Magical Girl Raising Project: Being Irresistibly Drawn to Death | OWLS “Grotesque”

Chances are that if you were linked here from another blogger pal, then you might be new. To those first-timers, “Hi, I’m Takuto, welcome to my anime cafe!” For the OWLS blog tour’s  tenth monthly topic for 2018, “Grotesque,” I wanted to revel in the spooky fall festivities by cross-examining an unconventional magical girl throwback from 2016 with humanity’s intriguing obsession for death and the macabre. As someone interested in human behavior, it’s a fascinating area to study, and hopefully I’ll be able to make some science out of the magical!

In honor of Halloween, we will explore what we find vile and ugly in pop culture. For this month’s topic, OWLS bloggers will be exploring characters or aspects of the grotesque in a piece of media and how it is a metaphor or allegory for society, human nature, or some other philosophical or humane idea.

Heads-up! This post will dabble more into studying the human condition than evaluating the series itself. My personal thoughts? It’s a twisted little title with an engaging battle royale setup that turns out somewhat lackluster in the end but is still stupidly entertaining. Watch it. I liked it, and seeing as how we seem to be irresistibly drawn to that which is gruesome (even if for no apparent reason), you should like it to, right? riGhT??

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A brief, spoiler-free discussion on the 12-episode fall 2016 anime “Magical Girl Raising Project,” animated by Lerche, directed by Hiroyuki Hashimoto, and based on Asari Endou’s light novel series of the same name. This will also include a light historical context analysis on how pop culture and the media make a spectacle of death and gore.

Again, this will be SPOILER-FREE, so enjoy!

“You’ve been selected to become a magical girl, pon!”

Magical Girl Raising Project. It’s the latest fad to dominate the mobile game sphere, and it seems that every young girl and adult woman alike in N-City can’t seem to stop playing the app game. Jumping into combat with your sparkly avatar, beating up shadow beasts, collecting candies—it’s the closest thing they have to being a real life magical girl! For Koyuki Himekawa, however, the app offers more than a mere simulation. One day, she receives a peculiar notification from Fav, the game’s mascot, saying that she has been selected to become a real magical girl. Unknowing the full implications of their contract, she eagerly accepts the offer to become her adorable in-game avatar Snow White.

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Gifted with the ability to transform at any time, Koyuki viewed her new life with a newfound optimism and excitement. That is, until the game admins sent out a startling notification claiming that “the number of magical girls in this region must be halved,” as the system couldn’t support the whopping 16 players who decided to take on the magical mission. The one to collect the least amount of Magical Candies—which are awarded for their magical girl activities—at the end of each week will lose their powers. But when a real-world tragedy befalls the first player to drop out, they find that their powers aren’t the only thing stripped from them.

As the magical girls perilously try to avoid their fate by cheating on their fellow players and throwing one another under the bus, the enigmatic Fav continues to add more twisted rules, forcing these young hearts to realize that what started off as a shining opportunity to help others has become a desperate struggle for their own lives.

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I’ll be frank with y’all: the story suffers largely from its systematic approach to execution and trying to develop its immense cast within 12 short episodes. While not Juni Taisen levels of predictability (God, that show disappointed me so much), you can pretty much tell who’s gonna go next based on the placement of their backstory. Ahh yes, the it’s the typical “Here I am and now I’m gone!” approach to character writing. In the instances where the show is able to catch you by surprise, however, those are the thrilling moments when the entertainment value shines through. Call it underdeveloped, or rushed, or even lackluster at times (I mean, the ending could’ve at least been more intense), but to call it “boring” would be a great underestimation of its twisted imagination and off-the-walls fun characters.

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From Wild-West to the Wicked and the Blessed

I can guess what stood out to you most—16 characters, right? Yeah, even for a battle royale that’s quite the large ensemble. Like they did with Danganronpa: The Animation and Assassination Classroom, Lerche was able to communicate the variety of personalities through unique dialogue patterns and intricate character designs. One of my fiendish favorites, the brazen and dangerous Calamity Mary, for instance, dons wild-west gunslinger apparel (boots, spurs, hats, tassels, leather, cow print, you get the picture). In the English dub, Mikaela Krantz even voices her with a low syrupy tone and a heavy southern accent. While I may not remember the specifics of her life before becoming a magical girl (as these important backstories are often rushed through in a couple minutes before their untimely demise), I will remember who she was and how she acted based on the distinctive character designs.

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A good pal of mine and genius essayist Irina wrote about my other favorite magical girl, the almighty, all-knowing QUEEN Ruler in a neat character analysis that I absolutely loved. She vouches for the same opinion that I do, in that “Raising Project isn’t perfect by any means but it certainly isn’t shallow. The writing is on point in many aspects.”

Although some characters look more put together with a theme than others (looking at you Swim Swim), I really enjoyed the diverse cast of tropes interacting on the battlefield: the sparkly one, the innocent one, the queen, the twins, the cowgirl rebel, the ninja, the witch, the badass protector, the nun, and even the freakin’ ROBOT. Some last longer than others, and some go out with a bigger bang while others exit the stage silently. A huge criticism many people have about the series is that the deaths feel too structured—I mean, we all know that someone’s gotta go by the end of each week, and the anime is true to its word. What this creates is a lack of empathy towards most of the girls and ultimately a mere “meh” or “aww that sucks, I liked her” when they die. More than anything, the show plays off these deaths as thrilling over depressing, and that got me wondering:

When did we become so fascinated with torturing little girls in anime to the point where it has dominated nearly every magical girl title in recent times? 

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How Horror Works in the Mind

I took to Psychology Today for a bit of research on the topic, which led me to the article “Why Do We Like Watching Scary Films?” Briefly, it examines psychological horror at the cinema and how the genre works in the mind. When answering the question, author Mark D. Griffiths Ph.D. quotes Dr. Jeffrey Goldstein, a professor of social and organizational psychology at the University of Utrecht, in a 2013 interview for IGN:

“People go to horror films because they want to be frightened or they wouldn’t do it twice. You choose your entertainment because you want it to affect you. That’s certainly true of people who go to entertainment products like horror films that have big effects. They want those effects . . . Even though they choose to watch these things, the images are still disturbing for many people. But people have the ability to pay attention as much or as little as they care to in order to control what effect it has on them, emotionally and otherwise.”

That last bit especially got me interested. He claims that we are the ones who choose our entertainment, and that we also have the ability to let the content affect us (in this case potentially scare us) based on how much we care to pay attention to the film. And I can see this as true—if I were to attend a scary movie and cover my eyes half the time (which I wouldn’t go to in the first place cause I’m a wimp), my desire would be that the film frightens me as little as possible.

Now, would the same apply to the film maker(s)? I mean, the director is essentially the one deciding how much gruesome content to put in front of our eyes, so if a series were nothing but moments of shock value (interspersed with some touching backstories, of course), wouldn’t that be what the director also cares about most in the series? Maybe seeing Madoka Magica receive immense fame gave him the idea to go all-out with the suffering. Besides, what’s more shocking to us anime fans than watching cutesy moe girls get massacred? Once one series showed us it could be done, everyone else wanted to do it too.

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A 2004 article in the Journal of Media Psychology by Dr. Glenn Walters proposes that “the three primary factors that make horror films alluring are tension (generated by suspense, mystery, terror, shock, and gore), relevance (that may relate to personal relevance, cultural meaningfulness, the fear of death, etc.), and (somewhat paradoxically given the second factor) unrealism.” In a 1994 study on disgust, college student participants found videos of real life horrors (like a cow slaughterhouse and a surgery involving removal of facial skin) to be incredibly disturbing. Yet many of these same individuals would think nothing of paying money to attend the premiere of a new horror film that had literally ten times more blood than what was present in the real-life documentaries! Why is that? It was posed by McCauley (1998) that:

The fictional nature of horror films affords viewers a sense of control by placing psychological distance between them and the violent acts they have witnessed. Most people who view horror movies understand that the filmed events are unreal, which furnishes them with psychological distance from the horror portrayed in the film.

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Oh, so if we know it’s fake, it doesn’t inherently terrify us as much, despite blood and guts leaking all over the floor. I suppose that makes sense. Even I don’t see clowns as scary when I remember that they’re likely just unshaven middle-aged men dancing around in colorful costumes. But even if it’s fake, some people enjoy the thrill of being confronted by gruesome death because it’s an experience that, for the most part, it’s something available only in fiction, and fiction intrigues us. One last look at Dr. Dolf Zillman’s Excitation Transfer theory (ETT) offers this:

“Negative feelings created by horror movies actually intensify the positive feelings when the hero triumphs in the end. But what about movies where the hero doesn’t triumph?  . . . Some small studies have show that people’s enjoyment was actually higher during the scary parts of a horror film than it was after.”

Alright, so you’re saying that perhaps the scary parts of a horror film are more enjoyable than the rest of the film itself? That perhaps explains why pop culture hits like The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and heck even Attack on Titan delight in killing off major characters in fantastical ways—During these “scary” parts, we find ourselves at peak enjoyment, and if the writers can capitalize on this enjoyment through constant narrative twists and turns, then the viewers will stay glued to their screens. But hold on a second . . .

Magical Girl Raising Project isn’t horror, not even close. It’s barely a thriller series at best. Fair point, but think about the content itself: Purposefully designed cute children under the innocent guise of “magical girls” get brutally slashed or decapitated NOT by the forces of evil, but by fellow magical girls. Tension caused by suspense; relevance caused by a magical girl’s fear for her own life; unrealism given that magical girls shouldn’t exist within our world or theirs . . . Doesn’t that mark MagiPro as gruesome as horror—as grotesque as horror? And how about this: The most grotesque part about it all is that as fans, most of us enjoyed watching this series. Sure it ranks in the 3000s on MAL, but a  7.11/10 could be implied that 7 out of 10 people liked this series—cute girls, competition, and all the bloodshed in between. 

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At Least I Had Fun

Regardless of whether we should count MagiPro as a horror anime or an anime with horror elements, I did find myself enjoying it. A lot. Probably more than I should have. With each passing episode and character elegy, I truly found myself helplessly and irresistibly drawn to death. As more characters bit the bullet, I eagerly clicked on to see not necessarily who would survive, but rather who would fall out of the competition next. As unnecessarily dark and edgy, unnecessarily gruesome, and unnecessarily sophisticated as it tried to be, Magical Girl Raising Project won me over because it shamelessly played with death. And isn’t that the true spirit of the macabre?

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“As a means of contrast with the sublime, the grotesque is, in our view, the richest source that nature can offer.”—Victor Hugo, French Poet


Afterword

Yikes, went on a bit of a ramble there with the research, but maybe you learned something new! Magical Girl Raising Project is an interesting title that has gotten me thinking more than it probably should, but hey, a series that has me reflecting this much over it has to be doing something right. MagiPro isn’t the darkest of its kin, but definitely one of the sweetest. Thus, I award the series with the “Cake” rating, and a recommendation to check it out if you enjoy the thrill of a decent survival game. Not sure if Crunchyroll has it, but Funimation’s got it all with an incredibly well-done English dub that just finished airing for your viewing pleasure! If you have seen this series, you definitely have to let me know what you thought about it (I need more MagiPro friends)!!

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This concludes my October 19th entry in the OWLS “Grotesque” blog tour. Aria (Animanga Spellbook) went right before me with a nice and short post over the recently-aired Phantom in the Twilight that you should check out right here! Now, look out for Flow (Captain Nyanpasu)  this upcoming Monday, October 22nd! Thanks for reading, and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

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Filling the Danganronpa Void | End of October Update 11/5/17

Hey everyone, what’s up? Another Spooktober has come and gone and very little blogging has been done. But where there’s a lack of writing there has been an influx in watching—just as much as last month, if not more!

As for school, first year of college is still smooth sailin’. With midterms out of the way, it’s now a barren wasteland until Fall break is over, after which the bomb that is “finals week” will be dropped. But until then, I’ve been trying to read more—and it’s been successful! Now if only I could feel motivated to write about it all . . .

Anyway, let’s take a look at what I’ve read/watched this past “spoop month” and see my desperate attempts at filling the Danganronpa 3 void end in utter failure. (And yes, the itch still has yet to be scratched.)

RECENTLY FINISHED:

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Tsuredure Children—My GOD, what I would have given for a continuation of this mess of high school romances. It’s not even that good, which is why I’m so confused as to how I became so addicted to it all. Maybe the 12-min per episode run-time was a key part, or that I streamed it dubbed via Funimation Now as my weekly comedy. Either way, I’m sad that it’s over—and just when it was getting sooo good! Likely won’t review, as I don’t have much to say, but it ends just as cute as it begins, which is enough for me.

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Knight’s & Magic—I should’ve taken the warnings on this one. No joke, it kinda sucked. I didn’t care for any of the characters (nor do I really remember any of them), and the story gave up on my interests. I wanted to continue learning more about the interactions and affects of combining giant mecha knights with magical forces, but instead it turned into a show “save the kingdom from the enemy evil blah blah blah.” I won’t review this either because of how little I have to say about it, though I’m glad that I did finish it.

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The Dragon Dentist—Another hyped show that turned into disappointment . . . sort of. A 2-episode (40 min each) short from Studio Khara (Rebuild of Evangelion) with Hidaeki Anno somewhere behind the desks, I was STOKED for this show. Only putting his name on two titles since Eva 3.33, this and Shin Godzilla, I was eager to see how this one played out in his journey to Eva‘s end. While episode one was quite pleasant, episode 2 unfortunately became, well, I’m not honestly sure what. It definitely had similar ideas that the OG Eva did, but didn’t have the same strong execution due to the short run-time. Eva is a big story to tell, after all, so you can’t just throw in a similar ending and call it so. Sentai Filmworks just released it with a dub, so maybe if it goes on sale I’ll pick it up and give it another go.

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SHIMONETA—AHAHAHA S-O-X, S-O-X, S-O-X!!! Funimation Peep Show host Cookie Stratford hooked me up with this little title after previewing it at last year’s Naka-kon. FINALLY it went on sale, so bought the blu-ray! (I did stream the dub in its entirety just to double-check that it was worth the money—in which it absolutely was.) I’m ecstatic to have some more “fun” titles on my shelf, as a majority of shows that I do own require you to basically analyze your existence in the universe, and that’s just no fun when I want to fool around on a late Friday night. So here it is, cock, balls, and all! And you know what? I enjoyed every second of it.

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Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls (PS Vita)—Don’t be fooled by the listing of this game title on my list, as there’s no way I have the money for a Vita right now, let alone the 20+ hours it’d take to complete this massive part of the franchise. Originally, I was watching walkthroughs of it via YT, living vicariously through the silent player as they traversed the game’s ins and outs. After making it a bit over half-way in, I realized that I COULD NOT wait any longer to watch Danganronpa 3, so talked it over with the Twitter fam (thx Gigi) and was directed to some “Recapitations” of the game’s story on the YT. WHAT A LIFE-SAVER, as Ultra Despair Girls just isn’t as neat as the rest of the franchise’s entries. It is still pretty cool though—soon after finishing the recap, I quickly found myself going back to the walkthroughs to watch the “animated” portions of the end, another 5+ hrs of video, but who cares—it was still a thrill ride! I then watched a recap for Danganronpa Zero and was all set for the ultimate despair: Danganronpa 3.

Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School—The viewing of this crazy third season(s) is as follows: Future Arc episode one, Despair Arc episode one, Future Arc episode two, Despair Arc episode two, so on and so forth. As such, here are my individual thoughts on each arc:

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Despair Arc—Starting with this one because it end before Future does, Despair Arc was basically everything that I wanted from a Danganronpa prequel and more. And much, much, much more. With the knowledge of Zero (an unlicensed light novel—you can find a 20-min recap of this on YT too, bless), Despair Arc combs together all of the grittiness, backstabbing, and betrayal of the viewer’s trust that we’ve come to know and love. Simply put, it’s a story of hope that ends in despair, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

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Future Arc—Though wildly unimpressed throughout a good majority of the GREAT Danganronpa‘s supposed “end,” once episode eight hit it was balls-to-the-walls insanity. Seriously, if there’s ever been an incredible comeback mid-season, Future Arc is where it’s at! I rushed to the end, eagerly anticipating each wild episode of this chase against the clock until series’ grand finale . . .

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Hope Arc—I won’t lie, it was kinda anticlimactic, hahaha, but I still love this show too much to complain, goddammit! Such a rewarding finale for all the blood that was shed, all the darkness that was traversed, and while I would have asked for another end-all situation, what we got was still excellent. It’s a shame that I’d be spending the next month or two trying to fill the void left by this show alone, but hey, it’s an opportunity to explore new shows, right? (plz send Danganronpa recs plz send Danganronpa recs)

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Chivalry of a Failed Knight—No joke, the only reason I watched this show (on YOUTUBE NO LESS BAHAHAHA) was because Luci Christian was the English voice of Stella, the female lead. I was expecting it’d be a harem story about a hero of zero somehow defeating the number one ace . . . and sure enough, that’s exactly what I got. Nothing to write home about, but I have no regrets watching, either. High production quality on the animation front, not to mention that it had a kickass OP and ED!

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Riddle Story of DevilDanganronpa knock-off #1 presents itself in this game of assassins killing each other just to off a single girl—Haru Ichinose. “Why her” remains the big question behind the game itself, and though it sounds like the perfect formula for a DR follow-up, it couldn’t have been worse. Seriously, each death is foreshadowed by that character getting the episode’s spotlight (a reoccurring problem with a currently airing title which I’ll discuss soon), leaving no fun in determining who would live or die. At least the dub was good. Morgan Berry needs to be the MC more often. Also, Jamie Marchi always plays best girl. Always.

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The Perfect Insider—Alright, we’re getting somewhere with this one. Recommended by our pal, the Otaku Judge (thanks man!), this one’s a locked-room murder in which a rag-tag group of individuals must piece together the puzzles. I remember it being a big hit when it aired a couple years back, and while I wanted to follow it, time got the better of me. Guess this was a good thing, because I got to save it for future me when I needed it most, and boy, Judge, did this one get me closer to hitting the mark! Though a bit confusing (and towards the end a bit contrived), it seeks a more philosophical, slow-burning case vs. DR‘s fast-paced madness. Both can be appreciated for their own merits, but yes, this one is worth seeing, and hopefully I’ll get to review it soon!

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Blade Runner: Black Out 2022—The last prequel short film in a trilogy designed to fill in and expand upon the world of the latest Hollywood hit, Blade Runner 2049Black Out is unique because it is the only “anime” part of the franchise, the rest being live action. Feeling an inkling to revisit the cluttered and damp world of the 2017 Ghost in the ShellBlade Runner 2049 instantly became a must, and I set aside my DR hunt to revel in the OG Blade Runner and it’s 2049 prequel trilogy. Black Out was not only epic, but absolutely stunning on the animation front. It’s no wonder considering that Cowboy Bebop director Shinichiro Watanabe was invited to direct this short film, as Blade Runner was his biggest inspiration for creating sci-fi during his younger days. Before I knew it, I found myself with my dad in the theaters on the last day of showing, and we had a blast. Such an incredible franchise with wondrous world-building that’ll leave you in utter awe and terror of the near future. Still thinking about this one now . . .

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Devil Survivor 2 The Animation—Aaaannnnd we’re back to Danganronpa hunting, this time for a game-turned-anime series about kids fighting against a mysterious alien force and time itself before their world reaches its end. Very cool premise, but ruined NOT due to the short runtime, but IMO because of the game’s gimmick—each of the 12 or so characters possess a smart phone that allows them to summon demons to fight against the aliens. I think it would’ve been much more enjoyable had the characters fought the aliens themselves somehow (special skills, weapons, whatever) because the demon-fighting thing just wasn’t doing it for me. Now, I realize that it defeats the entire premise of the game this way—I know—but with the demons out of the way, there would have been more room for character interaction, and the motives for survival would’ve been all the more crushing when they met their fate on the battlefield. Not a complete wreck of a show, but it EASILY could’ve been made better. Excellent animation, BTW, with a great OP and chilling ED to beat!

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Harmony—The second Project Itoh film, Harmony is set in a world where good health is king, and the hospital basically runs government. Everyone is consumed with medicine to the point where it becomes their ruler, not the other way around. People have lost their sense of identity, what with having perfect health and nothing to complain about. Tuan, a high-ranking military officer is sickened by everyone’s kindness in this age of monotony, of perfect harmony. And just when she thought she couldn’t hate it enough, a blast from her past causes mayhem in the present, as systematic killings and mass suicides suddenly take over the world. Out on a mission to stop the one robbing everyone of their utopian futures, Tuan comes to understand why she thinks the way she does, as well as what being human means to her. It’s a grossly underrated film, and though the CG action at the beginning can be a bit jarring, what is in store for the viewer far usurps any awkward animation sequences. Do not let the “meh” community rating stop you from trying out this film—it requires a bit of thinking, but it’s well worth the watch for any fans of dystopian fiction i.e. Huxley’s Brave New World. Might review!

CURRENTLY WATCHING:

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Welome to the Ballroom—Not much to say, as I’m a bit behind on this seasonal title. The addition of the new girl throws some chaos into the mix, but I think it’s slowly helping the show all things considered. Also, I’ve come to appreciate the new OP, so that helps. Looking forward to it!

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Juni Taisen: Zodiac War—Five episodes in and all I can PRAY is that it stops doing that formula thing I mentioned earlier. One of the novel’s (OG source) biggest complaints is that this formulaic system of deaths does continue as a prominent force, so I hope the finale at least has some shock saved for us. And I swear, if Rat wins, I will jump off a cliff.

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Electromagnetic Girlfriend—Ahh yes, continuing the DR hunt. Rated highly as a short 2-episode (40 min each) horror mystery show, I’m surprised I haven’t heard more about this series. Probably due to the lack of localization. Anyway, I’ve watched one of two episodes and I can say that, while short, it does have some decent twists and turns in it. Not quite scary [yet], but engaging and will likely end with a decent rating from me. And the background art is incredible, holy shit. The anime follows a delinquent teen and his little stalker friend, a mysterious girl with long black hair claiming to be his knight from another lifetime. Interesting . . .

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Ergo Proxy—In my final efforts to secure a decent sci-fi mystery show, I’ve settled on this classic anime that has sat on my shelf untouched for a good while now. Though drab in terms of color scheme and quite on the slooooow side, I can already feel Ergo Proxy shaping up to be a much better show than half the entries on this list! It almost reminds me of a crossover between Star Wars‘s setting and Avatar the Last Airbender‘s humor. IDK why, it JUST DOES. An unraveling story of what is likely to be self-discovery in a dark future without much individual identity, Ergo Proxy manages to keep me interested by leading me on with new elements to the world at every turn. It’s also a bit of a cop/detective story, much like Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Overall, I like what I’m getting, I only wish it were a bit more, hmm, thrilling.

CURRENTLY READING:

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A Certain Magical Index Light Novel Volume One—This was one of those late-night Amazon pick-ups, but like I mentioned last update I’ve been in the mood for some light novels, particularly to understand how and why they are written, as well as to take advantage of what they are—fairly cheap and disposable fiction meant to be read on a whim; you follow the stories you like, and drop the ones you don’t. Having already watched both seasons of the anime, I’m glad Index continues to be interesting even in novel format, and I’m eager to pick up the second volume soon! Also, did you hear the fantastic news?? INDEX 3 IS COMING IN 2018, REJOICE~!!!!! It’s just ironic that I started reading the original source now after all these years. Oh well.

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Murder on the Orient Express—BOI, you already know. Fall’s been mystery season for me, clearly, and what a better bang to end it on than with classic Christie and her film adaptation of the same name. I’M. SO. EXCITED. FOR. THIS. FILM. Having just rewatched bits of Hyouka (and my guy Oreki bringing up Christie in a case of his), my inspiration to check out the actual book from the library shot up, and now here I am. About 1/3 into the book with no serious evidence given yet, my blind guess for the killer is . . . the maid, cause it’s always the maid LOL. I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out!


BLOGGING PROJECTS:

In regards to last month’s update, I DID not only end up reviewing Death Parade, but I used it as the focal point in my October OWLS post, WOOHOO! Such a neat show, it came just at the right time to match the month’s theme! If you want to read my thoughts, click below!

Also, prior to OWLS I FINALLY put together my thoughts on Shin Godzilla in post that has surprisingly gotten a decent amount of traffic, appreciation, and EVEN a feature on another cool person’s blog (thank you all so much)!! It was really hard putting that one together, not gonna lie, so it’s nice to see the payoff. In case you missed it, here ya go!


 

The End of Spooky Season

GOODNESS ME, that’s a lot of titles, no? And to think, I’ve also been rewatching Hyouka, Gosick, School Live, and Paprika as a part of the spoopy holidays! October has become a favorite holiday of mine, which is odd considering that I used to hate it. The cool weather and downtime have allowed me to explore reading and watching much more, and hopefully they’ll bring me back to the blogosphere soon. I’ve got two little nominations to attend to, plus a new Cafe Talk in the works, so look forward to, YES, learning even more about me!

How did you spend your Halloween season? Also, any good manga/light novel you’ve been reading lately? I want to know! Also, and last call (maybe), if you know a anime, game, or book that’s even remotely like Danganronpa (whodunnit mystery thriller survival game), PLEASE LET ME KNOW!!! I’m in quite rut, and the obsession has grown so large that I’ll even be cosplaying a male version of a certain “despairing” character in March, upupuPUPUPU!!! ‘Till next time everyone!

– Takuto, your host

 

End of October Update 11/7/16

*chiseled*

As everyone’s spook day festivities come to an end, so does the summer weather over here. Fall has finally set in, and times are busy, but that doesn’t stop me from making my rounds in the aniblogger community. Now for this past month’s recap–It’s update time!

Recently Finished:

The Ambition of Oda Nobuna – There was only one main reason I began watching this show. That is, the word “ambition.” It’s one of my favorite words. After being thoroughly intrigued by all of the Satsuki Kiryuin/Oda Nobunaga fan-interpretations, I decided to strike up a show with the legend’s name. And lo and behold, I hit a title with two of my needs! Despite it being another fan-service history mash-up with girls serving as ancient Japanese mascots, the show, surprisingly, had a lot to offer. More to come on that if I review it.

Sailor Moon R – My Sailor Moon marathon session continues in Viz’s re-release DVD sets. On October’s plate was R, the season of the rose–of romance. The web of deceit and falsehood continues to weave itself into complex net of twisted relationships. Invaders from distant planets and galaxies try to tear apart our star-crossed lovers, and the tragic legacy left by the evil Queen Beryl doesn’t help our heroes. It’s a bit harder to love, with all the new characters and revelations, but it’s still the same passionate Sailor Moon. Perhaps I’ll review each series if the soon-to-be-released S really gets my motivation going!

Shelter – Everyone saw (heard?) this little diddy floating around Twitter and YouTube. Because my opinion of it wasn’t very different from that of the masses (IT’S AWESOME), I won’t be doing a separate post over it. If you somehow missed this creative music video, I’ll leave it right here for yaShelter’s got a production history unlike any out there, and I hope we see projects like these more frequently in our future! Really neat stuff!

Shiki – This year, my Halloween break revolved around the spooky vampire fling that is Shiki. It failed to really “scare” me, but instead brought a whole slew of psychological realism surrounding skepticism in remote areas. Very peculiar and rife with internal conflicts regarding ethics and rational. I won’t speak more because I DO have a review forthcoming, but it was a spook day well spent.

The Empire of Corpses – The first Project Itou film stole the last day of my mini Halloween break–and boy was it nothing like I expected! From what I had picked up on, it was going to be a gorgeous film with a halfway decent plot. What I got, however, was an intriguing concept lost to cluster-fudge of jaw-dropping visuals. In other words, my eyes certainly got their exercise, but my brain still can’t seem to shake off the events of the film, particularly the climax. Up until the end, it was bloody fantastic. After that, hmm, more to come on the ending with a review [dedicated to blogger-buddy Crimson once again].

Currently Watching:

Izetta: The Last Witch – Oh boy, oh boy, it’s simulcast time–and is it just me or does this season seem like one of the better ones to come in recent years? Let me know what you think. But hey, my first hit-up for this fall was Izetta. I really, really like where it’s going. The most recent episodes, 4 and 5, showed us how the media can glorify anything–including a little girl who flies on a rifle.

Awakened from a cryo-like sleep, Izetta, the last little witch of her kind, is reunited with the princess of a distressed kingdom. Finé , our unfortunate heir, finds her trump card hidden with Izetta’s incredible powers. Set in an alternative pre-WWII world where magic runs deep within the Earth’s roots, Princess Finé must ally herself with whoever she can in order to save her poor country! Check it out on Crunchyroll streaming now!

Sound! Euphonium 2 – More Euphonium = a very happy Takuto. Having been more than satisfied with the first, Eupho has returned triumphantly in order to finish telling the tale of Kyoto’s Kitauji High School Band! I can’t spoil much since it is a sequel, but I did review the first a while back if you want to check that out here. If you loved the first, then the second will only bring you more of KyoAni’s topnotch animation and tightly-knit cast of characters. Five episodes in and still groovin’, Eupho 2 can also be found on Crunchyroll.

Yuri!!! On ICE – I have not felt this inspired to get active since back in 2013 when Free! Iwatobi Swim Club aired. WOW. THIS is easily my favorite title of the fall anime that I am following!!! Heck, I felt so emotionally charged that I had to write about the dramatic episode 3 in a post comparing our two lead characters which you can read RIGHT HERE! I thought I did a decent job on that post, too, so please feel free to share it with the YOI fandom ^.^

But if you didn’t know, the show follows Yuri Katsuki, a 23-year-old figure skater who was feeling a bit dried up with his season until his idol and world champion skater Viktor Nikiforov of Russia paid a visit to the family spa. But why would a star visit a rural Japanese hot springs? Why, to train Yuri himself, of course! Yuri!!! On ICE is about seeing your own reflection in others and finding the inspiration to help them out. In turn, you end up finding fresh motivation from their youth. Full of light-hearted moments that’ll just warm you to the core, Yuri!!! On ICE has proven that even with half of its season still not out yet, it’s definitely earned those three exclamation points–It’s Gonna MAKE HISTORY!!! NOW, seek out Crunchyroll my cafegoers!

Ranma 1/2 (Viz Set 3) – Viz describes this oddity better than anyone else has: “Things just can’t stay quiet at the Tendo Dojo.” I’m not going to describe Ranma  because I really shouldn’t have to. Boy gets hit with cold water: turns into girl. Doused again with hot water: she’s back to a he. Classic anime for ya. But it’s been one of my family’s favorites for years now, so set three here I come! I can tell you that its late 1989 quality has come a long way with its third season–that’s for sure!

Lostorage Incited WIXOSS – I’m a huge WIXOSS fanboy. Hopefully that wasn’t news to you. Naturally, I was so hyped to hear that one of my favorite “magical girl” series was getting a continuation in the same universe. Then it hit me–I haven’t seen the movie, selector destructed WIXOSS yet. Soooo, either I hunt for it online [and then, of course, support the official release later, geez] in order for me to continue, or I skip out this season. Not sure what I’ll do yet.

Outside of anime, fall has finally hit, WUAH! How I love the cool weather! Today it rained off and on from morning to evening, so I’m probably pushing my luck on future cloudy days *sighs*. Anyway, how was your spook day? Also, I’m dying to know what’s piled on your plate for this season of anime? Are you planning with Izetta and the crew, or perhaps are you practicing hard for Nationals with Kitauji? Either way, you’ll never be chill until you settle down with the Yuris. Yes. Both of them. They are sides of the same coin. I’ve even changed my Twitter name just for the spirit of things. I’m also suddenly interested in ice-skating. EHERM. ‘Till next we meet ~

– Takuto, your host

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Follow my Twitter @TakutoAnimeCafe AKA Taku!!! On ICE for all my latest shenanigans~!

Dying Tech, Fading Tans, Bargain Hunting, and Homecoming King!? | Where I’ve Been Since Mid-July

How truly nice it feels to once again be in this place, chatting about the one thing we all especially cherish: anime.

Hello all from around the globe, ‘tis I, Takuto, back with an update so large you’ll to download iOS 10 five times over just to comprehend my absence. It’s been a while . . . three months, in fact . . . so thanks for keeping the place all tidy. Speaking of, we have several thousand housekeeping items to go over concerning my return to the blogosphere and what that actually entails. Let’s get to it!

Overcoming the Computer Conundrum

I mentioned this in the July update, but if you couldn’t recall, I do not blog on my own computer. I used to have a personal laptop, but it went kaput years ago. Since then, I had just been using the laptops we loan during the school year to enter my virtual café. Naturally, when school ends in May and summer kicks in, I am without a key to here for three months until it starts back up again in August. I’ve only experienced two summers during my blogging session. The first, I borrowed the family silver laptop, which was fairly new and had sufficed at the time. This past summer I tried my luck in using the silver again, but to no avail. That one, as I said in July, and I quote:

Cannot be unplugged without it shutting off, frequently overheats itself, has lost Google and instead uses some sketchy browser (we got Chrome tho), and finally, that half of us need to use all the darn time.

Yup, and it became so bad that I just couldn’t take it anymore.

I used music camp (which was surprisingly quite pleasant, actually) in mid-July as a week-long vacation to just get away from the darn thing and ‘relax’ (cause 5-hour nights are totally soothing). The honor’s recital [that paid my entry] went by swimmingly and before I knew it, camp was over. I was planning to blog when I got back, but the computer wouldn’t let me. At that point, I just decided to take two weeks off until August when my dad would hand his mini laptop off to me.

Summer’s End, School Life is Back to Haunt Me

August came around and about a week or two in he upgraded and I inherited his gadget. At the time, I was too busy marathoning all of Fullmetal Alchemist and Brotherhood, and with the intent to finish that before school began again, blogging was out of the question.

The finale came and school resumed. I’ve never been more involved with school and community activities more than I have this year. IT’S INSANE. Not only has heavy course work kicked me in the rear (not surprised), but extracurricular activities execute projects of incomprehensible size, resulting in one tired Takuto.

Lifeguarding season has also come to a close, which means that my tan is sayin’ “PEACE OUT” and fleeing my skin at an incredible pace. That especially sucks since I spent three months cultivating that damn beauty. *dies*

Obliterating the Café Funds

Haha, no I don’t get paid to blog. But I’m sure many of us living in the South and Midwest have caught wind of the chain book/movie/music/game store Hastings announcing its bankruptcy. In preparation for that, I had probably spent well over $200 on myself, and have received over $200 worth of manga and blu-rays in the form of birthday gifts (thanks fam!). I am both mentally and physically drained from casual over-spending and dozens of spontaneous trips when the original plan was to blow it all on FUNimation’s recent collector’s edition releases. I suppose you could say it’s money well-spent, because now instead of getting Haruhi or Code Geass, I have obtained over 10 titles for the same price. It was a lot up front, but I’m sure the experiences I will have shall eventually pay it all forward.

King Takuto

Ohhh, where to start on this one . . .! So, sometime a couple weeks back I got the announcement that I, among 14 fellow classmates, were chosen to be 2016 Homecoming Candidates. For those who didn’t notice (because I try to keep it discreet), I am a high-school senior. Yup. Hope that doesn’t startle anyone too much. Anyway, the candidates are chosen by the senior class, and then the entire student body votes on one boy and one girl to be crowned King and Queen . . . Hehe, I’m that boy. When they gave the candidate announcement that morning, I immediately knew that, deep down, 14 of us had won—Two of us just happened to win again during the night of the crowning.

I felt so very humbled by all of my peers. There’s no other word to describe it than that. Humbled. So very humbled. If you would have asked me about all this a day before the announcement, I would have laughed at you hard. Super hard. I mean, there was NO WAY that little ol’ me was to be a candidate, let alone the man of the hour. The idea of being accepted by the majority of those who had voted . . . no words could describe . . . I’m honestly still speechless about the whole thing, even though I know full well that, within a year, none of it would matter anymore.

You can go ahead and address me as “King Taku—-

Where do we go from here?

Hmm, good question. I don’t see much point in making up the past couple of monthly updates, because this is it—I’ve been occupied with things other than blogging. One thing has changed, however, that being my system of reviewing. Previously, I reviewed a title every single time I finished a show. That’s right, each and every show. I’ve come to realize that that is not the best idea, for now whenever I think “Ah, I have some downtime—let’s watch some anime,” that thought also comes hand in hand with “Welp, now I must force myself to write up a formal review.” That isn’t necessarily healthy, for it led me to a period where I neither wanted to blog nor watch anime, which totally defeats the purpose of having a blog in the first place! You may have seen my experimentation in fighting the strain of a formal review with my “5 Ballistic Reasons You Should Watch Girls und Panzer” post. Now that I’ll only be reviewing anime that I want to say something about, reviews, “café talks,” and other related content like simulcast thoughts shall gradually be returning to the menu.

Speaking of, here are all of the anime I completed between July and now:

Fullmetal Alchemist, Space Patrol Luluco, Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, Planetarian, Psycho-Pass 2, SCHOOL-LIVE!, Ranma 1/2 (Viz Set 2), Sailor Moon

Currently Watching:

The Ambition of Oda Nobuna, Sailor Moon R

You’re pretty cool . . . How can we keep in touch?

For direct, unrelated-to-posts conversation and hilarity, seek out my Twitter @TakutoAnimeCafe. Want to know what I’m always watching? My MAL account under the name takuto27 is constantly being updated 24/7, so if you notice I’m watching a show you also enjoy, message me—let’s talk! And of course, there is also the option of leaving comments on my posts. (I’ll get on all those that I missed!) There is also a blog email now (hooray!), so if you want to talk privately, yet don’t have these forms of social media, check out takutoanimecafe@gmail.com for sure!

I miss you all—What have you been working on?

With the new schedule, I won’t be able to read every post that comes from everyone I follow like I usually do. Sorry, that’s the truth. But if you know me, I always (and will continue to do) my damnedest to keep up with y’all! Now. What do I want from you? PLEASE leave in the comments UP TO THREE posts you wrote [during my absence] that you feel confident in sharing with me. I WILL READ AND COMMENT ON THEM, ABSOLUTELY!! Sorry I have to cap it off at 3, but there will be time later down the line for me to scan through your guys’ blogs. If you don’t leave me your posts, I will not immediately catch up with you, which would be totally tragic!

2-year-anniversary

While we’re on tragic, I missed this by over a month!! Happy 2nd Birthday Takuto’s Anime Cafe! Here’s to many more to come~!

. . . So that’s about it. I’m back in my café with the customers who are like family to me. This time, I will try even harder to expand my reach to new folks, keep up with all of my current friends, and write better content that will make me proud. My break was crazy, but lots of fun and full of memories to treasure forever. Stay on the lookout for my first back-in-action post, for I have quite a few things in mind to discuss, and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host ~^.^~

~ It’s never too late to hit up the café—Follow Takuto the host today! ~

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Did I ever mention that over 10 people followed me while I wasn’t even here?? You guys are seriously awesome!

End of October Update 11/4/15

Konbanwa minna-san, when was the last time we connected?

Yes, it feels like an eternity passes between each of my posts, but hopefully that hasn’t lost any of your attention. If you didn’t already know, I play the cello. Due to the inconveniences that the Christmas season brings, the private lesson teacher I meet with bumped the entire traditional winter recital a whole month. On this Saturday, I am supposed to have a solo ready to perform for the small get-together, but that has been rough in coming along. Awfully rough, I’m afraid. So when I’m not studying for tests or filling out the copious stack of homework, I’m practicing long and hard, metronome and tuner in hand.

As it is, Nagi-Asu and Hyouka have been the only ‘new’ anime that I’ve tackled. That’s pretty sad, considering it’s been a WHOLE month. Granted, I did spend my Halloween weekend hitting up Another with my siblings (I had already seen it, so more “Movie Theater” stuff). They LOVED it, though because I was unaware of their fright-tolerance, I kind of heavily foreshadowed the umbrella and teacher/knife deaths (even though it was fairly easy to predict). I didn’t want them to have nightmares, what can you say? I’m a nice guy. Though looking back, I wish I hadn’t put so much focus on “Ok, here’s that scene I’ve always been talking about.”

The second set of ALDNOAH.ZERO came out at the tail end of last month, so I pre-ordered and received that. Now all I need is some time to actually sit down and enjoy it, gosh darn it! Speaking of, I still haven’t even cracked open Baccano! nor A Lull in the Sea. In my defense, however, I might be upgrading to Blu-Ray for Nagi-Asu, budget permitting, so until then, that’s on hold.

For “Cafes Talks,” I had an interesting run-in at a Renaissance Festival, so if you are curious as to what happened to me, click here! Even though Halloween is over, here are ten places that you still should NEVER go into for the fear of dying a terrible death! That was fun to write. I am working on another “Cafe Talk” post, so stay tuned for more shenanigans.

But you’re here for the anime update, so here we go!

Recently Finished:

Another (previously-seen) – What can I say, guys? It’s freakin’ Another, one of the best horror anime to hit my list. Does it live up to a rewatch? Absolutely. My stomach was shaking right before all of those gruesome deaths, but after seeing them over and over again, they do tend to lose shock value. It was a spooky way to spend the break, no doubt, so if you haven’t checked out Another yet, I encourage you to do so if you’re hankering for good mystery and thirsting for blood!

The Heroic Legend of Arslan – This. Show. Just. No. I’ll admit, Arslan came to clean itself up a bit at the end. But the announcement of a FREAKIN’ SECOND SEASON just astonished me. HOW?? This twenty-some episode mess gets a sequel but The Devil is a Part-Timer doesn’t? I really question Japan and more specifically Arslan‘s sales. Rant coming soon, so if you enjoy those, you’re in for a good roasting -_-

Hyouka – This one I finished way back in the beginning of October and I even wrote a review about it! Click here to see if we shared similar thoughts or are interested in a school/mystery anime with many other great things going for it.

Food Wars! Shokugeki no Souma – I actually finished this before my last update, and a review just went up yesterday (oops). It was quite hard to wrap my head around all of the crazy fun that Food Wars! delivered, but I managed to settle on a rather lengthy review. I’d be overjoyed if you checked it out (if you haven’t yet) right here so that we can talk about this amazing anime!

Currently Watching:

Sound of the Sky – Weren’t expecting this entry, were you? I briefly mentioned back in the summer that this would be my breather anime for when I got busy, and boy did I choose just the right show! I’m so absorbed by the setting and the musings of the characters, but . . . Where is the show taking me? I’m about 8 episodes in, a good two-thirds, so I’ll be finishing this one very soon hopefully. I haven’t had a breather anime like this in months, so I feel very refreshed watching this mini wartime slice-of-life series. You can also expect a review, as I have many things I would like to say about Sora no Woto

ALDNOAH.ZERO (eps 7-12) – I’ll be starting this up as soon as Sound of the Sky reaches its end :'(, and I’m quite excited to see how the dub handles the end to this mecha tragedy!

Currently Reading:

That’s right, Takuto actually reads books when he’s not sifting through everyone’s wonderful posts (holy crap, some of you post way to often JKLOL)! I just finished Sword Art Online Light Novel Volume Two: Aincrad. Let me just say that this novel was TEN TIMES better than the first one. I loved each of the four stories about the different heroines of SAO, and it was a special treat to hear from Lizbeth’s side, specifically. Of the four stories, Lizbeth’s story was the best – and that last page for it, oh lawd, the feels! “Red-Nosed Reindeer” was still pretty depressing, but I think the anime actually handled that better. Same with the story of Yui. Silica’s story, the first one, was my second favorite. I never noticed how reminiscent to country life Silica’s character was based on. It’s all about details, I guess.

But as for what I’m currently reading, I’m 20 pages into Volume Three: Fairy Dance. And the mockery of the “Fairy Dance” begins! Let loose the sparkling fairies and soar into the sky with feelings of lust for a fairer world. Like I mentioned last update, “books are better than the movies that spawn from them” is the stereotypical debate that rears its ugly head, and I want to test that theory with “Fairy Dance,” considering all of its unanimous hatred by fans (even though I enjoyed it). We’ll have to see what ALO brings! Volumes 3 & 4 came in the mail with ALDNOAH.ZERO DVD Set Two, so hooray for Rightstuf sales!

If any of you follow NichiFix over on YouTube, then you would know that he unboxes anime and does manga hauls. While I don’t attentively search for that kind of stuff, I find what he has to say entertaining. He’s also nice (and a RailDex fan ^.^). Anyway, I won his nonchalant giveaway that he hinted at in a monthly manga pickups video about a month ago. I KNOW, I ACTUALLY WON SOMETHING!!! It was Volumes One and Two of Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, Volume 17 of Negima!, and, due to his lateness (even though I forgot about it too :P), he threw in Haganai Volume 1. How kind! This was probably even more exciting to open than my mini Rightstuf haul!

And that about covers everything. Sorry for the long update, if you skipped over some parts, I don’t blame you. I just wanted to let everyone know why there’s been a huge lack of content. Once this dreadful recital is over, however, things should return to normal. I’ll be hitting up the simulcast for Seraph’s second season, Nagoya-something. That should be interesting. But it wouldn’t be an update if I didn’t complain about the passing time – Oh, where do the days go?! I’m still alternating with shorts (as in pants) over here even though fall has descended upon us. Maybe, just maybe, if it rains even an inch, I’ll marathon Baccano! like I’ve been wanting to for so long now. But how was your Halloween? Did ya do anything crazy, scare any kids or get spooked yourself? I ate candy, and Matt-in-the-Hat and MarvelouslyMismatched know that, haha! Feel free to talk to me at any time through the comments, as I always – always – look forward to what you have to say, even if it’s just a “hello.” Until next time everyone, this has been

– Takuto, your host