Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The 12 Days of Christmas

Amidst the hustle'n'bustle of getting ready for Christmas and the happiness, joy, and good cheer that infuse the season, I am often reminded of the true, root reason for this season. It's not good enough to stop at Jesus is the reason or that He was born. Why was He born? Because He was going to sacrifice Himself to save our souls. Why would He do that? Because He loves us. So, the reason for the season is that He loves us to the point that He was willing to die for us so that we could be saved.

In the spirit of this, I wanted to pick a moment from anime for today that echoed this depth of love. Love enough to sacrifice one's life for another. The problem with picking one is that I'll pass over many others from this year. Instead, I'm picking three.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The 12 Days of Christmas

Shinsekai Yori was many things but one thing it wasn't was a lightweight, fluff piece. Rarely do I see science fiction in a visual format, anime or otherwise, that can match the best of it's print brethren. Shinsekai Yori was just such a work. After feeding the viewers a constant stream of secrets, reveals, and reversals-of-fortune, I was ready for a simple, straight forward final episode where the bad guys would get theirs and the good guys would heal their wounds and look forward to a better tomorrow. That was not to be; silly me, I'd forgotten I was watching Shinsekai Yori.

Before our villain, a member of the race known as Queerats - an intelligent but inferior animal race - would meet his demise as punishment for his heinous crimes, the last item the humans wanted to know was why he had done the evil deeds he'd done. His answer was not what I expected. He answered that he was human like them and he had done what he did to throw off the slavery and oppression his race of humanity faced. The human judge and bystanders scoffed at his erroneous belief; but, my brain began turning.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The 12 Days of Christmas

Just like last year, as we get nearer to Christmas, I'm surprised that I've gone from worrying about finding 12 moments worthy of being written about to worrying about how to cut things down to only 12 moments with the minimum of anguish about what had to be cut.

I'm tempted to pass this moment over. I don't have the type of ego that needs or wants the attention (from all 30-50 people who will read this); however, I am proud of how well I was able to intuit the results based on everything I knew about the songs and the voters. So, since I feel being authentic about my personal experiences with anime this year is important, I'm mentioning it today.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The 12 Days of Christmas

It's often said that an anime (or any show/book) needs to have a character that is a stand-in for the audience - someone that's familiar and they can relate to. Hence all the loser high school male characters.

I've never understood this.

Saturday, December 21, 2013


What have Isaac Newton, Nicolai Tesla, George Handel and Adolf Hitler all got in common? They all suppressed their sexual urges and directed their life-creating energy towards achieving their goals.

Common sense tells you that if something is so powerful that it can create a new life, keeping it within you is going to have positive creative effects and losing it is going to drain them from you.

The 12 Days of Christmas

The animation studio Bones and I have had a rocky relationship from the start. It began while I was just starting to consider myself an anime fan with the broadcast of Full Metal Alchemist on Toonami. I was thrilled with the story, animation, and characters enough that I began snapping the DVDs up even while it was still airing. In hindsight this became a mistake because the story of the second half just unraveled itself into incoherency and ended with a thud. Next came Eureka Seven and in a near exact repeat there was the great beginning, music, and animation that once again saw it all fall apart at the end.

Not every series from Bones suffered this problem - Soul Eater's ending was "acceptable" for an ongoing manga adaptation, for example, and Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood had the manga's ending to crib from, so it was hard to screw that up - but, many other series like Daughter of Twenty Faces, X'amd, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, and No.6 fell apart at the end. (And let's just pretend Heroman never happened.)

Friday, December 20, 2013

The 12 Days of Christmas

The reasons to start watching and continuing watching an anime are many and various. If it's a good anime, the reasons are normally pretty self-evident. If it's not a particularly good anime the reasons could be the strangest thing.

Earlier this year I decided to start watching an anime series because it was being subbed by the group that had done Milky Holmes and they'd earned enough points, feels, props, etc. in my book that I was willing to watch what they wanted to sub themselves.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Holiday Cheer Tag!

It's 2 in the morning. I'm bored. Why not? (:


The Musical Advent Calendar

Through the medium of our panel's No. 16 albums of the year we're told, not for the first time in this advent calendar, how the frustrations of watching Manchester City - still a valid currency even in these wild days of oil riches - can have a strong influence on the Advent Calendar. Meanwhile, Skillers mixes up his usual formula by going with an all-female guitar band.


The 12 Days of Christmas

One of the best - or more acutely, entertaining - parts of watching anime is keeping up with the anime blogosphere to see how they're reacting to the anime I'm watching. The best is when a sizable percentage of writers get fired up over the same anime because, dollars to doughnuts, there will be fireworks. It might be something epic that causes people to put 110% in to displaying their love and admiration. It might be something controversial that causes spirited discussions and strongly worded rants on both sides. It might just be something normal that happens to catch everyone's attention and pulls everyone together to share in the same experience.

I often steer clear of these events because, either, I don't feel like contributing and rather enjoy what others are saying, or, I feel like contributing but someone has already made my point better than I could have.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The 12 Days of Christmas

As someone who blogs about anime because I like it and hope to get others interested in the good parts of it, I enjoy receiving feedback when I have done a good job doing so. Which is why I smile when a RSS scraper site copies my posts. It's, of course, wrong of them but I like seeing that these people feel my blog is good enough to rip-off. This year saw one of the best and coolest means of feedback for this blog.

Time of Eve, or Eve no Jikan, was one of my Secret Santa 2012 picks and I wrote a of it last year. Beyond hoping the next work from the creators of Time of Eve -- would equally impress, I let the show recede in my memory because there's always more new and new-to-me anime to watch.

The 12 Days of Christmas

I'll be the first to admit that the real reason I enjoy music from anime as much as I do is mostly because of it's use in anime. That's not a bad thing in my book. Realistically speaking, it's hard far an average person to develop a connection with music spoken in a completely foreign language. I'd love to actually be able to understand all the anime songs I listen to, beyond just the Engrish ones; but, if 3 years of high school Spanish taught me anything, it's that I'm very bad at learning second languages.

On rare occasions a spontaneous connection is possible. It might happen once or twice in an anime season (though not for this Fall 2013 season); I fall in love with a song the very first time I hear it, long before it becomes intertwined with the anime itself.

The 12 Days of Christmas

by the esteemed Baka-Raptor that JC Staff has a talent for fading in it's ending songs into the anime itself for maximum emotional impact. I would have to agree. I think this might be JC Staff's only real talent, but that's a discussion for another day .

Continuing into this year's winter season were two series animated by JC Staff. The first was Little Busters and the second was Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo. The first was the higher profile work and the one generating more discussion in the blogosphere - both positive and negative. Among the problems I had with Little Busters was how emotionally flat it was. In this respect the other JC Staff series, Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo, had it beat by a long shot. The difference likely stemmed from Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo having Mari Okada as it's writer; since a Key work like Little Busters shouldn't have lacked in the emotional department.

12 Days of Anime 2013, Day 9: The Crowds Are Calling Our Names

This is not a Gatchaman Crowds post; the lyrics just seemed appropriate.

That Kick-Heart even exists at all is a testament to so many things. We've got a big anime house - Production IG - going out of their way to make a risky experimental short film with very niche appeal and a strange art style from a creator whose works consistently turn in woeful sales figures, and on top of that, are pushing to market it to the traditionally stingy and traditionally ignored Western audience. There is no way something like this could happen under normal circumstances. For this project, they turned to the Crowds. It's kind of like ~The Cloud~, only not at all.

The 12 Days of Christmas

In a perfect world, every anime would receive the budget, time, and talent needed to reach it's full potential. This, of course, is not a perfect world. Instead we have put up with all the accommodations that anime has to make when the lack one or all three. Sometimes an anime series can rise above and turn out stronger as a result - Shaft's delectable visual style comes from having too little time and money to animate in a more conventional style, for example. For the vast majority of other titles, we get an inferior work.

I mention this because sometimes whole seasons of anime will pass by without any noteworthy and satisfying animation to be found. Earlier this year, I had not realized how thirsty I had gotten for good quality animation until Studio Trigger's Little Witch Academia was released and I watched it.

The Anticipation of Christmas Day

By Annette Martel and Kelly Hagen