Back in the day, before I had the money to import anime, or eve to buy them at a discount, I had access to a VCR and a stack of 5 VHS tapes. I learned to program that VCR for the express purpose of recording Toonami, Adult Swim Anime, and the like on days when I couldn’t make it home. And if there was one show that was my number 1 at the time, it was battle/rivalry series s-CRY-ed.
Fueled almost entirely by banter between the leading duo. Kazuma and Ryuho were as memorable a pair of rivals as I can recall having watched to this day, and the script that was field-raised ham on a whole-wheat drama bun produced a memorable, unique-tasting fight series. And plenty of potable quotes, which is why I’m dedicating this entry to cemented legacy club member director Taniguchi Goro.
And to punching things while yelling loudly
Oh, and incoming spoilers for a 12 year-old show, if you’re averse to that kind of thing.
In Fall of 2007, I was very much a beginner at anime. I’d explored the discount stores in my neighborhood and encountered some very interesting, engaging titles, but I wasn’t any kind of plugged in to what stuff was current. One series changed all that, basically on its own.* Gambling Apocalypse Kaiji was the complete package in so many ways; tense, human drama, a rich cast that skirted the line from likeable to detestably inhuman, tight direction, idiomatic yet pithy dialogue, and the best narrator in anime bar none.
Those last 2 attributes also make the show handy for an alternate purpose; rampant quotation abuse! There’s a Kaiji quote for everything, and the Fall 2013 anime season is no exception. In celebration of the show’s free availability on crunchyroll, let’s break it down.
I’m a bit less sure that I know what I’ve got with this show after two episodes; the second one mixed in a lot of of new elements, some more surprising than others. It’s still introducing of its story elements without getting infected with proper noun disease, which is a plus. Still looking forward to it, but a lot of what I’m assuming would develop into plot elements is still covered in question marks.
This weekend, I sunk my teeth into the seventh installment of the Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure series, cheating a little bit as far as part order order goes.* It ended up being a very worthwhile decision, as I found the series contained bite after juicy bite of ridiculous (but not incomprehensible) content. It’s got everything from non-superpowered horse racing to dinosaur fights to spy-novel style infiltration scenes. It didn’t take me long to plow through the whole story, which integrates both a continental horserace and an epic bodyhunt. SBR is far from a perfect series,** but it’s got mad merits on writing and the way it uses full-page spreads to lay out a scene.
My favorite chapter of the series deals with a comically complex Stand/superpower that’s got abilities halfway between the Golden Axe fable and Leprechaun Gold. It works in the following way: the stand’s owner, Sugar Mountain, offers to return something that a person dropped, but offers both the thing dropped and a ridiculously more valuable version of the same (say you drop an Oreo cookie, she’ll offer you that or a two-pound cheesecake). If one answers honestly as to which they dropped, they get the works. They then have to use up both of those items in fair trades (i.e. they can’t just give them away for free) by sunset the day they receive them. If they fail to do both of those things, they turn into trees like so:
Yeah, it’s a little weird
So that’s the general setup, introduced in the chapter prior to this one. Also in the prior chapter, protagonists Gyro and Johnny managed to finagle a couple of necessary body parts off of Sugar Mountain by correctly negotiating the Golden Axe rule of her stand. Beyond the body parts, they’ve acquired a diamond, gold ore, a fancy watch, and $50,000 in cold hard cash. This chapter follows them trying to avoid becoming petrified wood by burning through their Leprechaun Gold via fair trade. All while being chased by a bunch of government assassins. If you think that sounds like the basis of a hilarious heist comedy’s third act, well, you’d be more or less on the money.
The Anime Industry is a lot more interconnected than one might guess at first blush. This manifests itself both in meaningful ways and in silly ones. This series of posts, where I link Yugioh 5Ds to every other anime Kevin Bacon-style, is most definitely the latter. This time, I’m shackling the three most notable currently airing anime to the laughable albatross.
Redline is the best anime movie I have ever seen. By which I mean it is the best anime I’ve ever seen and the best movie I’ve ever seen. While this summer season is certainly one for the books, it’s not delivering anything quite like that movie (and it wouldn’t be fair to ask it to). But because the movie’s now available free on youtube,* and because this is definitely the most fun season to be a part of since subs of the movie became available roughly 2 years ago, I decided to pay tribute by summarizing how everyone’s doing at (roughly) the halfway hash in the words of Sweet JP and co.
[Warning: Spoilers, if that kind of thing bothers you.]
Sam: So this might just be my favorite of the season so far, of what little I have watched. I went in expecting little, but the way that the airsoft battles are staged are everything that I have ever wanted in these kinds of things: interesting, varied, and awesome. So far I haven’t been liking the drama though. It brought up the idea that Yukochan is lonely and wants friends, but the way that it presents it makes me feel less like the group is destined friends and more like Yukochan is slightly emotionally damaged and C3-bu is just there at the right time. Still, when the airsoft battles start, everything just clicks.
In the long-delayed second episode, we talk about Kickstarter. More specifically, we start by discussing anime and manga it’s funded already, and use what numbers we have (mainly myanimelist statistics) to wildly speculate on what else might be a viable candidate for a Time of Eve-style international BD release.
I kind of understand why Space Brothers has a huge overlap with fandoms of various battle series. One, it’s an objectively good show with very understandable messages. Two, it’s been on crunchyroll for a year, so it’s had plenty of time to catch the eye of the people who come there for Naruto (i.e. the majority of users). Three, similar to a good battle series like Hunter x Hunter, it can set an arc based on a very rigid set of rules and ideas, but grow very complicated very quickly, while being a thrillfest the whole way. The sealed-capsule arc was a great example of that approach in action, as was the more recent lunar-crash arc. The comeback competition is really just the latest example, this time featuring Engineering, but knowing that it’s somewhat formulaic doesn’t make it any less exciting to watch.
Bonus points for viewers who happen to have built a robot before
One of the many controversial features of sites like myanimelist and aniDB that allow users to list their anime is their inclusion of toplists. What’s the proper way to weight scores? Should sequels (which have an intrinsic advantage in 10-point averages) be counted normally? Is there a point to having one at all when it invites as much vitriol as it sometimes does?
Though actual discussions over topics like these tend to descend into unglorified hoopla fairly quickly, these toplists and rankings can be very interesting subjects for study. Especially if you dig a layer below the top and start to look at what they really measure.