First Impressions: Tokyo Ghoul

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First Impressions: Tokyo Ghoul

“Has she been living under a rock all of this time?”

I imagine that is exactly what you all thought when you read the title of this blog post; the honest answer is, no, I’ve not been under a rock but have felt such an overwhelming pressure to give this insanely popular anime a try that I’ve somehow ended up simply not doing it until now. Finally, after much discussion, Jack and I decided to sit down and give ‘Tokyo Ghoul’ some of our time; my first thought? Well… that deteriorated fast…

Having already been given the ‘heads up’ that I would probably feel like I had been thrown into the midst of a nightmare in which the protagonist’s life was changed irreparably before I even had the chance to get to know him, I was somewhat forewarned but I was in no way prepared for exactly how harsh the reality would be. Like countless other bloggers I am going to draw a few comparisons to the beginning of Shingeki no Kyojin, mainly because of one major narrative structure similarity; the velocity in which you are thrust into the action. Continue reading

HAL – A sweet tragedy

HAL – A sweet tragedy

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It’s unlike me to deliberately go into something with absolutely no knowledge about the subject matter but ‘HAL’ was one such occasion; I chose it based on character design alone, Io Sakisaka’s character designs to be precise. Having loved the art and story in every one of Io Sakisaka’s manga, I was immediately drawn to that familiar style which was so obviously present in Haru’s design, and I am so glad I was. ‘HAL’ is a sweet tragedy set to the backdrop of a harmonious balance between advanced robotics technology and traditional Japanese landscapes. The story centres on Haru and Kurumi, a young couple separated by death following a devastating plane disaster. I’ve always been fond of medium that deal with the, ever present, issues of grief and depression in new and creative ways and I now count ‘HAL’ amongst my selection of favourites.

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In this futuristic universe where using robotics in therapy has become almost common in the medical industry, one particularly ambitious scientist has discovered a binary equivalent for Human Emotion. Can he meld this with an android and save the lost and horrified Kurumi from her deep depression? Continue reading

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun – A Celebration of Glorious Ridiculousness!

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun – A celebration of glorious ridiculousness!

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Easily comparable to the likes of ‘Ouran High School Host Club’, ‘Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun’ is a wonderfully hilarious anime boasting 12 episodes which centre on the mishaps and misadventures of a group of teenagers as they laugh, love and stumble through their high school lives. Having recently subjected myself to a variety of anime with the sole intention of bringing myself to tears; ‘Gekkan Shoujo’ was an incredibly pleasant and very welcome change. My first taste of this series came when I was letting YouTube play through Spyair music videos, enjoying the uplifting sound of Ike’s voice. I often wonder if YouTube can read my mind and this was one such occasion, I was completely unsuspecting when a video began to load that was so unlike what I’d been watching as though the internet knew I wanted it even before I did. One clip of Mikorin desperately vying for compliments and I was lost to my own joyful giggles, I was soon clutching at my sides as I went on the hunt for my iPad, intent on giving the series a go, right away!

830563291_origWith a likeable, hard-working and determined heroine, a stoic, delightfully naïve male protagonist and a motley collection of unique and highly entertaining co-stars, there is really nothing that I can criticise about the way this anime plays out; except, perhaps, lamenting that it had to end so early, if at all. Not designed to be deep or emotional, but instead, happily parodic of his own genre, ‘Gekkan’ knows itself very well. When Sakura, our adorable heroine, decides to confess to the tall, masculine Nozaki-kun who caught her eye on her first day of high school, she is incredibly nervous, flushed and embarrassed beyond belief, so when he misunderstands her intention entirely and offers her an autograph instead, you could understand her confusion. Things escalate pretty quickly from there when Sakura discovers that the guy of her dreams is actually the mangaka behind a very popular shoujo series of which she is a fan.

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Kids on the Slope – Sakamichi no Apollon – Music, Mishaps and My Favourite Muscle-bound Dork

Kids on the Slope – Sakamichi no Apollon – Music, Mishaps and My Favourite Muscle-bound Dorkkids on the slope

Following a recommendation from, truly the very best source of anime material I have ever met, Shiroyuni of thelimitlessimagination, my partner and I decided to try out ‘Kids on the Slope’ or ‘Sakamichi no Apollon’. As fans of both music and anime we were immediately drawn into this incredibly engaging story and wound up marathon-ing all 12 episodes over the course of two evenings despite the protests of my very tired eyes.

At first glance this anime, which started it’s life as a manga series by the same name and was adapted in 2012, seems like a standard music anime with a touch of school life but it soon proves itself as, additionally, a slice of life romance centred around the awkwardly comforting exploits of a trio of friends and the people they meet along the way. ‘Kids on the Slope’ manages to traverse genres effortlessly creating a series which can be enjoyed on varying levels by people of all ages. The story is set in 1966 Japan, during a time of political unrest and protests but also, a time of music and passion. Continue reading

Angel Beats! – Anime Review

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I’m finally back from the dead!

Of late, virtually crippling work-related responsibilities have had me tearing my hair out for months. Now, after such a long absence from WordPress, I am incredibly happy to be back and glad of the chance to get some of these thoughts out of my head! 🙂

Whilst on the subject of ‘back from the dead’ it seems only fitting that I write down some of my thoughts on ‘Angel Beats!’, which now tops the bill as the story that has made me shed the most tears and provoked the most thought thus far in my anime journey. Regardless of who you are and what your beliefs are, you’d be hard pressed to come out of ‘Angel Beats!’ without inspiration to pursue a fulfilling life and overcome any hardships you’ve faced in favour of happiness and contentment, such is the beauty of great anime and an impeccably told story.

Angel-Beats-Main-Characters-will-sweety-stella-andrew-35166040-2560-1813‘Angel Beats!’ is a 13 part anime series released in 2010 which was produced by P.A. Works and Antiplex. It started it’s life as a visual novel by the same name but also coined two manga series. Generally very well received and widely popular, this series has appeared on my radar numerous times before a few good recommendations finally pushed it to the top of my ‘to watch’ list.

ab3When an unsuspecting Yuzuru Otonashi wakes up, with no memories of his past or who he is, only to be confronted by a gun-toting-teenage-girl named Yuri, it is only natural that he would be suspicious. Especially when she tells him that the high school he finds himself in, is the ‘Afterlife’ itself and that he, like her, is dead. She asks him to join her rebel troupe ‘Afterlife Battlefront’ and aid her and her companions as they mobilise against the seemingly innocent looking ‘Angel’ and the ‘God’ who they believe she serves. With the constant threat of obliteration should they become too comfortable or conform to this peculiar afterlife, there is only one rule of this strange new high school life; stay rebellious.

As I was watching I found myself very interested in the Battlefront’s ability to create and manufacture weapons from earth and soil provided that have a basic understanding of concept and mechanism. This unique magic/sci-fi approach to the acquisition of weapons allowed the story to move faster and provided some very interesting weaponry, especially in the hands of the Student Body President who was able to turn her entire body into an unstoppable weapon.

‘Angel Beats!’ tackles issues of mortality and mental health in a refreshing realistic way to the backdrop of a sci-fi-esque combatant conflict which threatens the very souls of the battlefront and their friends. Boasting a very characteristic and unique art style which is full of colour and subtlety alongside beautifully written dialogue that is able to inspire heartfelt emotion whilst moving the story along at a comfortable pace and topped off with a killer soundtrack courtesy of the ‘Girls Dead Monster’ band, in 13 short episodes this story was able to reduce me to tears on numerous occasions and make me laugh even more frequently. It is easy to see why this anime has such wide-spread appeal. Continue reading

Pochamani and Ore Monogatari – Challenging Stereotypes of Beauty

Pochamani and Ore Monogatari – Challenging Stereotypes of Beauty

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As a ‘larger lady’ with less than average breast-size and frizzy hair that regularly threatens to engulf my face, I am always going to love any medium that challenges the common perception of beauty. Much of my posting centres on my admiration for art which so creatively brings to life characters that are, for all intents and purposes, far too gorgeous for this world, so you’d be forgiven for thinking that I have no hang ups about the abundant depictions of the exquisite and striking in the anime and manga that I consume, however that is not the case. I’ve secretly been longing to read a manga where the larger lady gets the guy or that big guy with the grumpy face finds his princess.

In answer to my wishes, two of my absolute favourite ongoing manga at the moment are Pochamani and Ore Monogatari and I live for the days when the new chapters are released. Both stories are unpredictable, heart-warming, funny and unique. They gave me exactly what I was looking for before I even knew that I was looking for it. Continue reading

Angel Beats – First Impressions

Angel Beats – First Impressions

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Well it didn’t take me long to get sucked into this story and I can’t thank the lovely thelimitlessimagination and the talented Jaykblu for their recommendations on Instagram. I have made no secret of my passion for things that make me cry and when I am looking for an anime, a film, manga or book, I am looking to be overwhelmed with emotions and for characters that make me feel. When I was recommended ‘Angel Beats’ I was promised tears and so far I have not been disappointed.

I’m only a few episodes in because things have been a little hectic over here but I am already hooked on the characters and the concept. I’m always very drawn to character-based anime and I love the fact that each episode so far has covered the tragic story of one or more of the members of the ‘Afterlife Battlefront’, this gives you time to fall in love with each character on a personal level and to build relationships which make you root for their success whilst still telling a story which would break even the most stoic of hearts.

For anyone who hasn’t already been absorbed into this very popular and incredibly well written anime, here’s a quick breakdown of the concept.’ Angel Beats’ centres around the afterlife awakening of the main protagonist, Otonashi; when he finds himself waking up with no memories of his past, to be told that he is dead and the strange high school that he has found himself in, is the afterlife itself, it is only natural that he is somewhat sceptical and suspicious of the gun-wielding strangers who claim to want his help. It isn’t long, however, until he is forced to admit that perhaps everything isn’t quite what it seems and agrees to join the underground organisation ‘Afterlife Battlefront’ headed by Yuri, a strong-willed girl who is leading the fight against the ‘Evil’ student council president, Angel.

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With a hint of magic, some great music courtesy of the ‘Girls Dead Monster’ band and a whole lot of character development and heartache, this series is borderline addictive and I am thoroughly looking forward to spending some more time with the spectacular artwork and story-writing.

The first thing that I noticed about this series which has really gotten me thinking is the element of morality. Only having watched a few episodes I can’t be 100% sure yet but I have noticed that each of the members of the rebel squad appear to have had really quite tragic pasts. These characters suffered heavily and now find themselves in an almost-purgatory style place, disguised as a high school, at the mercy of a powerful enforcer who is looking to maintain order.

Above and beyond Angel and her crazy suped up weaponry there is something else that all of the members of the ‘Afterlife Battlefront’ seem to fear and avoid at all costs; when one of them reaches a conclusion or some kind of acceptance, when they have a moment of clarity and seem to be at peace, then they disappear leaving nothing behind. Having watched some of their most beloved comrades disappear; the ‘Afterlife Battlefront’ members all work hard to avoid that same fate, but is that fate really bad?

If we are to assume that the afterlife is indeed some kind of waiting room before something bigger and if we are to assume that everyone there has some kind of unfinished business then is ‘disappearing’ something to be feared and avoided? Or something to be welcomed and celebrated? I might be reading too deeply, I might be completely off the mark, but I can’t wait to dig back in and find out. I have my tissues in hand and will publish a full review as soon as I am able to breathe again ^.^

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Kimi Ni Todoke – A slow-building masterpiece of romance and friendship.

Kimi Ni Todoke – A slow-building masterpiece of romance and friendship. kimi ni todoke

Oftentimes, when asked to choose my favourite romance story I am automatically drawn to stories with grand gestures that overcome obstacles which should by all rights scupper any chances of reconciliation in order to profess their feelings surrounded by their peers, I have recently realised however, that in choosing these high-stakes stories I am neglecting some of the most wonderful and miraculous romances which are very much hiding in plain sight. One such story is the story of Sawako and Shota.

‘Kimi Ni Todoke’ started its life as a shoujo manga series which also goes by the names ‘From Me To You’ and ‘Reaching You’ by Karuho Shiina, which has spanned 22 volumes in total since its initial publication in 2005. Having now also coined two anime seasons and a live action film it would be fair to say that Sawako’s love story is possibly one of Japan’s most popular and it easy to see why.

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My personal relationship with this story began with the first season of the anime which I stumbled upon one morning completely by accident and fell in love with almost instantly. One of the most notably beautiful things about this anime is its innocence; with a heroine as inexperienced and naive as Sawako, every step on the road to romance is both terrifying and exciting in equal parts and the fact that her experiences are in no way rushed really cemented my respect for the fantastic story telling in this piece.
So who is Sawako Kuronuma? Our heroine is the perfect example of an unfairly outcast teenager who is her own worst enemy; beyond that, she is a clever, friendly young girl who is just waiting for her life to begin, full of energy and determination and loyal to a fault. Sawako is quite a traditional person and has a very old fashioned look, her long straight glossy hair is worn down at all times and she had a heavy fringe which shades her eyes, she is beautiful but a lifetime of struggling to make friends mean her facial muscles aren’t used to smiling and the more nervous she gets the worse the expression she shows. Continue reading

‘Clannad’ and ‘Clannad After Story’ – From Funny Shoujo to Tear-wrenching Slice of Life in two seasons flat!

‘Clannad’ and ‘Clannad After Story’ – From Funny Shoujo to Tear-wrenching Slice of Life in two seasons flat!

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Such is the appeal of Tomoya and Nagisa that, when I sat down to re-watch some of my favourite ‘Clannad’ moments in preparation for this review I found myself only coming up for air two hours later with very little recollection of what I was supposed to be doing. Massively popular and with good reason too, this anime has a multi-faceted story full of interesting characters which grows with its audience taking the characters from teenagers to adults with interesting consequences and a whole range of lessons to be learned.

Wiki-backgroundThe two seasons of ‘Clannad’ could not be more different from one another and the story simultaneously touched my soul, broke my heart and reminded me that there is always still hope. I so desperately want to write about this anime, because I love it so much, however, it is exactly this love that has made reviewing exceedingly difficult for me as I appear to have lost almost all objectivity in favour of pure unadulterated adoration. With this in mind you may need to bear with me and my fangirl-y nonsense as I tell you just why this anime has come to mean so much to me.

When you look at it closely, the first season of ‘Clannad’ follows a similar formula to that of a standard, harem style, shoujo anime; Tomoya Okazaki, a somewhat delinquent teenager who has become disillusioned with the world, finds himself, through an interesting series of events, heading the cavalry in the fight to solve the problems of some very beautiful girls who have come to trust him despite his questionable approach to his school life. Ignoring the similarities I don’t really consider ‘Clannad’ a harem since, in my eyes, there has only ever been one girl for Tomoya and she turned his life inside-out and upside-down before either of them even knew what was happening.

Tomoya is one of my absolute favourite male leads to date. Despite the ‘I don’t care’ aura he attempts to project, Tomoya is really a good guy, he has a softness to him which leads him to talk to people who are alone and to worry about people who seem to be hurting. His disillusionment with the world stems from neglect at his father’s hands, rather than a conscious decision on his part and most of all I feel like Tomoya wants someone to need him, to convince him that he can and should try. Continue reading