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: Remember when eye patches were a thing?

I’m serious. You remember those days right? Nearly every anime coming out featured at least one character sporting an eye patch (oddly, pirates never really factored in). Even Fullmetal Alchemist’s newest movie succumbed. And, yes, I do indeed blame CLAMP for this trend. Many of their characters fell into that category, such as Fay in Tsubasa Chronicles. Other manga teams picked it up as well, as evident in Peach Pit’s Rozen Maiden series. This trend was pretty strong throughout the late 90s and early 2000s, even filtering down into the harem genres where some girl, who probably lost her memories, also sported an eye patch for seemingly no reason whatsoever. And, yes, that is a bitterness you hear in my tone. At least with a lot of the male versions they were hiding a blank eye, a terrible wound or laser guns. The female version didn’t even try half the time.

But, anyway, this brings me back to the point. Fads. Anime seems to have its fair share of them. After FMA was a hit, there was an increase in alchemy making an appearance in shows and games from Japan. Then there’s always been a fascination with angels and demons, though the amount varies. And seeing a picture of Irvine from Zoids Chaotic Century (ps – his covered eye is apparently fine. He used his eye patch for extra cameras and as a recording device. Gotta get me one of those) makes me wonder about today’s shows. What trends are showing up these days? I’d call out “amnesia,” but let’s be honest with ourselves. That card has been played by nearly every show in existence. It’s like some kind of holy grail for an anime production company. I can just see some younger company pitching an idea to investors and being asked if they’ve done a show yet involving a memory-less character, the answer being a make or break for the entire deal.

So what is today’s trend? If I had to guess, I’d throw out “insanity.” There’s been quite the increase in physiological thriller/horror anime coming across the Pacific in the last couple years. Even traditionally “innocent” genres have gotten puled into the mix, as is the case with Madoka Magica. It makes me wonder why. Maybe it’s simply an age thing. Many fans who grew up on Sailor Moon are now far older and exiting college. For them, traditional shows are seeming slow, perhaps. Tastes often shift with age and there’s likely been a serge in demand for more mature shows (I’m ignoring porn because the high demand for that is nothing new).

Of course, it could also have to do with people’s ideas of society. Like how unpredictable it is and such. But I’d rather avoid speculating on that. Especially as I’m sure there are a few other trends, probably smaller details, that are going down these days and I can’t seem to put my finger on them.
What do you think? What’s today’s “eye patch?”

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood Review

Fullemtal Alchemist: BrotherhoodStory:
A dog of the military, Edward Elric works tirelessly to find the legendary Philosopher’s Stone, which just might have the ability to return himself and his younger brother back to their original forms. But they’re by far not alone in their search and some would stop at nothing to silence any who find out the “truth.”

Violence:
Just as in the first version of this series, the violence in this show is reasonably high. Characters get stabbed, cut, burned, etc. Although gore isn’t really an issue, it does push the limits of PG14. If high violence bothers you, this show isn’t for you.

Language:
Again, as with the first version, there’s reason for the PG14 rating. D-mns, and more than one instance of the “illegitimate-son” word.

Nudity:
A biiit more fanservice in this version than in the last, I’m afraid. Thankfully it only happens a few times. Winry is seen taking a bath in one scene (all details covered) and then beginning to undress in another. Nothing that breaks the TV14 rating, but it’s hardly necessary.

Theology/Mythology:
Another difference from the first series, this version addresses God more than once. A comment is made about touching God using alchemy (or something like that. It made no sense) and then about the obvious fact that Ed’s transmutation technique looks almost like he’s praying (thank you, Sherlock –I mean Ling. I never thought of that one). Near the end, the villain is delusional (what villain isn’t?) and says something to the extent of becoming a god. Typical villain stuff, really. But if this kind of comparison (which really doesn’t affect the story overall) makes you uncomfortable, you’ve been warned.

Personal Impression:
If you’re wondering what the deal is with this “first series” mentioned, Brotherhood is actually a re-boot of Fullmetal Alchemist that more closely follows its manga original. Far more closely. While the first few episodes remain much like the first series, around episode 12 or 13 it begins to branch off in a completely new direction and the ending couldn’t be more different if it tried.
As for the other aspects of the show, the music is decent (although not quite as inspired as the first series’) and the art is smooth. A big improvement, however, is the fighting. The incredible animation during fight scenes makes up for the lack of added detail in the general art. Also the story is much improved for following in the original tale’s footsteps. The characters are richer and there’s a great deal of development on their part. The plot makes more sense as well, although it’s also far more complex than the first series. All in all, if the violence isn’t an issue for you, this series is one that shouldn’t be missed. The comedy is wondrous, the action is spectacular and the characters are ones to root for all the way through.
Oh and don’t worry about needing a movie to wrap up the story. This series wraps up on its own.

Personal Rating: Young adult

Episodes: 64
Languages: Dub and sub
Official rating: TV14
Genre(s): Action, fantasy, adventure
Website: http://www.funimation.com/fullmetal-alchemist-brotherhood
Legal streaming: FUNimation‘s site and YouTube
Screen shots:
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