Category Archives: Editorial

A Snarky Retrospective on 4Kids

One thing people have been wanting me to do for a while is take the piss out of 4kids Entertainment. Which I haven’t done because I’ve already had my one review ever that will look at a dub. Besides, they’ve filed for bankruptcy at least twice and is it really the best idea to kick a company while it’s down, especially when it’s such an easy target? Honestly, they’ve had the piss taken out of them by everyone and their eighty year old great grandmum. Still, the answer I’ve come up with is that it may not be the best idea ever, but it should be hilarious. So, instead of looking at a 4kids dub, I’m going to castigate the company itself so heavily that even its subsidiaries go sterile, if it even has any. I’m also going to say outright that I won’t be looking at every bad decision they made to make themselves reviled. I’m pretty sure there is an upper word limit to these posts and I would hit it a hundred plus times if I went into every single thing. Plus I’d have to watch their dubs and I like my sanity and eardrums intact.

Let’s start with why everyone, and their pet dog, hates 4kids. To use a simple analogy, let’s think of an anime as an uncooked steak. The Japanese studio will season that steak with music and voice acting, possibly coming out with something really delicious. 4Kids will take that uncooked steak and they’ll cut out huge chunks of meat and fill the gaps with things that should never go in a steak like vinegar crisps, those jelly beans with weird flavours like lawn clippings or rotten eggs & actual faeces. Then they’ll season it with other things that should never be paired with steak like chocolate syrup, Velveeta & something that suspiciously has the texture, flavour and consistency of semen. Now, I’m not saying that 4Kids is actually feeding semen to children. I’m not the health inspector who goes to their board room and sees their executives gathered around the series with their trousers down and making suspicious grunting sounds. That got way more graphic than I’d originally intended, but I’m keeping it as is because I amused myself. The point I’m getting to is that that is a completely unpalatable steak at the point where these incompetent wankers have gotten done with it.

There seem to be two main motivating factors behind the things they change. The first as that they don’t want to seem like nerds who watch Japanese media, presumably because they think the athletes will take their lunch money, so they pretend that everything is ‘merican. So, when a character is eating a rice ball, they call it a doughnut. True fact, American children can’t eat rice balls. The climate causes the rice to expand in their stomachs and then they explode. So, they pretend the rice balls are doughnuts because that’s more ‘merican. Other completely true and not made up statement, in America doughnuts are designed to look like rice balls. Possibly so that American children don’t feel bad about not getting to eat delicious rice balls. They also change character names, but not all of them. Anzu becomes a refreshing beverage that pairs well with biscuits. Satoshi becomes volcanic debris and so on. They’re really inconsistent about it, though. A character like Pegasus Crawford becomes Maximilian Pegasus, because Crawford was the strange part of that name, clearly. And a name like Honda is deemed too foreign but Bakura is a completely normal ‘merican name. That’s why they never pronounce it properly. Seriously, they pronounce it “Ba-kor-a” when it should be more like “Ba-ku-ra.” How hard do you have to fail to get a fecking phonetic pronunciation right? I guess phonetic pronunciations are one of 4Kids’ many weaknesses. They’ll also change lettering and just pretend that everything is set in America because Japanese & American cultures are completely interchangeable and this will surely lead to nothing being out of place. Some dumbass 4kids executive actually thought that. I sincerely hope they got sacked without any sort of severance pay.

The other big motivating factor seems to be an over-reactionary attitude towards anything that someone somewhere might construe as being not child friendly. The weird part is that most of the content that they turn to absolute shite in their quest to not offend anyone is stuff that’s pretty old hat for American cartoons.

Take mentions of death and dying as an example. 4Kids absolutely refuses to mention the forbidden “d” word. Even though cartoons like Beast Wars have shown characters get killed in battle. For fuck’s sake, the 90s Spider-man cartoon showed Uncle Ben’s death, not graphically but we’re comparing a scene that very much gets the point across to mere mentions of the word. For that matter, how many of Disney’s children’s films have included death & dying at some point, besides the obvious most of them? Why the fuck would it be okay for these older cartoons to show death but not for these 4kids dubs to mention the bloody word? I would say their execs had their intelligence “sent to the Shadow Realm” where it got decapitated by a scythe wielding maniac and cannibalised by grotesque ghouls with rotting flesh, but that would imply that they, at some point, had something worth calling intelligence and I wouldn’t want to over-estimate them.

Then we’ve got guns. In all fairness, American cartoons are kind of weird when it comes to guns in general, especially when you consider how much America, as a nation, loves guns. I’ve seen plenty of guns in cartoons, but they always have to fire laser beams for some reason. Because guns are okay when they fire lethal lasers, it’s like laser tag crossed with Battle Royale. So, you’d think this would be an easy fix. Just establish that your guns fire laser beams. You’d have to make some slight changes whenever anyone actually fires but it would be better than just erasing them, yeah? Nope. 4Kids is made up of fucking morons. So, they just take the guns out. Which leaves you with awkward shots of thugs threatening someone by pointing at them as if they were holding a gun. Because that posing still works when they aren’t holding anything, according to some fuck nugget at 4kids. And I know I’m using more expletives here than I normally would. I apologise if that comes across as ineloquent or even crass. But discussing a censorship heavy company kind of make me want to use profanity. I just imagine some fuckwit with the mentality of an executive at that company having an aneurysm over the word choice and then trying to censor the whole diatribe to be child friendly. Although I’m sure most of them don’t actually care. I’m sure most of them use profanity in their everyday lives & watch excessive pornography, because it’s hard to have a sex life when the person you’re trying to get involved with knows you used to work for 4Kids. It’s still an amusing mental image.

Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cock sucker, mother fucker, tits, fart, turd & twat.

There’s also a Pokemon episode that 4kids “needed” to remove because it featured a character comically cross-dressing with fake breasts. You couldn’t possibly show that to children. You know, unless you’re Warner Brothers making a Bugs Bunny cartoon in the 1940s. Wait, they could show that in the fucking 1940s but you, 4kids, don’t have the ovarian fortitude to show the same type of thing five decades later? Five Jesus fucking Christ with a big floppy dildo decades? You’re a bunch of right weak-willed bastards, aren’t you?

They even shy away from mentioning that a character needs to pee. I’m not even kidding. There’s a scene in Duel Monsters where Anzu is fretful after sneaking aboard a ship with Honda because she has to pee. He suggests that she just go over the side of the ship and she gets mad at him for being a dumbass because she’s a girl and can’t just go over the damn side, Honda. 4Kids, being the worst, changes this so that she never mentions needing to use the bathroom and he just has a nonsensical line about the sun coming up soon. I’m pretty sure the Animaniacs had way more risky gags than that. In fact, I know damn well they did because I’ve seen the finger prints/conjugation scenes, but that series was also good and not handled by complete and utter toolboxes.

Then we have the acting. 4Kids is a company that had such horrendously awful voice work that even the people who watch and enjoy English dubs frequently refuse to have anything to do with the ones done by 4kids. Yeah, when I dislike an English dub that’s just a moment of “no surprise whatsoever” but when even the fans of English dubs think you fail, that’s when you’re the actual worst at voice work.

Ultimately, it’s not anything of a surprise that 4kids has gone bankrupt at least twice. They’re one of those companies that bitches, cries piracy and blames the consumer when they fail, but really they’re a licensing company that grossly mishandled their properties. They had a potential audience of children who saw what they put out as fun cartoons and adult anime fans. Then they quickly alienated those anime fans by doing a complete hack job (double meaning intended) with the properties. What they either didn’t know or didn’t care about is that anime fans in general, myself included, hate censorship. We don’t want the watered down, shit-filled versions of anime. We want the anime as intact as feasible. We aren’t going to open our wallets and spend our hard-earned money on a markedly inferior product. 4Kids can wail all they want about how pirates took their sales but the honest truth is that they told anime fans, in no uncertain terms, that they don’t want our money. They established that their audience wasn’t anime fans nor did they want it to be. Then they acted like they were absolutely shocked when anime fans everywhere said “fine, we won’t give our money to you but we will hold up our middle fingers for you to have a look at.”

Even if they did manage to resurface after their latest bankruptcy, they’d have to demonstrate that they’ve extracted the massive oaken saplings from their anuses and they’re ready to just let the properties be if they want any hope of courting that lost audience. Even then it would take a while of not fucking up since they’ve been known for their unmitigated douchebaggery for literal decades. Realistically, I don’t suspect we’ll see them back. Even if we do, I very much doubt they’ll have learned anything. At best they might make some minor concession like not calling rice balls doughnuts while continuing to do everything else wrong. So, I’ll conclude by saying that I hope you’ve enjoyed my little retrospective & fuck 4Kids and everything they stand for. Fuck them with something long, hard and with the consistency of sandpaper.

Oh, and don’t worry. There’ll still be a bonus review for this month. I haven’t decided what it’ll be yet, but I know it’s going to be horror related since it is October. This is just a little something extra for you enjoyment. Just because I  know several of you have been wanting to see me take some shots at these scrotum gobblers and it seemed like it would be amusing. It was, by the way. 

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What’s Really Costing Marvel Sales?

For those of you who aren’t aware, Marvel Comics recently came under fire when VP David Gabriel, made a statement about their sales slump being the result of having “too much diversity.” Because readers just don’t want to hear about women and people of colour. He has since retracted the statement due to the understandable backlash. 

So, what’s really to blame for the lack of sales? Well, as someone who used to buy Marvel comics , let me try and provide some insight into why they lost my money and, I’d wager, quite a few other people’s. 

1.) Consistent Editorially Mandated Events

Remember when company wide events were incredibly rare to the point where you might have one a decade? Remember when those events were basically relegated to their own mini-series and every comic wasn’t dedicated to tie in material? Well, I’m old so I do. I also miss those times. And that’s one of the big reasons I stopped buying Marvel comics. Writers are constantly having the story arcs they’re doing disrupted so that the comics they’re working on can tie into the latest House of M, World War Hulk, Civil War or whatever. You can’t just be a fan of the X-men and Spider-man or of the FF and Iron Man any more because you never know when those stories are going to be disrupted for actual months to tie into the latest event. Which probably makes it hard to find new readers too. How many people do you think want to read all the big books just to know what’s going on? But there’s something else that ties into this. 

2.) The Big Events Themselves

Honestly, I  was a fan of a lot of Marvel’s characters and titles. So, for me, the big events might not be a problem if they were well written. The problem is that, well, they aren’t. Most of them have heroes fighting one another instead of villains for stupid and contrived reasons. Most of them also feature a lot of wasteful character deaths, that may or may not last, for cheap shock value. It’s not even shocking at this point because they do it all the time. That’s not good writing and what it tells me, as a fan of a lot of these characters you’re killing, is that you don’t care about my ability to enjoy your comics. “You like Bill Foster? Well, too bad we’re going to kill him in an exceedingly disrespectful way.” Is it any surprise that I don’t want to give them my hard earned money to see that?

3.) Character Ruination Everywhere

Marvel doesn’t have to kill characters off to ruin the experience for readers. They can just make really stupid changes to them. Hello, Hydra Agent Steve Rogers. But it’s not just Cap losing all his nobility and dignity. It’s a pretty persistent issue. Jubilee was a cool character. Then she was a vampire and sucked, both literally and figuratively. Speedball was cool, then he went full emo- Penance mode and he’s been an awful character since. They tried to fix him, but the damage was done. Luke Cage was a cool character, but then they saddled him with Bendis’ Mary Sue and now he sucks. The Scarlet Witch was a cool character, but then they made her quasi-incestuous and mentally unstable. And those are just a few examples. There are many, many others who have been ruined by a combination of bad decisions and editorial interference. 

4.) The Handling of Legacy Heroes

In theory, legacy heroes are a great idea. Have the old hero step down, bring in a new, interesting one. The trouble is that Marvel’s been handling these heroes in a way that alienates the fan base for the previous hero. Gone are the days when Tony Stark stepped down to let James Rhodes take the Iron Man mantle due to some personal problems. These days, the old heroes die or turn evil, most of the time. Marvel, I know this is complicated but maybe the way to retain your fans is to treat your characters with respect? 

5.) There’s No  Reason to get Attached to the Heroes

This kind of connects a lot of the prior points. For me, as a comic fan, there’s no impetus to get attached to Marvel’s new characters. Because I know that there’s a good chance they’ll be killed off during a lousy event, get completely changed in a way that’s absolutely devastating to their character or turn evil for stupid reasons. If I get invested in that character, I’ll be setting myself up for disappointment later. And it’s, frankly, not worth my time. 

6.) The Writing Aesthetic

This is going to be the final point I bring up. Speaking personally, my favourite Super hero comics are from the Bronze Age. Back when they could incorporate serious themes, ongoing story lines and character development while also maintaining a lot of the fun, goofy elements. You got good stories that could balance serious themes with more light-hearted moments. A lot of modern Marvel comics, in contrast, are fixated on being dark and edgy. There’s a reason so many heroes die cheaply or turn evil. There’s a reason the good points of so many characters have been lost in a bid to make them darker. There may be an audience for that aesthetic, but I’m certainly not a part of it and it seems like I’m not the only one who feels that way.

So, those are the reasons that I turned away from Marvel. And they probably hold true for a lot of other people as well. So, David Gabriel, maybe instead of blaming the levels of diversity you should focus your efforts on helping the company “get good” as the Internet would say. 

Voice Actor Profile: Paku Romi

Let’s take a moment to talk about voice actors. I usually mention them when talking about the quality of the acting in a specific work, but I don’t really dedicate too much time to talking about them in general. So, I thought I’d try something a bit different and write up a short piece on a major anime voice actor. I thought that Hayashibara Megumi would be too obvious a choice for me to start with, so instead, let’s talk about Paku Romi.

Paku Romi is an interesting actress. A lot of people know her best from her roles as teenage boys and young men: Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist, Tao Ren in Shaman King, Ueki in The Law of Ueki, Syrup in Yes Precure 5 GoGo, Switzerland in Hetalia, Hitsugaya in Bleach & Turtle in Rainbow to name a few. It’s a role type she’s good at and she’s given us a lot of good performances, but some people forget that she’s also good at playing women too. Zoë in Shingeki no Kyojin, Angelina in Kuroshitsuji, Naoto in Persona, Falis in Murder Princess, Pharah in Overwatch & Teresa in Claymore to name some prominent examples. Her roles as teenage boys just tend to be in more well known anime.

Whatever type of role she’s in, she usually does a really good job. So, I’m going to list her top five performances in anime I’ve reviewed. But it’s me and I have to be a bit critical, so I’ll also list her weakest three performances in anime I’ve reviewed. This is subject to change since she’s been in a lot of series I haven’t seen and some I’ve seen but haven’t done proper reviews of. Let’s start with the negativity with the three weakest roles. Just to be clear, these are ranked by the performance and not the writing for the characters.

3. Kanan Gimmes: Brain Powerd
Don’t you just love anime where the actors only need to demonstrate a few emotions? That’s the trouble with Brain Powerd. They got good actors, like Paku Romi, and gave them nothing to work with. She doesn’t sound bad in this, you’d be hard pressed to find something where the direction is that bad. She just sounds like she doesn’t care.

2. Tsubasa Yuuki: Mawaru Penguindrum
The trouble with the acting here is that the series has extreme tonal issues and shifts from extremely over exaggerated lines to really downplayed ones. Paku Romi voices a minor character, a really hammy actress. So, her lines tend to be among the more exaggerated in the series. Which isn’t exactly conducive to a tolerable performance.

1. Ragyou Kiryuuin: Kill La Kill
Speaking of characters who suffer from exaggerated lines, we have the big bad of Kill La Kill, an anime that’s all bout the characters being absurdly over the top at all times. Which definitely makes for the worst acted role I’ve heard her in.

Now that we’ve been a bit negative, let’s look at her good roles. This one was tougher to decide, because I’ve reviewed very few anime where she had roles that were weak but I’ve looked at a lot where she was fantastic. So, let’s quickly go through my picks for her strongest roles from anime I’ve reviewed. To be clear again, these are ranked by the strength of the performance and not the character writing.

5. Tamayo Kataoka: Rideback
Rideback
was one of my early reviews In that series, Paku Romi voices a Rideback champion who starts out as a relatively friendly rival to the protagonist and becomes a sort of mentor to her. A lot of what makes Rideback work as a series is that the characters have verisimilitude, and that’s certainly aided by the acting.

4. Hange Zoë: Shingeki no Kyojin
Zoë is a scientist in an apocalyptic landscape. Her most memorable facet is her love of studying the titans, but there’s more to the character than that. She gets strongly emotional when it comes to her work, but she’s also clever and can present ideas in a very calm, collected way.

3. Edward Elric: Fullmetal Alchemist/ Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood
Edward is a really well acted character. Our auto-mail wielding protagonist has his serious moments, his comedic moments, traumatic moments, triumphant moments. Basically, he runs the full gamut of human emotion and it’s all portrayed really strongly by our lead actress.

2. Falis: Murder Princess
You wouldn’t expect much in terms of subtlety from a series called Murder Princess. However, it’s a series where you do get it. Paku Romi essentially voices two different characters in this. The princess who flees an invasion and the bounty hunter who switches bodies with her. She also has to convey the emerging romantic feelings between the two as they get to know one another without it coming across as narcissistic.

1. Noboru Maeda “Turtle”: Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin
There’s a lot of good acting in Rainbow. Paku Romi’s role is no different. This is a role where her character gets kicked around by life but still manages to maintain a lot of positivity. It’s a role that requires a lot of subtlety and a lot of care when breaching certain sensitive topics and she delivers brilliantly.

There’s my quick discussion of Paku Romi and some of her best and worst roles. I’ll do this again at some point with a different voice actor who I’ve encountered a lot. If you have some favourite roles of Paku Romi’s, feel free to leave a post about it.  

Captain America: Agent of Hydra?

I don’t normally talk about Western comics on here, but with the recent reveal that Steve Rogers aka Captain America aka the personification of truth, justice and all things paragon was revealed to be a long time double agent of the Nazi organisation, Hydra.

Naturally, fans were not happy and were quick to point out all the ways in which this is out of character, made no sense in continuity and was just an egregiously stupid decision on Marvel’s part. Which it is, certainly. However, it’s also not surprising from a meta perspective. 

This isn’t the first time Marvel has done their utmost to absolutely ruin one of their characters. Remember when Tony Stark was revealed to be a sleeper agent for Kang the Conqueror and he ended up getting replaced by his teenage self? Many comic fans remember it as the second worst thing to happen to his character after Civil War. How about when Spidey sold his marriage to the devil so that his old, sickly aunt could live for another week before natural causes caught up with her? (Yes, I know that Aunt May is still alive, I was being facetious.)

How about when Jubilee became a vampire? When Scarlet Witch had a breakdown and her power to affect probability somehow reconstructed the universe into one where Magneto rules and she had babies that were implied to also be her brother’s? When Magneto ceased being a complex character who did morally questionable things for the sake of safeguarding his people and became one-dimensionally evil for the evils? When Cyclops had sex on his wife’s gravestone? When Bishop saw the first signs of the future he was trying to prevent surface with a registration act and decided that it sounded like a good idea?

There are many, many other examples of horrendous characterisation. Some of which ultimately got retconned and some of which are, unfortunately, still part of the Marvel universe. Honestly, that whole pattern of shitty writing is a big part of the reason I stopped buying Marvel comics. Because they do this kind of thing all the time. 

So, why does it happen? Well, part of it is a way to regress characters in age. After all, these are characters who have existed in comics as adults since the 60s, 70s or 80s. If they aged up along with the times, they’d almost all be retiring to make room for new, younger heroes. 

Part of it is just that they don’t always hire the best writers and Joe Quesada was a completely inept chief editor. His replacement, Axel Alonso, doesn’t seem to be doing a better job. Judging by the Captain America thing. You’ll notice that most of these events happened during one of their watches. In fact, some of them, like Spidey’s marriage getting eliminated in a stupid way, were mandated. The combination of incompetent editorial oversight and writers who aren’t that great at writing results in some characters just getting screwed up. 

There’s a third reason too. Mainly, it makes a good publicity stunt. These large-scale character butcherings usually get a lot of attention for the company. If it’s bad enough, they may very well undo the damage and wait for the praise to be piled on them for fixing their own stupid mistakes. Either way, they can rekindle a lot of interest in the book. At least on a temporary basis. It’s a lot easier of a method than actually writing good stories and letting the word spread. 

So, what can we do about it? About the best we can do is, if you hear about something like this happening, don’t buy any comics related to it and send them an e-mail explaining yourself. If it really hurts them financially, they’ll undo it. as for stopping it from happening at all, that’s not going to happen. Just on a realistic level. Characters will keep getting dragged away from people who understand them for crappy company wide crossover events or being given to people who don’t really know the characters or who aren’t very good writers. 

As for the Captain America thing, I don’t think it’ll last. There are just too many rightfully outraged people. 

My Review Process & Philosophy.

Hello, Everyone. I thought I’d take a moment to discuss my process and philosophy towards reviews. 

My process is pretty simple. I take a lot of requests and try to watch and review those anime as quickly as I can. Right now my request queue, not including One Punch Man since it’s coming this week, is: Golgo 13, Code Geass R2, Ixion Saga DT, Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka series 2, Sket Dance, Toradora, Charlotte, Rakudai kishi no Cavalry, Sword Art Online 2 (really not looking forward to that one given that the first series was horrendous) & Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders. 

If you ever have an anime you’d like me to review, you’re welcome to leave a comment. Just keep in mind that I’ll review the Japanese version and I don’t review hentai, the reason being that the primary purpose of hentai is sexual stimulation and I’m sure most of you don’t need to hear about what stimulates me or, for that matter, to hear me complain about the story or characterisation in a hentai being weak because that’s really not the point. 

I will, occasionally just review something because I want to see it or review something short at random between reviews of longer series just to give me more time to watch the longer series. Before I even start watching a series, I’ll do some basic research and write out the opening paragraph, sometimes including a prediction about the series and I have been surprised on occasion when I do that. Sometimes pleasantly. 

After I watch a series I’ll wait at least a day before writing out the review so that I have time to mull over my thoughts and I just find that that helps me be clearer and more concise when I go to actually type the review out. 

My review philosophy is actually fairly simple. I have two main principles I follow. The first is honesty. The second is clarity. 

I always tell you guys exactly what I think even if the majority of people disagree with me. Because, honestly, it’s fine to have a minority opinion. It’s perfectly valid and we all have things that we’re like that about. Furthermore, I think those of you who follow me and read my reviews regularly are mature enough to accept it when my opinions don’t coincide with yours. Even when I get a bit snarky about expressing myself. 

I know some reviewers like to do things like take it easy on popular series, in spite of their personal feelings. The opposite is also true. Some reviewers like to go the hipster route and always go contrary to popular opinion. If that’s what someone wants to do, that’s fine but it’s not for me. If I feel like an anime deserves a “1” I don’t care if it’s popular, unpopular or most people are unaware of it’s existence, I’ll give it the score that I personally feel it deserves. And I think my reviewing history pretty thoroughly illustrates that. 

When it comes to clarity, it really means two things. The first is that I’m going to do my level best to explicate on the flaws I found in a series and the things I liked about it and I’m going to explain that as well as I can.

It also translates to me expressing my views very bluntly. I know that some people, when they know their opinion isn’t popular, like to try and mitigate any backlash they might get by trying to phrase their criticisms nicely or by trying to phrase their praise in a subdued way. Which, again, is fine if someone wants to do that. But I’ll just come out and say exactly what I think or I’ll give something criticism but do it in a really snarky way that makes it readily apparent that I’m actually insulting it. Because I think you’re all great readers and that you can handle that level of honesty. 

I’m thinking about doing a Q&A post on the 27th. So, in closing this little post about why I do things the way I do, I’ll just ask you all to leave any questions you may have in the comments. I’ll answer those for you, assuming they’re questions I actually can answer. I hope you all have a great week and I hope you enjoy the One Punch Man review when it goes up on Wednesday. 

Where to start watching: the ten anime everyone should see?

Often-times I’ll find myself under the same inquiry from friends who don’t really watch anime. “I’m curious about anime as a medium, but I don’t know what I should start with. There are so many critically acclaimed series and films out there.”

I could give you some vague list of ten anime that everyone should see as a simple answer, but there’s a problem with that method. There is no such thing as an anime that everyone should see. 

you might be thinking, “what about those things you’ve rated really highly? Surely, everyone should see those, right?”

Well, let’s examine one of those just for the sake of illustration. To be specific, Nausicaa. While I personally adore this film & consider it a masterpiece, I also wouldn’t say that everyone needs to see it. If you really hate environmental messages, it’s probably not for you since it’s environmental message, though subtle, is an integral part of the film.  I also wouldn’t recommend it for people who hate post apocalyptic future narratives.

Rather, when someone asks me where to start, I ask what kinds of things they do watch or read. A big fan of sci-fi? Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell, Mobile Suit Gundam Wing or Blue Drop might make a good starting point. Do you really like horror? How about Another, Shiki or Perfect Blue? Do you like fantasy works? If you’re into the sword and sorcery variety, try the Slayers, Berserk or Record of Lodoss War. If the supernatural variety is more your speed, I’d suggest Yami no Matsuei, Death Parade or Vampire Princess Miyu.

How about comedies? Most people have some sense of humour. So, it really depends on what makes you laugh. Are you into the more zany, absurd types of humour? there’s plenty of anime that play into that. Try Galaxy Angel or Nuku Nuku. If humour based around quirky characters is more your type, there’s Yuru Yuri, K-on or Love Live. Are you into referential humour? I’m personally not, but Lucky Star and Gintama both have a lot of that if it’s your thing. Are you really into the crude humour about body parts and fluids. Gintama also has that or you could try Panty and Stocking.

The point I’m making is that what kind of anime you’d personally enjoy isn’t going to be determined by what anime are popular or well known. It’s going to be based on your own individual tastes. Look for anime in a genre that you really like and find one where the synopsis looks interesting to you. Or, if you really want my input, tell me a few things you really love and I’ll try to think of some anime that you’d probably be into based on that. If your favourite thing is a cartoon about colourful ponies, there are plenty of magical girl series with a similar aesthetic. If you love the old silver age comic thing, there are a few series I could suggest based on that. Of course, those are only a few examples and your tastes might be very different from mine.

How romance with young characters can work

just recently, I reviewed the bland film, Whisper of the Heart. My biggest issue with it was the overblown, zero chemistry, romance between Shizuku and Seiji. That whole thing got me thinking, what exactly makes a romance with younger characters work? For comparison purposes, let’s compare their weak romance to the really strong romance between Nanoha and Fate, specifically in the first two series when they’re still pre-pubescent.

After giving it some thought, I’ve come up with three significant factors that make Nanoha and Fate’s relationship work that aren’t present in Shizuku and Seij’s. The first of those is that they have obstacles to overcome together. In Whisper of the Heart, the two both have their own obstacles. Shizuku has to find her calling and immerse herself in it while Seiji has to deal with his parent’s objections to his learning how to make violins. The two go off on their own ways. As such, there’s no opportunity for them to develop their bonds.

In the first Nanoha series, Nanoha struggles to save Fate from her abusive mother, eventually culminating in the two of them working together to stop her plans. In the second, the two work together to stop the book of darkness. In sharing a conflict and aiding one another, we get to see their relationship strengthen and develop.

The second major factor is that the early Nanoha series don’t focus on their relationship as a “serious” romance. Rather, they put the emphasis on it as an innocent, blossoming love. There’s no talk of marriage nor does the series act like this is totally a grown up and adult relationship between two kids who just met. You can tell that Nanoha and Fate are attracted to each other and that they have a lot of chemistry, but you can also tell that their feelings are a bit naive and they don’t know what to do with them yet. Which gives them a much stronger and more believable relationship. You can buy that the two of them might eventually come together as a couple, adopt a child and have a lasting relationship. Once they’re older and they’re ready.

In contrast, Whisper of the Heart tries to persuade us that this is already a serious relationship and, ironically, that makes it seem more trivial since you just shake your head and think “whatever, Kids. You just met and you’ve barely started puberty. I’m sure that you completely understand what a serious romantic relationship is.”

The third major aspect that works in Nanoha and Fate’s favour is that they develop as friends first. Sure, even when they’re becoming friends you can tell that they’re completely smitten, but the fact that they start as friends and build from there seems natural and it lets the first two series focus on building their relationship without stressing the romantic chemistry but, rather, illustrate their strong relationship as a friendship with strong potential for more. We get an arc for the two of them that goes from first crush and fast friends to close friends with a strong attraction to, when they’re actually adults, a couple with an adopted daughter.

Obviously, Whisper of the Heart doesn’t have multiple series to do that much. So, let’s look at the arc we do get for Shizuku and Seiji. They meet, she thinks he’s a jerk and then… couple. Somehow. The point here is, we never really get to see them as friends, which only reinforces the idea that they’re a pair of dumb kids who will be broken up in a couple months at most.

So, there you have it. Three things that can make a young romance actually work. If you have anything to add, feel that I was too harsh on Whisper of the Heart or just have something to say feel free to post a comment.