All posts by Ray

I'm a hardcore Anime Fan and I'm proud of it. I know so many things and I've acquired so much knowledge you wouldn't believe. But my love is anime. I've been drifting in this world for so long that I don't even know what an anchor means. I've seen so many shows that I've lost count. The only thing I'm sure of myself is that I care for the lowly and disenfranchised. I hate the rich and powerful and I love what I do, or what I can do. I like anime and I don't mind watching different types of shows. I have experience in different types of Japanese animation. I would be called an "expert" in a bizzaro world. One day, I'd like to start a revolution. I love the US, pizza, beer, sashimi, Chinese food, and steak. But I love freshly baked bread more than a well-aged steak. In reality, if I were born Japanese I'd be a real, hardcore Otaku. I love to love and I can hate strongly. I'm passionate in nature and I don't mind shedding tears. I can be reached at rayyhum777 at animediet. My Twitter is rayyhum777 at twitter.
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Audio Review: Atelier Escha & Logy ~Alchemists of the Dusk Sky~ (PS3)

Atelier Escha & Logy_Final Box Art

Atelier: Escha & Logy ~Alchemists of the Dusk Sky~ was recently released in English by Tecmo Koei Games for the Playstation 3. Ray played through more than 60 hours of this Japanese RPG, and Mike sat down with him to talk about what he thought of the game. Is it enough to just create items, be kawaii, or is something more exciting and consequential necessary to keep up the player’s interest? Find out what Ray liked and didn’t like so much in this audio review!

Here are some screenshots and artwork from the game, which is available at most major outlets, including Amazon. (Full disclosure: we do get a little bit back if you buy it through this link. Support the site!)

My Mental Choices are Completely Interfering with My Critic Skills

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Choose!

  1. Article is a tearful piece of boredom.
  2. Article is a hysterical waste of laughter

Sometimes life is stranger than fiction.

I woke up this morning around 10:00 AM, realizing that I’m three things: NEET, hikkikomori, and a woman-bane. As I remembered the last episode of My Mental Choices are Affecting My School (read: Love) Life, and feeling a powerful urge to laugh hysterically, a voice suddenly came to my head:

“Choose!”

Oh no, I thought, what the hell?

The voice continues. “Choose!

  1. Wear your pants on your head and dance in your underwear on the beach,
  2. or wear your underpants on your head and dance naked!”

I quickly reminded myself that while I liked the show a lot and it really puts a quirky spin on the dating sim scenario, it’s not reality. After all, how is reality connected to a show that talks about a bunch of choices you make as you go through life?

Hmm? Was the show that deep?

All of a sudden, I got a big headache. It was as if my head is splitting apart. A sudden fear seized me as I realized what the hell was going on.

Needless to say, I totally regretted the choice I made after finding myself in the local police station, after being reported for inappropriate behavior in public (OK, don’t quote me or legally analyze this).

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My Mental Choices is a weird show. You won’t find any solid substance at its root that may give you the sincere urge to come to tears and get your soul rocked like H2O, and you’re unlikely to feel a sense of overwhelming joy like you would in Porco Rosso. Though I did cry tears of laughter and laughed with sympathy as I watched Kanade (the main male) be the sole comic relief in absurd and absolutely contrived situations, involving his harem of Chocolat, Yuoji Ouka, and Yukihira. (It’s easier to remember names for me when the show is downright weird and not serious.) I found his situations to be very funny.

There are no deep characters here, save Yukihira, who has a deep complex on having small breasts and is unable to show her shy self. She often talks with a sarcastic voice joking about boobs, while calling Kanade massive number of names involving bugs, pigs, and other female favorite nicknames for men. The writers came up with some inventive ones, for sure.

As for the others, Yuoji Ouka is very cute, funny, and pretends that she doesn’t care much for sexual innuendos, until harem/ecchi accidents happen. Like her forerunners of the harem genre, she is forced to examine her feelings about actually being proverbially naked in front of her favorite guy. Chocolat is another annoying character with an annoyingly big appetite, but is nowhere as competent as other big-appetite type characters. She’s the fanservice character of gluttony, “hiding” a serious side. I feel that all three cute girls are basically hiding their true personalities in this freakish universe to avoid really confronting their feelings toward Kanade and other people.

If you want to read that far into the characters (lol).

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In the end, if you’re passing by, and not offended or bored to tears, then have a seat and enjoy the spectacle. Kanade is like Jim Carrey in 2D without the comedic talent, but is forced to make embarrassments funny for the sake of the Otaku audience, and gets himself a harem despite the creepy choices he has to make. And because I like Ace Ventura, I like this show as well.

Just not for a second watch or a serious purchase. I watched it on Crunchyroll.

B- for comic value, C for everything else. PG – 13 if you have pretty understanding parents. (And B for the design of the girls).

12 Days of Christmas: Love Lab and Soul Sistaas

Not sure if many people actually watched Love Lab, which I feel is one of the funniest anime comedies this season, if only for the timing, the silliness, and the batsu (punishment) game like effect where one is placed in an environment and is on the verge of falling off the edge of laughter–when something outrageous happens right at you, and you’re “punished” for laughing.

In this fine episode, protagonist Kurahashi Riko comes to the student council’s office with the usual stuff on her mind. This is after the Love Lab group read about how having a darker skin complexion gave someone relationship trouble. Now, silly jokes that take race light-heartedly and being totally silly but not mean is fine with me.

In any event, I didn’t expect what happens next. The show seems all normal at first. Then Riko opens the door, and finds a verydifferent Maki outside. I’ll let the picture do the talking.

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This screen shot doesn’t do justice to the whole scene. There’s no way to convey the random, batsu game like funniness without actually watching this episode yourself, or watching the entire show up to this point.

So there you go. I recommend a slightly patient watch, but once the single gals get together and daydream about love, there’s not stopping the laughter!

Genshiken, Then and Now: A Reflection

 

Ogiue isn't happy here. Should you at the new Genshiken?
Ohno isn’t happy. Should you be at the new season?

When I first laid eyes on the first Genshiken, I was in Japan teaching English. More precisely, I was on break and I was in a random anime shop in Hiroshima City.

The moment I saw the clips of the new show playing on a TV screen in the store, I felt that it was a show that I must watch.

Back then, I understood little to no Japanese. No joke; I couldn’t tell what the guys and gals at Genshiken were saying. However, there was a spiritual connection that I couldn’t explain and still can’t explain today. It was like destiny.

I knew, I just knew: THIS WAS ABOUT US!

The realization struck me like a tidal wave. At the time, I was an American in Japan, having freshly acquired anime culture, but still an Akiba virgin. I went on traveling to Tokyo and to the sacred place later (sadly, the place is no longer sacred – ippanjin and AKB48 losers now roam freely in my spiritual home).

There was a beautiful innocence about Genshiken season 1, and somewhat about season two (that’s when it was no longer a pat on our backs) when I first watched them. I mean, one never forget his or her first time, right? It was like the first girl you’ve ever loved –she was pure, innocent; a gal next door or next to you in class or from the next class. Then you introduced your world to her, or she introduced her world to you. You were hooked on your first time experience for a while.

Then you met someone else; you moved on; you had new experiences.

Then some time later, you wake up in the middle of the night, or from your daydream, and you realized that it is no longer that touching or exciting or awesome anymore.

So now we come to Genshiken Nidaime—the second round/course/generation.

Just like before, it tries to laugh and poke fun at otaku culture and references. However, many shows have done that since the days of the first Genshiken.

It remains a slice of otaku life show, true to its roots. And it’s still fun. I mean, I had 3 batsu game moments when it referred to one of the newer shows that has a new season out now.

But wait, the first thing that I noticed was that all the original voice actors were gone. The fun and the impressions that came from the popular seiyuu from that era disappeared, and I was listening to the new cast. It was like a painful reminder that we didn’t live in that era anymore.

That didn’t please me very much. Strike one.

 

Wait is this Genshiken or FREE?
Wait is this Genshiken or Free?

Next, because the guys from the original Genshiken graduated or weren’t around much anymore, I was feeling a little alienated. The club essentially became a fujoshi fan club. I mean, the show is still funny, but the change turns me off. Strike two.

Last, I really dislike Hideyoshi type of girlish dudes (hate me all you want), and we have one here. He/she is voiced by a seiyuu that I don’t recognize. Strike three.

I’ll be honest, as a fan of the original, I’m actually biased in favor of this series. I will continue watching it to get a sense of continuing nostalgia. However, as a critic, I’m looking at an idea that other shows have already executed countless times since the heyday of Otakudom and the old Genshiken, and that’s not good enough.

I’m in severe doubt that the new gen can carry the torch, when the torch was passed on to others long ago. It is 2013 and not 2004, 2005, or 2006.

Rest in peace, my innocent days as a fresh Otaku in the height of Otakudom. Now I live on as a hardened, cynical veteran zombie of anime fandom.

Rest in peace.

Spring 2013 Anime Audio Overview!

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Warning: Spoilers abound! 

It’s time for our semi-regular tradition of Ray and gendomike talking about the current season! This time, instead of a preview, this is an overview of what’s already airing for the past few weeks—in other words, our opinions are actually based on something other than pure speculation :) We used the AniChart as our guide, going day by day through the following shows, accompanied by links to their legal US streams as well as any articles written about them already:

Yes, there are some notable omissions, such as Shingeki no KyoujinRailgun S2, and others. We can’t watch everything you know. :) It’s a raw, unfiltered recording, so get ready for some true blue fan talk.

Enjoy! Leave us any comments in the section below.

Psycho Pass – an emotional and joyful moment for Cyberpunk fans…Eh?

I wrote about my thoughts on Cyberpunk in a paper back in 2007! http://animediet.net/wp-content/uploads/2007/08/cyberpunk-anime.doc , and I must say, I’ve become much dumber and can’t carry on an intelligent conversation like that. In addition, the entire article or parts of it = tl;dr. But after years of yearning, I can’t believe (Hallelujah), they finally made another hard core Cyberpunk anime…

Continue reading

Fall 2012 Anime Audio Preview

Ray and gendomike do their now traditional audio season preview of the just-launched Fall 2012 anime season! (Chart downloadable here.) We seemed to talk a lot about the concept of chuunibyou—something which is prevalent in more than just the show that has that word in the title. There’s some fascinating sci-fi shows coming in the mix like Robotics;NotesPsychopass, and the now airing Shin Seikai Yori. There’s the upcoming Key/Jun Maeda + JC Staff possible trainwreck Little Busters, romance shows like Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun (which we thought had a hilarious trailer). The obligatory little sister show.

And, f0r some reason, Gangnam Style. Yes, we too can be trendy and with it. And so can Master Roshi.

(HT: thegirlwhotraveledintime.)

Audio Face Off: Tari Tari

We didn’t think it would end up being as good as it was! Ray and gendomike sound off in another audio Face Off about one of summer 2012′s sleeper hits, Tari Tari. We talk about how it beat our low expectations of the genre and its initial first impressions, where it turned around, and why it succeeds as a feel good show. And Sawa. Oh, yes, Sawa.

As a gift to you, here is a GIF that you may enjoy which encapsulates the virtues of this series.

(HT: notsuki. There really is an awful lot of this…)

Audio Face Off – Humanity Has Declined (Jinrui wa Suitaishimashita)

In our second Audio Face Off (see our previous one on Kokoro Connect), Ray and I talk about the merits and the limits of this season’s original satirical series, Humanity Has Declined (Jinrui wa Suitaishimashita, or Jintai for short). We go through the major plot arcs, what the fairies and other bits symbolize, and whether there is any ultimate value to cynicism without solution in this series. The discussion gets a bit heated sometimes so enjoy!

Audio Face Off: The Problems and Promise of Kokoro Connect

Ray and I are back in our first entry in the Face Off series in years…and this time we’re talking about one of the most talked about shows this season, the high school body swapping drama Kokoro Connect. The strengths and the weaknesses of the show are well-known by now—the great acting, the questionable resolution of girls’ problems, among other things—and Ray and I cover a lot of that ground, and more. We especially discuss the impact of the 5th episode, which contained many shocking events and threw into question some of the assumptions we’ve made about the characters—especially “selfless freak” Taichi.

For the time being it’s going to be audio-only, but I’m going to try to see if I can do an auto-transcript with the new transcription abilities on my computer and tablet sometime later. In the meantime—enjoy!

What if I had never gotten into anime?

Have you ever wondered where you’d have gone if you hadn’t become an anime fan?

I’ve always wondered if I hadn’t gotten into anime, what would’ve happened to me?

If you had met me back then, you would’ve met a very different person.

The year was 1995, when I graduated high school, the best year of my teenage days. I went to the prom with a pretty good looking gal, hung out with friends in a limo, ate at an expensive French restaurant (aren’t they all), and then went on a nice retreat the next day.

I was a high school senior: a veteran of the war of adolescence, battling shyness, struggling with my feelings for the opposite sex, avoiding  bullies, shutting myself off some times, and dying to be a club maniac at other times. You know, the usual stuff that almost all adults go through in their younger days.

I remember right after graduation, after we tossed our hats in the air, and I was on my way home with my parents, on our way to a Chinese restaurant for celebration. I knew exactly what I wanted to listen to on our way; I inserted the cassette tape (wow, did these even exist) of Top Gun’s soundtrack; I had already fast-forwarded it to the Top Gun Anthem. I felt like I was going to soar into the sky.

Somewhere in the sky, my dream, whatever it was, was waiting for me. I was flying somewhere, or so I believed.

I was not outgoing, but I was not reclusive. I knew how to be, for a lack of better word, ippanjin (can be translated as normal crowd, perhaps). I was pretty positive about life because I had became a Christian one year earlier, and I had gone to Life ’95, a huge Christian party, in Orlando, Florida. Filled with positivity, I knew how to tell a good story—my favorite was the one about how my prom looked disastrous but worked out well in the end, and I attributed its success to God’s blessings.

I simply believed then.

Fast-forward (3x the normal speed), and here I am, in 2012. I’m rather cynical about life, less hopeful, have weak faith, don’t know how to act like an ippanjin, am an otaku, and watch anime as my primary means of entertainment.

I’ve gone through years of alcohol addiction; I wasted my college years drowning in booze, porn, and a lot of 90’s anime. I was once wealthy, but now technically in the category of being poor (but far from it in reality). I’m no longer simply trusting.

All this time, two things have always accompanied me, and they have almost never been at odds with each other, oddly enough. These things are anime and God.

I’ve always wondered why God allows me to watch anime, and he doesn’t tell me to get off of it. After all, anime has very little or nothing to do with Christianity, or at least I still believe that today. People would probably tell me Eva this, Alucard that, Trigun this, or whatever.

Once again, oddly enough, I’ve learned a lot of Christian lessons through different moments in different anime. Some of these anime were funny, but most were serious (without taking themselves too seriously, thank God), and almost none of them said a direct word about God, Jesus, or Christianity. Actually, most of them had nothing to do with religion. They were simply great works of animation. Great stories.

I’ve always wondered about that. Why is it that there are Christian anime watchers, and even Christian otakus (is that an oxymoron?). Recently, I even met a woman (no, we’re not dating, just working on a project together) who shares a very similar background in that she grew up in Taiwan, went to the US to study for college and graduate school, and watches anime as entertainment.

I wonder if it will take a lifetime to discover why.

Or is the question “why” even relevant at this point in my life, with our (Mike, Jeremy, me, Linda, MLM, Dan, and a group of awesome folks) site, Anime Diet, being a major indie press in the US and our Facebook page having close to 8,700 likes.

I am wondering exactly this: if I were to meet the me that just graduated from high school, toe to toe, in the middle of Rockville, Maryland, what would I say to him?

I take all that in with another gulp of beer, and I’ll leave you with that and bid you good night

or good day.