Weekly Review: GATE

Yoji Itami is the kind of person that normal people look down upon. He’s a nerd, he’s lazy, and his only motivation to do anything with his life is to provide him with money to spend on his game. Being that, a nerd, he knows exactly what to do whenever a gate appears in the middle of the city, and a fantasy-like army starts attacking civilians through it. Itami storms onto the streets, protecting civilians and directing them toward safety, all the while facing the wrath of the invading army. Sounds pretty heroic, right? Well, the only reason he acted was because he didn’t want his game’s event to get cancelled, but still, heroic.

On the other hand, Japan is not taking the situation lightly. In just a few short months time, they are sending an army through the gate, which includes Itami. Itami, believe it or not, is actually a pretty decently ranked soldier in the SDF (Special Defense Force). In fact, he actually has training underneath at least two separate special forces units, those which turn out only the best soldiers. On the other side of the gate the army finds that they have resistance immediately. No bother, the SDF quickly wipes them out. After all, it’s swords and lances versus tanks and artillery. The SDF soon sets up base just on the other side of the gate, and this is where things start to get complicated.

Japan has a lot to worry about. The media in their home country ridicule and spin any information that comes through the gate, including whenever a fire dragon goes on a rampage in the fantasy world, the media say the SDF should have stopped it. They are also getting pressured from many other countries, who seek to use the fantasy world in less than ethical ways. Japan stands stern, however, in its attempt to make peace with the empire that rules the fantasy land.

At the center of it all we come back to Itami. Along his journey we get to meet quite a few interesting characters that stick with him. We meet an elf named Tuka who loses her father when the fire dragon attacks. There is a demigod named Rory who has a sadistic sense of humor and constantly tries to seduce Itami. We also have a dark elf named Yao, who sticks with Itami after he helps her. Lastly, we have Lelei, a mage prodigy that takes up the Japanese ways very quickly. What does all of this equate to? Well, Japan has to decide whether or not they are going to wipe out the entire empire of the fantasy world, or try to make peace.

I really, truly love this anime series. It does a terrific job of showing all aspects of this “war.” The media portrayal along with the countries I feel they did a more than accurate job of. The characters are all awesome and lovable. The main, Itami, is a great person, but not too over powered as to take it away from the story. In the end, if you enjoy a nice anime with lots of comedy and action, and has a great story line, give this one a go.

Weekly Review: What Makes a Good Anime?

So we’ve all seen them, there are plenty of good anime series out there. Unfortunately, we’ve all see bad ones too. What exactly makes a good anime? Can you even really answer that question? I mean, a good anime just depends on the person, right? Someone who loves action anime will hail an action anime above all else, but someone who likes romance anime will think that the action anime is no good. Well. I like all sorts of different anime, in all sorts of different genres, so I’m going to let you guys know what I think makes an anime great.

First and foremost, story line! In order for any anime, or story in general, to be successful, it has to have a good story line. This goes for movies, novels, and whatever else you can think of! It’s sad to see that so many anime series nowadays try to put together a loose story line and call it good. This is something that takes time and effort to do. For instance, Log Horizon has one of the best story lines I could ever ask for. Periodically the viewer must stay involved with each episode in order to see this story progress. It’s a beautiful thing. Now, the king of story is probably Fate Stay Night. Though it appears complicated on the surface, the series has a well established story that it sticks to beautifully. The story line is what is going to keep the viewers interested, it’s what makes us get absorbed into the series, which brings us to our next subject!

Characters! What’s as important as the story? Characters! The anime series has to have characters that are lovable or relate-able in order t survive. We have to have a connection with the main character(s) so they we can indulge ourselves into this fantasy world. There are so many different ways to make a character I won’t even go into it, but I’d say the most notable turning point is development. The characters in an anime have to have some sense of development, of growing, otherwise, we realize that we are simply staring at a screen. We want to know that the characters have grown. A perfect example, though not an anime, is The Walking Dead. Look at current Rick Grimes compares to season 1 Rick, wow! That is an extreme case over the course of several seasons, but still. That is what we are looking for, growth… or craziness, whatever works.

Now you have the story, you have the characters, now what? Some might say that you need a good bad guy. True, you do need a good bad guy. Someone who is going to challenge the good guy to make him better. My favorite bad guy is that of Gurren Lagann, because the bad guy really isn’t that bad of a guy. If you’ve seen the series, you know what I mean. Now a bad example of a bad guy would be Full Metal Panic, where the good guy defeats him over, and over, and over again. It gets boring. Of course, the extreme opposite is a new bad guy every episode like Ushio to Tora. It works for some, but not many. It gets annoying, same stuff every turn. So a good anime should mix things up.

Now I’m not one to nitpick on the elephant in the room, but animation is important. Almost every die hard anime person would say that the actual animation doesn’t matter. It’s like gamers, they say the game is beyond the graphics. I agree, but lovely animation helps out a ton. Take Neon Genesis Evangelion, the series is great. However, after watching the beautiful animation of the rebuilds, it’s hard to go back. It just helps with indulging the viewer whenever it looks nice.

Weekly Review: Soul Eater

Soul Eater is a very interesting anime, without saying anything about it, I can tell you that it is pretty much the perfect anime to do an AMV for the “This is Halloween” song. Pretty much every single time I start watching an episode and the opening theme comes on, I imagine that song. No joke. So what is Soul Eater? Well, it is an action, comedy, and drama anime series that takes place in a city called, you guessed it, Death City! The city is watched over and ruled by Lord Death himself, and his trusty death scythes.

Lord Death, many ages ago, established a school in this city, called Death Weapon Meister Academy. Just as it sounds, it is a school for young meisters and weapons. A meister is a person who has the special ability to be able to bond, and wield a weapon. A weapon, is a person that can literally transform their body into some sort of weapon. The ultimate goal for these students is to pair up, meister and weapon, and go out hunting kishin and witch souls. Kishin are evil persons that are possessed by… well evil. Most of the time they turn to devouring human souls which is a huge no no. A weapon must consume 99 kishin souls and one witch soul in order to become a death scythe. This means that they become more powerful and get the opportunity to serve Lord Death as his weapon. Phew, I think that about covers it.

Our main characters of this anime are pretty descent, some more than others. First off we have Maka, a young meister who’s father is a death scythe and who’s mother was the meister that got him there. Soul is her weapon partner, he’s a pretty beast scythe. Black Star is a flamboyant “ninja,” who is actually pretty powerful. Tsubaki is his weapon, she has the unique ability to change into different “modes.” Then we have Death the kid, son of Lord Death himself and absolutely obsessed with symmetry. Liz and Patty are his weapons, they turn into a pair of mighty shooting pistols.

Now when the anime first starts off, Maka and Soul are just one witch soul away from completing their ultimate goal. You would think they are beasts… right? Wrong. After the introduction, the show takes a whopping 360 that makes this pair pretty much the weakest out of all of the main characters. Maka, who can wield a scythe meister’s “ultimate rare skill” swings it around like a baby with a spoon, making me cringe every time she tries to use it. Instead of training and getting stronger, the main two usually spend most of their time complaining about not being stronger.

I’m not a big fan of Black Star, since he is really quite annoying, but the fight scenes are pretty good with him. He is annoying and obnoxious, but his character works hard to get stronger and the bond between him and Tsubaki is simply beautiful. Death the kid is, as you would expect, pretty over powered. However, he gets undone very quickly by asymmetrical things, if you watch… you’ll see. There are quite a few supporting characters such as Stein and Spirit that are pretty cool, but don’t get a whole lot of screen time (well… Stein does).

The main story is about the main characters not only progressing their skills, but also facing challenges such as powerful witches. The first and main enemy is Medusa, a powerful witch that controls snakes. Later on we get to meet her lovely sister who controls something even creepier, spiders. Beyond them, there is a major enemy, one that involves epic fight scenes with Lord Death himself, but I’ll make you watch it to find that one out.

Overall, I like this anime, but I am not a fan of the main characters at all. I like Soul, I like his personality, but I just can’t get on the Maka fan wagon. I don’t see a whole lot of chemistry between the two and it just seems forced sometimes. It’s still a good anime, with funny moments, and plenty of action. I enjoy the story line, but it can be a little drawn out sometimes.