AMV of the Day: Dazzling Inferno (Little Witch Academia)

The latest “AMV of the Day” is about this cute, little anime called Little Witch Academia that first began as a short anime film then a sequel that was much longer.

“Dazzling Inferno” combines sequences from both the Little Witch Academia films with the song “Warrior” by Steve James (feat. LIGHTS). It focuses very much so on the character of Akko who (unlike Harry Potter) stumbles, mistakes her way through magical adventures in the titular academy and despite her failings never faltering in her joy at being a witch-in-training.

There’s now an anime series currently airing in Japan that continues that adventures of Akko and her misfits friends and schoolmates. What better way to whet one’s appetite for the series than an anime music video that highlights a major theme in the anime.

Anime: Little Witch Academia

Song: “Warrior” (feat. LIGHTS) by Steve James

Creator: Radical Yue

Past AMVs of the Day

Anime You Should Be Watching: Gate

I don’t know about anyone else, but when I was a kid, teen, young adult, and now older adult, I’d often fantasize about being able to go back in time with a modern military and just be some kind of unstoppable juggernaut.  Imagine bringing a machine gun to the Revolutionary War, or even a trained sniper squad capable of picking off the enemy generals the minute they peeked their heads out of a door.  Well, what if a portal appeared in the middle of New York City and out poured an army, comprised of fantasy blend medieval times soldiers (orcs and dragons along with humans, but only armed with swords and shields and bows and arrows)?  No doubt there would be a good amount of civilian deaths in the first chaotic moments, but when the national guard would be mobilized, there’s little doubt that it would be a complete rout.  This is more or less the idea behind Gate, which came out in the later half of 2015.

gateThis is very much a “wouldn’t it be cool if…” sort of anime.  You just need look no further than the protagonist, Yoji Itami.  Our first encounter with him makes us believe that he’s your average, everyday otaku, in Ginza for a doujinshi event when the portal opens and the army from another world appears.  But he’s obviously more than your average otaku, because while everyone else is panicking, he more or less takes control and directs the civilians on where to go and tells the police pretty much how to do their jobs, even going so far as to kill one of the enemy soldiers in hand to hand combat.  We soon find out that he is an JSDF officer (Japan Self Defense Force, think National Guard because Japan hasn’t technically been allowed to have a military since WWII) and through the course of the show we find out that not only is this slacker a soldier, but he’s also gone through Ranger and Special Forces training.

Japan sends approximately a brigade sized force through the gate to the other side, where they set up their base.  Naturally, the native forces do not fully comprehend just how much a disadvantage they’re at until the Battle of Arnus Hill.

Following this slaughter, Japan proceeds to set up shop, and because they’re Japan and not the US, Russia, or China (these three nations are also shown here, as less than noble as one would expect from a show made in Japan) instead of moving to conquer the region, they strive to win the hearts and minds of the populace and seek a peaceful solution to the situation that the Empire has brought upon itself.  Needless to say, the Empire doesn’t exactly want to admit they’re beat and it takes many more displays of overwhelming might before they realize that they’ve made an enemy of a force that they just can’t win against.

Now, this would hardly be a “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” scenario unless the main guy was fawned over by half the females in the land, and sure enough he gets his harem in short order.  First him and his squad rescue an elf girl, Tuka Luna Marceau, whose village was wiped out by a Fire Dragon.  Immediately after he meets up with a young female mage, Lelei La Lelena, and then an immortal female demigod of war, Rory Mercury, who happens to have essentially stopped aging at the age of 16 or so.  She also seems to be the favorite girl for people to cosplay as, possibly because of her affinity to dress in gothic lolita clothes, and also because she’s just plain badass.  Later on his harem adds a dark elf and even a princess from the Empire, in addition to many lesser characters who are more than happy to fawn over him.  For the most part, while he’s not unaware of their interest in him, he is fairly ambivalent towards  their affections.

What really makes this show tick though is that while yes, it kind of is a love letter to the JSDF, and its primary purpose is to show off all manner of military hardware, there’s also a lot of political machinations going on behind the scenes.  A lot of it is showing how the Japanese bureaucracy can make even simple decisions take far longer than it should, although that is a problem with any sort of government really.  But it also shows how the rest of the major powers in the world, in this case the US, Russia, and China, would react if a country like Japan were to come across a vast, untapped resource like this world that can easily be dominated with our modern military might.  They were all too happy to let Japan test the waters and cross the gate first, but once it was found out that they were fighting bows and arrows with Abrams and Cobras, they too wanted to try and get a piece of the action.  The show is 75% military and 25% political, which gives it plenty of action, with some intellectual maneuvering thrown in to keep it all interesting.

Even though I enjoyed quite a bit of it, it does still have its faults.  Like 90% of all anime produced these days, it does suffer from the lack of a real ending.  It’s based on an ongoing series of light novels written by Takumi Yanai, so the ending is basically “Do you want to see more?  Maybe we’ll have another season, but otherwise go read the light novels!”  I’ve long come to accept that this is the way of the industry, but it still leaves you feeling unsatisfied.  Many of the plot threads that were left unresolved probably are being wrapped up as the light novels are written, but that doesn’t really help with the anime, which just kinda swept them under the rug and hoped you forgot about them.  There are also a few scenes that could very well creep some people out, most notably where a 12 year old noble girl becomes infatuated with one of the Japanese diplomats, and during the civil war in order to save her, he announces that she is his fiance, then continues to announce that he fully plans to marry her when she turns 16 (the age at which girls can marry without restriction in Japan).  It’s not being forced on her since she had long been saying she wanted to marry him, but it still reeks too much of otaku wish fulfillment and trying to appease the lolicon crowd.  I don’t have a huge problem with it since it’s all fictional, but it just seemed a bit unnecessary to me, and the story could have advanced just as easily if she were already of age.  It also tends to over glamorize the Japanese SDF, making them out to be nothing but the most humane people in the world.  Well, except when they’re slaughtering their enemies.  It’s kind of understandable, since Yanai is a former JSDF member, but it still kind of comes off as ignoring the faults of any military organization and making them out to be infallible knights of justice.

Still, at the end of the day, it left me wanting to watch more.  The likelihood of more anime being produced is probably low, while it did get a 24 episode run, the disc sales were decent but not stellar.  Unless it’s determined that the light novel sales could be boosted by another season, I don’t expect to get to see more of this in animated form.  Which is a shame, because it deserves a proper ending to one of the more interesting shows to come out in recent years.

Anime of the Year:2016

I gotta admit, of everyone here, I am definitely the guiding light when it comes to anime.  This doesn’t mean that I watch everything and my word is gospel (Ok, my word is always gospel, because I said so) but I do watch a decent amount of every year’s offerings, in the realm of 1/4 to 1/2 of everything that’s been released (but since there’s been 180 titles released this year alone, and I can manage to watch at the most 20 shows a season if I’m super diligent, which anyone here will admit I’m not) the best I can do is 80 shows.  So it’s always possible that something has fallen through the cracks.  But, I like to believe that I have a good finger on the pulse of things that are good.  Hence, while I’ve long heard the cry for Re:Zerorem-x-ramHonestly, I hated the protagonist to death (anyone that’s watched the show sees what I did there) and I cannot in good faith pick that show as my favorite for the year.  But if not this show, then whom?  Yes, there have been multiple shows that are worthy of a high ranking.

Could I have gone with another highly rated show, Erased?

erasedWell, since I’ve brought it up right now, everyone should know that no, this isn’t my top show.  But, let me say that it was high on my list.  The thing about anime is that shows that appear in the fall and winter seasons tend to be much more highly ranked because they are much more recent in the otaku consciousness.  The fact that a show like Erased, which premiered in the winter of 2016, has managed to keep itself in my otaku brain, speaks volumes for it.  However, as much as I loved this show, it still is not #1 for the year in my expert mind.

Frankly, I could lead you, the viewer, on through many, many more shows, and honestly you’d be better off knowing about them, but really, that’s just not my style.  The last two shows I told you about are ones that I felt everyone reading this blog should experience, whether you’re a fan of anime or not.  Anime fans will have watched all these shows and then some, because that’s what us otaku do.  But for the otaku crowd, who may or may not have been reading this far to see what I think is the creme de la creme, my vote goes, without a doubt, to KonoSuba, or as it’s known in its full name, as Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku o!

konosubaSee, the thing about this show is, it has everything that a proper otaku loves, and it knows it.  It’s a complete parody of the whole “Loser otaku gets transported to a fantasy world and manages to kick ass while he’s there” trope, but it still manages to play it off and make it fun.  Totally different from Re:Zero, where the protagonist is flawed, to the point you hate his guts and want him dead.  In KonoSuba, the protagonist is certainly flawed, but in a way that’s completely believable, yet hilarious.  While with Re:Zero, naturally you can look at the situation and agree that, yes, if you or I were put in that situation, we’d likely behave in a very similar way, Konosuba instead says “To hell with realism, isn’t this how you’d want to act?”  And the thing is, the vast majority of us don’t want actual realism in our anime.  We want escapist fantasy.  KonoSuba gives us that in spades.  It’s a total parody of the whole “loser dropped into the fantasy world” premise that so many of us desire, without getting into the more realistic aspects that Re:Zero provides, like the fact that the loser dropped into the fantasy setting will remain a loser.

Again, let me tell you, this list is completely subjective.  If you follow my god-like opinions, then KonoSuba is the obvious choice for Anime of the Year in 2016.  However, if you’re a heretic, and would rather listen to the words that the godless believers would spout, then by all means, check out Re:Zero.  It’s probably better than I plan on listing it, because I cannot stand the kind of protagonist they give us, but maybe you, the readers, have a lot more tolerance than I do.

AMV of the Day: Just Funkin’ Dandy (Space Dandy)

Just Funkin' Dandy

Anime has been called many things by fans and detractors. It’s been called imaginative and disturbing. Some have called them hilariously inventive while others have called them horribly perverted. One thing it has never been described and accused of is being boring and bland. One could hate every type of anime ever created and most such people would still describe it as anything but boring.

One such anime that fits the bill of being wildly imaginative is the series Space Dandy. If one was to describe it in non-anime terms then I could say it’s a space opera series that’s somewhat like the redheaded stepchild of Guardians of the Galaxy and Johnny Bravo who is then high on mushrooms and LSD.

The latest “AMV of the Day” was created by Shin and he makes perfect use of the Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars song “Uptown Funk”. The song doesn’t just fit the over-the-top lunacy of the chosen anime, but Shin also manages to use some complex video-editing magic to make it like the video was a comic book.

The song itself has been a staple for kitten videos where the little furballs will seemingly dance to the beat of the song. Now there’s another reason to listen to it and this AMV is one such reason.

Anime: Space Dandy

Song: “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson (feat. Bruno Mars)

Creator: Shin (tehninjarox)

Past AMVs of the Day

AMV of the Day: Clarity (Various)

Clarity AMV

It’s been quite a bit since I last picked an AMV to use as an example of why anime is such a collaborative piece of creative art.

The latest “AMV of the Day” splices together just the right scenes from three anime. There’s the classic Mamoru Hosada scifi/slice-of-life anime film The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Then there’s the more recent and well-received 5 Centimeters Per Second by Makoto Shinkai. Lastly, there’s the Tatsuyuki Nagai directed series Ano Hana.

Binding all three together is the song “Clarity” (also happens to be the title of the video) by the group Zed.

It’s a video that focuses on the three anime’s and it’s use of heightened reality as a storytelling tool. In the end, I also happen to just love the work done by caramelloxify on this video.

Anime: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, 5 Centimeters Per Second, Ano Hana

Song: “Clarity” (feat. Foxes) by Zed

Creator: caramelloxify

Past AMVs of the Day

Song of the Day: Song of Fanservice (from Binbougami ga!)

Latest “Song of the Day” comes from episode 11 of the ecchi anime series Binbougami ga! and comes at the very end. It’s simply called the “Song of Fanservice”. It’s a very brief song but one that goes straight to the point. It has been picked up by fans of the fanservice as the anthem that best describes why ecchi anime series are so beloved by many anime fans worldwide.

So, with this brief detour from all things horror, I present to you “Song of Fanservice” from Binbougami ga! and let your fanservice flag fly.

Anime You Should Be Watching: Gakkou Gurashi (School Live)

School LiveHello again all you followers of TTSL.  I could do my usual introduction of why I haven’t posted in forever, and reminder of who I am, blah blah, but for today, let’s forgo that and let me talk about an anime that I personally think is the best anime to come out in the past year.  Depending on where you watched it, you’ll know it as either Gakkou Gurashi, or School Live.

To everyone that read any sort of synopsis for this anime, you all had an inkling of what to expect. But for those of use who read it months in advance and promptly forgot, episode 1 was a total shocker.  Essentially all you have to know is that Yuki is batshit insane, or rather she’s in complete denial mode, and everything else makes a lot of sense.  I try to avoid spoilers as much as I can here at TTSL, but as I said before, the very synopsis gives this part away, so let me be blunt.  There are four girls basically battling for their lives in a zombie apocalypse in a school that was designed for that very purpose.  Yes, in a very short time we are given the facts that the school they’re living in has solar panels to give them electricity, and water purifiers to give them fresh water from the ground, or as long as electricity remains, purified water from their waste.  Hence the solar panels.

Now, these are not the kind of zombies that one would normally expect, no, rather these are Land of the Dead type zombies, where the zombies have some kind of idea as to the kinds of lives they lived before they turned.  So since we’re all Land of the Dead mode, naturally the zombies here are choosing to remain at school, since that’s the most natural thing for them to do.

First thing that must be remembered is that Yuki is a nut job.  Yes, she’s Miss Crazy Girl.  Me harping on that is a minor spoiler, but only one that would last beyond episode 2.  In most every zombie apocalypse, there’s at least one person who is going to deny it as long as they can.  In this case, that is Yuki.  She thinks she’s in school like normal and that everything is fine.  We very easily find out in the first episode that that is not the case.  We’re in full blown zombie apocalypse time, and most of the girls in the group know it and accept that fact.

Still, the fact that you know that I know that you know that we all know the full outcome of this, doesn’t change the fact that the girls here are trying their best to live a somewhat normal life.  Yes, their school is abnormally stocked (it’s explained), and yes 3 out of 4 girls are very ready to accept this (not as well explained as the previous one), but who cares?  This is one of the rare examples of cute girls doing cute things during a zombie apocalypse that kind of actually works.  To all us zombie survivalists, does everything these girls do work out?  Hell no.  But, can we think that for the time being that maybe we could accept that they’d live as long as they did?  Sure, why not?  Because at the end of the day, we all want to hope that there are cute waifus waiting for us when 99% of humanity are shambling hordes.  And really, isn’t that what we’re all hoping for?  Well, I sure am, and if you’re not, then don’t come running to me when you’re bitten and turning.  In fact, you’re not gonna come running to me, because the running zombie is nothing more than a Hollywood invention.