[12 Days of Anime] Day 5: Following The Ancient Magus’ Bride into the Isles

When I was a child, I latched onto any book I could get my hands on. My genre of choice was fantasy, particularly anything based on Celtic and Gaelic mythology. Some of my favorite authors included Lloyd Alexander (The Chronicles of Prydain), T.A. Barron (The Merlin Saga), Susan Cooper (The Dark is Rising), and, of course, J.R.R. Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings). They each wielded their magic with aplomb, weaving narratives that bewitched my senses and promised a journey of my own someday.

These days, I read far less than I used to or would like, and when I watch anime, most of the fantasy is based on Japanese mythology. When The Ancient Magus’ Bride appeared before me, I felt an instant jolt of nostalgia and affection. Its familiar setting and language brought me back to my childhood, where I imagined going on that adventure promised me so long ago.

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[12 Days of Anime] Day 6: Kemono Friends Proves Me Wrong, Again

I can’t think of a single success story as surprising as Kemono Friends, an anime that aired at the start of the year and quickly stormed through the anime community. I pride myself on an open mind when it comes to anime—I try to give every series the benefit of the doubt no matter my reservations about the art or genre. Somehow Kemono Friends slipped past my net. It wasn’t until I saw the hype on Twitter and many of the blogs I read that I realized I had almost missed out on something special. So I set out to remedy my mistake, and tried the first couple of episodes. The story didn’t seem remarkable, and the CG animation and art were an eyesore…but I kept watching. I wanted to visit the next area with Kaban and Serval. I wanted to meet more Friends. Before long, I realized I didn’t want the story to end. Japari Park had become real.

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[12 Days of Anime] Day 7: Feeling Young Again in Tsuki ga Kirei

I still remember a lot of the feelings I had back in middle school and high school. I tended towards embarrassment, yet liked attention just enough to get me in the good graces of others. I wanted my teachers to praise me, students to envy me, and boys…well, they were a whole different area altogether.

Some of my favorite books are geared towards older children and young adults. Though they span a wide range of topics and styles, they do have one thing in common: they evoke a sense of authenticity. The young characters sound and act their ages, usually. If they take more mature or jaded views, there’s always a good reason for it. Tsuki ga Kirei (as the moon, so beautiful), an original television series that aired in the spring, shares this precious trait. Azumi and Mizuno act like the middle school kids they are, reminding me so much of what I was like at that age.

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[12 Days of Anime] Day 8: Rediscovering Magic in Little Witch Academia

When Little Witch Academia made its entrance first in 2013 then later in 2015, I never expected that I would someday consider the characters and their world to be one of the most satisfying experiences of 2017. In much the same way that Made in Abyss showed us a terrifying and exhilarating new kind of fantasy, Little Witch Academia took familiar conventions of magic and presented them in a masterful blend of old and new worlds.

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[12 Days of Anime] Day 9: Delving into the Past with SDF Macross & Yamato 2199

With how busy I’ve felt this year, I’m surprised that I’ve still managed to fit in some oldies among all the currently airing shows. Two notable series I watched this past year include Super Dimension Fortress Macross and Space Battleship Yamato 2199. Together, they sparked a hunger for more knowledge about their expansive histories, both canon and superfluous fun, as well as proved their mark on many works following their examples.

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[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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(20)12 Moments of Anime

Happy Holidays! I figured I’d jump into the 12 Days of Anime project with my own round-up post of my 12 memorable moments for the year (kudos to Yumeka for the idea).  Anime conventions, aniblog tourneys, favorite anime of the year–it’s all there reminding me why I watch anime and continue to blog.  Thank you for staying with me through 2012, and enjoy reading!

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