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Posts Tagged ‘Last Exile’

Alright…I am going to be trying something a little new (for me) this season. I am actually going to make a point of watching at least the first episode or two of any new anime that interests me. A lot of times I just tend to focus on a few and spend my time watching those, even though there are more series being released that interest me. And, of course, being that time is limited, it often takes me a very long time to ever get around to watching those series I don’t initially try out…usually because by the time I finish the series I started, a new bunch of shows are being released. So…this season…we are going to see how many shows I can “sample.” I already have in mind the few I will probably actually watch until the end, but maybe by putting the shows through “prelims,” I will change my mind or add an anime to my list that I otherwise might not have. If I leave out a show, it is probably because of one of the following reasons:

1. It’s the type of show I would never watch anyways (i.e. hentai, yuri/yaoi, and so on).

2. The show is a sequel to a series I have yet to watch (i.e. Shakugan no Shana III and Fate/Zero).

3. For whatever reason, the show simply does not interest me (i.e. Mobile Suit Gundam AGE and Battle Spirits: Heroes).

4. I run out of time or shows to try.

5. I get bored and just want to watch the shows I’ve decided on.

6. Any other whim that hits me.

So, please understand that I am only doing this because I enjoy it. And so, the instant I stop enjoying it, I will stop the prelims. Thus, I apologize ahead of time if there is a show you were really hoping I would try out and I do not get around to it. Or if I listed one of the shows you really like as one of the ones I definitely would not watch to begin with. I feel that I am entitled to my opinions, though, (as you are entitled to yours) and so plan to stick with mine. If, however, there is a particular show you really, really want me to give a shot, feel free to say so. I won’t promise to fulfill your request, but I will certainly be happy to give it serious thought and consideration.

Planned Prelims: Chihayafuru, Mirai Nikki, Last Exile: Fam, the Silver Wing, Persona 4, Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, Mashi-Iro Symphony, Tamayura, Kimi to Boku, Phi Brain, Chibi DeviHorizon in the Middle of Nowhere, C3, Guilty Crown, and Un-Go.

Let the prelims begin!!!

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Both as a hopeful author and a soon-to-be librarian, part of my job involves staying on top of things when it comes to literary trends. And one thing that I have recently become aware of is the fact that anime fans are a great source of information for spotting when new trends are thinking about beginning. Even more specifically, it is most evident in those fans who like to cosplay.

For example, during the late 90s with the rise of Rowling’s Harry Potter and the revitalization of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, the genre of epic fantasy stepped into the spotlight. During this time, if one attended anime conventions, it would have been unusual to not see numerous attendees dressed up as: witches/wizards, elves, fairies, anime characters from epic fantasy series like The Slayers‘ Lina Inverse and Magic Knight Rayearth‘s trio of protagonists, and so on. Now, this is not to say that people did not dress up in fantasy costumes prior to the 90s, nor is it to say that epic fantasy has never been popular before. Neither of these true, and on that same note, they continue to be popular, even if this genre is no longer the hot star that everybody wants to be.

Following epic fantasy, we saw the rise of a genre that has been the recipient of both extreme love and equally extreme hatred: Supernatural Romance. This surge in popularity of the supernatural romance genre was, largely, thanks to Meyer’s infamous Twilight series. And though this genre is finally reaching the end of its popularity run, you can still go into bookstore and see its remnants overflowing on the bookshelves. Everywhere you look in a teen section, you will see books that have a certain “look” to them. They’re shinier, more…artistic. And they all look very similar. I still remember finding it very interesting when I began to see classic novels being rereleased with covers that looked like copies of Twilight. Wuthering Heights and Romeo and Juliet, in particular, are two that come to mind. Much like the first book in the Twilight series, they sported a slick black cover with a flower at the center that drew the eyes. You also saw copycats in title fonts, book sizes, and even textures. And with the sudden popularity of Twilight, you also got to see several series…older series…get a second chance at fame. Many people have discussed how Twilight is extremely similar to the Vampire Diaries series. And, would you believe it, can you guess which series suddenly reappeared on bookshelves and now has its own television shows. You got it. Vampire Diaries. Then, of course, we could not stop with vampire romances. We also had to see forbidden relationships formulate between humans and angels, fairies, werewolves, and pretty much whatever other supernatural being you can think of. And the anime fans? Naturally, we saw countless vampire lookalikes.

As I previously stated, though, supernatural romance is now on its final stretch. The books are still on store shelves, but they are quickly being replaced by novels of two genres that have recently made their debuts: Steampunk and, following closely on its heels, Dystopian. My first introduction to Steampunk (besides H.G. Wells’ classic novels), was the anime series Last Exile, a very cool show that I highly recommend to sci-fi aficionados. This was eventually followed by the American Blockbuster Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, a movie that was born premature and, as a result, never really got off the ground. Sad to say, it didn’t even meet its budget, falling about 20 million dollars short. It was one of those movies that, despite its many positive reviews, came and went, forgotten by all except its few loyal fans. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think I’ve even watched the whole thing…might have to add that to my list of things to do. Anyways…I say that this movie was born premature because it was. It failed because American society was not yet ready for it. It was simply too different…too far out there for people to accept. If the movie had been made and released now (or maybe in another year), I believe it would have found much greater success, especially among younger audience members. Teenagers are chewing up books like Westerfeld’s Leviathan and begging for more. And guess what we are seeing at anime conventions: that’s right, lots and lots of steampunk cosplayers. It’s been slow going for the steampunk genre, and I’m afraid it will never really reach the same level that epic fantasy and supernatural romance achieved, primarily because, following closely in its footsteps is Steampunk’s sister: Dystopian fiction.

I have to say it is really funny seeing a bunch of older males come up to the children’s literature section with an embarrassed look on their face as they try to find Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games without being spotted. A lot of times, they’ll show up and try to pretend they know what they’re doing and will eventually break down and ask only to be disappointed as they find out that the book has, yet again, been checked out. Other times, when they’re too stubborn to ask and I attempt to helpfully approach, they realize they’ve been noticed and, essentially, run away. I’m not entirely sure why this happens. Maybe there’s some social code that guys have to follow where being caught in a children’s and young adult area is unmanly or something. But the point is…I don’t see guys in this section of the library too often…and when I do, 9 out of 10 times, they are looking for one of the books in Collins’ hot trilogy. Which, I got the chance to read! And it is excellent (though a bit dragged out). Definitely worth reading. It’s popular for a good reason. Yes, I’m telling you to go check it out if you have yet to do so. ANYWAYS. Thanks to Collins’ series, guess what kind of books we are now starting to see on bookshelves. That’s right. You got it. Dystopian fiction! Sometimes it’ll have a steampunk twist to it, other times not. But right now, I’m seeing  a lot more metallic book covers sporting images of gears, nuts, bolts, and other similar equipment. Just like we did with Harry Potter and Twilight, there are now TONS of Hunger Games look alikes making their debuts. And I have to admit, they look fantastic. I am totally drooling over some of them and am absolutely desperate to get my hands on them. For example, Veronica Roth’s Divergent series and Ally Condie’s Matched series. DeStefano’s Wither and Oliver’s Delirium are also gaining a lot of attention. And has anybody seen that preview for a new upcoming movie that, for a couple of seconds, I thought was the movie adaptation of DeStefano’s novel? I have to say…I am very interested in seeing In Time when it gets released. And not just because Cillian Murphy and his gorgeous blue eyes will be in it.

Alright, so to wrap this up…my question for you…is what do you think will be next? Once The Hunger Games and its fellow dystopian novels start losing steam (which will probably take another two or three years), which genre will be the next to step in the spotlight? Not only that, but is there a pattern developing that could clue us in onto what’s becoming popular and why? I certainly believe there is, but pinpointing exactly what it is…that’s a far more difficult task. You author hopefuls should be especially interested in figuring this little puzzle out. Because if we can, that means you and I have a greater chance of getting our feet in the doors at publishing houses. Predict what the next hot thing will be, write it, and send it in. Of course…even if you can figure it out, timing will be key. And timing will be far more difficult to figure out. If you’re too soon, you’ll find yourself under the rug before you have a chance to nab the spotlight. And too late, well, of course, we know that means somebody else already took it from you. Of course…I’d personally rather be a little late than early. So, as my professors have told me, if you have a dystopian novel floating around in your head, now’s the time to get it out there, ’cause your chances of getting something like that published are much higher right now. Otherwise, you may just have to wind up waiting for the next genre to roll in.

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Whoa. Part 2. Bet you never thought you’d see this. Well…I figured since I’m on a roll with my posting today, I’d go ahead and knock this out while I’m at it. Plus, it would free up some space on my desktop…getting tired of those pictures I’m using for this taking up all the space. So here we are…Part 2 GO!

9. Koge-Donbo

Digi Charat, Pita-Ten, and Kamichama Karin

To an extent, Koge-Donbo is a guilty pleasure for me. Her art is sweet enough to give you a cavity just looking at it. But do not be fooled…Koge-Donbo is good at far more than just drawing painfully cute pictures. In what starts out as what can be compared to an ADHD three-year old that’s just been pumped full of sugar, Pita-Ten matures into an incredibly beautiful and heart-wrenching story. The only problem is that you have to get past the fluff to get to that first…and some people will probably not be able to last that long. If you’re like me and LIKE the cutesy stuff…or if you’re not, but you think you can endure it long enough…then Pita-Ten will certainly reward you in the end. Koge-Donbo definitely falls into that “more than what meets the eye” category.

10. Kiyohiko Azuma

Azumanga Daioh and Yotsuba&!

Kiyohiko Azuma is an incredible artist and a comedic genius. In both his works Azumanga Daioh and Yotsuba&!, Azuma successfully captures the humor of everyday life in a way that will bring a smile to your face (when it doesn’t have you rolling on the ground with tears streaming down your face). If I am ever in a bad mood, picking up one of Azuma’s books will put a smile right back on my face, whether I’m reading about the antics of high school friends or the innocent adventures of a precocious toddler. Not only that, but as I previously mentioned, Azuma is an amazing artist. Azumanga Daioh is a young series and so, while it does give you a glimpse of his talent, Yotsuba&! is the one to which you truly want to turn in order to get a better idea of his capabilities. Every time I pick up the next Yotsuba&! volume, I am dumbfounded by what I see…it is not just a manga…it is a work of art. Azuma takes the time to explore the different ways he can use his art to depict the beauty of life, and he succeeds with flying colors. The only downside to Azuma is that HE TAKES FOREVER TO RELEASE THE NEXT BOOK. But considering what I get from it in the end…the wait is TOTALLY worth it.

10. Short but Fun

FLCL and R.O.D.

What do these two series have in common? Absolutely nothing, except that they are both short and fun shows that any true die-hard anime fan should take the time to watch. I cannot promise that everyone will like them, but they are anime milestones…shows that give a new glimpse of anime’s true potential. To be honest, I hated FLCL at first. I didn’t get the appeal…I didn’t get it at all. The art was TERRIBLE, the plot made NO SENSE, and I didn’t particularly care for some of the characters. And then I got to the last two episodes. I don’t know what happened, but all of a sudden something clicked, and I fell in love with it. Suddenly the terrible artwork appeared stylish…the senseless plot had a point…and even the annoying characters were endearing in their own quirky ways. It’s now one of those shows that I can watch again and again without thinking twice…there’s just something so charming about it. Unlike with FLCL, I instantly loved R.O.D. Not everybody likes this show, but I did. I could instantly relate to the main character and I fell in love with the whole premise…librarians saving the world from dangerous books and the people who abuse them. Perhaps it’s because, down deep inside, even then I knew I wanted to be a librarian. But it’s impossible to really say. At only three episodes, it won’t waste much of your day and, you never know, you might just like it…so give it a shot.

11. The Sci-Fi Era: Phase 2

Last Exile, Shangri-La, and Ergo Proxy

Where the first phase of my interest in sci-fi anime tended to include those shows that were fast-paced, high-flying, action-pumped epics, my second phase focused on something slower, more thoughtful, and much more close to home. While Last Exile maintains remnants of what I enjoyed in such shows as Neon Genesis Evangelion, this is the first sci-fi anime that began to branch away from the idea that science fiction somehow involved outer space, aliens, etc. It was not about the survival of humanity against some foreign force…it was about humanity having to save themselves from…well…themselves. This carries on into other shows like Shangri-La and Ergo Proxy, two shows that have taken critical hits for being too slow, not interesting enough, and inconclusive. To me, though, both of these series had exactly what they needed: intrigue. Sure, they didn’t always have very much action, and sure they embraced a lot of confusing themes and philosophies…but I was okay with that. These shows met another need of mine: the need for a puzzle. I liked not knowing all the answers. I liked not knowing if everything was going to be okay. They set out on a very different kind of mission, and both, I feel, delivered.

12. Key

Kanon, Air, Clannad, and Angel Beats

Ladies and gentlemen, I must confess: I hate watching movies that make me cry. I do not go to watch a movie because I want to be scared…or to have my heart torn to pieces…or to be made to think that everything is going wrong in the world and that I am to blame. I go to be entertained. And entertainment, to me, means LOTS of action, LOTS of laughing, and a tiny smattering of not-disgusting romance. Key breaks several of these rules. There is not a single series I have watched by this company that has not made me cry…that has not torn my heart to pieces…that has little action, some amount of laughing, and tons of romantic elements (though not disgusting). And I absolutely LOVE every single one of them. I love how these shows have all been able to pull my heart-strings in such a way that I am able to cry from sadness…cry from joy…laugh and cry at the same time…and without feeling ashamed. Each of these shows is a masterpiece (though many would disagree). Yes, they are all technically “harem” anime…but they are only that on the surface. Yes, every single one of these FEELS like it was made by Key…once you’ve watched one, you’ve watched them all. And yet, at the same time, Key pulls different heartstrings every time. They bring up new aspects…make you look at life in a slightly different way…and make you bawl your eyes out every single time. Those tears are good tears though. And while some Key shows are better than others, I am a firm believer that they are ALL worth watching. (No, do not ask me, I cannot choose a favorite.) And believe me when I say…I am waiting on the edge of my seat for the next Key anime. (PLEASE MAKE REWRITE AN ANIME! PLEASE!!!!)

13. Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni

Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni

Much like all of the shows by Key, Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni breaks a lot of my rules. (There’s just something about anime that makes me okay with it I guess.) Higurashi is scary. And not just a little scary. It is TERRIFYING. You are essentially watching children torture themselves and each other. No, not just mentally. PHYSICALLY torturing each other. We’re talking stabbing themselves in the head, tearing their own throats out, pulling off fingernails, gutting, beating with baseball bats, and the list goes on. You will cringe. You will flinch. You will wonder on NUMEROUS occasions why you are still watching this show. And yet you will continue watching. It is a gory, psychological horror fest that messes with the mind…and yet it has so many ways of keeping you hooked. Perhaps the strongest feature of Higurashi is the fact that this show is one gigantic puzzle. Though I know many people who have enjoyed the first season and the first season only, I am the type of person who likes it when my puzzles are eventually solved. Thus, if you are more like me, I recommend you be prepared to watch both seasons if you plan to begin this series in the first place. You have been warned. (Isn’t it oddly appropriate that this one happened to be #13? No, I didn’t plan it that way. I swear.)

14. Rip-Roaring Action

Black Lagoon and Baccano!

Two very different shows that are nowhere near being on the same level, and yet both succeed in providing the viewer with one heck of a fun ride. Black Lagoon is what I like to call my senseless violence anime. Ever had one of those days where you just want to sit down and play violent video games or watch a movie with a plot that consists of nothing more than characters shooting at each other? Black Lagoon fits that need perfectly. It is just plain fun. Senseless violence up the wazoo. A plot that you do not have to think very hard about. Completely unrealistic action and ridiculous characters that you don’t get tired of watching. That’s Black Lagoon. Baccano!, on the other hand, is very different. While this is another show that’s number one feature is being FUN, Baccano! is full of both strong characters and a strong story. In fact…you watch Baccano! just for that…the characters and the story. It is a “story” anime in every sense of the word. Does this mean it’s confusing? Does this mean you actually have to get to know the characters? Does this mean you have to pay attention?  Yes, yes, and yes. But the payoff is worth it. It is an extremely rewatchable show…one that I have no doubt I will be watching repeatedly in the future.

15. Ef ~a tale~

Ef ~a tale of memories~ and Ef ~a tale of melodies~

Last one! Can you believe it? And is that yet another harem anime you see me saving for last? You bet it is. And, let me tell you, it is a work of art. The Ef series is, hands down, my favorite romance anime. Yet, it contains some harem elements, and yet it has bits and pieces of fanservice like you’d expect in this sort of show, but it is, more than anything, a piece of great beauty. From the music to the characters to the story to the art and directing, Ef is a beautiful series. There is nothing not beautiful about it. Because this is a work of art, though, it has the qualities that one would expect to find in art: abstract, strange scenes that will throw a person off if they are not prepared for and willing to appreciate it. This is a slow series that one must take the time to digest…it’s like a fine wine…meant to be savored, not chugged. And I believe it is because of this that it did not obtain the popularity it deserves. It is because of this that it has not yet been licensed in the United States. In a decade where harem and moe anime are the trend, Ef is a breath of fresh air, but it is also misunderstood.  And so when I see shows like 11 Eyes and Koi Hime Musou licensed, yet Ef continues to be passed over, i can’t help but feel deeply saddened. I still have my fingers crossed, though, in the hopes that one day an American company will recognize this series for what it is and take the risk of bringing it over for the few who want it. It is worth the risk, ’cause believe me, those who want it will gladly pay the price for it.

Yay! I finally finished! Now that I’m done…I probably won’t post again for awhile. Who knows, though, maybe another interesting piece of news will catch my eye that I can’t wait to share. So yeah…see you on the flip side.

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