Posted in 2018, Anime, Anime Review

March Comes in Like a Lion season 2 (2017-2018) anime review

6d28a93bd474e377db459f05021f25ff1507942227_fullRei Kiriyama is now in his second year of high school and the shell he had developed over long years of bullying and self hatred has begun to crack. He is surrounded by vibrant personalities in his school life, professional shogi life, and his personal life. These people include the three Kawamoto sisters (Akari, Hinata, and Momo) as well as the high school student with the most fabulous mustache, his former homeroom teacher, and the people he has gotten to know from the Shogi hall. This season starts off shortly after where the last season ends, at the beginning of the school year. As he continues his stressful life as a high school professional shogi player he seeks the reason he plays the game which in turn defines his career.

Screenshot (95).pngThere are three things I love about March Comes in Like a Lion; the imagery, how it handles with the personal issues of multiple characters, and how it handles mental illness as more than a simple plot device. Season two does these three things even better than the first season. It contains the most realistic look at bullying I’ve seen in any story except for maybe A Silent Voice. It also looks at the problems of a few characters that you would not expect to get their own scenes. In fact the way this series focuses on the problems of multiple characters makes multiple characters more relatable.

Screenshot (96)I recommend that you watch this season if you watched the first one. You can find it on CrunchyRoll for streaming. This is a series that looks at the problems of multiple characters in order to show how everyone has something going on no matter how old, young, smart, beautiful, or anything else they are. This is why it is such a relatable series.

Final Rating – 49/50

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Posted in 2018, Anime, Anime Review

Violet Evergarden (2018) anime review

90618At the end of the four year long Great War, the continent of Telesis begins to slowly flourish once again. One of the soldiers who fought in the war is Violet Evergarden, a young girl who was raised for the sole purpose of being a powerful weapon. Losing both her arms and ending up in a hospital near the wars end, all she is left with of the person she cares about the most are words that she does not understand. As she starts recovering from her wounds and learning how to live a normal life she becomes an Auto Memory Doll at CH Postal Services, a job that’ll lead her on a journey of self discovery both for herself and those around her.

Screenshot (92)This is a relatable story with beautiful visuals and interesting dynamic characters. Since this looks like a series that focuses mainly on Violet you may be annoyed to see that the majority of this series is made up of one shot stories where Violet goes to write letters for people. These stories focus heavily on her clients. The thing is without these smaller plots being placed where they are in the series, Violet Evergarden as a whole would not be as good. These stories actually relate a lot to Violet and focus mainly on loss and healing.

Screenshot (93)I recommend you watch this series if you haven’t already. The one thing that separates this series from so many others is the way it handles the themes of loss, grief, love, and healing. If you want to watch Violet Evergarden you can find it on CrunchyRoll.

Final Rating – 50/50

Posted in 2018, analysis, Anime, Fiction

Golden Kamuy and the Ainu

One of the only two new series that I am currently up to date with this season, Golden Kamuy is an interesting series that I didn’t expect. Of course when it comes to anime you always get what you least expect. Like one of the new series is about race horse girls. I definitely did not expect that. Golden Kamuy follows the adventures of Sugimoto a soldier who survived the Russo-Japanese war that ended shortly before World War 2 as he tries to make money by panning for gold in Hokkaido. Along the way he hears rumours of a hidden stash of gold that had been stolen from the Ainu and then hidden. He then partners up with Asirpa, a young Ainu woman, in order to both survive in the wilderness and find the stolen Ainu gold.

This is a series that interests me a lot because this is my first real exposure to Ainu culture. I knew they existed, I just didn’t know much about them. This is a series that takes its time to explain cultural differences between Japanese and Ainu customs, uses the quickly dying Ainu language of which there are apparently four dialects (only one is still spoken by 15 people as of 2013), and also occasionally acts as a cooking series with Ainu foods. One of the things I like about fiction is the fact that you can learn a lot from it. I will go over some of the traditions and cultural aspects of the Ainu that have been mentioned in the series so far. This post will contain spoilers up to episode 6.

But before I get into my list I think I should explain who the Ainu are. They are the indigenous people of Japan. Their ancestors came to the islands from North-Eastern Asia unlike the ancestors of modern Japanese people who immigrated from China. The Ainu are traditionally sedentary hunter-gatherers meaning that they don’t move a whole lot while living off the land. Golden Kamuy is set during the late Meiji period of Japan which was between the years of 1868 and 1912. During this time period policies were put in place by the Emperor to assimilate the Ainu with Japan. These policies included banning the Ainu language. You can see the effects of these policies in the series though the policies themselves have yet to come up.

So here’s my list of five things I looked up about the Ainu in relation to Golden Kamuy. I’m not an expert and there are a lot of things I don’t know so it’s possible that some information in this list may be slightly wrong since there is a lot of misleading and biased information on the internet. I recommend that you do some research of your own if you’re interested. Now here is my list.

  1. The Title “Golden Kamuy” and the Bears

    Screenshot (103)The Ainu people refer to anything that is of use to them as well as anything that is out of their control as “kamuy”. Kamuy were basically gods who came to help the Ainu. The word Ainu is the exact opposite of Kamuy. Ainu and Kamuy are meant to help each other and to scold the other group if they have done something wrong. They have a relationship of mutual assistance. Sometimes in English we refer to anything at the top as being golden so therefore “Golden Kamuy” refers to an Ainu god that is near the top. This could refer to the gold that the characters are all actively searching for or it could have something to do with bears.
    One of the most important kamuy is Kim-un Kamuy or the god of bears and mountains which is rather fitting considering that a lot of this series has been taking place in the mountains and there have been multiple bears. I think that this is the main reason why all the bears in the series are drawn in a different art style so that they look like they don’t entirely belong. This had to have bene a conscious choice.

  2. The Bear Cub

    Screenshot (107)After Sugimoto uses a hibernating bear to deal with his pursuers in episode 3 he takes in the small bear cub. This leads to Asirpa bringing both him and the cub to her home village so that the cub can be raised. She warns him not to get too close to the cub because of an Ainu tradition where a young bear cub is taken from a wintering den and raised as an Ainu child. It is then sacrificed to send its kamuy back to Kamuy Mosin or the land of the kamuy. Ainu Mosin is the homeland where the Ainu live. Both the sources I was looking at stated this fact and I even found pictures of a bear cub being raised by Ainu.

  3. Appearance

    Screenshot (100)Ainu women were tattooed around the lips when they were old enough to marry. Men don’t shave after they are old enough to marry which is a few years after women come of age. Everyone has hair that is about shoulder length. In the second episode when Asirpa and Sugimoto go to that town it is mentioned how she does not have tattoos because she is too young. She is also wearing traditional Ainu clothing. You can also see examples of clothing in the Ainu village.

  4. Naming of Children

    Screenshot (109)It is mentioned in an episode that Ainu children are given names of disgusting/annoying things in order to ward off the demon of ill-health. Once they reached a certain age they got their permanent names which would be related to their behaviour, events that already happened during their lives, or their parents’ wishes for their future. Another interesting detail about how children are named, the Ainu tried their hardest to name everyone something different so you don’t see too many repetitive names. This wasn’t mentioned yet in the series.

  5. Food

    Screenshot (104)I didn’t find much about what they ate, however through my research I learned that the Ainu rarely ate raw meat. Asirpa has been shown multiple times already during this series preparing raw animal organs such as deer lungs and brains and getting Sugimoto to eat it. This was mainly done during hunting trips. I didn’t find anything about eating anything but organs raw so I don’t know about chitatap, however I’m sure that like many other aspects of this series research was put into portraying this culture.

I decided to end this post at only five aspects of the Ainu culture in Golden Kamuy. I did some quick research to learn more about this culture because I knew practically nothing about it before watching this series. If you want to learn even more go to the sites that I’ll list below. This is where I did most of my research. There are so many things about Ainu culture that have yet to be mentioned in the series.

References

http://www.ainu-museum.or.jp/en/study/eng01.html
https://www.tofugu.com/japan/ainu-japan/

Posted in 2018, Anime, Anime Review

Sweet Blue Flowers (2009) anime review

36d06bbdde095f3bca2653eded52200d1450743786_fullFumi Manjoume is starting her first year of high school at Matsuoka Girls’ High School. She has a broken heart from a previous relationship, but is still quietly delighted when she gets a chance to reconnect with her best friend from ten years previously, Akira Okudaira. They joke about the past and how Fumi cries too easily and they become close friends after ten years of no contact. Unfortunately Akira goes to a different all girls high school near by so they can’t be in the same class. This is a series that looks at the love lives of these two characters as well as multiple supporting characters.

Screenshot (110)This is a yuri series with no fanservice or nudity. Instead it focuses more on the romance and I think it works pretty well. The character designs are realistic and I think the way the romance progresses is pretty realistic. The only unrealistic thing I found about this series is the fact that there just so happens to be two large all girls high school near each other in a rural area. Also in the beginning, if you skip the opening, it is unclear who is going to end up with who. All the ships appear to be fair game at the start and this is one of the things that makes this romance so good.

Screenshot (112)I recommend you watch this series if you want to find a good serious romance serious with no fanservice outside of the opening. I enjoyed watching this series and I admit it made me tear up a few times. Its a beautiful series that I hope everyone who likes romance can watch and enjoy.

Final Rating – 46/50

Posted in 2018, Anime, Anime Review

A Dark Rabbit has Seven Lives (2011) anime review

65d9ba376a2df8b74499550166ae1fa31310005744_fullTaito is a high school student who has been losing a lot of sleep lately. He keeps dreaming of a female vampire who says that she has given him her “poison”, or at least he thinks this is a dream until he survives an accident that should have taken his life. Then he realizes that that dream was real. Now he must use his ability to protect himself and the girl in his dreams.

This series suffers in the fact that it is clear that there were plans for a sequel that will most likely never be made. In addition to this the characters aren’t all that interesting. The main reason why I continued watching this series all the way to the end is that the world this story inhabits has so much potential. This series is set up to be interesting, cool, and a little edgy, however in the end it is it is little more than a hollow shell of a series that is mediocre at best.

I do not recommend that you watch this series, however if the plot intrigues you maybe go read the manga. I honestly wish that this was a better series than it was because I liked Taito’s ability and I felt this series had a lot of potential.

Final Rating – 23/50

Posted in 2018, Anime, Anime Review

Yu Yu Hakusho (1992-1995) anime review

e60626c56bf7437857e0caf7cbc4bf4a1510871409_fullOne day Yusuke Urameshi, a 14-year old delinquent with an uncertain future , is hit by a car while saving a young child. He dies as a result. At first he is fine with being an invisible spirit who can’t interact with anyone or anything, however after witnessing his own funeral he decides to take the authorities of the spirit realm up with their offer. Since no one expected Yusuke’s sacrifice, Koenma heir to the throne of the spirit realm offers to give Yusuke his life back as long as he can complete a series of tasks. After he succeeds he is aided by the shinigami Botan to protect Earth from evil beings as a spirit realm detective.

Screenshot (82)Yu Yu Hakusho is a shonen anime based on a manga that first aired in the early 90’s. Both its animation and music haven’t aged the best, especially in scenes with a lot of background characters. There’s a tournament arc where I saw the same few audience members copied and pasted throughout the crowd. However this is what I expected. The two parts about this series that make it worth watching are its characters and its plot.

The characters all have typical shonen character backstories. There is a chosen one, a rival, and a anti hero, as well as a mentor. What makes these characters so great is the ways they interact and form relationships with each other. As an older anime enough time is given to develop each of the major characters. Without this character development some later scenes would not work the way they do. Of course there are many heartfelt scenes from early on.

The plot follows the typical shonen structure with an arc where the protagonist develops/learns about their powers, a tournament arc, and a couple of arcs where the world nearly ends. Throughout the series Yusuke is getting stronger and like a traditional shonen series he keeps coming across foes who are just a bit too strong for him to handle at his current power level. What makes this series so good is that Yusuke’s main motivations are to help and protect his friends rather than just to get stronger and occasionally protect himself and the world. This allows there to be a surprising amount of emotional scenes in Yu Yu Hakusho. Get ready to at least tear up a few times.

Screenshot (83)Yu Yu Hakusho is a classic shonen series that I feel everyone who enjoys anime should watch because it is a well written series with one of the greatest tournament arcs that I have ever watched (almost as good as the My Hero Academia one). If you want to find all the episodes you can find them on Crunchyroll. You can also read the manga since I’m sure the anime follows it quite well, however I’m not sure where you would find it.

Final Rating – 47/50

Posted in 2018, Anime, Anime Review

Children of the Whales (2017) anime review

86661In an endless sea of sand there exists a floating island known to its inhabitants as the Mud Whale. The majority of the people who live in the city here are “marked” which means that they have supernatural abilities and live shorter lives. Chakuro is a young and curious boy who lives on the Mud Whale. He is also the island archivist. He spends much of his time recording everything he witnesses, including the discovery and exploration of newfound islands that have been long abandoned by those who used to live on them. One day an island is found for the first time in six months. Chakuro is among those sent to explore the island. During this expedition they find what remains of an archaic civilization, and Chakuro is shocked to find a marked girl who will change the destiny of both Chakuro and everyone who lives on the Mud Whale.

Screenshot (90)The world in this series is very interesting to me. The plot is mostly made up of discoveries Chakuro and the other people on the Mud Whale make about the world around them. They learn about the other people who inhabit. They learn about the reasons the Mud Whale exists and why marked people don’t live as long as unmarked people. It uses the ignorance of many of the characters to successfully immerse the audience in this world.

Screenshot (91)The animation and music in this series are both really good. It is also cathartic and contains a fair bit of melodrama so I get that this series isn’t for everyone. If you look at reviews for Children of the Whales they are pretty split. If you want to watch a series with beautiful visuals, interesting and dynamic characters, and a look at utopianism then this series is for you. If you watch anime more for the action then this series is probably not for you. I do recommend you at least try watching it though.

Final Rating – 44/50