I couldn’t let AniMAY 2014 pass by without at least one review of a horror anime. Shiki is a doozy. It’s like a mash-up between Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Twin Peaks.
A town is dealing with an inexplicable run of deaths. Natsuno, our hero, is fascinated by death but won’t be of much use in the story for quite some time. Things turn strange when a high school girl, Megumi, is found in a catatonic state brought on by anemia and dies later that night. Her parents refuse an autopsy so that her suffering isn’t extended even though the only thing wrong with the body is a few bug bite wounds. At the same time, a new family, the Kirishikis, move into a long-abandoned Western-style mansion in the middle of the night and are never seen around town. Megumi was on her way to visit them when she fell because of the anemia.
The new Sailor Moon series will premiere worldwide in July. You already know that.
Did you know that Hulu finally started putting up the original run of Sailor Moon, unedited and with accurate subtitles? That’s pretty remarkable. I’ve watched the available episodes so far and they feel right.
See, Sailor Moon isn’t just a silly series for kids. There is a good bit of depth there. It does go to dark places. The characters aren’t perfect and the ever-expanding web of players adds some intrigue.
Kaito Daimon is a master puzzle solver. With a little help from his best friend Nonoha, he solves a massive labyrinth designed to kill anyone who doesn’t solve it correctly. The prize is a magical armband that enhances his puzzle solving ability. It also sends him into a world of deadly puzzles being thrown at a small group of students at his school. These four students have the potential to solve the Puzzle of God, unlocking all the secrets of the universe.
Phi Brain: Puzzle of God is simultaneously strange and familiar. It has the same kind of dramatic structure as many other competition as storyline series (Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Digimon, etc.), yet there actually are deadly stakes to the story. There are random characters who only appear for one episode, but the core cast is developed beyond the young male lead. Each of these core characters is strong in their own way, but not held so high up that they can never be used for humor.
One of the best things about the Japanese animation and comic industries is the diversification of content. Since neither form of cartoons are viewed as just children’s entertainment, the big companies put out content for all ages and interests.
Manga is the key source of this diversity of content. You really can find a manga for any subject and interest. Need to study for exams? There’s a manga on that subject. Want to read about people cooking? It’s an entire genre of manga. Card games? Monster battles? Boy on boy romance? They all exist and so much more.
Anime is a bit trickier. Continue reading
Yuki, a middle school student obsessed with observing the world through his cellphone diary, is thrust into a paranormal game with deadly consequences. Twelve people from all over Japan have received special phone diaries allowing them to see into the future. The last surviving user will become the new God of the world, able to create their own games if they choose. By chance, a girl in Yuki’s class, Yuno, also receives a diary, and together they can keep themselves safe. Yuki’s diary tells the future about the world around him and Yuno’s tells the future about Yuki.
The first thing you will notice about Future Diary is the style. It’s a beautifully animated series. The colors aren’t quite like anything else you’ll see in animation, either. Unlike a traditional anime/manga technique of establishing power and psychological state through exaggerated body proportions and camera angles, Future Diary establishes tone and character relationships with color palettes.
In an unidentified future, there sits an elite academy on top of a city. Student council president Satsuki Kiryuin holds power over the school, establishing an elaborate militaristic caste system defining every student’s role. Level 2 and higher students receive technologically advanced uniforms that transform into battle-ready suits tailored to their individual skills. Students become super soldiers inspired by music, tennis, and even juggling. A new student, Ryuko Matoi, arrives on campus to avenge the death of her father, the inventor of the fabric used for the super suits.
Kill la Kill is a low budget anime series written directly for television. The lower budget and shorter production schedule give it a nostalgic animation style that makes the satire hit even harder.
Raishin is the only Japanese student at a magical combat academy in England. The students are highly trained puppeteers, controlling advanced automaton puppets imbued with magical energy in battle. Each year, a 100 night festival is held to determine who will be The Wiseman. The Wiseman no longer needs to abide by any rules of magic. Ideally, they use this to experiment and advance the art and science of magical combat.
Raishin uses his puppet Yaya as a potential tool for revenge. His entire family was slaughtered by the young man who is now the top student at the Academy and Raishin will battle for 99 nights straight if he has to in order to avenge his clan.
Unbreakable Machine-Doll has all the makings of a solid Shonen series–anime and manga targeted at boys ages 10-17. The structure of the story is excellent. The series, only twelve episodes long, is broken up into three story arcs. Each arc focuses on a longer mystery for Raishin to solve with Yaya.
Ah, my new favorite time of the year. Welcome to the AniMAY 2014 celebration at Sketchy Details. Each May, we’re going to focus in on the wonderful world of Japanese animation and comics, called anime and manga, with new posts every day. I’m even going to try to fit some of the video programming into AniMAY this year.
With the increased emphasis on simultaneous streaming releases around the world and the growth of online streaming, it’s easier than ever to get into anime and manga. Those industries are predicated on providing content for every demographic, from young child to full grown adult. Japan does not view comics and animation as children’s stuff. Many anime programs debut each year and manga shops and newsstands cater to all ages.
So pull up a chair and get ready to explore films, television, and print media from Japan throughout the month.
Click through for all AniMAY 2014 posts.