“Uncomfortable” Hayao Miyazaki

One of the newest animated film of the renowned Studio Ghibli , Kaze Tachinu, has just premiered on July 2013 and yet it has already generated serious amount of controversy. The film is a fictional biography of Jiro Horikoshi, the creator of the renowned World War II fighter plane, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero.  Its director, the legendary Hayao Miyazaki, has stirred up a hornet’s nest of controversy online.

Several of the initial reviews rated the film as “great” and stated that it was a film for mature audiences. This might be true because kids though it was “dull”. Kaze Tachinu’s Yahoo! Japan page is being flooded by many commenters that are ferociously attacking both the film Miyazaki. The commenters call the film “anti-Japanese” while Miyazaki was called “dim-witted”.

The trigger to all these rage comments was due to a previous recent interview with Studio Ghibli’s own publicity pamphlet Neppu where Miyazaki said, “For the Japanese comfort women issue, because it’s a question of each nation’s pride, a proper apology should be given and suitable reparations should be paid.”

During the Second World War, the Japanese military established a prostitution corps called “ianfu”, which is usually translated as “comfort women”. Conservatives in Japan are always hasty in point out that Japanese politicians, prime ministers, and the Emperor have apologized several times for the cruel things that the Japanese had done during war time. The victims were given proper compensation yet there are those who are skeptical about the proper amount awarded and whether or not these apologies were enough. The topic of comfort women is a very sensitive and volatile issue in Japan and the rest of Asia.  Some agree with Miyazaki but the online world of Japan seems like a place that usually seems more conservative than the country itself and critics have not failed to voice out their strong opinions.

“Why don’t you pay the comfort woman with the profits from your movie?” asked one Yahoo! commenter. “Wouldn’t it be good to ban the movie that this traitor created?” was commented by one that says Kaze Tachinu was created by a left-wing liberal. The Yahoo! Japan page is transforming into an anger-filled chat room as the number of comments reaching over two thousand, with people attacking the world’s greatest living animator for saying what is on his mind.

Images by animationmagazine.net and c-faculty.chuo-u.ac.jp

 

The Prince of Tennis

For those looking for anime based on sports, a series worth checking would be The Prince Of Tennis. Initially created in manga form, the series revolves around a tennis prodigy. Created by Takeshi Konomi, the series’ title is usually shortened to TeniPuri , a portmanteau of the two segments in the Japanese diction of the words “Tennis Prince”. The manga series was initially published in Japan in Shueisha’s Weekly Shōnen Jump in July 1999, and it was concluded on March 3, 2008. The entire series spanned 379 chapters that were serialized, composing of 42 volumes. By the publication of volume 40, the manga series has sold more than 40 million copies in Japan alone.

Ryoma and the team

Ryoma and the team

The setting of the series is mostly in in Tokyo, and the plot focuses on Ryoma Echizen, a tennis prodigy who is a student at Seishun Academy. Also called Seigaku for short, the private school is known for having a great tennis club and skilled players. Ryoma, upon starting in the school, swiftly beats several upperclassmen which secured his spot as one a regular in the team. While pursuing their ultimate goal of winning the National Middle School Tennis Championship, the players of the team develop new friendships and master progressively difficult techniques. Ryoma also starts in the development of his very own unique style of tennis which leads him to recognize what the sport really is for him.

The anime adaptation was directed by Takayuki Hamana, animated by Trans Arts. The series was co-produced by Nihon Ad Systems & TV Tokyo. The Prince of Tennis premiered all over Japan on the anime satellite television network Animax and the terrestrial TV Tokyonetwork on October 10, 2001. It concluded on March 30, 2005, composing of a total of 178 episodes and a theatrical movie. This was then followed by two more OVA’s.

When it came to critical reception, the reviewers had both positive and negative criticism. In spite of the reviews, the series became popular in Japan. TV Asahi, a television network in Japan, conducted a survey for the entire country regarding the one hundred most popular animated television series. The results showed that The Prince of Tennis anime was the 277th most popular.

princeoftennis.wikia.com

Sword Art Online

One of the recent hottest anime that people are going nuts over would be Sword Art Online. Initially released as a Japanese light novel series that was written by Reki Kawahara and illustrated by abec, the series is set in the not-so-distant future and revolves around several virtual reality MMORPG worlds. Sword Art Online has quickly become a household name as it enjoys intense popularity and commercial success which is seen in the light novels being the top selling series of 2012.

The plot focuses on Sword Art Online or SAO, a Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game or VRMMORPG that was released in 2022. Using the Nerve Gear, a virtual-reality head piece which stimulates the user’s five senses through nerve receptors in their brain, players are able to control their in-game characters using their minds. In the game’s launch date on November 6, 2022, the players enter the world SAO for the first time where they eventually find out that they cannot log out of the game. The creator of SAO, Akihiko Kayaba, informs them that they have to play the game and reach the 100th floor of the game’s tower and beat the final boss for them to be free from the virtual world. However, if their in-game characters die, the player’s actual body will really die in the real world.

Kirito using Dual Blades

Kirito using Dual Blades

The series saw an anime adaptation of Sword Art Online which was first announced at Dengeki Bunko Autumn Festival 2011. The anime version uses the first four books of the series and was published by Aniplex. It was produced by A-1 Pictures and had Tomohiko Ito as its director. The music was handled by Yuki Kajiura. The anime was broadcasted on Tokyo MX, tvk, TVS, TVA, RKB, HBC and MBS from July 7, 2012 up until December 22, 2012. The anime series also aired at later dates on AT-X, Chiba TV and BS11. Outside television, the anime series was available for streaming in Crunchyroll and Hulu.

When it comes to reception, the anime adaptation of Sword Art Online was recipient to mixed positive reviews from critics. Praises were received for the exploration of the psychological aspects of virtual reality, while criticism was given for the SAO’s pacing and writing.

 

swordartonline.wikia.com

Katekyō Hitman Reborn!

It seems that there action and comedy mix well in Japanese anime and Reborn!, known in Japan as Katekyō Hitman Reborn!, hits the nail on the head. The series was originally a Japanese manga that was created by Akira Amano. The story focuses on the life of a young kid named Tsunayoshi Sawada, who discovers that he is the heir to boss of the most powerful Mafia organization called Vongola. In lieu with this, Vongola’s strongest hitman, a gun wielding baby named Reborn, is sent by the family to “tutor” Tsuna on how to be a respectable boss.

 

the cute and deadly Reborn

the cute and deadly Reborn

The anime adaption of Reborn! spans 203 episode. Produced by Artland and directed by Kenichi Imaizumi, the series first aired on October 7, 2006 on the Japanese network TV Tokyo. The final episode premiered on September 25, 2010. Due to the anime series not being licensed for distribution outside of Japan, Funimation, acting on behalf of Japan’s d-rights production company, used the powers of the law to take down fan-subbed episodes of the Reborn! that were posted on the internet. Eventually, on March 21, 2009,Crunchyroll, an anime-streaming website, started to stream subtitled episodes of the anime series in North America.

As of May 29, 2009, there are a total of 27 DVD volumes that have been released in Japan by Marvelous Entertainment. The DVDs come with secondary volume titles: the first eight volumes are “Bullets” which covers the first thirty-three episodes; the next eight are “Battles”, and covers episodes 34 to 65; volumes seventeen and eighteen are “Daily Chapters”, composed of episodes 66 to 73; the next seven are the “Burn” volumes and contains episodes 74 to 101

The series has also spilled into gaming consoles with six video games based solely on the series. The first one to be released was Katekyo Hitman Reborn! DS – Shinuki Max! Vongola Carnival!! on June 28, 2008 for the Nintendo DS. This was followed by three fighting games titled Katekyo Hitman Reborn! Flame Rumble which were successively released on the Nintendo DS and the latest game in the Flame Rumble series was released in July 2009. Another was Katekyo Hitman Reborn! DS: Fate of Heat, an adventure fighting game, released for the Nintendo DS.

Image by www.comicvine.com

Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple

 

Joining the long list of action and comedy themed Japanese anime, is Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple. Originally a Japanese manga created by Syun Matsuena, the series was serialized in the weekly manga magazine Shōnen Sunday from August 2002 until September 2014. The series’ anime adaptation was done by Tokyo Movie Shinsha. The first showing of the series was on October 7, 2006 and it had spanned a total of fifty episodes. All these episodes were released as of May 25, 2010. These covered the beginning of the story up until the battle against the top members of Ragnarok.

Kenichi

Kenichi

The plot of the series revolves around Kenichi Shirahama, a 16-year-old high school student and a long-time victim of bullying in school. At the start of the story, he becomes friends with the transfer student, Miu Fūrinji. Wanting to be stronger, Kenichi follows her to Ryōzanpaku, a dojo that is home to several masters of varying martial arts. The head of this dojo is none other than Miu’s grandfather, Hayato Fūrinji. Kenichi then trains and learns basic teachings from Miu which he then uses to defeat a high-ranking member of the karate club in his school. He then becomes a target for all the delinquents in the entire school. Although he originally trained in order to defend himself, Kenichi eventually becomes a full-fledged disciple of Ryōzanpaku and starts to fall for Miu. Consequently, Kenichi’s everyday life is allocated between training under the six masters of Ryōzanpaku, and fighting against the members of ‘Ragnarok’, a gang of bullies that attempt to either get rid or recruit him to their group.

Aside from an anime release, Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple also had an OVA release that was produced by Brain Base. Officially released on March 14, 2012, the story is continued from the Ragnarok Arc up until the initial parts Yomi arc. The second OVA that features the later parts of yomi arc was released on June 18, 2012. These two were followed by three more OVA’s, the third being released on November 16, 2012 and the fourth and the fifth were released on September 16, 2013. These were then followed by six more OVA releases, having a total of 11 OVA’s all in all.

Image by thekorraconnection.com

Hajime no Ippo

Hajime no Ippo, literally meaning “The First Step” in Japanese, is something that embodies two things Japan is famous for: anime and martial arts. First released as a manga series that revolves around boxing, it was created by George Morikawa. The manga was released and serialized by Kodansha in Weekly Shōnen Magazine since 1989 and it has spanned for more than 108 tankōbon to date. Hajime no Ippo revolves around the life of high school student, Makunouchi Ippo, as he starts his career in boxing where, as time passes, he reaches his immense potential while winning several titles and defeating different opponents along the way.

The very first manga cover of Hajime no Ippo

The very first manga cover of Hajime no Ippo

The manga was then adapted to an anime series that spanned 76 episodes with the title Hajime no Ippo: The Fighting!. This was produced by Madhouse, Nippon Television and VAP. Directed by Satoshi Nishimura, the series was aired on Nippon Television Network from October 2000 till March 2002. Aside from the anime series, a TV film and an OVA were also made. On September 15, 2008 an announcement was made in Weekly Shōnen Magazine about a sequel to Hajime no Ippo would start premiering on January 6, 2009. This second season is titled: Hajime no Ippo: New Challenger. The sequel finished on June 30, 2009.

Aside from anime, the series was also received video game adaptations. The first one was released on the PlayStation, then later the PlayStation 2 and Game Boy Advance, and recently to Wii. Two of the games have been released in North America and in PAL territories. During these releases, confusion among buyers surfaced due to the Western title Victorious Boxers 2: Fighting Spirit being thought of as the game. People thought that this was the same game as Hajime no Ippo 2: Victorious Road, but actually it is the western title in the series, Hajime no Ippo – The Fighting! All Stars. The game, Victorious Road differs among the released game titles because it has a feature that allows you create your own boxer. Aside from creating the boxer, you are given control to his training, diet, weight and other aspects of boxing outside the ring. The second Western title, Fighting Spirit, offers a choice of over 70 fighters for VS play.

Image by en.wikipedia.org

Full Metal Alchemist:Brotherhood

Seldom does an anime series have a full remake and be successful and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is one that is not part of that list. Based on the Fullmetal Alchemist manga by Hiromu Arakawa, the anime series was developed by Bones.  The director was Yasuhiro Irie while the plot written by Hiroshi Ōnogi. Yes, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is not the first anime television series based on Fullmetal Alchemist but unlike the previous adaptation, it faithfully follows the manga version. Nonetheless, the previous voice actors, Romi Park and Rie Kugimiya return as their roles as the main characters Edward and Alphonse Elric, respectively. The series first aired on April 5, 2009 on MBS-TBS and ended with the final episode on July 4, 2010.

The characters of Full Metal Alchemist:Brotherhood

The characters of Full Metal Alchemist:Brotherhood

When it came to critical reception, the first few episodes of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood received negative comments from members of the Anime News Network staff, who stated that repeating events from the first anime led to predictable events. Mania Entertainment‘s Chris Beveridge said that “the entertainment in these episodes lay in the differences in the characters’ actions from the first series, and original content which focused on the emotional theme of the series.” In another separate review, Beveridge commended the new fight scenes and stated that the additional drama made these episodes “solid”. Chris Zimmerman, a writer from Comic Book Bin said that the series “turns around and establishes its own identity” due to the addition of new characters and certain revelations that were not included in the first version of the series thus increasing its depth. He also said that the animation was superior to that of the first anime; his comments focused on the characters’ expressions and the execution of the fight scenes. A writer from The Los Angeles Times, Charles Solomon had ranked Brotherhood as the second best anime on his “Top 10”. A lot of commendations were given to the final climactic episodes for the way the action scenes were done and how morals were conveyed. Majority of the reviewers agree that the conclusion of Brotherhood is way better than the first Fullmetal Alchemist anime. Critics found the ending satiating; Mark Thomas of The Fandom Post dubbed it as a “virtually perfect ending to an outstanding series”.

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Shin-chan

Probably one of the funniest and dirtiest-humored anime series you would ever watch is Crayon Shin-chan or more commonly known as simply Shin-Chan.  The original version is a Japanese manga series that was created by Yoshito Usui. The series revolves around the adventures of the five-year-old Shinnosuke “Shin” Nohara and his parents, baby sister, dog, neighbors, and friends. The anime adaptation of the series premiered on TV Asahi in 1992, and is still on-going to this day. Amazingly, the anime series has been dubbed in Danish, English, Dutch, German, Greek, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Galician, Catalan, Basque, Polish, Chinese, Korean, Hindi, Hebrew, Telugu, Tamil, Tagalog, Indonesian, Malay, Khmer, Thai and Vietnamese.

 

Drop-dead-funny Shin chan

At the start of the series, the events were generally based on the original storyline in the manga version.  However, as the series progressed, the additional episodes in the anime were new and independent of the manga. Crayon Shin-Chan follows a sliding timescale where in which the characters maintain their ages all throughout the course of the series. Even though enough time has passed to warrant the rise and fall of several pop culture icons, marriages, pregnancies, and births of several characters, all the characters are still of the same age as the time they were introduced.

 

The humor of the series makes use of different jokes such as Shin-chan’s usual bizarre and inappropriate use of language. Other humorous themes which used in the series include gags based on physical comedy or, Shin-chan being a child, surprisingly using adult talk or mannerisms. Despite this, a certain amount of knowledge in Japanese culture and/or language is needed to be able to fully appreciate the jokes. An example would be his trademark “Mr. Elephant” impression, while obviously a physical male genitalia gag, also has a deeper meaning with contemporary Japanese culture since it refers to the popular Japanese children’s song “Zou-san”. Aside from these, Shin-chan is always infatuated with beautiful female characters that are very much older than him. These situations present funny moments whenever he uses his childlike attempts to court these women, such as by asking them inappropriately “Do you like green peppers?” . He is also funnily deprived of sensitivity when he talks to adults by asking questions like “When are you going to die?” to old people.

Image by wikipedia