Straddling the Border with Onihei

Onihei is another winter 2017 anime that I almost skipped over in my seasonal selection, but thanks to the recommendation of a reader, I tried it out and added the anime to my weekly viewing. The period drama has roots in a late 1960s novel by Shoutarou Ikenami, and has been adapted into various mediums, including theater, television, manga, and even an arcade game. Despite the stories taking place during the Edo period, they impart messages and emotions that resonate to this day.

The anime takes an episodic format, with each week providing a new case for “Demon Heizou” (“Onihei”), leader of the Arson Theft Control. While there are some recurring characters, each week presents new faces. Episodes usually start with the conflict of the introduced character, such as a noble thief running from Arson Theft Control, then getting caught by Onihei. Next comes Heizou’s investigation into the matter, and later his confrontation and resolution of the main conflict. While each of these episodes thus far has wrapped neatly into almost perfect packages, they also support a belief in the gray zone. No story has just one method of telling, and not all acts can be categorized as white or black. There is always another point of view to hear, and oftentimes an act for good results in evil. This plurality also defines Onihei, who at times plays the hero, and at other times the villain.

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[Review] Long Riders!

Long Riders! is a delightful anime that began airing during the previous 2016 season in October. It was scheduled to complete on schedule in December, but the last two episodes were postponed until February of this year. The show features college girls who enjoy long distance cycling. When I first noticed this anime, I thought it might more closely resemble Yowamushi Pedal, another cycling manga and anime that has become incredibly popular in Japan. While both works center on the bicycle, they differ greatly in terms of topic, setting, and voice. I value each for their contribution, but found myself better appreciating the emotions inspired by Long Riders! Read More »

Championing Diversity in Demi-chan

“There are people called ‘demi-humans’ who possess special qualities…the demi-humans who have been used as motifs in myths and fairy tales. They have also endured persecution in the past. But discrimination has been less common in recent years, and there’s even a welfare system for demi-humans who live with any sort of disadvantage. Now, being a demi-human is seen as just another aspect of one’s identity.” (Unknown, “Tetsuo Takahashi Wants an Interview,” Demi-chan)

There is no other show more surprising to me this winter season than Demi-chan wa Kataritai, a series I assumed would be a straightforward high school fantasy harem along the lines of Monster Musume no Iru Nichijou. Yes, there is a harem set up with our male protagonist and the female demi-humans, including three students and one teacher. Yes, they all look to be crushing on Takahashi-sensei. But, it isn’t the romance or comedy that shines in this series. Takahashi Tetsuo asserts himself from the very beginning as a man who not only wants to study demi-humans, but also respects them. Demi-chan wa Kataritai is a story that champions equality and appreciation for the precious and necessary diversity among communities.

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#1 night fall fan: Lotte Jansson of Little Witch Academia

Lotte Jansson is the star of Little Witch Academia’s fourth episode, “night fall,” where we witness her passion, loyalty, and support for a long-running series that spoofs Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga. While Lotte did receive some character development in the second film, this episode’s window into her interests reveals a girl full of confidence and conviction. The uncertain and meek Lotte who usually graces the halls of Luna Nova disappears. By showing us this side to the young witch’s personality, the anime hints at future growth in her self-confidence towards her own magical ability and her supportive friendship with Akko and Sucy.

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Winter 2017 Set Menu

20 anime, only three of which are ongoing! Ackkkkk! Somehow I’ve overloaded myself again, despite my excitement for the year dimming at the winter’s less-than-groundbreaking offerings. The good news is that I have more time now to devote to analysis and blogging, so you can look forward to more frequent editorials and, hopefully, some recipes. While there are no food-centric anime this season, I have faith that delicious dishes will still make their appearance. This is anime, after all, where the Japanese devotion to the culinary arts reveals itself whether you’re looking for it or not.

I did try a handful of other winter shows and dropped accordingly. Most notable drops include Hand Shakers and Fuuka, each of which I kicked after only two minutes. Let me know what you’re excited for this season, and if you think I’m missing out on anything!

  • ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka
  • Ao no Exorcist: Kyoto Fujouou-hen
  • Demi-chan wa Kataritai 
  • ēlDLIVE
  • Gabriel DropOut
  • Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon
  • Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2
  • Kuzu no Honkai 
  • Little Witch Academia (TV)
  • Masamune-kun no Revenge
  • Minami Kamakura Koukou Joshi Jitensha-bu
  • Onihei
  • Seiren
  • Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen
  • Tales of Zestiria the X 2nd Season
  • Urara Meirochou
  • Yowamushi Pedal: New Generation

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Fall 2016 Season Wrap

Let us all breathe a sigh of relief that I have finally finished the fall anime! Thanks to my three-week honeymoon and a terrible throat infection/fever, I had a lot of catching up to do after returning home. There were a ton of wonderful shows this past fall that I was almost sorry to complete. 2016 as a whole was actually a great year for anime, and the fall season capped it beautifully. I hope you enjoyed the season and year as much as I did, and that you’ll share with me your thoughts and personal favorites!

  • Bungou Stray Dogs 2nd Season
  • Days (TV)
  • Fune wo Amu
  • Gi(a)rlish Number
  • Haikyuu!!: Karasuno Koukou VS Shiratorizawa Gakuen Koukou
  • Hibike! Euphonium 2
  • Keijo!!!!!!!!
  • Magic-Kyun! Renaissance
  • Natsume Yuujinchou Go
  • Shakunetsu no Takkyuu Musume
  • Shuumatsu no Izetta
  • Udon no Kuni no Kiniro Kemari
  • ViVid Strike!
  • Watashi ga Motete Dousunda
  • WWW.Working!!
  • YURI!!! on ICE

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[Film] An (a.k.a. Sweet Bean)

On my flight home from Australia, I had the luck of stumbling across the 2015 film An while browsing the available movies. An tells the story of a Japanese dorayaki seller and few of the people who impact his life. Dorayaki is a confection pairing little pancakes with an, sweet red bean paste. Obviously it was the setting of the dorayaki shop that drew me in, but it was the story that kept me watching, smiling, then later crying unashamedly. Thank goodness the plane’s lights were dimmed! I really had no idea what I was walking into–the only real hints I had were the drama categorization and the short trailer showing Sentaro learning how to make real an from Yoshii Tokue. The movie ended up sharing so much more than that, including such topics as the human spectrum of emotions regarding helping others, the cages others build and that we create on our own, as well as our resilience and ability to start again. As you can tell, this discussion will include a fair amount of spoilers, so if that deters you from watching, please take my suggestion now to try the film and let me know your thoughts.

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Happy 2017!

Happy New Year to everyone!

My Fall 2016 Season Wrap will be up later this week–most of the last episodes aired while we were on our honeymoon so I have lots to catch up on once we return. Then it’ll be another chase to check out the new winter season and let you know which ones I’ll be following. At a cursory glance, the following are on my list to watch:

  • ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka – Intriguing…
  • Akiba’s Trip The Animation – for KWoo…I swear!
  • Ao no Exorcist: Kyoto Fujouou-hen – Long-awaited sequel
  • Demi-chan wa Kataritai – Sucked in by the promo art
  • ēlDLIVEEnder’s Game look-a-like?
  • Fuuka – Imagining this with Trump as the protagonist
  • Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon – Try everything KyoAni
  • Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2 – Sequel
  • Little Witch Academia (TV) – OMG OMG OMG
  • Minami Kamakura Koukou Joshi Jitensha-bu – so many bicycle anime these days
  • Piace: Watashi no Italian – Italian food, yum
  • Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen – Sequel
  • Urara Meirochou – Cute girls and fortune telling
  • Yowamushi Pedal: New Generation – Whaaaat? A must sequel for KWoo

Let me know if I’m overlooking a gem you think I’d like!

12 Days of Anime – #12 New Directions for 2017

(hibike! euphonium) drawn by hado maiko
(hibike! euphonium) drawn by hado maiko

Merry Christmas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Whew, we made it. I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen, but here we are. Thank you for sticking with me. I mulled over what I wanted to discuss for the last day of “12 Days of Anime,” whether I’d pick my favorite from the year (which I actually covered on the first day), or touch on a central theme from 2016. Instead, we’re getting personal and looking at the path Anime B&B will take starting with the new year.

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12 Days of Anime – #11 Fantastic Additions to the Sports Genre

It’s Christmas Eve!!! One more day!!!!!

2016 has truly been a fantastic year for fans of sports anime, as we’ve been gifted several unique additions to the genre, as well as quite a few sequels and staples. The shows discussed here today are the ones that stood out the most to me, and oddly enough all aired this past fall. I also think they would make the perfect recommendations for people who usually avoid sports anime. These anime dodge one of the most undesired aspects of the genre: overly drawn out matches. Opting for performances either given in real time or in snapshots, they move at a much quicker pace without sacrificing attention to the details that matter most to each of them. For those of you wondering, I did try to avoid naming immediate sequels or already decently represented sports (Haikyuu!!, DAYS, Battery, etc.).
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