Review: Wreck-It-Ralph- It’s Not So Bad Being Bad

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Synopsis:  In an arcade where video game characters are sentient and have lives outside their games, Wreck-It-Ralph is  the villain of the game Fix-It-Felix who doesn’t get any respect for doing his job and is treated like an outcast by the NPCs of his game world. Wanting to change his life and become a “good guy” Ralph sets out to become a hero in other game worlds and ends up meeting a “glitch” named Penelope who is also an outcast, and together the two set out change their respective situations.

                                                                     Review

Disney Animated canon is always interesting to watch and the formula for each of their films usually manages to delight and deliver on solid storytelling and innocent childhood wonder. Of course as with any formula there are times where it gets a bit repetitive and needs to be shaken up every now and then. Wreck-It-Ralph is pretty true to the magic formula but it does enough things differently to leave it’s own mark for better or worse.  The film does some pretty neat things with it’s premise as a lot of classic video game characters make cameos and a few classic video game tropes are played with or used in a way that would make sense if used by actual people.

Of course cool premise aside,  the real heart and soul of the film lies in it’s protagonist Ralph and his journey as a character.  His job as his game world’s villain is a pretty important job but he’s frequently treated like dirt by most of his coworkers (and the fact that the backstory of the game involved part of his home being demolished to make theirs doesn’t help things) and while he gets along with Felix himself fairly well, the latter doesn’t really understand his situation. Thus it’s only natural that he would want to live life on the other side of things as the good guy and he sets out to accomplish that. In doing so he encounters Penelope who much like him is an outcast in her own world and though the two clash at first they soon relate to one another and in a nice subversion of the usual obligatory Disney romance between lead characters, form a sibling like bond (though the age difference is likely what spared us this time around) and the two get a nice dynamic going on between them.

As the film goes on Ralph is eventually presented with the chance to get what he wants but at the expense of Penelope’s dreams, even if he’s convinced it’s for her own good at the time. So when he does finally get his reward he realizes that it wasn’t worth the people he had to let down to get there. As the film head towards its climax he acknowledges that in the end he can only really be himself and even if he has to continue playing the role of the bad guy, so long as there’s someone out there who accepts him he’ll be fine in the end and he does eventually get the respect that he deserves.

The film’s message ultimate message about being yourself even when the world at large won’t acknowledge you is a strong one and is by far its best point. It helps to provide a really nice parallel between Ralph and the main villain Turbo where both want to be acknowledged but where Ralph isn’t willingly to step over the people that matter to him to get there, Turbo will lie, cheat and murder in order to stay in the spotlight which is what ultimately destroys him (and in a  surprisingly gruesome manner by Disney film standards). The film also deserves praise for using Fix-It-Felix’s character fairly well by not making him antagonistic as would be typically expected and the movie’s side plot about him trying to track down Ralph on his journey does eventually lead to him getting to see the world from Ralph’s perspective and helping him get the acknowledgement he deserves for his job.

However while the film does many positive subversions and gets its theme down right it does suffer from a few problems. The romance between Felix and another character Callahan while somewhat funny is incredibly forced and it takes away from some of the time that could have been spent further highlighting Felix’s need to see what Ralph’s life is like on a regular basis. Additionally the film is also occasionally bogged down with some toilet bowl humor that feels like it didn’t need to be there and keeps the film from being as adult as it could have been despite having a fairly mature theme. (though the slight jab at Call of Duty was much appreciated).

Wreck-It-Ralph is a solid entry in the Disney animated canon universe  and while it doesn’t quite spin the formula in the way it could have it does enough things differently and well enough that it can be easily forgiven. The film reminds us that in the end there’s no one we should rather be than ourselves and even if we may not always get appreciation for that if we can live with who we are, we’ll be okay in the end.

Overall: 8/10

Review: Persona 3 The Movie #1: Spring of Birth- New Beginnings

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Synopsis: The Dark Hour is a time between midnight and the next day where creatures known as Shadows prowl and attack humans who are awake during it. Makoto Yuki is a new transfer student at Gekkokan High and after transferring to the school he awakens to a mysterious power known as Persona and together with his classmates who are part of a group called SEES must battle against the  shadows in order to unlock the truth behind the Dark Hour and a tower known as Tartarus which only appears during it.

Review

I’m a huge fan of the Persona franchise and the original Persona 3 game was the first thing that got me into it. Needless to say that I was glad to hear it was finally getting an animated adaption though I was a bit worried about it first due to being helmed by Seiji Kishi, the infamous director of Persona 4: The Animation which was a pretty mediocre adaptation of the original game and he’s since gone on to do lackluster adaptions of other game franchises before returning to Persona.  However despite my low expectations, Persona 3’s first movie has risen to the challenge of combating Kishi’s mediocrity and has a shot at being a proper adaptation of the game that started it all for me.

In comparison to Persona 4 which balances out it’s darker elements with lightheartedness and fun, Persona 3 is a much more somber story and the movie captures that tone successfully as opposed to the more erratic nature of the Persona 4 anime.  The film covers up to the third of the shadow boss fights from the game and maintains it’s dark tone throughout as we’re introduced to the setting and the story takes it’s first steps in unraveling the mysteries surrounding the Dark Hour.

Like with Persona 4’s adaptation the film does do several events differently from the game but it’s mostly for the better as it allows the story and character introductions to flow a bit better in this format and it expands on some of the plot points briefly touched on in the game. Some of the game elements are also integrated fairly well as the Velvet Room system from the games woven into the storyline much like with Persona 4’s anime but it feels less tacked on and helps to drive things further. The film does suffer from some pacing issues due to how much its adapting and the scene transition can be a bit annoying for those not familiar with the game, but everything is meshed together well for the most part and negative elements aren’t too distracting.

One of the major focuses of the film is on Makoto Yuki’s development and its given the attention it needed. Much like Yu Narukami from Persona 4, Makoto is a bit of a “blank slate” protagonist like in the original game but where Yu was given a somewhat outgoing personality, Makoto is much more reserved and apathetic, being seemingly uncaring towards others, somewhat robotic and unnerved by death but as the film progresses we see that there’s a bit more to him below the surface as he takes his first steps towards bonding with his new comrades and by the end it’s apparent that he cares a bit more than he lets on.

The film also takes some steps in developing the other SEES members as well as it puts some focus on class-clown Junpei’s  rivalry with Makoto and how they slowly start to become friends. Similarly,  Fuuka, who is one of the support members of the team, is given a fairly big role in the first movie as her struggles with bullying is expanded on a bit and in some ways is handled better than it was in the original game.

On the technical side of things the film looks very solid animation wise and the big battles look as good as they’re  supposed to. The character designs are also adapted pretty well from the games and though the art is somewhat forgettable during the daytime scenes as the Dark Hour scenarios look fantastic. The film also features most of the soundtrack from the game and it’s very much appreciated as it’s an excellent musical score and it helps to pump up a lot of the larger battles.

In spite of the odds Persona 3’s first film is the kind of adaptation the game deserved. There’s still plenty of room for the future films to falter but for now it’s looking like smooth sailing and hopefully the upcoming adaptation of Persona 4 Golden will take some cues from this one.

Overall 8.6/10

Review: Ergo Proxy- “Me, Myself and I”

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Description: In a futuristic world almost barren of life, mankind is confined to mechanized domed cities where A.I.’s control all aspects of life. In this world, humans are no longer born, they are manufactured in a production line; and alongside them live androids known as autoreivs. Within one of these domed sanctuaries named Romdeau lives Re-l Mayer, one of a few citizens who aren’t entirely prevented from thinking. Her grandfather’s prominent position and the affection of the scientist Daedalus have left her more free will than is normally allowed, but Re-l has started to question the sanctity of the city and the citizens’ perfect way of life. With mysterious beings known as proxies causing havoc and a man named Vincent causing great influence on her life, Re-l must travel outside of the city to find the answers she seeks and discover the mystery behind “the awakening”.

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Review

Helmed by Dai Sato the writer of Eureka Seven and Manglobe who brought us shows like Samurai Champloo and most recently Samurai Flamenco, Ergo Proxy is very much a show with it’s own ego. It constantly scoffs at the viewer, doing things in it’s own way and demanding your full attention in order to even begin to comprehend it. The air of pretentiousness that surrounds it is almost enough to push you away at first as you wonder how you could even begin to resonate with such a self-absorbed show. However the further along you go with the show the more you begin to see that that the show’s ego has it’s own meaning to it and that you have to face it head on to get anywhere with it.

The show opens up with a pretty typical cyberpunk/dystopian setting as we’re abruptly thrown headlong into the story through the eyes of our heroine Re-l, an officer who shows a pretty clear disgust for the way the society she lives in currently is and finds herself bored with it. On a mission she discovers the existance of a bizarre looking monster and begins delving into the mystery surrounding it and its seemingly insignificant immigrant known as Vincent Law. The conspiracy surrounding the two drives much of the main storyline as we slowly discover the truth behind the dystopia, the existance of more of these monsters which are later revealed to be god-like beings known as Proxies and of course the ultimate fate of mankind in a world they ravaged  and attempted to abandon. It has a pretty solid, if overly complex sci-fi narrative and is fairly interesting on just that aspect alone despite how maddening the last few episodes get.

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Everything’s gone cuckoo

However despite how things may initially appear, most of the show’s insane sci-fi plot is merely a pretext for what it’s really trying to convey and the show really isn’t as concerned with it as it first wants you to believe it is. In fact, a lot of the backstory for the series is presented to us in a hilarious but bizarre quiz show episode just to get it out of the way(and it’s even conveniently broadcast in a way so every important character sees it and is up to date on what’s happening). So then if not a complex sci-fi plot, then what is a show so wrapped up in it’s own ego ultimately trying to say? The answer is almost unsurprisingly fitting.

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Yeah…this show gets weird

Beneath the layers and layers of pretext, the core of the show lies within the examination of the human ego and our sense of “self” in the world at large and it does so through several stages and characters.

The first stage looks at how self absorbed we can be within our own egos and how it can affect the way we view the world around us. This is primarily done through Re-l who spends much of the series as being privileged, extremely self centered and driven solely by her own desires, often manipulating others or distancing herself from them, deeming them not worth the effort to understand if they don’t immediately serve her ends. However this affects her ability to really comprehend the actions taken by others and it’s during a situation where her ego and drive serves no real purpose in getting her where she wants to go that she finally beings to see that the world doesn’t revolve around her and lets the feelings of others in

The second stage involves how we see ourselves through others and how that gives our sense of ego purpose. This is done through two of the characters Daedelus and Iggy through their relationships with Re-l, who both see as the center of their world. Daedelus starts off as being helpful and in love with Re-l but the further the story goes the more apparent it is that his “love” for her is a crazed obsession and little more than a way for him to project his sense of “self” onto her and he says as much later on. For Iggy when he sees how little he matters to Re-l in proportion to how much she defines his existence he loses it and his mind fluctuates back and forth between the self he wants Re-l to see him as and the self that the despises her for ignoring him. For both it ends in a mental (and physical just to make sure the point is driven in) death and it’s fairly disturbing.

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Please don’t hate me

The third stage examines the suppression of the ego and it’s looked at through the characters Pino and Raul. Pino is an A.I. with a soul and it allows her to evolve bit by bit over the course of the show and she values the emotions she obtains even though the world in the series intitally considers it a defect for an A.I. to have it’s own will. Raul on the other hand is a prideful and scheming character but ultimately one who wants to be in full command over his own ego and exert his will on the world despite some of the consequences that may bring. However when both realize that neitheris really as special as they believed and isn’t in full control of who they are, Raul’s pride drives him to the brink while  Pino’s evolution allows her to accept who she is despite that fact.

The final and largest stage is of course accepting one’s self and one’s purpose.  This is  done through the true protagonist of the series Vincent who is constantly at odds with who he is, having  his true self suppressed and hidden in an attempt to be free of his struggles and imperfections, the dystopian setting being an almost literal metaphor of this Though much like how none of us can escape who we are as people, Vincent also can’t really run away from who he is either despite  his many subconscious attempts. As the series progresses and he comes closer and closer to confronting who he is his character design becomes notably more distinct and defined, signifying his evolution as a person.

Appropriately, the final boss Vincent must confront at the end of the series isn’t one of the other proxies (whose purpose is general to serve as various metaphors for Vincent taking a step further in facing himself) but quite literally himself, and though he’s offered a final opportunity to walk away from it all, he finally realizes that even though life is painful and there are problems we don’t always want to deal with, you have to face up to who you are in order to truly value the people and things that come with it. The series ends with him fully embracing who he is and though from a narrative standpoint it may not feel completely satisfying, thematically speaking it’s an extremely appropriate choice.

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“I am a shadow the true se-” Oh wait never mind.

Done at the now mostly defunct New Generation Pictures, the dub for the series is extremely well done. The leads bring out the best in it as  Liam O’ Brien brings his A-game to Vincent Law’s character and fully captures the tale of a man dealing with his internal struggles. Karen Thompson also brings a strong performance for Re-l, capturing the right amount of arrogance and slyness for when she’s being manipulative. The supporting characters  all bring good performances as well though the most notable would be Yuri Lowenthal as Daedelus who manages to make the character sound appropriately creepy.

Animation-wise the series looks pretty consistent having a pretty solid action budget and mostly avoiding looking off model despite how the art style looks. The art itself looks very distinct and somewhat gritty as the human characters are designed as real world looking as possible and this also carries over to some of the A.I. designs a bit which can make them look a bit creepy. It’s grittiness also helps  define the setting a bit more as the barren wastelands of the mostly destroyed world look incredibly so and the dystopian cyberpunk city looks almost isolated at times which feels appropriate. The soundtrack for the show is also pretty good having an extremely memorable opening theme in “Kiri” by Monoral which is sung in pretty good english and whose lyrics  match the theme of the show pretty well though the instrumental ending theme “Fellow Citizens” is pretty forgettable.

Ergo Proxy is a show with a lot on it’s mind and interesting ideas sitting below the surface. Though it’s not perfect narratively it does a remarkably solid job in what it wants to convey and it’s themes are pretty thought provoking. It can be a bit of a pain to sit through at first given how utterly egotistical the show can be at first about what it is, but it’s a rewarding experience in the long run. If you want to see something that makes you think a bit it’s worth checking out.

Overall: 8.5/10

Available on Hulu, Funimation.com

My Top 10 Anime Openings

And here’s the OP half of my list. This was thankfully a lot easier to think of than the list of ending theme songs but that meant there were a lot more that didn’t make the cut. Again most of what’s on here shouldn’t be too surprising though the final place on the list for some of it is different than I thought it’s be at first. Enjoy again!

#10) Jojo- Sono Chi no Sadame  by TOMMY(Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure OP 1)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4to1-4vaTU0&src_vid=QF54qXoqF6k&feature=iv&annotation_id=annotation_576350

#9) Break Your Spell by Psychic Lover (Cardfight Vanguard OP 6)

#8) A Chance to Shine AKINO(Oban Star Racers OP)

#7) Pegasus Fantasy-Remixed Version by MAKE UP & Shoko Nakagawa (Saint Seiya Omega OP 1)

#6) Sign by FLOW(Naruto Shippuuden OP 6)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwgnJ1WGajw

#5) One Reason by Fade (Deadman Wonderland OP)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzBZU1hKIzg

#4) Rain by S.I.D (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood OP 6)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9K810mFl_q4

#3) The World by Nightmare (Death Note OP 1)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkXw1iBgzoY

#2) Guren no Yumiya by Linked Horizon (Attack on Titan OP 1)

#1) Chain by Back-On (Air Gear OP)

 

Honorable Mentions

 

Gravitation by Angela (Heroic Age OP)

Out of Control by Nothing’s Carved in Stone (Psycho Pass OP 2)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lyr-i2umgGw

Kuso Mesorogii by Yosei Teikoku (Future Diary OP 1)

Ai wo Torimodose by Crystal King(Fist of the North Star OP 1)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAqLie4EgUc

 

Thoughts? Comments? Surprises?

My Top 10 Anime Ending Songs

Well since people have been asking me about this for awhile, here ya go. It was harder to put this together than I expected since ending songs don’t really stick out to me as much as openings tend to. Any songs I couldn’t remember off the top of my head I didn’t add so I’m pretty sure this list is accurate. Most of what’s on this list should be too surprising to anyone who follows me on Twitter but there are a couple of curveballs in here I guess. Enjoy!

 

#10) Kono Te Nobashite by Hi-Fi Camp (Fairy Tail ED 9)

#9) Sincerly Ever Dream by Dream (Hikaru no Go ED 3)

#8) Place To Try by TotalFat (Naruto Shippuden ED 19)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICUz7_mqTUY

#7) Unbalanced Kiss-English Version (YuYu Hakusho ED 3)

#6) Cross Game by Alice Nine (Yu-Gi-Oh 5D’s ED 2)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tanN9kBVb4c

#5) Let it Out by Miko Fukuhara (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood ED 2)

#4) Hunting For Your Dream by Galynerus (Hunter X Hunter 2011 ED 2)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuI3qw2WkR8

#3) Blood Teller by Faylan (Future Diary ED 1)

#2)The Real Folk Blues by Seatbelts (Cowboy Bebop ED)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1eMfYfMb9ag

 

And the #1 slot for me goes to…

 

#1) Heart of Sword by T.M. Revolution (Rurouni Kenshin ED 3)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0jMooSE-lg

 

Honorable Mentions

 

Ameato by W-inds (Reborn ED 7)

I Ai Ai by Ghostnote (Gintama ED 11)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vp19r5AUwC8

Yuuzora no Kamihikouki by Naoya Mori (Hajime no Ippo ED 1)

 

And there you have it. Thoughts? Surprises? Feel free to comment

Animation Talk- The Importance of Rewatching Shows

There’s a lot of stuff out there to watch and with the internet and thanks to various streaming services making it easier than ever to find new things it’s rare that you won’t be able to find something you haven’t seen before that might appeal to you. Of course if there’s a lot of stuff out there to watch it begs the question of whether or not it’s worth it to retread some of the stuff you’ve already seen before. The answer is that there is some value in rewatching things and there are a couple of reasons why it can be essential to occasionally go back over them:

How Well Does the Show Hold Up?

As time passes people change and more often than not their tastes tend to change along with them. While we’d all like to think that we’ve always had good tastes in shows there’s no guarantee that everything you’ve seen previously will hold up to your current tastes. Personally I’ve seen and read a lot of things that I know for a fact probably wouldn’t hold up well for me at all and I’d be amazed at how I got through them.

Even some of the stuff people consider to be all time favorites may not always hold up as well as expected. For instance my 3rd favorite anime of all time used to be Madhouse’s Kiba, which I enjoyed for it’s dark action tone as well as the main character being more serious than most shonen leads I’d seen at the time and after rewatching the show a few years later I found that while I still mostly enjoyed the show, it was plagued with issues, some minor and some major, that I hadn’t noticed before and it brought my opinion of it down considerably. There’s not a lot of necessity in revisiting everything you’ve seen but at the very least, it’s at least good to revisit some of the shows in your top 10 or so every now to see if those shows are worthy of staying in that position and for some of the middle of the road stuff you might get a good laugh out of mocking yourself for having managed to sit through something you now see as bad the first time.

Second Viewing, New Experience

The other major issue some tend to find with rewatching shows is the assumption that regardless of feelings on it, the experience of watching them will generally be the same since it’s the same material you’ve seen before. To an extent this can be true, but there are quite a few instances where rewatching a show can put an entirely different spin on it for you.

There are some things for instance, that only ever really make sense on a second (and possibly even more than that in some extreme cases like the Watchmen comic) viewing as certain plot points  or symbolism that you might not have payed much mind to in the first viewing, can come back with enormous levels of clarity upon re-watching it as it’s a lot easier to connect the dots and see where certain events may have been foreshadowed or layed out. I remember when I saw Casshern Sins the first time I liked it a lot but there were also quite a few aspects of it that didn’t make sense to me but when I rewatched the show for the first time a few months later it worked a lot better for me since I could see a bit better how some of the minor plot points I thought originally didn’t go anywhere had actually worked out and the show shot up to being in my top 3 as a result.

Additionally if you watched a show on a week-by-week basis, there are some series that flow much better when marathoned as it’s once again easier to be more attentive to certain aspects of the story that way. It may not happen for every show but second viewings can dramatically alter the experience of a series.

Just One More Chance

This one kind of barely counts but nonetheless there can be some obvious benefit to attempting to revisit something you may have dropped or lost interest in before. Admittedly I have pretty low standards when it comes to just watching stuff, so if I actually happen to drop or lose something it’s rare I’ll ever bother to give it another show but there have been instances where I found it was worth it. While I never really disliked Adventure Time and I found the episodes I’d seen to be okay at best I never really understood why it was popular until I made the decision to epic marathon it  and get a clear picture of the whole thing, after which I fell in love with it and haven’t looked back since. Again this is a rare occurrence, and that’s the same for pretty much everyone, but it’s always possible you may come across that one series where giving it another shot worked out in your favor.

 

While it’s always good to try and check out as much new stuff as you can since that keeps things interesting, there is some benefit to making the attempt to revisit things every now and then. You might find that your opinion of a show may have lessened overtime but there’s always the possibility of coming across something that works out even better for you the second time around.

First Impressions- Spring Anime Season 2014 pt 2

Well we’re getting deeper into the start of the season and a lot more stuff has aired over the last few days so I figured it was time continue on with my First Impressions of Spring Stuff. (You can see pt 1 of it here)

Ratings Scale

Bad: Stay away far away from this one.  Not worth watching

Decent: Has some okay elements to it. Might be worth giving a  couple of episodes to see how it goes

Good: Fairly solid show. Should be worth keeping up with for now

Great: Really good show. Definently worth seeing if you get the chance

Excellent: Really outstanding show. Absolutely worth following .

Rowdy Sumo Wrestler Matsutaro

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Description: The story follows Matsutarō Sakaguchi, a giant roughneck man with strength far beyond ordinary people. He never uttered words like “work hard,” “strive,” and “dream” like the typical shōnen manga protagonist. However, he is stronger than anyone and peerless in sumo wrestling. His greatest weakness is his own carefree personality. He grows into a full-fledged sumo wrestler.

First Impressions: This show is a steaming pile of poo and it’s not because cheap looking animation budget or the horrible theme song. No it’s because of the main character.  The guy is an obnoxious jerk who bullies other students, literally steals candy from a baby (and later almost runs over said baby with a truck), cons people and kidnaps women. This guy almost makes Dio Brando from Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure look like a saint but unlike him there’s pretty much nothing entertaining about this guy or redeemable for that matter. You might get some slight enjoyment out of seeing just how much of a prick he can make himself before karma catches up with him (and it thankfully does at the end) but there’s nothing salvagable enough to keep following this one. Keep away folks.

Rating: Bad

Haikyuu

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Description: Volleyball-loving Hinata suffers a crushing defeat in his first and last tournament in middle school at the hands of his rival Tobio Kageyama. So, Hinata joins Kurasuno High School’s volleyball team for revenge, only to discover that Kageyama is also on Kurasuno’s team. The former rivals form a legendary combo with Hinata’s mobility and Kageyama’s precision ball-handling. Together, they take on the local tournaments and vow to meet Kurasuno’s fated rival school in the nationals.

First Impressions: I’ve heard a lot of good things about this series and with Kuroko’s Basketball being gone for the time being I was hoping this show would be a solid sports anime replacement and it’s meet that in spades. The first episode does a solid job of introducing us to the main character Hinata as we see his struggles throughout middle school to form a  volleyball team and get to play the game he loves on a big stage though reality sends him crashing down pretty quickly (which was greatly appreciated since that would have killed the vibe quite a bit) and he spends the rest of his time training to do better in high school. Underdog sports series are always pretty entertaning and though the twist at the end might take away from that a little, there’s still more than enough heart in this that I’m confident it’ll continue to deliver on the storytelling front. This one’s a keeper.

Rating: Great

Baby Steps

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Description: The story follows “Ei-chan,” a punctual and earnest boy who has strived for straight As since elementary school. The 15-year-old high school boy stops by a tennis school to deal with his lack of exercise. There, he meets Natsu, a beautiful, earnest girl who only has passion for tennis. In turn, he awakens a deep passion for tennis within himself.

First Impressions: I watched this directly after seeing Haikyuu and I was expecting it to be a step down in terms of quality but surprisingly enough it held it’s own pretty well. The main character is a bit different from the norm in terms of his personality and obsession with organization so I’m extremely curious to see how that’ll be applied to the game itself and exactly how he’ll get to the point where he is in the beginning. The heroine’s also likeable enough and has a pretty good dynamic with the lead and as I’m a fan of romance sports series (especially after having just rewatched Cross Game), if the show delivers well in that area it might give Haikyuu some competition for me. If you don’t mind having a second sports series to watch this season this one’s probably worth your while.

Rating: Great

The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behavior(Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou)

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Description: Usa, a high-school student aspiring to begin a bachelor lifestyle, moves into a new apartment only to discover that he not only shares a room with a perverted roommate that has an obsession for underaged girls, but also that another girl, Ritsu, a love-at-first-sight, is living in the same building as well.

 First Impressions: Wasn’t quite sure what to expect of this one coming in but it was surprisingly entertaining. The premise is something that’s kind of worn thin at this point as far as anime goes, the residents are kind of one dimesional jokes  and I’m not too interested in the romance aspect so far, but the show generally makes up for the weaker areas above by being pretty funny and I got enough actual laughs out of this that I can keep going with it. If you want a comedy to follow, this one mostly does the trick.

Rating: Good

One Week Friends

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Description: High schooler Yuuki Hase notices that his classmate Kaori Fujimiya is always alone, and seemingly has no friends. After approaching her Kaori reveals that she loses every memory of her friends each Monday. Despite learning this, Yuuki endeavors to become her new friend every week.

First Impressions: Amnesia is one of the most worn and despised plot devices in fiction(as those who actually made it through the entirety of Golden Time would attest) and by all means that should be enough to make this show a waste of time as it’s completely centered around it. However One Week Friends is well written enough to bulldoze over that sore spot and make for an interesting show. The dynamic between the two lead characters is really sweet as the first episode gradually builds up a budding friendship between them and the buildup to the amnesia twist is handled extremely well. It’s possible that the premise may end up wearing itself thin and drag down the quality of the show with it but for now I’m hopefully that it’ll remain a heartfelt and touching story. Definitely worth checking out more at any rate.

 Rating: Great
Brynhildyr in the Darkness
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Description: When he was a child, Murakami was infatuated with a girl he called Kuroneko. She insisted on knowing about aliens and having met them, but no one believed her, even young Murakami was skeptical. One day, she decides to show him the aliens, but an accident occurs and Kuroneko dies while Murakami is left seriously wounded in the hospital. Years go by and Murakami obsesses on finding proof of the existence of aliens because of a promise he had made with Kuroneko. Then, one day, a new transfer student comes to his class, who not only looks a lot like Kuroneko, but is named Kurohaneko. And even though she insists on never having met Murakami before, the girl has superhuman strength and seems to even be able to predict the future.
First Impressions: I vaguely remember enjoying Elfen Lied (though it’s been years since I’ve seen it) so I expected I’d probably find this to at least be decent and it’s mostly met that expectation. I’m not really that big on the main character so far since his depression over the death of his childhood friend takes up a bit too much of his character but Kuroha is interesting enough and I’m curious to see where some of the mysteries surrounding her character go. I’m not too sure where the actual storyline itself is going  since the vibe between the OP and ED songs clash pretty heavily but I’m intrigued enough to give this a few more eps and there’s some good material to be had here.
Rating: Good
Black Bullet 
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Description: In the year 2021, mankind was defeated by Gastrea, a parasitical virus, and was forced to live within a wall made of Baranuim monoliths, a metal that is able to subdue Gastrea. Soon, the “Cursed Children” were discovered: children born infected with the Gastrea virus who possess superhuman abilities. Due to the Gastrea virus’ intervention, the Cursed Children could only be female. Civil Securities are formed to specialize fighting against Gastrea, operating with the pair of an Initiator, who are cursed children, and a Promoter, serving to lead the cursed children. Ten years after the war, Rentarou Satomi, a high school student and Civil Security member, and his Initator Enju Aihara, receive a secret mission to prevent Tokyo’s destruction.
First Impressions: To be honest I was expecting to like this show a bit more than I actually did. The first half of the episode had some pretty good material as we got introduced to the world  and tone a little bit, and the action sequences were pretty fun but the second half fell into typical LN fluff and the loli heroine trying to get into the main character’s pants made me cringe a bit. Still there’s a lot of interesting material to be had here and I really like the OP song so if the show can be more like the beginning of the first episode and less like the second half it might deliver on my initial expectations for it. As it is though it’s good enough to check out at any rate.
Rating: Good
That’s all for now. Depending on how many more shows I end up seeing I may do a pt 3 but at the moment I’m not sure. What are your thoughts on some of the most recent shows so far?

First Impressions- Spring Anime Season 2014 pt 1

We’ve come yet again to a new season of anime. There’s a lot of shiny new stuff out there and as with anything, there’s some good and some meh in terms of quality and it can be tough to find what’s worth checking out so I though I’d give my first impressions on what I’ve seen so far, and which shows are worthwhile. Let’s jump in shall we?

Ratings Scale

Bad: Stay away far away from this one.  Not worth watching

Decent: Has some okay elements to it. Might be worth giving a  couple of episodes to see how it goes

Good: Fairly solid show. Should be worth keeping up with for now

Great: Really good show. Definently worth seeing if you get the chance

Excellent: Really outstanding show. Absolutely worth following .

Majin Bone

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Description: “This story began before Earth was born. Majin, the creator of the Universe, has been resurrected in the present day.”  Shōgo Ryūjin, is an ordinary high school student who transforms into the Bone Fighter Dragonbone with the Bone Card in order to save Earth. He fights together with the White Bone warriors as they stand up to Dark Bone, a foe that appeared from darkness to devastate Earth. However, “could the true enemy be ourselves?”

 

First Impressions: As the latest thing in Toei’s evil empire of toyetic shows I was expecting this to either be ridiculous enough to be fun or ridiculous enough to be a waste of time. Surprisingly it turned out to be neither. The first episode is actually pretty low key as it introduces us to the set up the series and manages to avoid doing anything too exaggerated or goofy. Shogo is a pretty decent protagonist so far (and his obsession with porn could either be really amusing or get really old after a while) and the 2D animation and character models look solid. Of course at the end of the day it is a toyetic show so all the undertones of that kind of series are still there (and the 3D suits look kinda awkward) so while the first episode doesn’t do anything notably wrong it doesn’t do too much to wow either.  As it is it’s an alright watch for now

Rating: Decent

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders 

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Description: In a Japanese jail sits 17-year-old Jotaro Kujo: punk, fighter, delinquent…and possessed by a force beyond his control! Around the world, evil spirits are awakening: “Stands,” monstrous invisible creatures which give their bearers incredible powers. To save his mother’s life, Jotaro must tame his dark forces and travel around the world to Cairo, Egypt, where a hundred-year-old vampire thirsts for the blood of his family. But the road is long, and an army of evil Stand Users wait to kill JoJo and his friends…

First Impressions: As a huge fan of the first season and having already read the manga for this part of the franchise I was pretty excited for this and so far the anime is meeting my expectations. The first episode is pretty much just the prologue but it does a great job of setting things up as we’re introduced to our newest protagonist Jotaro Kujo who has a lot more attitude than his predecessors though there are still some hints that he may be a decent guy underneath. We also get introduced to the newest concept, the Stands, in a pretty spectacular fashion as there’s just the right level of ham and over the top reactions to turn what would otherwise be a pretty mundane infodump into 24 minutes of pure fun. Stardust Crusaders isn’t my favorite part of Jojo but it’s off to a great start and with some luck hopefully the anime staff will be able to make the weaker parts more entertaining. If you haven’t seen any of the series before you can jump into  the beginning of this arc and follow it just fine as Jojo’s parts are all relatively standalone so I highly recommend it.

Rating: Excellent

Kindaichi Case Files Returns

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Description: Hajime Kindaichi is a high school student who solves any case or mystery with his IQ of 180. He usually seems dull, but when there is a case, he demonstrates remarkable deductive skills inherited from his famous detective grandfather.

First Impressions: It’s been awhile since my last mystery series and I kind of needed the fix so I can thankfully say this show met that need. Despite the fact that it’s a sequel to a long running franchise that already had an anime with a ton of episodes the first episode is pretty standalone (despite what the first 30 seconds would have you believe). Hajime is a pretty straightforward shonen protagonist but the gimmick about him having a high IQ is pretty interesting and we see some shades of it over the course of the episode and the side characters are also pretty decent so far. The episode also does a solid job of setting up the first major mystery though there are a couple of instances where it kinda feels like it’s going through the motions in that area as well. As the mystery isn’t actually solved in the first ep it’s hard to say if this will be a keeper or not but it does enough right that I’m willing to  stay in for more.

Rating: Good

Captain Earth

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Description: Just before summer vacation, high school student Daichi Manatsu suddenly sees a mysterious, circular rainbow over Tanegashima Island on TV, knowing that he’s seen it somewhere before, and decides to head there to investigate. But upon arriving, Daichi’s life turns upside-down when he meets a giant robot who asks the boy “are you the captain?” Now, Daichi must fight the mysterious invaders threatening the planet from inside the cockpit.

First Impressions: This was one of my most anticipated shows of the season and so far my expectations have been met. The setup seems a bit bizarre ala Star Driver but it also feels a bit more grounded and though I’m not sure if that’ll be to the show’s benefit or not it works pretty well for the first episode though the fact that we already have libido powered robots probably means that there’ll be at least some level of camp in this show which should be fun. Not totally sure what to think of Daichi so far as a protagonist but he doesn’t seem as angsty as the promos implied he might be so that’s a plus though given that this seems to be a coming of age kind of thing I imagine it won’t be too long before the angst kicks in. Of course the best feature of the show is by and far the gorgeous looking robots so even if the rest turns out to be crap I’ll at least stick around for that and the show has just enough mystery to it that I’m extremely curious to see where it’ll all go and how much of it will make sense. For now though the show’s off to a sweet start.

Rating: Great

This World is Still Beautiful

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Description: Nike,  is the determined princess of the Rain Dukedom who has a mysterious power: she can control rainfall. After losing a game of rock, paper, scissors to her older sisters, she is forced to unwillingly marry the king of the Sun Kingdom, Livius I. Livius (or Livi for short) conquered the world in three years, and is known as the “Dreadful King.” However, when Nike meets him for the first time, she finds to her surprise that he is a boy younger than she is. Livius abruptly asks Nike to call forth the rain, and when she refuses, he has her thrown in jail. The story follows the two who, while at first are a married couple only in name, gradually begin to establish an emotional bond with one another.

First Impressions: I had no real expectations for this show one way or the other and only really intended to check it out to see if Pierrot would continue to live up to their reputation of (somewhat exaggerated) mediocrity so I’m happy to that I actually enjoyed this show a lot more than I thought I would. Nike is a surprisingly likable heroine so far as she lacks a lot of the more irritating traits you’d expect from  a princess character archetype and the first episode does a solid job of balancing comedy with serious moments and doesn’t really seem to be leaning totally one way or the other yet but it remains enjoyable and fairly cute throughout. We also get a quick peak into some of the fantasy elements of the show which seem like they’ll be mixed into some politics stuff ala Spice and Wolf though it’s hard to say if it’ll reach that level of quality. My only real complaint about the first episode is a 4th wall joke that feels really out of place but other than that it’s pretty smooth sailing and the show has the potential to the surprise of the season in terms of quality

Rating: Great

The Irregular at Magic High School (Mahouka)

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Description: The anime’s story takes place in a world in which magic is not a fairy tale, but has existed for nearly one hundred years. In the spring, the Private Magic University Affiliated High School (Magic High School for short) is welcoming its new students, and names the top incoming student with the best grades the Bloom. The student called the Weed is the Bloom’s replacement. Siblings Tatsuya and Miyuki Shiba are designated as the Weed and Bloom, respectively. Tatsuya is a young man who always has a farsighted expression, and Miyuki is a young woman who feels far more for her brother than sibling love. Since the day the two entered the gates of the elite school, the establishment’s peaceful days have become chaotic.

First Impressions: As I’ve heard various terrible things about the light novels this series is based on I was expecting to seriously hate this show and was only really giving it the time of day because Madhouse is my favorite anime studio. Thankfully the first episode managed to avoid my low expectations, but at the same time it’s not much to write home about either. The main character seems kind of bland so far as he has a typical stoic emo guy personality and the other side characters don’t seem too interesting either. The setup for the storyline has some interesting elements as the class discrimination and magitek could prove to be interesting later on but so far it’s being handled in a pretty straightforward manner. There’s also some pretty heavy incest undertones throughout the episode between the main character and his younger sister (which seem like they’ll be played horrifiyingly straight) so that’s also a bit off-putting. Visually the show looks fantasic, and the soundtrack is pretty good as well but so far it feels okay-ish. I’m willing to give it another episode or two though so we’ll see if it gets better or worse from here (leaning towards worse)

Rating: Decent

And that’s it so far for now. I’ll be seeing more shows over the next couple of days so there’ll be one or two more parts to this. What are your thoughts on the spring shows so far? Let me know what you think.

10 Most Memorable Villains

Ah villains. They can be so much fun to hate or really horrifying to watch depending on the circumstances and they usually don’t fail to entertain you over the course of a series. However, despite the fact that it’s generally easier to make a good villain than an interesting protagonist, making a villain that’s capable of leaving a lasting impression well after you’ve finished watching/reading something is easier said that done.  So here’s a list of some of the most memorable villains in animation and manga who have earned their claim to infamy through their complexity, epicness, insanity and for just being a total prick.

*WARNING!!* I’m going to be going in depth on a few of these and that’ll include some potential spoilers so there you go

#10. Slade (Teen Titans)

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Teen Titans runs though several central antagonists over the course of it’s five season run. Slade is by far the most remembered of them and for good reason. He’s a pragmatic and manipulative criminal mastermind whose end goals are pretty much a total mystery but for the first two seasons where he’s the main villain he’s out to find himself an apprentice to take up the reigns and he’ll do anything to achieve that end.

When he actually does manage to succeed in that goal at the end of those seasons though, he’s show to be ridiculously abusive and controlling and his abuse of his second apprentice Terra specifically, has some pretty disturbing rape like subtext to it (which can come off as weirdly ironic if you know what their relationship is like in the original comics). The guy is effectively the world’s most effective child predator and even in some of the later seasons it’s shown that even death isn’t enough to stop him from being totally creepy and obsessive.

#9. Eddy’s Brother (Ed, Edd n Eddy)

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Eddy’s Brother makes exactly one appearance in the show during the movie finale, and even then he only really appears for about five minutes. However in those five minutes we get a fully fleshed out character and the only true villain of the show. Eddy spent most of the series proclaiming his brother to be a great guy and a total hero but when we finally meet the man we see get to see him for how he really is. As it turns out, he’s pretty much been physically abusing Eddy for his entire life (and if this doesn’t come off as that creepy to you keep in mind that Eddy is only 12 and his brother is at least somewhere in  his 20’s) and is the cause behind Eddy’s mask of arrogance and his inferiority complex.

He’s also not show to be above harming other kids as well and it’s pretty heavily implied that the reason he works at an amusement park is because enjoys messing with children in general. The revelation of his depravity is enough to make the neighborhood kids (who were practically out to kill the Eds at that point) sympathetic towards Eddy and even the Kanker Sisters were disgusted by him. You know you’re bad if you can make borderline serial rapists look good.

 

#8. Freeza (Dragonball Z Kai)

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Dragonball Z has a lot of powerful villains, but their usually know for their power rather than their actual villainy. Freeza however, is by and far the exception to the rule. He’s introduced as a power hungry evil overlord who wants to rule the universe and when he learns that his loyal servants the Sayains may someday produce a legendary “Super Sayain” who is the only being capable of defeating him, he proceeds to wipe out the entire race. While this is by and far his largest act of villainy in the series it’s far from his last as he ruthlessly annihilates the Namekians and Goku’s friends in his pursuit of immortality before finally  being defeated by the very thing he feared.

What really puts him above some of the other major villains from the franchise is that he wasn’t created to be a menace (Cell) or is too naive/insane to understand what he’s doing (Majin Buu) and gleefully commits genocide of his own free will. Though he walks around with an air of politeness and pretends to act like a gentleman there’s no hiding the horrifying monster underneath (Oh and if you’re wondering why I mentioned Kai in the listing and not regular DBZ it’s because he came off a bit differently in the old Funi dub and the less said about Granny Freeza the better).

#7. Azula (Avatar: The Last Airbender)

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The main villain of the series is established pretty much from the get go, but Azula stands out the most. Whereas her father, Fire Lord Ozai is a pretty generic evil overlord (his saving grace is being voiced by Mark Hamil) Azula is much more interesting to watch as she’s a lot more calculating and manipulative constantly staying one step ahead of our heroes and playing others to get what she wants.

Her most notable trait though is her need for dominance. So much so that it’s slowly revealed to be more of a instability than a weapon for her villainy as she constantly tries to keep people in fear of her so she can’t be betrayed, but when that fear is lost and she slowly loses those closest to her, she subsequently breaks down and we she how broken she truly is underneath it all.

#6. Shinobu Sensui (Yuyu Hakusho)

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After going through several arc villains whose actions and motivations were pretty straight forward (though Younger Toguro was fairly interesting) Sensui brought something different to the table as his personality and motivations were much more complex.

As a child he grew up with a very white and black sense of morality with humans being good and demons being evil. Because of this he was recruited to become the Spirit Detective of Earth and hunt down criminal demons but he wasn’t prepared to learn that humans could be just as cruel-if not more so-than demons and subsequently went insane from that revelation. After viewing some of humanities greatest atrocities first hand through a video called “Chapter Black” (which is full of some of our greatest hits like the Holocaust and Hiroshima) he resolves to destroy humanity by flooding the human world with demons. 

His insanity is largely masked by his suave and classy demeanor as he was one of the progenitors for more sophisticated villainy in later series made by other authors, but it makes him a more compelling character as the more we learn about him, the more we see just how unstable of a person he truly is. He’s ultimately a pretty tragic villain however as his fate could have been avoided and his real desire is something much more personal.

 

#5. Kumagawa Misogi (Medaka Box)

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Being the anti-thesis of the main character in many ways, Kumagawa is the Joker to Medaka’s Batman and has the personality to match as he comes across as what would happen if the Joker had a love affair somewhere in Japan. Where Medaka is extremely talented and constantly trying to get people to better themselves, Kumagawa is a born loser and resolves to drag talented people down to his level. Though outwardly friendly, he constant trolls and deceives others through pragmatic-ism and underhanded tactics which generally makes him incredibly entertaining to watch.

Through it all though he remains surprisingly earnest about his desire to defeat so called “elite” people to the point where he could almost be completely heroic if his personality wasn’t so twisted. As a born loser his destiny prevents him from pretty much never being able to truly win the things he wants but even though he’s miserable he considers himself a beacon to other miserable people that there’s someone out there more miserable than they are and yet smiling through it all.

#4. Light Yagami (Death Note)

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As he’s also the protagonist of the series, there are some who don’t really consider him to be a villain but his evil is established so thoroughly over the course of the series that it’s pretty much impossible to paint him as anything else. After picking up the Death Note and quickly learning that it’s exactly what its advertised as, he resolves to rid the world of evil and eliminate heinous criminals. This would seem like a pretty noble goal  except for the fact that he’ll go to pretty much any means to achieve it. He constantly controls and manipulates others to get what he wants and he lives by trying to stay one step ahead of those who are after him.

While he generally remains pretty dedicated to his new world order project, his priority quickly becomes eliminating those who are in his way including his allies he’s more than willing to kill them if they present even the slightest threat to his goals. His biggest flaw however is his pride which eventually leads to his downfall, but by the time he gets there there’s pretty much nothing left of the man he used to be as he’s becoming nothing more than a ruthless criminal confusing himself with godhood and is called out as such. Though he’s much better remembered for his incredibly planning skills and genius rather than his heartlessness Light stands out as one of the most heinous villains in fiction.

#3 The Joker (DCAU)

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There isn’t much I could say about the Joker that hasn’t been said already, but the Joker has been talked about a lot for a reason. If Batman is the personification of order and justice then the Joker is the pure embodiment of chaos and he pretty much runs with it. He commits atrocities and mass murder pretty much for laughs (the most infamous being in the Batman Beyond movie where he mind rapes and tortures Tim Drake for weeks just for the heck of it) but if he has any one true motivation it would pretty much be Batman.

As long as Batman exists the Joker will commit to his crime spree to see if he can eventually break good ol’ Bat enough to get him to actually  killing him and without Batman his existence is without meaning as the Joker rarely directly tries to defeat him. One will pretty much never exist without the other and the Joker’s brand of crazy stands out in pretty much every incarnation of the character as he never fails to be horrifying and entertaining all at the same

 

#2. Hao Asakura (Shaman King )

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As the main antagonist of the series and the evil twin of the hero, he’s successfully managed to avert most of the cliches that would be expected of that kind of character. Being the most powerful Shaman in history with mastery over the elements and even death itself, Hao’s main goal is to become Shaman King, the elimination of regular humans and the creation of a world only for Shaman after having a vision of humans eventually destroying the planet . Though this puts him at odds with our heroes he generally tries to remain pretty friendly with them while slowly manipulating them towards his own ends and much like with Sensui his exact motivations behind his goal are a bit more complex than the end goal itself would appear to be initially. While his anime counterpart (though still a very solid villian) doesn’t fully capture his character and abilties, his manga incarnation stands out a lot more for doing the one thing no shonen villain before him was ever able to:

*WARNING* EXTREME SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT

He wins.

He successfully manages to become the Shaman King. In fact the final arc of the series isn’t even so much the main characters trying to stop him from becoming the Shaman King (they all pretty much acknowledge they can’t beat him) but to stop his end goal of wiping out humanity and while they kind of succeed in that department, they only convince him to delay it while they attempt to find a way to show him that humanity is worth saving. Of course that goal doesn’t seem to work out much either as the characters still haven’t quite found an answer well into adulthood. Perhaps their children in the sequel series Shaman King Flowers will fare better in convincing him (though considering he has them fighting on his behalf that seems unlikely) but for the moment Hao stands as pretty much THE most successful shonen villain of all time.

#1. David Xanatos (Gargoyles)

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Xanatos is one of two main villains to the series, but he stands out not only above the other but over most villains in general. He seemingly starts out as an ally to the titular characters as he introduces them to the modern world a bit, but he’s quickly revealed to be using them for his own goals and they come at odds with each other before too long.

The thing that stands out the most about his villainy is how pragmatic he is. Even more so than villains of his archetype are generally expected to be.  He’s almost always one step ahead of his opponents, generally having anywhere from one to several backup plans in place to ensure his victory and even in rare cases where he actually does lose he makes an honest effort to learn from those experiences never makes the same mistake twice. He’s also extremely careful to avoid many of the typical pitfalls villains of his archetype would normally make. He never tries to take anything personally (the one time he actually does kind of do something out of vengance it costs him), never attempts to go to any major extremes, and tries to stay on good terms with the Gargoyles rather than directly antagonize them so long as they aren’t an immediate threat to his goals.

However he’s well remembered for being a really great villain one of the things that makes  him great is that while he does grow as a villain where most villains typically don’t he also grows as a person over the course of the series. His character arc, while generally subtle, is handled pretty well and by the time he gets to where he is at the end of the second season, it feels like he was always meant to go in that direction.

Honorable Mentions

Demona (Gargoyles)

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Demona is the other main antagonist of Gargoyles and while she doesn’t leave as much of a lasting impression as Xanatos, she’s still a pretty interesting villain. She’s the former lover of the protagonist Goliath and holds an undying hatred of humanity for the annihilation of their clan. While this seems pretty stereotypical as the show goes on her backstory is fleshed out bit by bit as see what drove her to the breaking point as how much of the tragedies she’s caught in are self inflicted. Her inability to take responsibility for the things she’s done is her greatest flaw, but it’s also part of the reason why she didn’t make the list(the other being I didn’t want to have two villains from the same series on it) as that whole schick can get a bit repetitive.

Sosuke Aizen (Bleach)

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Much like Xanatos and Light above, Aizen is well known for being a master manipulator and a brillaint chessmaster in terms of planning as he goes through his scheme to take over the Soul Society and Earth, and his planning abilties are so over the top that even when the series goes downhill later on it’s entertaining to see what he’s mapped out next. However unlike some of the other chessmasters on the list Aizen is a bit one dimensional in terms of his goals and motivation and for all his scheming he’s defeated pretty anti-climatically

Ragyo Kiryuin (Kill la Kill)

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Ragyo will likely go down in history as one of the worst anime parents of all time putting even Gendo Ikari to shame (sadly the only reason he isn’t on the list is he doesn’t technically qualify as a villain) as she physical and sexually abuses her two daughters and even casually attempted to dispose of one of them as an infant when the results of her experimenting on them didn’t go as well as she’d hoped. Oh and she’s also sold out humanity to an alien race of clothing monsters who want to take over the universe. She was actually extremely close to making the list but as she’s extremely recent it’s hard to say exactly how well she’ll stand the test of time and for all her epic villainy she isn’t really given an exact motivation for the whole selling out humanity thing.

Dio Brando (Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure)

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Dio grew up with an abusive alcholic for a dad but it’s pointed out pretty quickly that this is just an excuse on his part and he’s pretty much a total prick cause he wants to be. He makes his adopted brother Johnathan’s childhood a living nightmare, stealing his girlfriend’s first kiss and literally setting his dog on fire before eventually attempting to kill his stepfather and becoming a vampire in the process. He pretty much exists to be hated as he delights in his villainy and is hammy enough about it to avoid coming across as generic. Sadly for all his ham he’s just barely one-note enough to not make it on the list.

And there you have it folks. Some of the most memorable villains out there from child abusers to genocidal maniacs. I would have included movies in the list but doing so would have flooded the list with Disney villains and I’m pretty sure that’s been covered enough be others as is.

So thoughts? Comments? Let me know what you think.

Review: Kill la Kill- Dressed to Impress

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Kill la Kill is a 2013 series and the first original TV project by Studio Trigger who houses most of the creative staff that brought titles such as Gurren Lagann, FLCL and Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt. The story takes place in an alternate post-WWII fantasy setting where Honnouji Academy is run by Kiryuin Satsuki and her student council who wield Goku Uniforms, uniforms that enable the wearers with crazy powers. One day a rebel student named Ryuko Matoi arrives at the school, seeking to track down her father’s murderer and after learning Satsuki has some kind of connection to the killer, vows to end her reign over the academy.

Being Trigger’s first TV project, Kill la Kill had a lot of expectations to live up to. Trigger needed to prove that they were still capable of making an action series as solid and fun as Gurren Lagann and that they could deliver on making something relatively profitable so that they could continue to make new projects. Fortunently Kill la Kill more than managed to meet those expectations and has show that the creators haven’t lost their edge just yet

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IRA GAMAGOORI DECLARES THIS SHOW TO BE EXCELLENT!!

The first half of the series is relatively formulaic as Ryuko typically fights the Club President of the Week but it does a good job of introducing us to the setting and characters. We learn bit by bit about the backstories of the Elite Four (Satsuki’s personal guard) and Ryuko respectively and the balance is generally between comedy and crazy fight scenes as the truth behind the academy slowly starts to reveal itself.

Of course the second half of the show is where it truly starts to shine. Plot twists become rampant while still generally being shown to have been hinted at well enough in advance  to not seem like their making up things as they go along and the  character development for Ryuko and Satsuki respectively becomes prominent. Each episode escalates in insanity and finale delivers on everything it needed to and wraps up satisfactorily.

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“MY ARMS!! DO YOU KNOW HOW IMPORTANT THOSE ARE?!”

Much like Gurren Lagann one of the greatest strenghs of the show is it’s sense of style and in a lot of ways it actually outdoes it in that area. The battles and actions are always ridiculously over the top and the series continually escalates in that area making it a lot of fun to see what kind of action will be coming next. There’s pretty much never a dull moment to be had in the show and it almost always manages to entertain.

However if style is the greatest strength of the series, then substance is one of it’s problems. The content of the story itself more or less delivers but there are a couple of notably weak episodes such as episode 7 which is unusually straightforward and generic for the series. It’s over the top use of fanservice (mostly in the first half of the show) can also be a bit of a turn-off though it fits the style of the show and thankfully avoids being a bit too distracting where it shouldn’t The characters also aren’t quite as developed as in Gurren Lagann (though the cast in general is arguably the more fun of the two) and the overall theme of the show (stuck somewhere between individuality and the importance of family) isn’t quite as definitive as Gurren Lagann’s theme of “doing the impossible and never giving up” but the show is fun enough that these issues don’t drag it down too much and it remains enjoyable throughout.

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Yep. It’s the Gainax crew alright…

The cast of characters for the series are all pretty entertaining to watch as lead character Ryuko starts off as a pretty typical loner delinquent but gradually  matures as she discovers the importance of family through her friend Mako. Similarly the other heroine Satsuki also becomes a lot more level headed throughout the series though her exact motivations aren’t made apparent until fairly late into the show. Mako also makes for a pretty interesting sidekick as her quirky speeches and personality are generally what keep some of the situations in the series from getting a bit too ridiculous and she’s done in just the right way to come off  as charming rather than annoying. The other characters of the series are all a bit more straightforward even if they are fun though the main villain Ragyo is notable for being in the running with Gendo Ikari of Neon Genesis Evangellion for being the worst anime parent of all time. 

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                      My, what excellent parenting skills. Gendo would be proud.

The animation budget for the series is pretty great overall as there are a lot of fantastically done action sequences though much like back when the creators worked at Gainax, the budget isn’t spread very even as it’s always pretty apparent when their trying to save on animation. It’s character designs are pretty distinctive though the art style resembles that of western animation a bit in terms of shading and zaniness. It also has a pretty great soundtrack and the insert song “Don’t Lose Your Way” is always great to listen to. The theme songs for the series are all pretty great as well though the second ED song is kind of take it or leave it.

Trigger has made the magic happen once again with Kill la Kill as it delivers on everything it needed to as an action series. Though it doesn’t quite have the same level of depth as it’s predecessor, it more than makes up for it in style and sheer fun. It stands as one of the strongest shows of 2013 and hopefully it won’t be too long before Trigger gets the opportunity to wow us once again

Overall: 9.4/10

Avaialble on Crunchyroll, Daisuki and Hulu