Konosuba -Where will it go from here?

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Now, for those of you that haven’t been keeping up with anime simulcasts in winter 2016, or perhaps just this show in particular, Konosuba: God’s Blessing on this Wonderful World! is yet another show that lends itself to the ever popular trapped-in-a-game sub-genre…or at least, something close to that. You see, our main protagonist Kazuma Satou isn’t actually trapped in a video game. He died, and this typical mmo rpg-esque world is his afterlife.

Because of this, his goal never is to escape this place, but to learn to live and thrive in it. Furthermore, the show offers up a grander objective of defeating the Demon King, but the path to that is much longer than Kazuma expected. Just moving up from remedial labor to monster slayer takes several episodes, and then when he finally drops the tracksuit for a more adventurous look, Kazuma still finds trouble trying to move up in the world. This is mostly due to the never ending debt that his comrades keep accruing from their consistent and unintended destruction of everything around them.

So far, this has made the episodes end in roughly the same place they started. This lack of progression makes me wonder if the show plans to go anywhere. Konosuba seems to be more comedy-centric, rather than be focused on characters or plot. That isn’t to say they’re completely forgotten, however. There have been episodes that make callbacks to previous moments in the show, meaning there is continuity and an overall storyline here. Even though Konosuba relies on humor and has fun downplaying the serious moments in the show, those moments do happen, and a bond seems to be forming (or has already been formed) in this party of misfits.

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And this all just begs the question: Where will Konosuba go from here? Is this just the start of a grander adventure or the platform for a quest-of-the-week kind of show? Maybe it’s a combination of both, or perhaps it’s just a wacky and somewhat satirical take on the genre it lends itself to. Or it might just become something else entirely, as the show already seems to do whatever the hell it wants. Personally, I hope this show goes on for maybe another one or two seasons and that’s it, but that’s just me preferring my shows to have an end in sight.

But what do you think about this show so far? Any ideas on where it could lead us? And do you like Megumin as much as I do? I doubt it, but feel free to leave your comments below, and check back next week for another feature post. Thanks for reading!

Myriad Colors Phantom World, Episode 8

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This was a weird episode. Yes, even for its own standards. I won’t knock it for being fanservice-y, but I will laugh at it. A lot. But first, let’s start from the beginning.

One minute and forty-five seconds. That’s how long this week’s intro took. I’m getting really tired of these classroom lectures at the beginning of every show. And I learn almost nothing from them. But I’ve rambled on about these intros before, so all I’ll say is that they suck and I’d be happier if they just cut down the runtime of the show altogether rather than include these wastes of time.

So they introduced the Phantom through a supernatural occurrence at school. Again. But this time’s a little better because they get right into the problem. There’s a monkey hot springs that’s overheating the entire school, and nothing can be done for some reason until the Phantom is gone. I actually like this setup because it leads the entire student body to try and fight it, one at a time with hilarious results.

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Then our protagonists step up to the challenge, and in the best way that I never thought possible. The plan is to seduce the monkey and make it come out of the water so the Human Encyclopedia can fully see it and capture the image onto his sealing book thing. Of course, due to a number of mishaps, that doesn’t work out, and so he summons a Phantom to save the day. And although he probably could’ve just did that in the first place, I’ll ignore it because I got to see Mai’s ass get painted.

All in all, it was a fun episode, but it severely lacked in any sense of importance or meaning. And perhaps that’s just exactly where Myriad Colors Phantom World wants to go. I’ll be baffled if this show decides to end a note that’s anything but silly and hopeful.

Oh, and I was completely satisfied with this end, in hopes that the Human Encyclopedia actually does marry Mr. Monkey and never returns. All I’m saying is, it better be canon.

+ Not the hot springs episode I was expecting

+ Reina swimsuit!

+ The ultimate canvas, Mai’s ass

– Intro

The Joy of Anime Endings

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Just like my love for anime openings, anime endings hold a special place in my heart. Usually end credits are just disregarded by most viewers of any visual medium, not out of disrespect for the creators, but simply because there’s nothing left there. Black screen. White text. Scrolling down. Blatantly put, a director could leave a confession to murdering his spouse in the middle of it and never face conviction, because no one would ever read it. And so, to bring an end to boring credits, anime came and saved the day. Okay, I’m not a historian, so don’t be surprised if that’s completely wrong. The point is, anime endings are cool, and are not as boring as the alternative.

It’s a shame that some people can’t find as much enjoyment out of anime EDs as I can, but I guess that’s their prerogative, and I can respect that. What’s really a problem is when creators don’t understand the importance of having a memorable and creative ending to supplement their show. While sometimes not as useful, for marketing and publicity, as openings are, endings can have more of a connection with the show, as well as an emotional resonance for the viewer. Or they can just be cute with a catchy tune. Either way, they’re important to me for a number of reasons, so here to explain those reasons are some handpicked examples of some of my favorite, and not so favorite anime EDs:

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The Pet Girl of Sakurasou

This show is, by all means, a true masterpiece, and although it may not be my favorite anime of all time (because Bakemonogatari exists), it is the most important. Nothing could possibly sum up my feelings and utmost love for this show. That being said, EDs come close. DAYS of DASH, performed by Suzuki Konomi and written by Hata Aki, is my favorite song to ever exist, and some (if not most) of that is due to the fact the it reminds me of the show. Every time I listen to it I can’t help but remember this wonderful show and these remarkable characters and the unforgettable time I had watching it. Endings stick with us, and can carry some of the emotions you felt from the first time you watched it.

Bakemonogatari

Also a really memorable ED for me, but instead of getting into the sappy “this anime means so much to me” crap, let’s talk about what makes it a good Ending, as opposed to an Opening. Specifically in terms of song choice, it’s good to have a song that’ll match the tone of the end of any episode. You’ll see that a lot of anime EDs are somewhat solemn and less cheery on the happy-sadness scale. That (and this is just speculation of course) is because when shows have cliff hangers, that’s usually when shit goes wrong. It would be very odd for the second Opening of Non Non Biyori to play right after the protagonist just watched his mother cut his father’s face off and wear it as her own. See, it just doesn’t match. Thankfully, Bakemonogatari’s ED, as well as Sakurasou’s, transition well in most every situation, especially in their final moments.

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Charlotte

Not one of my favorite shows, and certainly not one of my favorite EDs. I like the song and it had nice pictures, but that all it was. Pictures. Still frames. As pretty as they were, I don’t want to watch a slideshow. It’s an anime, so animate something. There are plenty of simple techniques to give a little life to an Ending. Just add some moving parts, a few more frames and some actual effort, the only way you can screw this up is by not doing it.

Comet Lucifer

Just look at Comet Lucifer. Not a good show by any means, but it had very nice Ending. It managed to look like a lot more with very little, and if you observe closely you can tell. Just YouTube it, the show isn’t actually worth watching.

Durarara!!

Durarara!! has found a different way to get away with not animating their EDs. Instead of having a simple slide show with pretty pictures and a nice background tune, Durarara!! fills the screen with one large frame, featuring the entire cast of characters, intertwined and interacting with each other. By doing this, it forces viewers like me look back and forth, eyes wandering to analyze every character, effectively capturing our attention as it scrolls down to the very end.

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Working!!!

What’s with all these shows having multiple exclamation points? Hmm, perhaps that’s a post for a different time. And a different blog. Anyway, Working!!! (season 3) has what I think is a really cool moment in it’s ED. As seen from my screenshot above, the characters are all dancing in this strange, unexplained place. It’s serene, majestic, and relates to the actual show in almost no way shape or form. And that’s one thing I love about EDs. You can just drop characters in entirely new, unrealistic spaces that would make no sense had it been in the real show. Well, I guess they could write in a way for all the employees of Waganria to become celestial beings and dance among the stars, but that seems incredibly unlikely.

So what do you think about anime Endings? Do you like them more that Openings, or is it perhaps just a case by case basis? Tell me that, and also list some of your favorite EDs in the comments. Oh, and if you’re the type of person to skip past the Ending to get to the next episode, go find your nearest bridge and jump off it. I kid of course, please don’t do that. Instead, check back next week for more posts about anime and stuff. Thank you reading, I’ll see you next time.

Myriad Colors Phantom World, Episode 7

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Okay, I can’t go another week without saying how awful the chanting is. Specifically, Minase’s chanting. It’s terrible, I hate it, and I never want to hear it again. Mai’s chanting I can usually deal with, but this time it doesn’t even show the fanservice to go with it. How am I supposed to enjoy this show without needless self-boob-groping? How am I supposed to appreciate this art without little moments of indulgence spaced evenly throughout, keeping my interests piqued and my blood out of my head?

In all seriousness, I do kinda miss the fanservicey bits. They never actually did much for me in terms of arousal, but the cute and creative ways they went about it were worth a good laugh. Also, I can’t unsee Mai-oneesama, which is also worth another good laugh. Even Ruru is getting a bit funnier, outside of those abysmal opening segments. Oh, and cat puns! There was a bear pun in the last episode and now there were cat puns in this episode. How delightful! So that’s cat puns, Mayonaise-sama, and sometimes Ruru…yeah, I kinda wish the show had more going for it in terms of comedy this episode. Sure, there’s some slapstick, but I feel like I’m not laughing as much anymore.

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As for the other good stuff this episode had to offer…cat girls (and guys)! If you’re into that, have at it. Personally, I think they’re just alright. What I really enjoyed about this episode was the mansion they entered and what happened when they entered said mansion. There were a lot of cool effects and scenery going on as they wandered through this phantom fun house, or “phun house”. Okay, that was bad…but I’m keeping it. Lots of really cool shots could be taken away from this episode, with plenty Izumi. But other than looking pretty, this episode felt pretty needless, adding nothing to the overall plot of the show or characterization to our protagonists. Of course, if this is just going to be a feel good, phantom of the week show all the way to the very end, then I guess that’s fine. You do you, Myriad Colors Phantom World.

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The Joy of Anime Openings

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I love watching anime openings (OP). Call me old fashion, but I almost never skip them to get directly into the story. It’s rare that I ever find one OP that I dislike, so much so that I would skip past it. To me, OPs are very much part of the experience, something that’s feels essential to the way I enjoy anime. Truth be told, I feel a little empty inside whenever an episode starts without it, usually due to picking up where a very important cliff hanger left off.

Openings can be used for so many things, whether just being a cool animated music video or being implemented a little more practically, each complementing the show in their own ways. Openings can set the mood, or purposefully do the opposite. Not only that, they work great for marketing and publicity. Just as one music video might convince you to check out the entire album, one anime OP could sway you to try out the series.

Anime OPs can be absolutely wonderful, and here are some fantastic examples:

Anything from the Monogatari Series

If you couldn’t tell by Araragi being my avatar for every account I’ve ever made, I’m a huge fan of the Monogatari Series. It’s my favorite series of all time, and quite possibly my favorite thing to ever exist in this world. So obviously, I’m incredibly biased. That being said, everything about Monogatari is positively perfect, and their OPs are no exception. SHAFT shows off their mastery of animation and cinematics to delivery stunning visuals and sequences, queued expertly to catchy and sometimes hauntingly beautiful music tracks. What’s even better is that the OPs are crafted to individual characters during their story arcs, leaving much more to be enjoyed than just the standard “one OP per season” approach.

Erased

Erased has a truly well-made OP, one that brings back an awesome song to accompany a darker setting. It also does some cool little things that make it that much more admirable, such as placing these three in front of a projector, with the film actually being projected onto their bodies. Just something nifty that was brought to my attention.

 

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Durarara!!

Durarara!! gives a little more than just a catchy tune and exciting visuals. In fact, there’s actually a practical use to the show (and to the audience) that might not be immediately apparent. Well, two practical uses. Firstly, the recap tucked into every OP. A simple implementation, but nonetheless useful to an audience member that doesn’t quite remember exactly what was going on, and for Durarara!!, that’s incredibly important considering the amount of stuff going on in its plot. To further lighten that burden, the Opening gives a still frame with a name tag to every key character in the show. There are a lot of characters to keep track of in this show, and I probably wouldn’t have remembered half their names had it not been for this frequent reminder. These are aspects that could be easily overlooked by binge watchers, but for weekly consumption it’s nice that the show offers a helping hand.

I could probably write an entire series of novels about the anime Opening I like, but when it comes to OPs I dislike…well, none really come to mind. Even the worst shows I’ve watched seem to have semi-redeemable OPs. Or perhaps I’m just too lenient. Still, there are some things I find in OPs that mildly irk me. So here are some examples of anime OPs that did something they shouldn’t have:

 

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Dagashi Kashi

The song is catchy, but the visuals were pretty lackluster. What disappointed me the most about this Opening was the re-use of clips from the actual show. While I am not against re-using assets, I felt Dagashi Kashi relied on them entirely too much, leaving little originality and ultimately accomplishing nothing remotely unique or interesting. But then again, the song is catchy.

Parasyte –the maxim- and Mirai Nikki (OP 2)

I actually found both of these OPs to be very entertaining, and I was lucky enough not to notice the problem they had while watching the show. For the sake of spoilers, here is your warning. *SPOILERS ABOUT POTENTIAL SPOILERS, SKIP THIS PARAGRAPH* Well now that that’s out of the way, here’s the problem that both these Openings have. The lyrics spoil the plot/plot twists of the show. Thanks to the auto-tuning and weird pronunciation during the song, it’s hard to notice that the lyrics are actually in English. Similar to how Hollywood trailers often spoil entire movies, these OPs literally read off what happens in the show, and that’s kinda not a good thing.

Well, I’m glad I got to talk about anime OPs this week, because I love them so gosh darn much. But how do you feel about Openings? What are your favorite anime OPs? Are you one of those monsters that skips past them every time? Tell me in the comments or tweet @crispyn64, then come back next week for my post about anime EDs. Thanks for reading, have a wonderful day!

 

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Myriad Color Phantom World, Episode 6

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Hey, just a heads up, there will probably be more screenshots in this post than usual. I usually try to limit myself, but I just don’t have the heart to leave out any this episode.

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I mean, they were all so good. Throughout the entirety of the episode, the visuals were incredibly gorgeous, some might even say stunning. My favorite had to be at the beginning, but perhaps I’m just a sucker for good reflection. Anyway, the whole show left me feeling warm inside, and part of that I believe was just due to the color palette. Bright but never clashing, the beautiful visuals actually took my focus away from the actual story a couple times when watching.

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But that may also be due to the fact that this was probably, in terms of plot, the simplest episode yet. In the beginning, Kurumi lacks confidence, but by the end she realizes it’s time for her to step up and protect her friend, just like how her friend had protected her many times before. Basically, the resolution resolved her resolve.

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And so now she can finally be a prominent member of the Phantom Hunters, or whatever the hell they’re called. It’s all nice though, and there are cute and touching moments and stuff, it was a fine episode. What’s important now is that (hopefully) all the characters have been sufficiently introduced. It’s time to see them all work together, and hopefully go through a story arc with actual meaning. Or, you know, keep doing the whole “Phantom of the Week!” thing.

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Oh, and bear pun(s)! (Not entirely sure if there was more than one.)

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+ Visuals!!! A++

+ Bear pun(s)

+ No chanting!

– Still exposition and intro

The Revenge Story…In Anime

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It seems to me that revenge plots in anime, as well as in other media like video games and movies, have become much more prominent in the mainstream. Of course, vengeance is something that’s been around for ages. It’s the urge to get back at someone whom had previously wronged you. Perhaps it’s a natural feeling, but often times it’s also a malicious one. Revenge tales have been passed down for generations, and many would come across with the same message.

Revenge is bad. Two wrongs do not make a right. Vengeance is self-destructive, and you should refrain from indulging in it. Folk wisdom is very clear on this issue so why is it, that modern stories are rewriting the tale? Every now and again I come across a story, a movie, a game, an anime that deals with the theme of revenge, but offers the exact opposite lesson to be learn from it. Plots where the protagonist has had their parents killed or their possessions taken, to be wronged in any way by the antagonist, therefore creating the inciting incident that becomes their motive for the story to move on through.

The introduction is anger and hatred, the climax is finally taking revenge, but what’s truly different about these modern tales is the falling action. They’re happy and fulfilled, acting as if vengeance was the answer and the story was resolved.

But is it? What does revenge solve? Is revenge self-destructive? Or is it justice? Is revenge natural? Is revenge wrong?

I’m not going to pretend like I know the answer to this, but I’d like to think that it is wrong. It’s wrong to inflict pain on others. But if someone inflicts pain onto you, does that give you the right to hurt them back? Even if it does, should you hurt them back?

There’s just so many questions when it comes to the ethics of revenge, so why not look to anime for the answer. My first pick, while still airing at the time of me posting this, deals with revenge in a very straightforward, aggressive assault. The plot is very similar to what I had just described moments ago, where the bad guys invade and the good guys retaliate. And the good guys retaliate, HARD.

gate revenge

I’m talking GATE, of course! But instead of getting into the politics of the separate worlds fighting, I want to skip right to the latest arc: Fighting the dragon. First Lieutenant Itama embarks on a quest to kill the dragon that caused massive amounts of death and destruction to peaceful villages. One village of elves in particular was left with only one survivor, Tuka. Itami takes it upon himself to avenge Tuka’s village, and more importantly, her father. So he, along with the girls, set out to destroy this fire-breathing menace.

*Spoilers* they succeed, with no casualties of main characters. Now this accomplishment can be taken in a lot of different ways. On one hand, they did the world a service by preventing any more damage this beast could have caused. That winged beast did do quite a number on those innocent villagers, any I’m sure many would argue that killing the beast was necessary for the safety of the people. On the other hand, it was an incredibly risky, albeit stupid decision to have a go at this dragon with just their small group and some weaponry that, at least to my knowledge, wasn’t truly proven to be effectual at that point in the story. Had it not been for the additional troops dispatched to rescue them from some unexpected complications, our heroes, and our lord and savior Rory Mercury-sama (all praise Lady Mercury) would’ve have been finished.

But aside from poking holes in logic, let’s just take a look at what was to gain, emotionally. Pro: People no longer had to live in fear of this particular monster. Con: The people the dragon killed, well, they’re not coming back. Yes, revenge has been taught to us as a shallow victory, but GATE seems to approach it as a victory nonetheless, and so the characters are all happy and all is well and good. At least, that’s how it seems so far, but I’ll save my final judgement for when the series comes to an end.

naruto

GATE uses vengeance as a theme and driving force for its protagonists, and it works out pretty well for them (so far). But as for antagonists, no better example comes to mind than Sasuke Uchiha, from the immensely popular series, Naruto.

While I do believe the show to do quite a few things inadequately, I think it does a great job at showcasing the self-destructive aspects of revenge. Sasuke really is a torn character, removing himself from his friends and his village in his pursuit for power. While he’s driven by hatred he does horrible, uncompassionate things, even to the people he once called friends. And the effect he has on other people only continues the cycle of hatred.

But what do you think about revenge plots? Is revenge good, bad, or dependent on circumstance? Is it better for our society to idolize vengeance or degrade it? And is Naruto still worth watching? Please tell me your thoughts in the comments below, and thanks for reading!