New Anime Season!

This anime season actually has a lot of promising series. I typically use reviews from Random Curiosity as well as user ratings from aniDB to determine which series I’ll try watching.

This season had quite a few picks. I’m only about 2-3 episodes in for most series.

Fate/Zero

Fate/Zero This was actually my most anticipated series of this season. I was a huge fan of the original Fate/stay night. There’s a holy grail war and magicians summon heroes of the past and whoever wins gets their wish granted.

This is actually a prequel retelling the story of the previous holy grail war. The only 2 heroes that appear in both series is Arturia Pendragon and Gilgamesh. The remaining heroes look really fun and you get a glimpse of how Emiya Shiro came about. You also get to meet the kid-version of the magicians of the next holy grail war.

So far the battle scenes are excellently animated and the story is really fun.

Verdict: must watch
Resources: Random Curiosity / aniDB

Persona 4 the Animation

Persona 4 the Animation I believe this series was derived from a video game. If not, it has a very strong feeling like it should be. High school students get sucked into this mysterious world, where they have these cards they can activate that they can control to fight other monsters.

For the first few episodes, you gather your team, and learn how the alternative world works. I got rather bored after the 2nd episode. Maybe I’ll have more context if I’ve had played the video game, or maybe the story will speed up after the introduction. I’ll probably revisit this again when the series completes.

Verdict: skip for now
Resources: Random Curiosity / aniDB

Chihayafuru (ちはやふる)

Chihayafuru The animation was extremely beautiful, but the character design just weirded me out. Even the guys in this series look like girls. Definitely a shoujo series. It follows a girl who wants to get good at some poem matching game, something I don’t really have any connections with, so this series isn’t for me.

Verdict: skip
Resources: Random Curiosity / aniDB

Guilty Crown

Guilty Crown Initially I thought this was going to be another mecha series (think GUNDAM), but so far it looks way more fun. A virus was released in Japan sometime ago the apocalypse occurred. They eventually found a vaccine and things are starting to return to normal.

You follow a boy that somehow gets mixed up with terrorists and obtains a DNA/gene altering drug that allows him to pull out voids (weapons/objects) from people. The weapons are definitely interesting and fun and the battle scenes are always a delight to watch. The main character is a bit wishy-washy, but it looks like he’s finally becoming more determined.

Verdict: watch
Resources: Random Curiosity / aniDB

Last Exile ~Fam, The Silver Wing~ (ラストエグザイル-銀翼のファム-)

Last Exile ~Fam, The Silver Wing~ I was a big fan of the original Last Exile series and this new one doesn’t disappoint. It’s funny though, cause I don’t really remember much of the original series at. I had to actually Wikipedia it.

The only character you see so far that was from the original is Dio, which you weren’t sure survived or not in the previous series. You still have the the elements of air ships and battles which are always cool to watch.

The series begins with a nation trying to take over the entire world. You follow an orphan who grew up with pirates. When war begins to break out, she helped rescue the princess, and now she’s determined to get her nation back.

Verdict: must watch
Resources: Random Curiosity / aniDB

UN-GO

UN-GO This is a new detective series and I’m just not a fan of it. Not enough time is spent investigating and allowing the viewer to make the same deductions. And there’s this weird lady/alien that can transform to force someone to tell the truth? Then there’s this weird back story of how these revelations have to be kept secret in order to maintain peace, so the truth is never revealed to the public…

Verdict: skip for now
Resources: Random Curiosity / aniDB

Mirai Nikki (未来日記)

Mirai Nikki This show had a lot of promise, but I just can’t get myself to like the main character, which is always a bummer and a sign that I won’t enjoy the series. It had elements set up to be an awesome psychological thriller (e.g. Death Note), but I just find the main character annoying.

You learn that there are 10 or so cellphones that contain diaries of the future, but what they contain is different for each of the participants. The main character’s future diary contains what happens around him. Another character’s future diary contains what happens to the main character, and so on. God has said the only person remain standing will take his place and become God.

So some go off trying to kill the others, while others team up to prevent from being killed. They all have some clue of what will happen in the future and can change the future based on what they know. The premise just sounds amazing, having to outsmart the others based on what you know they know.

But I just can’t get over the fact the main character is annoying!

Verdict: skip for now
Resources: Random Curiosity / aniDB

Colorful

Colorful PosterSo Random Curiosity, an anime website I frequent recently did a review on Colorful. I didn’t really read much of the article. In fact, I pretty much stopped reading after the first paragraph as to not spoil it for myself:

As a rule, I’m not going to blog the same shows here on RC that I do on Lost in America, with the exception of a couple of Spring series that I’ll be taking over from Kiiragi. But as we get ready for Summer to start, I asked to make an exception for Colorful. Why? Simply, because I really want this movie to get as much attention as possible. I admit it, this one is personal – I love the film and I want to promote it any way I can.

Funny thing is I’m actually writing this review with the anime paused in front of me right now. The anime is a feature film and runs for a little over 2 hours. Colorful reminded me a lot of the works done by Shinkai Makoto. It appears that Colorful was directed by Hara Keiichi, and was based on a book. Colorful was extremely beautiful and the story deep. The characters are well developed and you quickly get attached to them.

The anime starts off in 1st person view. It appears you’ve died after committing a great sin. We never do (or at least not yet) learn about what sin you committed or how you died, but it was so great that you would not be given the chance to reincarnate. However, “the boss” is willing to give you another chance. He gives you a challenge, a test, by putting your soul into the body of a boy who just committed suicide with the instructions to live life. You don’t immediately learn why the boy whose body your overtook committed suicide, but slowly and surely you learn about the boy’s life.

I highly recommend this anime. It’s a bit melodramatic (I might be using the word wrong here) and definitely not your typical action/battle anime. However, don’t let this scare you away as there were many emotional moments and several intense moments I was clenching my fist. Like I mentioned above, it’s very Shinkai Makoto-like. If you’ve enjoyed Voices of a Distance Star, The Place Promised in Our Early Days, or 5 Centimeters per Second, you will surely enjoy Colorful. Don’t confuse it with the 16 episode anime series Colorful, which appears to be a comic relief/parody type.

<SPOILERS>
Just some random thoughts…

Just to get this off my chest before I see the ending. I have a hunch that that the soul that currently resides in the body of Makoto (the boy) is actually Makoto himself and he’s being given a 2nd chance. His suicide, the great sin, somehow caused him to forget who he was. And it makes sense that if you’re willing to kill yourself, you shouldn’t really be given a chance to reincarnate.
Update: I was right!

Anyway, you learned (or are led to believe) the main reason why Makoto committed suicide was because he caught his mother cheating on his father. Halfway through the anime, he confronts his mother about it. He wasn’t really confronting her to give her a chance to explain, but more of a reason why he’s being so cold to her. The mom becomes devastated and tries her best to be a better mom, yet he continues to give her the cold shoulder.

At certain points in time, I thought the mom was going to commit suicide because it became so unbearable to face her own child. In one scene, you see her pumping oil from a giant tank into a smaller tank and overfills it because her heart was somewhere else.

In another scene, Makoto comes home to find his mom “asleep” on the couch. It’s a Japanese tradition for the person coming home to say tadaima and the people at home to say okaerinasai. I was so afraid that she had already killed herself. Makoto was just starting to come around. When his brother came up to ask him to come down to talk about some important family matter, I was so scared the mom had died and the brother and dad were trying to softly break the news on him. It would’ve been so sad!!!

That was also another reason I believe that the soul is really Makoto, or why else would he care so much about the mom having an affair.

The anime also shows how important it is to have a friend you can entrust your problems with, even if it’s just one, so you don’t feel like you’re alone in the world. When you’re stuck by yourself and feeling the world is unfair and against you, you are led to do some crazy and stupid things.
</SPOILERS>

Ano Hana

Wow, it’s been a really long time since I posted anything anime related.

So Sankaku Complex had a post on the Top 10 Most Beautiful Anime (nsfw) voted by users on BIGLOBE. It’s definitely not a definitive list and they tend to be newer stuff. I’ve seen half the stuff on the list already, but was interested in the remaining content. “Beauty” was defined as beautiful composition as well executed scenery, expressions and motion whilst specifically excluding consideration of story, character design, music, etc.

  1. Time of Eve
  2. Hanasaku Iroha
  3. Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai
  4. 5 Centimeters Per Second
  5. Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko
  6. Clannad
  7. Angel Beats!
  8. GitS: Stand Alone Complex
  9. Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance
  10. Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Time of Eve

I started with Time of Eve (イヴの時間). It was a 6 part web series later combined into a movie. It’s a scifi story based on Issac Asimov’s 3 Laws of Robotics, but it’s completely different from iRobot. It explores the idea that if robots were sentient, what if instead of destroying the human kind, they strive to become our friends, to be accepted as more than just a robot that accepts commands. <SPOILER>The premise of the story takes place in a cafe where humans and androids are equals.</SPOILER> The anime was indeed extremely beautiful, but I found the story a bit too artsy. It was still fun though.

Ano Hana

However, as the title of of this post may have already suggested, I’ve started watching a new series called Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai (あの日見た花の名前を僕達はまだ知らない), which gets shortened to Ano Hana. The title translates to “We still don’t know the name of the flower we saw that day.” The anime is still ongoing and only 5 episodes are out so far.

Despite this being a TV series, the production and drawings were top notch. You’re introduce to a boy named Jin-tan and a girl named Memna. Initially I thought this was going to be a fan service anime with Memna jumping all over Jin-tan, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. By the end of the first episode, I was crushed with sadness. I don’t want to spoil too much, but Memna has a wish, but can’t remember what it was. Each episode reveals a bit more of what happened on that day. Memna is so adorably cute, yet they mix it so well with such a depressing story. From what I’ve seen so far, I highly recommend this series.

Another interesting tidbit is they’re using ZONE – secret base~君がくれたもの~ as their ED song. I’ve had this song in my mp3 library since college. When I first heard it, I knew it sounded really familiar. Initially I thought it might’ve been from another anime, but I guess this is one of the songs my friend shared with me. Apparently it’s been 10 years already since this song was released and the ED uses the 10th anniversary version.

Happiness can’t be described by a visible color

It’s been a long time since I posted about an anime series. There hasn’t been much released for the past few seasons that really stood out , but I’m really enjoying Bakuman. From Wikipedia:

The series follows talented artist Moritaka Mashiro and aspiring writer Akito Takagi, two ninth grade boys who wish to become mangaka.

I really enjoy the OP: Blue Bird by Kobukuro

Lyrics:

青空飛び交う Blue Bird
あの鳥が見えますか?
幸せはいつも 見えない Color 感じている
Your love

心配ごとばかりが 積もる春の空を
見上げて うつむいて
また顔を上げてる
この街で 見つけるって決めた自分
無くしちゃいけないものを 胸に

Your love
青空飛び交う Blue Bird
あの鳥が見えますか?
幸せはいつも 見えない Color 感じている
Your love
(Your love)

English Translation (provided by gg):

Can you see the blue birds,
fluttering through the blue sky?
Happiness can’t be described by a visible color, but I can feel
Your love

Every worry floats up to and fills the spring sky
I look up, look down,
and find myself looking back up at the sky
I swore I’d find myself in this town
I tuck away all my important things into my heart for safekeeping

Your love
Can you see the blue birds,
fluttering through the blue sky?
Happiness can’t be described by a visible color, but I can feel
Your love
(Your love)

The way 無くしちゃいけないものを 胸に was sung triggered my memory and reminded me of One more time, One more chance by Yamazaki Masayoshi which I first heard from 5 Centimeters Per Second.

8am Experiment

So I decided to perform an experiment this past week and try to wake up earlier. As many of you know, I tend to get into work rather late and that’s just me. People know not to schedule early meetings if they want me to attend. I was originally planning to complete a demo setup last weekend. What started out as a weekend where I was planning to stay home and work, turned out to be a Naruto Shippuden marathon. I had stopped watching Naruto during the filler arc where he was protecting that girl with the giant bomb inside her. It was really boring. Who knew immediately after that would become so exciting. I won’t be spoiling much here since that’s not the purpose of this post, but the last 20 or so episodes of Naruto Shippuden have just been fantastic. Did I mention I watched ~25 episodes of Naruto last weekend?

So what was supposed to be completed on Friday, became what was supposed to be completed on Sunday, became I needed to get into work early on Monday to finish the setup. I had estimated it to take between 1-4hrs to complete and was really hoping it was closer to the lower estimate. I decided to set my alarm at 8am and get into work by 9am, giving myself 2-3 extra hours than what I’d normally have.

My alarm goes off at 8am. I didn’t get out of bed till 8:30am, but I managed to get into work shortly after 9am. Good news is I completed the demo setup pretty quickly. I did hit into issues, but the dev I was working with was able to help quickly debug what was going wrong. That was Monday.

Another motivation for getting up earlier is that we have scrum meetings at 9:30am, which I haven’t been attending. My lead says it’s okay that I miss them, as long as I provide him with the latest status updates. I just feel so bad for not attending.

I set my alarm to go off at 8:30am for the remainder of the week, and the experiment failed horribly. I would wake up between 9:30am and 12pm, hitting the snooze button many times in between. Sometimes I don’t even remember hitting the snooze button. I remember specifically one time seeing 10am on my clock and wondering why the alarm hasn’t gone off yet. Of course a minute later, the alarm goes off for who knows how many times already. I guess it also didn’t help that I was still going to bed around 3-4am.

I also reaffirmed my dislike for drip coffee. Apparently work now has both Starbucks and Seattle’s Best drip coffee, but both taste really bad in my opinion. Maybe I didn’t add enough sugar. Drip coffee also tends to make my stomach queasy for the rest of the day. I do like lattes and mochas though. I wonder why.

I’ll probably resume my normal schedule from next week onwards. Maybe I’ll give this another try sometime later.

You should probably stop reading here as the rest is just the rambling of a crazy dream I had.

I had a really random dream this morning (in between my alarm clock going off). The dream started with my cousin coming into our cabin (some outdoorsy place we were staying) wearing that weird body suit with wheels on your arms and legs. I don’t really know what the sport is called, but I remember my cousin telling us that he just got back from contour body skating. I forget what happens in between, but the next thing I know it’s night time and my brother is sleep-talking, telling me to go return his snowboard gear. It doesn’t even make sense, but apparently I returned his snowboard gear in the middle of the night and he got really pissed at me the next morning, because apparently those weren’t rentals and were actually his. Of course the rental people won’t budge and won’t return his stuff. We come up with the scheme of renting the same gear again and just not return it. Somehow that worked, but the boss decided to pay us a visit. He came in a black limo and pulled up to our cabin. Not quite sure why or how I ended up in the limo, but the limo was flying and we were in it. The boss also turned out to be some evil pig in a business suit and he was hopping mad that we aren’t returning his rentals. I tried to explain that these were originally ours and we were just taking back what belonged to us. He got so angry that he grew 2 extra eyes on his forehead (4 eyes total). This got really creepy. BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! My alarm clock goes off. Interesting how much dreaming goes on in just 9 minutes.

Darker Than Black Review

Darker Than Black Several friends had recommended the Darker Than Black anime series to me, which conveniently is available on Hulu. At first the episodes were episodic and getting repetitive. The strategy was always the same. Over the course of 2 episodes, Hei would receive orders and we’d see him accomplish it. It did work out well with my exercise regiment since I usually run on the elliptical for ~50mins. There didn’t appear to be an overarching storyline to tie in everything together. But thank god I stuck with it because after the introduction of Amber, everything fell into its place and the puzzle started forming a bigger picture. The series became really fun after that point.

The story takes place sometime in the near future where some alien gates formed on Earth. Mysterious things begin to happened, such as a small population of humans becoming contractors. A contractor is sort of like a mutant from X-Men, where they’ve gained some special power, but there’s a price whenever you use it. Contractors are also completely logical beings with the human irrational bit completely removed. We’re introduced to our masked protagonist Hei and his work for the syndicate. Slowly we learn more and more about his past and when Amber shows up, things really kick up a notch.

I also really liked its 2nd OP:

The song is called 覚醒ヒロイズム~THE HERO WITHOUT A “NAME”~ by アンティック-珈琲店- (An Cafe)

I should probably check out the sequel. Ratings for it are pretty good too.