Ah, our first full year of blogging, blogging, and more blogging. With that year came a face-lift for the site and also a new schedule for posts. I also graduated from college significantly helping my own schedule for this blog and I have attempted to make it a priority. We saw a significant rise in readership in the later half and have since become immersed in the community of anime bloggers. All in all not a bad time indeed, many thanks to all of our readers. Anywho, this is pretty self-explanatory, we are looking at what we loved or hated from our year of blogging in 2008. No matter what state the industry is in, there are always great things to watch, read, and buy! Oh and I’ll just point out that this is what WE have personally encountered in 2008 so everything on this list may not have come out in 2008 specifically.
As opposed to Narutaki the more things change in my life the more they same. The bad economy has been effecting everyone and everything and I am sure that the seeds planted this year will have large ramifications on 2009. I think things are only going to be worse before they get better. I hope all our readers are doing well and anyone who is experiencing some dark times gets through it quickly. But as always this too shall pass. I am glad to see an increase in readership and interest in the blog. Narutaki and I will continue to work hard on making the blog a better place to visit so I hope you all continue to come.
Losers don’t like 70’s manga. You don’t want to be a loser do you? or Favorite Classic Manga Release:
What can I say, Tezuka is great enough to make me like a medical based drama! Though I am eternally grateful for the black and white imagery. All of these short stories are odd but loosely based on something you wouldn’t be too surprised about happening. The release by Vertical is wonderfully cared for and is in the same order as the current Japanes release. My favorites from the first volume include the talented woman doctor in Black Queen, the sushi chef in Two Loves, and the ill computer in U-18 Knew. Black Jack is super cool under pressure, almost completely self-sufficient, and totally bad-ass. Rock on Tezuka.
Dororo is one of Osamu Tezuka’s classic series and an inspiration for countless series including Fullmetal Alchemist. Dororo starts when Hyakkimaru’s father sells his son’s body parts to demons for power. Hyakkimaru is barely born alive and taken in by a doctor who gives him artificial organs. When Hyakkimaru becomes of age he sets out to defeat the demons who have his organs to gain his original body back. Along the way he meets a young thief named Dororo who accompanies him on his journey. It’s a shame that Dororo was wrapped up so quickly and some what incompletely. Still it is a classic adventure manga that will delight readers of all ages.
The Boring, Incestuous, Lesbian, Pedo Hour or Worst Thing I Watched:
Anime based on video games are almost always universally bad. World Destruction is an anime that shows just how bad video games based anime can be. The characters are unappealing and downright moronic at times; the plot is muddled, cliche, and boring; and the first episode has horrible inconsistent animation. At one point Narutaki did not realize that one of the characters on the screen was not a new character but a poorly drawn version of the main character. Since the first episode is usually the best animated episode I would hate to see what the middle episodes look like. Shame on you Production I.G. I am very disappointed in you.
Let me just say up front that I don’t like slice-of-life shows in general, but I am always looking for another Azumanga Daioh. A show that really goes nowhere but that is too hilarious to pass up. That was not this show. I kept hoping this show would be good, I made it through 3 episodes because I couldn’t decide how I felt about it. But frankly I found most of the jokes to fall flat, like it was trying too hard to be wacky. And the whole episode of one of the sisters trying to kiss the other…no. Though I did like the littlest sister and her classmates, that wasn’t exactly the whole show. It does nothing to really separate itself from its genre so I was bored.
Fate/Zero the TV series or Best News of the Year:
D.N.Angel manga back from hiatus
Thank the lords! This series had been on hiatus since 2005. 2005! And the series stopped in the middle of a storyline. I, along with a great deal of fans, are more than ready to see this series wrapped up soon.
One Piece is re-licensed by Funimation
4kids was infamous for it’s edits to One Piece while it held the license. Marines with water guns, Sanji’s bizarre accent, vital arcs removed, and of course the One Piece Rap all contributed to anime fans hate for their localization. When when most people had given up all hope, Funimation picked up the One Piece license and so far has done a stellar job with it. I love my 13 episode box sets which are thankfully unedited and have a far superior dub. I really hope they can keep putting out One Piece despite the troubled anime market.
World Destruction Season 2 or Worst News of the Year:
ADV going onto life support
When Geneon left the US anime market everyone was speculating who was the next to go. ADV seemed untouchable as the company that competed with Funimation for #1 anime company in North America. There were warning signs that ADV was not doing great but most people felt like the deal with Sojitz was going to save them. After it fell through it was one of the clearest signs of impeding doom. Then Sojitz took back all their licenses and people have been speculating when exactly ADV was going to die. So far they are still hanging in with a fresh new deal with Sentai Filmworks that might signal a turn around for the company. But ADV is still in danger in many peoples minds and is almost assuredly not in any position to regain it’s former glory any time soon.
Tonari no 801-chan anime plans canceled
I was really looking forward to this funny and satirical story about a BL loving girl and her otaku boyfriend. Plus the studio that animated Haruhi Suzumiya was going to be creating it. However, just two weeks after its announcement the plans were dropped without much of an explanation.
Did I tell you about my venereal disease? or Thing I Wish People Would Stop Talking About:
The Shonen conspiracy
There is this pervasive conspiracy theory on the Internet that shonen manga and Shonen Jump in particular has become nothing more than a magazine for fujoshi. Some seem to think that all the modern shonen manga have decided to forget their primary audience and cater specifically to BL fans. That is madness pure and simple. Everyone knows all true fujoshi are delusional and don’t need to be catered to in the least. Plus adding a few pretty boys does not make a manga “gay.” We at Reverse Thieves have our own tin foil hat theory in regards to what has caused this conspiracy theory but that is for another article.
Maple Bacon Cupcakes or Anime/Manga I Unexpectedly Liked:
I assumed that Karin was a horrible fan-service anime with vampires and boobies. Then I learned that the Karin manga under the title of Chibi Vampire was one of Tokyopop’s best-selling titles I decided to give the anime a chance. It turned out to be a rather cute little romantic comedy with a misleadingly fan service filled opening. Karin herself is quite the sweater girl as the opening is quite quick to point out but they don’t play up the fact to any abnormal degree for a shonen anime.
This was a book that was handed to me at Yaoi Reading Day (which you can read all about in our article). I can’t say exactly what I was expecting but it pleasantly surprised me and made me stand up and say, I would read more like this! It is a one book story about a boy who loses his memory and then finds out about his relationship with another boy who he can’t remember. So he is trying to learn who this person is all over again while simultaneous falling in love. It was a cute story that only went as far as kissing.
“Play it again, Sam” or Favorite Opening:
“BORN” by Miwako Okuda (Le Chevalier D’eon)
Can’t. Stop. Listening. For about a week I just listened to this song over and over because no matter what I did I couldn’t get it out of my head anyway. And the opening itself is beautifully animated and does a good job of syncing with the music. It also has spoilers that you don’t realize till later! A close second was “endscape” by UVERworld (Toward the Terra). Also with spoilers everywhere!
Yuusha-oh Tanjou! (GaoGaiGar: King of Braves)
GaoGaoGar is a show were a manly cyborg fights along side manly robots who use courage and guts to defeat their enemies. A show like that needs an equally manly opening filled with courage and guts as well. Oh and since it is a giant robot show it also needs to have the name of the main robot in the opening show as many times as humanly possible. The King of Braves is Born! delivers all of this this in spades. Try and get the catchy repetitive theme out of your head. It’s impossible. The fact that the song is performed by the Masaaki Endoh of the Jam Project should come as a surprise to no one. The animation also syncs well with the song as is periodically updated to incorporate plot developments and revelations.
If 2D love is wrong I don’t want to be right or Hottest Character:
Balsa (Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit)
Strong warrior women are just plain sexy. You can keep your moe waifs who need their big strong men (and their milquetoast men in harem manga) to protect them. Give me a lady who wield a spear and has a bonny boom boom body. I think I am getting to the age where I am more and more attracted to the older characters in series. A mature women who can take care of herself and others, be a realistically capable fighter while still remaining sexy, and have a interesting but agreeable personality in all right by me.
Tamaki (Ouran High School Host Club)
On the surface this seems exceedingly obvious, especially if you know me. Tamaki is tall, lean, and blond. But funnily enough, there is a greater depth to my love for this character. Yes, he is charming but he is also incredibly goofy, loyal, and optimistic despite his family situations. Being an optimist myself, I see it often equated with naivete about the world, but it is really about being positive despite your past. And that very optimism that Tamaki exhibits puts him over the top for me. Oh, and he plays the piano. HOT.
I slap you with money so give me my DVD or Best License Announcement:
Relicense of Story of Saiunkoku
At the Funimation panel that recently ran at NYAF, I almost dropped down on my knees and thanked them for picking up this series from the ashes of Geneon. Even though it will probably sell very few copies. It is just a plain good show that I am desperate to own and watch over again.
Hayate the Combat Butler
I was a little worried that Hayate’s size and sometimes rather obscure otaku humor would destined it to be the title everyone talks about but never gets licensed. Hayate and Nagi’s story would be forever trapped on fan-sub. But Bandai stepped up to the plate and saw the amusing comedy series that has potential. I for one hope people go out there and buy the DVDs so I can get merchandise and the second season as well. Who knows. Maybe sales of the manga will pick up, too.
Small isn’t bad at all or Best Short Manga:
Sexy Voice and Robo
Sexy Voice and Robo is closest in tone and style to that of an American Indy comic in manga form. It stars Nico Hayashi as a 14 year girl who can imitate any voice. She usually uses her ability to mess with and observe men over telephone dating services. One day an old man observes her activities and begins to hire to perform various missions for him including saving kidnapped children and stopping assassins. Along the way Nico ropes in Iichiro Sudo a robot otaku to join her in her escapades. The stories are story of quirky and the art while still in a recognizably manga style is still very unique.
Two Flowers for the Dragon
It makes me so happy to see Nari Kusakawa’s manga being licensed left and right by CMX. I always enjoy her romance stories that are crafted with a little magic and a world outside of the love aspect. This one is no exception as a princess who possess the soul of a water dragon must deal with her kingdom, her family issues, and two suitors vying for her attention. Just a short 4 books for this delightful tale.
It belongs in a museum! or Favorite Piece of Merchandise:
Exclusive Convention Only Ouran High School Host Club pencilboard
I love pencilboards and have a very minor collection of them. When I saw this exclusive I just couldn’t pass it up. Large with the entire cast and shiny foil title treatment! I am really hoping for more Host Club merchandise as the DVDs come out with significant fanfare.
Please put your signature anywhere on my body or Favorite Convention Guest:
I have to say I finally feel that Reverse Thieves became I was proud of when we first interviewed our first Japanese guest. I don’t think Ryu Moto is an extremely influential or world shattering guest like Tite Kubo, Noboru Ishiguro, or Rie Tanaka but he was a fascinating and talented man. He was very gracious in granting us an interview and I think Narutaki and I learned a little bit more about the anime and manga industry thanks to him. I hope that our readers enjoyed learning about him as much as we did.
Thank you, New York Comic Con, thank you forever! While his panel and radio interview left me with disappointment, his shear presence on stage did not. The concert was really well run and there were no major delays or horrible people ruining the fun. He also performed for a good amount of time. I thought the sound was pretty good in the theater and hope that NYCC and NYAF decide to keep/bring back concerts there!
“Vestis virum reddit” or Best Packaging:
Death Note: Another Note
I am addicted to books so when I see a really nice one I always take note (no pun intended!) of it. I grabbed up this title as soon as I saw it on the shelf at Kinokuniya. It has a black cloth cover with silver ink stamping, then a white bellyband, inside is a semi transparent page that leads into a full color piece, the paper is high quality and smooth, and top it all off with a cloth book marker. Sweet! What a treasure. Though with such expense it makes me wonder if they made any money on it.
Code Geass Part 1 Collectors Edition
Bandai decided to go all out when the released the Collectors edition of Code Geass. They threw as much as they could that was awesome while not throwing in Pizza Hut coupons and a fully functional Zero mask. With the first 2 DVDs, the first OST, the 1st drama CD, and the first manga all in one gloriously designed box. The DVDs themselves also have gorgeous booklets, the picture drama episodes, and Japanese commentary tracks as well. Everything in there is designed to make sure that you throw away your fansubs and buy the legitimate version. Nice Job!
Show me the funny! or Funniest Manga:
One Piece has just been an excellent blend of action, story, and comedy this year. The Thriller Bark arc had some hysterical moments every chapter while still providing plenty of action and important plot revelations. Sanji’s fight with Absalom, Usopp and Perona, and anything with Brook actually made me laugh out loud at work and that is quite the accomplishment. Giant Robot Warrior: Big Emperor! Duval and the iron mask took quite a bit of setting up but the punch line was priceless. The current arc with Luffy and the Amazons has been pure comedy gold (golden balls in fact) as well. Well done Mr Oda. Well done.
Oh the hilarity that is Gakuen Alice. I think I previously described it as Kodomo no Omocha but with super powers. Mikan certainly isn’t the brightest bulb but she has a fiece spirit and a true dedication to friendship! Everyone in her class has their own hilarious quirks from her best friend who invents some very strange objects, to a boy who attracts animals through pheromones, to their teacher who puts his spells of love to good use. There is very much a sad under story and many mysteries surrounding the school but it is so hilarious that it is balanced out nicely.
Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend or Best Light Novel
We reviewed this so clearly we thought it was good. As more and more light novels hit the selves, one still needs to be discerning. Gosick is quite a well-plotted mystery and was able to surprise me and to trick me. Victorique and her charming Sherlockian style combined with Kozuya’s naivete makes them fun and engaging to follow. It is extremely sad to think we may never seem more of their exploits stateside.
Boogiepop at Dawn
After a hiatus Seven Seas Entertainment has restarted the Boogiepop book series. After several months I finally tracked down a copy of Boogiepop Returns: VS Imaginator Part 2 and I was worried that they were going to end the series there. But recently Seven Seas has announced it’s revamped novel line with Boogiepop being one of it’s first relaunched titles. Boogiepop at Dawn is an excellent explanation for many of the events and mysteries that take place during the Boogiepop Phantom anime while still being it’s own well told story. We get insights into all the regular cast and explanations and introductions to some of the movers and shakers in the Boogiepop universe.
Are we there yet? Are we there yet? or Manga I Like but Wish Would End
Bleach is a generally fun shonen manga and I still enjoy it but I Narutaki and I both feel that the whole Hecto Mundo arc seems tacked on to the story. Our theory is that Bleach was doing so well they had him throw this arc on to keep the best selling series running. Think about it. Did anything truly significant actually happen in Hecto Mundo? It seem more like a filler arc than actually story. When we finally got back into the real plot aka the Urahara flash back arc it noticeably picked up. I feel like the sooner we finish up this current arc the sooner we can get into the final arc. The shonen jump editors could easily throw in several more arcs to keep this going but I would hope they will let Tite Kubo tie up loose ends in Bleach and move onto his next manga.
Oh I do love you Berserk, I do. Especially now that your art has gotten somewhere near the realm of good. I have a feeling I won’t see the end of your until a book somewhere in the 60’s and that is really too much since that is like 20 more years of writing. All things take forever to happen after the first arc wrapped up. There is a lot of random wondering around that could easily be condensed. Heck Casca still has yet to become herself again though they are getting close. I’m not saying Berserk has these horribly dull moments but it could be shorter. This what we get from a guy who was influenced by Guin Saga.
That plushie looks so nice on top of my computer or Best Mascot Character
How can one resist the juxtaposition of the Tachikoma’s cuteness with their bad-assness? They want love and attention, they are loyal and excitable, they are like dogs that have machine guns. Except, ya know, a lot bigger. I know one certainly wouldn’t fit in my apartment but it could live on the roof and follow me around in stealth mode.
Ai-Kun is Ranka Lee’s little alien pet from Macross Frontier. He (?) is an adorable little green squiggle with the potential to be the cutest line of plush toys. Also as the following mathematical forumla [Ranka cute X Ai-Kun cute = Mega Omega Cute] clearly shows the Ranka/Ai-kun team-up is unstoppable. Plus he takes down a paper airplanes like nobody’s business.