Flaring Bright in Juni Taisen: Zodiac War

“Don’t worry. All I’m taking is your life. In exchange, I hope you’ll be my friend, too. I’ve wanted that so badly since the first moment I saw you…”
(Rabbit, “Even a Champion”)

There was a time when I veered away from any kind of atmosphere that would get my heart pumping, or suffocate me in fear. Horror films always stuck in my mind and came to life in the darkness of sleep. Action and thrillers threatened to cut me in seemingly everyday activities in the car or walking on the sidewalk. As I dabbled my ankles in these genres over the years, I slowly waded deeper and deeper into the blackness of the unknown. What seemed too frightful as a child promised to excite me as an adult.

Juni Taisen: Zodiac War is this season’s offering from Nisio Isin, also known for his Monogatari series, Katangatari, and Medaka Box. A little bit of fear, the dash of a promise just out of reach, and plenty of violence fill each episode. There’s no comfort to be found in the arms of a protagonist; our writer is just as happy to tell their histories as he is to cut them right out of it. Our twelve characters, each representing a member of the Chinese Zodiac, are no heroes, either. Every one of them, no matter how righteous, reeks of questionable motives.

With an irredeemable cast and a predictable story, it might seem like Juni Taisen offers nothing of substance for enjoyment. In almost every other instance I cite my necessity for unique characters and an interesting plot.

Forget about those. Juni Taisen is a hell of a lot of fun.

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[Review] Space Battleship Yamato 2199

Sometimes it feels like I’ve been watching anime for all my life, and forget that it wasn’t until college that I became a fan. I may have seen snippets of Pokemon, Digimon, and Sailor Moon on TV while growing up, but never a whole series. I missed out on a lot of great shows that came out in the 90s and earlier, including the original 1974-1975 Space Battleship Yamato, later brought to America in 1979 and adapted as Star Blazers.

Another reason for my late discovery of the series was that despite occasionally reading science fiction, I never attempted to seek out the genre in anime. I equated space settings with mecha, an area I thought held nothing of interest to me. Stellvia of the Universe was my first foray into a spaceship and, flawed as it was, the show still holds a dear place in my heart. Along with Cowboy Bebop, these shows opened up an entire frontier for me still unexplored and limitless. Space Battleship Yamato 2199, a 2012-2013 remake of the original series, carries on that adventurous spirit with respect and optimism, and has easily become one of my favorite Sci-Fi works.

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Fall 2017 Set Menu

Now that everything I’m interested in has finally aired, I can finally discuss all of the shows I’ll be watching this autumn. I decided to go back to an older style of organizing these season previews by arranging them by priority. Don’t be too thrown off by the lower shelving, though, since those shows still comprise of stories I find intriguing, even if I’m uncertain about keeping them on my watch list. Let me know if this presentation doesn’t work for you, or if you like it.

This season includes plenty of sequels, from guaranteed classics like March Comes in like a Lion to guilty pleasures like Food Wars! There are also a surprising number of big idol anime sequels. If sequels aren’t your thing, then rest assured that this fall brings with it a handful of promising new works whose stories not only sound unlike anything I’ve seen before, but whose characters and backgrounds also look phenomenal on screen.

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Amanchu! Episode 13: Joining Friendships of the Past and Present

“An unfamiliar path may fill you with anxiety, shock, or many other feelings, but there’s no need to rush. You need to take it easy. If you have fun on the way, you win” (Kohinata Kino, “The Story of the Promised Summer”).

A little over a year ago, we were gifted the anime experience of Kozue Amano’s Amanchu!, a story about growing up, scuba diving, and so much more. Amano’s gentleness appears in every smile, and her love for the ocean moves over and around us in almost every frame. Now we have episode thirteen, “The Story of the Promised Summer and New Memories,” bringing us back to Shizuoka along with two of Teko’s old friends. While this may be a story in a familiar place, experiencing it through Chizuru and Akane’s eyes allows us to see anew our main characters and the sea they love so much.

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Summer 2017 Season Wrap: New Game!!, Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul, My Hero Academia S2, & Action Heroine Cheer Fruits

Here we are, at the end of my summer season reviews with a heart heavy at saying good bye, but also excited to see what’s in store for the ones we may see again someday. I cried and laughed a lot this season, including in some of the shows below, and I’m hoping if you do watch any of the ones I did that you also share your reactions, good and bad.

 

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Summer 2017 Season Wrap: Made in Abyss, Kakegurui, & Princess Principal

I’ll go ahead and apologize in advance for the length of this post, since I had a hard time reigning in my enthusiasm for the first entry, Made in Abyss. While all of these particular series surprised and delighted me throughout the summer, Abyss will probably be one of the first up for a re-watch. Princess Principal is another show begging my return due to its unique format. Let me know what you thought about any or all three of them!

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Summer 2017 Season Wrap: Sakura Quest, Dive!!, & Knight’s & Magic

I really don’t want to include Sakura Quest in this season wrap, because it means that the show is over and I’ll have to move on to new places. But here we are, with three more summer shows completed and my heart in a better place than it was before. Each one of these series inspired me differently—they inspired me to seek purpose in whatever I do and wherever I am, to dedicate myself fully to any given task, and to always improve no matter the achieved success.

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Summer 2017 Season Wrap: Love and Lies, Re:CREATORS, & Fastest Finger First

I didn’t realize it then, but the first part of this season wrap came out on the official first day of autumn, the best time of year. I’ll be right over here, patting myself on the back, for being on top of this season’s shows and reviewing them in a timely manner. We continue here with three more shows, one of which ended far too early.

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Summer 2017 Season Wrap: Tsuredure Children, Restaurant to Another World, & Aoyama-kun

As sad as I am to see many of this season’s series end, I’m overjoyed that the hot summer months are on their way out. Bye-bye, mosquitos! Farewell, sweat-drenched dog walks! Hello, blankets and sweaters. Come to me, hot chocolate!

This past summer anime season included a lot of comedy and sci-fi continuations. While there were a handful of exceptional shows that went beyond expectations, the vast majority of them hit at just about average or slightly above. I dropped a large number of anime that either lay far outside of my preferences or were completely unpalatable after one or two episodes. I did a lot of weeding, but it was for the best since I was also able to catch up on a fair number of older television series and films, like SDF Macross and Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro.

My summer 2017 season wrap starts here with three wonderful series that I do think are worth your attention, if not in full, then perhaps at least enough to give a passing glance. First love, fantastical food, and super clean soccer: take your pick!

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