Sunday, July 31, 2011

Behind the Scenes: Wolverine and Iron Man anime voice talent

I don't usually stumble upon anime features that I'd like to share on the blog, but this time I just so happened to find one.  We get a quick at the main voice talent behind Iron Man and Wolverine anime that G4 just started airing.  We see who takes on the lead roles in each series, get some snippets of the shows, and even learn about a crossover episode!

Durarara!! Ep. 6 - impressions

Could this have been my favorite episode of Durarara!! yet? I really think it might be! This episode had a little bit of everything, and it also came with a nice helping of character development! Couple all that with another excellent round of in-show music and you've got one episode that really speaks highly of the series.

This particular episode started out pretty high-octane, with a lot in-car action barreling down the streets. If you've been following along with the rest of the episodes, you know that seeing a nondescript van on the streets is a reason for concern. That usually means a kidnapping is about to take place, and things only get worse.

Not to spoil too much, but this time around we see another kidnapping victim saved, but it's not our usual youngster. This time we have a very unique, interesting character that's actually an adult. I don't want to ruin anything about this guy, but his loud personality and voice acting really made him stand out. That's hard to do in a show where you have a headless motorcycle rider out to save kidnapped victims!

While all that was great, I think my favorite part of the episode came when we learned more about one of the inner-city gangs, the Dollars. We've been hearing a lot about them, but this particular episode shows how the gang is loosely put together, and how some of its members came to be. Out of all the episodes aired thus far, this one might be the juiciest in terms of details.

Overall, a fantastic episode. If you haven't seen the show and had randomly stumbled upon this episode, I think this would be the one to make you search out what the show as about. I can only hope that this is the jumping point for even more great storytelling, wonderful music and intense action.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Durarara!! on Adult Swim - Episode 6 live chat

What's your anime schedule?

We've talked about all sorts of anime aspects, an we have a million more to go.  While we've talked about anime  and the times we watch, we haven't talked about how much anime we actually take in in a month.  As I said earlier, it's hard to find the time to check out the anime you want to, but I'm sure we all manage to make it happen.

In the course of a month, how much anime do you think you watch?  I'd like to think that some people have a schedule down pat, and manage to get in a ton of anime as the months roll on.  I know a few people that make a point to at least watch a few episodes of a series each week, trying to stay on a schedule that allows them to move onto new series' quite often.

For me, I really wish I could do a schedule.  Some months I'm surprised by just how much anime I get to take in.  Other times, I'm lucky if I manage to get an hour's worth of anime in the full month.  Things just happen and eat up all the time I would have to view anime, and it kills me to go that long without indulging a little bit.  I feel like I'm really missing out! the course of a month, how much anime do you manage to watch?  Do you just set a goal one month and try to beat it the next?!

Anime: It's All About Length

I simply do not have the time to watch all the anime that I want to.  I actually don't have the time to do a lot of the things I want to do!  I know I'm not the only one in that boat.  That damn growing up gets in the way of so much fun!  It's hard to relax and do what you want when you're worrying about bills and day-to-day chores.  You really learn to appreciate that little free time you get!

That means watching anime is a big commitment for me.  I know watching anime is going to be a real time sink, but since I enjoy the features so much, I know that it will be time well spent.  If I can sit back and relax, smile and enjoy a great story, then there's not going to be any regrets.  The only problem comes in with deciding what series I am going to watch.

Sometimes I know that I have less time than usual, which usually leads me to watching an anime movie.  I know that that feature will be wrapped up in a couple hours, and I won't have anywhere to go there.  It's nice to know you're going to start and finish an entire feature in a whole night!  Of course, sometimes your anime cravings require a bit more content though.

I'm open to pretty much any series, but there are a few that are just too long.  I love Detective Conan and Lupin the 3rd, but those series' are just so long that I can't willingly dedicate the time or money to checking them out.  The same thing goes for Bleach and Naruto.  Great shows, but they are just so many episodes deep that it's very hard to jump in.

How do you approach anime series?  Is it anything goes, or do you like to keep your viewings short and sweet?

Durarara!! on Adult Swim - Episode 6 live chat (stars 12:30 A.M. EDT)

It's that time again, my friends!  Episode 6 of Durarara!! is airing tonight at 12:30 A.M. EDT, and I sure hope you come here to join us for it!  We'll be live-chatting throughout the show, giving live impressions and just having fun.  It's been a great time every week we've hosted the chat thus far, and I think this week will be the same.  Looking forward to it, my friends!

Thundercats, Wolverine, Iron Man - Your Impressions!

There were three big shows that I wanted to see tonight, but I didn't get to watch a single one.  That's because I was out at a wedding, which ate up a major chunk of time!  Obviously it's a bit more important to be at a friend's wedding than to hang home and do as I please, but now I'm behind!  Three big premieres that I missed out on.  It's almost like someone set out to plan these premieres for when I was busy!

The good news is, I managed to record all three shows.  I honestly don't have the time to watch them tonight, but I will definitely check them out over the weekend.  I've been really excited for Thundercats, Iron Man and Wolverine for awhile now.  I sure hope you guys were excited as well!  It's important to support any new anime coming our way.  We have to at least give the first few episodes a shot!

Sure, Thundercats may be stretching it a bit when calling it anime, but the original certainly was an anime production.  Both Wolverine and Iron Man are hands-down anime fodder, which makes them 100% fair game to discuss.  Out of those three shows, I'm hoping that at least one is going to offer up something worthwhile.  I'd like to think that the shows received backing in the states because they're worth our time!

I'd love to hear from you guys about these shows.  I'm hoping you checked out at least one, and I'm really interested in seeing what you have to say about them.  Did any of these shows really tickle your fancy, or did the premieres just fizzle?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Heading out to a wedding. Here's some anime to watch tonight!

Unfortunately I have to be taken away from the site once again, but I will be back later tonight.  I'm attending a friend's wedding, but you guys are going to be the ones having the real fun tonight.  Here's some anime premieres you'll want to check out!

Thundercats pseudo-anime revival airs tonight on Cartoon Network

G4 airs the premieres of Wolverine and Iron Man tonight

Do me a favor and enjoy those for me, will you?!  I'm going to record all of this content to check out later.  I honestly cannot wait!

Taboo: Hentai's place in anime

To each his own, that's what I always say.  I am in no place to judge anyone for what they do and what they like.  So long as what they partake in in life doesn't hurt others, I say more power to them.  That line of thinking applies to a lot of areas in life, but obviously we're relating it to the world of anime.  More specifically, we're going to dive into the topic of hentai.

Hentai is a big reason why anime in general gets a bad wrap.  There are plenty of people that believe all anime is hentai, and that's why they have such a problem with it.  Hentai is indeed very graphic in a sexual nature, and it's not meant for younger audiences by any means.  Somewhere along the line, people get introduced to hentai and they automatically equate it to anime in general.

That's quite an ignorant way of looking at things, if you ask me.  Having this viewpoint would be like watching traditional pornography, and thinking that all TV and film is like that.  No one in their right mind would ever make that connection, so why do they believe anime to be like this?  I guess some people are just so offended by overtly sexual cartoons that they don't want to take the time to learn just what they're looking at.

Of course, there's the heavy rape overtones in some hentai that take things even further.  Again, while I may find this kind of content a bit too heavy and disturbing for my own interests, I know there are others out there that enjoy this sort of fantasy.  With this sort of theme running through hentai, it actually gives the entire genre an even worse name.  We're looking at a huge cultural divide here, and the overall hentai presentation just doesn't sit right with many people.

How do you feel about hentai?  Do you think it gives anime a bad name?  Are you okay with it existing, but not partaking?  Are you into it at all?  No worries, you won't be judged here, no matter what your answer!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Taboo: Do you support bootleg/unauthorized anime localizations?

We're going in a bit of a different direction with this taboo topic, but I think it's a very important one to discuss.  For all the anime that hits North America, there's a lot more that never sees official localization here.  Sometimes that's just the way the cookie crumbles.  I don't like it anymore than you do, but some people decide to take things into their own hands when this happens.

I can understand that bootleg and unauthorized localizations come from a place of anime passion.  I understand that we're talking about fans that absolutely, positively want people outside of Japan to enjoy specific anime content.  At the very least, I can respect that kind of love of anime.  It may sound odd, but I believe a lot of those grassroots projects are coming from a good place.

While those people involved with putting those fan-subs together might mean well, it's the reactions to those projects that causes trouble.  There are indeed consequences for both viewing and purchasing bootleg anime.  Things get even worse when people fan-sub anime that is already being localized.  Sure, you can get a ton of episodes of an anime for a very cheap price and quicker, but you're only stealing money away from someone down the line.  Someone that was involved with creating the anime in the first place.  Along the way, someone is getting hurt.

Do I think that those that indulge in this type of anime viewing are terrible people?  I definitely don't, but I prefer to keep things legal.  I really hope I don't come across high and mighty in this post, because that's not what I'm trying to convey.  I just like to support official localizations.  We're talking about companies that do their best to bring anime here.  I just can't justify taking away from their hard work.

Taboo: The portrayal of women in anime

There may be one big reason why some females in the states and Europe aren't too into anime, and it has something to do with the portrayal of women.  As I've said many times before, things are quite different in Japan than they are in the rest of the world.  Some of the ideas put forth by the Japanese people aren't exactly too popular elsewhere.  A majority of anime seems to take those ideas and run wild with them, leaving women in the rest of the world feeling a bit uneasy.

First off, there are plenty of anime where women are objectified.  Yes, we've all see the strong anime female before, but she's usually running around in next to nothing.  Most anime take every chance they get to show a little fan service, and while I can't say that I dislike it, I can definitely see how some women would take offense with it.  Showing girls as something to drool over and nothing else isn't exactly the best way to get on a lady's good side.

Then there are the female anime characters that do nothing but cater to a man's every whim.  That might be a husband, boyfriend or crush, but they all get treated the same.  Some female anime characters go out of their way to be polite to the male characters, never questioning what they have to say.  It's all about keeping the man happy and hiding away personal opinions.  Again, this doesn't really fall in step with the rest of the world, and I can definitely see why women might be a bit upset with it.

How do you feel about the portrayal of females in anime?  There are some features that show us strong, proud female roles, and those are the ones I really dig.  When women are used as sex objects or vapid bodies in anime, I can see where the real-world counterparts get a bit ticked off.  I'm not against fan service in any way, but anime that uses women for this purpose only is doing nothing but hurting its audience.

Taboo: Your stance on censorship

What is acceptable in one country may not be acceptable in another.  That goes for just about any entertainment medium, and anime is definitely included.  For example, here in the states it's more common to see violence on primetime TV, but sex is more of a taboo topic.  Over in Europe, it's more of the reverse.  Even here in the states we see more strict guidelines when it comes to curse words.  Anime localizations have to take all of this into account.

That's where the topic of censorship comes into play.  It doesn't really have to do with a localization house wanting to make cuts.  There are times when they absolutely have to make edits in order to localize a show or movie.  There are things that go by without any issue in Japan, but here in the states you could land yourself in some major legal trouble.

There have been numerous occasions where an anime was edited for release in North America.  Cuts that took out sexual situations are definitely more prevalent than those of violence or other content, but it does depend on the age group that is seeing a show.  Programs like Naruto are edited here as well, and some of the content taken out seems to make little to no sense when compared to other like-minded programming that airs here.

What is your stance on anime censorship?  Is it a necessary evil, or would you rather localization houses just kept the show in Japan?  Do edits ruin the spirit and message of a show?

Catherine - impressions

I've put in a lot more time with Catherine since I last talked about it.  I spent a good part of the early morning hours yesterday playing through the game, and I have a much better idea of what the game truly offers.  I'm very happy to say that I like the game even more than I did from my early impressions.  You know a game is good when you have to pry yourself away from it!

Interactive anime is the perfect way to describe Catherine.  As a matter of fact, I think just watching Catherine as an anime would work almost as well as the game.  There's a little something added by the ability to walk around an make decisions, since you can decide how the story ends up playing out through decisions you make.  That's not something you can do with an anime, so that slight interactive element really does make the experience unique.

Not surprisingly, Catherine also has an easy option for those that are more interested in just watching the story unfold rather than playing.  I'm not playing that way right now, but I plan on going through that setting once I finish up the game.  I'm thinking that mode will have even less input as far as traditional gameplay goes.  It should have you just sitting back and taking in the story for most of the experience.  Definitely a unique and interesting approach, but it fits nicely with this type of game.

As with any anime, the emphasis in Catherine is on story.  You're playing your way through the experience in order to get deeper into the story, moreso than you do with any other game.  There are tons of games that feature stories, but a good majority of them aren't really all that important to the game itself.  Catherine is all about the story, and everything you do in the game relates to how that story plays out.  If you're not into games for their stories, I suggest you stay far away from Catherine.

Oddly enough, the puzzle section of the game is quite enjoyable as well.  The good news is, this puzzle element is a big part of the story.  Playing through these sections gives you more information on characters and where the story is going.  I actually think that the puzzle game within Catherine could stand on its own as a downloadable title.  It's all about pushing blocks to climb a tower, making sure you climb faster than the tower falls apart.  These gameplay sections mesh with the story perfectly, but they also provide a nice break from just sitting and watching.  Being an active participant in the story of Catherine is pretty damn fun!

Again, I have to highly recommend this title to anyone that is into anime and gaming.  As long as you don't mind more story than gameplay, Catherine should be right up your alley.  I'll be back with a full review once I complete the game.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Taboo: That anime scene you could never explain

The world of anime is filled with all kinds of crazy, fantastical and insane situations.  It just comes with the territory, and it's part of why we love anime so much.  The ideas that anime puts forth are sort-of no holds barred.  The animators and creators go wherever they want to when telling a story, and we're just along for the ride.  You better be ready to go to some places you've never been before!

Sometimes those story twists and turns take us into some very unique and...tough to explain situations.  An anime could be about serious topics like love and betrayal, but some points in the series could be nothing more than fan service.  You and I know that those points in a series don't speak for the overall goals and path of the story, but those that don't watch anime don't know that.

For example, let's take a scene in Fooly Cooly.  This series is full to the brim with all kinds of insane imagery.  That's the the taboo kind of content that may make you blush when someone walks in on you watching.  One scene in the series shows the main female lead Haruko laying down right on top of the male lead Naota, who just happens to be a young boy.  Making things even more 'interesting' is the fact that Haruko is wearing nothing but a skimpy nightgown that doesn't really offer much coverage below the waist.  If you're involved with the series up to that point, you know exactly what's going on and why it makes sense for the story.  For the average joe, walking in on that would look like an extremely inappropriate scene.

What anime you have seen that might get you in trouble if caught at the wrong time?  Every anime takes a few tangents along the way, and some of them might be quite taboo for someone that just stumbles onto a viewing.  What we take for granted could turn someone else away in an instant!

Taboo: The anime you watch that you think would be frowned upon

Time to flip the question around for our second taboo feature!  In our first article we discussed content that you consider taboo.  Content that you don't want to see in your anime.  It's completely fine for you to pick and choose what type of content you want to watch.  Now let's take a look at the content you do watch, and what you think others may say about it.

We're not talking about anime in general, because we know that plenty of people look down on those that view anime.  That's another topic in and of itself.  We're looking specifically at anime that you own, and content that's in it that might turn a few heads.  You may be fine with that content, but once again, showing it to specific people may end up changing their opinions of you.

I hate to beat a dead horse here, but I once again have to turn to Dance in the Vampire Bund for my selection.  I can't say enough good things about the show because it really is enjoyable.  That's why I find it so unfortunate to see that some of the content in the show is not just risque, it's quite uncomfortable.  That's coming from an American perspective, I guess.  There are a number of friends/family I know would enjoy the show, but I dare not show it to them because I know their jaws would hit the floor with that uncomfortable content.  I'm not a fan of it either in any way, but I am willing to look past/through it for the overall show.

No need to be shy...time to fess up about the taboo anime content that you own or have seen.  What anime content are you okay with, but you fear that others might judge you for it?

Taboo: Anime You Dare Not Watch

Last night I was hanging with a friend that happens to be into anime.  We got into a short discussion about Dance in the Vampire Bund, and it lead me to what I hope is an interesting line of features for the site.  I'll be running with the 'Taboo' theme for a few posts today, and I hope you'll enjoy reading and commenting on them.  I mean, it's always fun to talk about taboo topics, right?!

As I mentioned, my discussion last night was revolving around Dance in the Vampire Bund.  If you read my review of the series, you no doubt know what kind of taboo I'm talking about.  That discussion had me thinking about all the taboo topics that anime likes to delve into.  While I'm sure age-related taboos come into the minds of many, there are plenty of other taboo situations that crop up.  It all depends on what your beliefs are.

To say that violence isn't taboo would be simply incorrect.  While it's true that many people are desensitized to violence nowadays, I still find the violence in anime to be a step further.  I guess if I had to pilfer a term, I'd go with the old 'ultra violence' that we heard about in A Clockwork Orange.  Anime violence is sometimes very over-the-top and quite brutal.  I'm not saying that's a good or bad thing, but there are plenty that would view this type of content as taboo.

That's just one example of taboo visuals and topics in anime.  There are a million others to discuss, but I'm leaving that up to you guys.  What anime do you refuse to watch due to a taboo topic in your own mind?  Did you ever watch a series only to hit upon an episode that absolutely shocked you, keeping you away from that series from here on out?

Using anime soundtracks to introduce anime itself

I touched on this very briefly back when I started the site, but it's a topic I've wanted to revisit since then.  Hopefully my earlier article showed you guys just how important anime soundtracks are to me.  The music for an anime can be an absolutely wonderful way to tie a scene together, and those songs from a show can help you relive anime moments as if it were your first time watching.  Not surprisingly, you can use anime music to lead someone into their first anime viewing.

There are people out there that absolutely will not give anime a chance.  No matter what you say or do, they won't have any of it.  That's the end of the road, right?  No other options to try and get them into the world of anime?  That's not true at all!  You just have to be extra clever with how you try and sneak them into anime, and music can be the perfect way to do it.

When was the last time you talked to someone that said they hated music?  Sure, there are plenty of people that hate genres of music, but I can't think of anyone that hates music in general.  There's always a type of music, or a band, or a particular song that people like.  That universe interest in music can be your first foot in the door when trying to get a newcomer to check out anime.

As I've already discussed, anime isn't just about the visuals.  There are hundreds of amazing songs that go with anime features.  All you have to do with newcomers is sneak in some anime music when you get the chance.  Play a few anime songs during a car ride.  Let your iTunes playlist shuffle through anime songs while hosting a party.  Play some anime tracks on your computer while friends are over.  I'm sure that some people will eventually ask what a particular track is, and rather than telling them about it you can show them!  You'd be surprised how much more willing people will be to check out anime when they already have something that tickles their fancy.

Hurry up with the trailers already!

I don't know about you, but when I pick up a new DVD/Blu-ray anime, I am really looking forward to popping it in and checking it out.  When I finally get the chance to do that, I may not have as much time as I'd like to dedicate to watching.  That means that every minute is precious!  That's why I mostly cannot stand when localization houses load up their latest releases with tons of trailers!

Back in the day when VHS was the main format for in-home movie viewing, trailers on tapes were even more of a problem.  You had to fast-forward through various trailers, and it would eat up a lot of time!  With today's DVD and Blu-ray content, at least you can hit the skip button to jump past these features.  Well...most of the time, anyway!  Sometimes you can't skip at all, which means you're stuck watching the trailers.

When I think about trailers on anime DVDs that have actually interested me, I can count the number of times on a single finger.  I understand that companies have to support the content that they're publishing, and sticking trailers on their releases makes perfect sense.  The problem is, when we're forced to watch this content, it sometimes makes us resent the content we're being shown!  You're just looking to watch the feature you bought, but instead you have to watch a trailer for something you're not interested in at all.

I don't think that trailers on anime DVDs are a bad thing.  I just think that we should always be able to skip, and perhaps companies shouldn't load up their DVDs with so many trailers.  Getting a feature that has 6 trailers before it seems like a little much.  That's more than you'd see when you take in a movie at your local movie theater!  I shelled out the cash to purchase an anime DVD from (insert company here), at least respect that I spent the cash and don't waste too much of my time!

How do you guys feel about anime trailers on your recent DVD/Blu-ray purchases?  Do you find them informative and engaging, or do they just get in the way?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Catherine - early impressions

I managed to find some time to sneak out to my local GameStop today and pick up a copy of Catherine.  Not that long ago I mentioned that this game looked like it would be a great title for those that are into anime and gaming as well.  While I've only put in about an hour's worth of time with the title, I can already see that there's a lot to love, especially if you're an anime fan.

What's the biggest reason fans of anime will like this game? has a ton of anime in it!  The gameplay itself uses a visual style that mimics the anime scenes in the game.  It seems like more of the game is going to be spent watching anime scenes and then making a few key decisions, and that's fine with me.  I'm down for an interactive anime story, and Catherine is delivering that thus far.

As I usually find with most anime, the story is indeed unique and engaging.  Early on we learn about the main character's rather scary dreams, and start to see hints of other people having those same nightmares.  The key difference is, it looks like some people that have these nightmares actually never wake up.  One person is found dead in their bed, and thus far there have been some strong hints that he died from the same nightmare that our main character had.  That's a hook good enough to get me invested this early on!

I'll definitely have more to say about Catherine as I play on.  I'm thinking I'll put together one more impressions feature and then a review later down the road.  Early on, I'm not afraid to say that anime fans will find a lot to like here.  Just be prepared to watch more than you actually play, and don't go in expecting tons of action-related gameplay.  This is a puzzler/interactive story, and if you have an open mind for both anime and unique gameplay, this is a title for you.

This week's skewed comment on anime: Hating on anime...for no reason

This one is yet another discussion on Twitter.  It all started with the following Tweet from a random Twitter user.

Read my response to "do you like anime?"

The person's answer to that question was at another link, and when I clicked the link to see her answer, I was met with the following.

Short and to the point, but I wanted to know the reasoning behind it.

@RandomUser Man, I am sad to see that response. Care to tell me why you feel that way?

They answered with the following...

@AnimeYourWay because I think it's stupid

When I asked the person to please give me some more detail, they responded with this.

@AnimeYourWay its fulled with emo kids that run around and are cartoons and cartoons are for 3 year olds... simple as that

Indeed, it is as simple as that.  Classic case of some preconceived notion that stemmed from some truly odd place.  I'm guessing this is one of those cases where a closed mind isn't going to allow for any consideration of the other side of the story.

If you could be a part of one anime...

We've been talking a lot about the fantastical settings of anime lately, and it's made me thinking about just how insane some of the situations are.  While there are lots of anime out there with all kinds of settings, some of them offer up unique situations that I'd love to experience in real life.  Yes, we're really going to go all-out with a fantasy-style question for this article!

There are a bunch of anime that feature locations or ideas that I'd love to be a part of, but they come with too many other consequences.  For example, I would love to visit the world of Ghost in the Shell, if only to check out the amazing technology.  I don't know about you, but I would definitely like to get my hands on an invisibility suit!  I just don't think I'm ready to take part in the wars going on!

It may sound silly, but I think I'd have to choose Maburaho for an anime that I'd love to be a part of.  For those that aren't familiar with Maburaho, it's about a school with students that all have magical powers.  These students have a set number of times that they can use magic, and everyone in school gets tested to find out their number.  I'd love to be able to use magic in real life, and I would hope to come up with a great amount of uses!

What anime would you like to be a part of?  I'm sure there's one or two features that you would love to interact with, or bring elements of it to your day-to-day life.

Effective forms of anime advertising

Anime doesn't see the same sort of advertising that movies, books, music or TV gets.  It makes sense right now because anime is a much smaller market than what's available on TV or in theaters.  While we love anime to death, we have to realize that there are budgets to work within.  Of course, that makes for a catch-22.  Not enough budget to put big advertising out there, but you can't reach a big market without bigger advertising.

I've been thinking about advertising of anime since my latest issue of Otaku USA came.  On the back cover is an ad for the next Eden of the East movie, which is due out in August.  I knew the movie was coming, but I honestly had no idea when it was due out.  Without this simple print ad on the back of the magazine, I probably would have missed out on the release for awhile.  Man am I thankful I caught this!

That's advertising aimed squarely at the anime fan, though.  While that kind of advertising is extremely important, it's not really helping to reach a new market.  You might bring an anime fan into a new series with that, but someone that isn't aware of anime won't ever get the chance to see that ad.  It makes you wonder if there are better ways to get the word on anime products out, while hitting more than just the expected demographic.

How do you think anime houses could better advertise their creations/localizations in order to build awareness?  Anime could stand to be a little higher up in the public view, and advertising is one way to do that.  Smart advertising can be cheap and very effective, but you have to find the right methods and avenues to get that big impact.  What would you like to see happen with anime advertising?

Characters you can relate to

No matter what the medium, it's always nice to have characters that you can relate to.  Who wants to read a story, watch a movie or check out an anime where you can't relate to any of the characters?  There has to be some sort of connection you can make between yourself and at least one of the characters in order to really interest you in what's going on.  

I feel like I make this connection a lot more with anime than other mediums, even though it seems like it should be the complete opposite.  Anime features are not afraid to take us to all sorts of crazy locations with unique and off-the-wall characters, but that doesn't take away from our ability to connect with the cast.  As fantastical as the settings and story can be, at the heart of most anime are characters that you can measure up with.

Take for example, Birdy the Mighty: Decode.  This series does a fantastic job of showing you all sorts of amazing characters from far-off planets, but they are tied to something more set in reality by the relationship between Birdy and Tsutomu Senkawa.  An earth boy and an alien girl that go through a lot together, and they both learn about each other's worlds through some very common yet deep emotions.  It's very hard not to identify with both of these characters in some way.

What anime have you seen where you find yourself really connecting with a character?  What anime character can you really relate to, be it through their struggles or background?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Anime that sticks with you

I can't think of a single TV show that I've watched that has stuck with me to this day.  There are shows that I remember without a doubt, but the content of those shows hasn't really resonated with me so much so that I still feel those intense feelings to this day.  The same cannot be said for anime.  There are things that happen in anime series' that I saw years ago, yet I feel like I just saw them yesterday.

I am not going to name series' because I don't want to throw spoilers around!  With that said, there are a handful of anime that feature some scenes and character twists that were absolutely shocking.  Things you thought that would never happen...or things you never even considered for the storyline.  These happenings took my breath away when I first viewed them, and they are fresh in my mind to this day.

In particular, there's one anime event that makes me sad everytime I think about it.  It's not a feeling that just pops up for a second and disappears.  I think about it and seriously cannot believe it happened.  Then I start thinking about the entire series and just how much of a ride it took me for.  I think that's the sign of some very great storytelling right there!

Are there any anime features you've seen that have moments that really hit you hard even to this day?  I hope I'm not the only one that gets like this!  Anime stories don't tend to shy away from shaking things up in big ways, and some of those major shifts still sit in my thoughts to this day.  Do you have any of those moments that hit you like they're brand-new, even though you saw them months, if not years ago?

From no anime to big interest

A lot of people out there believe that changing minds when it comes to anime is impossible.  I'll admit that there are a few people that just aren't willing to open their minds and try something new, and nothing you ever say will change how they feel.  With that said, there are indeed people that say that they want nothing to do with anime, but it's possible to help them change their mind.  That happened to me this past week.

One of my aunts just didn't want anything to do with anime.  She knew that her son was meeting up with me and other family members to watch Death Note, but she opted to stay out of the get-togethers.  What was her reason for hanging back?  She said she didn't want to get together and watch cartoons.  Hearing a statement like that hurts me doubly, because it's a family member that has that opinion!  I desperately wanted to change her mind about that.

Everything really came together last week during vacation.  As I said awhile back, much of my family was watching Death Note.  We were going to wrap the series this week in North Carolina, and that's exactly what happened.  I guess all that Death Note action showed my aunt that the series was worth looking into.  Since I had the manga in North Carolina as well, she started reading that...and couldn't stop.

Before I knew it, my aunt had read through all 12 manga books!  She finished the entire series on vacation, and that lead to a complete turnaround from her.  How do I know she's willing to give anime a shot now?  After wrapping up the manga, she said she couldn't wait to watch the anime!  If that's not a 100% turnaround, I don't know what is.  Once she watches that, who knows where we'll go next!

Your anime passion inspires others

I'm telling you...the more I use Twitter the more I appreciate it.  It's really been amazing as far as this blog goes.  I've been very proactive on Twitter, at least compared to how I handle things for GoNintendo.  All this usage is making me realize that perhaps I was coming from a wrong place when I pieced together my initial impressions of Twitter.  It's an absolutely invaluable tool when it comes to anime.

The thing I've noticed with anime discussions on Twitter is just how far one comment can reach.  One comment about anime can reach hundreds of people that don't know a thing about what anime is.  From there on out, other people are inspired to retweet thoughts, and then check out anime for themselves.  This kind of stuff is proof positive that one person can make a difference.

The thing is, you guys are making a difference as well!  We're all changing minds about anime, whether you know it or not.  Your comments on this blog and through Twitter are reaching new minds, and those people are exploring what anime is all about.  I've heard first-hand how your comments and my Tweets are really inspiring people to check out what anime has to offer.  It's honestly blowing my mind to see how this is all coming together.

Your anime passion is coming through loud and clear.  Your love of anime and all that it encompasses is showing others what they're missing out on.  I can't thank you enough for supporting the blog and Twitter, as your comments and thoughts are really opening eyes around the web.  Never, ever underestimate the power of your comments.  You guys are making a difference!

A fantastic lineup of upcoming localizations

While I've been keeping tabs of what anime has been picked up for localization, it wasn't until I received the latest issue of Otaku USA that I realized just how much great content is on the way.  Some of it is already being simulcast and others are heading for DVD/Blu-ray releases in North America.  All in all, there's a ton of great, new content seeing official release here!

As you can see, this issue's cover dedicates itself to Blue Exorcist, which is no doubt a huge anime airing in Japan right now.  It seems like this series might be the breakout hit of the entire season!  The best news is, while you can watch episodes right now, the series is slated for release in the states as well.  I know I'll be adding this one to my collection as soon as it comes out!

Also getting very detailed, gorgeous previews in this issue are Tiger and Bunny, the film Redline, Madoka Magica and many others.  The three above are really stand-out anime that I've been keeping my eye on for awhile now.  In particular, Madoka Magica seems to be something really special.  There's much, much more to it than the cutesy exterior would have you believe!

There are hundreds of great anime series' out there right now, and the good stuff just keeps coming.  Whether you're in Japan or looking forward to localized releases, it's a very good time to be an anime fan.  While things may have seemed a tad underwhelming for awhile there, it's very clear that localized content is on a definite upswing.

The Question 7/25: What anime did you check out this weekend?

Man, I'm having a tough time with these questions in recent weeks!  It seems my weekends are super busy!  As you know, I was travelling home from North Carolina this weekend, and then I had to get my site and the house back in order on Sunday.  That means the only anime I watched was Durarara!!.  I saw two episodes of that to catch myself up with you guys...but that's it!

What anime did you check out this weekend?  I hope you enjoyed it!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The nicest compliment I could ask for

Now that I've started the anime blog, not a day goes by when I don't think about anime.  I'm trying my best to spread the word of anime with the time that I have, even though it's not nearly as much time as I'd like to dedicate.  It had me wondering if I was really doing the best I could with the blog right now, but a conversation today helped me really helped to lift my spirits.

Earlier today I went out to GameStop to pick up a game that came in while I was away.  I always like going into my local GameStop because the employees are so nice.  Today was no exception, with two of the nicest employees working today.  The conversation obviously started off with video games, but then it went into a discussion of anime and my blog.

I had no idea that one of the employees was following my blog...and quite religiously it seemed!  I was absolutely flattered that they found out about the blog and came over to see what was up.  This employee was already into anime somewhat, but it seems like my articles and your comments were really fueling her to check out what other types of anime content were out there.

The best part came from my mentions of Death Note on the site.  I guess I did a good job of talking about how great the series is, because now she's absolutely dying to see it!  She's no longer just interested in it, she's super excited about checking it out.  To have someone go from not knowing a thing about Death Note to being totally into it without seeing an episode is amazing.  I can't tell you how much it means to me!

To see that my passion comes through on this anime blog means the world to me.  It lets me know that I'm connecting with people and helping to raise awareness.  I also know that your comments are doing just as much good by showing your passion for anime as well!  Looks like we're well on the path to changing some minds and expanding some anime horizons.

Durarara!! Ep. 4 and 5 - impressions

As you guys know, I missed out on Durarara!! episode 4 last week due to my travels to North Carolina. I just barely had the free time to check out episode 4 before this week's episode, but I did manage to squeeze it in. I can safely say that watching two episodes one right after the other has made me realize just how badly I want to watch more of this series!

Both episode 4 and 5 give us a lot of insight as to where the series is heading. We're learning more about major characters, their motivations for what they're doing, and what makes them tick. The first three episodes were more about introducing us to important characters, but now we're diving into those roles a bit more. In other words, things are getting a lot more juicy.

You can't have that without a little bit of mystery and intrigue, and that's definitely going on in these episodes. In particular, episode 5 raises a lot of questions about just what exactly is going on between gangs, as well as some of the main characters. There's clearly a lot going on below the surface that we don't know yet. We're getting quick glimpses of shady activity, but we're not really sure who's to blame.

The further we get into the series, I'm also seeing which musical themes and songs match up with certain characters or actions. It's a theme in a lot of anime cartoons, and with Durarara!!'s unique soundtrack, it's really leaving a deep impression on me. The music really helps to push the show along and set the mood. This show constantly surprises me with the music it ties to certain actions, because it's unlike anything else I've seen in an anime.

As you can probably guess, both episodes 4 and 5 have only cemented my interest in the series that much more. I really like the way things are going, and I have even more questions that I want answered. I don't know if we'll get to that point in the series, but hopefully some of my queries will be solved!

Hope to see you in the live-chat for episode 6!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Durarara!! on Adult Swim - Episode 5 live chat (starts 12:30 A.M. EDT)

I'm extra busy tonight due to some podcast troubles at GoNintendo, but I wanted to make sure I had the live chat open for you guys, as promised.  I'll do my best to sneak in before the show starts!

A vacation's worth of anime converts

Last week when I was packing for my vacation, I knew that I was going to bring some anime with me.  I had a few DVDs that I wanted to watch while out in North Carolina, and I figured I could do so while working late at night.  I also brought the Death Note DVDs with me because my family was just about to wrap up the entire series.  While that did happen, there were some other events that I never saw coming.

My family finished up watching Death Note after a number of weeks, and they couldn't believe how much they enjoyed the series.  It was their first anime series, and now they understand where I'm coming from with my anime love.  They also discussed what series we're going to move onto next.  While that wasn't decided, at least I know that they are very interesting in more anime!

Even more surprising was seeing both of my aunts get interested in anime.  Neither of them were watching Death Note with us, but somehow they both got interested in the manga.  I brought the entire Death Note manga with me, and one of my aunts read through the entire series while at the beach.  As soon as she was done reading, she said that she really wanted to see the anime now!  Now she knew were we were all coming from.  My other aunt is on book 10 of 12, so she's just about to wrap things up.

I also had my cousin introduce me to Wandaba Style, which I wrote about earlier in the week.  While it wasn't exactly the anime for me, it gave me a new perspective on anime in general.  On the flip-side, it was a show that really interested my girlfriend.  It's the kind of zany, wacky show that she likes.  She's already talked about watching a few more episodes now that we're home!

I never did get to watch those DVDs, but I really can't complain.  It's all because we were spending so much time checking out other anime features!  I've come away from this family vacation with a new affinity for what I've already loved, and now I have a bunch of family members to share it with me.  I couldn't ask for a better trip!

Durarara!! on Adult Swim - Episode 5 live chat (stars 12:30 A.M. EDT)

We made it back after our North Carolina trip!  That means I'm home in plenty of time to see tonight's Durarara!! episode!  I still need to catch up on last week's episode, but that shouldn't be a problem.  I hope to see you guys here tonight!

Time to head back home

As some of you know, I have been on vacation in North Carolina this week.  The fun in the sun has been much needed, but unfortunately the vacation week has already come to a close.  That means it's time to pack up the car and get ready for the long trip back to New Jersey.

The site is going to go quiet for quite some time today.  When I get back into New Jersey, I have to do the GoNintendo podcast and then catch GoNintendo up to speed for the day. After all that is done, I'll be sure to pop over here and post up an article.

I guess that means I won't be seeing you guys until after 6:00 PM EDT sometime, but I promise I'll return today at some point!

Friday, July 22, 2011

The best anime fight scenes

There's no shortage of action in anime, that's for sure.  No matter where you look, someone is getting shot, something is being blown up, or someone is going all out with hand-to-hand combat.  I'm always super imprssed with the amount of choreography in these scenes.  Sometimes they're just drawn and other times they are layered over real-life actors for smoother animation, but usually the end result is interesting nonetheless.

Where most big budget films in the states tend to have action that is overblown and hard to follow, anime usually focuses in on a fight between two opponents and shows us what they have.  There are indeed fights where armies take down massive enemies, but the one-on-one fights are really the ones that I enjoy.  Two people with everything to lose and willing to do anything it takes.

Personally, I have floored by the fight scenes in two anime in particular.  First up is Cowboy Bebop, which has some absolutely fantastic action.  It doesn't matter if it's two guys punching/kicking each other nonstop or guns blazing with people diving for cover, all of it is amazing action.  To think of how all of this is put together is mind boggling.  It makes me very happy to be on the viewing end, and not with the team that has to plan it out!

The other fight scenes I really enjoy are those from Birdy the Mighty.  While they may not be the most action-packed, they are animated in a way that is absolutely amazing.  It's a very rough style with truly fluid animation, and the end  result is unlike anything I've seen in any other anime.  I really wish more animation houses would take on this style.

What are some of the best fight scenes you've seen in an anime?  Let us in on what you consider top-notch action!

Letting it all sink in...

I don't know if you guys feel the same way, but I find anime viewing to be a very intense experience.  I believe anime in general is very involved and action-packed.  Even if the anime itself isn't full of explosions and fights, there's still a lot of action on-screen.  When I'm done watching an anime, be it a few episodes or a movie, I need some time to decompress!

There will be times when I watch an anime and when I turn it off, I really can feel how spent I am.  There's so much to take in that you need to really sit back and think about.  There will be certain things that I view and they won't really sink in until I've had a few hours to contemplate everything.  As I decompress, I start to piece things together and get a better understanding of the entire feature.

For example, when I was watching Pandora, there was a ton of visual and story elements to pay attention to.  When it was all over I understood the basic plot and details, but as the night went on I had to chance to really analyze what I just saw.  There were scenes that really came together when I took the time to ponder it all.  The end result was an experience that I appreciated even more once I put some thought into it.

Do you find yourself doing the same thing with anime?  Do you need some time to figure everything out, or do you grab it all on the first run?  I think that's near impossible with some anime, but I know there are plenty of people that are much more perceptive than I!

Anime in the world of print

The print side of new is really suffering right now.  Magazines and newspapers are struggling to find an audience. It's just so much easier to get the news and information you want on the internet, plus you don't usually have to pay in order to get the content.  How can you beat instant, free information that is constantly updated?  Even I can see that side of things.

While I do know that if I want news and up-to-date information on anime, I turn to the internet.  There's just no way print can keep up with that aspect of things.  With that said, I still have a deep affinity for print media, and that's across all aspects.  This indeed includes the anime side of things, and I actually believe that anime magazines can survive in today's day and age with some smart content.

I personally subscribe to Otaku USA, which I picked up after the death of NewType.  I subscribed to NewType for quite some time, and I really found it to be a wonderful anime magazine.  While I enjoy Otaku USA, it's not the magazine that NewType was.  There's simply not enough focus on the world of anime for me.  There's other filler content thrown in there that I just don't want in an anime magazine.

I really do think that a monthly publication about anime could work.  It would have to focus on reviews, previews and interviews, but that's a bread-and-butter of a good magazine.  Information that isn't time sensitive and would be unique to the magazine itself.  On top of that, some nice 'The Artwork Of' features would be well fit for a print publication.  Nothing can beat having a gorgeous magazine sitting on your coffee table, and it's always a good way to get newcomers interested.

Do you subscribe to any anime magazines?  Would you be interested in doing so?  I'd like to, one day in the far-off future, do some sort of print magazine.  What a dream come true that would be.

The dreaded start/stop/start/stop routine

It's tough to find a routine for free time.  Even when you think you have things scheduled, some other stuff can get in the way.  I know that I've planned free time activities out numerous times, only to have them squashed at the last minute.  Hell, sometimes I'm too tired to even enjoy free time!  The call of a nap can be a very powerful thing.

Of course, free time is the only chance I get to watch anime.  I don't nearly get as much free time as I'd like, but I work with what comes my way.  That usually means I'll split my time watching anime and playing video games.  After a round of that, I always feel like it was free time well spent.  Anytime you can enjoy something and have it put a smile on your face, it's not time wasted!

The problem is...that damn free time routine.  I'll start watching anime and I'll get a few nights worth of content in, and then my schedule will start acting up.  Before I know it, it's been weeks since I sat down with the anime series that I was last watching.  By the time I actually do get to check things out again, I've forgotten where I was and what I've learned!  Major plot points are there, but the minor details escape me.

This is a routine that happens to me over and over again.  I'm realizing that I might have to take notes when I watch anime!  If I just write down what episode I was on and what the prior show was about, I should be good to pick up whenever.  Do you find yourself in the same situation that I'm in?  Damn those priorities like work!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Time to try an anime genre that's out of your comfort zone

Anime is a very broad term to describe a style of animation, but within that general term are hundreds of different genre types.  Just like any other form of entertainment, there are multiple different takes on the same basic principal,.  There are anime based on love, action, suspense, mystery, horror and many more.  There are also anime genres that you don't see in other entertainment forms, such as mech.  Plenty for everyone to choose from, no matter who you are.

While there may be a ton of genres for anime out there, I think we all settle into a familiar few.  A lot of people tend to really enjoy action-heavy anime, and I can see where they're coming from.  I also happen to really enjoy romantic anime, which isn't something that I would have expected at first.  You can throw mystery and suspense in there as well, along with a number of other genres I haven't named.

While I do have an open mind, there are genres that I tend to stray from.  I really don't find much enjoyment from mech-related anime, and I honestly can't tell you why.  I think it has something to do with not really sitting down with a major mech anime and giving it a shot.  I don't think I've seen a single episode of any Gundam series out there, and I know that's a sin for more anime fans!

I'm willing to break my routine and jump into a mech anime.  I want to really challenge myself and hopefully end up surprised with what I've been missing out on.  Would you guys be willing to do the same?  Do you want to branch out and see what other anime genres you could give a shot?

What's your cut-off for giving a new anime series a shot?

This article idea was sent in by reader 8-Bit Jay, and it's my pleasure to share it with you all.  Anyone can feel free to send article ideas to my Twitter or email address.  I'll consider any/everything that comes my way!

Jay's article idea spawned from my article earlier today about Wandaba Style.  If you read the article, you know that I'm not really into the series.  It's not my cup of tea, but I wouldn't say it's the worst thing I've seen.  I'm still willing to give it more of a try, so later this week I'll check out another couple episodes.  I'm thinking that if the show doesn't really change my opinion by the end of episode 4, I'm going to call it quits.

Jay wants to does one come up with the amount of episodes you watch of an anime before you decide that it's not for you?  It's a pretty good question, don't you think?  I'm sure we've all picked up at least one anime that we haven't found interesting, and at one point we decided to shelve it.  Just how did you come about to that point?

I know that with me, the number is different for every series.  I don't usually have a set number in mind, but in this case I do.  Since Wandaba Style isn't much about story or anything like that, I'm just taking it on an episode-by-episode basis.  With Gurren Lagann, I was having iffy feelings as well.  With that series, I decided to see how the story evolved as the episodes went on. If there wasn't an interesting turn soon, I was going to stop viewing that one as well.  Thankfully that show turned out to be quite good!

When you're on the fence about an anime you're watching, what's your cut-off?

Wandaba Style...not for me

I'm always open to any kind of anime, no matter what the subject matter or show's direction.  If it's a show that someone appreciates or recommends, I'll always make the time to check it out.  That's what happened just last night when my cousin had an anime that he wanted to share.  That's when he popped in the first disc of Wandaba Style...which was definitely an experience.

For those that don't know Wandaba Style is an anime that focuses on a group of 4 female singers.  They get mixed up with a boy genius that is on a mission to launch his robot helper to the moon.  The girl group's manager gets them into this mess by booking the boy genius' mission as a job, and as far as I know, the rest of the show is all about various failed missions to get to the moon.

A crazy plot to be sure, but nothing too crazy as far as anime is concerned.  Obviously the show is not a serious one.  This show is all about comedy, and it's mostly in an over-the-top fashion.  There's plenty of visual gags and humor coming from dialog.  The show's goal seems to aimed at being as wacky as possible, and that's definitely accomplished from what I've seen.

After all that, why don't I like the show?  It's just too zany for me.  There is a ton of screaming between characters, especially the girl group.  They yell and harass each other all the time, and this results in giant faces just screaming nonsense a few times each episode.  I also find that most of the jokes fall flat, even though it did get a chuckle or two out of me.  The entire show is really hit or miss, but it strikes a nerve with all the things that I just don't care for.

I'm still willing to give Wandaba Style more of a chance.  I'm going to keep that open mind and push through a few more episodes on my own.  I just don't think this one is going to end up being for me.  I can appreciate it for what it is, as well as for the other people that enjoy it.  I may love anime quite a bit, but that doesn't mean I'll enjoy absolutely everything I see.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The state of anime: Localization

Today we'll take a look at the state of localization for anime, as far as Europe and North America goes.  While there are thousands upon thousands of fans that watch anime via streaming sites and bootleg uploads, there are also fans that look to purchase legitimate versions of upcoming anime features.  We'll be focusing in on officially localized content for this feature.

We all know that no amount of localization houses can secure the rights to 100% of the anime that hits Japan.  We all just have to submit to the fact that we'll never see all anime series' localized for our viewing pleasure.  It's sad to know that there's some anime that we'll never officially see in Europe or North America, but it doesn't mean that localization firms aren't working hard.

Each year localization groups look into what anime makes sense to bring outside of Japan.  There's a lot to choose from, and there are indeed a few key anime each year that companies will fight over.  While niche titles are picked up here and there, it's the bigger titles with more mass appeal that localization companies want to go after.  They are indeed a business first.

Do you feel that the state of localization where you live is going well?  Do these companies work hard enough to bring over the anime that we want?  Do they listen to the fans to judge what series' should get picked up for localization?

From hating to loving anime

This week at the vacation house has been very eye-opening thus far.  I'm so happy to see my family really embracing anime and manga.  It's something I never thought would happen, but all I had to do was put myself out there.  I really do believe in anime and the stories that are told through it, which gave me the courage and enthusiasm needed to spread the word.  Now I've turned on over 10 new people to anime!

Within that group, there are definitely people that didn't want anything to do with anime.  They may not have hated it, but they just weren't interested in those 'weird cartoons'.  It took a bit of convincing, but the end result was definitely worth it.  It just goes to show how you can change minds if you work hard enough and care about something.  It won't work 100% of the time, but it's worth a shot.

Some of the anime fans I know used to loath the entire anime movement.  Again, they had preconceived notions of anime and thought it was a complete waste of time.  They lumped all anime into Dragon Ball and Pokemon territory.  While those shows are definitely something I can appreciate, they didn't do much for stereotypes that the anime industry faced.  It took an introduction to the very wide world of anime for those people to open their eyes.

You may know someone that used to hate anime but has changed over.  Do you know anyone like that, or were you in that position yourself?  What caused the turnaround?

Cultural differences keeping people from giving anime a shot

I don't often get to see my sister because she's away at college, but she's here on family vacation.  I thought I'd take this opportunity to talk to her about anime, since she's an anime convert.

What was your first anime?

Answer: Chobits.  That was the best.

What did you think of it?

Answer: I thought it was both hilarious and emotionally investing.  I laughed and I thought it was a good romantic story.  I was sad when it was over.

What did you think of anime before that?

Answer: I didn't know anything about anime besides watching Pokemon.  I thought it was all weird, over-the-top, big eyeballs and teardrops.  I didn't know it had serious stories that I could get invested in.

Why do you think public perception is negative when it comes to anime?

Answer: It's like anything else.  People don't understand what they don't know and they have't sat down to watch it.  They just know the stereotypes.  It's perceived to be a nerdy pursuit.  

What do you think the anime industry could do to better public opinion in the states?

Answer: They need to have some well-received Oscar nod anime movie that starts people talking about it.  If there were Oscar-nominated anime, I don't know about them.  American people think cultures outside their own are weird.  Pokemon made anime more popular...kind of.  Maybe something like that again.

What would you say to someone to try and convince them to check out an anime?

Answer: If you're into plot, they can really make you think.  Once you watch one you'll want to continue on.  It's all about getting that person to sit down and actually watch one, and then it will speak for itself.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The end of a series, and a range of emotions

It's been going on for a few months now, but my family just finished up their first anime.  As I've been chronicling on the site, my family was open-minded enough to check out Death Note.  After the first couple of episodes they  all fell in love with the series.  The mystery element really pulled them into the show, and then everything else just fell into place!

While it provided us with many weeks of fun conversation, we just wrapped up the series tonight.  I know we'll be talking about Death Note for a very long time to come, and we still have the live-action movies to watch, but seeing the main series end is indeed a bittersweet feeling.  Not only did we all really enjoy the anime, but we also enjoyed having another excuse for getting together.

After the show was over, everyone was discussing their feelings about the entire series.  Some people were sad to see things go a certain way while others are happy with the way some things were wrapped up.  As with any great series, there were more questions left even at the end of the show.  Experiencing all these emotions at the end of the series is sure to leave an imprint on many of us from here on out.

The biggest thing we're all feeling is the sadness that the series was over.  Running through the first time is an experience unlike any other, and seeing each twist and turn is an exhilarating feeling.  I'm going to work hard to find another anime that we can all watch and enjoy, but topping Death Note for a series that all can get into is a tough nut to crack.

Death Note furthers its dominance over family vacation

Remember when I talked about my aunt getting into Death Note?  Check out the action tonight!  We picked up another aunt to start reading the series, and the rest of the family is finishing up the anime as I type this!

The torture of the wait...

There's definitely one huge plus that comes with watching anime a few years after it has seen release.  Usually by that time, an entire series has been released in Japan and localized for the states.  You can't beat the feeling of finding out about an anime awhile after it's concluded, and then picking up the entire series for viewing.  It lets you wrap things up on your own terms!

The opposite of that comes from watching anime that is only just now airing in Japan, or is only just getting localized now.  Finding an anime series you really love can be an easy thing to do, but waiting for the next DVD release or box set can be an excruciating feeling.  You could be left hanging for the next round of episodes for a number of months, and sometimes you don't even have a date for a series' return!

Indeed it's similar to watching regular TV shows, in the sense that you have to wait for the next season to roll around before you can jump back in.  With that said, the wait for another DVD release can actually end up being much longer than that of a regular TV season.  Even worse, most TV series in the states have upwards of 18 episodes a season.  With anime releases via DVD, you sometimes only get 5 episodes a disc!  Waiting 3 months inbetween 5 episode stints makes things quite intolerable!

There are indeed ways to feed your need for that series, such as watching episodes online via fan-subs or stuff like that.  Of course, some of that stuff is not exactly the most legal way of viewing.  I like to keep things legal and watch as they're officially released.  As much as I want to see another episode, I don't want to hurt the publishers that are working hard to make it happen.

How do you deal with the torture of waiting for the next episode of your favorite series?  I guess supplementing your time with a second anime might do the trick!

Are anime viewers more open-minded?

I don't find it very hard to try new forms of entertainment.  If someone is out to make me smile, I'm willing to see what they have.  That's why I'm open to all sorts of various mediums for storytelling.  Books, movies, TV shows, comics and anime...they're all equal in my head.  It's a bunch of different methods in the same playground, and all are out for my attention.

While books, movies and TV are widely accepted as 'normal' ways to entertain yourself, comic books and anime aren't on the same level.  Comic books have definitely risen in the ranks of acceptability in recent years, thanks to all the movie attention.  Those comic-to-movie adaptations have done a lot to make comics a lot more appreciated, but anime seems to still suffer.

I firmly believe that there is an anime for everyone, but sometimes it seems very tough to get people to just try anime at all.  There are those that just aren't willing to give anime a shot, but they have plenty to say about anime in general.  What they know is mostly incorrect factual information or opinion based on a lack of knowledge, and both hurt the future of anime as far as new fans are concerned.

Why is it that anime has such a rough time being accepted?  Does it have to do with what anime offers itself?  Has it just worked out that anime finds its way to those that are more open-minded?  Are anime viewers more willing to suspend disbelief in general for all mediums?

It's a tough call, because people don't really have to be open minded to watching movies or TV shows.  They may be reluctant to view a specific genre of a movie, but overall they enjoy those forms of entertainment.  Anime obviously falls into both TV and film categories, but is met with a lot of resistance.  Where does the open-minded aspect come into play?  What is the stumbling block here?

Anime and the Michael Bay issue

There are all different types of anime out there, but I think it's safe to say that the 'action' genre is pretty well represented.  Whether you're dealing with giant mechs beating the crap out of each other or gangs of baddies using hand-to-hand combat, you'll find no shortage of over-the-top action.  I find anime action to be some of the most well-designed and fluid action out there, but there are always exceptions to the rule.

A handful of the action anime that I've watched seem to try and throw too much at you while you're viewing.  We're talking about epic battles that involve huge explosions across massive landscapes.  Mix all that in with a camera that's zipping and zooming all over the place, and I end up getting completely lost in the scene.  When the dust settles, I have no idea what happened until someone explains!

I'd liken this to Michael Bay films, which are known for big action and even bigger explosions.  The camera work is so hectic that you can't even keep track of what's going on.  It's almost like there's no plan to the way the camera moves, and it just doesn't match up with the action on screen.  Zooms are too close, cuts are too quick and you're completely taken out of what should be an intense moment.

What anime features have you seen that include hard-to-follow action?  I really hope I'm not the only one that has trouble tracking the blows from time to time.  Anime obviously has a lot to do with style and visuals, but sometimes the animators don't let the viewers really take in everything that's going on.

Attack of the anime bully

People are what makes this world great.  There are some truly wonderful people out there, and they bring joy into the lives of people the world over.  Having those friends to share experiences with makes for memories that will last a lifetime.  Giving someone a reason to smile is the greatest gift that you can give, and while there are many people that like to do that, there are those that take the opposite route.

As you know, my purpose for this blog is to bring anime fans together and also introduce new people to anime.  I want to stop all the negativity that surrounds anime far too often.  Just last week I showed you what I considered to be an absolutely rude, ignorant and crass response to my asking of why someone hated anime.  That man is just one example of one of the rotten eggs out there.

I also shared the story of my friend and his father...the father that put his kid down for watching Akira.  This is a classic case of someone that simply doesn't understand anime, and rather than try to figure out what it's all about, they just put down the art form and move on from there.  It's much easier to put someone down for enjoying something rather than figure out what it is that gives them that enjoyment.  Walking through life looking to learn will provide challenges and great rewards, but walking through life ignorant and spiteful is definitely an easier road.

The anime-viewing public is definitely the minority when looking at the people of the world, and that makes us a big target for bashing.  So many people are quick to judge anime and those that view it.  These people won't give anime a shot, nor will they let you show them what type of person you are.  They'll tease you for your hobby and make you feel legitimately wrong for enjoying yourself in such a way.  It's what bullies do, and they thrive on those interactions.

Have you ever been harassed or teased about your anime interests?  Tired of people judging you based on their incorrect preconceived notions about anime?  I'd love for you to vent here and let us know about your negative experience.  Let's take those sad stories and turn them into positive experiences.  You have plenty of anime friends here that are ready to take your side and support you in what you enjoy.

Monday, July 18, 2011

How just one comment can ruin someone's anime experience

This past weekend, I was at a friend's wedding.  There were all sorts of old and new friends there, and I had the pleasure of hanging out with all of them in the same place.  The conversation went all over the place, but it eventually settled on anime for a little bit.  That's when I heard one story from a friend about anime, and it's definitely one of the sadder stories I've heard.

Most people are going to come across an anime experience whether they know what they're seeing or not.  My one friend happened to stumble upon Akira as his first anime.  If you're looking for an amazing anime to see as your first feature, Akira is definitely an amazing one!  Can you imagine your much younger self finding Akira on TV and seeing it for the first time?

My friend was enjoying Akira so much that he ran to get a video tape to pop into the VCR.  He wanted to make sure he recorded the experience to save, and was dedicated enough to run up to the VCR every time a commercial would come on.  He'd stop the recording in order to cut the commercials from the movie, and was looking forward to having the full thing to own.

A little bit into the movie, my friend's dad wandered in and asked what he was recording.  When he saw the TV and what his son was watching, he looked absolutely disgusted.  He then told his kid that he couldn't believe he was wasting his time on cartoons...and just left the room.  It was that moment that my friend stopped watching anime.

That was years and years ago, but now he's looking to get back into anime.  He wants to wipe that bad memory out of his head, and he's really excited to check out the content that we've been talking about lately.  I honestly cannot wait to get him back into anime, especially now that he knows how out of line his dad was!

The state of anime: fans

I thought I'd start to do features on the different aspects of anime as far as the entire movement is concerned.  I think it's really important for fans to speak up on how they feel about the direction anime is moving in.  If we don't voice our opinion on these topics, the industry is going to get completely out of whack, at least when it concerns American audiences.

I think the most important topic to talk about first is anime fans themselves!  I'm specifically looking for those that are interested in discussing the topic of anime localization in the states or in Europe.  Obviously we're not getting anywhere near the amount of content that's coming out in Japan, and I don't expect it to be like that.  I just want to know if you guys are happy with what's coming out of Japan.

I know that a lot of fans feel that the localization dubs aren't that great, and many fans will watch episodes of anime with original Japanese voices and read through subs.  I personally feel that voice work in the states has come a very long way since the early days of anime localization, but there are still some poor quality works out there.  It all depends on the localization house and the actors behind it, and sometimes there's just not enough people that care about a project to do it well.

That's my big gripe right now.  What do you guys have to say about anime output in the states/Europe right now?  Do you feel that your voice is being heard, and that it matters?

Looks like we've got one more Death Note fan

I've been talking a lot about my current vacation and the anime action going on, but this one even through me for a loop.

My one aunt knows that we've all been watching Death Note, but she hasn't checked out any episodes.  It's too late for her to watch with us now, although she could watch on her own.  It turns out that while she may not be watching the anime yet, she's just now showed an interest in the manga!

In the course of just over an hour, she's managed to read through the first manga and is ready to move onto #2!  I can't tell you how happy it makes me to see another person picking up something anime related.  This was her very first manga and she's already hooked!  I don't think I could have asked for more.

Death Note is invading our vacation

Last year during our North Carolina vacation, our family got together and played an 'Assassin' game.  The game involves pulling a random name out and hunting down a family member to 'kill' them.  This involves sticking a sticker on someone, shooting them with a NERF gun or poising their food by slipping a piece of paper under their plate.  We had such a fun time last year that we decided to play again this year.  The thing is, my family now knows about Death Note.

As you can see, the game has changed a bit this year!  While the basic rules are the same, we now have our own personal Death Notes (with rules inside) to keep track of our targets.  Now we all get to keep our personal Death Notes in our pocket and plan out our evil schemes!

Yes, it's safe to say that my family is absolutely obsessed with Death Note...and I love it!

The Question 7/18: What anime did you check out this weekend?

I unfortunately did not get to watch a single bit of anime this weekend, but I think I have a good excuse!  I had to attend a friend's wedding on Saturday, and I was actually in the wedding party, which made for a very busy day!  Right after that, we hopped in a car and drove down to North Carolina for a family vacation.  That obviously ate up a ton of time as well, since it's an 8 hour drive from my place to North Carolina.

The good news is, I have plenty of time this week to watch anime, and I brought some features along to check out!  I promise I'll make up for my lack of anime viewing over the weekend with this vacation week!

Now for the important stuff.  What did you guys watch over the weekend?!

Love stories aren't for me...unless they're anime

I can't think of a single love story movie that I've seen in theaters.  None of them have ever interested me.  Indeed I've seen many love story movies, but that was in the comfort of my own home.  I can't remember picking out love stories to watch specifically, but I know that I've watched a few with friends and family.  I don't know if the ones I've seen were particularly bad, but I felt viewing those movies was pure torture.  If you like them that's fine with me, but they clearly aren't my taste.

That's why it makes absolutely no sense that I actually really enjoy love story anime!  There are plenty of anime features that focus on love stories and budding romances.  Even if I wanted to avoid that kind of content, it was bound to sneak into an anime that I wanted to see.  A large majority of anime features have some sort of romantic element to them, and it honestly doesn't bother me one bit.

I think the romantic anime that really made me turn the corner was Chobits.  I don't remember how or why I checked the series out, but it's absolutely fantastic.  While there's a good dose of humor in the series, there's no doubt that the majority of it is focused on the relationship of the two main characters.  Through and through, Chobits is a sappy love story.  With that said, I really found myself enjoying it.  I'd definitely include it in my list of favorite anime of all time.

I don't know if it's odd, but I think that seeing a relationship story told through anime makes things more believable.  There's a lot more with anime that allows me to use my own imagination.  Traditional live-action love stories seem too perfect in their stories and too unrealistic in their portrayals.  Something about those actors pulls me out of the experience.  With anime, I can let those barriers go and just enjoy the relationship building up in front of me.

How do you feel about romantic anime?  Are you a huge fan or have you not checked any of them out?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Anime Your Way - The vacation essentials

A vacation just isn't a vacation without anime!  Wondering what I brought along with me for the trip?  Let me share the lot with you guys!

What anime do you bring with you when you're on vacation?  Nothing passes the long car-ride time like watching a few anime on your iPod.  Leave us a comment and let us know!

Anime 101

The only thing that makes anime better is having some people to share it with.  An enjoyable show is even better when you have friends at your side checking it out.  If they like the same things you like, that just gives you more to talk about!  This is definitely true with anime, and getting together with a gang of friends for some anime fun is an absolute blast.

Of course, getting those friends together to watch anime can be a little tough.  I wish I realized how much better I had it when I was in high school.  While I talked with a few friends about anime, I definitely didn't search out other friends and acquaintances that were anime viewers.  All these years later I find out about people I know that love anime, but we never chatted about it all those years ago.  I missed out on all that fun!

I've heard quite a few people talking about anime being a hot topic in their schools.  Of course, some schools are full of teens that want nothing to do with anime, but it seems like most have at least a good amount of students that dig anime.  High school is also the perfect place to start an anime club and make new friends with fans you didn't know!

Do you have classmates that are into anime?  Do you spend time at school chatting about the latest anime you watched?  Have you ever started or been a part of an anime club at your school?  If not, maybe this is the year you change that!

Even if you're out of school, let us know if your work buddies watch anime and talk about it around the watercooler.  Doesn't matter where you make the anime friends, since it's just fun to have them!

A vacation of anime

My Mom's side of the family has been going to North Carolina for a week of vacation for about 20 years now.  We all get together and chip in on a house to rent for the week, and as the years go on we get better and better houses.  We all get along really well, and I think it's because we all enjoy the same stuff.  We usually swim, hit the beach, play video games and a lot more.  This year is the first year we'll be checking out some anime.

As I said before, I brought down the final episodes of Death Note for our gang to finish.  We have to wrap up that series before we can go onto anything else!  It's going to be bitter-sweet to finish that series, but at least I know that people are willing to move onto something else.  With that said, I'm not too sure what we're going to watch next!

For myself, I brought down the full series of Gurren Lagann.  As you know, I've been watching this series throughout the week, and I really want to see where it goes next.  I also thought that some of my family might like the series, so I think we may start from the beginning to see what they think.  It's definitely much different from Death Note, but I think a change of pace is in order.

My cousin also brought down an anime series of his own to check out.  He chose to bring Wandaba Style, which is one I've heard of but never actually checked out.  I'm definitely down to see something, and my cousin seems to have good taste in anime, so I'm looking forward to it!  Good to know someone else in the family is dedicated to anime as well!

Do you bring anime along for your vacation plans?  What better time to watch than when you have nothing to do but sit around and relax!?