Anime Film Review: ‘Children Who Chase Lost Voices’

Anime Film Review: ‘Children Who Chase Lost Voices’

I went into Children Who Chase Lost Voices almost completely blind. The film’s director, Makoto Shinkai, was also responsible for 2016’s critically acclaimed Your Name. So in order to see the origins of his directorial skills, I turned my attention to this film.

His directorial debut was the film 5 Centimeters Per Second, which was out of stock on Amazon when I first searched for it. As such, I jumped straight to his second film, 2011’s Children Who Chase Lost Voices.

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Right from the beginning, Children Who Chase Lost Voices demonstrates the power of visual storytelling. The film centers on a young girl named Asuna, and there is so much you can learn about her without ever being told.

A typical day for Asuna involves going to school, cleaning the house, doing laundry, preparing dinner and studying, and all of these activities are conveyed without a single word. The only informative lines of dialogue are Asuna’s comment about her mother working late, as well as the prayer she says in memory of her father.

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Besides her daily household chores, Asuna makes a habit of visiting a cliffside that exists deep in the woods surrounding her home. She stocks a small cave full of books, snacks and other items that are important to her, and sits atop the cliff tinkering with a strange radio given to her by her father, claiming she can hear voices below the ground.

Not long after the opening scenes, the film’s real narrative begins. There had been sightings of a strange, bear like creature in Asuna’s town, and the students of her school are advised to head straight home.

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As Asuna is making her way to the woods, she comes across the monster, and is almost killed by it until the intervention of a young man named Shun. Shun’s fight with the beast was more violent than I expected. I wouldn’t way it was grotesque, but I didn’t at all expect to see that level of blood and wounds.

After spending a brief period of time with Asuna, Shun is found dead in the town’s river. The loss of Shun, in conjuction with a story that Asuna hears from her substitute teacher, Mr. Morisaki, sets the pace for the rest of Asuna’s journey.

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Shun is from a land known as Agartha. Agartha exists under the surface of the Earth, and is home to the descendants of early humanity, as well as the guardian Quetzalcoatl. Mr. Morisaki believes that Agartha holds the power to revive the dead, and wishes to bring back his late wife, Lisa. After an encounter with Shin, Shun’s younger brother, both Asuna and Morisaki end up traveling through Agartha.

The adventure that follows is pretty enjoyable. Asuna and Morisaki encounter many interesting locales, and a handful of memorable characters. There is plenty of danger along the way too. Asuna and Morisaki must deal with a group of skeletal monsters, as well as the residents of Agartha, both of which want them dead.

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Children Who Chase Lost Voices has a handful of plot elements that aren’t really explained too well. For starters, it’s never explained why Shun visits the surface world in the first place. The film does a great job of showing why Agartha’s citizens resent the top siders, which makes his decision all the more confusing.

Secondly, there is a strange issue with the strength of those from Agartha. They appear to have near superhuman level abilities, with even teenagers like Shun and Shin being able to leap from large distances and deal critical blows to the guardians. Again, the reason for this is never expanded upon.

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One interesting thing about the film is Asuna’s motivation. She’s caught between Morisaki’s desire to revive his wife, and the Agarthan’s desires to protect their home, all the while still mourning the death of Shun.

What I don’t like however is the fact that Shun seems to be her primary reason for going to Agartha. He’s a decent character, but the two only knew each other for maybe a handful of days, making the love that she feels for him less endearing. 

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But to be fair, I do feel that Shun reminds Asuna of her father, which would make her actions a bit more understandable. For Children Who Chase Lost Voices, Shinkai aimed specifically to capture the elements of dealing with loss, and finding the strength to carry on.

This sentiment applies not only to Asuna, but to Shin and Morisaki as well. All three characters respond to losing a loved one in different ways, and they all need each other’s support to move forward with new resolve.

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Children Who Chase Lost Voices is a visual marvel. The characters look nice, and the animation is smooth and lively, but the backgrounds are the real star of the show. Agartha in particular is brimming with vividly detailed buildings and landscapes, and the skyline that accompanies the final scenes of the film was breathtaking.

The real world setting is just as visually impressive as Agartha. The autumn themed foliage is wonderfully crafted, but my favorite part was actually Asuna’s house. It’s so simple, but I found it really cool to look at all the little details that were applied to the refrigerator, the cabinets and the walls.

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As a whole, Children Who Chase Lost Voices was an enjoyable film. It had a few plot issues, some that bother me way more than others, and I think a few scenes could’ve been shortened or cut for the sake of pacing. But the film’s highs are really high, and I’d say it is definitely worth the watch.

And oh yeah, the vocal track that plays over the credits, Hello Goodbye & Hello, is absolutely amazing.

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Anime Series Review: ‘Sakura Quest’

Anime Series Review: ‘Sakura Quest’

I came across Sakura Quest almost entirely by accident. I remember seeing someone on Twitter comment on how great an anime called Hinako Note was, but I completely forgot the name by the time I tried to search it on Crunchyroll. The only think I could remember was the pink haired protagonist, and this happy accident led me to find what may be one of my favorite anime of all time, Sakura Quest.

Sakura Quest has a very unique and refreshing set up. It’s story centers on a college graduate named Yoshino Koharu. Yoshi thought that graduating from a university in Tokyo would set her on the path to accomplish great things, but the only things she’s managed to accomplish is failing dozens of job interviews.

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After having a happy accident of her own, Yoshi ends up in the cozy little town of Manoyama, the type of place where everybody knows each other. Yoshi was contracted to work as a member of Manoyama’s tourism board, and to serve as the town’s queen. But as it turns out, Yoshi’s contract was for an entire year, as opposed to a single day.  

Manoyama isn’t necessarily in dire straits, but it could definitely use the boost in revenue that typically comes from tourism. In order to make the town rich and prosperous, Queen Yoshino is joined by four other young women, namely, Manoyaman native Shiori, the quiet and reserved Ririko, internet enthusiast Sanae and aspiring actor Maki.

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One of the things that makes Sakura Quest so special is, weirdly enough, its normalcy. A college graduate being charged with bringing in revenue to a small town may not exactly be a common occurrence, but it’s something that I probably wouldn’t think twice about if I saw it on the news.

Even the characters themselves feel like normal people. In most other anime, Yoshi would be a happy go lucky girl with tons of charisma. But in Sakura Quest, she’s a normal, twenty something year old girl. This statement holds true for every other character in the show, and gives Manoyama a genuine sense of community.

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There are a number of locales and shops that make appearances throughout the show’s 25 episode runtime, and what’s really interesting is the differing reactions to the tourism board’s plans. Though Yoshi always has the best of intentions at heart, her efforts don’t always reflect the desires of the citizens.

At times, the board’s plans are at odds with the traditions of Manoyama, while at others the citizens are being a bit too rigid and unwilling to accept any kind of change. This is the biggest source of conflict in Sakura Quest, and one that the show does a great job of resolving.

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Characters never attempt to force their ideas upon others. Rather, things only get done after thoughtful conversations from every party involved, giving the show a great feeling of maturity. Overall, Sakura Quest is a show that should be very enjoyable for adults. You should know an anime is mature when the most unusual thing about it is Yoshi’s pink hair.

Beyond the efforts to restore Manoyama, one of the central plot elements for Sakura Quest is Yoshi’s personal arc. She describes herself as never having any real talent for much of anything, so the job of queen is very important to her.

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Seeing her struggle to succeed made me really feel for the poor girl. If one of her plans failed or stepped on the toes of the citizens, she would feel deeply sorry, and blame herself for not being able to understand the feelings of a native Manoyaman.

It is only through the support of her friends and the grumpy old Kadota that she is able to pull herself back up. By the end of the show, Yoshi felt like a much bolder and more confident young woman, one with the power to accomplish anything she sets her mind to.

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This is also true for a number of other characters. Maki has to come to terms with the future of her acting career, while Ririko must learn to gain independence. One of the show’s best episodes is about a middle school aged girl named Erika, and her struggles with wanting to leave her small town life.

Much like Yoshi, who also grew up in a rural town, Erika yearns for the opportunities that she believes only exist in Tokyo. As much as this is an important event for Erika, it is equally important to Yoshi’s development, as it is much like looking in a mirror at her younger self.

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Another aspect that stuck out to me is it’s amazing soundtrack. The general songs you hear in the show have a very “country town” vibe, while the openings and endings are catchy and upbeat.The show’s first opening and ending, Morning Glory and Lupinus respectively, have actually become two of my favorites of any anime.

One last kind of weird thing that I love about Sakura Quest is the girls’ outfits. I don’t even mean this in a fan servicey way, I genuinely adore just how nice their clothes look. Each girl has almost a dozen outfits that they rotate throughout the show, and many times even in the same episode.

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I particuarly love Yoshi’s outfits, as she always looks so gosh darn cute. I’m partial to her blue shirt and white dress combo, as well as her denim shorts and yellow button up. But my favorite would have to be her blue overalls, mostly because I love the way she styles her hair when she wears it.

In many ways, Sakura Quest is an anime that has at least a little bit of everything that appeals to me. I love the character driven narrative, I love how refreshingly normal everything is, I love the animation and I especially love the soundtrack. It’s become one of my favorite anime of all time, and I hope future viewers will have just as much fun with Yoshi and Manoyama as I did.

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Anime Series Review: ‘Danganronpa: The Animation’

Anime Series Review: ‘Danganronpa: The Animation’

Danganronpa: The Animation is just that, an animated adaptation of Spike Chunsoft’s Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc. The Danganronpa franchise focuses on the themes of hope and despair, and Trigger Happy Havoc centers on a group of prodigious high school students being forced to learn the truths of said hope and despair. 

In the Danganronpa universe, there exists a prestigious high school known as Hope’s Peak Academy. Hope’s Peak only accepts the most gifted of students, and their definition of the word means that you must have an extremely high skill level with a particular talent. Naturally, those admitted into Hope’s Peak are known as Super High School Level Talents.

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These talents can range from simple things like baseball, programming and writing, all the way to some really obscure ones such as being an idol, gambling, clairvoyance and royalty. In the case of our protagonist, Makoto Naegi, he has Super High School Level Luck.

Danganronpa’s story starts with a select few students being trapped inside the academy by a charismatic teddie bear named Monokuma, who presents himself as the school’s headmaster. Monokuma thrusts a sadistic goal upon his fledgling students. If they wish to escape from the confines of the academy, they must successfully murder one of their classmates, and get away with it.

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Monokuma’s killing school life feeds directly into the aforementioned themes of hope and despair. At times, the student body is hopeful that no murders will occur, and take solace in the strides they are making towards uncovering the truth. But the despair that they feel from being right at the peak of hope and falling is crucial to the narrative’s thematic elements.

As is to be expected, murders do happen in Danganronpa. After each murder, the students are to hold a brief investigation, followed by a class trial. If the students successfully deduce the killer’s identity, then the guilty party will be executed. But should they choose wrong, the “blackened” student will go free, while the rest of the class is executed.

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One area in which the anime falls short compared to the game is the culprits of the case. Almost from the start of the trial, their reactions and expressions make it extremely obvious that they are guilty, especially when they are talking way more than they usually do.

Danganronpa’s biggest issue is its 13 episode runtime, a runtime that needed to cover 20 some odd hours of gameplay. To its credit, the anime does hit all of the important story beats, but much of the character development is left out. What probably suffered the most however are the investigations, as they are paced lightning fast, and don’t always give the clues a thorough enough explanation.

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Another point I want to make about the anime, and one that isn’t necessarily a point of contention, is the difference between Funimation’s English dub, and the game’s English dub. In the game dubs, things are changed to be more suitable for an English speaking audience. An example would be the term Super High School Level Talent being shorthanded to Ultimate Talent (less of a mouthful).

Funimation’s dub seems to be more faithful to the original, right down to the fact that student’s address each other by their last names, a custom in Japanese culture. In the case of a character named Genocider Syo, they had their name outright changed to Genocide Jack in the games.

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Another thing of note between the two versions is the voices. With the exception of Makoto, the entire game cast has been replaced by Funimation’s in-house talent (feel free to call them Ultimate Voice Actors). Certain characters like Asahina, Sakura and Kyoko sounded mostly the same to me, while others like Togami and Mondo (voiced by Vegeta) were noticeably different. This isn’t a bad thing, as I actually found Funimation’s voice actors to have the  better performances.

The one voice that initially threw me off was Monokuma’s. He has such a whimsical and distinctive voice in the games, and I was really hoping that they carried the same actor over to the anime. To give credit where credit is due, the anime’s Monokuma sounds really great. His tone of voice is totally different from the game voice, which I think was a smart choice. In addition, he still manages to perfectly capture the bear’s personality and character traits.

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As I said before, the one constant between the two mediums is Makoto Naegi, voiced by Bryce Papenbrook. Papenbrook actually has a bit of history with Funimation, with his most famous role likely being Eren Jaeger in Attack on Titan. Because of his experience with the company, and the fact that he was likely given much better direction, his anime Makoto sounds so much better than his game counterpart.

 Danganronpa: The Animation does get tons of points with me for being extremely faithful in mimicking the aesthetics of the game. Almost all of the music returns for the anime, the art style is near identical and even the various elements of the user interface pop up when necessary, right down to the iconic truth bullets and class trial minigames.

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Danganronpa: The Animation presents probably the best possible adaptation it can given its small number of episodes. The best way to experience the story and characters is still the original game, but I wouldn’t say the anime is a terrible entry into the series for newcomers. As someone who played the game earlier this year, I found the anime to be a serviceable refresher course of sorts. It may fall flat in some areas as an adaptation, but overall, Danganronpa: The Animation is a well done anime.

Anime Series Review: ‘Akame ga Kill!

Anime Series Review: ‘Akame ga Kill!

Watching Akame ga Kill was a very interesting experience for me. I remember catching a few episodes of the English dub when it premiered on Toonami a few years ago, and it seemed pretty cool. So when I went to my first A-Fest in 2016, I decided to start collecting the manga.

At the time of this writing, I own all of what has been released in English for both the original Akame ga Kill, and the prequel spin-off known as Akame ga Kill Zero. As such, this is my first time watching an anime where I was already familiar with the manga’s storyline.

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At its core, Akame ga Kill is a story about death and corruption. Our protagonist is a plucky young boy named Tatsumi, and he is joined by his two childhood friends on a journey from their quaint little village to the capital city, a place full of opportunities. Things quickly turn for the worst however, as the brutal death of his friends is used to teach Tatsumi the harsh realities of the world.

Tatsumi is eventually recruited by a group known as Night Raid, a gang of assassins who operate in the shadows to change the corrupt empire. In order to carry out their missions, most of Night Raid is equipped with powerful weapons called Imperial Arms, or Teigu.

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Teigu were forged in ancient times of war, and are extremely diverse in appearance and abilities. Night Raid member Akame wields the katana Murasame, a blade that can kill with only a single scratch, while Bulat, and later Tatsumi, can call upon the armor of a dragon named Incursio.

Other Teigu manifest as an emotionally charged firearm, a deadly binding thread, and even a visor that can read minds and conjure illusions. Teigu are really cool in concept, but they leave a bit to be desired in terms of execution. Due to a combination of  Teigu diversity, and lack of balance on the writer’s end, Akame ga Kill’s power scale is all over the place.

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Some Teigu are rather simple (Murasame, Lubba’s Cross Tail threads), while there are others that allow the user to heal from having limbs severed,  and even raise the dead to do their bidding. Having such a plethora of unique fighters is at times, a good thing, but it left me feel a little confused at the staggering difference between weapons.

General Esdeath is at the heart of the power scale issue, as she is so absurdly overpowered that most fights involving her are a joke. To be fair, I think her being as strong as she is was done to establish just how intimidating the task of overthrowing the empire truly is (not to mention the fact that she is essentially half Danger Beast), but this was something that stuck out to me about her.

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Akame ga Kill also somewhat suffers from the Naruto problem of having ninja that don’t adhere to our traditional idea of ninja (which for me is, admittedly, based heavily on Western stereotypes). The only genuine assassins in the show are Akame, Lubba, Chelsea and occasionally the wielder of Incursio. Aside from them, no one else’s Teigu are really suited for assassination tactics, meaning missions that don’t specifically target weaker foes usually result in all out brawls.

Akame ga Kill’s biggest problem is that it often feels rushed. The manga was still running when the anime premiered, so a few changes had to be made here and there. The first half of Akame ga Kill’s 24 episodes are pretty accurate to the manga, and have a nice, consistent pace. But the latter half show’s that 12 episodes was not enough to cover the story that was trying to be told.

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Everything moves way too fast. Certain story beats were either omitted or heavily altered, death scenes are rushed and not given room to breath, and worst of all, a handful of characters are criminally underdeveloped.

The minister’s son, one of the main antagonists in the manga, is only in about two episodes, and Esdeath’s group of Jaegers are given so little screen time that they may as well not even be there, the major exceptions being Kurome and Bols. This is especially disappointing as a manga reader, as Wave became my favorite character because of his great story arc.

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My biggest issue with Akame ga Kill, both the manga and anime, is its name. I know this is extremely petty, but it has always bothered me that the show is named after Akame. Don’t get me wrong, I think she is a great character, but Tatsumi is the one the story centers on.

In addition, Akame isn’t any more or less important than the rest of the cast, which made it really confusing for me when the anime’s openings and endings billed her relationship with Kurome as the emotional crux of the story.

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In spite of the negative critiques I’ve given thus far, I don’t think Akame ga Kill is a bad show. With the exception of the statement about the show being rushed, most of my other complaints were just me nitpicking. In all honestly, I just think the show is pretty average, but almost painfully so.

I love the cast, but I’ve seen much better. Some of the fights have a cool action shot here and there, but they are mostly just passable. Are you seeing a pattern here? Akame ga Kill is a fairly standard experience, overall. The best things about the show are the music (special mention to the second opening song, Liar Mask), and the animation, which, is sharp, fluid and brimming with color. The show is also genuinely funny when it wants to be.

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Akame ga Kill was a fun watch for me, mostly because I’m willing to accept its flaws in order to enjoy what was presented. It has some interesting ideas, but it never develops them in a way to make the show truly stand out. Fans of the manga will probably find the show enjoyable, especially if you’re someone like me who actually prefers when the anime adaptation isn’t just a carbon copy, but I’d be hard pressed to recommend it to somebody who wasn’t already interested.

Oh yeah, as is customary for me to say at this point, Mine is best girl. Though she just barely beats out Chelsea.

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Anime Series Review: ‘Little Witch Academia: The Series’, Season 2

Anime Series Review: ‘Little Witch Academia: The Series’, Season 2

The second season of Trigger’s Little Witch Academia anime series has finally landed on Netflix, and I didn’t waste anytime giving it a watch. My review of the first season was a pretty general overview of the show, but this one is going to go a bit deeper into spoilers, so reader be wary.

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Little Witch Academia’s first season was a fairly episodic romp, and it served primarily to introduce us to the principal cast, give them a bit of character development and set the stage for the remaining 12 episodes that make up the show’s second season.

 

In contrast, season two’s storytelling is quite a bit more serialized. The end of the first season reveals that Professor Ursula is actually the former witch idol known as Shiny Chariot, and that she must guide Akko, the current wielder of the Shiny Rod, in a search for seven special magic words.

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Right at the start of season two, Luna Nova Academy receives a new instructor named Professor Croix. Croix is a Luna Nova alumni, and shares quite a bit of history with Chariot. Croix also serves as the link between the magic and modern worlds. The majority of the modern world views magic as an antiquated past time, something the first season briefly touched on.

Ever since she was a Luna Nova student, Croix’s dream has been to restore magic to its former glory. To do so, she has introduced elements of technology into her magic, such as magic routers that allow witches to carry a supply of magic energy with them on the go.

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Croix’s ultimate goal, and her entire reason for coming to Luna Nova, is to perfect an invention that transforms people’s negative emotions into magical energy. This isn’t completely unfounded, as she actually used one of Shiny Chariot’s performances as a test bed many years ago.

She informed Croix about something called dream fuel energy, which allows the caster to turn their audience’s dreams into powerful magic. But as a side effect, the target loses a good portion of their magical talent, and you can probably guess where things go from here.

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Akko learns that the reason she struggles with magic is the fault of her idol, the person who inspired her dream of becoming a witch, and this revelation is extremely tragic for the poor girl. Seeing her face and voice completely devoid of that trademark joy really broke my heart, but an unsuspecting friend helped bring her back from the darkness.

Diana Cavendish has a much more prominent role this season. Because of her responsibilities to House Cavendish, Diana decides to end her enrollment at Luna Nova, but Akko refuses to let her go so easily. Through her conversations with Andrew and one of Diana’s caretakers, Akko learns that Diana wasn’t always the flawless witch that she appears to be.

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As a child, Diana attended the same Shiny Chariot that Akko did, meaning that she too lost some of her magical talent. But in spite of this, Diana worked hard and never gave up, and this was a great way to make her a more likeable character.Learning more about Diana made her one of the show’s standout characters, and serves as a great basis for Akko to work that much harder.

And speaking of which, Akko’s magic is noticeably improved from the first season. Although she still can’t fly a broom, her proficiency with the metamorphosis magic is commendable, and it becomes her trademark spell. Special mention goes to the show’s final episode, which shows  Akko using consecutive transformations without missing a beat.

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Another important character is Professor Ursula, or Shiny Chariot. Chariot and Croix were best friends at Luna Nova, with Croix being hailed as a witch prodigy. Croix was sure that she would be the one to complete the seven words and obtain the world altering magic, the Grand Triskellion. In a surprise twist of fate, the Shiny Rod chose Chariot, leading to Croix fostering resentment for her friend.

In the present, Chariot is doing everything in her power to stop Croix’s plans, all while trying to nurture and protect Akko. Chariot in season two is somewhat of an action hero. It is our first time seeing what she can really do with magic, and the sight is nothing short of amazing. Even without magic, Chariot is extremely physically fit, and is capable of making daring leaps and drop kicking monsters with a ferocious impact.

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Akko’s journey for the seven words is the main focus of this season, and I really like the way they presented it. Rather than each word being found at the end of some grand adventure, many of them are discovered in rather unexpected ways.

One of the words is found while Akko is attempting to find a cure to save Lotte’s village from a terrible illness, while another is the result of her assisting Diana. The words usually come to Akko after she has learned some type of important moral lesson, such as patience or understanding. These types of self reflective discoveries were instrumental to developing Akko as a virtuous and mature young witch.

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Characters like Lotte, Sucy and Amanda don’t get as much spotlight this time around, but I felt the amount they received was acceptable. It was substantial enough that we didn’t forget they existed, but not enough to detract from Akko’s development.

One of Little Witch Academia’s most consistent themes has been achieving greater and greater feats by working together, a sentiment that carries into the anime’s second season. A missile fueled by negative magic energy is on course to destroy one of the world’s major countries. Together, Akko and her friends do everything in their power to stop the missile from landing.

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The girls take flight on their combined brooms, with Diana and Akko leading the charge. Eventually, the duo are the only ones left on the broom, and just as they are running out of magic energy, something amazing happens. In a sequence that wouldn’t be out of place in Dragon Ball Z, the world raises their hands and voices to the sky, sending magic energy composed of positive emotions to assist the girls.

The entire chase scene is really well done. Akko and Diana twist, dive and duck in order to avoid being attacked, and Akko demonstrates her skill with metamorphosis as she runs along the missile’s backside and joins back with Diana. In order to finish the job, Akko and Diana, Shiny Rod in hand, launch one final Shiny Arc, saving the day, and changing the world’s views on magic.

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I always feel a little bit sad when I finish a great anime series. As I watched the final scene play out, I knew that my time with Akko and Luna Nova was at an end, but I was really happy that I got to be a part of her journey. Little Witch Academia may just end up being one of my favorite anime series of all time, and I would recommend it, as well as the two short films, to just about anyone. Also, I really need that Akko Nendoroid in my life.

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Waifu Review: ‘Keijo’

Waifu Review: ‘Keijo’

Keijo is a Shonen-esque sports anime about, you guessed it, a fictional sport known as Keijo. This new and exciting sport is played on various water based structures known as Lands, and competitors must either knock their opponent into the water, or make them fall on the Land to win. However, you’re only allowed to attack your opponent using your butt and your breasts.

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The premise alone makes Keijo sound absolutely ludicrous, and I wouldn’t fault anybody for thinking that it is purely a fan service driven comedy. Make no mistake, Keijo is both titillating and hilarious, but it’s humor stems from the fact that it plays the concept of girls fighting each other with various butt and breast attacks entirely straight.

I believe that the creators of Keijo knew that the series wouldn’t have any real lasting appeal if they didn’t find an interesting way to present the concept. So rather than make jokes about how absurd the sport is, the joke is how seriously the show takes it, with a few references to other popular anime sprinkled in for good measure.

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The hero of Keijo’s story is an 18 year old girl named Nozomi Kaminashi, and she dreams of playing Keijo at a professional level. In order to fulfill this dream, Nozomi attends an academy that specializes in training aspiring Keijo players. Along the way, Nozomi is joined by various classmates and rivals, each of which has their own unique fighting style.

As I stated earlier, Keijo doesn’t joke around about these battles, even going as far as creating three different types of Keijo fighters. One of Nozomi’s friends is a former Judo champion named Sayaka Miyata, and she is what is known as an Outfighter, someone who uses overwhelming speed to best the opponent.

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Nozomi herself is a speedy girl with a lot of power, making her a mix of two different fighting styles. Nozomi is also notable for being able to perform the legendary Vacuum Butt Cannon, a powerful and risky technique. It involves the user performing various flips in order to build up momentum, resulting in a devastating butt strike. However, the technique puts an enormous strain on the user’s hips.

The Vacuum Butt Cannon’s description is a perfect example of how creative the show is with it’s attacks. I never thought I’d compare an anime where girls slam their butts into each other to Pixar, but Keijo takes its premise about as far as it can go, much like many of Pixar’s movies.

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The show’s various attacks aren’t just thrown out at random, there is genuine thought put into each move’s mechanics and logistics. Sayaka has a technique that involves giving herself a wedgie in order to increase her range of motion, thus increasing her overall speed. Kazane Aoba, another one of Nozomi’s friends, has an ability called Scanning Hand, which allows her to copy the techniques of anybody’s butt that she has touched.

These are just a handful of examples of just how inventive Keijo manages to be with such a silly idea. What makes it even funnier is the fact that every single attack has an equally ridiculous and over the top name, complete with a dramatic shot of the character every time they use it.

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Having such a diverse group of fighters means Keijo has some legitimately interesting fights. Since each girl has clear advantages and disadvantages, they must be creative with the way they approach their opponents. Similar to my statement about Pixar, I never thought an anime that depicts a girl making her nipples erect in order to latch onto her opponent’s swimsuit would have me on the edge of my seat in anticipation.

These fight scenes are complete with some pretty slick animation and choreography (though the former does dip in the last two episodes). Not only is Keijo really bright and colorful, but as a fan service anime, it has plenty of shots of the girls in various sexy poses, close ups on their rather well trained butts and plenty of jiggle physics to go around.

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I’m not ashamed to admit that I love fan service, and I adore series like Senran Kagura because of how openly it embraces it. It definitely isn’t for everybody, and I understand why people get upset when it is shoved into shows that don’t really need it. As such, one of the things I love most about Keijo is the way that it actually integrates the fan service into its world and story.

The girls aren’t scantily clad and busty for the sole sake of being sexy, as having larger breasts and thicker butts are actually huge benefits in the sport that they play. At the end of the day, the entire point of Keijo is the fan service, but I’m glad that it is at least presented with substance. Keijo is an anime that is fun in the purest sense of the word, and it is perfect for anybody that likes awesome fights, as well as curvy anime girls.

 

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Anime Series Review: ‘My Hero Academia’, Season 1

Anime Series Review: ‘My Hero Academia’, Season 1

Dragon Ball and Naruto are among my favorite anime franchises of all time. Both of these shows are tried and true Shonen anime, with Dragon Ball in particular being not only one of the most influential anime of all time, but hugely instrumental in popularizing anime in the west.

But as much as I love these two anime, they aren’t really evocative of the shows that I enjoy today. They are high action battle anime, while most of what I consume now are shows like Yuki Yuna Is A Hero, Sakura Quest and Usagi Drop, all of which are fun and cutesy slice of life anime.

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Both the manga and anime for Naruto have been over for quite some time now, and while I love Boruto: Naruto Next Generations, it hasn’t quite evolved to be the Shonen anime that I’ve been missing. In comes My Hero Academia, a show that has done everything it could possibly do to remind me why I feel in love with shows like Naruto and Dragon Ball in the first place.

My Hero Academia isn’t a parody or deconstruction of typical Shonen tropes, rather, it plays everything completely straight. It isn’t ashamed of its Shonen roots, rather, it simultaneously embraces them and fixes problems that have historically plagued the genre.

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In the world of My Hero Academia, the act of being a super hero has become the world’s most popular profession. For generations, people have been born with genetic abnormalities known as Quirks, and these Quirks can manifest in a variety of ways.

At the center of My Hero Academia’s story is a young man named Izuku “Deku” Midoriya. Since childhood, Deku has longed to be a hero in the image of All Might, the world’s number one hero. But unfortunately, Deku was born without a Quirk.

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Deku’s first step to achieving his dream is being admitted to U. A. High,the most prestigious school for aspiring heroes. As a result of being Quirkless, his chances of passing the entrance exams are slim, and it doesn’t help that he has to deal with his childhood friend turned bully, Katsuki Bakugou, along the way.

Deku’s most defining traits are his passion and determination, and another aspect of his character that I find to be interesting are his combat skills. He has almost zero real combat experience, but he does have unparalleled observation skills.

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Ever since he decided to be a hero, Deku has written countless notebooks detailing the Quirks of the various people that he has encountered. These years of study have given him great skill when it comes to reading and deciphering Quirks, fighting styles and even openings for his own counterattacks.

One of the coolest things about My Hero Academia is the simplicity of its lore. Quirks are really easy to comprehend, and they are not limited by an arbitrary power supply like Ki or Chakra (I still love you, Naruto and Dragon Ball). Quirks function similarly to normal muscles. A person’s ability to use their Quirk is governed by their proficiency with said Quirk, as well as their own physical parameters, and overuse of a Quirk can actually damage the user.

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Because the show is so inventive with its Quirk diversity, the fight scenes are extremely cerebral in nature. In order to be an effective hero, the characters must learn how to make the best use of their Quirks in a number of different situations. As many people have said, My Hero Academia is very reminiscent of early Naruto, in which each ninja had clearly defined advantages and disadvantages against one another.

My Hero Academia also features its own cast of charming characters. Some of the standout ones are Deku’s friends Ochaco, a girl with the power to influence gravity, and Iida, a U.A. Class Representative who has boosters in his legs that allow him to run at incredible speeds. There are a number of other characters that don’t necessarily receive tons of screentime, but manage to be memorable if only for their unique Quirks (special mention to Kirishima). 

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So far, I’ve stated that My Hero Academia has a fantastic cast, awesome fights with interesting powers, a cool world and is unashamedly a Shonen anime to its core. But one more thing that I find to be one of the show’s strongest points is its pacing. My Hero Academia has an extremely brisk pace, but it never feels rushed. Mysteries and character arcs that you think won’t be resolved until much later on in the story, are usually at least touched upon shortly after being brought up.

This is one anime that makes use of every single episode that it has, and as a result, it feels much more satisfying to watch. Long running Shonen anime have conditioned me to expect long, drawn out fights, sympathetic villain backstories, and essentially being strung along for dozens and dozens of episodes. My Hero Academia eschews all of these problems, and does a great job of keeping things moving, but also giving time to the slower moments when necessary.

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My Hero Academia is the personal breath of fresh air that I needed in anime. I’ll never stop loving cutesy slice of life shows, nor will I ever not adore Naruto and Dragon Ball. But this show does so many things right, and has the good problem of making me watch four or five episodes, when I only planned on watching one. I had a great time with the show’s first season, and I’m greatly looking forward to the second season and beyond.