Thursday, June 30, 2011

The one anime you just can't get enough of

New anime is coming out every single month.  Between localizations, new releases in Japan, streaming anime online and on-demand features, there's definitely no shortage of new content.  Finding time to watch all that anime is no easy task, but that's the life of an anime fan!  We enjoy checking out the old and new alike, and it's definitely a desire that's tough to satiate!

While it's fantastic checking out new anime, I'm willing to bet that you have one particular feature that you've seen more than any other.  Even when you have stacks of new anime lined up to check out, you find yourself going back to that familiar story or those familiar characters.  Watching new anime can be a scary experience.  You might end up investing time into a series that ends up fizzling out.  With that old, familiar anime, it's like wrapping yourself up in a warm blanket!

No matter how many times I watch it, I'll always be able to watch Azumanga Daioh and enjoy it.  It just never gets old for me.  There's something about the series that is so inviting.  It's very easy to watch and follow along with, there's no super intricate plots to keep straight in your head.  You just sit back and let it play.  Add in the endearing characters, heart-warming moments and a sweet sense of humor, and I'm absolutely sold.  If only school was really as fun as this anime makes it look like!

What anime do you find yourself returning to time and time again?  No matter how many times you watch, you just keep going back.  Share your addiction with us!

What anime would you like to see localized?

For every anime feature that makes it to the states, there are many more features that never get to officially see the light of day here.  There's simply too much anime content coming from Japan to see everything picked up.  Localization houses here do their best to bring over as much as possible, but they also have a bottom line to look after.  They can't randomly pick up the latest anime content and get to work on translations.

There are indeed many ways to see anime that never makes it over to the states.  The good news is, a lot of the avenues you can take are actually legal.  It seems that Japanese animation houses are starting to realize that they have a lot of fans in the states, and those fans would like to see as much content as possible.  With some of that content just not possible to bring over, there's a lot going on with official simultaneous streaming.  An anime is released in Japan, and it ends up getting a simultaneous translation online.

That's a great way to keep up on what's going on in Japan, but that also means that a much smaller market is going to know about those particular anime features.  It also means that it'll be harder to support that series and spread the word.  Having a localized anime gives a much bigger chance for things to take off and become a hit.  Obviously, some of those streams end up catching the eye of localization houses and then they pick up the rights.  Not every story ends that happily though!

What anime do you enjoy that hasn't officially made it over to North America?  It could even be an anime you haven't seen but are dying to check out.  Fan translations may get the job done, but there's nothing quite like seeing an official treatment.

Where do you buy your anime from?

We've talked about all sorts of anime and how expensive it can be to pick up what you want, but we've yet to talk about where you actually purchase it from!  Anime isn't exactly the easiest thing to find at your local movie retailer, especially when you're looking for the more obscure stuff.  If you plan on building up a sizable library, you're going to have to hunt!

For me, the number one place to purchase anime from is Amazon.  They always seem to have what I'm looking for, even when it's something off the beaten path.  The only thing that makes me nervous is when I buy through Amazon from another seller.  I just don't like having to use someone else rather than Amazon themselves.  I tend to stick with just Amazon directly for my anime fix.

Back in the day, I used to go to Suncoast Video to pick up anime.  They actually had a sizable collection to choose from, and they also had all kinds of other anime merchandise.  You could grab soundtracks, figurines, posters, shirts and a lot more.  Now I don't even know if that retail chain exists anymore!  The one by my house closed, and with it went a piece of my heart!

Nowadays, if I'm looking to pick up anime from a brick-and-mortar store, I'll usually do so at Best Buy.  I'm quite sad, because today's anime selection at Best Buy is about half the size of what it used to be.  I remember the days when an entire aisle was anime, but now Best Buy seems to have cut their selection in half.  They still get new features and offer decent prices though, so it could be worse.

Where do you pick up your anime from?  Know any secret stores that always have what you want at fantastic prices?  Share your secrets with the rest of us!

L: Change the World - review

Last night I stayed up way too late once again. This was in order to finish up the Death Note live-action trilogy. I've already given my impressions of the first two films, and while they didn't blow me away, I couldn't leave the trilogy unfinished. When I was first learning about these movies, the one that interested me the most was this final entry, L: Change the World. It plays out after an alternate reality ending to Death Note, so I was interested to see where it went. Unfortunately, it seems to have squandered its chance to do anything interesting. No worries, I'll make sure to keep this spoiler-free as well.

Here's the thing that bothered me the most about this movie. It really had absolutely nothing to do with the Death Note series. Obviously it features a few characters from Death Note, but the bulk of the movie itself wasn't really tied into Death Note. There was one driving force that kept the story somewhat related to the Death Note universe, but by and large, this was a movie that could have existed without any ties to Death Note.

I know that there's a novel that lead to this film, and I'm really going to have to sit down and read it. I want to see how much better or worse of a job the novel does than the movie. I do think it's an interesting idea to see how a character's universe can be expanded outside of a series, but this particular film didn't really seem to pull it all together for me. The main character, L, is supposed to be one of the world' best detectives. It's completely feasible that he's solved many other cases, and those cases would make for interesting movies. This particular case is tacked on at the end of the Death Note series, and it felt like a quick cash-in to me.

The other big problem I have with this film is the way in which L acts. I believe that too many liberties were taken with L in this film. He acts outside of the boundaries for his established character. There are things you love about L that don't really shine through in this film. There are also certain rules for the character and decisions for his motives that just don't exist in this film. I understand that L is supposed to be breaking out of his set ways here, but some of the actions that L takes are extremely out of character. If you've come to know and understand L over the the past couple movies or anime/manga series, it's very hard to believe that he'd act the way he does in this film.

Again, as I said with the other films, this one isn't a complete disaster. I just feel it to be the weakest of the three. At the very least, we get to spend more time with L, and we also get to fill in some gaps that the last two movies left. I did enjoy learning the details behind some of the conversations and actions that closed out the second movie. On top of that, there are a few touching scenes with L in this film that sit well with me. Was that content worth the viewing? I personally don't think so, but at least I didn't come away empty-handed.

All in all, the Death Note trilogy of films is...interesting. I guess I am happy to have seen them, if only to know what takes place in each one. The first two films were an interesting take on what happened in the anime/manga, even if I wouldn't call them great. The third film stands out as the oddball in the series. Even if you liked the other two films, I can't promise that you'll enjoy this one. My suggestion is for hardcore Death Note fans to check these features out, but others may want to introduce themselves to the franchise through the anime/manga instead of this.

4 out of 10

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What was your first anime experience?

We're all anime fans here, right? Either you're just getting into anime or you've been following the content for years now. It doesn't matter to us how long you've been an anime fan, as we love you all just the same! We all understand that anime came into your life at one point, and it hasn't left yet! With all that great anime content out there, it's really easy to get sucked in.

That's why I'm curious about where exactly your first anime experience came from. Depending on the range of ages for readers on this blog, I can only imagine the content that you came across first. The first bit of anime you saw may not even be the one that convinced you to check out what other anime was out there. Still, I'm dying to know your first exposure!

For me, I am pretty sure that my very first anime feature that I watched from start to finish was Iria: Zeiram the Animation. Sci-Fi used to show this anime all the time, and one lucky morning I actually caught it from the start. I had never seen anything like it from an animated feature before. It was just so engaging, and so different from what I had been watching through traditional American animation. That's why I was intrigued to check out what else anime had to offer.

That leads me to where I am today, a huge anime fan! What was the first feature you saw that introduced you into the world of anime?

Here's today's anime purchases!

Okay, so it's not purchases I made today...I ordered them two days ago.  They did show up today, though!  It was a nice surprise to find while I was walking out my front door.

I think you guys knew that the third Death Note film was coming, since I talked about the other two this week.  I'll definitely have a review for that feature late tonight, as I plan on watching in a few hours from now.  Even with the other features not being fantastic, I'm really looking forward to this one since it's an alternate story.

As for Dance in the Vampire Bund: Complete Series, I've been seeing a lot of people talk about this on Twitter. I've also seen some reviews that were quite good, but they all mentioned that there are some "uncomfortable" parts.  I'm not sure what that's all about, but I'm still willing to check it out.  It's so damn hard to read about anime and find out details without stumbling upon spoilers, so I hope this was a good decision!

Feel free to share any recent anime purchases you guys have made.  Hopefully they were good picks as well!

Anime series' you want more of

When you find an anime you love, there's one thing you'll always want...and that's more of that anime!  Very rarely do we see an anime series where everything is wrapped up and answered by the final episode.  If you're really lucky, that 'final' episode leads into a movie or two that explain more things, but only leave more questions in the end.  As the saying goes, you always have to leave your audience wanting more.

Looking for more from a specific anime series shows that the series' creators did a fantastic job at building a believable and interesting world.  If you didn't want more content, they've simply failed to do their job.  It's definitely better to end before your time than to wear out your welcome.  Indeed there are some anime features that have been around so long that it's nearly impossible to keep up the original quality.

With all that said, I'm sure we can't help ourselves from being just a tad selfish.  Even if there's a fantastic anime series out there that ended on a high note in top form, we can't resist the urge to call for more.  Just one more storyline where we find out what happens to the main characters.  Just one more conversation between cast members.  Just one more chance to get that 'new' feeling once again.

If I were being selfish, I would absolutely love to see another season of Birdy the Mighty.  That was an anime series that only got better with each episode.  By the end of the second season, I was blown away by how far the series had come.  Characters had really been built up, some impressive animation was shown and there were all sorts of storyline avenues to be explored.  Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like a season 3 is in the works.  I'm not quite sure why that third season isn't happening, and it kills me to know that some of my questions will never be answered.

If you could pick one anime series to return, which one would it be?  What anime would you like to see given a second chance?

Do you like your anime serious, silly or mixed?

I happen to like all types of anime.  I'm very open-minded when it comes to any type of entertainment, and it really doesn't matter what genre I watch.  This definitely goes for anime.  Most of the time I'm just happy to be watching gorgeous animated features.  That's not to say that I don't get in certain moods from time to time.

Lately I'm on a very big serious anime kick.  There's just something in me that likes to watch anime and feel really connected to it.  I can feel connected with a humorous anime, but I never really reach that same level of depth that I get out of serious anime.  Again, I don't always feel this way, but I'm certainly in this mood lately.

I think it might have something to do with the amount of fantastic series anime that I've seen lately.  I think if I caught a line of funny anime, I'd be more into that right now.  All it will take is one serious anime that misses the mark a bit, and I think I'll be ready to jump back into the humorous side of things.  It's never fun to be series all the time.

Are you into serious or silly anime?  Perhaps you like the anime that mixes up these two qualities.  Let us know what tickles your fancy!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Voice actors that make you melt

Voice acting can absolutely make or break an anime.  That's why so many people like watching anime with the Japanese voice work and the English subtitles.  That way they don't have to hear the English voice actors, which can sometimes be less than stellar.  That's not to say that all English voice actors do a bad job, because there are many out there that deliver spot-on performances.  Anyway, we're looking at voice actors for anime, and the language they speak in doesn't matter.  It's their portrayal of a character that does.

Like I said above, a voice actor can really make a character come to life.  The right line delivery, inflection and pacing can really work wonders when building a story.  Voice acting should pull you into the story and make the character believable.  Further still, there are some top-tier voice actors that really reach out of the TV and make you fall in love with their approach.

For me, Mamimi from FLCL is one of those character portrayals.  The voice work is done by Jennifer Sekiguchi.  While Mamimi may not be the biggest character in FLCL, her line delivery really makes the character stand out.  She has such a cute, innocent, and a little bit deadpan delivery that absolutely nails the type of character that Mamimi is.  There's a lot of great voice acting in FLCL, but it's Sekiguchi's work that has really stuck with me.  Some might say that her work has given me a little bit of a crush on Mamimi!

What voice actors from anime really make you smile?  We're talking about characters that wouldn't be the same without a specific voice actor tied to them.  What voice portrayals really seal the deal for you?

How do you find out about anime?

Much like the world of video games, there's a ton of anime content out there.  There's so much that it can be overwhelming at times.  Things get even worse when there's new anime seasons happening all the time.  I guess it's not smart to complain about having so many choices, but it can make finding something you might interested in that much tougher.

I don't know about you,, but I have trouble tracking down exactly what is new, what mediums it's available on and where I can get it.  There seems to be a ton of information floating around, but most roads lead back to the details that I already knew.  I know that there are tons of places online to find news on what's up and coming as well as content airing now, but that still doesn't cut back on just how much content there is.

With so many features available to view, what methods do you use to check out anime that you might be interested in?  I'm guessing that most of you use the internet to research titles that are in the works or have been released in the stats, and I'm sure you have a specific focus as well.  The longer you've been an anime fan, the easier it is to keep track of what comes out when and how long its been around.

Personally, I really like using magazines to stay on-top of what's going to be released in the states.  I don't think there's too much focus on localized anime since a lot of anime fans prefer to watch subs and simultaneous digital releases that come alongside airings in Japan.  I guess my tastes are pretty specific, but there are a couple good magazines that detail what I'm looking for.

You have plenty of anime features that you like, but what do you do to learn about sequels and similar content?

Your anime pet peeves

I think we can all admit that anime comes with a lot of quirks.  There's obviously a bunch of cultural differences that some people might not understand, but most anime fans roll with the punches.  We come to learn what's going on and what these specific references mean.  Now those cultural differences aren't the only things we have to get used to with anime.  There seem to be a few techniques that almost all animation houses use, and some of them get on my nerves.

Now let me get this straight.  I don't mind the bloody noses, victory signs and veiny foreheads.  I'm come to understand and appreciate all that stuff.  It's part of what makes anime what it is.  I know that there are plenty of people that can't stand that sort of thing, and it prevents a major barrier for some possible fans.  I take other issues with anime standards that I believe are only used to save time and money.

My biggest pet peeve has to be when an anime has the camera behind a character's back while they're talking.  There's absolutely nothing moving in the scene.  A completely static shot that requires no animation at all.  Now this is fine every once in awhile, but there are more than a few anime that hover on these scenes far too long.  It's used only to save money and time along the way.  Sometimes we're lucky and we get one frame of animation!

The same can happen when a person is shown from the front and they're simply listening to another person talk.  We pass between still shot and still shot of all those listening, and we get nothing to take in visually.  Again, this is fine as long as it's not used too often.  These kind of shots and slow pans don't cut it when you're dealing with a 5 minute character exposition.

What pet peeves do you find in anime that aren't really present in other cartoons, TV shows or film?

Are your friends into anime?

I know that when I truly enjoy something, I love sharing it with my friends.  It's always more fun when you have people around you that are enjoying themselves as well.  That's what friends are for!  You all come together and share what makes you happy in life, and then hopefully you'll all learn and grow from that experience.  That is definitely how I approach anime viewing.

I'm lucky to have a group of friends that are into anime.  They may not watch regularly like I do, but they're more than open to the ideas and presentation of anime.  As a matter of fact, it's hard for me to think of a friend that doesn't appreciate at least one anime.  I mean, there are very few that don't accept anime at all, but the large majority of my group is willing to at least see what I make all the fuss about.

My current mission is to show people Death Note, since I really think it's an easy show to get into but a very smart one at that.  Thus far, I've found that by the end of the second episode, just about everyone is really invested in where the show is going.  I don't know what it is about the combination of those two episodes, but they really grab people and ready them for more!

Are you in a group of friends that appreciates anime, or are you trying to broaden their horizons right now?

5 Centimeters Per Second - review

I had all but forgotten about this anime, but I have a good excuse.  This anime came onto my radar right when I was starting to build GoNintendo.  I had to sell my anime collection to fund the site, and with that I lost track of what was going on in the anime world.  The one time I did look for a DVD to buy, it was out of print.  I could only find ridiculously pricey versions for sale, and I just didn't have the funds to grab it.  That lead to the anime's disappearance from my mind...until I wandered into Best Buy this past weekend.

To my surprise, 5 Centimeters Per Second was sitting on the anime shelves.  A rush of memories came back to me.  This was an anime that I had read fantastic things about and was, at one time, dying to see.  Now I had my chance to grab it and watch.  I didn't mind purchasing without seeing because of those great reviews, so I ran up to the counter with my copy and quickly became an owner.  Boy am I glad I did, because this is one of the most gorgeous, endearing anime films that I've ever seen.  Yes, this is the film that made me tear up most recently!

From the get-go, I have to mention how absolutely beautiful this anime is.  I cannot speak highly enough of how amazing it looks.  I think it's safe to say that I've never seen an anime that is as beautiful as 5 Centimeters Per Second.  The colors, the amount of detail put into every nook and cranny, it's absolutely mind-boggling.  This is an anime that needs to be seen to be believed.  Some of this artwork looked strikingly real, and other times I was taking in landscapes that were enormous in scope and design.  Seriously, you absolutely have to see 5 Centimeters Per Second just to take in the visuals.

It's not all pretty visuals though.  5 Centimeters Per Second tells a wonderful tale of two young children that have a very deep connection with one another.  This boy and girl grow up together and create a special bond, and that bond is tested as the two move away from one another.  The anime follows the pair as they grow up and apart, and takes you through the different changes that happen as they reach adulthood.  You mostly follow the main character, but the female is always on his mind no matter how far from home he goes.

I've never seen an anime that felt so alive.  We did an article the other day about anime being easier to believe than some live-action films, and that definitely applies to 5 Centimeters Per Second.  There's such a realized world here, and the visuals only help to bring the story to life that much more.  You are going to feel tons of emotions while watching this anime.  I truly felt myself getting sucked right into 5 Centimeters Per Second, visualizing it as a real event rather than an animated feature.

I really don't want to ruin the story for you guys, because it's told absolutely perfectly.  I can't think of a film or TV show that married visuals and storyline as well as this does.  5 Centimeters Per Second uses the anime medium to complement itself.  Visuals tell a story of their own, but it connects directly to what's going on with the actual story.  It's one of those anime features that seems like it was made by one collective mind rather than a mish-mash of people.

There is one warning, though.  5 Centimeters Per Second isn't going to be the happiest anime you've ever seen.  This is a heartfelt story, and one that tugs at the heartstrings as you watch.  It's going to weigh heavy on your heart for years to come, and it's sure to influence the way you think and react as life goes on.  If you're planning on checking this one out, you might want to keep a box of tissues nearby...just incase.  I'm sure I'm more easily stirred up than most people, but I know that 5 Centimeters Per Second will bring more than a few to tears.

5 Centimeters Per Second is an absolutely must-own anime.  If you are a fan of fantastic stories, beautiful visuals or anime in general, you cannot go on without having this in your collection.  Hands down, 5 Centimeters Per Second is one of the more gorgeous anime I've ever seen, and that goes for every aspect of the film.

10 out of 10

What was the last anime to make you cry?

I'm not afraid to admit that I'm a rather emotional guy.  It's not too tough to make the tears well up in my eyes, especially when it comes to movies/TV/games/anime.  I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing!  If I had to pick one medium that made me tear up more than any other, I think I'd have to give a tip of the hat to anime.  As a matter of fact, it happens more than I'd like it to!

I don't know what it is about anime, but there's something about the story progression and character designs combined that really puts me on the verge of tears.  Of course, this is only when I'm watching a particularly sad or emotional anime.  That's the thing, though.  There's a ton of anime out there that tugs at your heartstrings!  Any anime that can get you to tear up is pretty special, because it means you've made some sort of connection to the feature.

I was looking to find out what the last anime was that made you cry.  It can either be all-out bawling or just a few little tears in the corner of your eyes.  Don't be shy about the tears you've shed!  It's not a bad thing to be emotional, you know.  It shows that you care about topics and don't like to see people upset or in bad situations!

As for the most recent feature to make me tear up, that was last night!  What was it, you ask?  Well, I'm going to save that for a feature later today!  I promise I'll tell you in full detail about the anime I watched that had me leaking by the end.  I'm definitely not afraid to talk about it, because the anime was so fantastic!  I just need to put aside a little more time to get my thoughts together.

Gorgeous anime DVD/Blu-ray cover art

I don't think people pay enough attention to the packaging for DVDs/Blu-Ray/games in general.  This art can be the entire reason a person stops while walking down an aisle.  The right type of eye-catching boxart can really make people take notice.  That's why I'd like to pay tribute to a few boxart covers that I think really stand out from the crowd.

Sure, these Birdy the Mighty covers might have a healthy bit of fan-service, but that doesn't make them any less gorgeous.  The clean lines, retro lettering and Birth's color scheme by itself makes for a truly beautiful visual package.  The color of Birdy's hair alongside the white background and blue outfit really is soothing.

Yet another boxart with a simple background and calm colors.  It's a really pleasing visual package.  The anime itself is pretty sophisticated with its visuals, and this boxart seems to capture that.  I know that when I saw it, I really couldn't wait to dive into the series.

The sequel movie for Eden of the East takes a much different approach to boxart, but it's still a very pretty image.  This time the entire cover is filled out with the image, but it works well with the city skyline.  Again, a handful of muted and soft colors give the cover a very welcoming feeling.

My apologies for the flash issue, but I think the cover art itself still comes across fine.  Just ignore that giant bright spot on Holo's head!  First off, Spice and Wolf even has a beautiful font to go along with its rich, warm cover imagery.  Holo's blue shirt really makes her stand out, but the surrounding set pieces mesh nicely with Holo's hair, outfit and even design.

What are some of your favorite anime covers?  Sometimes all these features have are their covers when a potential new anime fan wanders into the anime section at Best Buy.  What covers would make you pick up a series and at least push to learn more about it?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Anime purchases/viewings you regret

There is no entertainment medium that can offer grade-A content all the time.  Anime is absolutely no different.  For all the fantastic content out there, there's a few series that just don't live up to their potential.  Either that, or they just stink from the first episode. I'm always willing to give any show a shot when it first starts, but if things continue to be miserable 5 episodes in with no signs of getting better, I usually have to bow out.

For me, there's very few things that are more furious than picking up a bad anime.  You can only do so much research before you have to jump in.  This was especially true in the days before anime played such a big role on the internet.  Now it's a bit easier to check out episodes of anime and read reviews before you actually decide to make a purchase.  Even with all that help, sometimes you'll hit a perfect storm of content that will lead you believe an anime is worth a shot when it's definitely not.

Now remember, this is my personal opinion, but I feel really let down with Tweeny Witches.  I remember reading a handful of reviews that were favorable enough for me to check out the series, but for the life of me I can't remember where I read them.  I know one of the reviews stated that things started out slow but picked up soon thereafter.  Unfortunately, I never found that to be the truth.  Now I have the DVDs sitting on my shelves, and they truly are the one big purchase that I regret everytime I see them.

What anime viewing or purchase do you wish you didn't take part in?  It's okay, air your dirty laundry.  We won't judge you for it.

Anime and the world of fan-subs/dubs

To be perfectly honest, I've only recently been getting into anime fan-subs and dubs.  It's a world I knew of for a very long time, but I just never checked it out for myself.  After talking with tons of people on Twitter and through this site, I've been looking a lot more into this side of anime fandom.  What I've found thus far is nothing short of astounding.

If there were ever a way to really show how much you love anime, what better way to do it than by translating content that hasn't been made available to English-only audiences?  Even though I love anime and a lot of Japanese culture, I don't have any knowledge of Japanese.  I rely on translations and dubs to enjoy this hobby that I absolutely love.  I know that a lot of anime localization outfits put a lot of time and effort into translations, and I greatly appreciate that.  It's when I think about that process being handled by fans that I'm floored.

There's so much work to be done, and this sort of accomplishment is done only for other anime fans out there.  This isn't for more or recognition, but instead, just a love of anime in general.  Just like myself, fan-translators and dubbers work hard to show people the content they love in order to bring smiles to the faces of other fans out there.  What a truly selfless, talented and amazing thing to do for your community.  This kind of support really is something special.

I'm going to start spending a lot more of my time with fan subs and dubs, even for content that has official translations.  Why only support one side when I can support both?  If you haven't checked out this side of anime fandom yet, I suggest you take a few hours out of your week to dive into the amazing content out there.  At the very least, you could do so as a thank-you to all those selfless people that have put hundreds of hours into these projects.

Death Note II: The Last Name - impressions

I couldn't help myself.  I had to stay up extra late/early to watch Death Note II: The Last Name.  Even though I wasn't particularly thrilled with the first movie, I wanted to wrap things up before I went to bed.  I was also very curious to see what kind of changes were made with the second movie.  Boy oh boy, I had no idea what was coming.  I thought the first movie changed a lot of things, but they pale in comparison to this movie!

Last night I praised the return of the Death Note anime voice actors for the movie, so of course they had to throw me a curve ball for the sequel.  This movie kicks off with a Shinigami that has a different voice from the anime, but that's not the worst part.  The voice was male instead of female!  Talk about a major change for a character.  This gave me a completely different feeling from the anime, and I came away much less attached to this character.  This particular Shinigami was a favorite of mine, but the interpretation this time around just didn't click with me.  The same look but a different really weirded me out!

It was that change that really set the precedent for the movie, because there's a TON different in this adaptation.  The first film definitely took its own path with a few things, but this time around we're talking about wildly altered content.  I understand that there were reasons for making content cuts, but this was like a completely different series.  I don't know if it's just me, but when I see a live-action adaptation of an animated feature, I like the source material to be closely adhered to!

I will admit that there were some necessary changes and additions that actually played out well.  I like the anime/manga version better, but when liberties were being taken, some of the decisions weren't that bad.  The real problem is just how different you feel by the end of the movie.  Trust me, you'll come away with a completely different take on the situation.  I don't know if that's a good or bad thing...but it definitely threw me for a loop.

Speaking of liberties, changes absolutely major plot points from the anime.  We're talking about rocking the boat until it tips over!  I am still reeling from some of the absolutely huge differences that this film exhibits when  compared to the source.  This is so hard to talk about without using spoilers, but I really don't want to ruin the wild take this second feature puts on the anime.

Is Death Note II: The Last Name worth your time?  If you're a fan of the anime or manga, I really do think you should check it out, if only to see just how different things are.  It's definitely not the best film I've seen and it's nowhere near as good as the anime.  With that said, I guess you have to respect the path that was chosen in order to fit this much content into two films.

What anime did you check out this weekend?

As we discussed last week, the weekend is a really great time to catch up on the anime you've been planning to watch.  We all have things to take care of in life before we can move onto the fun stuff, and hopefully the weekend lets you indulge in some entertainment before you have to jump back into the work week.  For most of us, that includes some anime and gaming!  I'm specifically interested in the anime!

I'd love to hear what you guys watched over the weekend.  I'd also like to make this a weekly feature for Mondays.  This way we can hear about what we all watched, and possibly learn about some new content!  Of course, I'm more than happy to share what I watched.

Unfortunately, I didn't have as much free time this weekend as I thought I would.  A lot of things cropped up out of nowhere, some good and some bad!  With that said, here's what I did manage to watch.

On Saturday night I was lucky enough to get together virtually with some of you guys/gals and check out the first episode of Durarara!!.  I've already put together my impressions on that, so you know how I feel about the show thus far!

I also had the chance to watch both Death Note live action movies.  I wrote up my impressions on the first movie last night, and I'll be sure to put together my thoughts on the second movie a bit later today.

Now let's get to the fun stuff!  What anime features did you guys get to check out over the weekend?!

From manga to live-action: Death Note live-action movie impressions

Just a few days back, I was talking on Twitter about the Death Note live-action adaptation that came out in Japan.  A few people were telling me that I should check it out, and I had full intentions of doing so prior to those conversations.  It was those tweets that pushed me out to the store this weekend to pick up the first and second movie.  I've actually just finished up the first movie right now, and I have to say that I found it...interesting.  I'm going to keep this as spoiler-free as I can.

Being a fan of the North American dub, I was very happy to hear that almost all the voices from the anime release have made it over for the live action dub.  That really helped me to get right back into the characters for this live-action adaptation.  Just as in the anime, the voice actors for main characters do a fantastic job.  There are some supporting players that aren't too hot, but they play very minor roles.  The worst thing I can say about the voice acting is that it might be the best part of this movie!

I wouldn't go so far to say that the live-action adaptation is bad, because I don't think it is.  As with any book/anime adaptation, there are going to have to be some major cuts to fit everything into a live-action movie.  With that said, at least the team working on the movie knew to split the action into two features.  Still, with two films to encapsulate the entire first arc in Death Note, there's just not enough time to really get even half of the content in there.

For me, I felt some truly important aspects of the anime were left out from this movie.  Without fail, some of my favorite parts for the anime adaptation don't even exist in this movie.  I consider my favorite parts to be very integral to the plot and the entire vibe of Death Note, and without those happenings you get a different story.  You also come off feeling different about the atmosphere and situation itself, with is extremely important to Death Note.  The anime does an outstanding job of making you care about characters, be that by building an intense love or hate.  With the first movie, I just haven't felt that.

Even worse, there are some MAJOR liberties taken with the movie.  Again, I know this is the norm when adapting a different source material to the big screen, but we're talking about completely different scenarios here.  Not only do we have different methods to reach a similar outcome to the anime, we also get situations that end completely differently from what the anime/manga set up.  I don't know if the second movie is going to rectify these issues, but thus far I'm left scratching my head as to why some anime ideas were scrapped for completely re-written content.

If I were to see the Death Note film prior to the anime or reading the manga, I'm not sure how I would feel.  I don't think I'd be as in love with the franchise as I am right now.  I cannot stress enough just how much I love Death Note.  I think it's an anime that really bridges the gap that some Americans see when trying to get into anime.  It's a fantastic story with very well realized characters.  This movie adaptation, when changing and cutting content, simply can't be as good as the original.

Again, I'm not saying it's a bad film.  It's certainly not as memorable as the manga or anime, but it does some things well.  It's just not what I was hoping for from a live-action adaptation...not that I could do any better!  At the very least, the Shinigami in this film is very faithful to what anime/manga fans are used to.  That's worth something, right?!

I'll give my impressions of the second movie once I get to watch it!  For now, I'm going to try and figure out if the North America in-the-works movie adaptation is going to have any shot at being decent.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Anime and the willing suspension of disbelief

No matter what kind of video content you're watching, be it animated/live-action, you definitely have to subscribe to the idea of willing suspension of disbelief.  Action shows have tons of bad guys that can't hit the hero with one shot, but the hero can take out enemies with just one bullet.  Musicals have us believe that everyone can spontaneously bust into the same song and the lyrics are already common knowledge.  You just have to sit back and enjoy the content.

While it's very hard to find anyone that says they aren't willing to put aside their issues when watching live action, some people find animation just too 'unreal' to follow along with.  Again, this has a lot to do with animated features that take on serious tones rather than more traditional American cartoons.  Seeing ducks and rabbits beat each other up isn't an issue, but watching two people try to solve a murder is just too far-fetched to subscribe to.

I don't know about you, but I actually find myself having an easier time believing what's going on in anime than I do in live-action shows.  I can watch the content no matter what the medium, but an anime setting works wonders for me.  Seeing real-life actors appear in multiple TV shows and movies kind of ruins the feature for me.  If I see one actor play a big TV role for 5 years of his career and then pop up in a completely different movie, I have trouble separating the two.  With anime, you never see that issue.  It may come up through voicework, but I believe it to be much easier to deal with a similar voice than a same face.

The animated medium lets me complete escape into the story that is being told.  I don't have to tie it to real-world actions or anything like.  Especially when it comes to anime, we often deal with some truly serious issues that take place in absolutely fantastical settings.  These amazing locations, be they based on real life or completely made up, paint a very specific picture in my mind.  Then, when I am thinking about an anime at a later date, I actually tie those characters into the real world.  Anime lets me take my imagination and work the amazing stories into real world fabric.

Perhaps that's why I react much stronger to anime than live action.  Traditional movies with actors just don't resonate as well with me.  I can watch and enjoy, and there are plenty of movies that I really love.  With that said, there are anime characters that I connect with and will never, ever forget.  When I think of the story of Death Note, I remember the actions as if they really happened in my life.  I think that's further proof of just how moving these stories can be.

Either that, or I'm way off the spectrum with this one.  It's definitely possible that I'm a little bit wacky!

Reader Spect8re shares his anime collection

I told you guys that you were more than welcome to share videos of your anime collection, and that's exactly what reader Spect8re has done.  You can check out his collection below.

If you guys want to send in your own collections via video, please do and I'll update this post with your feature!

Durarara!! Ep. 1 - impressions

While I've read a lot about Durarara!! in the past few months, I hadn't seen a single episode until last night.  I wanted to make sure I supported Adult Swim by watching their premiere of the series last night.  I think showing our support for Adult Swim's anime Saturdays is a big deal, and I want them to know that we appreciate what they do!  That's a discussion for another time, but for now I'll be focusing in on the first episode of Durarara!!.

As most of you guys and gals know, the first episode of an anime can really be the make or break point.  If a show doesn't catch you with its first half hour, you may never come back to view it again.  Luckily I found Durarara!! quite enjoyable, even if it didn't blow me away.  There was enough of a hook to keep me interested for the second episode, which I'll definitely be checking out next week on Adult Swim.

The biggest draw for me had to the be the mysterious biker character.  I really want to know what he/she/it was all about.  Seeing the biker hunt down a group of kidnappers and take them out one by one lead me to believe that perhaps this urban legend isn't actually all that bad.  Dishing out justice to the seedy underbelly of the city sounds like a good deed to me!  I'm sure there's a lot more to it than that, but for now that's where my feelings sit.

As for the cast of characters, I can't say that I really love anyone just yet.  I'm pretty indifferent towards everyone that was introduced, but that most likely has a lot to do with this being the first episode.  There are a few very strong anime features out there that had me loving a character after episode one, but you can't expect that to happen with all features.  I'm willing to let the characters grow on me as the series continues on.  I'm sure a few people will end up evolving into something that I can latch onto.

As for the show's visuals, I really was impressed with some of the choices.  In particular, I really like how main characters in a scene are fully colored, while the background crowd (people passing by on the street) were various shades of gray.  It really helped you focus in on what was important in the scene, and also gave you the feeling that you were peering in on just one story in a massive sea of people.  A pretty unique design choice that definitely got my attention.

Also worth noting is the music, as the anime's soundtrack seems to be extremely eclectic.  I can't remember the last anime I saw that crammed so many styles of music into one episode.  There's all kinds of jazz, rock and fusion stuff going on here, and it's definitely not your typical anime fodder.  I believe the show's soundtrack was probably the most bold decision put forth in this least with what I've seen thus far.

Am I in love with Durarara!!?  Not yet, but I'm willing to stick with the show.  As I said, the show has some hooks in me already, and those are pulling me through to the next episode.  I don't know if the show is going to be a slow boil or an explosion of big plots out of nowhere, but I'm ready to find out.

7 out of 10

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Durarara!! Adult Swim premier - Chat with us live!

Remember! Durarara premiers on Adult Swim at 12:30 AM EDT!

Just a reminder, I'll be setting up a live-chat feature for the site during Durarara's premier.  This will be my first time watching the show, and I'm looking forward to talking about it with you guys while it airs.  Of course, I'll be sure to put together official impressions later on tonight.

Check back around 12:30 AM EDT for a chat feature and join in on the fun!

Interview with an anime viewer: Early anime, the appeal, preconceived notions

I've put together another interview for you guys with one of my friends that I haven't seen in quite awhile.  Turns out she just so happens to appreciate anime, which I never knew!  The things you learn when interviewing!

What anime have you seen?

Answer: Do you know the Unico movies?  Like early anime from the 80s.  I've seen Ghost in the Shell and Spirited away.  My friend in high school was into Korean anime, but I can't remember the specific names.

What did you think of Ghost in the Shell?

Answer: I remember liking it.  I remember also remember having to rewatch it when I wasn't doing something else.  I was a little bit confused.  I don't know that I liked it as much as Spirited Away.  It was more like a...Brazil of anime.

What do you think of anime in general?

Answer:  I really like's magical realism for movies.  You can kind of do and say anything and it's believable. I expect that anything can happen so I don't expect realism.

Did you have any preconceived notions about anime?

Answer: I expected a lot more blue hair.  I've heard that people are into explicit anime, so I guess I expected more body parts.  I guess that's not only the case.

What was the last anime you saw?

Answer: It's been awhile...probably Spirited Away.

What did you think of that?

Answer:  I liked it because there was always a lot going on.  They're kind of like Indian movies...they don't stick to genres.  There's battle scenes and love's pretty good.  I like the 2D animation...I'm old school like that.  Visually I'd rather watch traditional animation.  With Spirited Away, I felt that there was a lot of superstition in it, which I felt was pretty cool.

Why do you think so many people are willing to blow off anime without giving it a shot?

Answer: I think of Sailor Moon and...kind of junk anime.  I feel like the movies don't ever get big in America, so people don't know what to think of it.  My sister really likes to draw and that helped me appreciate anime. I feel those that like anime have an artistic talent and it seems to help their enjoyment of it.

Let's hear it for strong female leads

There are plenty of people out there that believe anime does nothing but objectify women.  Scantily-clad ladies running around acting stupid, throwing their 'assets' in the face of any male that's around.  Now, we all know that there are anime features that are like this...just like there are live-action American TV shows that do the same.  Personally, I think there are more anime features that portray women in smart, strong female leads.  Traditional TV shows should take notice!

Major Kusanagi is just one example of a very strong female lead.  While she does have some sex appeal, that mostly comes from her strong will, ability to handle herself and her great mind.  She's not out to flaunt what she has, nor is she going to take any crap from anyone.  This is one lady that really knows how to lead, and she carries the weight of the entire Ghost in the Shell series on her shoulders.  Without a doubt, this is one female lead that women can look up to.

Another strong female personality is Holo the Wise Wolf from Spice and Wolf.  I think the creators of this anime did a wonderful job with building a truly deep, layered female personality.  She's definitely the lead character in this series, and there's a lot more than meets the eye.  Holo has her moments where she uses her looks to get what she wants, but she does this all in a calculated manner.  The more you watch the show, the more you see just how calculated she is.  Above all, Holo is one powerful and smart woman...goddess...wolf...thing!

What other anime features have you seen that feature strong female leads?  I've just barely touched upon what's out there, and I'd love to hear what you guys have to say.

Did Adult Swim try to pick up an anime, only to get shut out?

I had Adult Swim on in the background while working, as I usually do, and I noticed this bump out of the corner of my eye.  I paused the DVR and grabbed a pic for you guys.

As you know, Adult Swim airs quite a bit of anime on Saturdays.  They also love to post humorous bumps, but some of them seem to have a truthful tone to them.  That's what I'm wondering about with this very bump!  I know that Adult Swim has tried to pick up a few anime features in the past, but they were shot down for various reasons.  That could be exactly what's going on here.

Then again...maybe it's just a joke altogether.  I mean, at first glance, FLCL seems to be incomprehensible!  I still don't know how Adult Swim managed to convince the higher-ups to put that into a time slot, but I'm forever grateful that they did!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Anime is one expensive hobby

I am not a very smart person.  I decided to pick two very expensive hobbies to dedicate my free time to.  Both video games and anime are fairly expensive ventures, especially if you're trying to stay up to date on the latest content out there.  Specifically with anime, you have to worry about the formats you purchase your anime on as well.  There are multiple methods (digital, DVD, Blu-ray), but none of them are too cheap if you're looking to own.

When you're looking to pick up the latest anime releases, you have to be ready to pay top dollar.  Even when you're buying online, you'll only end up saving a few dollars along the way.  Being a big anime fan on the cutting edge of localized releases can be an absolutely grueling experience on your wallet/purse.  Thankfully some localization houses are offering great deals on box set series' in recent months.

Box sets are certainly a great way to save some cash and max out on anime, but this kind of content isn't exactly available when new series' are around.  If you're willing to wait for box sets, you can end up spending a fraction of the cash that you would if you picked up each DVD in that box set.  Like I said, you have to be willing to wait.  You could be holding out for up to a year, if not more, when it comes to box set releases.  By that time you'll be ready to move onto something new!

I'm sure it's no surprise to you guys that anime is a costly adventure.  How do you guys go about purchasing your features?  Do you just let the new content come down in price?  Do you like to stay up-to-date with localized releases?  Do you stay strictly to what's on TV for free?  Perhaps you even have an anime budget each month!

Confessions from a an ex-anime hater: From dislike to love with just one series

I am lucky enough to have a lot of friends and family that are accepting of anime, but it wasn't always that way.  What better people to talk to about disliking anime then some of my own family?  They're all converts now, but I thought I'd start things off with my own Mom.  She can be pretty opinionated from time to time, and even she went from disliking anime to being a big fan.

What did you think of anime prior to being exposed to it?

Answer: I didn't really know anything about anime.  I saw weird commercials for it Adult Swim at night, but I didn't know anything about it.

What as your opinion of what you saw?

Answer:  It was strange looking.  The expressions all seemed over-the-top.  They were all screaming and yelling all the time.  No one just talked, it was all...  There were all these weird little animals and stuff!

So after seeing this, did you decide that anime wasn't for you?

Answer: Pretty much...I thought it was just weird.

What was the first anime you watched?

Answer: You showed me Ghost in the Shell, and little bits of Haibane Renmei.  (She called it "the kids with the wings")

What did you think of Ghost in the Shell?

Answer:  That was very violent...very fast-moving.  Everything was very futuristic.  A lot of sound effects for kicking, punching and chopping.  It was wasn't one of my favorites.  Too violent.

And Haibane Renmei?

Answer: That was just strange.  I couldn't figure out why these kids had wings and they weren't angels.  It was just didn't make any sense to me.

And then after that you watched Death Note, right?

Answer: Yes

What did you think of Death Note?

Answer: I love Death Note (said with a huge smile).  I like the way it's drawn.  The emotions aren't over the top.  Occasionally...but not usually anyway.  It has a great story and it really makes you think.  It really makes you care about the characters.  Like...I really like L and I even like the Shinigami.  It's like a good mystery and I'm going to read the manga!

Do you think you accept Death Note because it's closer to American-style live action shows?

Answer: Yeah...and I'm a big fan of cop shows and mysteries.  That fits into both.

So did Death Note change your perception of anime?

Answer: Yes.  If I can find other stuff like that, I'll definitely watch it.

What's your opinion of anime now.

Answer:  I  know there's some good stuff out there now, but I'm still going to be picky.

What would you say to someone that tells you they don't like anime, but haven't watched any?

Answer:  They should try it.  It's like anything...until you try different shows you won't know.  It's just like TV.  You don't like all TV shows until you find the one you like.

Do you think you had an incorrect preconceived notion about anime?

Answer: From the little bit I knew of it, yeah.  I thought it was crappy and cheap and juvenile.  Now I love Death Note and if there's more like that I'll watch them!

I have to said Ghost in the Shell was too violent.  Isn't Death Note violent?!

Answer:  Not really...people die but you don't really see it.  They go off to die!  There's no punching and hitting...very little.  It's only when (spoilers).  It's more of a thinking anime with implied violence.  Not in your face.

If that interview doesn't show that there's hope, I don't know what does!

Where and how do you get your anime fix?

There's definitely no shortage of anime out there.  If you're looking to get an anime fix, you have plenty of methods to do so.  We certainly don't have it as good as they do in Japan, but it's kind of  hard to top the location that actually pumps out the content!  While we can't ever hope to see anime that widely spread in the states, at least we still have plenty of options when it comes to viewing.

Personally, I like to actually purchase the box sets and individual DVD's/Blu-rays that come out in the states.  I feel this is an important thing to do in order to support the companies that go through the trouble of localizing these features.  It's not like there are a ton of companies that localize anime, so I feel I should be heading to retail and picking up their work.  If no one buys their content, we're going to see less official releases in the states.  That's not something I want to see happen!

Of course, it's much easier just to watch anime online.  Thankfully, there are plenty of legal ways to do this.  The localization houses I was talking about above are all moving into the digital age by providing their features online for free.  You can actually check out a handful of episodes for newly localized series' online before you shell out the cash for a purchase.  You can also hit up places like Hulu to check out recently released anime features, and they add more every single day.

As I'm sure all of you know, there's also a huge subculture of fan-translated anime.  Some of it is top-notch and other stuff isn't very good.  Still, people are working hard to translate new content from Japan in order to feed the need of anime fans in the states.  This kind of translating usually goes on with titles that will most likely never make it stateside.  I don't know how these Japanese animation houses feel about the fan-translation sub-culture here, but I don't think they've done much to stop it.

Now we can't forget about the video on demand services as well.  Just like you can do on your computer, there are also anime on demand features on a lot of cable and satellite providers.  There's actually a lot of great, free content out there to check out.  I am often surprised by just how up to date these services are.  It's always nice to pick up your TV remote and scan through what's been added each week.

What's your anime day?

There's this terrible thing that starts to happen when you grow up.  You start to lose what could very well be one of the most precious things in time.  When you're a kid you have tons of it, but you never realize just how important it is.  You also don't realize it's going to disappear until it's already gone.  One day you'll be hit by a wall of realization.  You're an adult now, and there's simply not enough time to do things you love to do!

Damn that work/school for getting in the way.  It's a vicious circle, it is.  You have to be responsible and complete your work in order to earn money and live.  Then you spend that money on basic living expenses and are left with precious little to spend on hobbies and other things to put a smile on your face.  When you do get to purchase some of those fun frills, you spend most of your time at work/school and you can't enjoy them!

It's this sort of thing that has lead me to compartmentalizing book my time.  Look at this anime blog, for example.  Right now, I only get to update it when I have a break from GoNintendo, and those breaks are few and far between!  That's alright though, I don't mind sneaking in the posts.  I love anime just like I love Nintendo, so squeaking in articles puts a smile on my face instead of making me feel worked to the bone.

This time management situation also leads to specific times when it's absolutely best to watch anime.  Much like gaming, we're talking about an activity that can take a huge number of hours to work through.  If you're going to watch a regular anime series, you're talking about tens of hours of content to pour through!  It's not like you can drop everything your doing and just jump in on that.  This has lead me to creating 'Anime Night', which exists only in my head.

My biggest block of free time comes on Friday night.  I post my last article on GoNintendo for the night, and then I know that the weekend is officially on.  I also know that weekend news is much lighter than weekday stuff, so I can stay up later and enjoy whatever I want to do.  Some of that free time is spent watching anime. It really is the one block of time I look forward to all week!  I get more gaming an anime fun in those few hours than I do the entire week!

What's your anime viewing situation like?  Do you have a nightly routine where you watch a bit before heading to bed?  Do you have a certain block of time on a specific day like I do?  When do you manage to get your anime fix while still maintaining a normal life?

Your essential anime suggestions

If this blog goes the way that I'd like it to, we're going to be talking about anime for years and years.  I think that sounds like a lot of fun, and I hope you like the sound of it as well!  Now, if we're going to be talking about anime for that long of a period, perhaps we should figure out the features that newcomers and fans alike absolutely need to see.

The feature on TIME's list of top 25 animated features of all-time really got me thinking about the best anime experiences I've had since I first started watching.  There really is a ton of amazing content out there, but I'm trying to think of the features that absolutely must be seen.  There are plenty of anime series' and features that I couldn't live without, but let's pick the titles that should be considered required viewing just to get into anime in general!

I'll start things off by mentioning the title that I briefly commented on earlier today.  For my, Ghost in the Shell is one of the most amazing anime features that I've ever seen.  If I come across people that are looking for something truly engaging, mind-bending and absolutely gorgeous, Ghost in the Shell is still a go-to anime feature for me.  Seeing it for the first time all those years ago really left an impression on me, and in the years that have since passed I've come to appreciate the feature more and more.  Hardly a viewing goes by where I don't learn something new or pick up on something different.

I'll definitely do a more in-depth feature on Ghost in the Shell in the future, but for now I'll leave my comment at that.  I want to hear what you guys pick as the cream of the crop...the stuff that your fellow anime fans absolutely must see.  I think we can put together one hell of an amazing list.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

One non-anime fan conversion attempt shot down

As I've stated a few times now, I'd love to reach out to people that aren't into anime and find out what makes them tick.  I plan to continue reaching out those people through all sorts of methods, Twitter included.  I've had a few fantastic conversations already, but here's one that just took place.  Not exactly a winning situation.

I post this here to document an exchange, not as a call to arms.  Please leave this person alone.  This is simply to reinforce my articles on this site and my goals for the future.

As I was searching Twitter for anime mentions, here's one I came across.

Watching some Anime that's on at 2am, called Nichijou. I don't watch Anime really, Ryu fell asleep and I can't find the remote.

This sounded like the perfect person to reach out to!  I got in touch to explain what I do, and try to figure out why she doesn't watch anime.  Her response was...

I will never be a fan of anime. Haha. Sorry.

This only made me want to talk with her more!  As you know, 'never' is a pretty long time!  I sent a Tweet out asking if I could pass on a few questions to her.  The following was her response.

Haha, I don't really want to talk about Anime. That doesn't sound like something fun. Sorry.

That's where I decided to let things go.  I'm not out to be rude to people.  I honestly just want to see what their motives are for not liking anime.  I told her that the offer stands, and if she wants to take me up on the questions opportunity in the future, I'd love to.  The only bit of insight I can get from her is a comment she made to another friend, who also happened to read her original anime message.

I'm too much of a realist to actually like anime.  Plus Otaku really REALLY tend to get on my nerves.

I'm starting to think she didn't want to talk with me because I'm everything she dislikes!  I can only imagine what she would say if she knew I liked video games.

So yes...getting people to check out anime is going to be an uphill battle in some situations.  There are going to be instances where people are not going to have an open mind and the conversation will come to a dead end.  That's just the way the world works.  I completely respect everyone's decision to like/dislike whatever they want in this world, and they have absolutely zero obligation to tell me why.  I can ask, but if I'm shot down I'll have to leave it at that.

Again, I'm not out to belittle anyone for what they believe.  I'm not going to be rude to someone just because they don't like what I like.  What I can do is continue on with my goal and find others that will give anime a chance.  It's happened already since this blog started, and that's a sign to me that I'm heading down the right path.

Of course, thanks to all of you for your support so early in this blog's life.  At least I know we can all enjoy anime together!

TIME picks their top 25 best animated features of all-time, anime featured

Isn't it funny how this stuff works out?  I start an anime blog a few days ago, and now TIME magazine has put together a list of the 25 best animated films of all-time.  I went clicking through to see what was included, and was very happy to see that anime was indeed represented.



Spirited Away

I'm ashamed to admit that I've never seen Paprika, but I promise to fix that this weekend!  I happen to own both Akira and Spirited Away.  I hate putting out proclamations like this, but I think any self-respecting anime fan should at least see both of those films.  I'm sure plenty of you will think I'm crazy for not having seen Paprika yet!  Anyway, if Spirited Away and Akira are any indication of Paprika's quality, I have nothing to worry about.

With the list being just 25 entries long, it's hard to find out what the cream of the crop is.  With that said, there are two surprises I faced while reading the list.  First off, I thought that Miyazaki would be better represented, but I guess one entry on the list gets the job done.  My other surprise was not seeing Ghost in the Shell on here.  I truly believe GitS to be one of the best anime films out there, and I know that many critics feel the same way.  Perhaps GitS was sitting on the bubble at spot #26.

What do you guys think of this list?  Check out the full 25 at the link below.  Do you think there were some anime films that should have made the cut but didn't?  Perhaps a little Summer Wars love?

Only perverts like anime!

You know you've had that feeling before.  You get start to feel a bead of sweat run down the back of your can't do anything but smile/frown at the same time.  This is the very instant you tell someone that you enjoy anime, and you can clearly see that they think less of you the moment you finish your sentence.  Anime is only for perverts!

Girls wearing next to nothing, upskirt shots galore and tons of tentacles going into places that tentacles should never go.  This is what automatically appears in a few minds when you discuss anime.  Just like people that think animation is for kids, there are those that believe anime is nothing but the animated porn for those with perverse tastes.

Thankfully, I'm talking to a crowd that knows this simply isn't true.  There are all sorts of anime features out there, and many of them don't even touch on sexuality in the least.  With that said, there are indeed features that get a little risque with their content.  Most of the time we see features with a healthy amount of fan service.  A gratuitous panties shot here, a low-cut shirt there.  What people don't realize is that this can be a very small part of a much bigger feature.

Yes, there are anime releases out there that do nothing but cater to panchira fans, but that's a subset of anime itself.  Lumping that kind of content into all anime just makes no sense.  Anime may be a bit more progressive (or juvenile depending on your view) when it comes to sexuality, and it's just not something that worldwide audiences are used to.  Some of it is classy, some of it is for the fans and some is way over the top.

You like what you like and that's all there is to it.  To say that the average anime fan is a pervert or sexual deviant is pure garbage.  It's time to stick up for ourselves and anime as well!  Anime has been around far too long to still have this negative connotation attached to its fans.

Your favorite anime intro

It's funny just how much an anime intro can get you pumped for a show.  A couple minute intro can be a really powerful thing, and it definitely sets the mood for what you're about to get into.  I've noticed that anime takes their intro and outros really seriously, which is why there are so many good ones out there!

I'm not afraid to admit that the intro to Chobits is a guilty pleasure.  The visuals themselves are nice, but I think it might be that song that puts a smile on my face.  It's just so bouncy, light-hearted and fun.  The song has a real 70s game show vibe to it, and old game shows are another one of my guilty pleasures!  You can bet that this intro song has a spot on my iPod, and the video itself always picks  me up if I'm feeling down.

Let's see what some of your favorite anime intros are.  I'm sure you have some fantastic choices!

Wait...cartoons can be serious?

I want to stress that this is not meant to be a generalization of Americans.  This is not mean to represent all American opinions or look down on Americans in any way.

Comparing animation styles between North America and Japan would take a year's worth of posts.  I'd love to go in-depth with some of those topics, and I'll surely do that at a later date.  For now, I'd like to look into what most Americans expect from animation.  It's definitely a lot different from what you get from the Japanese side of things.

Without naming names, I have a handful of friends that absolutely hate cartoons.  While I think that's a damn shame, there simply doesn't seem to be much I can do to change their mind.  They have a mentality that cartoons are for little kids, and that's all there is to it.  They may have watched a few cartoons when they were younger, but since then they've grown up and moved on.  We all know that when you grow up you have to stop doing fun things, of course!

To go along with people like that, there are also other people that believe cartoons are only goofy, silly fodder.  They expect cartoons to be bright, colorful and jam-packed with easy to understand dialog and happy situations.  If a sad or bad plot comes up, it's only because a life lesson will be taught by the end of the episode.

I want to make it very clear that I see nothing wrong with those types of cartoons.  I love animation in general, and I'll give any cartoon a chance.  While I love anime, I don't absolutely need my animation to go in the directions that anime does.  I happen to really enjoy what anime offers, but I can also enjoy more traditional cartoons just the same.

This is where the rub comes in with American viewers.  Hearing about animated programs that take on serious topics is completely foreign to them, no pun intended.  After watching years of Disney content, they just don't picture another style of animation that takes a more adult approach to telling stories.  Live-action shows that are heavy on sex, violence and crime are the big ratings grabbers in the states.  Switch that same content to animated form and you've automatically alienated a huge part of that audience.

Again, I don't have anything against people that feel like this.  That's just how things are in the states.  Serious content is in the live-action realm and cartoons are light-hearted and for kids.  Taking the approach of live-action shows in the states and mixing it with animation just doesn't compute.  Unfortunately, it seems really tough to find a good solution to getting around that issue.

Personally, I can take any method of storytelling.  Watching actors play out a make-believe murder in live-action is just as engaging as an animated cast taking it on.  I don't know if that's an adult or child-like quality in myself, but I love it nonetheless.