Author Archives: Kaze

Grisaia no Kajitsu Episodes 3&4: The Twintail Tsundere

I was actually hopeful after the first two episodes, but after this, I am forced to admit this anime is on the fast track to failure. I almost want to imagine they actually don’t even care about Kajitsu and only care about a proper adaptation of the 2nd/3rd games, but really, with how these 2 episodes went, I’ve given up on anything close to a good adaptation. As I mentioned before, my greatest fear was a 1 cour adaptation, and given the pacing, that now looks like the reality. At least I don’t have to defend the anime anymore. Since it does seem like they will still  adapt all the routes, I’m happy enough to continue writing on the themes but I may need to give some extra explanation that the anime is skipping.

Episode 3 ended up adapting several skits from the common route, without a single regard to transitions, making for an incredibly disjointed episode. Granted, the actual common route is like this but given the nature of a VN and vast amount of additional text, it worked out fine. As an anime, it is pretty darn lazy to just immediately cut from one skit to another with no explanation or transition, though the foreshadowing (which doesn’t really matter anymore now does it?) was impressively on point.

The first skit involves Amane sneaking into Yuuji’s room to wake him up. Little does she know he is already returning from a morning jog, and upon seeing her, he concludes she must be trying to assassinate him. Nope, actually she ends up just doing some censored things.  This is the least uhh interesting scene that readers care for. Yes, I chose to just censor everything.

A potential assassination attempt?

A potential assassination attempt?

Next, Sachi accepts everyone’s requests for drinks and heads out, following her duties as a maid character. Amane and Makina also leave, remembering they are responsible for setting up the projector. Yumiko mentions how Amane is much different now compared to before, and that she is aware Amane has some kind of mental illness. Meanwhile, Sachi was heading to Hokkaido to obtain some milk. Then again, no one in this school is normal, including Yuuji.

A traffic accident causing a mental illness?

A traffic accident causing a mental illness?

Traveling hundreds of miles for a glass of milk isn't normal?

Traveling hundreds of miles for a glass of milk isn’t normal?

That puts the count at...an abnormal number.

That puts the count at…an abnormal number.

Yuuji is reading when he hears Michiru…being assaulted by an adorable cat. She seems to not like it, so Yuuji decides to mess with her, getting her swing her twintails at the cat in an attempt to scare it away; unfortunately, it loves her more. When it finally runs away, she slips that she’s already given it a name. Tsundere even to cats. Read the rest of this entry

Grisaia no Kajitsu Episode 2: Special Circumstances

Well first of all, there are a lot of complaints about the fanservice. All I can say is…yes there is, I’m sorry, I didn’t think they would be this blatant with the fanservice. I can’t blame anyone who drops it for this reason, but I will still hold my opinion that its story is top tier. I’ll point to my old post on OreTsuba, which was far, far worse with its fanservice where even I, with pretty high tolerance, wanted to drop it multiple times, but it is still probably the most impressive (due to the difficulty of its storyboarding) visual novel adaptation ever. Point being, while I won’t defend criticisms of the show for its fanservice, it doesn’t change my stance that the story has really great themes to tell.

The episode begins immediately with Yumiko (aka not-Gahara) trying to stab Yuuji which he expertly dodges. The scene switches to Amane discussing the not-Gahara problem with him while doing some things under the desk. While I just said I wouldn’t defend fanservice, I’ll note that fanservice surrounding Amane is very in-character for reasons to be later revealed. Anything about character interactions that seems strange is due to “circumstances,” which some people are interpreting as poor characterization.

Complaining after you failed to stab someone

Complaining after you failed to stab someone

Amane takes every chance she gets

Amane takes every chance she gets

Read the rest of this entry

Lost in Translation

When it comes to watching anime as a Westerner and relying on subtitles, there are a lot of things that simply don’t translate well across the language and cultural barrier. Usually, this does not hinder our enjoyment of the media. The general meaning still gets across. The subtitles will often change what is literally being said to something that simply fits better in the context of English language and culture. While sometimes this can lead to very liberal translations, which some people take offense to, it doesn’t change the fact that, for the most part, Westerners can understand the general meaning of what is going on and appreciate it thanks to the subtitles. However, this means that the more subtle implications and meanings, which may not be vital, but are certainly enhancing, to the story, are lost.

One example is character names. It is common for authors – in all media – to select names with a meaning reflective of the character’s personality or traits. As such, without an understanding of the Japanese language, this is completely lost. While this is generally not something that will ruin your experience, it is something that can change your perspective on things. I am reminded of Cytrus’ post on the names in No Game No Life. If you remember my review of the anime, I did not like the show at all; however, Cytrus’ analysis is spot on. The names are indeed meaningful and the kanji usage does in fact hint toward things which are not immediately revealed about the characters. While this does not have any kind of drastic effect on interpretation, it is something that simply cannot be translated and is completely lost on those without knowledge of Japanese.

Another example is the very beloved Monogatari series, or rather, anything Nisio Isin writes. As popular as it is, most Westerners are missing out on numerous jokes and puns, which often rely on Japanese culture or language knowledge. In fact, the anime itself loses out on the complexity of the puns because many are more apparent when written while other times the anime will simply exclude the wordplay altogether, which can be called a loss in translation of mediums rather than language. Many Japanese puns do not work in English, and there is no feasible way to translate them. (As an aside, I should perhaps highlight Steins;Gate, where the use of Japanese memes were translated to American memes. In terms of textual meaning, they could not be farther off, but the cultural significance of using senseless jokes which populated certain internet sites remained.) Furthermore, and this is hardly limited to the Monogatari series, there are many references to Japanese culture which weave their way into the conversation to produce meanings that simply don’t register in the minds of Westerners. The result is, regardless of what your opinion on the series may be, you are largely missing out on what made the novels popular in the first place.

nekomonogatari kuro, tsukihi

Did you get the joke? Of course not.

Things will always be lost in translation, regardless of how skilled the translator may be. When it comes to anime, these things usually aren’t a big deal, especially in the grand scheme of things where it is merely entertainment. However, when it comes to the Bible, losing meaning in translation can be very problematic. The issues surrounding how to correctly interpret the Bible are endless and partly result in the numerous amount of denominations which all believe slightly different things about how the Bible should be interpreted and what it means to truly be a Christian. Although, I’d like to avoid that can of worms if at all possible. Unlike watching anime, if we miss out on the subtle implications or the cultural and language specifics of the Bible, we risk an incorrect interpretation that can affect our spiritual lives as opposed to mere entertainment values.

Read the rest of this entry

Grisaia no Kajitsu Episode 1: A Promising Start

If you have been paying attention to anything I say, you would know I’ve been hyping Grisaia no Kajitsu since it was announced to air fall season. As someone who read the entire original trilogy (and even the magical girl spinoff heh), I have incredibly high hopes (not expectations) for this anime. While I’m expecting the anime to fail to meet those hopes, I do think it will regardless be better than most non visual novel readers would give credit based off the synopsis alone because the studio will honestly need to try to make this terrible. Grisaia’s premise is one that appears to be a very generic harem, and it sort of is, at least as far as the first game goes. However, beneath the surface, a well done adaptation will reveal themes and character depth that puts it far above any generic harem that people are used to. As for this first episode, well, that’s what this post is for!

Grisaia no Kajitsu

Grisaia no Kajitsu

The anime starts with some rather ominous text and a glimpse at the 5 heroines. So right off the bat, they’re telling you that these girls are not quite as they seem. I’m not sure how I feel about that. Next we see the protagonist Kazami Yuuji being detained at a police station. Unfortunately, the scene is incredibly brief but it still manages to retain the important parts – Yuuji’s attitude and a mention of a “special organization.” Regardless, the school principal Tachibana Chizuru comes to pick him up; they seem to already be acquainted. She almost causes a car crash because her character is suffering like that.

The police really don't like you, by the way.

The police really don’t like you, by the way.

That does not look safe.

That does not look safe.

She introduces him to the Mihama Academy, the normal school he wished for. Why would he wish for a normal school? And yet, there are only 6 “elites” in this school, including Yuuji. That hardly sounds normal to me. There is a lot emphasis on normal school life, which is normally not normal to emphasize. At the school dorms, we encounter Komine Sachi, the wonderful shark maid. She is wearing a maid uniform but is actually a student and gives quite a lengthy explanation as to why. She takes over leading Yuuji around the dorm. Then realizes she doesn’t know how to address him, so she asks to call him by the overly familiar name Yuu-kun but opts for Kazami-san instead. This is actually pretty relevant to Japanese culture, if you aren’t aware. I guess she’s trying to get a lead on the other girls. Read the rest of this entry

A Christian Guide to Comiket

Summer Comiket 86 has come and gone. While for last Comiket, I wrote a personalized post about my first experience, this time I decided to take a more streamlined and general approach. Comiket, as most of you probably know, is the largest otaku convention in Japan, and subsequently, the world. With roughly 170,000 people attending each of the 3 days at the convention center Tokyo Big Sight, it makes Anime Expo and Otakon look small in comparison, with its lines, lines, and more lines. As such, it can be a daunting experience for a foreigner to try out, especially when one does not even speak the language. So if you are at all interested in eventually attending, here are some things to consider.

Tokyo Big Sight

Tokyo Big Sight

Read the rest of this entry

Take Four – July 2014

Fate/Stay Night to Adapt Unlimited Blade Works – Kaze

Unlimited Blade Works, Fate Stay NightAfter much anticipation from fans, it has finally been announced that the Fall 2014 reboot of the Fate/Stay Night anime will be adapting the Unlimited Blade Works route. Since the adaptation will be done by everyone’s beloved studio Ufotable, there is little doubt and much hype about the quality to be expected. While UBW is an enjoyable story when done right, it did leave many fans disappointed at the lack of Heaven’s Feel, which, if nothing else, is most relevant of the routes as a sequel to Fate/Zero. That is, until the live stream announcement ended with a Heaven’s Feel movie trailer. Although a questionable decision as HF is much longer than UBW and thus hardly suited to be contained in a single movie, there is much speculation about the prospect of a series of movies. Ufotable has proven themselves capable of doing justice to Nasuverse adaptations, so hopefully they continue to meet fan expectations.

Dub Cast Announced for The Tale of Princess Kaguya – TWWK

The Tale of Princess KaguyaI’m not a dub fanatic, except when it comes to Studio Ghibli releases. The dubs for Ghibli films, even those not directed by Hayao Miyazaki, are always glorious, and The Tale of Princess Kaguya looks to be no exception.  Headlined by Chloe Moretz, the release will also feature the voices of James Caan, Lucy Liu and, get this, DEAN CAIN.  Very nice.

I’m frankly just looking forward to the film itself.  I’m maybe as big of a fan of Isao Takahata (Grave of the Fireflies, My Neighbor the Yamadas, Only Yesterday) as I am of Hayao Miyazaki, and it’s wonderful to know he’s finally directed another Studio Ghibli work.  I can’t wait for the release stateside.  It’s scheduled to hit theaters in the U.S. this fall.

When Marnie Was There Has Disappointing Opening – TWWK

marnieLet’s double dip with the Ghibli news!  You’d expect any Studio Ghibli film to top the Japanese box office upon release, right?  I guess the new norm is that a box office hit for Ghibli is only guaranteed when it’s directed by Hayao Miyazaki, as the company’s latest offering, When Marnie Was There, came in third place during it’s opening weekend (July 19-20).  It had to settled behind the latest Pokemon movie and Maleficent (really?).

This doesn’t bode well for the historic company.  Marnie was directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, whose last directorial effort, Arrietty, debuted in first place in it’s opening weekend.  Ghibli’s previous release, the aforementioned Kaguya, took a heavy loss in the box office, even with Takahata at the helm.  With Miyazaki retired (again), it’ll be interesting to see if the company can weather the storm, financially and creatively.

Alliance for Raising Children Sings “Let it Go” – Japesland

Okay, so this is hardly anime-related. However, it is Japan-related… and it is animation-related! Merely a few weeks ago, Japanese non-profit organization, Alliance for Raising Children, created a parody music video of “Let it Go” (something that seems to be all the rage these days, not only in the United States but also in Japan). While not important in the least, the video shows how some of the bigwigs were willing to put themselves out there and poke fun at themselves in order to encourage Japanese parents to stop stressing themselves out over parenting (and to hopefully improve the declining birth rate). Check out the strangely hilarious video below.

Barakamon Episode 4, The First Step

While I have hardly been impressed with the summer season, one of the few shows I’ve been enjoying is Barakamon. It follows the encounters of struggling calligrapher Seishuu (though everyone calls him sensei) with the residents of a rural island. As a perfectionist, he often worries about things which the residents cannot comprehend or relate to. Yet, it is this stark difference in perspective that allows him to learn about ways of life other than his own.

Art by Yoshino Satsuki, Lineart and color by Osama

Art by Yoshino Satsuki, Lineart and color by Osama

In episode 4, sensei finds himself tasked with a demand to paint a boat’s name on its side, which as you might imagine is a bit different from that which a professional calligrapher is used to. He does not have his familiar tools and has no experience with the curved nature of the boat. First he wants to draft something and use it as a stencil, but the boat owner refuses as he wants something bold, unique, and not something so easily copied. He says there is no need for a draft and entrusts the rest to sensei. Consequently, he practices his strokes with the unfamiliar paint brush before approaching the real attempt, but then he suddenly remembers he forgot to account for the curved surface. He spends time inspecting it, contemplates more, and finds himself even more worried about starting. In response, Naru and friends, a few children who adamantly follow sensei around, start putting handprints on the boat (kids will be kids). As a result, he is forced to frantically start painting over the handprints and making large strokes to cover up the handprints. Before he knows it, he is easily accomplishing the task he was so worried about beginning. The result is something he never would’ve written without the handprints of children, and the boat owner is greatly pleased with it as well. The hardest part was taking the first step.

Read the rest of this entry

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.