The Reflection: Drop or Watch Summer 2017 #2

refrectionimage505px I just watched the first episode of Stan Lee’s The Reflection, and boy was it ever interesting. This series is Stan Lee’s ninth time stepping into the world of anime production, and the second time he’s making a series not adapted from a Marvel comic. Lee co-created the series with DMC (Detroit Metal City) director Hiroshi Nagahama, who also did the character designs. The show is produced by Studio Deen (KonoSuba, Sakura Trick).

Well, I suppose first I shall talk about the art and animation. The art in this series is my favourite so far this season. I love the dark shadows and flat colouring on all the characters. The art really reminds me of David Aja’s pencils and Matt Hollingsworth’s colours on the 2012 Hawkeye comic book series, which had a fantastic minimalistic style. As much as I love the art, I must say the designs don’t animate great. The only time we get incredibly fluid animation within the first episode is when the characters are in silhouette. As well as this, there are a lot of frame skips in the series, which when used as a stylistic statement (the Baccano OP) I think looks great, but in this series, it appears to be more of a cost cutting measure.

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The first episode follows 3 different characters, Eleanor Evans, Exon, and Ian Izzet (although I have heard that later episodes have another main character). Elenor is a reporter (?) with the ability to teleport short distances. Exon is a guy in a Marvel Now Cyclopse costume who has the ability to copy other’s powers, and Ian Izzet is Ironman. None of the characters has any characterization in this episode as it mostly focused on fights. Here’s hoping the characters will stop being nonentities in the next episode.

The premise of the series is that after an event called The Reflection some of the population begin to gain superpowers. Then these people either become heroes or villains. The first episode had no story whatsoever and worked as more of a setup to the world episode. Really it just consisted of a bunch of hardly interconnected fight scenes between two different heroes and multiple different villains taking place in different places.

So after watching the first episode, I must say that I am greatly intrigued with this series. While the plot and characters weren’t great the animation and art are interesting enough for me to continue watching the show for at least one more episode. So to answer the question of which this series is a namesake, this is a watch (for now).

 

Made In Abyss – Drop Or Watch Summer 2017 #1

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I wasn’t planning on finishing continuing this series after last season, but I just finished watching the first 4 episodes of Made in Abyss and I have a lot (relatively) to say. First, a preface: Made in Abyss is a Summer 2017 anime based on a monthly web manga created by Akihito Tsukushi. The series is being made by Kinema Citrus who made the amazing Is The Order A Rabbit?? and the equally spectacular Barakamon. The show is directed by Masayuki Kojima (Abenobashi Mahou Shoutengai, Black Bullet).

So now that that preface is over with I suppose I shall begin my first impressions proper. The animation in this series is amazing. The art style really lends itself to fluid and dynamic motion. The art and animation for the monsters are different and rougher,  even to the point that they look like they’re out of a different series entirely. Which gives them a very unsettling feeling.

Made in Abyss has two main characters. Those being, Regu (the robot boy) and Riku (a normal human). From what we’ve seen so far, the characters appear to be pretty interesting Although I will admit at the beginning of the series I was slightly worried about the character of Regu as when he was introduced he had amnesia, which lead me to believe he was quite a blank slate. Luckily the series used an absolutely fantastic montage scene and when we come back down from this montage Regu has a personality and is a fully formed character, which I thought was absolutely genius. Riku is very much so a driven-shounen protagonist, except she’s a girl. That’s the only difference. But that’s fine as I enjoy the character archetype.Plot:

The series has a pretty simple premise. The two main characters live in a world where there is an island where a city of adventurers popped up because on an abyss there, which is filled with expensive artefacts which they sell to the outside world. Regu and Riku are both apprentices in abyss diving at an orphanage. After Riku’s mom’s possessions are found at the bottom of a letter Regu decides to help Riku get to the bottom of the abyss and find her mother. This idea of an abyss makes me incredibly intrigued and I’m just dying to know more about what secrets it holds.

In the end, after watching these four amazing episodes I have decided that no, I will not be dropping this series, I’ll watch it all the way through and hopefully have a great time doing it.

 

 

My Favourite Anime OP- Anime Questions

So remember when I was doing the 30-day anime challenge then quit? Well, I’m doing it again. But not properly. You see, in this new series “Anime Questions” I will answer questions no one asked about me as an anime fan. This series will be written en-masse then released weekly (so I actually have content coming out).

If you’ve read my last post you probably already know that K-ON!! is my favorite anime of all time. But, not only is K-ON!! my favorite anime it also gave me what I consider to be the greatest anime opening of all time. The opening in question is the first OP of the second season, “GO! GO! MANIAC!” by the band Ho-Kago Tea Time. GO! GO! MANIAC! is quite strange for a Ho-Kago Tea Time song as they normally have more of a pop-punk edge whereas this song has more of a J-pop influence.

When it comes to this OP I don’t just love the song, I also love the animation. This entire OP is animated incredibly well, which is to be expected since the series is created by Kyoto Ani. The CGI in the op is done quite well and blends great with the 2d backgrounds. Getting back to the song, the vocals provided by Yui (the character from the show, not the singer) are absolutely spectacular, and all of the instrumentals are done incredibly well. I just realized that I have absolutely nothing else to say about this OP (I’m no Mother’s Basement) so I’ll be signing off here. See you in the next one.

K-On! And Preconceptions.

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K-on is one of my favourite anime series of all time. It features my favourite characters, favourite music, and favourite setting in an anime. But my opinions after watching the series aren’t what I want to talk about on this day. What I shall be discussing today is how K-On beat the preconceptions of many who watched it. At least, those who watched it the whole way through.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from K-ON and really as far as I can tell, neither was the rest of the anime community at the time. To me, it just felt like Kyoto Animation wasting their time instead of making Haruhi season 2. Then it was released. And the first episode was actually kind of mediocre. It wasn’t great, yet at the same time, it wasn’t bad. It just kind of felt like another entry in the slew of mediocrity that was (and still is) most of the moe genre.

But then episodes two came around and, something happened. I saw a character who started out with absolutely not motivation in the first episode, gain the want for something, a guitar. She wants this guitar so she can be more to the Light Music Club than just someone who sits around and wastes time while they practice (and also do their fair share of sitting around wasting time). In fact, she goes so far as to get her first part-time job, just to get this guitar. This blew me away when I first saw it, “Character development? In a moe show? This is incredible!” is what I’m sure I was thinking at the time.

from then on in my perception of this series as merely a fanservice, only for males shows was cracked. But it truly shattered when I discovered something amazing. The majority of the people who watched K-ON in Japan were females. Highschool aged females. As soon as I heard this I began to question it. There was no way this could be true> But the farther down the rabbit hole I went, the more pictures I saw of girls with K-ON key chains and the like, the ticket sales for the movie, as well as other anime directors opinions on the series made me realize: there really is something more to K-ON.

These thoughts on the series were expanded so much more when I finally saw season 2 and the movie. Season 2 is where most of the development of the series takes place, and it has a much clearer season arc (although S1 did have an arc) which was: enjoy the last year of us as Hokago Tea Time (the name of their band). Characters backgrounds, relationships and demeanour were expanded on so much, as well as what their home lives were like. Thes series did everything it could to be the best anime it could be. Not just the best moe it could be and that is what truly shattered my preconceptions of K-ON.

DESCENDER: A MASTERPIECE OF TIN.

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I just finished reading Descender Volume 1: Tin Stars. It collects the first 6 issues of the currently running Image series written by Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth, Essex Country), wih art by the amazing Dustin Nguyen (Li’l Gotham), and it was extraordinary. Merely 20 years ago you would be hard pressed to find an Image book which was considered a masterful work of fiction (excluding The Maxx, and mabye Spawn). But in recent years, when Image started moving away from 90’s superheroes (with pouches and belts galore) and started to focus on more interesting indie esque series, they became a comapny constantly ringing out 10s (ie. Invincible, East to West, and Paper Girls).

Alot of the appeal of Descender (at least for me) is the spectacular art by Dustin Nguyen. I’ve followed him for an incredibly long time, and he may very well be my favourtie current comic book artist. He can really bring the spectacular alien worlds, scenery, and characters to life using his incredibly interesting, and cartoon esque water colour paint style. The amount of white used in both the character designs of the UGC characters, and much of the background makes the use of color look even more stunning and stand out. This is one of the few comics where I actually stop to admire the art regularly, and that’s something special.

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Of course as we all know art is only half of a comic book, the writing is just as important. Jeff Lemire is one of my favourtie comic book writers ever, meaning that him and Dustin Nguyen teaming up for this book makes it an absolute dream for me. He has the profound ability to flesh out a world and it’s characters equally, and at the same time. Each of the few planets that we visit in Descender all feel intersting and origional. They all have their own destinct popuations, from one that only has robots left alive, to one popualted completely by robot hating pig esque alien things. The universe obviously has a deep hirstory and lore that I’m excited tofind out more about when I inevitabley buy  “Descender Volume 2: Machine Moon”.

Descender is interesting in the fact tha it is one of the few, truly great science fiction comics of the 2010s. Where as back in the 1950s and 60s so much of comics were space operas like Adam Strange, Star Wars, and Jak Kirby’s The Fourth World, but today we don’t have much of that. Of course we do have Thanos, Gaurdians of The Galaxy, and all of the Star Wars comics, but all of those are in an interconnected web which can, at best can kind of stand alone, and at worst are so bogged down in continuity that they drown under the weight of their own history. Descendeer isn’t like that, it’s new, fresh, and exremely exhilerating, the art is stunning, the writing is interesting, and the universe is spectaular. This comic is truly beautiful, and you should all go out and pick it up.

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return, is seriously hilarious!

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Merely seven days ago the cult classic series MST3K got a brand new series on the streaming service Netflix. The series is 14 episodes long and is considered the eleventh season of the original series. Although in tone the series are very similar, the premise for this show is slightly different from the original 1980’s series. To quote the intro:

“In a not too distant future next Sunday AD. There was a guy named Jonah not too different from you or me. He worked at Gizmonic Institute just another mug in a yellow jumpsuit. A distress call came in for him at half-past noon. Now an evil organization trapped him on the dark side of the moon.” So now they make him watch cheesy old movies, and with the help of his robot friends, they make comedy commentaries on the aforementioned movies.

Even though the show is now backed by Netflix it doesn’t have huge production values. Only 6 million dollars for the whole 14 episode season. Because of this (relatively) low-budget, the show has a “hey kids lets put on a show” feel which is incredibly reminiscent of the original series.

Unfortunately, this season does not have any of the original actors, but it is helmed by Joel Hodgson (the original creator and host). The robots voices will take a bit for me to get used to, but they’re fine. The new host Jonah is pretty great though. Of course where this series truly shines is in the riffs. In the first episode (Reptilicus) there were quite a few gut laugh moments. But it gets turned up to eleven in episode two. There are hard laughs every few seconds, and sometimes the riffs get incredibly intricate.

But that’s really the joy of MST3K isn’t it? The feeling of sitting down with a few friends and watching a horribly amazing movie while cracking jokes, laughing and just having a grand old time. That’s truly what this show is about… I love it and I’m sure you will too.

MST3K is right here: http://www.club-mst3k.com/episodes/1-invaders-from-the-deep

How Censorship Irreversibley Changed Lupin III.

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You’ve probably heard of Lupin III, it’s a giant anime franchise that is popular in many countries around the world (most notably outside of Japan, Italy). The series has been touched by masters of animation such as Hayao Miyazaki, has six different main series manga and, has around 49 different anime adaptations. But did you know that the Lupin we know today is not the Lupin from the original manga?

Back in 1967 the first chapter of the underground manga series Lupin Sansei was released. It featured incredibly risque, scummy characters and an incredibly, let us say, rapey version of Arsene Lupin III. Throughout this series, Lupin forced himself constantly onto different women (weirdly all named Fujiko). Goemon was a rough and tumble depressed man, Zenigata was a man who had not morals and enjoyed seeing Lupin experience extreme pain,  and Goemon was just a total dick.

Once the series had gained enough steam it gained a 23 episode anime adaptation in 1971. In first few episodes and the pilot film, the characters were very much so as they were in the manga. But the production company (Tokyo Movie Shinsha) had problems with the fact that the characters were such awful people. Because of this, they asked the original director (Isao Takahata) to make severe alterations to the characters in the series, making them more family friendly. After Isao Takahata refused he left the series, causing Hayao Miyazaki and Masaaki Oosumi to take over as head directors.

After this change, Hayao made the change he wanted to, making the character of Lupin into more of a heroic, gentleman thief. Instead of a sleazy rapist/thief combo. This change didn’t just encompass Arsene Lupin III though, it also included Jigen and really every other character in the show. Jigen became downright happy, Goemon became a friend of Lupin and Zenigata gained morality. Hopefully this gave you a bit more knowledge and incite into my favourite anime franchise of all time. I’ll see you in the next one.

Attack on Titan, kinda sucks.

attack-on-titan-tribute-game-03-700x393Attack on Titan is one of the most popular anime series of all time and is certainly the most popular in recent years (next to SAO). With the second season currently airing in Japan, I’ve decided that Joe would be a great time to talk about my feelings on the series as a whole. As a side note before we get into the thick of things I have not read the manga and as such will be focusing on the anime only.

As popular as this series is I had never seen it until a few weeks ago, to get ready for the new season (so I could be in on the conversation). But what I found was a bland, kind of a predictable mess of a series that (believe it or not) I didn’t enjoy, at all.

One of my biggest problems with AOT is its colour palette. shows aesthetic sensibilities do not line up with mine. You see, I like colour in my anime. Hence why I’m such a big fan of Mahou Shoujo series like PreCure and Cardcaptor Sakura. As seen in the photo above the series art style of ATOT is incredibly… brown. Everything in this series melds into one another, as the character designs are prominently brown, as are all the backgrounds. Even the Colossal Titan has this problem (having a brownish tint). This makes everything hard and boring to look at.

Another huge problem I have with AOT is that it just feels like gore for the sake of gore. Now I need to remember while criticizing the series that it is a shounen and as such ran in Bessatsu Shounen Magazine. This means that it is a series aimed at teenage boys, so of course, it would have a bit of gore as to appeal to this demographic. But just because it’s a shounen series does not excuse this. You can tell a dark story without the gore being there just for shock value (which it is). Take for example FMA: Brotherhood. This series is considered by many to be one of the best anime of all time (although not me personally). It tells a dark, mature, and intriguing story, even though it doesn’t rely on gore or shock factor. AOT seems to want to be a mature, dark, and intriguing series like FMA but falls flat because of this crutch of gore.

As well as this the characters in AOT suck. In a good story of this nature, you’re supposed to care is something bad happens to these characters, but I don’t give a single shit about any of the characters in Attack on Titan. Eren (the main character of the series) is a boring character whose motivation is to avenge his dead mother. This motivation can be done well but in this show, it is not. A good character with this motivation is Bruce Wayne, Batman. The reason why these two characters with the same motivation are so different is quality is because where Eren is very one note (“I will avenge my mother by committing genocide”) Batman evolves over time, sure his dead parents are still his main drive, but he starts to care for other people, not just his selfish need to avenge someone long gone. This (for me) makes it impossible to relate, or even has a small bit of respect or admiration for Eren.

That’s just my opinion, but fell free to share yours in the comments, were I would love you to leave any criticism or thoughts! I’ll see you in the next one.

 

The Anime Chronicles Part 2: Tetsuwan Atom (Astro Boy)

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Prologue:

In the beginning of anime, there were four studios, Toei Animation (1948), Tatsunoko Pro (1962) and Mushi Productions (1961), and Otogi Pro (1955). This prologue will cover the era of anime up until we arrive at our main topic, today Astro Boy. When it comes to Toei many people believe that their first work was Hakujaden, but it was, in fact, a black and white 13-minute animation called Koneko no Rakugaki over the next seven years before Astro boy Toei Animation released ten animated films, including Saiyuuki (based on the book Journey to the West which eventually inspired the first arc of Dragonball), Arabian Knights: Sinbad no Bouken, and Wanpaku Ouji no Orochi Taiji.

Tatsunoko Productions Uchuu Ace in the same year as Astro Boy. Although they are cited as having been founded 1962 (a full year before Astro Boy). Mushi Productions produced exactly two animated films before Astro Boy, these being Osu and Aru Machi Kado Monogatari. Otogi Pro, on the other hand, is credited for multiple long running projects before the release of Astro Boy. These include the first ever Japanese animated television series (Instant History) which ran for over 1274 episodes.

Chapter One: Astro Boy:

In 1963 Japan released what is considered to be the first popular and recognizable piece of animated television to come out of the country. This series was Tetsuwan Atom or Astro Boy. This series defined a generation of aspiring animators such as the film genius Hayao Miyazaki and Dragonball creator Akira Toriyama. Astro boy also influenced the current style of anime in japan (it popularized the large-eyed aesthetic seen in most current anime).

The series was based on a manga created by Osamu Tezuka (other manga include Black Jack and Princess Knight) who also directed the anime. This series was the beginning for Mushi Productions on television, although previously they had created two films (see Prologue). This was a production studio helmed by the aforementioned Osamu Tezuka. This studio and Toei had a very public rivalry as Osamu Tezuka was once employed by that very studio.

Unlike many American animations such as Snow White, and the Micky Mouse theatrical shorts Astro Boy was not animated on ones. It was animated on threes, which was a cost cutting measure, allowing Mushi Pro to create more episodes, at a faster rate for less money. This decision is something that in later years would frustrate the owner of the Mushi Pro/ Topcraft off-shoot Studio Ghibli, Hayo Miyazaki (who wanted anime to go the course of Disney when it comes to flow). This was the beginning of the anime industry. See you in part 3

END CHAPTER 1

Boku no Hero Academia Season 2 Episode 14 (First Reaction)

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Last year in the spring season an incredible show was released. This was one of the few new shounen series to really focus on the characters and their journey, not subverting shounen tropes (I.e. One Punch Man). This series was entitled Boku no Hero Academia, or as it’s known by most people, My Hero Academia. This season just under one year later the first episode of the second season was released.

I was HYPED for this new season of one of my favorite shows of last year. But oh boy, was this first episode a disappointment. the first ten minutes of this episode was expositional recap. But they were so incredibly lazy with it that they didn’t even make new animation cuts for this exposition. No, it was a One Piece style recap, way too long, and REALLY BORING. Although this section did have an important reveal. What appears to be the real name of All-Might (I don’t remember it right now).

The second half of the episode consisted of weird, fast-paced jokes and was almost consistently was set in one classroom. Eventually, they left and All Might told Izuku about a FUCKING SPORTS TOURNAMENT! Now back when I thought it was a battle tournament I was excited about that but know that I know what it really is, I’m not that excited anymore. Of course, I’m hoping that the writing still shines but I don’t know. Now that I’m guessing it’ll be more focused on the fights and the powers, not the characters.

Overall, the art is still just as spectacular and the writing is… fine. Even if most of it was summarizing the past season. I’m not going to be dropping yet it but if it stays at this quality consistently I’m going to be jumping ship. Well if you enjoyed this post please check out some of my other posts and if you have any comments or criticism leave it in the comments. I’ll see you in the next one.