[12 Days of Anime] Day 10: Side Stories in March Comes in like a Lion

As much as I love fantasy and science fiction, there are times where I just want to relax my mind and spirit with something softer and more tangible. I want to be enveloped by a warmth that makes me feel at home. This year and the last, these moments could be found with March Comes in like a Lion, a two-season anime that started in the autumn season of 2016 and began once again this past October. It seems more than appropriate that one of the most heartwarming shows I know begins in the fall, my favorite time of year, and wraps up in the spring just as the buds are blooming. There’s a lesson to be seen there with the path from harvest to birth.

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[12 Days of Anime] Day 11: Anime in The Theater

2017 was the year of anime movies, from immediate hits like Your Name. to film festivals playing classics like Akira. For the first time in my life, anime movies felt accessible. Theaters near me made the impossible available, allowing me to both re-experience the awe of older films as well as join in on the  hype of new releases. We were even given the option of choosing dates, limited as they were, for either subbed or dubbed versions. This gives me hope that we’ll continue to see more works brought overseas in the coming years.

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[12 Days of Anime] Day 12: Made in Abyss’ Contributions to Fantasy

I’m opening this year’s 12 Days of Anime with a series that will no doubt top the lists of many people: Made in Abyss, a show that aired in the summer and immediately swept through the community like a Chinook wind. While there were several great works released over the past months, Made in Abyss easily outpaced my expectations and became one of my favorites, if not the favorite, of the year. Everything from its setting, story, characters, and even music felt wonderfully new. It is a fantasy, yes, but one that distinguishes itself from others of its genre.

Usually, I find myself comparing fantasy works to one another, picking out influences from known series and ultimately deciding whether or not the newer anime improves or fails within certain parameters. I almost never found myself doing that with Made in Abyss. For once, I was immersed in the story and too absorbed to think of anything else. There was no other series I looked forward to as much each week, and there’s no question in my mind that I’ll be purchasing the U.S. releases of the soundtrack and Blu-rays when available.

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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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12 Days of Anime – #10 Joys in Parenting

I’ve stated over and over again to my family and friends how I am not a fan of children, and how they are not fans of me. There are some notable exceptions–like my friend’s kid who quietly ate his weight in oysters at my wedding and grinned the entire time, and my cousin’s two adorable ginger children–but the vast majority receive a pass in my book. But! Anime has this strange ability to turn almost everything into something cute, lovable, and almost desirable–including kids.

There are two special shows that aired this past year that toppled my misgivings about children and brought me to laughs and tears almost every episode. I’m speaking of course of Amaama to Inazuma and Udon no Kuni no Kin’iro Kemari, both of which feature a father or father-figure with children. They both also happily use food as a starting platform to their stories. I would gladly spend a year with each of these families if given the opportunity!

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12 Days of Anime – #9 New Inspirations in Social Media

Talking about social media, this season's Yuri!!! on Ice heavily features Instagram <3
Talking about social media, this season’s Yuri!!! on Ice heavily features Instagram ❤

This was originally going to be a compilation of my new inspirations from 2016 across several social media sites, but my list turned into something more of a YouTube sponsor! That isn’t what this is of course, but I’ve tuned into YouTube more than any other medium this past year, with favorites covering everything from fashion, fitness, food, and travel. I’ll only list the channels touching on Japanese culture here, but feel free to suggest any of your own favorite YouTube channels, podcasts, or blogs you think I should check out.

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12 Days of Anime – #8 Huggable Witches and Youkai

One of my preferred types of anime are iyashikei, otherwise known as “healing anime.” Notable favorites include Aria, Mushishi, Kamichu!, and Amaama to Inazuma. The two discussed here aired this past year and share similar environments that overlap a world very much like our own with the spirit world. Instead of treating the otherworldly as something to be completely avoided, they meet it on its own terms and respect the rules, spoken or not.

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12 Days of Anime – #7 Revisiting Tales of Symphonia and Graces F

Just a little sample from our engagement photos 😉

The Tales of franchise is a Japanese role-playing game with a history dating back to 1995. It will soon release its newest title in 2017. I stumbled across the series late in college, but never fully took part in playing until I purchased Tales of Vesperia for the Xbox 360. Vesperia was probably the best place I could have started, with its memorable cast, script, and story. It would be many years before I tried another title, particularly since Vesperia was the only game in the series ported to the 360, my only console for many years.

What brought me back to the franchise was a desire to find more co-op games to play with KWoo. That’s when I remembered that the Tales of games provide battle co-op–while most of the game is single player, battle mode allows up to four. It has been incredibly fun experiencing these stories together over the past year. Sharing in the same story and fighting side-by-side really makes it feel like we’re on this adventure together. We both want to play more Tales games,  and have individually played some Final Fantasy (KWoo prefers 7 and 8, while I like 4 and 6; we both enjoyed 13). If anyone knows of any other Japanese RPGs like these, please let us know!

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