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Anifile’s People Choice Award for Summer 2014


The summer anime train has almost reached its destination. Shows are wrapping up or have wrapped up as of writing. I’ve listed my TOP FIVE and WORST FIVE anime from this season and I have now turned it over to you guys for your thoughts. I included polls at the end of each list and after a week of voting and around two hundred votes, we have our people’s top five and worst five. Let’s not beat about the bush and get this list underway with the top five!

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#5 – Tokyo Ghoul

The top five was a close affair this season, only five votes spreading as many shows. First off we have Tokyo Ghoul. I remember really liking the offbeat idea of zombies [or zombie-like people] having some kind of community whilst eating people’s flesh. It had a quirky charm to it which I really liked. Why didn’t it make my top five then? It was tough but it was between this or Terror in Resonance and I felt the latter had more shock value.

#4 – Barakamon

I’m very relieved to this on here. Like me, you were all entranced by the simple story and the charming characters which had an original feel and personality about them. Such a laidback show which doesn’t require too much criticial thinking, instead just kick back and enjoy the sweet narrative and gorgeous scenery.

#3 – Aldnoah.Zero

The thinking man’s Gundam. I wasn’t sure about this show in the end all because the main character, Inaho, was a little too dry for my liking. That being said, it’s a very well put together story and supremely clever in its execution; I completely understand why it’s so popular. While it was airing, I regularly saw friends of mine huddled around their tablets catching up on the latest episode; it’s got the West hooked and Aniplex has intentions on bringing it stateside…for a price.

#2 – Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun

You agree with me that this show is brilliant! It’s so adorable and the characters are genuinely funny and engaging. The execution was flawless and the comedy worked for a non-Japanese audience which is not all that common with comedy anime that don’t resort to slapstick. Everything about this production is first-rate. Buy this on DVD when Sentai Filmworks releases it – their twitter account can’t get enough of it!

#1 – Akame ga Kill!

OK. I get why this is here; the characters are colourful and the premise is pretty accessible. I’ve heard nothing but good stuff about this show from everyone I know but my misgivings with the sudden mood swings peppered about the story, it put me off enough to keep it off the top five list but it’s still up there. [If I had a top ten it would be in it.]

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Next up, is the worst five as chosen by you.

#5 – Tokyo Ghoul

This is odd. Tokyo Ghoul starts off both the best and the worst. This is probably because the idea of the show is polarising to some extent. The idea of zombies lusting over human flesh and the almost fetishistic attitude about it could put some people off the idea as would the copious amounts of blood. It’s not a light hearted romp all the time and I imagine that it didn’t sit well for those that voted here.

#4 – DRAMAtical Murder

A massive flop, good and proper. When a show fails to properly adapt its original source material and completely nullifies it, you’re gonna have a bad time. A game with strong yaoi content and pretty boys is stripped off what made it sell and left with something without a sense of direction and even when it gets close, it’s all tons of awkward.

#3 – Momo Kyun Sword

We now have a jump in votes for the top three and we start off with the story of a well-endowed ninja girl with superpowers which involve getting even more scantily-clad. It’s a shame because the idea itself, minus the fanservice, is pretty decent and could’ve worked quite nicely had the amount of female anatomy on show been dialled back A LOT. It looked kind of fun but alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

#2 – Rail Wars!

Another big leap to Rail Wars. Another shameless fanservice show framed around a very baffling premise concerning trains and what if the national rail network was never privatised. The Wars in Rail Wars refers to the rail cops in the show instead of giant train robots fighting; that would’ve been a lot better. Skip this one as it’s cheap, confusing and off-putting. Do not choo-choo-choose this.

#1 – Glasslip

THANK YOU! You, like me, think that this show is one of the least competently written anime in recent memory. Glasslip received almost DOUBLE the amount of votes that #2 got. That is a clear sign that the production was a dire affair full of pointless dialogue, awkward ‘romance’, squandered plot devices, aggravating main characters AND ATROCIOUS PACING. SERIOUSLY.

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So your winner is Akame ga Kill and your ‘winner’ is Glasslip. I guarantee that that will be the only time you’ll get those two anime together in the same sentence! The summer has now ended, sadly; but fear not! We have a new anime season coming up very shortly and I shall be making a preview post on the matter, stay tuned!

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Welcome to Anime! Which Series Should I Watch?


[Titlecard courtesy of Frobman ]

Hello! Welcome to anime! You’ve probably been curious about anime ever since you curiously watched that one episode of Naruto or Sailor Moon and thought it was pretty neat; or you saw some cosplayers milling about your hometown during a convention and wondered what the hell was going on…or you might have watched some random stuff that your one friend linked you to. Either way, anime has gotten you curious in some shape or form.

Since the start of this year, I’ve watched over seventy different anime series; some that will stick with me and others that will fade from memory…and some that I wish would. It’s made me think about which series someone new to the medium should get interested in; to help build up their interest further and keep them keen. There’s a lot of debating and everyone is perfectly entitled to their opinion but here is a list of the shows I recommend to anyone getting started. Please note I am not including shows like Naruto, Bleach, Dragonball Z because they have managed to breach the mainstream to some extent. This list comprises twenty series that we fans hold in high regard and wish to shout their praises from the rooftops. Let’s get started!

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Akira: The game changing movie from the 1980s which broke cover thanks to a plucky US distributor. Since then, the dystopian setting of Neo Tokyo has generated a strong interest in anime outside of Japan. There had been nothing else like it before then when it came to animation and it set the trend spectacularly.

Azumanga Daioh: This little comedy is a perfect example of the slice-of-life genre with a lot of comedy thrown in. It might seem a little bizarre, but it’s perfect at demonstrating to newcomers that anime can be weird and surreal whilst also tugging at the heartstrings at the same time.

Berserk: Most newcomers to anime had probably seen Akira and were captivated by the shocking visuals and epic plot. Berserk takes that and puts it into a medieval setting with a lot of sadistic and twisted imagery which has endured for nearly a quarter of a century in some form of media. If you like knights and warriors killing each other gruesomely with an undertone framed around the theme of witchcraft and devilry then you’ll love this!

Cardcaptor Sakura: We’re not talking Cardcaptors; we’re talking about the original cut. There’s a lot more to this series than the initial English release portrayed. If you felt something was off, there was. You need to go the original source and find out what you missed. Not to mention it’s probably one of the best magical girl series of the nineties.

Code Geass: More giant robots! I think why there are loads of mech shows on this list is because it’s something that all boys and men can get behind; it’s machines and these machines are blowing up other machines! Not to mention it manages to sustain drama in more sophisticated ways too meaning it’s accessible to anybody in some manner!

Cowboy Bebop: This has to be here out of sheer coolness. A western-themed space opera with action and spaceships and adult themes. It’s a very mature series that can also be quite quirky as well. Spike and friends collect bounties in an unforgettably gritty drama which has become ubiquitous in anime circles.

Death Note: In 2006, anime upped the ante. This series was at the forefront of that movement. A story about a guy who is bestowed the gift of death for those who he has deemed worthy of such a fate. Everybody has a moment where they wish they had that kind of power and Light Yagami [our lead] gets it; doesn’t mean it’s an easy ride. A superb art style, a kille soundtrack and one of the most iconic stories out there.

FLCL [FuriKuri]: This anime is quite polarising. Some love it because it’s rather avant-garde and surreal, especially for the early noughties. Others hate it because Haruko [the leading lady] who can be very grating and causes heaps of trouble for our lead male Naoto. Although the characters and premise are strange at times, this short six-episode series is worth a look because it pushes the boat out narratively speaking and isn’t afraid of that.

Fullmetal Alchemist…Brotherhood: Although this and the original 2004 series are both great, the re-imagining of the story of the Elric brothers gets the nod for this list on the grounds that it is a more faithful adaptation of Hiromu Arakawa’s vision. If you love supernatural powers mixed with tons of guns and brotherly love, this is a good start!

Gurren Lagann: How could I not have this here? Gurren Lagann takes the giant robot concept and goes nuts with it. The level of style, detail, uniqueness and technical mastery at play makes this a grand candidate for this list. It is also rather accessible as it isn’t modelled on a particular country; it’s a post-apocalyptic wasteland populated by original characters and amazingly dazzling robots!

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure [and the manga]: If you’re bored of what’s on TV and in the cinemas, then look no further. JoJo is crazy good fun which is recently going through another surge in popularity. If you’re not sure what it’s about, I’ll try to sum it up in one sentence. Men being fabulous and kicking each other’s asses mixed with TONS of references to Western rock music! Need I say more?

Kanon: I choose this over its sister anime Clannad [which I like too] because it’s the more rounded and simplistic story from the Japanese game studio Key [which made the original source material for both shows]. Both have a strong cast of girls to choose from but Kanon takes the cake simply because of the sheer drama and empathy that I felt whilst watching.

Lupin III: One of the longest running franchises in anime. Over forty years old and still going strong, Lupin III is one of the world’s greatest criminal minds as well as being one of the most likeable, ingenious and hilarious. You don’t care he’s stealing millions of dollars’ worth of jewellery, you love the guy! He also has the best team behind him and the most inept detective chasing after them which leads to a timeless formula where the bad guys come out on top and you’re OK with that.

Martian Successor Nadesico: My FAVOURITE anime. If you are looking for some satire when it comes to giant robots then this show is your best bet. I recommend this over Neon Genesis Evangelion because it does the whiny robot pilot gimmick a lot better and also I’ve not seen all of Evangelion so I cannot recommend it nor do I particularly want to! A colourful cast, a great looking ship and robot coupled with a serious message about bureaucracy overriding humanity and people putting a stop to it. A masterclass at balancing comedy and drama. Skip the movie though.

Mobile Suit Gundam: You thought Transformers was awesome? Wait until you see Gundam. This put the giant robot squarely in the minds of boys everywhere since 1979. Dozens of series owe Gundam a huge favour and it’s not hard to see why. It set the standard of what a series about mechanical warriors requires: killer robot designs, super powers, SWORDS and tons of weaponry. Noteworthy series from the Gundam universe include the original Mobile Suit Gundam, Gundam Wing, Turn A Gundam, Gundam SEED and Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam.

Outlaw Star: It is a fantastic sci-fi tale with tons of action and comedy but it’s a lot more light-hearted and doesn’t take itself too seriously. If you find Cowboy Bebop a little heavy, this show is the way to go!

Ranma 1/2: If you want to get a good understanding about what Japan is and some of its cultural traditions whilst being entertained, then this series is your best bet. Made by Rumiko Takahashi, this romantic comedy is a classic which should not be ignored. Plus it’s got PANDAS!

Steins;Gate: I’ve not seen this series come up often on recommended lists; that surprised me. This epic sci-fi tale explores the intricacies of cause and effect and other aspects of time travel whilst impeccably sustaining high drama. It also knows when to have a laugh every now and again to relieve the stress levels a little bit. A masterpiece of the modern era which is a little more cerebral than most would expect.

Studio Ghibli Films:  Hayao Miyazaki is often described as the Japanese Walt Disney and with good reason. He and his team formed a studio which has made some of the most iconic, emotional and inspirational films in the past thirty years and acted as a global ambassador for anime and why it’s so great. Most of their movies are worth a watch but the five I recommend to watch right now are Spirited Away, Grave of the Fireflies, Laputa, Howl’s Moving Castle and Princess Mononoke.

Tenchi Muyo: Like Ranma 1/2 but containing a lot more supernatural elements. Plus the cast of characters is more colourful and outlandish. One of the best examples of the harem anime genre.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya: This 2006 production was a turning point in anime design and look. Haruhi Suzumiya and her supernatural gang of espers, time travellers, aliens plus the token normal guy put a studio on the map because of its fantastic premise, catchy music and eye-catching visual style. The first season is stunning, the second season is worth watching but be aware of the Endless Eight, that’s all I’ll say.

Urusei Yatsura [AKA Everybody Hates Ataru]: One of the first anime I watched. It’s a very strange show based on space devils, love triangles and comedic storytelling. A good example of explaining the origins of the harem anime.

Usagi Drop: This sweet story about a girl who has recently become an orphan. Daikichi, whose grandfather was the father of this girl [Rin] takes her in after the rest of his family practically disown her on the grounds that Rin’s mother was a mistress and therefore illegitimate. This unlikely move on Daikichi’s part changes the character unequivocally and is the ultimate display of human compassion.

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This list is a starting point for you. From here you will find shows like the ones I mentioned or shows that break the mould I’ve established; in the end, it’s all good! There are more shows I want to recommend but that requires a little more understanding of anime before viewing. This list is here to gently introduce anime and what it is. These shows have things in common with western media and act as a great interim production. In any case, good hunting!

What do you think of this list? Are there shows I missed out or you would recommend yourself? Leave a comment below and let’s spread the word of anime.

RETRO REVIEW: Mysterious Girlfriend X (2012)


[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/g9Jmgve0YQA.x?p=1 width=”640″ height=”388″]

With the manga for Mysterious Girlfriend X coming to end at the end of this month, I thought I would post my review from 2012 to remind everyone why I love this show so much. It’s one of those shows that you have to stick with and persevere through the initial premise which is based around the emotive powers of saliva. The way the show portrays it is that of being a truly intimate part of a romantic connection between two people and it’s probably one of the most original concepts for an anime I’ve ever seen, especially for a slice of life series.

I won’t go into too much detail but read my top ten for the show where it ranks at number four.