Author Archives: Kaze

Take Four – May 2014

Alice of ClariS leaves the Unit - Kaze

Art by 二次元帝国

Art by 二次元帝国

While I wouldn’t call myself a fan of the singing duo, I am nonetheless sad to see ClariS become merely Clara. Alice has reported that she is leaving the unit and singing as a whole to concentrate on her studies. The duo debuted with in 2010 with OreImo’s opening “Irony.” However, what exploded their popularity was Madoka’s “Connect.” Since then, they’ve performed several other songs all while keeping their real identity a secret – they have reported even their interest in anime is a secret from personal friends. Since they were only in middle school at the time of debut, that would mean right now is pretty important time with exams and preparing for university, so I must admit it to be a wise decision. Clara has not yet made a statement on her future plans

New Tenchi Muyo Short Series to Be Launched – TWWK

MTenchi girlsy anime fandom really began when Toonami was in it’s heyday with Tenchi Muyo, still one of my favorites, anchoring the block.  In an exciting, but strange piece of news, Kajishima Misaki will help develop Ai Tenchi Muyo!, a new series planned as 50 5-minute shorts in an effort to boost tourism in Takahashi City, the Japanese locale in most of the series’ media.  While it would be hard to find a fan who would like that the new episodes will be “short” format, there’s still plenty to be excited about – not in the least is that we can start theorizing and fantasizing about what the show will focus on.  There’s plenty of artwork and wording from Kajishima and others to fuel the speculation of the plot, which frankly, can’t be any worse than what we saw in the 3rd OVA.

Girls und Panzer PlayStation Vita Game Gearing Up for Release – Japesland

Art by 0.1mg

Art by 0.1mg

Although the upcoming release of the Girls und Panzer‘s tie-in Vita game is not recent news, the promotional videos (such as the linked one above, featuring voice actress, Mai Fuchigami) have really been rolling in this month in preparation for its June 26th Japanese release. Speaking as only a moderate fan of the series, I have been anticipating this release as I have been reluctant to join any video gaming tank action, mostly in the form of World of Tanks (but when anime girls are involved, who can turn it down?!). If you have any knowledge of the Japanese language and would like some practice, this seems to be a great item to import as the language skills necessary are lower than that of your standard Japanese RPG or other common import title. Regardless, be prepared for some fun “tankery” action on June 26!

Anime Expo Hosts Kill La Kill Event - KazeKill la kill

Los Angeles’ annual anime convention Anime Expo will be hosting a Kill La Kill event, featuring the English dub premier, as well as several Japanese guests including writer Kazuki Nakashima, character designer SUSHIO, producer Yosuke Toba, and the voice actresses of the main females Ami Koshimizu and Ryoka Yuzuki. If you are a big fan of the series, you’ll definitely want to be there, although tickets may already be sold out by the sounds of it. For those who aren’t fans of the series, perhaps voice actress Ami Koshimizu will ring a bell as the voice behind characters such as Holo, Kallen, and Maou. Anime Expo will also be hosting guests such as Reki Kawahara, the writer of Sword Art Online, and Eir Aoi, who sang theme songs for anime such as Sword Art Online, Fate/Zero, and Kill La Kill.

KanColle: The Biggest Trend is Still a Trend

It’s been just over 1 year since the release of Kantai Collection, or Kancolle, a browser game centered on moe anthropomorphisms of historical World War II ships. For those who still aren’t aware, it’s a simple game based largely on rng and micromanagement, leveling cute ship girls as you progress through maps. At the time of release, this game planned for a small player base – no more than few ten thousand. It was just meant to be an addition to the website’s other games. However, it didn’t take long for the servers to over-flood with new players, quickly surpassing its expected maximum and beyond. Registration had to be controlled through lottery admissions as new servers were opened one at a time (in fact, after some 9 months, new players still must pass through a lottery to play). Fan art exploded, official merchandise began to be created; manga and anime were started. It invaded everything: events, crossovers, collaborations, and more, and is often compared to Touhou, a fanbase which took years to establish. In this short year, KanColle has proven to be the most explosive fandom in otaku culture history.

Art by 墨洲

Art by 墨洲

But the question is whether all this popularity is just a remarkably popular fad or actually the birth of a new fanbase here to stay. No one can really say either way, and the game developers are surely going to be playing a large role in that as one big mistake can ruin everything. Personally, I don’t see it ending for awhile, but I also don’t think it will have the longevity that Touhou has proven itself to have. As one of the many people trapped in its addictive gameplay, I must say one of its best features is the ability to play with constant breaks. Between waiting for your resources to naturally regenerate, ships being repaired from damage, or ships recovering from being “tired,” it makes breaks almost a requirement. Granted, if you are really hardcore, there are ways to get around it to still play 24/7, but you can still make significant progress without investing constant attention.

On a less technical side, its vast popularity no doubt truly stems from all the different ship girls. With over 100 girls, the art, personalities, and voices have enough variety that at least one will probably appeal to you. And with the marriage system in place, you can be sure all otaku are quite glad to marry their favorite girl(s) (yes, harem is possible too). Coupled with the fact the game is free for the most part, it is only going to get more popular for the time being. Regardless, in the end, it is a trend, and no matter how long or short it takes to die off, it will eventually lose popularity.

The idea of fads applies to religion, too.  Of the many things said against Christianity, one of them is that Christianity was just a trend. Read the rest of this entry

Take Four – April 2014

Hunter x Hunter Manga Returns in June - Kaze

Art by 烏鴨

Art by 烏鴨

The Hunter X Hunter manga will be returning from its hiatus this June. Of course, this is only the continuation of the cycle as the writer Togashi is infamous for never being able to write for very long. As such, it is surely only a matter of time before the next 2 year hiatus. Regardless, we will finally get a new arc started as the manga last left readers hanging with a rather large revelation. Meanwhile, the reboot of the anime has been doing an amazing job with the chimera ant arc. I am certainly glad to see one of my older favorites still getting a good amount of attention with new material for both the manga and anime, and the only thing I really hope for is that Togashi actually finishes it eventually.

Narcissu 1st & 2nd Released on Steam – Japesland

Setsumi Sakura

Art by ごとP (Pixiv ID 4101665)

If there’s one thing that Kaze and I share as writers at Beneath the Tangles, aside from the obvious, it is our shared interest in the visual novel medium. And if there’s one visual novel (or kinetic novel, to be precise), that every consumer of the medium should read, it’s Narcissu. Although both Narcissu titles have been available in English for free (available here) for years now, they still have had yet to escape obscurity simply due to their nature as indie visual novel releases. As much as I tend to be a Japanese media “hipster” (if it’s popular, it can’t be good!*), the more exposure the Narcissu series can get, the better! Now being available on the West’s most popular digital PC game distribution service is a huge step in popularizing the visual novel art form, and it is something I am very excited about!

On another note, as we continue to work on our guide to anime and otaku-dom, we have also added a visual novel recommendations page (with Narcissu featured!).

*Kidding, of course.

SNAFU Gets Second Season - TWWK

My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU

Art by LuZi (Pixiv ID 39131585)

Anti-social male lead.  Check.  Popular but uptight and mysterious female protagonist.  Check.  Peppy female protagonist who likes the male lead.  Check.  OreGairu, or My Teenage Romantic Comedy SNAFU, broke exactly zero new ground when it aired a couple season back.  But unlike the usual slate or recent romantic comedies, each week, OreGairu was fun and compelling.  The three leads were written well, and so they avoided becoming bland or annoying.  Hachiman, in particular, is a terrific character – a grump that we all like, more reminiscent of a dynamic character like Kyon than of <insert generic harem lead here>.  When it ended its run, I hoped we’d get to see more, and thankfully, a second season of SNAFU is coming our way!

Grisaia Anime Adaptation Staff Announced - Kaze

Art by こしの

Art by こしの

After 3 years of referencing an anime was in the works, we finally have some additional information and an official webpage. The director will be Tensho of Kiniro Mosaic and the studio will be 8-bit. The character designer remains the same as Watanabe Akio (most notably, you will notice a very strong resemblance between Yumiko and a certain Monogatari heroine). As a reader of the Visual Novel trilogy (working my way through the finale as of now), I am quite interested to see what approach the anime takes. While it has all the makings of another textbook harem, a well done adaptation would result in some very interesting topics to explore. Furthermore, even if it goes the route of a standard harem anime and tosses out all of the noteworthy parts, the comedy in this series can be pretty amazing, so I hope nobody preemptively labels this as another generic harem to ignore. In the end, it will surely depend on whether they intend to adapt the trilogy or only the first novel, so I will continue to keep tabs on further info.

Supernal Liberty Review

Nana Mizuki released her 10th album on April 16th, so I’ll be doing a little review of it. Although I’m hardly a music critic and am obviously quite biased with anything involving Nana, so it will be mostly my own ramblings. I actually already made my predictions when the setlist was announced earlier, and I was right on about half of them. Also, it managed to top the weekly charts with zero competition. Ironically, her actual sales dropped significantly compared to her previous albums, which had to compete with some of the most popular artists, but she still easily picked up the top spot.

sl_bd

1. VIRGIN CODE

The album starts with a very disturbing sound to my ears. I may be the only Nana fan who thinks this but the very first few static noises that are essentially just background noise and ignored by most were very recognizable to me. It reminded me very distinctly of A World Where Nothing Happened from Little Busters! the track which sent chills down my spine when it played during certain scenes which were just so depressing to read. So it was a really bad way to start the album lol. Anyway, afterwards comes a pretty fast paced song, with a beat that almost never relaxes. Fast paced, powerful songs are what I love from Nana, and with this, one of my predictions was correct that this was would be one of the best songs of the album.

2. GUILTY

This song is sooo catchy with a lot of Engrish. I sort of felt like this was something I’ve heard from BoA but it also has quite a Koda Kumi feel to it. The Engrish may be jarring to some, but I honestly find it just irresistibly catchy. The major downside to this song is it doesn’t even reach 3.5 minutes, at a length of 3:18. That’s pretty rare for Nana songs. As a result, GUILTY ends up being a repeat of Get My Drift? from Rockbound Neighbors – both are incredibly catchy with a lot of Engrish but disappointingly short.

3. アパッショナート  Read the rest of this entry

Take Four – March 2014

Hanamonogatari Announcement and Promo - Kaze

hanamonogatari
Art by koflif

Hanamonogatari was announced to air as a 5 episode series after Nisekoi finishes. At 5 episodes, at least it won’t be getting the Neko Kuro treatment. This will bring a close to the adaptation of the 2nd season of the Monogatari series. The 3rd season of books is also nearing an end as the final pat of Owarimonogatari is slated to release early April, leaving only one volume left. However, if Nisio’s history with these novels is indicative of anything, we can probably expect several books, delays, and potentially even more volumes before the series really comes to a close. Regardless, the real question on all our minds is, of course, when will they give us Kizu?

kenshin and shishioShishio Revealed in New Rurouni Kenshin Live Action Film Trailers – TWWK

I’ve still yet to watch the first live-action Rurouni Kenshin film, but I couldn’t pass up mentioning that the trailers for the next two movies, opening on August 1st and September 13th, respectively, in Japan, feature that bandage villain among villains, Shishio!  I’m definitely excited to see the Kyoto Arc brought to life, as it remains my favorite shounen quest/journey/tournament arc in anime.  And judging from the positive response to the first film, there’s high hopes that these remaining ones will deliver!  Check out the trailer below:

A New Vocaloid Game… Without Miku! - Japesland

vocaloid

Art by 野々原K

If you haven’t noticed yet, I am an unabashed Vocaloid nut. While I don’t have the time (nor, sometimes, the energy) to stay up with all of the popular producers or voice banks being released, I am always excited to see new Vocaloid announcements. Additionally, I have been hyped for months about the new Project DIVA game, F 2nd (which just released last Thursday and finally arrived at my post office on Monday). Needless to say, I was not expecting another company to begin a new Vocaloid-centric rhythm game any time soon due to the competition, but lo and behold, a game featuring one of my favorite Vocaloids was announced! If you are not familiar, I recommend checking out some songs using IA’s voice, particularly those in the Kagerou Project written by one of my favorite producers, Jin (Shizen no Teki-P). Imagination Forest is a good place to start, and I hope it gets you as excited as I am for this new release!

Nanoha Series Get Blu Ray Releases – KazeNanoha BD

All 3 Nanoha seasons will finally be getting blu ray releases near the end of this year. While I do admit there are flaws with the show, I am still a huge fan of the series, so I greatly look forward to seeing this iconic series getting some nice animation upgrades. Granted, I am one of many fans who believe the movie adaptation of the first season is superior in every way, animation included; however, I will no doubt be re-watching the later 2 seasons when they become available.  Of course, I recommend people to join me, as Nanoha A’s is pretty much the pinnacle of the Mahou Shoujo genre (another reason for my dislike of the Madoka fanbase, although the crossovers were quite amusing). There’s also a new movie in the works that’s supposedly coming out this year, but not much news on that front.

Bungaku Shoujo: A Barrier to Outreach

It has been a long time, but many months ago, someone requested I write a post on Bungaku Shoujo. I have a rather unique relationship with this series, as although it only has a movie and a few OVAs, those were enough to spur me to buy and read the officially translated novels, and I’ve become quite the fan of the series (note that as someone who was already tired of hearing Hanakana’s voice by 2010, Touko is the one role I absolutely adore from her). Aside from Zaregoto (which Del Rey dropped, arguably a good thing), Bungaku Shoujo is the only series I have actually followed official light novel translations for, and its final volume was recently released this past January, unless they choose to translate the side stories too (I sure hope so), though I’d be equally thrilled if they picked up Mizuki Nomura’s latest work.

I’ve pondered a lot about how to tie this series to Christianity. Interestingly, the problem I had was there were just so many things that can be said. Bungaku Shoujo can be classified as a simple romance drama, and the movie shows just that. It is a well done adaptation of the 5th novel and manages to be simple enough that previous knowledge is not required but still maintains the drama of the novel itself. However, while I think the movie is as good as can be for a standalone, it does not do the story justice. In the previous four novels, we meet characters with dark secrets and heavy burdens that are simply not detailed in the movie, making the characters seem far more bland and simple than they really are. The novels are great at detailing such serious topics while balancing with happy moments and comedic relief, slowly developing the characters, all mixed together with classic literature references. So although at first glance the series may appear to be nothing more than a nice romantic drama, the themes and topics it explores have all sorts of serious and potential religious discussion. In the end, I decided to address only one aspect of the climax of the series, which the movie does not cover. Who knows, maybe I’ll write on other aspects later.

Touko

A Fateful Meeting

Konoha Inoue is a seemingly ordinary high school student who carries a big secret. He once published a bestselling novel under the penname Miu Inoue through a story he submitted to an amateur contest on a whim. Unable to handle the expectations the world had for the genius middle school “girl” and rumors spreading about the mysterious author, as well as a certain incident, he suffered greatly and entered high school with no desire to ever write again. And yet, he finds himself caught and dragged around by his upperclassman Amano Touko, a book girl who loves books so much she eats them (and nothing else). Together, they are the only members of the literature club and every day, she requires him to write her “snacks.” As much as he proclaims to hate writing, he finds his life is more enjoyable than he thought possible.

However, his happy days spending time with Touko are not fated to last. Read the rest of this entry

Take Four – February 2014

New Legend of the Galactic Heroes Anime - Kaze

Licht und Schatten

Art by むしゃ草 (Pixiv ID 10218312)

Considered by many to be one of, if not the best anime of all time, Legend of the Galactic Heroes is getting a new anime. It is emphasized that this is not a remake but a new adaptation, meaning we can expect things to be different this time around. However, anything different from the masterpiece of the original is probably going to be a mistake. I don’t expect this to be an improvement, let alone even on par with the original; however, having watched the series twice and with the intent to re-watch more in the future, I’ll give it a try to make a fair judgement. If nothing else, maybe this will spark some interest in the original series that although old, is no doubt the pinnacle of truly epic anime.

Mekakucity Actors Anime Gets More Voice Actor Announcements – Japesland

Kagerou Project

Art – Pixiv ID 39645829

Although the Mekakucity Actors anime is not terribly new in terms of its announcement, it has continued to gain attention as continuous updates, particularly in the area of voice actors/actresses (seiyu). The anime releases this spring season, and it is of particular excitement seeing as it is the next step in the Kagerou Project that began with two Vocaloid albums by (my favorite) Vocaloid producer, Shizen no Teki-P (Jin). Since then, several light novels and manga have also been created as part of the series, culminating in Shaft’s anime follow-up.

Peter Travers Gives The Wind Rises 3.5 Stars – TWWK

Kaze Tachinu

Art by ちろる (Pixiv ID 37410096)

The critical reception for The Wind Rises has been excellent so far.  Though it doesn’t rate as well on Rotten Tomatoes as Spirited Away or Ponyo (really?!) did, it matches Howl’s Moving Castle and has received excellent reviews from some of the country’s most respected critics.  Peter Travers writes, “It’s a big story, and in this landmark film Miyazaki is up to every demand. Sit back and behold.”  Of course, I didn’t need to hear all this buzz to get excited about the film, as I’m a pretty die-hard Miyazaki fan.  I’ll be in the theaters tonight watching!

ELISA makes North America Debut at Sakura-Con - Kaze

japanese singer

ELISA

The singer ELISA will be attending Seattle’s Sakura-Con on April 18-20, her first performance in North America. ELISA made her singing debut with ef’s opening song Eurphoric Field in 2007. She quickly gained popularity with it and was invited to perform at the following Anisama Live, the largest anime concert in Japan. Since then, she has performed theme songs for anime such as Hayate, TWGOK, Railgun, and Valvrave, although she did take a hiatus at one point. I have actually followed ELISA since her debut, so while I’m not a huge fan, I am pretty excited about this. She does try to interact with her fans, and her English, while not great, is definitely above average for Japan. I recommend anyone in the area to take the chance to meet and hear her and show her some support.

The Greatest Love of All…Is a Yandere?

Valentine’s Day, a day considered by many to be the most romantic day of the year. But while this day may be a day of romantic love, perhaps it is more interesting to consider an even greater love. Of course I, as a Christian, believe God’s love to be the greatest love in existence; however, merely making such claims is a rather overused approach. Even though so many Christians preach it, it is something incredibly difficult to truly explain. Praising God’s love will only go so far before common sense leads us to wonder how God could possibly love us with so many apparent inconsistencies. Instead, I’d like to make a comparison, one sometimes made in jest but rarely in seriousness. That is God’s love and love of a yandere.

Let me begin by saying if you have never gone outside the manga/anime mediums, you most likely have a very skewed image of what a yandere truly entails. Sure, there have been characters who display a few yandere characteristics, and there are a few examples of more accurate yandere making their way into anime. Perhaps Yuno or Kanade come to mind, or maybe one very infamous nice boat. However, the truth is the really hardcore yandere do not exist in anime, most likely because what they do can’t actually be shown on TV. The visual novel medium, on the other hand, has its share of legitimate yandere. Not that I have read many as I tend to shy away from them myself, but I have heard some tales and they are quite extreme. Regardless, while a yandere may be incomparable to God at a literal level, the love that it holds might just be something more similar to God’s than at first glance.

yandere VN

the Yandere VN

Read the rest of this entry

12 Days of Christmas, Day 7: ef~A Tale of Melodies

If ef began with the characters who were lost in the present, then it ended with characters who hopefully looked forward to the future. Although A Tale of Melodies is not a continuation of the stories within the first season, the two tales are tied together by Himura and Yuko and the two twin cities. In the same way Memories began with events on Christmas Eve, Melodies ends on the same holiday, but with a much different tone.

While this episode shows all the characters at some point, its focus is on the conclusion between Himura and Yuko, the two with the most bittersweet relationship of the series. Although Himura has spent the entire series repeating his claim that there is no such thing as a miracle, his reunion with Yuko can only be called a supernatural miracle. After years of living in the past, Himura finally obtains closure on one of his greatest regrets in life. As a result, he is finally able to look toward the future and live life to its fullest.

art by れもよな

art by れもよな

Similarly, all the other characters are shown with feelings of hope as they are no longer bound by the problems they had when they were first introduced. As they spend Christmas with their loved ones, they reminisce about their past, how they have grown, and look toward the future with hope and anticipation. They do not expect things to be go perfect; rather, they understand more trials await them. However, they have learned that they no longer have to deal with their problems alone. They are no longer the lost people who they were when they were first introduced. The episode – and the series – ends with a final reminder given by all the characters: no matter the trial, no matter the hardship, always remember there is someone who is willing to help you continue toward a happier future.

The celebration of Christmas is not just a reminder of past events but also one of the future. Christ was born, died, and rose from the dead, but He is also coming back. As Christians, we continue to anticipate the day of His return. We don’t know how long it will take, and the wait will involve an array of events from blessings to suffering. We don’t know what the future really holds for us. Simultaneously, however, our relationship with Christ Himself is what helps us move forward. As difficult as it may be at times, God is always with us. That doesn’t mean things will go as we want, but it does mean things will be a little more bearable. Thus, Christ came not only to seek the lost but also to guide us along the difficult path of life.  As Christmas approaches, whatever situation your life be at, remember that Christ is right next to you. Oftentimes it may not seem like He is there; the hardships are too great and the support is too little. However, that is exactly one of the reasons to celebrate Christmas. It is to remind ourselves that Christ came for us, died for us, resurrected, and will continue to be with us forever.

12 Days of Christmas Anime, Day 6: ef~A Tale of Memories

While Christianity is a tiny minority in Japan, Christmas is still celebrated, albeit as a commercial holiday rather than any religious reasons. In fact, it is considered one of the most romantic holidays of the year, a day for lovers. And thus, ef~A Tale of Memories, a story of all kinds of romance, begins on this day. There are three key moments which happen in this first episode during Christmas Eve. These moments are not big or eventful, but for the characters they involve, they are far more than what might otherwise be called a fated meeting of lovers.

Art by 柚茶

Art by 柚茶

The first moment is when Kyousuke is with his girlfriend and he catches a glimpse of Kei running home. It is only a moment but he captures her on film, and there is something about her which fascinates him. It is not a romantic feeling but an artistic one. As an aspiring film maker, there was something about her which appealed to his artistic sense. The second moment is when Miyako and Hirano meet by chance and she decides to “borrow” his bicycle to chase after a thief. It is a coincidental meeting, but at the same time, it was an eventful change in each of their otherwise static lives. At first glance, they are both regular teenagers; however, they both carry a burden easy to overlook. The third moment occurs in a church, although neither character is religious. Renji asks Himura for advice on his future and is told to simply do what he loves. It is a clichéd answer, but it is because of Himura’s words that Renji’s view begins to change.

What can be said about many of these characters is that they are lost, searching for something. Renji is searching for what he wants to do with his life. Kyousuke is searching for something to bring life to his films. Hirono is searching for a color to his colorless life. Miyako is searching for a place to belong. However, in these key moments, these characters feel something. They do not know what it is but there is something that is drawing them, calling on their feeling of being lost. These meetings spark something, and they feel that if they follow the spark, they will find the answers they seek.

In the same way, Christ came into this world to seek and to save those who are lost. He did not make a grand entrance; he was born in a measly manger. When he called his disciples, he did not give them detailed explanations of what was to come; he merely said “follow me.” Be it the disciples back then or us of today, the calling is small and subtle. We do not understand how it works, but we are drawn to it. There is something about Christ’s love that satisfies our soul although it is intangible and difficult, even impossible, to explain concretely. Without Christ, we are lost sheep searching for something. Such feelings are vague and undefined. People try to fill up the gap with worldly things, but nothing of this world can truly fill it permanently. However, as Christmas approaches, let us remember that Christ came for our sakes: to cleanse our sins and to give us what our souls are searching for, even if we do not realize what that may be ourselves. No matter how small the interest in Christ may be, if we follow it to the end, we will find something far more fulfilling than anything the material world could give.