiji-tachi ga Isekai Kara Kuru Sou desu yo ne?, where Kuro Usagi, or Black Rabbit, was said to have the magical skill of being able to jump about in her little miniskirt without ever letting anyone see her panties. And in one scene, male lead Izayoi was determined to see her panties at least once (well admittedly in the entire show everybody seemed to be perving on Kuro Usagi). And of course, in Hoshi no Samidare, panty shots are a recurring joke whenever Samidare is fighting.

In the past century, boobs had been the thing. Everyone had ridiculously big boobs showing from excessively revealing clothing. In this day and age, moe becomes the winning factor, and breasts have correspondingly been scaled down to more realistic limits, and cleavages covered by slightly more decent clothes. Flat-chested girls are also seeing the limelight (though still continually being pointed out) and so the focus has shifted to underwear and the adorable panties, or “pantsu”, that ladies wear. It seems most girls delight in pink panties with ribbons and cartoon faces on them. Women out there, if you’re dating a man who watches anime, be sure to visit the children’s section when buying lingerie.

So, yes, if a little girl is too young to have boobs, she must have panties. This is the new hentai of the century. And speaking of hentai in general, I don’t know if this is because I’m growing up and seeing anime of my age range, but there seems to be a staggering increase in pervy jokes (like Seitokai Yakuindomo, an anime dedicated entirely to pervy jokes, with Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to coming in a close second). Even Sword Art Online had a strange undressing scene (between adolescents, no less), though SAO did turn into a hentai/harem fantasy towards the end of the show. I can see now why some Japanese men say that they see so much hentai that they’re immune to it.

Then again, Japanese men have the most peculiar sexual fetishes in real life, so I’m not sure what to believe. Either way, it can’t be good if your plots keep getting derailed into X-rated humour. Please show the ladies some respect, even if anime has traditionally never really done so.

Anime Movie Marathon

I did an anime movie marathon with my friends at the Anime Club on Friday. I watched 4 movies: the Steins;Gate movie, the AnoHana movie, REDLINE and Kazetachinu (the Wind Rises). I shall talk a little bit about each of them here.

Firstly, the Steins;Gate movie, Fuka Ryouiki no Deja Vu. It was a pretty great movie, set after the events of the special episode. Basically Okabe is still the only person who remembers the events of the anime, but it seems that all those pent-up memories are causing him to develop a variant of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and more urgently, causing him to disappear from the current timeline. One moment he is talking to Kurisu, and in the next he has disappeared. What is worse is that in the minds of everyone else, he has never existed. Daru became the founder of the lab, and the position of Lab Member 001 was “never filled”. The only person who remembers Okabe is Kurisu, and it is up to her to take the Time Machine, with Suzuha’s help, to find Okabe and make him stay in this timeline.

Doesn’t this sound like an exciting premise? I consider it Steins;Gate, Kurisu version. She re-creates the Time Machine, goes through time, and does basically all the things Okabe did in the show. Fans will be filled with great nostalgia during the show. Granted, the ending (to me) is a bit lame — then again, Steins;Gate had a great ending to contend with — but this is still very much worth a watch.

Secondly, in contrast, AnoHana’s movie is pretty puzzling. It is puzzling in that I don’t know how they expect fans to sit through it when it is 70% recap of the anime. The movie literally strings together all the events in the anime (with just a bit extra). Of course, all of us cried all over again at the memory of the last episode, but the movie provided nothing new, except perhaps a small resolution of what became of the characters 1 year after the events of the anime. That said, they didn’t really resolve the romantic tensions between Jintan x Anaru and Yukiatsu x Tsuruko either. The only redeeming quality there is that Yukiatsu has become a much more good-natured person.

Thirdly, the action-packed fast-paced intergalactic racing anime, REDLINE! Kimura Takuya has always been a rather acceptable seiyuu — his voice is a little rough, and not particularly distinctive, but he portrays the characters very well, just like in Howl’s Moving Castle. REDLINE is a very manly anime, and people who play Mario Kart would appreciate the adrenaline from tracks that resemble things like Rainbow Road, and cars with weapons to fire at the competitors. There are a lot of funny aliens, from slimy gooey monsters to tin can men who can turn into the wheels of his own car, and of course in such movies one can’t miss out on busty women. There’s a lot of action and not much thinking required.

On the other hand, the last movie, Kazetachinu, has loads of thinking, so much so that it left me quite baffled halfway through. The story is about a man (Horikoshi Jiro, who was really the designer of the Mitsubishi A5M and A6M Zero, which were used during World War II) who has dreamed of building aircraft from young. Once in a while, he will dream of Italian airplane designer Caproni, who inspires him with some new aircraft technology.

The truly confusing part comes in the middle of the movie onwards. Jiro grows up and is employed into some aircraft designing firm (which I learn from Wikipedia is Mitsubishi), and then goes to Germany to do technical research. The only part I understand is that he meets a girl he knew from his youth and they fall in love and decide to marry, but the girl is the daughter of a rich man and is afflicted with tuberculosis. They are forced to part as she goes to the mountains to get treated, but halfway through she comes to visit him and they decide to get married and live together. To them, they would rather spend her remaining time together, rather than let her stay in the mountains and risk not seeing each other for years. Naturally she died towards the end.

What with aircraft technical terms being thrown around in Japanese, the audience was sent on a mind-boggling ride (complete with bad subtitles, but that’s not the movie’s fault) and the ending wasn’t particularly helpful. Suddenly, quite without warning, it ends off in dream mode again, saying that Jiro’s airplanes were used in the war to wreak harm onto civilians, and went against his original dream. And so I guess it was a bad ending? The movie’s so intelligent that the audience doesn’t even know what is the correct feeling they should have.

And so this is a summary of what we watched. There was the intelligent, the emotional, the action-packed. There were familiar and new characters alike. Movie marathons can be pretty thrilling when you get to make comments with friends and enjoy them together!

Anime Endorsement

You would think that using anime to advertise a school, like the Z-kai prep school thing, is a pretty rare occurrence. But increasingly, anime has been used to advertise other products, and I’m not talking about the Taiwanese Photoshopping their instant noodle packets to include Shingeki no Kyojin references.

Recently, Japan has used a group of moe anime girls as mascots for recruitment into its Japan Self-Defence Force (yes, the military). Volunteers increased by 20% after the release of these army-uniform-toting women.

http://sgcafecosplay.blogspot.sg/2014/01/jsdfs-moe-mascot-girls-prove-to-be.html

I wonder what those boys will think when they enter and realise it is all an illusion.

On another more relevant note to us public, green tea has recently become moe-fied as well!

http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/interest/2014-05-05/lawson-offers-idolm@ster-green-tea-with-new-campaign

Lawson is a popular convenience store in Japan. Convenience stores in Japan, by the way, are really convenient. They sell everything from food to magazines and even offer photocopying services. You can even buy tickets for concerts, or do postal services, in those places.

At any rate, Lawson is teaming up with Idolm@ster to promote their upcoming PS3 game, as well as gain some rep for their green tea. They even launched a promotional illustration of Idolm@ster girls eating chicken nuggets and onigiri. Not to mention the highlight, which is collectible bottles of green tea emblazoned with one of the Idolm@ster girls. Get all 12 today!

With trends like this, who needs real-life celebrities to endorse anything anymore? Just pay a company to draw their anime characters enjoying your products (or enlisting in the army) and you have a ready stream of customers! This works particularly well for influencing males in Japan, who have a x4 weakness to moe. And you don’t get problems of celebrity behaviour damaging your product reputation either. Those ladies will always be pure, well-behaved and charming to the public. At least, till they “age”, also known as the anime ending and fading away from public consciousness. These girls can’t join some new anime to become famous again — their fame is dependent on their show. So this is in a way a short-term measure.

Of course, drawing your own mascots means they’re not tied to any show. But without a show backing them up, simply moe girls also won’t last in the vicious competition of cuteness.

I’d like to see some examples of pretty anime men being used to advertise for a female audience. I’m quite sure I would buy any cosmetic with some pretty anime man on it, looking sultrily at me! Though I draw the line at acne removers. There are many Japanese actors endorsing acne removers, and somehow the effect doesn’t quite work out so well for me.

We Are All Doujin Around Here

I realised that yesterday’s entry seemed to overlap a lot with today’s. I started off talking about a derivative of novels, which seemed to weave itself into an anime route. To make up for it, I shall talk today about a kind of anime-inspired material that can also be literary (but is still mainly on the anime front, unfortunately).

Doujin, when taken literally, means “same person”, meaning people who share the same interests. In anime culture, however, doujin refers to self-published amateur works, which can be manga, novels or even games. If you’re a hobbyist who just created something to sell, you’ve just made yourself a doujin.

Most doujin products that you see outside are fan-made products, or derivatives from existing anime. All the anime posters that you buy in the Creators’ Corner at Anime Fest Asia are doujin, because they weren’t produced by the company as official merchandise. They are also produced in relatively low quantity, to avoid charges of litigation. Yes, I bet you were wondering why these people don’t get sued for profiteering off established fandoms. They probably earn so little that the organisations turn a blind eye.

On a literary bent, fanfiction can also be sold as doujin. Authors will package their stories nicely into a book — probably 10 in stock — with perhaps their friends doing cover illustrations, and sell them. Amateur music can also be sold, perhaps recorded in store-bought CDs. The most popular is still probably the doujinshi, the doujin manga. However, the first doujin were poetry and novels, during the Meiji period, and published in literary magazines.

In Japan, the biggest doujin convention is undoubtedly the Comiket (Comic Market). It is, I believe, held twice a year in Tokyo, and various creators set up booths selling their wares. Some artists use doujin as an opportunity to make a professional debut. In modern times, doujin circles also arise in schools as student groups. For instance, FantaisieNocturne Productions is a local doujin circle. Its head, as well as some of its members, are in the NUS Anime Club, which is how I know of them. They produce works of excellent quality, and the head really is a great artist, and knows how to earn money out of popular fandoms.

Their site looks just a bit glitchy to me, but it has some of their written works, and the art is pretty good.

http://fnpro.tk/

However, the magic of FNP lies in their ability to make fan art look so real, as you can see on their Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/fnp.sg

Enough advertising. At any rate, the doujin community is steadily gaining ground, with people blowing hard-earned money in the Comiket. And most of these fan art are so much like the real deal (or sometimes even better) that some people feed off their otaku obsessions entirely off doujin. And with doujin being such a cheaper and more personalised alternative, I completely understand why!

Anime Sexual Deviations

Following on from the topic I was talking to my friends about today, anime does have a lot of sexual deviations. It has been said that the amount of sexual fetishist material is so high that Japanese men are now de-sensitised to them. Lolitas, cross-dressing, boobs, they have seen so much of them that they aren’t even affected anymore.

In every anime nowadays, it seems necessary to include fanservice segments, whether for male or female audiences (well, even in live action dramas the same principle applies, really). Many anime now have a perverted man (or sometimes many perverted men) who makes sexual innuendoes and is constantly trying to look up a girl’s skirt. Imoutocons, or “little sister complex”, where male leads fall in love with their sometimes not-blood-related younger sisters (increasingly this has reached a point where siblings are allowed to fall in love even if they’re blood related). Traps exist for the bisexual or sexually confused. And the amount of boy-love or girl-love connotations has reached an all-time high, especially with Free! and some more explicit modern yuri anime.

If there was ever a stark example of the collective representation of women in the media, the anime industry is one. I cannot wait to take the Media & Representation module and see what they have to say about anime, because I can assure you that girls who watch anime are being blatantly socialised into some demeaning roles.

First of all, there is always the traditional subservient girl model. Granted, there are a lot of anime that showcase girl power, but most of the “powerful” ladies aren’t the taken ones. Just looking at Mahouka Koukou no Rettosei is enough to convince me that the stereotype has far from abated. Look at Miyuki. She is gentle, quiet, shy, and extremely compliant to Tatsuya, and she doesn’t voice her opinions aloud. The typical ideal Japanese lady.

Secondly, there seem to be certain expectations anime women have to fulfil, one visible one is breast size. If you’re to be a woman to be respected, you must have a decent breast size. No proper anime female lead is ever flat-chested (even poor Mayuri has got to undergo some implants). If she is flat-chested, she is most likely to be prepubescent like Shana in Shakugan no Shana. If a girl is not prepubescent and is yet flat-chested, she is guaranteed not to have a boyfriend. Comedies would take delight in poking fun of this trait.

Thirdly, there is of course the obsession with cuteness. If you have seen ladies fascinated with Japanese culture, you will know what I mean. They wear coloured contact lenses, cut their hair into a doll fringe, wear pink Hello Kitty hairclips, a flowery dress and sometimes high socks. This is the epitome of an anime girl, in the flesh. What this also looks like is a girl who has strangely not grown up. And that is really the point. Anime girls have wide eyes, small noses and faces, and look pretty much like a little girl’s face with a hot body, not to mention a babyish high-pitched voice. They also dress in school uniform, not unlike the idealised costume I mentioned before. So basically what anime wants is for women to be forever young, even when they’re growing older. Think about it. Isn’t it just a tad creepy to expect a woman to dress, look and act like a kid, and then men get all turned on by these “moe” ways?

This, I think, is the most entrenched fetish of all, and the scary part is that it has become internalised in both its male and female audiences.

The Truth About Seiyuu

To hardcore anime fans, seiyuu are like actors in dramas. They watch specific shows just to listen to their wonderful voices, and swear that the role would be different if a different person had taken it. There are even annual award ceremonies to reward the “best” performing seiyuu of the year. The similarities that seiyuu have to actors are endless.

And yet, the fact remains that seiyuu use only their voice, whereas actors present both their voice and their appearance in shows. Surely the more limiting medium where seiyuu present themselves will have a difference? For instance, many people only watch anime for the plot, sometimes the artwork, but they swear that “all the voices sound the same”. And really, if you think about it, don’t you find that a lot of people really have the same voice? It’s so easy to mistake one voice for another. How can we be expected to recognise the distinctiveness of every seiyuu’s voice?

I present you the example of Taketatsu Ayana, Kugimiya Rie and Toyama Nao. Tell me if you can tell them apart.

In another example, listen to Kamiya Hiroshi as Mephistopheles in Ao no Exorcist, Koyomi Araragi in Monogatari and Michael Blanc in Macross Frontier. You wouldn’t be able to tell with 100% confidence that these were all by the same man. And he was Natsume in Natsume Yuujinchou and Levi in Shingeki no Kyojin too, on a side note.

On another side note, I’m quite sure the mere mention of Kamiya Hiroshi is enough to send fangirls squealing, judging by the results of some seiyuu polls nowadays. Seiyuu favourites have a noticeable trend. Some years back it had been Fukuyama Jun during the Code Geass craze, then Miyano Mamoru took over during Gundam 00, and now it’s Kamiya Hiroshi. I’m not sure why, but I’m guessing Levi’s fame in Shingeki no Kyojin has something to do with it, together with its role in propelling Kaji Yuuki (Eren) to greater fame.

I guess it’s not really a side note, because it comes back to my point. Maybe the seiyuu don’t really sound different, but it’s dependent on what characters they happen to be voicing presently. Of course, characters that require more voicing talent would be rated more favourably, such as Fukuyama Jun and his Lelouch voice (and to some extent Wakamoto Norio). We all loved Mayuri in Steins;Gate, and so Hanazawa Kana became the most likeable female seiyuu now. Like any other career in the entertainment industry, a lot of luck is involved. Singers may get lucky and sing a popular song. Actors get lucky and land a blockbuster job. Authors get lucky and write a bestseller. Not that they don’t have talent, but they needed the luck to land a job that would show off the most of their talent.

Though admittedly some seiyuu are really bad. I don’t think much of generic squeaky girl voices, for instance. There are also some seiyuu that I personally dislike, such as Tomatsu Haruka. She’s fine, and definitely doesn’t belong in the category of “bad” seiyuu. I just don’t feel much of a connection with her. Neither do I like Fukuyama Jun or Sakamoto Maaya, though I respect that they have their strengths.

Just a last note on seiyuu, not all good seiyuu make good singers. I am getting royally vexed that they’re making seiyuu sing the openings and endings of their anime. Kamiya Hiroshi may make the best voice for gentle guys, but he sings out of tune! No matter how hard you try to hide it with your auto-tuning!

A list of seiyuu I know and the kind of roles I remember them for.

Male

Irino Miyu — young boys, mostly lovers~

Kamiya Hiroshi, Namikawa Daisuke — gentle men

Miyano Mamoru — I always remember him as Okabe Rintarou in Steins;Gate. Any other role is weird for him!

Shimono Hiro, Yonaga Tsubasa, Terashima Takuma — all the cute boys basically. Terashima Takuma especially has such a refreshingly young voice!

Ono Daisuke — people with deeper voices, though probably biased because of K in Zero Escape

Suzumura Kenichi — happy-go-lucky young men! Biased from Lavi in D.Gray-Man

Seki Tomokazu — He is both the lazy Daru in Steins;Gate and the fiery Gilgamesh in Fate/Stay Night and Fate/Zero. I… I don’t know what to say.

Female

Hanazawa Kana — any cute girl like Mayuri. And there are probably a lot of such people everywhere.

Taketatsu Ayana, Kugimiya Rie, Toyama Nao, Kitamura Eri, Nanjou Yoshino — cute girls with high-pitched voices that are more irritating than Hanazawa Kana.

Sakamoto Maaya, Mizuki Nana, Tomatsu Haruka — girls with voices that are at least normal, thank goodness

Obviously I was being biased there, but I admit, most girls sound terribly similar. So do most guys, but as I said, biased.

The State of Anime Now

I am growing disillusioned about anime (though I’ll still keep up this column, if that’s what you’re worried about). The last time I saw a good anime was probably in 2012, when Fate/Zero came on. After that, well, subsequent anime seemed to comprise either of weird humour or excessive violence (Fate/Zero was already treading the latter category, but I’m mainly looking at Psycho-Pass). Of course, this is a very harsh and unjust labelling of anime (what is weird? what is excessive?), which I won’t go into here. Instead, I’ll focus on some changes I’ve seen in the anime of today.

1. Audience

Anime of the 21st century does not cater to the same audience as anime of the past. If you saw my previous entry of noitaminA, it may strike you immediately that no sane person will be staying up past midnight to watch anime, which means that the ones watching anime are increasingly hikikomori or international audiences who catch their favourite shows anytime they want. You can see the influence of international audiences already, particularly in how more and more shows include an English version of their title below the Japanese one, or even in the decreasing number of shows set in Japan.

Aside from nationality, one salient point is that anime now caters to people who are very genre-savvy. This is one point I see everywhere. Chuunibyou assumes that people know the extent to which giant weapons and “Dark Flame Masters” impacted our lives in the 1990s and 2000s. Kyoukai no Kanata, as I repeatedly emphasised, assumes that people know enough about demons, exorcists and superpowers that they don’t have to spend time explaining their relationship. More and more elements are treated as common knowledge, “demon lords”, “elemental powers”, that there is very little discovery of such things anymore.

Miyazaki Hayao criticised the anime of today as being “made by otakus who do not go out to observe people in reality”. In the same vein, anime is also geared towards otakus, sometimes quite obviously. Look at the number of protagonists who are “hikikomoris”, or otherwise socially maladaptive. In fact, too socially-savvy people are regarded with distrust.

2. Art quality

Art quality has definitely visibly increased. I was watching Kindaichi Returns the other day and noticing their old-fashioned way of drawing — big eyes, small face, white streak in their hair. And really, anime art has gone a long way, such that it can be hard to tell what is drawn and what isn’t (see Shinkai Makoto). People look a lot more attractive in anime (sometimes even better than real humans). I have high hopes for this, and hope they never go into 3-D like American cartoons have done.

3. Language

I have heard more than one person lament that watching anime helped them in learning the casual form in Japanese, but not much else. There is a profound lack of usage of the polite form in anime, or pretty much anything you’ll need to get around in Japan. But that’s old news. What is new is the rise of new vocabulary only known to anime viewers. Things like “Nendoroids”, “Chuunibyou”, and a host of other words used with exclusive meaning among the anime community. Anime has started its own lexicon.

These are just some of the changes I see in the new generation of anime. What do you think?

Noitamina 10th Anniversary Fan Vote

Noitamina recently celebrated its tenth anniversary, and as such made a poll asking voters to choose the best show ever aired during its block, as well as their favourite Mr and Miss Noitamina anime leads.

First of all, I should backtrack a bit and clarify what Noitamina means. Noitamina is a TV block on Fuji TV channel that airs anime, which is Friday midnight from 12.45 am to 1.45 am. I don’t know who watches television at that time of night, but I can only assume youngsters (notably hikikomori otaku) would do so. In addition, a funfact that Noitamina is “animation” spelled backwards, which is why it is usually written as noitaminA.

This channel has aired plenty of shows, from Honey & Clover to more recently Gin no Saji 2 and Samurai Flamenco. And so, the results!

Miss Noitamina: Akane from Psycho-Pass

Mr Noitamina: Kogami from Psycho-Pass

I have no comments about either of them, except that I guess they’re compatible.

The Scene That Pulled Heartstrings: Episode 10 of AnoHana (“you love me as in you want to marry me, right?”)

Oh yes, I remember the scene now! That was indeed a pretty great scene.

Most Memorable Music: Sakamichi no Apollon opening and ending themes

Considering that this is an anime about music, where characters form a jazz band, I am highly anticipatory of the kind of music they produce. I shall remember to watch this.

Most Shocking Scene: AnoHana Episode 4 (Yukiatsu Menma)

For those not in the know, Yukiatsu Menma is basically the scene where it turns out Yukiatsu has a fetish for dressing up as Menma. I agree that it was very shocking but also very well done.

Most Memorable Line: “my power of the king!” from Guilty Crown

Doesn’t seem very memorable to me out of context.

Best Episode: Psycho-Pass Episode 11

I would argue that I like AnoHana better, since it has won so many “best scene” awards, but I guess the episode of Psycho-Pass beats all of that.

There was also a woobie category on the “Best Sakurai Takahiro Character”. The winner of that went to Makishima from Psycho-Pass. Just FYI, Sakurai Takahiro also did Yukiatsu in AnoHana. Aside from that, he was Meme Oshino in Bakemonogatari, Suzaku in Code Geass and Kanda in D.Gray-Man, so there was no lack of good material for voting. Having known a few Sakurai Takahiro characters in my anime life, it comes as no surprise that I am excited about this category.

So there you have it, you can see what the fans like. For those who love Psycho-Pass, Season 2 is coming out in October, but you probably know that already. One other upcoming anime that I’ve heard about is Ping Pong. The art is pretty strange, and it covers a sport as mundane as table-tennis. From what I see so far, I know none of the seiyuu. Just putting it out there because, well, you’ve really got to check out the art.

I wish I had a seiyuu poll, where I get to pick my favourite characters out of each of the seiyuu I like. Maybe I should do an entry like that someday.

Kyoukai no Kanata — Episode 0

Kyoukai no Kanata, the KyoAni anime we all love to hate, is releasing the seventh volume of its Blu-Ray DVD soon. While this isn’t precisely news to us, fans (if there’re still any) will be pleased to know that this DVD edition comes with an Episode 0, which is a special episode that is like a prequel to the story. This Episode 0, entitled Shinnome (or Daybreak) will take place 2 years before the events of the anime and is basically about how Hiroumi and Mitsuki meet Akihito for the first time. Sounds very cool, considering that when we met these people in the anime, they were already good friends. So how would a family of Exorcists (as I like to call them) get to know and even befriend a half-demon? Hopefully this episode will clear up some loose ends.

What is also included in this seventh volume are 2 new shorts of the Beyond the Boundary Idol Trial! For lucky people who haven’t caught the first 3 shorts posted online, these are terrible. Imagine all the girls in the show in chibi form, presiding some trashy excuse for a courtroom, with Ai — the useless little fox demon who is there for “moe” effect — being an extremely ditzy judge, and a jury of all other girls such as Mirai, Mitsuki and Sakura. And they “judge” silly court cases like Akihito’s glasses fetish and Hiroumi flaunting his naked body. And then the girls descend into some weird terribly-animated chibi dance performance. Basically each short is a pain to watch. I mean, yeah, they’re cute, but then this bimbotic cuteness can only go so far.

Since we’re on the subject of Kyoukai no Kanata, perhaps I shall chime in to talk about how under-developed the plot is. Most people have 2 complaints and 1 compliment. The first complaint relates to 1 episode in the middle of the series, which is basically a filler episode showing them as some kind of singing group. The compliment comes somewhat at the climax, where it is revealed that Mirai’s behaviour throughout the show can be explained that she already knew Akihito’s true form from the beginning, and that she had been tasked to kill him all along, and only feigned ignorance. It’s pretty awesome, cuz you start thinking of all the foreshadowing you had missed, except in my opinion it wasn’t a very good explanation at all. Frankly Mirai hadn’t stricken me as a person that capable of deception.

And finally, the biggest complaint, the ending. It can be summarised as “Mirai being alive is a delusion — she’s actually dead in reality”, followed by “it turns out Mirai isn’t actually dead”, followed by “oh oops she’s really dead now” followed by “well guess what, she’s alive after all”. Most people would rather she died along with the show’s producers.

As for me, another criticism I have towards the show is that it leaves many questions unanswered, namely “what became of Hiroumi and his family in the end?” It looks like Hiroumi found out the deep dark secret of his elder sister (by the way, what was the big deal again? I forgot), and then next we see him becoming leader of the clan in her place. What happened between those 2 scenes? We never know. That is I think the most perplexing part of the last episode, which really ought to have been addressed.

Alright, enough ranting, the show’s over long ago. In any case it’s not all bad. The show has some surprisingly good seiyuu (notably Taneda Risa, who was part of the reason Mirai’s so jaw-droppingly cute; and KENN was also pretty good) and some decent, catchy music. The art is of course the magic of KyoAni. So basically everything was good, if only they’d brushed up on the plot by a lot. So it’s not entirely a no-go, but just try not to watch it with too high expectations.

And I certainly look forward to that Episode 0, even if my darling Mirai probably won’t be showing up.