Despite the Slow Start, My Summer Anime Marathon is going well

So far I’ve watched Clannad + After Story, Persona 4 and School Rumble in the two weeks since I was was released from the hospital. A short time ago, I started the first season of Ah! My Goddess! on DVD. I’m on track to meet my goal of watching 8 Anime by August 20. After this one I’ll be halfway there ^_^

The next Anime on my to-do list is the Anime I bought earlier this month: Death Note.

After that one, I’ll switch from DVD to the Digital Anime sets I own: Spice + Wolf (Xbox 360), Rosario + Vampire (Xbox 360) and Blue Exorcist (PS3). If I have time after that, I’ll watch Ouran High School Host Club (Blu-Ray) to close out the summer. Can’t wait to get Attack on Titan (English Dub) when it’s eventually released.

Are you watching Anime right now? Comment on the Anime you’re currently watching as well as your favorite Anime overall.

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Had your fill of Toonami’s Weekly Lineup? Looking for More Anime? Here’s a few places to start looking!

I’m at that age where I’m old enough to remember watching Gundam Wing, Dragonball and Sailor Moon in the early 1990s, Dragonball Z a few years later, Fullmetal Alchemist, Code geass and Death Note about twelve years ago and more recently, the likes of Soul Eater, Blue Exorcist, Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood and Bleach. What all of these Anime have in common is at one time or another they all aired on Cartoon Network and/or its anime block, Toonami.

Back in the day, you only really had Toonami and 4Kids to get your Anime fix. Things are very different now. As an added incetive, outside TV and Hulu there are no commercial interruptions so…yeah. Here’s two places I reccommend to get started:

This should come as no surprise given I reviewed it in January. For those who are unfamiliar with it, it’s basically Netflix but just Anime and Korean Dramas. Like Netflix, programming is on demand but like Hulu, new episodes are made available right after they’ve aired on TV in Japan.  Even though I’m a Dub Man and the Anime CR provides is all Subbed, no other provider comes close to the sheer volume of Anime they have to offer.

Crunchyroll can be streamed through both Microsoft and Sony Consoles as well as the Vita, iOS/Android devices and of course, your computer’s browser. CR is 100% free to watch on your computer but if you want to stream it, it’ll cost you $7 a month which is a buck less than Netflix for prettymuch just Anime.  The original content is easily worth the monthly subscription in my book.

 

As the first streaming service I ever used and as much as I hate to admit it, Netflix has its usefulness in regards to Anime. While the streaming giant has been quietly making original content in recent months (Orange is the New Black and House of Cards), it has also been acquiring exclusive licensing deals with various media providers. One such deal brought the entire Pokemon series to Netflix. At the moment, The Indigo League and The Unova Saga as well as the Reshiram and Zekrom movies are the only Pokemon-related stuff they have so far but those ALONE will easily take a few weeks to go through. The rest are set to be added over the coming months.

Moving on, almost all of the Anime I now own I saw for the first time on Netflix: Clannad, School Rumble, Ouran High School Host Club and Samurai Champloo to name a few. The small but respectable selection of Anime they have is a great place for folks to cut their teeth on Dubs without having to deal with the Ads on Hulu. Netflix also has Attack on Titan Subbed, which recently started airing on Toonami.

Like Crunchyroll, Netflix streams on both Sony and Microsoft consoles as well as the Vita and the 3DS family handhelds and all the rest. It’s $8 a month which isn’t bad. I actually have both CR and Netflix so…yeah. As a reminder: When streaming both CR and Netflix there are NO ADS =D

 

That’s just to whet your appitite.

So now you wanna buy some Anime but not ready for the DVD/Blu-Ray sets yet? That’s ok. I know a few providers that can help you get your Anime fix and the prices are obscenely cheap:

 

 

These were the first places I bought Anime from starting about seven years ago with Xbox Live’s PC Client Zune. The first Anime I bought was Ah! My Goddess! Unsurprisingly, I went on to own both seasons, the movie and two thirds of the Manga volumes (LOL!). This brings up the all-important question of cost. It really depends on which route you go. If you wand Standard Definition (SD) it’s $2 per episode across the board and $3 for High Definition (HD) episodes. While yes, HD is better quality the files are also MUCH bigger and in the cases of the consoles they can really eat up your storage if you’re not careful. For movies, the cost is $8-$10 though with those that have HD versions available it’s $12 or $15.

Both iTunes and Xbox Live/Zune allow you to buy whole seasons if you want. If a season is airing, you can buy a Season Pass which gets you all the episodes of a season in progress so far plus the rest of the episodes made available for download as early as an hour after they’ve aired on TV. You can also just buy all the episodes of a season at a flat rate after all the episodes have aired.

I reccommend one or both personally in regards to Anime. Most Anime seasons are 12 to 13 or 24 to 26 episodes long so…yeah. On average, Buying a whole season on average runs between $18 to $32 on both Xbox Live/Zune and iTunes (the Playstation Network doesn’t currently offer whole season purchases). I wouldn’t pay more than $30 personally for a digital copy of an Anime season or series. The most I paid was $24 each for both seasons of Spice & Wolf, Ah! My Goddess!, and Rosario + Vampire as well as Shuffle! (I bought the DVD set last year at Anime Boston) which I bought on Xbox Live three years ago. Each episode (Standard Definition) was $2 so more often than not, I got a real good deal on a season package. I paid $24 for the Shuffle DVD set in case you’re wondering.

 

…I’ve talked about Xbox Live/Zune almost exclusively but there SEVERAL benefits to buying your Anime on iTunes and The Playstation Network, more so if like me you have quite a few of their portable devices =O

For starters, once you buy anything from iTunes you can download it on all of your devices right away. Cross-buy and cross-download is also possible so for example if you buy Wolf Children on your PS3, you can download it to your Vita or PSP at no extra cost. Don’t wanna wait for it to download? You can stream it while it’s downloading in the case of Xbox Live/Zune and iTunes. In all three cases, you can que multiple downloads simultaneously.

Of course, the smart way to distribute your stuff after you’ve bought and downloaded it to your PC/PS3 is to use a Sync cable so you can get it on Portable device in seconds and not minutes or hours.

Whew…now we’ree getting to the third and final layer. In case it isn’t obvious: I am only providing LEGAL OPTIONS to get your Anime. Of course, there are illegal means but if you wanted to go that route, you probably wouldn’t have read this much (LOL). Support your favorite anime and BUY it!

 

That said, the final layer is of course DVD and/or Blu-Ray. While yes, Digital Purchases are the future there’s nothing wrong with wanting to own a physical copy of your favorite anime and anime movies. I have 14 Anime DVD and Blu-Ray sets (I count multiple seasons as part of a set personally) and 6 Anime movies myself so…yeah. I got most of my Box Sets during Anime Boston and have actually made it a tradition to buy two Anime Box sets at Anime Boston. For example I got Ouran High School Host Club and Fate/ZERO this year and Samurai Champloo and Shuffle! last year.

You really can’t go wrong when you buy your Anime on DVD/Blu-Ray: No DRM, no internet connection, no monthly fees, no ads, nothing but the Anime. The best part is you can decide if you want to watch it with the English Audio (default setting) or the Japanese Audio. With the other layers you’re locked into one or the other.

As for the price, that depends on where you look and how rare the Anime you’re looking to buy is. For example, Code Geass Season 1 goes for $49 while Season 2 costs $72. Persona 4 Blu-Ray is about $27 for each season (they split it in half for the home release presumably to bring the price down and double profits at the same time). Samurai Champloo (complete series) goes for $28 on DVD and $30 on Blu Ray.

Some sets are simply rarer or more common than others. Much of it has to do with licensing and/or the original distributor going under, ending the production of new DVD/Blu-Ray Sets. This is what happened to Code Geass. Those who paid attention will have noticed this Anime never reaired on Cartoon Network/Toonami. The reason for that is the company that held the license went under while the series was wrapping up on Toonami so it was never reaired. It’s also the reason the DVD Sets are so rare and costly XD

 

Ok that’s it for now. Up next, I’ll throw out my reccommended picks for folks who are not fans of Anime =D

My Manga collection will get a little bigger tomorrow

 

I rechecked the schedule for Sunday and I will have two very small windows at which to make my Manga purchases. One is right when the Dealers’ Room opens and the other is between my panels. As of this writing I still don’t know if the $96.50 I’m expecting has been deposited into my bank account yet but even if it doesn’t I have the $75 I earned last night =O

If I get the money from my PayPal account today or tomorrow I will buy an Anime Box set in addition to some Manga volumes. If now I’ll just get Manga. Here are some of the Manga series and volumes I’m looking at:

  • Attack on Titan Vols. 9 to 11, Junior High School and Before the Fall: Junior High School is a satirical take of the smash hit. Before the Fall is a prequel to the main series and presumably explains how the Human/Titan Hybrids came to be. The Anime series ends after Anna the Female Titan is dealt with, which is Volume 8 of the Manga. The series continues in Volume 9. I assume there will be a Season 2 of the Anime once enough volumes have been written.
  • Blue Exorcist Vols. 1 & 2: When I start a new Manga series I always get the first two. The Anime recently premiered on Toonami.
  • Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan Vols. 1 &2: Same as the above but it currently airs on Neon Alley and Hulu Plus.

That’s basically it. If I get the money I will also get a new volume or two from the following series:

  • Bleach
  • Naruto
  • Ouran High School Host Club
  • Fullmetal Alchemist
  • Spice & Wolf
  • Rosario + Vampire
  • Oh! My Goddess!

Of course, this rides on weather the money I’m expecting arrives today or tomorrow. As for what Anime Box sets I’m looking at, here’s what I’m looking at:

  • Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan Season 1
  • Kids on the Slope
  • Angel Beats
  • Kiki’s Delivery Service
  • Ponyo
  • Spice & Wolf Blu-Ray/DVD Combo
  • This Ugly Yet Beautiful World
  • Pokemon: Indigo League (83 Episodes!)

 

…Mind you, I’d probably only have enough money to get one of the Box sets. The price range is $35-5 for them all. Personally I’m leaning toward Kids on the Slope and Angel Beats, which are both 13 episodes long.  I know I can get Kiki’s Delivery Service and Ponyo easy enough at a Best Buy. Ditto for Spice & Wolf. I know I’ll have to buy Nura: Rise of the Yokai CLan, This Ugly Yet Beautiful World and Pokemon: Indigo League from Amazon.

Since AB 2011, I’ve always made sure to buy two Anime sets at the con. I got Ouran High School Host Club yesterday. One of the above listed titles will be the second =D

 

 

My Five Least Favorite Fan Services

…Fan Service.

Weather you love it or hate it there’s no avoiding it, espeially when it comes to something very popular. Take Anime for example. While the overwhelming majority of Fan Service doesn’t bother me, there are five that I utterly cannot stand. While none of the five have stopped me from watching/enjoying an Anime YET, in my experiece it’s needlessly over the top. Maybe it’s because of my age or maybe it’s because I think regular Anime and Hentai need to be kept distinctly separate. Oh, well. Speaking of Hentai, I will cover that in a future blog (No pics or video so don’t get any ideas).

#5. Dominating Mary Sue-ish Personality

It’s even more annoying when alot of time is spent on them. We can argue this ’til the cows come home but Goku is NOT a Mary Sue. He makes most of his victories look effortless but his personality saves him from being labeled a Mary Sue. Kenpachi Zaraki from Bleach IS a Mary Sue but due to his limited/low appearances he’s accepted. In Anime, most of the Mary Sues are Attention or Romance Whores. One or the other. If you read my blog on the subject you’ll know one of the characteristics of a Mary Sue is they command the attention of the main character(s).

I’ll use Sia and Kaede from Shuffle! as an example. Sia has both archtypes while Kaede’s the attention whore. Sia’s reasons for being the way she is I didn’t buy after the reveal. There were no hints to that prior to the reveal even in the context of the anime. I think it was a half-assed explaination personally. More so since she maintained that for the rest of the series for the hell of it. Even though Kaede’s history with Rin excuses her, up until he stands up to her and moves out it’s pretty distrurbing.

#4. Character(s) “interact” with the Viewer/Off-Screen Narrator

I’ll admit it was cute when I was a kid but now adays I just find it wierd. Again, maybe it’s because of my age (28). It’s even more annoying when one character does it and another turns to them and goes “Dude who are you TALKING to?” I understand it’s a means of somehow making the program feel interactive. Some people need their egos caressed exponentially, I get that. Even so I find it wierd and a bit insulting like the characters are taking shots at me or something.

#3. The Staring Contest

Most mmediatley think of Dragonball Z (the worst offender) but I’ve seen it in various other anime. It’s even more annoying when it in some cases makes up half an episode. No wonder they decided to rehash DBZ! For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s when you have two fighters staring at each other while they either talk or one of them has inner monologue. As I mentioned in the first sentance Dragonball Z (before DBZ Kai) was the biggest offender. This was the sole reason almost every major fight per Saga lasted several episodes. You’d see about 5 minutes of fighting before they start talking and don’t shut up until the cliffhanger final seconds when one of them moves.
Mst

Remember Goku v. Piccon in the Underworld Tournament? The fight spanned THREE episodes. First episode they were just playing around, second episode they get serious and third fight had the finale (which ended up being a tie). Given the outcome they could’ve easily made the fight last only 2 episodes at most. Goten v. Trunks during the World Tournament on Earth is a good example of how to do it. Their fight lasted just one episode.

#2. Panty/Bra Shots

I know there’s gonna be strong reactions to this one. I’m going to use Rosario + Vampire since one could argue it’s boarderline Hentai (Japanese for Pervert). In every simgle episode of R+V there are panty shots (Everyone except Ruby wears miniskirts). Hell, one of the episodes in Season 2 pokes fun of this fact when Ruby demands all females must wear ankle-length dresses. My problem with Panty Shots is unless that was the intent, it adds a level of suggestiveness the Anime didn’t need. While Tsukune is at the center of the harem in the Manga as wel las the Anime, there’s more or a focus on him being a human at a school of monsters. In the Anime they focus on the five girls (Moka, Kurumu, Yukari, Mizure and to a lesser extent Ruby) vying for his heart. To me the overbearing panty shots were unnecessary. It certainly made me confused when I started reading the Manga earlier this year, finding few panty shots.

I’ll go Shuffle! now. There are panty shots in Shuffle too but in all instances where it’s used it just happens. They don’t use Panty Shots for the sole purpose of keeping the viewer’s attention. I just think R+V overdid it given Kurumu is a Succubus and you knew she was going to talk suggestively to Tsukune. Inner/True Moka is the only “normal” one as shown when her Rosario is used to repair the Great Barrier in the Anime. She wanted mutual love. When he left to meet with her father she knew Tsukune had made his choice.

Anyway I think Panty/Bra shots should only be used in moderation. Given the “demand” for more realistic Animation they leave little to the imagination. And I prefer to use my imagination. “See-though” shirts also fall into this category. Kenichi The Mightiest Disciple/History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi and High School of the Dead are two examples of this being overdone. More so when the character has a large bust size for their age (Miu) and they decide to exaggerate that fact. Me personally, if I wanted to see Anime Porn I know how to find it on the internet.

#1. Semi-Nudity

Also known as Partial Nudity. You know, sometimes a character might be in a scene where they’re obviously naked but to keep the censors happy and get it aired/released in North America they obscure the bikini area with something. It still shows the viewer they’re nude but since they’re also covered they can air it. My problem with this is lately they’ve been dancing in front of the line that is artistic nudity (enough for you to tell what parts they are but little detail) and pornographic nudity (detailed genitalia and/or body fluids). It’s so obvious they want to include nudity it’s not even funny.

Let’s refer to Elfen Lied. It’s an amazing anime but it’s strickly 18+ for obvious reasons. If it was NC-17 I would’ve still watched it for the storyline alone. That was one anime where you can tell they were VERY careful to make sure they didn’t go all the way. They went as far as they could but not all the way. Another Anime I’ll refer to is Spice and Wolf. Holo is nude in almost every episode of Season 1 as well as the OP for both seasons. Again, even if it was NC-17 I would have still watched it. They were careful to make ure they didn’t cross the line with her. In both Spice and Wolf and Elfen Lied none of the nude characters were flaunting their sex. Even so I think the creators should make up their minds onwhat they wanna do with the Anime they make xD

There you have it.

Again, none of them have made me outright stop watching a particular Anime. I know they’re mostly directed at younger audiences. That’s exactly why I think they need to be cautious with the suggestiveness. There are those who are leery of the influence of Japanese Entertainment on this side of the Pacific after all. Aside from the fact both North America and Japan view artistic nudity differently from a cultural perspective, few can deny the influence Japanese Entertainment has had on the North American Animation and Comic Industries.