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.
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.
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!
First off, I’d like to extend my gratitude to Flower of Anime Evo for bringing this show to my attention this past fall. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve tried hard this year to cut as many shows as I dare can from my schedule to free up time for other aspects of my life. While this has helped me dodge many series that I know I would’ve found to be a waste of time, it has also raised the chance of me missing out on something I might love. Something like Fune wo Amu.
I vaguely remember reading the synopsis when the season was first announced and being intrigued by the dictionary aspect, but then I somehow forgot about it once new episodes started airing. This is part of why I share my seasonal picks with you all–so you can catch me in my foolishness!
Fune wo Amu was originally a novel by Shion Miura, and follows Majime Mitsuya in his journey to publish a new dictionary titled, “The Great Passage.” This is exactly the type of animated work I would expect to be aired on Noitamina, a network once known for its larger demographic window. The past several seasons have hacked away at my opinion of their programming with inclusions like Guilty Crown, Nanana’s Buried Treasure, and Kabaneri. Now with Fune wo Amu on the table, I have renewed faith, tiny though it is.
Perceptive Kumiko is back with the rest of the Kitauji High School Concert Band for this second season, bringing with her more drama, more heart throb-worthy close-ups, and more musical performances! The sequel starts off exactly where the previous ended with the band having succeeded at regionals and now preparing for the national stage. Note: This 12 Days entry is part review and part promotion of one of my favorite series of the year.
I knew before 2016 had even started that it would be a crazy busy time for me since I had wedding planning to do before the big date in late August. Blog posts slowed down to once a month if I was good; I had a difficult time keeping up with each season’s additions. I started to cut shows more ruthlessly than I normally would, and a lot of the time watched anime on my phone commuting back and forth to work. I typically set aside shows I think KWoo will like, either to watch together or on his own. But the truth is that he just doesn’t watch as much as I do, preferring to mix up his mediums more frequently. This can be frustrating for me since I like to stay caught up week to week–that, or I like to marathon several episodes at once from the same anime or from different shows. How dare my fiance keep me from finding out what happens next!
Now we’re married. As you’re reading this, I’m on my honeymoon with no anime (except what I bring for the plane…) and no Internet. And that’s a good thing.
The hectic schedule of 2016 and our differing interests has brought a pretty good balance to our daily lives of his interests, mine, and sometimes new ones. I’ve met more people and formed friendships. I still love anime, but I’m finding new hobbies that I’m looking to devote more time to. What this means for future I can’t say right now, but I’ll stick around for a good while yet!
A topic that has continued to live strong into 2016 is that of the superhero. We already have our fair share of heroes with strong personalities who yell their feelings before landing punches, as well as antiheroes tired of the establishment, humanity, or whatever, and now we have unassuming ones who take on evil with blank expressions. Their motivations are unbelievably simple and the results of their actions anti-climatic. The shows I’m referring to are One-Punch Man and Mob Psycho 100, both of which are the creations of mangaka One.
I already spoke about OPM in last year’s 12 Days of Anime since it wrapped up the previous December, but I must bring it up again due to the similarities with Mob Psycho 100 which aired this past summer. The hype for OPM was huge, filling my blog and Twitter feeds, and I saw countless people cosplaying it at the last Sakura-Con. With the same creator and the proximity to OPM’s anime release, I thought MP100 would be a much bigger deal than it turned out to be. There were the occasional positive responses here and there, but the reaction was smaller than I had expected. Perhaps viewers thought the premise and tone too similar, or the focus on Espers instead of superheroes draws a smaller demographic of viewers. Either way, I actually found MP100 more engaging–and I love OPM.
I didn’t actually enjoy watching Girlish Number this past fall, but I just had to include the show among my twelve moments of 2016 due to the impact it had on me as a viewer and anime fan. Many people have described it as a sort of antithesis to Shirobako, a P.A. Works series that for the most part positively portrays the anime industry. There are some trials that the characters go through, as well as some less than ideal coworkers, but the tone for the majority of the show was one of optimism. Diomedia’s Girlish Number enters with the point of a view of a fledgling voice actress and proceeds to reveal an uglier side of the industry where voices are chosen not for their skill and dedication, but for the girls’ names and looks as they would pertain to public appearances aimed at one thing: the customer’s wallet. It’s an interesting dilemma for the anime viewer; while on one hand I would prefer they maintain the integrity of the writer’s story by choosing quality over quantity, I also admittedly enjoy public events featuring bubbly and attractive staff. But the bottom line is that I honestly do not care what someone looks like as much as I care that they are the best in what they do.
This year’s 12 Days of Anime starts with my favorite world, the music of which accompanied my walk down the aisle (I think only one guest recognized the song). While I watched the last episode of Aria the Avvenire back in June, I never got around to talking about the finale of the three-part special since there was work and all the wedding craziness zapping away my willpower to do anything else. Now that both are out of the way (yes, both!) and I can finally focus on blogging, writing, and cooking, we return to Aqua.
It’s that time of year again where we anime fans from blogs, Twitter, YouTube, and more hearken back over the past year to twelve memorable moments in anime. For more details about this year’s 12 Days of Anime, check out this post from appropriant, or this video from Bibi’s World.
This will be my third year participating, and my first time actually writing these ahead of time and scheduling them to publish each of the twelve days leading up to Christmas. The reason for the careful planning has nothing to do with me turning over a new leaf–I’ll finally be on my honeymoon and out of touch for three weeks over Christmas and New Year’s in New Zealand and Queensland, Australia. Rest assured that I will read every single comment and respond as soon as I get back.
Tune in starting tomorrow for my 12 moments of 2016!