Saturday, 25 December 2010

Top 5 Anime of the 2010 season

Now that I have summerised the whole 2010 season, its time to get down to business, what were my favourites from the year?

These anime really impressed me with both there story telling and overall enjoyment, its also a good oppertunity to wish for these a UK DVD release in the future, so lets begin:

5. High School Of The Dead
Release : Summer 2010
Producers: Madhouse

High School Of The Dead is just straight up fun, even with all the fan service (which I have to admit is pretty damn lots of it) it manages to give us a lot of great zombie killing action set pieces and interesting characters. It also seems to reference western zombie movies such as "Shawn Of The Dead" and "Dawn Of The Dead" as well games like "Resident Evil".

With a thrilling 13 episode plot of five school teenagers and a nurse trying escape the zombie apocalypse, I was afraid that it wouldn't live up to the hype but in the end it delivered. I would look forward to a second season and I would even pick up the licensed manga when that comes out.

This is the only anime on the list that has been licensed in the UK, so I hope to pick this up in the near future!

4. Angels Beats
Release : Spring 2010
Producers: Key

After the genius Clannad ~After Story~, Key Animation had to do something really special to follow it up, thankfully Angels Beats did just that.

The series takes place in a world after death, where students cannot die and form a group to stop an angel from taking them away from this place, this involves using firearms or tactics to fool her. Characterization is done great (not all are given back stories) and the characters are memorable with a large amount of them.

Its a series full of thrills and humor, not to mention how beautiful the art is. I got enough enjoyment out of the series to put it in the number 4 spot.

3. Arakawa Under The Bridge series (1st and 2nd Series)

Release : Spring 2010 (first season) and Autumn 2010 (second season)
Producers: Shaft

Shaft surprised me with two seasons of Arakawa Under The Bridge so we got an extra 13 episodes this season with all these great characters. With some great Openings and Ending sequences the series didn't need a plot because of how nonsensical it was.

Its basically a story about a successful young businessman, finding strange personalities under a bridge and finds himself drawn to the place that he starts to live there, as the series progresses we get introduced to more unique characters and ridiculous situations.

The humor is great to, it avoids the typical fan service that I have come to from anime, I would of put it higher on the list if the series didn't lose its steam at the final episode of Season 2, still it being at number three is a great achievement.

2. Giant Killing Release : Spring 2010
Producers: Studio Deen

I did review on this for my college newsletter (here) and for good reason, I was in awe at how incredibly awesome Giant Killing is and it still has that effect on me today. The anime breathes football passion from the Opening theme song to the CGI crowds interacting with flags.

Plus Giant Killing should give it away to you, its about a series where the weak team defeats the strong, this means many intense matches and cheers from main team ETU whenever they score, I was always at the front of my seat and recently not alot of anime has made me feel that way.

Thanks to all the characters from all teams and Manager of ETU Takeshi Tatsumi unpredictability; I could name this the sleeper hit along with the best sports anime of the season and a place at number two. So what was my favourite anime of 2010 season:

1. Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru
Release : Autumn 2010
Producers: Shaft

Shaft anime Reevo are you mad? I know but there are plenty of reasons why I loved this series so much.

It still has that Shaft style where there are random scenes every 10 seconds but it gives the series a lot of unpredictability that I love in anime and like Arakawa its comedy is very different and smartly timed.

Hotori the main character of the series works at a maid shop with an old lady in a small shopping district, with the mention of maid you would think that this would be fan service galore but her silly logic in solving mystery's and her childish attitude when solving math problems won me over, Along with other characters.

The Opening is also fantastic but i was surprised to find that there is a fictional band "Maids" in the series, unlike K-ON!! and the band in Angels Beats, Maid's have a unique instruments in there band with the violin and accordion. There performance in episode 8 and the Closing theme are not only catchy but amusing (in a good way).

The last episode sealed this position for not only being funny but very moving as well and so win the top spot for this list, hopefully Shaft's works for 2011 will be even better!

Have a great year everyone and remember "Live long and Maid-you!!"

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Anime UK News Review - Review of Naruto: Shippuuden Boxset 3

"If you're expecting a large dose of Ninja action you'll be sadly disappointed. However, for some reason the comedic and dramatic moments, the introduction of characters old and new, and an interesting new storyline make me give this box set a well-deserved high score. Alright, Yamato, you can stop giving me that doom stare now!"


Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Review of the 2010 Japanese anime season

With the anime fall season almost at an end, so begins my review of this years offerings. As said this is my personal list and views; so please if you read this talk about your favourite of the season or discuss my views, use that comment box at the bottom.

I can say that this is my proper look at how the Japan anime schedule works and I have a bigger perspective on new anime series. I'm that kind of person that will watch anything recommended to me, whether it starts really cliche or starts very uninteresting; I'm that kind of guy.

When I recapped through all the four season sheets, I found out that its been very up and down season however I can safely say that there have been some stand out series from all of them. Here is my brief overview:

Winter 2009/2010 - Biggest and critical acclaim from this season is from Brain Base's Durarara!! which volume one has recently come out in the UK thanks to BEEZ entertainment, sadly by my own fault, I've only watched the first episode but there was something special when watching through it, maybe it was the Horo (Spice and Wolf) cardboard cut-out ^_^

Other highly reguarded series that I haven't watched (and need to) are Dance In The Vampire Bund and Katanagatari.

Series I watched: I was very interested in Sora no Woto when I read the description, although the series looks incredibly moe, it descibes a story of an on-going war that is currently on cease fire and I was hoping for some kind of teenage warfare survival story that would give me lots of shocks and with a war looking like World War 2; I had to give it a go. In the end however I was a little disappointed, its a series that is greatly light-hearted through-out most of the episodes and by the end of it, it succeeded in what it wanted to do.

Another I watched this early season was Baka To Test To Shoukanjuu which I didn't take seriously for starters but ended up being too silly for my liking and thus ending up very mediocre, I didn't really laugh, didn't like some of the personalities and too many characters however there was enough charm to give it an above average rating.

Spring 2010 - I feel bad for not getting a chance to watch some of these series from the Spring season, for example i'm a big fan of Natsume Ono and I feel awful when I say I haven't watched House Of Five Leaves neither have I watched the winner of the 14th Japan Media Arts anime series The Tatami Galaxy, although lucky for for us that both are licensed and are on the way for a UK DVD release thanks to BEEZ again (thanks guys!!), others like Working! are on my list to watch at the moment. I have also rated some of these series very highly but there is one, in particular that I have alot to talk about.

Series I watched: K-ON!! (Season 2) has me switching my views to whether its a genius series or a train wreck of averageness. My positives for the series are the main five characters, there friendship and characteristics are what makes K-ON!! so special to alot of people and I have to agree, the animation is also very high-class, everything looks so natural. Lastly memorable moments like episode 12 & 20 are well developed and makes it one of the stand out moments of the series.
I didn't like all of it though for reasons, I refused when I found out how long it would go on for, the 26 episodes hold some boring and unimaginative ideas, I found myself skipping through some of it, the Openings and Closings are really embarrassing to listen and watch for all the wrong reasons, its very in-your-face when watching it and the music is a J-Pop mess, I could say that the Openings and Closings are equivalent to We Are The Physics just bad. Last thing I will say is that I felt it was more like a cash-in than a proper sequel but its merits were enough to give it a decent score but not a place on my Top 5. Hopefully the movie will shut me up and prove me wrong but it will be unlikely.

Other series I watched at this part of the season is Kaichou Wa Maid-Sama which was a very typical romantic comedy that has some interesting premises and characters but I found it very forgetable, I think I would blame the constant aggressive attitude of Misaki Ayuzawa to the male students through-out the series, although she has a reason, it didn't have to happen every single episode.

Summer 2010 - I seem to have left Shiki since the first episode and I would call this the stand out series for this part of the season for all the talk about it and for good reason, the start of it was very intriguing and mysterious and I will look forward to watch it again.
I did watch the first of this season a few months ago but i have not had the guts to begin Strike Witches 2, probably because i'm going to expect the same kind of thing.

Series I watched: One series that has almost come to an end this week is Amagami SS, its a 24 episode series that splits them up into six arcs for different girls. So basically you get a male lead that dates every girl throughout the series. A very good idea but it suffers from brief character development and rushed endings but its enjoyable in its own right.

Another series that took my attention is Ookamisan and her Seven Companions, a series that struggled on what it wanted to be at the start it felt like it was turning out to be a rom-com but as the series progressed; more drama was added to the plot. Again it was one of those series that was fun but only came off decent.

However this part of the season put out a really awful series by the name of Seitokai Yakuindomo which for a 4-koma adaptation is pretty bad and I have my reasons, the structure for every three minutes endedup being a sexual innuendo and because of this I felt the female case was very unlikable. I will be very disappionted if this series gets sequel because in my view, I don't want another 13 (even worse 26) episodes like that.

Fall 2010 - Last but not least this part of the season has been certainly entertaining this last few weeks, its probably been my most watched of the previous seasons. Again these series I'll need to catch up on are To Aru Majutsu No Index season 2 (I've almost finished Railgun so I'll be on that soon), Bakuman which I preferred to stick with reading the manga for this and the stand-out series Star Driver which got me intrigued again when UK anime reviewer MasakoX gave the first episode a perfect score. (MasakoX's other reviews can be found here)

Series I watched: First up is *deep breath* Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai, which I actually prefer to fan favourite "Lucky Star", it has all that obsessiveness from an otaku and the corporate views on how anime series work, that's why I like it and make the series more dramatic as episodes go on.

When I started Fortune Arterial I found it to be another cliche rom-com drama with the tag "Vampire" hidden somewhere and it did look like that half way through the season but the series has started to open up a bit and raises tension towards the main characters of the series and looks to be a really exciting ending, I just hope its not spoiled.

My views on Gainax's Panty And Stocking With Garterbelt have been very positive, again it was one of those series that started of slow but as the references to Worldwide pop culture and American cartoon parodies started to rush in it blew me away. The creators from various tweets enjoyed making it and I can't blame them.

Shinryaku! Ika Musume (otherwise known as Squid Girl) has been my recent catch-up on my list and Squid Girl as a foreign entity has been very comical when she interacts with the human cast. A hit-and-miss show but i have enjoyed it.

I will do my Top five list soon, they have so far not been mentioned in my review, so look out for that soon!

Friday, 3 December 2010

My Top 5 albums of 2010

Its been another great year in music and I seem to find myself further away from most mainstream acts. There have been many impressive albums, some disappointments and ones I still need to hear from 2010 but overall, I'm now happy to reveal my albums of the year, before this however I have to go through my honorable mentions.

First I would like to talk about Interpol's self titled album and while I enjoyed most of it, it didn't have that staying power that I hoped it would, it was the same feeling I had with Muse - The Resistance album which I only gave it around ten listens before I dropped it, I could blame the hype for my disappointment however songs like "Try It On" and "Barricade" still impressed me to give it a good score.

Foals - Total Life Forever is a slowly growing on me now that most of the singles are released, I urge you to check out the Blue Blood video, which gives the song more beauty and drama! It might be too mellow for my liking but for a great second album, hopefully the third will be amazing!

I can carry on mentioning albums like Titus Andronicus - The Monitor's powerful Civil War concept or the loud Sleigh Bell - Treats album even Gorillaz - Plastic Beach, but these five albums were the most memorable and worthy of my top five, lets get started:

5. The National - High Violet

It's an album that just a bit too dreary when i first listened to it still, I can't take it away from the mass amount of critical reception it has been received, "Bloodbuzz Ohio" is easily one of the best songs of 2010 with the amount passion that went to it, plus favourites of mine "England" and "Lemon World" are joys to listen to.

I could easily reference Joy Division and Interpol to this album but the production is so amazing that I had to buy there previous album "Boxer" and check out there back catalogue. Its again another band that I had no idea existed and just blew me away once I started my multiple listens to it.

I definitely recommend it!

4. Janelle Monae - The Archandroid (Suites II and III)

Its rare that an album can change my perception of a music , R'n'B is one of my worst genre of music tastes, basically because I find it uninteresting and overrated by terrible repetitive US artists but in 2010 someone finally changed my views.

Early this year I watched a youtube video from US late night TV host David Letterman, Janelle Monae performed her first single Tightrope for the first time to television audiences and I was seriously in awe on how fantastic she performed it and not mention her incredible voice, I had no choice but to check the album.

Strange thing i found about The Archandroid is that its not only a R'n'B, its a mixture of genres like Rock, Electronic, Classical etc, and this was throughout the album; it is an album full of ambition that drives it drives it to greatness, tracks like "Cold War" and "Wondarland" gives the album some variation and compared to most critics I actually love "Make the Bus" feat. Of Montreal, maybe because I'm a fan of the band and it also gives the album i bit of unpredictability.

Its an album I recommend everyone get and you will at least find a song that you will really like!

3. The Radio Dept. - Clinging To A Scheme

"People see rock and roll
as, as youth culture, and when youth culture becomes monopolised by big business, what are the youth to do? Do you, do you have any idea?
I think we should destroy the bogus capitalist process that is destroying youth culture." -
Quote from Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth) on Heaven's On Fire.

This album took my interest when The Internet's Busiest Music Nerd, Anthony Fantano (his video reviews can be found at gave the album a reasonable high score and so I began streaming through the LP.

I'm a big fan of indie music for these past years and this album fits like a glove for me "The Video Dept." is one of my favourite songs of the year because its catchy and fun tune I can enjoy, same goes for songs like "David" and "This Time Around".

I've also danced to this album numerous of times and I haven't done that since my last album of the year 'Marmaduke Duke's - Duke Pandemonium' and because of that I've given it the 3rd place spot

2. These New Puritans - Hidden

Ever since my review back in March (review here), this album still impresses me from this day, its still feels like the war is never ending for me and its such a great feeling that Hidden continues to give me so much excitement.

Some people may hate NME for picking it for number 1 album of the year and call the album over-rated but I think there missing how unique this album is, whether they have or haven't listen to it.

The flow of the album is excellent, the drums are well executed, there are so much instrument variation, long songs like "We Want War" aren't boring and there isn't an album like it. Sure the album isn't for everyone but These New Puritans have created something epic and memorable in my option however another album managed to get the top spot.

1. Owen Pallett - Heartland

Its quite incredible that Heartland came out the exact same day as my birthday (seriously Heartland came out on January 11th 2010 in the UK) but its not the reason I'm giving it the top award!

If you look back at my blog a day after the release of Heartland (here) I mentioned it to be one of the albums I was looking forward to this year, when I got a chance to stream the album I didn't know what to think of it. When I purchased the album and put the lyrics on my Ipod, I started to listen through Owen's song structure and lyrics, I found out that it was a story about a farmer called Lewis on how he is a brutal man that's trying to escape Owen; as the author of his fate (That's how I think the story goes).

Not only did the lyrics start to grip me, the music is simply gorgeous with songs "Lewis Takes His Shirt Off" where the drums sound like a horse is galloping or violent sounds of "Lewis Takes Action" hitting the fictional character "No-Face". All these songs give Heartland lots of personality and not to forget Pallett's beautiful instrumentation throughout the tracks, that's why I love his music.

I have no doubt in my mind to award Owen Pallett my best album of 2010!

As for 2011 albums I really haven't thought about any, but I'm sure that it will be another exciting year in music.