Extra: The Liebster Awards

Considering that I’ve never really advertised for this blog, I’m not only pleased, but very grateful to have so many following the posts here. Not to mention all the wonderful people who like and comment, discussing issues further, telling me their own thoughts on these shows and expressing their excitement for possible future seasons of the proud few shows that break the cycle of predictability and climb into our hearts. As this is the last Extra post before New Years, I wanted to be sure I thanked each and every one of you who continue to encourage me in this endeavor and remind me that, yes, there are intelligent and wonderful anime fans out there and thus I need not give up on humanity just yet.

But now you’re probably wondering about the title of this post. Well, considering my site’s small size and voice, I was extremely surprised to find that this blog has been nominated for the Liebster Awards, an award with the purpose of informing the blogging community of little known, but well crafted, blogs with less than 200 followers. So here’s a big shout out to John Samuel, Captain of The Pirates of the Burley Griffin blog for nominating this blog. Thanks, Capt!
The main rules are simple enough:
1. Link back to the blogger who nominated you
2. Answer the 11 questions given to you by the blogger who nominated you
3. Nominate 11 other bloggers with less than 200 followers
4. Go to the blogs you nominated and notify them of your nomination
5. Give your nominees 11 questions to answer.

So here be my answers to the nerdy questions of the week!

  1. What is the best installment of an anime/manga franchise you don’t like?
    I might get flamed for this, but Gundam Wing. I adore the show. The political side was extremely well written and the characters were fun to watch and interesting. Although I’ve attempted to get into the other, more “solid” by fan standards, Gundam series, they’ve either been too slow, too desperate to please all the people and thus have no clear aim (Seed, pretty much) or have unlikeable/whinny characters. If you’re gonna give someone a rare and powerful mobile suit, they need to be competent and well trained. Otherwise I’m checking out episode one.
  2. all girlsWhat is the worst installment of an anime/manga franchise you do like?
    Last Exile: Fam. The Silver Wing. By far the worst sequel I’ve ever seen. Aside from it’s extremely small and confusing connections to its predecessor, Fam. The Silver Wing ended up with a case of anime amnesia, forgetting why fans loved the first series and rewriting everything to revolve around a entirely female cast in the hopes that moe alone would save them. It didn’t. The poor writing, painful forced “sympathy” for the villain (who was totally a mass murderder without regret until the end) and shallow characters worked to make this a massive let down for long time Last Exile fans. In the end, the steampunk visuals were all that this show had. And even then it didn’t live up to the series’ long held reputation.
  3. Give your favorite genre a reality check.
    I’m not sure if this is what you mean, but I’ve often commented on the shoujo genre’s various elements, mainly the ones that give me a cramp from rolling my eyes too often. Most central to this idea is my post on “bad boy” love interests. I also commented on some of the more recent, and dangerous, plot devices being used (cages and rape are not cool, people). These are things that would make any real woman call the cops. Immediately.
  4. Princess TutuName one (and only one) change you’d like to make to one anime.
    You’re killing me. Alright, I’d love to know more about Ahiru/Duck’s past in the series Princess Tutu. As the series currently stands, it is told she has always been a duck. However, it is also hinted that she might have come from “outside the story.” Also, she has no parents or memories of her past before becoming a girl. She’s also the only duck in the entire town. Even the pond she seems to live at contains no other wildlife. There are theories that Drosselmeyer wrote her in from one of his other works, meaning she is magic in and of herself. But nothing is ever confirmed and we’re just left without any knowledge of exactly who this girl – er, duck – really is.
  5. Name the most annoying anime character ever.
    Tough call there. Now I hate to pick on a show I reviewed so recently, but I honestly can’t come up with anyone worse at the moment. So it’s gonna have the the main male lead, Nai, from Karnival. Honestly, he has more whine than all of France (see what I did there?). Few things make me curl into a fetal position more than excessive whining punctuated with constant “um”s and “er”s.
  6. .hack//RootsName the anime character you’d most like to slap.
    I’d think that’s usually attached to the last question. But perhaps the above character could benefit more from a beating… Or simply being dissolved into thin air. Anyway, aside from every wishy-washy female lead in shoujo anime that just sits there while people harass her, I’d probably give a solid slap to Haseo from .hack//Roots. Dude, get a spine or just stop playing an MMORPG with PK capabilities. Honestly. If you don’t like it, don’t log in.
  7. Name the animation studio you’d most like to slap.
    Bandai. They came to America, treated our market as if it was identical to Japan’s, ignored social media outreach, gave up on America when sales dropped (mainly due to piracy, although the previous points were serious factors as well) and dropped hundreds of classic and timeless titles, not even allowing half of them to legally stream. Brilliant job, Bandai. I love it when companies give internet pirates ammunition. And by “love it” I mean hate it. A lot.
  8. relenaName your favorite anime hero or heroine.
    I don’t like “or.” So how abouts I make this an “and” question and include a dude and a lady? Edward Elric and Relena Darlian. And for one massive reason, too. They both were committed to doing what they felt was right, even if that cost them their lives. They looked at life honestly, no matter how ugly the picture. True heroism.
  9. Name the best anime villain.
    I think that depends on your definition of “best.” For laughability, I have a special place in my heart for Prozen from Zoids. If you mean “good” as in interesting, well Izaya from Durarara is pretty hard to predict. I enjoyed watching him weave in and out of the story. It’s too bad most villains these days aren’t written out as complexly. Villains have goals too. And they aren’t always black and white. Heck, the “enemy” in Princess Tutu wasn’t at all what anyone even expected, to say nothing of “it’s” goals.
  10. What is the most epic scene in anime?
    I was on the edge of my seat for the entire fight between Roy Mustang and Lust in the new Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood series. Very well done tension and energy.
  11. What is the anime with the best background music?
    I’m torn between Trinity Blood and Black Cat. Both have unique soundtracks blending piano, chorus and electronic sounds that, unfortunately, never made their way to the US and are little known.

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Extra: So this is different…

Many an anime has come from the humble cradle known as manga (that’s a mouthful). But not all shows keep to the cannon. In fact, many TV series and movies veer off course, leaving original fans either content with a new interpretation or enraged by the let down of seeing their favorite battle sequences in colorful animation. But these differences aren’t always a matter of interpretation. While it is true that Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle (which is based off of a novel, not a manga) is indeed just another twist on a single story, other series, like Fullmetal Alchemist and Black Cat, have a different reason for being… well, different.

The more frequent reason for a series taking a drastic turn from its story is the original story being incomplete. That’s right. Companies often start making an anime adoption before the manga is finished. Of course, this sounds just plain stupid to us, but there is a bit of logic behind it, abet it being business logic. Because, while many a fan don’t want to admit it, anime and manga are businesses. And when something is licensed by a company, they are concerned with making money off of the deal as soon as they can. In the case of changing a manga story into an animation, companies often fear that the hype around the manga will die down after it is completed, thereby affecting sales for the anime. Companies like to “ride out” the fan feels of a series early on, least it peters out later. Which is why a series will often start off while its original version is only, at best, halfway through telling its tale. Of course, this causes problems of its own. What ever does one do when they have caught up to the original story and yet must rush forward anyway? That’s when animators decide to either bring in the original mastermind of the piece and work along with them (rare), or take their own route for the story (common).

So there you have it. That’s why Train meets Eve while still an enemy in Black Cat and why the middle part of the first Fullmetal Alchemist series feels mega strange and many plot elements are left to die. But, hey. At least we get more adventures with our favorites characters! Even if those adventures seem a bit… odd.
What’s the last show you saw that had an anime version that was different from the manga? Did you like the differences or hate em?

Black Cat Review

Train Heartnet is an assassin for an underground organization called Chronos. Or he was until he met a female bounty hunter, otherwise known as a Sweeper, and begins to rethink his life. Mix in hard-on-his luck ex-cop, Sven, a cunning thief for hire, Rins, and a bio weapon named Eve and you can see where the desire for freedom might come up for the infamous Number XIII. Unfortunately, his attempt to run from Chronos’ stronghold of bloodshed is marred by another assassin, Creed, who is planning something far larger than a simple betrayal.

Even though this show contains a great deal of fighting, blood is pretty rare. Usually characters are only scratched up or their clothing is torn. There are a few disturbing scenes, however. One criminal has acidic hands and “melts” his victims. Although detail isn’t shown, it can be a scary scene for children. Also, villains further in the series are cut and shot at frequently and, while they don’t die, their regenerative powers can be a bit gross. Oh and two villain characters kinda shrivel up when they overuse their power. It’s not pretty.

The horrid “illegitimate-son-word” makes a few appearances. Which is why I’m thoroughly confused as to why the official rating is PG…

No outright nudity here, although Rins has a…. um… rack. This is played on a few times (via clothing that shows major cleavage), thankfully not often. Probably the closest to nudity happens near the end of the series with Eve, who is in a capsule of some kind. She isn’t wearing anything. However, all details are covered or her whole body is in a bright glow that obscures any details.

Most of the heavy symbolism is saved for the tail end of the show. Without giving too much away, Eve is taken to a place called “Eden” and there she meets “Adam.” The symbol of eating an apple (which is often understood as the fruit given to Eve by the snake/Satan) triggers the “end of the world.” It’s clear that these symbols are pulled from the Bible (even though there is no evidence that an apple was what Eve ate as the Bible only says it was “fruit”). These symbols are only used for the story’s sake and really don’t seem to have any ulterior motive.
Note: It’s not in FUNimation’s translation, but the idea of “demons,” which in Japanese is “oni,” is often applied to Eve in various parts of this show. Again, unlike America’s ideas of demons, the Japanese understand it as more of a horrifying monster than for any “religious” purpose.

Personal Impression:
First off, this anime is quite a trip visually. Unlike many animated adoptions of Shonen Jump series, Black Cat had an animation team that wanted to be different. They succeeded. Camera angles, colors, style, scene progression, and more are all far removed from typical animation styles. I personally enjoyed it. But then, I’ve seen so many traditional shows, I find this kind of thing interesting. Nevertheless, there are drawbacks. Fight scenes are occasionally hard to follow. But unlike Samurai 7 (another Gonzo studio release), Black Cat’s strangeness is throughout the show, so there’s not much in way of surprises. The camera angles you see in episode one are used all the way through to the end. So if the visuals aren’t to your liking when you try it, it’s not going to change later.
As for characters, Train is a wonderful contradiction of deadly seriousness and goofy. It’s actually quite brilliant how this is pulled off so well in one character. Eve’s personality also grows over time, which is both pleasant and, at times, hilarious. Even some of the major villains have interesting progression. Although the outcome of many of the battles are a touch predictable, the tone of the show, which is largely positive, makes up for it. Where most shows that star heroes with such troubled pasts as Train often become marred in doom and groom, Train largely keeps things positive, which falls in line with the theme of “freedom” the director was originally going for. As does the plot, which focuses on various factions in and outside of Chronos seeking the meaning of “freedom and peace.”
If you enjoy fighting, a dash of plot, well placed characters and a positive message, this show is a great one to try out. Just be well warned that Creed’s laugh might creep you out for a few weeks.

Personal Rating: Young Adult

Episodes: 24
Languages: Dub and Sub
Official rating: PG
Genre(s): Action, comedy
Website: http://www.funimation.com/black-cat
Legal streaming: N/A
Screen shots: