Anime for Dummies -Part 1

May 18, 2016 no comments Posted in Animation & Anime, Film

Anime is an interesting beast to tackle as not every body watches or enjoys but nearly everyone on the internet has an opinion on. So that makes the task of recommending anime to beginners and incredibly daunting task. Many people either love anime and are die-hard fans like myself or people who don’t watch any and like to make fun of those who do.

If you aren’t interested in watching anime but are still reading this post, then I highly suggest watching Digibro’s analytical post about the appeal of anime. And for those of you who do like anime watch it anyway and then watch all his other stuff cause its great.

tl;dr: anime is incredibly varied and creative with shows from all over the spectrum but I think I have narrowed down some of my favourite anime into a list of ones that a good for beginners

One thing I want to get out of the way first is the type of shows I like. I am typically drawn to action shows. Most commonly the Shonen genre popular exams being Bleach, Naruto, Dragon Ball Z and One Piece. But I do watch other shows too. For example on this list I have a series of shorts (a show who’s run time is typically 3-5 minutes as apposed to the typical 22-25 minutes), a horror show, two romance anime and a thriller so there is something here for everyone. For the most part it doesn’t really matter what order these are in but for the first two I think it would be good idea for these come first.

Studio Ghibli

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Studio Ghibli has earned a reputation amongst anime fans and others as one of the pinnacles of the medium. All of there films being amazing easily deserving a 8.5+. With the exception of a few they’re typically not action heavy. They all are story and character based. The graphics in all are visually impressive and each tells a compelling story that will stay with you.

Many of these films are aimed at younger audiences but don’t let that discourage you. Studio Ghibli will provide you with hours upon hours of entertainment.

Cowboy Bebop

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An undisputed classic in anime, Cowboy Bebop follows the bounty hunters who live on the Bebop space ship. Bebop is one of the few shows that is recommended even by non-anime fans fans and for good reason. It’s at first episodic nature allows you to take your time and go at your own pace through it but once the story starts kicking it your instantly drawn in and compelled to watch the rest.

Cowboy Bebop has a bit everything which is one of the reasons it appeals to so many. It’s got action, adventure, interesting characters & scenarios, a great story, and music. Oh dear lord the music.  Even if a space western doesn’t appeal to you I highly recommend you just look up the soundtrack to this show it is seriously great.

If you aren’t completely sold on anime yet. Cowboy Bebop will help you decide. It’s not crazy but introduces you to enough anime centric elements for you to generally expect what’s going to come in future series.

Action

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Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood

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I’m sure that at this stage many of you are at least passingly familiar with shows like One Piece, Naruto, Bleach or DBZ and may be aware of the heavy stigma around them for being insanely long. If you liked the idea of a slightly longer action heavy story like the aforementioned but felt that several hundred episodes was a bit to much and that the quality would probably dip anyway then Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is the place for you.

In 2003 studio Bones decided to adapt Hiromu Arakawa’s Fullmetal Alchemist series into an anime. As is often the case with these types of shoes the manga is also being made at the same time as the anime so the show would either have to slow down to a crawl or invent its own story. Bones chose the latter. Today the show has incredibly mixed opinions some people saying it’s as good as Brotherhood and many saying that the original was total dog shit.

But in 2009 Bones decided to readapt FMA but this time with out dicking around. What resulted is what many, myself included, to be the pinnacle of the Shonen genre. Having evolved into it’s final form. The show was not only great in it’s own right with a gripping story, amazing characters and sky high production values, but kicked off a trend that has been getting rather popular in the form of anime re-adaptations, Shows like One Piece, Hunter x Hunter, Jojo’s Bizarre adventure and DBZ have all been fully remade.

FMA Brotherhood is almost universally praised being one of the highest rated shows on MyAnimeList, It has a great dub, the voices of which suit the characters perfectly. FMA can also be found on Netflix for your convenience.

Hunter x Hunter

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Did you like FMA but wanted a bit more action and structured fights? Did you want a deep system and slightly complex system with checks and balances for the abilities system as apposed to the the basically magic of FMA? Then Hunter x Hunter is the place for you.

I won’t go to deep into it because I have a full review planned but just know that while FMA didn’t really feel like a typical shonen. Hunter x Hunter does. In the best of ways. It has similar themes and character archetypes, structured fights and a great story. For fans of the Shonen genre it’s a must watch. But I also think it is good for beginners as it serves as a good introduction to the genre.

Plus the dub is currently airing, so it’s a great time to get into the series

 

 

One Piece Zou Arc Review

April 13, 2016 no comments Posted in Animation & Anime, Film

I was going to write a “Beginners guide to Anime” but due to time constraints I wouldn’t be able to get it out in time, but worry not that should be out in a couple of weeks.

The Zou arc had been built up for literal years in One Piece, first being mention at the beginning of Dressrosa. After the finale of the Dressrosa arc we soon began our story on Zou.

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Zou for those who don’t know is an island on the back of a giant 1000 year old elephant. It is home to the mink tribe, a race of anthropomorphic animals, for example, Bepo for Law’s crew is a mink from Zou. And it was commented by Luffy that it was like a race of Choppers.

The arc starts off rather slow, with a lot of it being to do with what has happened to the crew members that were already there. tl;dr: Kaido’s right hand man, Jack (super badass) comes to Zou and wrecks everything. He then releases a gas that is releavled to have been previously created by Caesar Clown, who is still in captivity. The Straw Hats release him to help with the gas and him and Chopper save everyone. The reason Jack showed up was because he was searching for Raizou, the ninja Kine’emon and Kanjuro and looking for, along with the samurai themselves.

I felt that while this story line was good it wasn’t as good as Dressrosa. In Zou they really dragged the ass out of where Sanji was. Because he wasn’t with the other crew members. I’ll try and keep this review spoiler free and so I won’t talk about the specifics of what was up with Sanji.

But once that Sanji stuff starts to wrap up is when we start getting to the greatness of Zou. The last couple of chapters sky rocketed this arc to one of the best in the entire series. We begin to learn end-game level stuff, for example more clues to where Raftel is, along with the reintroduction of some fan favourite characters such as Marko the Phoenix. This arc is hard to talk about without spoiling thing so I can’t go into much detail. I highly recommend that you catch up on the manga if you haven’t already.

 

In summary, Zou was great. Jack was badass, Zunisha was better. Momonosuke stepped up. My mind was blown on several occasions. That fight at the end of the arc was the hypest shit I’ve seen since Gear Fourth and Carrot is mai furry waifu all years.

 

 

Gravity Falls Review

March 11, 2016 no comments Posted in Animation & Anime, Film

It’s no real secret that what the Disney Channel does to it’s actors is sleazy to say the least. They take in mostly teens who have dreams of becoming big in acting and they reuse them in a bunch of different show’s then discarding them when not needed. So it’s a wonder that the Disney Channel got Gravity Falls.

 

Having just ended 2 weeks ago I feel as though this is the perfect time to reflect on Gravity Falls as a series while it’s still fresh in our memory.

Gravity Falls stars Dipper and Mabel Pines, two twins who go to live with their Great-Uncle (Gruncle) Stan at his Mystery Shack in the small town Gravity Falls. They soon meet the two other people who work at the Shack. Soos, the handy-man who functions as the twin’s sidekicks and Wendy who acts a a love-interest for Dipper for the first part of the series.

You might be thinking “Does Soos function as one for Mabel”. The answer to that is no. As Mabel is always on the prowl. Looking for anyone and everyone who will be her boyfriend.

For the first part of season 1 it would be very simple to write Gravity Falls off as just another “Random” show with an above average art budget and is in general pretty funny. But they they started creeping in more plot. Namely with the introduction of Lil’ Gideon and later on Bill Cipher. Gideon could have easily been a one off character who was in love with Mabel.  But his little involvement in the story throughout the series and his small appearances make him into a bigger and more fleshed out character which makes his redemption all the more gratifying at the end of the series.

Bill Cipher the antagonist of the series was also slowly built up in the series’ ciphers and his appearances, so by the end he’s a fully fleshed out antagonist with motivations and reasons for his actions.

Getting back to the cipher’s that another big thing about this series. Lots of codes and ciphers have been hidden in the series. Some of which reveal nothing important but some of the reveal useful information in theorising and putting together information about the series and its story.

Verdict

Gravity Falls is a fun series with great comedy, plot and visual. It is a must see for any animation fan and will likely be remembered as a masterpiece if it isn’t already.

 

Why One Piece Works So Well

February 19, 2016 no comments Posted in Animation & Anime, Film

Unless you’ve been living under the proverbial anime rock you’ve probably heard of Eiichro Oda’s One Piece. On the surface One Piece looks very similar to other long running, shounen series but it has consistently ranked higher with critics than others such Naruto, Bleach and Fairy Tale.

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So something is clearly different here between One Piece and other shows and I think I know what might be. First off let’s look at it’s structure. Right form the get-go Oda had the ending and general structure planned out and since then hasn’t really left from that path. He originally intended for one piece to only go on for 5 years but continued the series on to flesh the story out. For most the high amount episodes and chapters will be an incredibly high barrier of entry but I would argue that in the long run it helps the series. The characters are traversing an entire world stopping on each island along the way, most islands’ stories arguably out does many other series in size and scope alone. Not only that but since the character’s  goals are such lofty or in the case of some vague such as “Become the worlds greatest swordsman” or “Chart every ocean in the world” or even “become a great warrior” it makes sense that it would take a lot of time to achieve them.

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The appearance of One Piece is another determining factor.  Right from the start Oda’s art is great and only gets better over time. Not only that but Oda has a grasp on the medium he works in that few others do. He understand both what flows well and especially what looks cool in format. Luffy’s power to stretch his body already seems cool but when paired with cool perspective tricks his attacks appear incredibly flashy and badass.

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Zoro’s three sword style also looks great in the way that only a non-moving comic can make it look.

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Oda also never seems content to merely let events start and stop. There always seems to be a logical reason for why the characters move to the next place or do the next thing even if it is occasionally is obvious that things or character happen or appear just to move the story forward.

Finally, I would like to talk about the types of stories One Piece tells. One Piece especially recently has gotten much better at building up stories before they even happen. For example the whole Baroque Works saga begins in volume 12 telling the story of the Strawhats trying to return a princess to her kingdom and to defeat the a corrupt warlord so when we finally get to Alabasta it feels like a mini victory in and of itself. Similarly Fishman Island is first mentioned around volume 45 so when we finally get there it feels great along with this the Skypeia arc is famous for being a great self contained story that is just part of the overall narrative. One Piece also handles war arcs good too. Naruto was famous for having a long and drawn out war arc that tainted the ending for some. One Piece’s Paramount War on the other hand was is the best arc in the series.

I’m tempted to go into the themes of One Piece but I can tell many people are already bored of this as it it. So maybe I’ll do a follow up to this eventually.

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Thanks Again,

Kevin Smith,