3 Nov 2012

Rurouni Kenshin

This is an anime I never quite managed to finish. It is also one I intend to complete in the near future, because I did enjoy it. I merely did not have enough time to make progress on the episode count. Rurouni Kenshin is a show that never really received the appreciation it deserved in the west, although it does have a solid fanbase. I've never managed to get my hands on any of the manga, but I'm going to assume it has more depth than the anime.

The prequels look much better.

Although the anime has several short prequels, revolving around the exploits of the main character- Himura Kenshin- it's up to you which you decide to watch first. Either way, you will not have any trouble understanding the plot. Himura was once a powerful and deadly assassin in a war during the Meiji era in Japan. He was known as the Battosai, and everyone feared and knew his name. Despite his once dangerous nature, he reforms himself and dedicates his blade to peace. This is symbolized by Kenshin's refusal to kill anyone; backed up by using the flat side of his sword to fight opponents.

The anime begins with the ex-assassin on a new journey to establish a new reputation. Upon said quest, he happens to save a girl from a man masquerading as Battosai. After defeating the fake, the girl is revealed as Kamiya Kaoru- a young impulsive dojo owner. She offers to take him in at her school, which is in disrepair. Kenshin decides to stay, and help Kaoru create a place to learn how to fight with honor and humility. The plot develops from here, as Kaoru works to achieve her dream to find students and run an exceptional dojo; while Kenshin tries to escape his past.

As you can see, the art style in the sequel is older and different.

Himura Kenshin is a calm character. His true skill and cold battle ability is completely underestimated until he draws his sword. When not in a combat situation, his nature can only be regarded as a lovable fool. I thought he was very cool as a main character, and his personality really leads the show. Kamya Kaoru acts as the heroine, and she has some incredibly tsundere moments. Other than that, she doesn't do a bad job. During the comedy parts of the anime she can be entertaining and otherwise she usually acts as Kenshin's conscience. As the program continues, more people make the dojo their home. Almost every person in the anime has been affected adversely by the Bakumatsu war, which ravaged Japan.

There are essentially two arcs in the 60 episodes of Rurouni Kenshin. The first 30 aren't really continuous and focus on establishing character backgrounds and introducing new people to the audience. The fights are short, and each problem is usually wrapped up within a couple of episodes. After that, Rurouni Kenshin begins a final arc, where Himura's past catches up to him. In my opinion, everything before the last arc felt like filler. I would of preferred the first half shorter. Despite this, you do get to learn a lot about the main cast, with individual episodes dedicated to their struggles.

Kenshin can be adorable.

Ultimately, this anime is excellent. It's not in my top list of favorites, but it's certainly above average and isn't difficult to get into. The graphics are a little dated, but the artwork is strong and pleasing to the eye. The plot begins slowly, but put in enough time and you'll find yourself liking it more and more. This review has given me the inspiration to finish watching the last few episodes, so hopefully it encourages you guys too.

2 Nov 2012


I know I will get a lot of hate for this, but Naruto is an anime that I just cannot stand. It is very slow paced, and it kills off any addiction I ever derived from the manga. I do truly enjoy the premise, the characters, and the story. But the anime takes the slow plot pacing from Dragonball, and impossibly; manages to drag it out even longer.

Naruto, being crazy as always.

To clarify once more, I like a lot of the content in Naruto. But the way the anime portrays it just ruins the entire concept for me. The sequel, Shippuden has improved over the original a lot yet still suffers from the lack of progress. It's a long running anime, with enough episodes to keep you busy for a long time. But I'd suggest reading the manga first instead, it doesn't walk into a lot of the pitfalls the show drops into.

Naruto is an orphan ninja trainee in Konoha, the hidden leaf ninja village. The story reveals how he progresses from an ostracized outsider, unable to make any friends or complete a simple task; into one of the strongest ninja in the village.

He begins as a lonely child acting out to get attention and always making dumb decisions. He has no family, and no friends. Other kids in the ninja school consider him a joke not only because he never thinks and always acts, and the adults all warn everyone to stay away from him. This is because the Kyuubi, an unstoppable monstrosity is sealed within him.

The Kyuubi erupts from inside Naruto.

A fundamental and very repetitive key to Naruto is he achieves his goals with sheer willpower. He beats impossible odds time and time again by trying harder than anyone else. He begins to make many friends and rivals due to the effort he puts forth, which is an admirable result of his actions. In this prequel to Shippuden, a lot of focus revolves around the bumbling Naruto and his relationship with the prodigy Sasuke.

The ninja aren't simply what you would see in the history books in feudal Japan. They can essentially use magic. Said magic is implemented in the form of 'Jutsu', or techniques. Said techniques can be performed by using a combination of hand signals followed by a phrase. The interesting part however, is that people inherit the ability to use certain attacks from their families. Training to learn a new powerful Jutsu can even take years of practice to perfect. This means when two ninja fight, the victor is usually determined by which user has the most effective Jutsu.

Naruto often struggles with his inner demon just as much as he struggles to succeed.

As such a long running program, Naruto has gathered a huge following that I'm probably pissing off considering my lack of love for this media. But I will say I do not despise it entirely, the more you delve into Naruto, the more it rewards you. After a hundred episodes, you will feel very invested in the franchise.

Sasuke and Naruto together are a formidable duo, almost unstoppable. Even though they hate eachother at first, after a little time they learn to work together. Naruto is jealous of Sasuke and his talent. Unknowingly, the flawless Sasuke is also jealous of Naruto and his ability to never give up, to keep on trying and persevere. 

Naruto and Sasuke, working together.

The artwork is nothing special, but nice to look at nonetheless. The dub is horrendous as always, the sub being the lesser of two evils. Watching Naruto before the sequel, Shippuden is pretty necessary, but if you want to skip the majority of the boring part- go straight ahead to Naruto Shippuden. Overall I have to say this franchise is acceptable, due to the rich background you will learn about as you progress through the series. I just don't like the part where you watch 10 episodes and nothing interesting happens.

Finally, make sure you have too much time before attacking Naruto head on. You need enough space to watch large amounts of episodes or read chunks of the manga. Or, just don't waste your time. Either way, if you watch a dozen episodes you will discover whether you want to continue watching or not.

1 Nov 2012

Howl's Moving Castle.

This film, another production by the brilliant studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki. I have met numerous people who have seen Howl's Moving Castle, and not a single one has disliked it. It is truly a benchmark in anime, something every connoisseur has to partake in. So if you're here wondering if you should watch this production, go watch it now and then come back. Don't forget to comment or I won't be pleased!

It seems a little steampunk.

Sophie the hat maker has a fairly dull life, but a comfortable one. Upon encountering the enigmatic wizard Howl, that all changes. Because of her meeting with Howl, our protagonist becomes cursed by a witch of the wastes. Transformed into an old lady, Sophie is forced to set out on a journey to try and reverse the spell.

What truly amazed me about this production is the universal quality. It can be enjoyed by adult, child, and teenagers alike. Despite the age of the film, the visuals are still fantastic. Howl's castle is a heap of scrap kept in motion by magical means, yet it somehow retains a level of mystery that leads you to believe there is more to it.

Sophie, searching for a way to remove her curse.

The relationship between Sophie and Howl is spontaneous yet still believable, the characters all have contrasting personality and in the short time you get to see them on screen; you feel like you know them intimately. Sympathizing with the antagonists is quite easy, empathizing with the good guys is immediately possible.

The soundtrack is something to remember, I listen to it occasionally for nostalgia. Because I watched it as a younger child, I will never forget some of the key moments of this film. I have seen it several times more as I grew up, and noticed a new intricacy each time.

Howl, and his magical rainbow coat.

Many plots and media today have derived some structure from the foundation that Hayao built in Howl's Moving Castle. I believe my review can't quite do it justice, therefore I would prefer everyone with any incentive should just watch the film and judge it for yourself. 

22 Oct 2012


I initially found myself avoiding Gintama like the plague, despite it having stellar scores and brilliant reviews everywhere I came across it. The cheesy slapstick comedy in the small clips I had seen mostly appeared a little too childish for my taste.

This is Gin, and probably his most common expression.

Foolishly looking back on that time, I can happily say the phrase 'don't judge a book by its cover' is still something nobody should screw with. There's a damn good reason people are handing out ultimatums on forums and preaching about the wonderful Gintama. It's funny, and churns out jokes at such a fast pace you will eventually smile which undoubtedly leads on to a chuckle and so forth.

The story is very simple. Gin and his friends work as freelancers, solving problems that are probably beneath anyone else. Catching cats, dealing with questionably dangerous criminals and such. The amanto are aliens that captured Japan during the Edo period. As a result, a ban on swords is in place- putting a lot of samurai out of jobs.

Yes, there's a lot of references to other media.

Japanese humour is something nobody should ever underestimate. From the downright creepy to straightforward slapstick, it's something that you might struggle to appreciate. However, most people I find will just burst out laughing at how ridiculous it can be; and from there on they enjoy it.

The story is about a samurai living in a futuristic era a long time past samurai is a valid profession. Not only are samurai not needed, I'm surprised people even know what they are. Humans co-exist with aliens, and space travel is common.

A lot of references.

I do suggest reading the manga first or you might have to soldier through the first couple of episodes in the anime, which may demotivate you (I could barely hold interest) because it's mostly introductions and doesn't really capture your attention. However, once it gets into full swing, you may find it hard to stop watching Gin and his escapades with Shinpachi and Kagura.

I wouldn't suggest Gintama to somebody not already comfortable with Anime in general. It's really a hit or miss for anybody outside Japan. So if you really don't like it I can't imagine you getting into it.

Although I'm not one for anything too episodic, I still thoroughly enjoyed watching Gintama. Overall it didn't really suit my tastes; however the quality of the show is undeniable, it has earned all the praise and fanboys that it has accumulated.

10 Oct 2012

Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei

The main character from the anime
Our protagonist and sensei.

I've recently been watching this school comedy anime at my girlfriends insistence. It's actually not bad. The premise is based around a depressed teacher and his innocent class of often eccentric yet lovably optimistic girls.

I haven't finished the anime yet, but it's fairly predictable and episodic in nature. Itoshiki Nozomu, our protagonist and sensei, spends his time living in 'despair'. He carries a noose wherever he goes, just in case the need for suicide arises. He rants a lot about the injustices of the world to his young and optimistic class- explaining the futility of life and encouraging them to give up. This always has the opposite result, the girls find a way to take his speech to heart and find a way to see it as inspirational.

Image of the anime Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei
The main girls in Itoshiki's class.

Each episode typically introduces you to a new student in his class, showing us their personality and flaws. As you progress through the show, you learn new things about them and they often give the suicidal sensei a new outlook on life.

As you come to understand more of his students and they establish a rapport together, it's easier to appreciate the show. Their interactions are often amusing or cute. I got annoyed that this anime plays into so many stereotypes, but it does it intentionally and usually makes light of it by making fun of the standard genus. 

There is a lot of hidden meaning and often subtle writings in the background of every episode. This aspect provides a certain amount of depth to the program, giving you the option to watch it again and pick up on parts that you missed.

The best thing about this anime is anyone can enjoy it. For me it acts as a buffer between watching anime, because I don't think it quite stands out from the rest. However, I can see plenty of people loving it. Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei represents a fair amount of different genre stereotypes, such as a small harem factor; and the common school element. The most prominent category would be slice of life, backed up with comedy.

An image of the sensei being depressing in the anime
The black overly is frequently there to indicate his pessimism.

Although I somewhat enjoyed it so far, it didn't pull me into the fray, forcing me to empathise with the characters and feel involved. I can see how some people would relate to it on many levels; just not me. It's not got that cocaine pull that I've experienced from so many anime.

The anecdotes that are often brought up from the students antics are very natural, and it's entertaining enough to inspire a laugh or two from anyone.

If anything, give the sensei a try because there are only 12 episodes, without counting the second season. If you like pessimistic yet charming protagonists, with an obsession with conspiracies (Welcome to the N.H.K. anyone?)- This anime should certainly be on your list.