Archive for the ‘Supernatural’ Category


Anime Mirai 2014: Don’t You (Forget About Me)

February 2, 2015

hisui_icon_4040 I thought that 2014 would be different. The first two batches of the Young Animator Training Project came and went with little fanfare. When the project was initially announced there was a lot of praise as it seemed exactly the sort of initiative that a good deal of the commenters wanted the anime industry to do in hopes of promoting new talent. But in the time between when Anime Mirai titles are revealed and when they are released is long enough that most people in the English-speaking world have forgotten about them. Add to that the simple fact that they are not streaming as another barrier. If this was started five or six years ago it would be a different story. Enough people still regularly downloaded fan-subs so they might have gone to their favorite aggregator site and downloaded a peculiar one shot out of mere curiosity. But now that streaming is so prevalent that if a title is not legally online it practically becomes invisible unless it has some insane amount of hype or a legacy behind it. Overall the animation made for the Anime Mirai came and went with little fan fare. Certain titles may have been important to individual fans but overall they never made a noticeable splash.

Little Witch Academia seemed like it would have changed all of that.  It was the first title that really grabbed people’s attention and became a phenomenon. It got to the point where Trigger officially put it on Youtube and that snowballed into a fevered pitch that launched an insanely successful Kickstarter. While Death Billiards did not get that same momentous level of success it currently has its own TV series so the general halo effect can’t be ignored. Ryo and Alv Rezul – Mechanical Fairies did not get to share in that rising tide but they were also inferior productions (in my humble opinion). Still it seemed like Anime Mirai had finally come into prominence.

Then in 2014 the next batch of titles came and went with absolutely no celebration or hoopla. They have not been totally ignored. There are a decent number of reviews of all the titles. But the level of interest fell back to the same blasé disinterest that it had been before Little Witch Academia. I only knew that this years titles were out because a fan-sub of Harmonie appeared as a recommended title on YouTube after watching an unrelated Loading Ready Run sketch. I feel like that is a real shame since this was a pretty strong selection this year. So I hope that this post might get a few more people to check out this year’s batch.

narutaki_icon_4040 Remember when it was thought the Anime Mirai project would go away? I am so glad it didn’t, because as Al said, it really has come to be something special despite the lack of fanfare. While Little Witch Academia and Death Billiards are clearly the best known from the project, there is a lot of other fantastic work on display. It is nice to also see short films that are purely created as short films in which they can play more and try different things. It is amazing how much you can communicate within 30 minutes.

I’d really love to see Anime Mirai work shown here in the U.S., it would be perfect for film festivals or special, limited engagements. Come on Gkids, make this happen!


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Manga of the Month: Birdmen

December 8, 2014

Birdmen (BIRDMEN -バードメン-)
by Yellow Tanabe

narutaki_icon_4040 After the initial chapter of Birdmen, I found myself scratching my head. Nothing was clear in chapter one (which is a prologue), I didn’t know what the story was going to be about at all. But there is a hook: a repeated rumor about a mysterious man with wings. Then, we get a glimpse of him at the end of chapter two (also the prologue) just as a bus containing all our main characters goes careening off a cliff. Then, chapter three returns to seemingly normal life, but something is just off as glimpses of memory and powers begin.

The way Yellow Tanabe constructs the beginning of Birdmen creates the tension and unease you might expect from a horror story, which it somewhat is, but Birdmen is more like Ms. Tanabe’s version of superheroes.

Two sets of friends, Karasuma and Kamoda, Tsubame and Sagisawa, who have only just met find themselves on the verge of death as their bus crashes. The Birdman saves them which endows them with the same powers as he. Just as the group starts to realize their abilities, a portal in the sky drops a monster into their town.

Yellow Tanabe takes these elements and combines them with a good sense of humor, popping up only at the appropriate times. There is even a classic superhero moment as Karasuma realizes he doesn’t need his glasses anymore after gaining his powers.

The entire first volume is an origin story which sets up everything that is to come. We have a five person team, each with a distinctive personality but so far it hasn’t felt like the well trodden path you might expect. Karasuma attitude feels downright out-of-place as he feels the world just doesn’t measure up and has no appreciation for his intellect. Kamoda’s shaved head and mean face make him an odd bestie for reserved and sheeple-hating Karasuma. None of the cast are particularly keen on their powers. So far everything feels right without feeling over done.

Birdmen has a winning combination of superheroes, humor, and horror. The more I read, the more I want to read.

~ kate


Manga of the Month: X/1999

June 4, 2013

X/1999 (X) by CLAMP

 The as yet unfinished masterpiece from CLAMP. Fate, tragedy, sacrifice, violence, and the rush toward the end of the world hit like waves which quickly sweep you deep into the story.

Following the death of his mother and a prophecy, Kamui returns to Tokyo seeking the means by which to change the fate of the world as armageddon is fast approaching. Two supernatural factions vie for control over the world’s destiny, both seeking the power of Kamui to reach their ultimate goals. And thus fights for power erupt all over Tokyo as Kamui is torn between friendship and the power to change the course of the Earth’s future.

A large cast makes up this epic as CLAMP interweaves the desperate battle for Earth with the relationships and personal stories of all involved. There is always someone new and interesting just around the corner, sometimes literally, in this story but be prepared to say goodbye to quite a few of them because death and destruction are present at every turn.

Everyone has their favorite CLAMP work and this is mine. I much prefer their earlier series where the art feels more tactical and less perfect.

This is a prime time to pick up X/1999 and enjoy all 18 volumes of beautiful art since VIZ has started releasing fantastic oversized omnibus editions which include color inserts.

As the years go by it becomes less and less likely that X/1999 will ever receive an ending in manga form. They should really consider doing it as a doujinshi!


Hotarubi no Mori e: Love That is So Close Yet So Far

March 4, 2013

Two common things I hear people asking for when it comes to anime is more easily consumable titles and more titles for women. Back in ye olde golden days (which are never as golden as people member them) it was easier to find short little OVAs. They were often just commercials for much longer manga series but it was nice to be able to sit down and watch a series in a single sitting.

And no matter what the length it seems that while manga has a decently even split between the sexes when it comes to anime the medium always has had a male focused bias when it comes to what shows get made. Shojo anime is just uncommon enough that it is almost always appreciated by its target audience when it is animated.

So Hotarubi no Mori e (Into the Forest of Fireflies’ Light) is a wonderful combination of these two somewhat overlooked niches. It is a single stand alone shojo story that requires no outside knowledge and can be watched in a single 44-minute sitting. In that time it tells a  simple but bittersweet love story. As the original story of Hotarubi no Mori e was written by Yuki Midorikawa, of Natsume’s Book of Friends fame, you know that you will surround yourself in a relaxing if slightly melancholy story of yokai that pulls on the heartstrings.

narutaki I must admit that I’m a total sucker for human-falls-in-love-with-ghost stories. It isn’t too hard to see the beauty of love transcending the bounds of time and death. There is also the romantic yet inevitable melancholy ending that is sure to follow.

I also had a lot of confidence that this move would evoke those wondrous qualities because of Natsume’s Book of Friends similar feeling. Japanese myth and romance come together in perfect harmony in Hotarubi no Mori e.

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