Friday, July 28, 2017

Anime Series Review: Hunter x Hunter (2011)

   Summary: Hunter x Hunter is set in a world where Hunters exist to perform all manner of dangerous tasks like capturing criminals and bravely searching for lost treasures in uncharted territories. Twelve-year-old Gon Freecss is determined to become the best Hunter possible in hopes of finding his father, who was a Hunter himself and had long ago abandoned his young son. However, Gon soon realizes the path to achieving his goals is far more challenging than he could have ever imagined.      
    Along the way to becoming an official Hunter, Gon befriends the lively doctor-in-training Leorio, vengeful Kurapika, and rebellious ex-assassin Killua. To attain their own goals and desires, together the four of them take the Hunter Exam, notorious for its low success rate and high probability of death. Throughout their journey, Gon and his friends embark on an adventure that puts them through many hardships and struggles. They will meet a plethora of monsters, creatures, and characters—all while learning what being a Hunter truly means.
     [Written by MAL Rewrite]

Thoughts: I actually avoided this anime for awhile. It was still coming out at the time but there were 60-something episodes already available and...ugh! Too much commitment and I had some weird prejudice against the hairstyles on the cover...I still don't know why. Anyways, I was bored one day and this was there. A content check let me know it didn't have anything absolutely horrible in it so I dove in. 
 And now? I've seen all 143 episodes three times, I've watched it with my siblings. I'm reading the manga and I've seen the entire original anime. I'm even buying the DVDs and watching them in the English dub which I just about never do if I can help it. If anyone asks me what my favorite show is, Hunter x Hunter wins hands down. 
 Why? It has the bet cast ever for starters. I mean the four main characters have the greatest dynamic! They build the most amazing group as they journey toward their dreams! And the rest of the cast, whether passing through or there for an arc, are amazing. They're all well drawn out, developed and, in many cases, terrifying!

The action in here is fantastic too. Well thought out battles without too much input from side characters. The villains are a complex mess. You'll find yourself enjoying seeing some of their familiar faces even when you don't like them. Others you'll dread no matter what. 
 The plots are what really mak this series unique though. 
 While there is the overreaching story of Gon trying to find his father, each season is it's own arc and story. An the stories vary, covering everything from entering a game-world to stopping deadly thieves to saving the world from man-eating monsters! The atmosphere starts off really light and almost childish but quickly becomes darker and more mature so viewers should be cautious.
 This type of anime is labeled as a Shounen, an anime targeting boys, so it's full of fights and battles and action galore. It also lacks any romance which is nice, it allows the plots to really form and drive the characters forward. 
 The animation is good and the music is fantastic. The openings and endings have the capabilities to make you excited or leave you crying and also have a tendency to end up on your playlists. 

Content: This is mostly for the sub since I'm not very far into the dub. Even so, what I have seen of the english dub is fairly close to the origibal script there shouldn't be many variations in language. 
  In the beginning and occasionally throughout the series there are rude or inappropriate comments along with some poorly dressed women. These are fairly scare and rarely last long. There is one scene where a character is allowed to feel-up a woman, this is not shown but you know exactly what is happening. It's easy to skip but still there.
  Language sticks mostly to D***, Sh**, B*****d and C*** with profanity used occasionally 'Oh my ***'. 
 The violence is the biggest problem. While it starts off with a light, childish atmosphere, the series quickly spirals into a darker twist. Blood, gore, and extreme violence are to be expected. I'm talking everything from man-eating beats to horrifying surgical-like torture. Depending on your tolerance level for violence and all things painfully gross, be careful with this series. There are certain sentient creatures that have human-like bodies and don't wear clothes. There are a few characters who imply that they are gay or bisexual but nothing has been confirmed.
 There are a few mentions of various religions but these are never a focus of the show.
With all that being said I give Hunter x Hunter 7 out of 10 Castles in the Sky. While it has it's problems they're spread out so far over the 143 episodes that it's actually a fairly clean show.

  All in all, this isn't a clean series but it's amazingly good when it comes to characters and stories. If you like the Marvel universe and anything with great plot twists you'll at least like this show if not totally love it!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Anime Show Review: Yona of the Dawn

So...yes, I'm bad at sticking with things. It's been several months since I've written but I have not forgotten! I'm working hard to get my blogging schedule in order but life's been a hectic mess lately and I haven't had the time. Anyways, as an apology of sorts, here's an early post and you'll all (hopefully) get another one on the 28th as well.

Princess Yona lives a life of luxury and ease, completely sheltered from the problems of the seemingly peaceful Kingdom of Kouka; however, the sudden murder of the king and betrayal of her beloved cousin Su-won places Yona's life in mortal peril. Forced to escape only with Son Hak, who is both her childhood friend and bodyguard, the na├»ve princess soon discovers that Kouka is not the idyllic place she envisioned it to be. Poverty, strife, and corruption run rampant, making reclaiming the throne nothing more than a wishful fantasy given the kingdom's current state. 
     Based on the popular manga of the same name by Mizuho Kusanagi, Akatsuki no Yona follows Princess Yona on a coming-of-age adventure as she faces the harsh realities of her kingdom. With only a mysterious legend to guide her, Yona must discover a way to restore Kouka to its former glory while being pursued relentlessly by the forces of the new King of Kouka.
              [Written by MAL Rewrite]

Thoughts:One of these days I'll review something I didn't like but, for now, here's another one of my favorites! I rarely actually go read an anime's manga after finishing the anime but Yona was so good I had to keep going with the story. You can read all about that over here
 First off, some terminology: This anime is considered a Shojo (shoujo) a term that refers to animes targeting a female audience and often have romance as their sole plot (think chik-flics). 
  Next comes Reverse Harem which is when a girl is surrounded by many guys instead the opposite. This originally comes off as really bad sounding and don''t get me wrong there are a lot of animes with this term that need to be avoided, but it's not always a bad thing. It can simply be used for the only girl in a workplace, a love triangle that has more than two guys after the girl, or even a bunch of friends where only of them is a girl. Several of these settings don't actually include anything romantic. 
  All that to cover some basics. Yona is a shoujo, so yes, it targets girls. But it also breaks all the rules. Yona is a strong female lead. She starts off as a weak, spoiled little girl but she's dealt some pretty tough blows in her life and comes out fighting. Even so she retains a cute, girly, innocence that you can't help but love her for!
  The show is also considered a reverse harem but it's one of the few that doesn't include romance into the equation. While Yona is surrounded by guys only one of them is actually in love with her. Everyone else just wants to protect her and the bonds between the group become more like family the farther you get into the story. 
It's got a surprising amount of action and is absolutely hilarious. Despite carrying a deeper plot to it, Yona of the Dawn retains a lighthearted feeling that keeps things fun and entertaining. 
  The art is really good and carries the action scenes well. 
 The music is good, though the first opening song can get a bit boring the second is really exciting! It's also surprisingly clean. Without romance as the focus of the story we don't see a lot of the awkward or inappropriate things that can easily pop up in a show like this. Yona is treated respectfully and carefully but without restricting her freedom. 
 And I haven't forgotten the rest of the cast, everyone who enters is unique but the characters who stay are the best! The different (and often clashing) personalities of the main group alone are wonderful but the side characters are fantastic too. It'd take too long if I tried to talk about all of them but, take it from me, their all loads of fun!

Content: In the beginning of the show (episode 2, I think) Yona is seen coming out of a lake where she had been bathing, naked. This is to show that she has leeches on her but that, in turn, causes her to scream and her only companion, her male bodyguard, is required to come and get them off of her. The bodyguard did his best to remain composed and respectful in this scene and nothing more happened than the removal of the leeches but it was still inappropriate. The scene only lasts a couple of minutes. There is a character who enters towards the middle of the show who flirts often and is occasionally seen in the company of harlots or poorly dressed women. A male character is often seen sleeping with a female character but these are non-sexual and are usually either for protection or due to lack of room.
   Yona is also shown to be in love with her cousin which, in the ancient setting that this is placed in, was actually considered a proper choice of marriage for a princess (this happened in England and China and...just about anywhere there was a monarchy for a long time. They liked to keep the crown in the family) so it was meant more a historical reference rather than something inappropriate.
  There are mentions of woman being kidnapped and sold into slavery and a few other mature topics. 
  There is fighting, violence, and blood with some rather excessive gore later on in the series. There are certain characters that are given 'special abilities' and these could be seen as a magical addition to the story, otherwise there is no magic. 
 The language contains a few mentions of D***, C***, H***, and B*****d (these are the common translations for the Japanese words used here and are not meant to be as offensive as they come off as in the English language). 
 There's also a priest in here though a specific religion is not described. 

There's a lot to be cautious about but most of these are small scenes with fun adventure in between. Therefore, Yona of the Dawn get 7 out 10 Castles in the Sky. 

It's worth a shot if you're looking for some fun adventure with a good story and great characters that'll keep you laughing the whole time!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Anime Movie Review: Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below

                      First movie review since the reboot! And one of my all time favorites too!

Synopsis: Strange sounds in the darkness... Unearthly music from an old crystal radio... These are all the warning Asuna Watase has before a simple walk to her clubhouse catapults her into a nightmarish adventure that will take her beneath the Earth to a lost land beyond the realm of legend! Attacked by a strange monstrous creature, rescued by a mysterious stranger and pursued by a relentless enemy, Asuna finds herself enmeshed in a centuries old mystery that will bind her to a strange young defender and lead her inevitably, towards a secret that may hold the key to life itself! 

Review: To quote a cucumber "I laughed, I cried; it moved me, Bob." 
 Image result for i laughed i cried it moved me bob gif

 This is one of the best and most heart wrenching films I have ever seen. It's a fantasy story with a lot of ancient myths and stories woven into it's core but it's surface is a story about a girl who's trying to find herself after losing first her father and then the first friend she's had in a long time. Three other plot-lines are woven in along side Asuna's to create a journey about life after loss that will leave you in tears! 
 The animation is beautiful! This director/film writer (Makoto Shinkai) uses a technique that animates over a pre-filmed landscape and then animating the characters into that. So, the scenery is actually based off of real places in Japan and the overlaying colors that are added just take your breath away.

Related image

The confusing at best. On the surface it's a story about dealing with loss all in a magical setting but there are many deeper ideas and stories that appear along the way. While this ensures that there's always something new to ponder no matter how many times you watch it, it also leaves most viewers asking questions with no answers.
 The characters. They contrast, and breathe, and live. It's so difficult for a storyteller to pack a lifetime worth of emotion into an hour and so many minutes. I mean, just think of your favorite films and then compare with how often you felt the same emotions in real life that that movie gave you. Even if the film is a comedy, the laughs in real life probably have a bit more space in between. Children Who Chase Lost Voices is a delicate balance between beautiful, thoughtful, real, and sad. There are even some moments that are scary or exciting. And it's all due to the characters. You feel for them and want to fight for them. Watching Asuna struggle through a strange and that rejects her moves the viewer. We want to see something happy come from the mess.
 As a Christian I see so much potential in films like this to discuss the joy Christ brings into lives when everything seems lost. Obviously Children Who Chase Lost Voices doesn't go there but it does ask many questions that everyone who has lost someone knows. 

Content: As I mentioned before, there are some scary moments. Dark, man-eating creatures that rise up from the ground and a spirit that inhabits a pre-living character's body are a few. There is also some violent fights and a fairly bloody scene where a character's eye is destroyed. 
 While the Japanese language version is my favorite, I have seen both it and the English and both are on a similar rating with language. The English version has less B***ards and a few more D***'s while the subbed version carries a few of both. 

All in all I give Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below 7 out 0f 10 Castles in the Sky!
I wanted to rate it higher for quality of film but due to certain questioning aspects mentioning religion and the previously mentioned frightening moments, I settled for a 7.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Anime Show Review: Moribito - Guardian of the Spirit

I really did mean to start writing more on here but that fell through. I'm now going to try to get one review done a month on the 28. We'll see if I can stick with it. And now I will introduce you to our first ever anime show...

Synopsis: On the precipice of a cataclysmic drought, the Star Readers of the Shin Yogo Empire must devise a plan to avoid widespread famine. It is written in ancient myths that the first emperor, along with eight warriors, slew a water demon to avoid a great drought and save the land that was to become Shin Yogo. If a water demon was to appear once more, its death could bring salvation. However, the water demon manifests itself within the body of the emperor's son, Prince Chagum—by the emperor's order, Chagum is to be sacrificed to save the empire.
   Meanwhile, a mysterious spear-wielding mercenary named Balsa arrives in Shin Yogo on business. After saving Chagum from a thinly veiled assassination attempt, she is tasked by Chagum's mother to protect him from the emperor and his hunters. Bound by a sacred vow she once made, Balsa accepts.
    Seirei no Moribito follows Balsa as she embarks on her journey to protect Chagum, exploring the beauty of life, nature, family, and the bonds that form between strangers.

Review: Ok, as a rule, most anime synopsis's are dry and hard to follow so don't feel bad if you got lost in the above description. I've watched this show three times but the summary still makes me think I should turn it down. So hear me out. 
 This anime revolves around Balsa, a warrior woman who's unwed and almost thirty. This puts her out as odd and wrong in this time period (because it is based on historical Japan even if it it's actually a fantasy land). Wandering from country to country, Balsa works as a body guard. Her goal is to save a certain number of people to atone for her past. 
When she happens to be present during an accident of the royal entourage, she ends up saving the thirteen year old prince. This leads to the Prince's mother asking Balsa to save the boy from the assassination attempts happening all around him. Balsa accepts and she and the Prince flee the palace. If she succeeds in keeping him alive, he will be the final life for her atonement, but this job is much more than it at first appeared to be.
  I know, not much better, I was never meant to write synopsis's but at least this gives you a general idea of the story. And no spoilers. 
 So here we go. First, the characters. As is usually the case, these are some of my favorite aspects of the anime. Balsa is a tough and seasoned warrior. She's smart and kind and even funny sometimes beneath her stone-cold exterior. And she has a policy and morals, no one said a fighter had to be a killer. All she wants is to protect this small child and so help her, she will. Chagum (the prince) is refined and spoiled but also naive and kind. He's a pleasant mixture of prince, brat, and child all rolled into one. The supporting cast is all great. from the villains who have reasons and fears behind their motives to the funny sidekicks who really build up the heart of the story, they're all amazing.
 The story is good and unique. Set in historical Japan but with a twist of fantasy it's imbued with Japanese rituals and culture along with their beliefs and stories. Also, it's very rare to find a premise like this that doesn't fall back on romance for it's character definition and plot strength. In Moribito the plot revolves around Balsa protecting a child and the lives they meet and save along the way. 
 The world is a really interesting part of the story. It's explored and developed so that the viewer gets a good grasp of the traditions and what's going on in the more cultural settings. 
 The action is really good too. While still designed to look 2D (think normal cartoons) it's obviously computer animated giving it a 3D look (no, not jumping out at you. Think Big Hero 6, Tangled, Frozen). All that to say that with the way it's animated there are smoother transitions in the body movements meaning the character's face doesn't randomly slide all over the place in a fight giving the action scenes a more mature and intense feel.
 Content: It's here that I'll note I've actually only seen the dub for this one. Being our first anime show, we were a little prejudiced against subtitles at first. I fully intend to watch the sub at some point but simply haven't gotten around to it. 
 In language there's a few uses of D*** and H*** and one or two of B*****d. There's some intense fighting and blood is shown. A lot of violence and the fight at the end might be frightening for younger viewers. At one point, while in a healer's home, Balsa is seen without clothes on her top while a male healer checks her wound, he does so from behind though. One male character has difficulty keeping his gaze averted at this time but nothing is shown. 
All in all, it's a pretty clean anime as far as things go and a good starting place for the more cautious who find themselves interested in anime.

All in all Moribito - Guardian of the Spirit gets9 out of 10 Castles in the Sky!