Free!

 

Sports have been a recurring theme in anime but until now, there has been none that features competitive swimming. This is changed by Free!, a Japanese anime television series directed by Hiroko Utsumi and produced by Kyoto Animation and Animation Do. The anime is based on the light novel written by Kōji Ōji, High Speed!, which received an honorable mention in the second Kyoto Animation Award contest in 2011 and was later published in July 2013. The first season, titled Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club for international distribution, aired in Japan between July and September 2013, and the second season, titled Free! – Eternal Summer, aired between July and September 2014.

Free!

The 12-episode anime television series, produced by Kyoto Animation and Animation Do, is directed by Hiroko Utsumi, written by Masahiro Yokotani, features character designs by Futoshi Nishiya and music by Tatsuya Katō. The series aired in Japan between July 4 and September 26, 2013 on Tokyo MX, and was also streamed on the Japanese video-sharing website Niconico and simulcast by Crunchyroll, who also possesses the home video rights to the series. The series was released on six BD and DVD compilation volumes between September 11, 2013 and February 5, 2014, with certain volumes containing short bonus episodes.

Free! starts with four boys—Haruka, Makoto, Nagisa and Rin—before they graduate from elementary school. They all participated in a swimming tournament and won, though they parted ways. Years later, Haruka and Makoto reunite with Nagisa when Nagisa enrolls into high school a year after Haruka and Makoto. Not long after, Rin, who was thought to be in Australia, turns up and challenges Haruka to a race and wins. Afterward, Nagisa suggests creating a swimming club and using the run-down outdoor pool. Haruka, Makoto, and Nagisa, and later on, Rei, create the Iwatobi High School Swimming Club and work together to make the club a success. Rin’s victory over Haruka means nothing to him as he realizes that Haruka had stopped swimming competitively and wasn’t in top shape. He claims that he cannot get over the fact until Haruka competes against him for real. The members of the revived Iwatobi Swim Club later enter a swimming competition against Rin.

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Angel Beats!

 

For anime fans who are into cute character design and engaging plot, Angel Beats! Is a series to look out for. It is a 13-episode Japanese anime television series produced byP.A. Works and Aniplex and directed by Seiji Kishi. The story was originally conceived by Jun Maeda, who also wrote the screenplay and composed the music with the group Anant-Garde Eyes, with original character design by Na-Ga; both Maeda and Na-Ga are from the visual novel brand Key, who produced such titles as Kanon, Air, and Clannad. The anime aired in Japan between April 2 and June 25, 2010. An original video animation (OVA) episode was released in December 2010, and a second OVA will be released in June 2015. The story takes place in the afterlife and focuses on Otonashi, a boy who lost his memories of his life after dying. He is enrolled into the afterlife school and meets a girl named Yuri who invites him to join the Afterlife Battlefront, an organization she leads which fights against the student council president Angel, a girl with supernatural powers.

Angel Beats!

Key worked in collaboration with ASCII Media Works’ Dengeki G’s Magazine to produce the project into a media franchise. Three manga series are serialized in Dengeki G’s Magazine and Dengeki G’s Comic: two illustrated by Haruka Komowata, and one drawn by Yuriko Asami. A series of illustrated short stories written by Maeda and illustrated by GotoP were also serialized in Dengeki G’s Magazine between the November 2009 and May 2010 issues. Two Internet radio shows were produced to promote Angel Beats!. The first volume in a six-part episodicvisual novel adaptation produced by Key will be released for Windows on May 29, 2015.

Angel Beats! received generally positive reviews by critics. The integration of various individual elements together, such as musical performances, humor and action, was commended in one review but panned in another, saying that the story was overloaded with too many elements. P.A Works was praised for the animation of the action sequences and attention to detail with the weapons used. A major flaw noted by critics, however, is that the anime is too short, which leaves many of the characters with untold back-stories. The anime was selected as a recommended work by the awards jury of the 14th Japan Media Arts Festival in 2010.

 

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Kaze Tachinu and Comfort Women Issue

Kaze Tachinu’s director, Hayao Miyazaki, stirred up a lot of controversy online. The reasons why may surprise you. They may not.

As previously said, the film is fictionalized account of Jiro Horikoshi, who made the iconic World War II military aircraft, the Mitsubishi A6m Zero.

Jiro Horikoshi

Some of the early reviews called the film “incredible” and said it was gone for adults. Kids, it seemed, discovered the film “dull”. On the movie’s Yahoo! Japan page, numerous commenters are viciously assaulting both Kaze Tachinu and its creator, Hayao Miyazaki by calling the film “against Japanese” and Miyazaki “dumb”.

“That’s right, this anime is unquestionably against Japanese,” composed one 2ch commentator. “Presumably effectively awful.”

“This anime is a commendation to the Zero contender, right?” composed an alternate. “Considering all that, apologize to the comfort women? I don’t get this old coot.”

Attacks like these give off an impression of being from individuals how haven’t seen the movie. So, what’s the deal? Is it the movie? No, its something Miyazaki said.

In a late meeting with Studio Ghibli’s own particular publicity pamphlet Neppu, the 72 year-old Miyazaki said, “For the comfort lady issue, because its a question of each nation’s pride, a fitting expression of remorse should be given and suitable reparations should be paid.”

Amid World War II, the Japanese military made prostitution corps called “ianfu”, which is commonly translated as “comfort women”.

Kaze Tachinu movie poster

Conservatives in Japan are frequently speedy to bring up that Japanese politicians, executives, and the Emperor have apologized numerous times for Japanese atrocities amid the war. Compensation has been recompensed; notwithstanding, there’s verbal confrontation about whether it was a suitable sum and whether these apologies were fitting.

The point of comfort women is a sensitive issue in Japan—and the rest of Asia especially for the Indonesian, Philippine and Korean Comfort Women.

Online, there were those who concurred with Miyazaki. Others pondered about the timing. In any case online in Japan, a place that frequently can feel more conservative than the nation itself, critics have been vocal.

“Why not pay the comfort lady with the profits from your movie?” asked one Yahoo! commentator. “Wouldn’t it respect boycott the movie that this backstabber made?” shot an alternate, among those saying that Kaze Tachinu was the work of a left-wing liberal. “That is it! Ghibli’s finished,” one ventured to announce.

The Yahoo! Japan page is transforming into a heap on and right now has in excess of two thousand comments, with individuals assaulting perhaps the world’s greatest living animator for saying what he thinks.

 

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Fafner in the Azure

Gundam fans looking for more awesome mech designs should watch Fafner in the Azure. It is a 26-episode anime series produced by Xebec. The story focuses on a group of children who pilot the titular Fafners in an escalating war against giant aliens called Festum. The anime is subtitled Dead Aggressor. A television special subtitled RIGHT OF LEFT aired on December 29, 2005, and a feature film subtitled HEAVEN AND EARTH had a theatrical release in Japan on December 25, 2010.

Character designs look eerily like Gundam SEED

The character designs were created by Hisashi Hirai, who is also known for his work on Infinite Ryvius, s-CRY-ed,Gundam SEED, and Gundam SEED Destiny. Tow Ubukata, creator of works like Le Chevalier D’Eon and Mardock Scramble, provided scripting for the latter half of the series. The mecha designer was Naohiro Washio.

At the beginning of the story, much of the world has been destroyed by the Festum and the remote Japanese island of Tatsumiyajima has only remained unscathed by virtue of an advanced cloaking shield. The island’s young people continue with their daily lives unaware of these events, but after many years of peace a lone Festum discovers Tatsumiyajima and attacks. The adults activate Tatsumiyajima’s hidden defense systems and attempt to repel the attacker but to no avail. Many of them are killed by the Festum in a process of assimilation. In desperation, they order the deployment of a Mecha called the Fafner Mark Elf, but its pilot is killed en route to the hangar. Left with no further options, they send a young boy named Kazuki Makabe as the replacement pilot assisted by Soushi Minashiro from within the Siegfried System.

The Festum is destroyed, but with Tasumiyajima’s whereabouts exposed, the adults choose to relocate the island. Production is accelerated on additional Fafner units and more children are recruited to pilot them. It is also revealed that the cloaking was not meant to conceal Tatsumiyajima from only the Festum, but from the rest of humanity who would seek to use its technology in the greater war against them.

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Samurai Champloo

Several anime series has made use of the samurai genre and one of the latest would be Samurai Champloo. It is a Japanese anime series developed by Manglobe. It featured a production team led by director Shinichirō Watanabe, character designer Kazuto Nakazawa and mechanical designer Mahiro Maeda. Samurai Champloo was Watanabe’s first directorial effort for an anime television series after the critically acclaimed Cowboy Bebop. It was broadcast in Japan on Fuji TV on May 20, 2004 and ran for twenty-six episodes until its conclusion on March 19, 2005.

Samurai Champloo

Samurai Champloo is set in an alternate version of Edo-era Japan with an anachronistic, predominantly hip-hop, setting. It follows Mugen, an impudent and freedom-loving vagrant swordsman; Jin, a composed and stoic rōnin; and Fuu, a brave young girl who asks them to accompany her in her quest across Japan to find the “samurai who smells of sunflowers”.

Like Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo was critically acclaimed, and the series was dubbed in the English language and licensed by Geneon Entertainment for releases in North America. Funimation Entertainment began licensing the series after Geneon ceased production of its titles. It was also licensed for English releases in the United Kingdom by MVM Films, and in Australia and New Zealand by Madman Entertainment.

Samurai Champloo employs a blend of historical Edo period backdrops with modern styles and references. The show relies on factual events of Edo-era Japan, such as the Shimabara Rebellion (“Unholy Union;” “Evanescent Encounter, Part I”), Dutch exclusivity in an era in which an edict restricted Japanese foreign relations (“Stranger Searching”), Ukiyo-e paintings (“Artistic Anarchy”), and fictionalized versions of real-life Edo personalities like Mariya Enshirou and Miyamoto Musashi (“Elegy of Entrapment, Verse 2”). The exact placement within world history is questionable, however, and is likely somewhat distorted by artistic license. For instance, the appearance of a six shooter in the episode of Misguided Miscreants Part I suggests that the story takes place after 1814, which is when that style of weapon was first invented, yet in the episode Stranger Searching it is explicitly stated that trade relations between Japan and the Dutch East India Company exist, the latter of which went defunct in 1798. Also, the samurai who smells of sunflowers is said to have taken part in the Shimabara Rebellion, which historically occurred between 1637 and 1638.

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Psycho-Pass

One of the newest hot series to come to anime is Psycho-Pass. It is a Japanese anime television series that was produced by Production I.G, directed by Naoyoshi Shiotani and written by Gen Urobuchi. The series was aired on Fuji TV’s Noitamina programming block between October 2012 and March 2013. The story takes place in an authoritarian future dystopia, where omnipresent public sensors continuously scan the Psycho-Pass of every citizen in range. The sensors measure mental state, personality, and the probability that the citizen will commit crimes, alerting authorities when someone exceeds accepted norms. To enforce order, the officers of the Public Safety Bureau carry hand weapons called Dominators. The story follows Akane Tsunemori, Shinya Kogami, and other members of Unit One of the Public Safety Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division, and the crimes they investigate using Dominators.

One of the trending animes of 2014

Psycho-Pass originated from Production I.G.’s interest in making a successor to Mamoru Oshii’s achievements. The series was inspired by several live-action films. Chief director Katsuyuki Motohiro aimed to explore psychological themes in society’s youth using dystopian storylines. Several rules were used to focus on making the dystopia that the characters live in.

The series was licensed by Funimation in North America. A second season began airing in October 2014, with an animated film released in January 2015. A manga adaptation has been in serialization in Shueisha’s Jump Squaremagazine and several novels, including an adaptation and prequels to the original story, have been published.

Psycho-Pass was inspired by several Western films, most notably L.A. Confidential. Director Naoyoshi Shiotani cited several other influences, includingMinority Report, Gattaca, Brazil and Blade Runner; the latter shared several similarities with the anime series. Before the making of the series, Urobuchi insisted on using a Philip K. Dick-inspired, dystopian narrative. The psychological themes were based on the time Shiotani watched Lupin III during his childhood because he thought about adding “today’s youth trauma” to the series. The rivalry between the main characters was based on the several dramas the staff liked. Other voice actors have been credited in the making of the series because of the ways they added traits to the characters.

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Cooking Master Boy

There are anime series about war, martial arts, animals, and about anything that you can think of and it would not be surprising that there would be one about cooking. Chūka Ichiban! is a manga created by Etsushi Ogawa. In 1997, it was adapted into an anime series directed by Masami Anno of the same name. The story is centered on a boy whose aim is to become the best chef he could be. In 1995, Kodansha published the manga. From 1995 to 1997, it was serialized in Weekly Shōnen Magazine. In some other countries, the anime adaptation was also called Cooking Master Boy.

Anime never looked so delicious!

The story takes place in 19th century China during the Qing Dynasty, where the Emperor was weakened and the country was close to chaos. It is also during a fictitious era called “The Era of the Cooking Wars”. It was an era in which top chefs with different cooking styles tried their best to improve their skills and to become the best chef in China. It is a country where insulting a high-grade chef or fooling around with cooking could land a person in a jail, and impersonating a top-chef is as good as usurpation of authority. Chefs compete with each other in order to gain respect and even power, but also with the risks of losing everything.

After the death of Mao’s mother, Pai, who was called the ‘Fairy of Cuisine’, Mao becomes a Super Chef in order to take the title as Master Chef of his mother’s restaurant. However, before he takes his mother’s place as Master Chef, he continues to travel China in order to learn more of the many ways of cooking, in the hopes of becoming a legendary chef, just like his mother. During his journey, he meets great friends and fierce rivals who wish to challenge him in the field of cooking.

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Kenshin Himura

 

I don’t know anyone who’s into anime that does not know of the legendary cross-scarred, gentle-yet-deadly samurai Himura Kenshin. This red-haired former samurai assassin is a fictional character and main protagonist of the Rurouni Kenshin manga created by Nobuhiro Watsuki. When creating Kenshin, Watsuki designed him to be the physical opposite of Hiko Seijūrō, a character that appears in Watsuki’s first one-shot manga, “Crescent Moon in the Warring States”; a character with the same name appears in Rurouni Kenshin as Kenshin’s swordsmanship teacher.

Covered with crimson, Kenshin has vowed never to shed blood again

Kenshin’s story is set in a fictional version of Japan during the Meiji period. Kenshin is a former legendary assassin known as “Hitokiri Battōsai” , more properly named Himura Battōsai. At the end of the Bakumatsu, he becomes a wandering samurai, now wielding a sakabatō which literally means “reverse-blade sword.” It is a katana that has the cutting edge on the inwardly curved side of the sword, thus being nearly incapable of killing. Kenshin wanders the countryside of Japan offering protection and aid to those in need, as atonement for the murders he once committed as an assassin. In Tokyo, he meets a young woman named Kamiya Kaoru, who invites him to live in her dojo despite learning about Kenshin’s past. Throughout the series, Kenshin begins to establish lifelong relationships with many people, including ex-enemies, while dealing with his fair share of enemies, new and old. Through these encounters and relationships, Kenshin begins to find true atonement for his past enabling him to fully conquer his “Battousai” nature.

Kenshin’s character was well received by fans, with his holding the top spot in all reader popularity polls for the series. Critics of the series praised his personality, though some complained about his development during the original video animation (OVA) series, which differs from the manga. A variety of collectibles based around Kenshin have been created, including figurines, key chains, plushies, and replicas of his sakabatō sword.

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