Fall 2013 Anime: Yowamushi Pedal

Yowamushi PedalWhen you look at Japanese and American anime fandom, no subject polarizes the two more than sports anime/manga. While sports manga can grow to be insanely popular in Japan, they’ve never really exploded here in the U.S., despite the efforts of Viz media. One theory for why anime and manga based on sports aren’t really popular in America is because of the stereotype that sports and nerds go together like oil and water so, to your average western anime fan, having sports, those things you hate that have left you ostracized from your peers, combined with anime, those things you love that have also left you ostracized from your peers, can lead to some pretty conflicting emotions. Never the less, this fall season brings us a number of sports-related anime. Some are new seasons for old favorite’s like, Kuroko’s Basketball and Hajime no Ippo while, others are new to the scene like, Ace of Diamond and Yowamushi Pedal.

[Commie] Yowamushi Pedal - 02 [C497539A].mkv_snapshot_10.53_[2013.10.27_13.48.55]Analysis: The basic set up for your average shonen sports anime/manga is pretty simple. You take a protagonist who has no interest in the sport the story revolves around, despite have an uncanny potential to be super good at it, a rival who eats, drinks, sleeps and, dreams said sports, a supporting cast of quirky characters and, boom, you have yourself a winner. This show has all of these qualifications fit perfectly. Our protagonist, Sakamichi Onoda is a bright-eyed and cheerful mega-nerd who uses his bicycle to trek to and from Akihabara, the anime otaku mecca located in Tokyo. However he fails to notice that his excursions to Akiba and back are well beyond the scope of what someone should be capable of doing with a bulky old bicycle commonly ridden by old housewives. Sakamichi’s soon-to-be rival, high school cycling aficionado, Shunsuke Imaizuni,  takes notice of his uncanny cycling abilities and challenges him to a race. After that, it’s only a matter of time before Sakamichi is embroiled in the fast paced world of competitive cycling.

[Commie] Yowamushi Pedal - 02 [C497539A].mkv_snapshot_19.49_[2013.10.28_19.14.43]

It’s funny because he’s short.

The last component to a successful sports anime is a quirky supporting cast, which is an area that Yowamushi Pedal does not disappoint. Along with Sakamichi and Shunsuke are Miki Kanzaki, a young girl with a comical obsession with bicycles, her deadpan, sarcastic friend and, the seniors of the cyclist club at their high school. One of which is a lanky young man with the most glorious green and red hair you’ll ever see.

Just try and say that hair isn't beautiful. You can't.

Just try and say that hair isn’t beautiful. You can’t.

Verdict: Despite not being a particularly huge fan of sports, I always find myself enjoying sports related anime. Whether or not that is due to the fact that the average sports anime plot structure is almost identical to your average shonen adventure anime is a topic for another time. However, for now, Yowamushi Pedal has caught my eye and I intend to follow it for the rest of the season.

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Fall 2013 Anime: Wanna Be the Strongest in the World

SekaideIchibanI’m really starting to get tired of anime with really long names. Not because they’re hard to remember but, just because it gets annoying to write about them, since I usually write out the full name about seven times if I write a piece about it. Today I’ll be talking about Sekai de Ichiban Tsuyoku Naritai or, Wanna Be the Strongest in the World or, Sekatsuyo, whatever you wanna decide to call it. I really don’t care too much. It’s a show about women’s pro wrestling from ARMS, the producers of Queen’s Blade and Elfen Lied, Which means that on the surface it’s masturbation material for weirdos but, if you look closer you’ll see that it’s masturbation material for weirdos.

[HorribleSubs] Sekai de Ichiban Tsuyoku Naritai! - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_10.30_[2013.10.26_16.01.39]

This is what they want you to believe this show is all about.

Analysis: Based on my knowledge of anime and Japanese pop culture, I feel I can safely say that if there are three sports that the Japanese love more than any others, it’s baseball, soccer and, pro wrestling (SHUT UP. IT’S A SPORT). As such, we see anime about these three all the time. Well, more so about soccer and baseball but, wrestling gets its time on occasion with stuff like Tiger Mask, Kinnikuman and, Metal Fighter Miku. Now I’ll be perfectly honest, Sekatsuyo isn’t as much about pro wrestling as it is about having Ayana Taketatsu, the voice actress for the main character, suggestively moan into a microphone.

This is what it's actually about.

This is what it’s actually about.

The show starts with pop idols Sakura Hagiwara and Elena Miyazawa, going to a local pro wrestling promotion for some kind of publicity show when Rio Kazama, pro wrestler and general not so nice lady, decides to injure Elena in a sparring match, which prompts Sakura to challenge her to a match, which inevitably leads to Sakura decide that she’s gonna quit her career as a pop idol and dive head first into the world of women’s pro wrestling because why the hell not, right?

[HorribleSubs] Sekai de Ichiban Tsuyoku Naritai! - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_06.33_[2013.10.26_16.57.45]

Was Sakura just raped or, did she just receive a German suplex? That’s for you to decide…

I mentioned earlier that the production studio behind Queen’s Blade had their hands in this show and it shows greatly. I’ll say this though; out of all the really trashy, exploitative, pseudo-pornographic anime I’ve seen, Sekatsuyo succeeds at being not too bad. Aside from a number of scenes where Sakura will find herself in a submission hold, crying out in ecstacy agony as the screen jumps between zoom ins on her chest and crotch, there’s nothing horribly annoying or tasteless about the show. The characters are your standard sports anime fair. You have Sakura, the newbie with an unlikely amount of potential and determination, Rio, her rival  and, Misaki Toyoda, the current champion that Sakura idolizes because she’s so awesome and graceful in the ring. animation is nothing spectacular but, I’ve definitely seen worse, especially from ARMS. If the show involved more technical description of the inner workings pro wrestling, it could pass as an average sports manga with some slight sexual undertones which is why I find myself enjoying it more than I know I should. That being said, let’s see if we can avoid mentioning this show to the morons at Kotaku or that lady from Feminist Frquency . The last thing I wanna see is an op-ed piece or a youtube video about how this show promotes “rape culture” or some nonsense.

[HorribleSubs] Sekai de Ichiban Tsuyoku Naritai! - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_21.31_[2013.10.26_17.04.27]

Verdict: Sekatsuyo is the kind of show that makes it hard for you to enjoy it and not feel like a creep. However, I will say that in the grand scope of anime, there are far worse things to be caught watching. Thins will most likely get at least another week out of me until I put it to the side.

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Fall 2013 Anime: Kill la Kill

KillLaKill early imageLast Fall was the last time I tried to do those annoying solo pod casts for every new season. Boy, how time sure does fly, right!? Since I’m getting into Kill la Kill, I thought I would direct everyone’s attention to This. It’s a little article written by one Richard Eisenbies over at Kotaku, talking about Kill la Kill and how the method of transformation used in the show apparently bears a resemblance to slitting one’s wrist. So let’s take a moment to all point and laugh at this dude then, get on with our lives.

Kill la Kill is the brain child of Studio Trigger, a group of former Gainax guys who, under the leadership of director Hiroyuki Imaishi, went on to form their own studio and release some pretty interesting stuff, such as Inferno Cop and Little Witch Academia. It should also be noted that Kill la Kill features much of the same production staff that brought us Gurren Lagann, so it goes without saying that this was a show that received an incredible amount of hype both in Japan and abroad before its premiere. Now the only question is whether it lives up to said hype.

Analysis: This show is directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi, a man who’s made his name with other works such as FLCL, Dead Leaves, Evangelion, Panty and Stocking and, of course, Gurren Lagann. Gainax veteranKillLaKill whose decided to break out on his own, Imaishi and his team’s greatest strength is their ability to refresh old ideas and themes with their high-energy animation style as shown with Gurren Lagann, as anyone who has ever seen or heard of Getter Robo can and will tell you. That is exactly what Kill la Kill is, nothing particularly new but, it’s done in a way that no one’s seen before.

Kill la Kill begins the way I believe most anime should, devoid of wordy monologues or Star Wars like text scrolls meant to set up the world and its rules. Instead, we have a high-energy, high-action cold opening that establishes our main villains, their goals and, one of the major plot points of the show. The story revolves around Ryuuko Matoi, a tough girl who has just transferred to Honnouji Academy in search of the person who killed her Juuzou Kabuto-esque father. The most likely suspect in this case is Sastuki Kiryuuin, the student council president who controls the school like a savage dictator because you know, student council president is a position that’s ju[Underwater] KILL la KILL - 03 (720p) [D6162FE9].mkv_snapshot_20.33_[2013.10.18_10.55.49]st brimming with overwhelming power and authority, right? When Ryuuko realizes that it’ll be tough to reach Satsuki since she has an army of students wearing magical school uniforms that give them crazy super powers, she makes a hasty retreat to her old house, where she discovers her own super powered school uniform that gives her amazing powers.

Giving a simple description of the plot of Kill la Kill doesn’t do it justice. At its core, it’s nothing really ground-breaking, a revenge story with hints of a major twist down the road. However, The care that Imaishi and the folks at Trigger put into its presentation are what make it shine. The only true problem I have with the show is the fact that Taku Iwasaki was not brought in to compose the soundtrack. Instead, they chose to go with Hiroyuki Sawano, who people will know as the composer for Guilty Crown, Attack on Titan and, Sengoku Basara. As you all know, the big selling point being used for the show is that it’s the team that brought you Gurren Lagann so, to find out that the music, which was a major part of the Gurren Lagann experience, is composed by someone else, is a bit of a disappointment.

[Underwater] KILL la KILL - 03 (720p) [D6162FE9].mkv_snapshot_18.18_[2013.10.21_22.24.27]Verdict: At the time I am writing this, I have just finished watching episode three and if it’s any indicator for how the rest of the series will be, Kill la Kill has a solid chance at being the best show this season or maybe even this year. I’m gonna be following this weekly and I suggest that everyone who reads this does too.

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MTP 9/27/2013: We need someone to impregnate our things, to make more things…

Download Here

I was finally able to abduct Mr.EvoluderKamina from the NOTR studios for another rousing episode of the Manly Tears Podcast. This week we talk about a little show called Fate/Zero. As always sorry for being gone so long but, THESE ROCKING BEATS AIN’T GONNA WRITE THEMSELVES!!

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Nerds of the Round Table Podcast

Hey everyone, sorry for the lack of updates as of late, we’ve been having trouble getting everyone together at the same time. In the mean time, you guys can check out the new podcast by myself, OOOVer-clocked and some others, with a special guest appearance by NoBadSign!

Nerds of the Round Table Podcast

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Summer 2013 Anime: Watamote

WatamoteBefore I actually go into what this show is, I feel like I need to explain the name. There has been a pretty distinct trend in anime and japanese light novels as of late where naming your anime title or light novel has become a game of ” How much of the basic plot can you vaguely summarize in a weird sentence?” Basically, I’m talking about the breakout hits from the last few years such as “Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai” and “Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteru“. It’s because of this weird new trend that some production companies have gone so far as to devise little abbreviated names for their series. Ones that are short and easy to remember. Watamote is such a title since it’s full official name is “Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaete mo Omaera ga Warui!” which translates to “No Matter How I Look at It, It’s Your Fault I’m Not Popular!

Analysis: Ever since Otaku no Video, it seems like the slightly romanticized interpretation of the anime otaku has been growing in popularity to the point that we have entire anime series devoted to that subset of the Japanese population like Genshiken, Comic Party and, Doujin Work. However, lately it has become popular to peel away some of the rose-colored gild these shows place on anime otaku, hell, Kengo Hanazawa has made a decent career from it. Watamote is one of these shows.

[FTW]_Watashi_ga_Motenai_no_wa_Dou_Kangaetemo_Omaera_ga_Warui_-_01_[720p][84EDF505].mkv_snapshot_11.08_[2013.08.10_14.34.33]When I wrote my review of Flowers of Evil, I talked about how the main protagonist thought himself to be a demigod among ants in terms of intelligence because he read french literature from the 18th century but, in reality, that attitude was just a facade to hide his insecurities and the fact that he had all the personality of blank wall. Watamote is a similar tale of a young otaku girl who deludes herself into believing, as the title suggests, that it is not her fault that she isn’t more popular. These delusions of hers lead to hilarious results. seeing as Watamote is a show about an anime otaku, it is awash in anime references from Fate/Zero, Kuroko no Basket, and Death Note to name a few. I was actually pleasantly surprised when I watched an episode and was confronted with a reference that I could not place. I assumed it was from a Makoto Shinkai film and called it a day.

[FTW]_Watashi_ga_Motenai_no_wa_Dou_Kangaetemo_Omaera_ga_Warui_-_01_[720p][84EDF505].mkv_snapshot_16.19_[2013.08.10_14.34.53]I have to applaud Watamote for accomplishing something that few comedy anime series can do; be consistently funny and charming without getting dull. All of the jokes and hilarious situations succeed at hitting home and leave you wondering “What will Tomoko get herself into next?”If I had one major issue with the show it would have to be its soundtrack. Most of the background music for this show is this clumsy, oafish sounding horn that sounds like it should be the soundtrack for the life of a morbidly obese man.

Verdict: musical choices aside, Watamote is a solid little comedy that is fresh enough to grab my attention. I plan to follow this weekly.

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Summer 2013 Anime: Danganronpa

“Visual Novel” is a term that those outside of Japan may not be too familiar with or they may think of them as how they are commonly perceived in the North American anime fandom; “Those weird Japanese porno games”. While, there are many erotic visual novel games out there, it is true that there are those out there that manage to stay rather clean so, referring to them as “porno games” is a pretty broad statement. I begin like this because I’m talking about Danganronpa, an anime based on a visual novel for the PSP.

DanganRonpa AnimeAnalysis: Let me start off by saying that this show won me over immediately with its opening sequence. I don’t know why I find Japanese people rapping in English so interesting, I just do. This show has also satisfied a craving that I’ve been starved for in my anime for awhile now, and that is my craving for wacky character designs. As the years go by, it seems that repetition is the name of the game in regards to anime character designs and that is truly a shame. I miss the days when “Looking somewhat human” was NOT a requirement for effective character design. The days of Shotaro Ishinomori and Go Nagai. I mean, there are some modern character designs I enjoy but, I’m just getting bored of them. What I’m trying to say is that I want less character designs like this:

What most anime schoolgirls look like.

What most anime schoolgirls look like.

And more character designs like THIS:

What some anime schoolgrirls SHOULD look like.

What some anime schoolgrirls SHOULD look like.

[UTW]_Danganronpa_The_Animation_-_02_[h264-720p][B1A2027B].mkv_snapshot_13.45_[2013.07.28_11.42.29]Plot wise, Danganronpa isn’t totally out of the normal. A group of high-schoolers who are extraordinary in various categories are brought together and trapped inside of boarding school by what appears to be a talking stuffed bear. Their only way to escape is for one in the group to commit a murder and mislead the rest into believing their innocent. Only then, will that one person be free while the rest are murdered. The show succeeds in setting up a solid murder mystery but, kinda loses steam in its execution. This leads us to one of the problems that arises when adapting something like a visual novel game into an anime; time constraints. despite the name, visual novels by nature are extremely wordy endeavors. Often times, 3-4 paragraphs will be used to describe what was essentially 20-30 seconds worth of action or to map out a character’s inner thoughts and motivations or strictly for world-building. That being said, when you transport that over to a medium where you really can’t spare the time for that sort of inner monologue without being accused of “dragging” or being “terribly paced” so, many of these bits are left out in anime adaptions of visual novels. This can often lead to unexplained plot points and unclear character actions that can make the adaption seem poor or misdirected, one of the finer examples of this is the Fate/Stay Night anime produced by Studio Deen back in 2006.

In the case of Danganronpa, things like this can lead to murders being way too easy to solve. part of the excitement of murder mysteries is that even you, as the omnipotent viewer who has all the clues laid out in front of you, are finding it difficult to solve the case. However, in the case of Danganronpa, the clues all seem so obvious that you can point out the killer before the episode is even halfway done, and it doesn’t help the fact that our culprit can’t keep a poker face to save his life, literally.

Seriously, dude. You're not fooling anyone.

Seriously, dude. You’re not fooling anyone.

Verdict: Danganronpa has an interesting premise and characters that I don’t mind seeing each week but, as far as murder mystery anime go, it doesn’t stand up to things like Detective Conan or Neuro. In a slower anime season this would be one of my top shows but, I’ll probably wait until it finishes up to watch it.

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