Voltron: Legendary Defender – Studio Mir back at it again!

Apologies for having been in absentia for so long. However, I can think of no better way to get this blog back on track than reviewing Voltron: Legendary Defender. As a teenager, a show that really got me into animation/anime was Avatar: The Last Airbender (which I will certainly review at some point of time going forward). You may ask, what has that got to do with anything? But, Jae Myung Yu who was an animation director on The Last Airbender founded Studio Mir and subsequently, the Avatar sequel, Legend of Korra was primarily animated by Studio Mir. Therefore, I have an unwavering loyalty to Studio Mir and anyone connected with the Avatar universe. So when the news broke that a new version of Voltron was being done by Studio Mir and with some of the writers who had worked on Avatar, there was nothing that would stop me from watching it.

netflix-voltron-pic1

So what’s it about?

For 10,000 years, the Galra Empire has been slowly conquering all the planets of the universe. The only way to stop Galra Emperor Zarkan is the robot warrior Voltron. However, the key to unlocking Voltron and the five robot lions that come together to form Voltron lie with a civilisation that hasn’t been seen in the past 10,000 years. Join, Shiro, Keith, Lance, Hunk, and Pidge, 5 earthlings abruptly forced into the role of defending the universe and fighting the formidable Zarkan and his empire.

To binge or not to binge?

This show is distributed by Netflix, which, at the outset, screams “must-binge”. However, it’s quite easy to take the show slowly, I watched the first five episodes over the course of 5 days and binged the last 8. I think it’s worth binging it because it’s a fairly short season (13 episodes) and the last 3 episodes really pick up momentum and leave you wanting more.

Is it a gateway animated show?

In a way it is. It has easy humour, the story line becomes very mature and smart towards the end and Studio Mir is always fantastic with their animation style.

voltron2

Dub or sub?

Well, it is in English. I am not sure if there are subtitles in other languages, I certainly hope so!

What’s to like?

I’ll be honest, Voltron was quite slow to begin with. What I really enjoyed initially was the humour which was so much like the humour from The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. However, the last three episodes really picked up at you could see that there is a story which I am now extremely intrigued by. Another thing is, Studio Mir’s animation is always on point and it’s an absolute joy to watch shows animated by them. They have this unique skill of making me feel like pausing the show and taking screenshots because the animation is so good. Also, the characters are all interesting, unique, and loveable. Voltron: Legendary Defender does not disappoint and I look forward to the next season.

Advertisements

Koutetsujou no Kabaneri: Your solution to the SNK wait

Are you a fan of Shingeki no Kyojin? Do you like steampunk? Are zombies something that interest you? Well, Wit Studio has the anime for you this spring. After watching two episodes of this show, I have faith that this is a recommendation that I won’t regret moving forward (don’t disappoint Wit Studio!). Also, I have a sneaking suspicion that Wit Studio is trying to keep its fanbase entertained until that elusive Season 2 of Shingeki no Kyojin comes around. And I’m not complaining one bit!

77657l.jpg

So what’s it about?

Koutetsujou no Kabaneri (Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress) is set in a world which has a steampunk vibe to it. In this world, people live in cordoned off cities with high walls because of these zombie-like creatures called Kabane (which is actually the word for ‘corpse’ in Japanese). The Kabane can’t be killed easily because their hearts are surrounded by a metal cage. Humans in this society are so antagonised by the Kabane that anything remotely different is treated with a great deal of hostility. Under these circumstances, meet Ikoma and Mumei, two citizens of this world who are… certainly… quite… different.

To binge or not to binge?

Well, I actually can’t say at the moment, we’re only two episodes into the season. However, there is certainly binge potential. I’ll update this section when the season is over.

Is it a gateway anime?

It could be, it has a number of similarities to Shingeki no Kyojin which makes it a good place to start watching anime. In fact, watching this BEFORE Shingeki no Kyojin might be a good idea so that you appreciate it more.

Dub or sub?

There is no dubbed version. It certainly might get one. Funimation is quite into doing broadcast dubs now. I will update this if there is any news about a dub in the works. However, personally, I suggest sticking to Japanese here. The anime has a very distinct Japanese feel to it and I think that is best complemented by maintaining the original voice acting.

What’s to like?

I can understand if people hate it because it is so similar to Shingeki no Kyojin, however, I see it having character of its own. The show has some anime stalwarts working on it, and I don’t think Wit Studio is spending time and money on a carbon copy. The animation is beautiful, as expected by Wit. Also, true to form, I have to highlight that I love Mumei and Yukina, two potential kick-ass female characters in this anime.

The bottom line is, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri fills the Shingeki no Kyojin void in your heart (admit it, you have one too!).

FLCL: Random at its best!

Let’s do a quick rewind. While exploring the wonderful world of anime last night, I found out that one of my favourite animes is getting a sequel which is set to air in 2017 or 2018. Now, while, of course, that is far away in the distant future, I was really thrilled about the news and decided to review the original series.

FLCL.full.39690.jpg

So what’s it about?

FLCL follows a brief period of time in the life of 12-year-old Naota Nandaba. Naota lives in the fictional town of Mabase which is fairly normal aside from the clothing-iron shaped building that belongs to a corporation known as Medical Mechanica. A Vespa riding Haruko Haruhara ‘drives’ into Naoto’s life and what ensues is absolute C-H-A-O-S. Seriously, there is no better way to put it, this anime is 6 episodes of chaos!

To binge or not to binge?

FLCL is only 6 episodes, just binge watch it. In fact, it lends itself to binging because you get fragments of the story along the way so it’s better to have all the pieces laid out in one stretch as opposed staggering out the process. But that doesn’t mean all your questions will be answered at the end of it.

Is it a gateway anime?

There are a lot of references to other animes (and even a reference to South Park), to appreciate it, you need to be familiar with anime. However, there is so much in FLCL that no audience member will ever understand and for that reason, you could certainly watch it as your gateway anime and take what you will from it.

Dub or sub?

If you want to be a purist, you can go with the Japanese version. I say this because the voices chosen in the Japanese version were done so with the creator’s specific artistic vision in mind. That being said, the dubbed version is great, it follows the trend of great anime dubs that Cowboy Bebop started. While comparing the two I noticed that a lot of the translations in the subtitles were directly used for the dubbed script, which is usually not the case in dubbed versions.

What’s to like?

In the technical areas – I love the animation, granted, it probably looks outdated now, but it has a poetic feel to it, not to mention they explore different styles of drawing/animation within the 6 episodes. The music is great, it’s a punk/alternative rock soundtrack which works perfectly with the anime. In terms of story – at the heart of it all, FLCL is a coming of age story. I think that’s what you need to keep in mind while watching it. Another thing is, FLCL was quite a daring project, it is not based on a popular manga, light novel, or game, it’s 6 episodes made from the vision of one man. To really understand this anime you would probably need to climb into Kazuya Tsurumaki’s head. Which brings me to the fact that – this anime begs to analysed, you don’t take it at face value. You can watch it several times and each time you will derive something new from it, at least I have. If you do watch this anime, about 10 minutes in, you are going to think – what on Earth am I watching? However, be patient, watch all six episodes. Think about it. Then watch it again and think about it some more. Of course, if you don’t want to invest that much in this anime, you can check out these analyses of FLCL which will give you some idea of what is going on in the anime.

 

Shingeki no Kyojin: Of Monsters and Men

I decided to do a really popular anime review because the next 3 to 4 that I have planned are going to be a bit offbeat. I am sure you’ve heard of Shingeki no Kyojin/Attack on Titan if you’re vaguely aware of anime. If you’ve been wondering whether to watch it, how about I try and help you out?

attack-on-titan-s2-slated-for-2016-1113994

So what’s it about?

In this world, humans are terrorised by giant humanoid creatures (Titans) which devoured a considerable part of the human population. Over a hundred years ago, to protect themselves, the humans created a wall around their settlements to keep the Titans out. However, one day, a Titan, much bigger than the wall smashes through making humans once again susceptible to these giants. Will the human fight back? Are the Titans the real monsters? Is there something much deeper going on?

To binge or not to binge?

Don’t even TRY to take Shingeki no Kyojin slowly. This anime demands binging! Take out a weekend and watch the first season (25 episodes). Then once you’re all caught up, suffer with the rest of us as we wait for the day when season two is finally released.

Is it a gateway anime?

Yes it is. It’s a good place to start. The animation is fantastic and the story is very compelling. There are scenes of gore which will really dissuade the faint of heart. If you can get through the first episode, then you can make it through the rest of the show.

Dub or sub?

You can choose either. There are definitely differences between the two but the dubbed version is not bad. I do believe anime purists will shoot me for saying that because there is a lot of polarity about the dub and sub versions of Shingeki no Kyojin. However, the fact is, Wit Studios animation deserves absolute, 100% appreciation. Having subtitles can sometimes distract from that.

What’s to like?

There are scenes of this anime where you can just pause, take a screenshot, print it out, and frame it as art. The story is very smart, it makes you think. I mean, you could take everything happening at face value, but there is definitely something much deeper waiting to be unearthed and the anime does hint at that. The Titans are perfect vessels of horror, as the mangaka Isayama says – the most terrifying thing is something humanoid which you just can’t quite understand (I’m paraphrasing of course). There are strong female characters in this anime and no one is overtly sexualised. Not to mention, interestingly, the gender orientation of two of the characters has been left ambiguous by Isayama despite the voice actors sort of boxing them according to their own gender. Also, who can forget the first OP which is universally loved? The show is also complemented by the soundtrack which is phenomenal (my personal favourites – Army Attack and Megata Kyojin Kuchiku).

Basically, you can’t know anime without watching the biggest thing to happen to anime in the past 3 years.

Aggressive Retsuko: Rage against the Man

This may be a premature review, but once I heard the premise of this anime and watched the trailer on YouTube, I just had to talk about it. Granted, I will follow my review format even though it hasn’t finished airing.

sCILqmEd93A

So what’s it about?

Retsuko, a 25-year-old red panda has her dream job working in the accounting department of a company. However, occasionally, her co-workers and boss can get on her nerves. Nevertheless, Retsuko keeps a level head in the office. However, to let off steam (like we all need to once in awhile), Retsuko does DEATH METAL KARAOKE!

 

To binge or not to binge?

I believe they are short episodes, just a minute long, so, I suppose you could wait for all of the episodes to come out and binge them all in one go. Or you could have little weekly nuggets of randomness. (Episode 2 is available on the Sanrio YouTube page, but doesn’t have subtitles, let’s see if other episodes will be released there as well).

192404

Is it a gateway anime?

Sure! Look at the premise of this anime short, it sounds AMAZING! How can someone not be into it?

Dub or sub?

This is a brand new short, so there’s no dub. I’d be very interested if this gets a dubbed version.

What’s to like?

How about … E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G! A cute little red panda, works in an accounting department and lets off her pent up rage about work by singing death metal. If you can find something NOT to like about that, I’d be very interested in knowing.

CfuY16aUMAATIRr.jpg

Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma: Fanservice, fanservice everywhere

I have a vacillating relationship with this anime. On the one hand, there is so much to love about it, on the other hand – boobage, boobage everywhere. The feminist in me screams at the fanservice in this anime.

f06b1f552d22b9a167db9908b4bd82111424062942_full

 

So what’s it about?

Meet Soma Yukihira, a high school student who helps his dad in their local family diner. Soma is quite the cook, but when it comes to competing with his dad, he always fails. When Soma’s father gets a new job, he enrols Soma in an elite culinary school – Totsuki Academy – hoping he will cultivate his skills and be the best chef he can be. Soma meets all kinds of interesting chefs in Totsuki – some who are his rivals, other who are his friends and others who teach him valuable lessons on success and failure.  Also, watch as everyone gets extremely turned on by food in this anime – taking ‘food porn’ to a new level.

To binge or not to binge?

Following a typical shonen pattern, Shokugeki no Soma has about 3 or 4 story arcs in the first season. If you don’t want to binge watch the entire show in one stretch, you can break it up into the different story arcs and watch an arc at a time. A sidenote: There is a scene at the end of the credits in every episode, it helps progress the story, don’t miss it.

[Episodes 1-7 can be watched 2 at time; Episodes 8-14 is one story arc; Episodes 15, 16 are one arc; Episodes 17, 18 are together; Episodes 19 – 24 are one arc]

Is it a gateway anime?

Yes, Food Wars is a gateway anime. It’s fast paced, has humour and if you’re partial to seeing the female anatomy (almost all the women in this show have huge boobs which are barely contained by their attire), this is for you.

Dub or sub?

There is no English dub of this anime. I suspect this is because of the highly sexual reactions some people have to the food on this show.

What’s to like?

Oh, what a dilemma this show puts me in. I love it for the cooking and the concept of Totsuki Academy. I love the different characters, even if their back stories are not completely well fleshed out, they are really likable. I appreciate that there are women chefs who are just as good as their male counterparts. The animation of the food is absolutely delicious, I suggest having something to munch while watching this anime, it will make you very hungry. Also, I do appreciate the fanservice, that is, people getting turned on by the food when it is everyone, regardless of gender. However, the fact is, the fanservice is very lopsided, women are represented more sexually than the men. Furthermore, the women have such big boobs which seem to have some weird buoyancy because they bounce like crazy – that doesn’t happen, people! Also, you need to consider the fact that these are high school students, around 15-16 years old, this hypersexual representation of teenagers is very disturbing.

Nevertheless, I do recommend this anime, it has a good story, animation, humour, and you can learn many of the recipes from the show on YouTube. If you love fanservice in anime – then enjoy those moments in this anime, and if you don’t like fanservice – then gloss over it as much as possible.

Akame ga Kill: Blood… so much blood

I know, the title of this post may be an over exaggeration to some and a dissuasion to others. But hear me out and see if you want to watch this anime. I don’t think you’ll regret picking up this one.

2e3c4b345ea55aef8cf138641602a5b5.png

So what’s it about?

Tatsumi is a skilled fighter from a small village, he wants to enlist in the army and make money for his village. Accompanied by two of his friends, he sets out to the Capital to work towards his goal. He loses track of his friends on his way and is swindled out of his money once he reaches the Capital. He is then taken in by a noble family, however, a group of assassins known as Night Raid is after the family and other powerful people in the Capital. Once he finds out the reason why he must choose whether to defend the noble family that took him in or join Night Raid, one of the members being the one who swindled him. What ensues is… a lot, A LOT, of blood, killing, death, gore.

To binge or not to binge?

Yes, Akame ga Kill is for binge watching. You may not want to, but I suggest giving yourself enough time to binge this anime because, invariably, you are going to want to keep moving forward.

Is it a gateway anime?

Yes, Akame ga Kill is a good place to start with anime. Many anime that are based on manga usually give you a segment of the story and you are meant to continue the rest of the story by reading the manga. The great thing about Akame ga Kill is that it has a definite story. This makes it good for anime beginners who are not interested in getting into manga as well. You should note that the manga is still going on and from what I can see, it is taking a different route from the anime. Nevertheless, the anime has a good solid story.

Dub or sub?

I have not checked out the English dub, so my recommendation is Japanese with subtitles. But, if you want to watch the fantastic action without having to read, naturally, the dub is for you. Actually, give me 10 minutes, let me just go check out the dub and let you know.

….

It’s not bad, but Akame sounds cooler in the Japanese version.

What’s to like?

Akame ga Kill has a solid story line. It does a good job establishing background information, has great world building, and has compelling characters. Agreed, there is some fanservice (this is shonen after all) but the women are strong, badasses who can and will take down anyone standing in their way. In fact, women are REALLY well represented in this anime. There is a mild element of “harem” in this – quite a few women seem to care/fawn over Tatsumi which I don’t think was necessary. It has good fight scenes and there are a variety of interesting weapons which are used by different characters. It also has a really great soundtrack. Regarding the gore aspect – yes, there is quite a bit but it really isn’t the goriest anime you’ll ever see, definitely not. However, if you’re extremely squeamish, this is your warning about this anime.

If you are a fan of The Hunger Games or Game of Thrones, I think Akame ga Kill is the anime for you.