Thursday, October 31, 2013

Anime I've Gotten Into/Currently Watching: Fall 2013

Hello again. First off: Happy Halloween. I tried to find a General Zod costume in my size (specifically, the version with his battle armor from Man of Steel); but there weren't any. I ultimately just bought an Iron Patriot mask and a Captain America shirt to be a low-budget Iron Patriot. Second, I know my recap of The Heart of the Cards is behind, but I have taken the screencaps and I am in the process of writing the recap. Third: because of the workload I have in school, I will have to postpone the Halloween marathon. I will probably be recapping the Soul Eater episode "The Ultimate Paper Test" to deal with midterms coming up. It has a sort of Halloween theme to it; and it will probably be up in early November; kind of like how The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror sometimes airs then because of being preempted by the baseball playoffs. (note: This year's special was OK. Not quite as good as last year's, but standout bits where the opening guest-directed by Guillermo Del Toro, and the parody of the classic horror film Freaks).

For now, I will give my thoughts on some of the anime that I've started this fall. Both ones from the fall 2013 season and that I started this fall.

Pok mon The Series XY

Once again, I'm starting with something Pok mon-related. This is the newest season of the long-running anime; based on the new video games, Pok mon X and Y. I managed to get a 3DS and a copy of Pok mon Y last week. As of this writing, I am about 16 hours in. I started with a Froakie, who I named Rash (the game wouldn't let me use my original name of Pimple. I know it often makes you change it if you try to name it something vulgar, but I'm surprised Nintendo and Game Freak apparently has some stigma against pimples. Much like that one Best Wishes episode where the gang has to wear afros to blend in among some Bouffalant; and the dub apparently had some stigma against the word "afro." Just as well, I put on "Staying Alive" and they got the message). My Kanto starter for a prospective Mega Evolution is Mako, in honor of the late actor Mako Iwamatsu, the voice of Iroh in Avatar: The Last Airbender before his death in 2006 and the name of the firebender in Korra's circle in The Legend of Korra (I recommend both, as Mike and Bryan managed to capture the cinematic look and feel of the works of Studio Ghibli and setting new standards for not only anime-influenced western animation; but for animation in general. They both have writing, voice acting, and animation that rival some theatrical productions). I got the wi-fi Torchic with the Mega Stone, and my current roster includes a Pikachu named "Pika", a Spritzee named "Versace", and a Ducklett named "Donald." Word of advice to players: because of how big Kalos is and how the battle system has been changed, your abilities will be tested whether you're a new trainer or a seasoned veteran.

Anyway, I have seen the first three episodes in subtitled form, and the first two dubbed ones when they aired as a 1-hour sneak preview after the Genesect movie (which I haven't seen yet. It's on my backlog). I personally enjoyed how the animation is so slick and colorful; and that Ash once again displays the optimism and courage he's known for. I'm enjoying how Professor Sycamore is depicted more or less accurately as he is in the games. Clemont may have to be one of my favorite male companions yet. The design of his gym is kind of like the Command Center/Power Chamber by way of Deep Space Nine. He also has all these gadgets and this backpack. In essence, he's what Max should have been: he has not only the knowledge of Pok mon, but also the battle skills to back it up. If I had to describe him, he's kind of like a mixture of Wheeljack, Donatello, Billy Cranston, and Brief from Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt. Bonnie is also very cute; much like the Bonnie in Toy Story 3. Serena is also a very good companion even though I haven't seen the episode where she officially joins the group yet (as it's Thursday, it usually airs in Japan in around 7 or 7:30PM, and is uploaded online within hours of fans getting their hands on the raws. Subtitled episodes can come up within days or weeks, with the dub airing on Cartoon Network a little after that). I like how she has both the snarky attitude and kind of ditzy nature of Ash of May, and that she has the same passion for fashion and a mother that influenced her decision to become a trainer like Dawn. In a sense, she reminds me of Serena from Sailor Moon; in how she actually behaves like a real young woman would and rises to the occasion. In a sense, she was effectively conditioning for my love of Yoko Littner, and other strong women in fiction like Black Widow and Katniss Everdeen. Best of all, she knew Ash before he started his journey, so I'm interested to see where that goes. I did really enjoy Pok mon Origins as an alternate look at the franchise, taking plenty on influence from the games and the various manga; but also used some quirks from the existing anime to draw in viewers from various groups. The fandom has praised Special/Adventures for its plotting, characterization, and more serious treatment of battles and conflicts with enemy organizations. While the memetic scenes of Squirtle biting Charmander's cheek and Team Rocket murdering Marowak on screen are not quite like the live-action Transformers movies in terms of violence, it's at least on par with the 1986 movie killing off most of the cast the audience grew to love; or the part in the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie where the Foot attack the turtles in a fairly realistic fight scene that ends in April's apartment being burned down. I plan to watch both when they come on; as I find it's OK to like more than one adaptation of a franchise. When I was staying with my father this past summer, after watching Star Trek Into Darkness and a TV airing of the 2009 movie, we then watched some of the original series on Netflix to contrast and compare (the original pilot, "The Cage" with Pike, and "Spock's Brain", the start of season 3 where the budget was cut, and it showed. SF Debris pointed out the episode is indeed as bad as its reputation suggests, but it's enjoyable in the same way The Room or Plan 9 From Outer Space is). I also made a video that I'm in the middle of uploading that talks about how different time periods and different directors may interpret a character a certain way. Much like I don't judge Prime Kirk, Alternate Reality Kirk, Picard, Sisko, or Janeway by the same standards, I don't judge Ash and Red by the same standards; since they're essentially different ways of looking at the same character. I'll talk about this more later, but I have other series as well.

Kill la Kill

This is a key standout among the new series of the fall, but also this year. The first project of Trigger, a studio made of former Studio Gainax writers and animators, and made by the team behind Gurren Lagann, my favorite anime. It's a high school slice of life series combined with a shonen fighting series; paying homage to the key works of the genre such as Dragon Ball and Fist of the North Star. It depicts a school that takes how the school uniforms are Japan were based on military uniforms and takes it to the extreme of the school and the surrounding areas being their own city where the elite live in fancy houses and are given everything on a silver platter; and the lower class live in the slums and back-alleys. They also give in many parallels with the Nazis, such as wanting to root out bloodlines they deem inferior and want to rule the world starting with their own country. I've noticed this motif pops up a lot not only in anime, but in many fictional works in general. Enter Ryuko Matoi, a drifter girl who wields one half of the pair of scissors that killed her father and has a bone to pick with the system because of their role in her father's murder. To help, she is given a special uniform that draws strength from the wearer by channeling their blood into the suit. I know the hot-blooded nature is a recurring character type, but they've effectively weaponized it here. Like Gurren Lagann, it manages to nicely blend action, drama, comedy, and fanservice into a package that is absolutely glorious to watch. I'm on episode 4, so I plan on working on it soon.

BlazBlue Alter Memory

Based on the popular video game from Arc System Works, this series captures the colorful and over-the-top action of the games and also elaborating more on the story. While it can get bizarre, unlike Future Diary, the characters are easy to understand and have distinct actions. Since I favor Hazama and Jin in the games, I will be looking into following them.

Good Luck Girl

A dub of Binbogami Ga, which I mentioned in an earlier post. I'm almost done with the subtitled version, and so far, I'm enjoying Momiji's vocal performance. Her voice actress manages to capture her attitude toward being assigned to take on Ichiko quite nicely. It sounds a bit like the dubbed Stocking; and it helps they have similar characterization. I am typing this as I watch the first pieces of the dub, so just bear with me. I may do another piece later, but I must move on.

One Piece

My perennial go-to series for each week. I am on the Water 7 arc, so I'm not going to spoil too much. A lot of twists and turns, ins and outs; and Franky.

Attack on Titan

I've only seen half the first episode, but thankfully, it's split into two 11-minute vignettes; and Hulu saves my place. I find that to be very useful for anime. I'm quite interested to see the dark fantasy motif; and I gather it's been a big smash lately.

So, that's all for now. I've made good on my promise to binge on Pok mon and Digimon to detox from the Endless 8; and I will get to work on finishing my recap on "The Heart of the Cards," so I can work on other projects. Christmas vacation is coming up, as is Thanksgiving weekend. I'm also looking into other series with 2014 on the horizon. Considering doing some sports anime, both episodes and with it being the focal point of the series. I'm considering doing some one One Piece recaps to start off 2014, and it seems reception to my recap of "Pok mon I Choose You" was positive. I will do more From Humble Beginnings recaps in the future. For One Piece, I will probably do the character introduction episodes as a lead-in to the Davy Back Fight/Long Ring Island arc around the time of the winter Olympics. I'm also looking into Eyeshield 21 for the Super Bowl, and Basquash and Slam Dunk for the NBA and NCAA season. While I am a nerd and not too big a sports fan, I am capable of supporting a local team, expressing sympathy when they lose and joy when they win. I prefer arcade sports games like Tecmo Bowl and NBA Jam Tournament Edition to simulation ones; and my favorite sports movie is Space Jam. If I can buy into Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes playing basketball; then I think I can handle it as most of the ones I've picked have material. See you around; I'm going back to working on navigating Kalos, finishing Best Wishes and working on midterms. See you around!
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