This Week in Anime: Natsume’s Book of Friends / Natsume Yuujinchou

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Catherine, Art Director:

Natsume’s Book of Friends follows the story of Natsume, a boy who is able to see youkai, an ability inherited from his grandmother, Reiko. Along with his inheritance came the Book of Friends, a book which contained the names of all the youkai Reiko crossed paths with in her lifetime.

Although fictional, Natsume’s Book of Friends contains many real life struggles with in its episodes that each and everyone of us would have experienced. Each story is wonderfully thought out and beautifully portrayed. An anime I think everyone can related to one way or another.

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Soothing animations and calm music, but do not let this fool you, it is by no means a slow paced and boring anime. (Although at times you wish that epic scenes could have been just a tad more dramatic because of how epic the situation is). Each episode is a gem in its own right and the storytelling is superb. Set into 4 seasons (they’re season season too 😀 how cool is that) they are easily the most easy going and entertaining 50+ episodes you’ll ever watch.

Not to mention the way Nyanko-sensei walks reminds me of a cockroach ._.

This Week in Manga: Kanata Kara and Kanyou Shoujo

Yu Jin, Events Director:

Compared to many others in AUNSW, I’m outdated. Clinging like a miser to my old favourites, I rarely venture out into the light to dip my toes in anything new – even with my beloved One Piece I’m about a hundred chapters behind.

Despite this I’ve managed to collect a few gems here and there, and although they’re old and worn, and perhaps only shine for me, I hope you’ll take a look at a couple of my favourite trinkets.

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Kanata Kara (From Far Away, 彼方から) by Hikawa Kyoko, 1993-2003

To me, Kanata Kara is a manga which puts to shame the rest of the fantasy shoujo genre. Even within tropes, there are some who just do it right.

Kanata Kara follows a popular 90s trend of ordinary Japanese schoolgirls suddenly being spirited away to strange fantasy worlds (in which they somehow end up playing key roles in saving said world, e.g. Inu Yasha, Red River), but please don’t just dismiss it for cliched nonsense; give it a go.

Not only does Kanata Kara manage to interweave a rich, multicultural world of complex political conflicts with traditional fantasy elements and landscapes reminiscent of Mononoke Hime, it contains what is possibly my favourite romance progression of all time.

The female protagonist Noriko is a formidable figure of prophecy known as the Awakening, who has the ability to unlock the apocalyptic power of the Sky Demon – but she’s also just a schoolgirl lost in an unknown world, ignorant of the language and her own role in its future. Found and saved by Izark, a young man of unknown history, she makes the choice to follow him – and begin the process of unravelling his (predictably) dark secrets.

The growing relationship between Noriko and Izark is gradual, subtle, and sentimental – I appreciate how it is founded not on physical attraction or the usual ‘ikemen charm’, but on shared hardships and empathy. Izark rescues Noriko several times throughout their journey – but Noriko also works hard to help and ultimately save him and many others, despite her lack of faith in her own abilities.

Kanata Kara is also significant to me for its array of female characters who refuse to fade into the backdrop. Both villains and heroes include key female figures – some beautiful, some rather the opposite, who have their own unique skills, motives and hopes. Gaya, a middle-aged master swordswoman from a disbanded tribe of fighters. Zena, her twin, a seer who helps smuggle hunted political figures to safety. Tazasheena, a prophetess of extravagant taste and hidden yearnings who is one of the main antagonists of the series. Geena, a blind seer child who worries about how much to reveal of her frightening visions.

Finally, Kanata Kara leaves you with some significant feels: no matter who you are or what you’ve done, you can always walk toward the light.

Go read it.

MyAnimeList link

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Kanyou Shoujo (Plant Dolls, 観用少女) by Kawahara Yumiko, 1995-1999

If you’ve ever read Petshop of Horrors (incidentally another of my old favourites), Kanyou Shoujo will appear to wander along some similar themes. Both series have somewhat episodic chapters, focusing on the customers of a bizarre shop of unusual products, and the consequences of their misjudged actions.

In the case of Kanyou Shoujo, the story revolves around Plant Dolls – animated dolls which choose their own owners and are  maintained by thrice daily waterings of milk and weekly administrations of cookies. When each charmed customer takes home his or her delicately beautiful doll, the doll starts echoing aspects of the owner’s personality in unexpected and sometimes disastrous ways.

Allegorical, dark and poignant, Kanyou Shoujo appeals with its fairy-tale elements and the moral questions it poses – is a doll a mere ornament, or a living creature which can experience its own loneliness and happiness? What are the consequences of overindulgence? Waning interest? Disappointed expectations?

Although the series is ostensibly about quirky little dolls, it invariably shows a portrait of humanity’s own dark (and light) traits.

Something worth mentioning is that this was originally published in a magazine called 眠れぬ夜の奇妙な話 (Nemurenu Yoru no Kimyou na Hanashi – Strange Stories for Sleepless Nights). I think this is quite fitting. Lingering, eerie, haunting – the best kind of bedtime story.

MyAnimeList link

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This Week in Manga: Yotsuba&!

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Manga Choice: Yotsuba&! By Kiyohiko Azuma

Sohraab, Treasurer:

Funny, innocent, full of energy and life, Yotsuba&! is a fun manga to always have on your reading list. It’s a slice of life genre manga about having fun in life and viewing it with infectious optimism. The story follows 5-year-old Yotsuba Koiwai through her daily life. Just watch as she causes trouble for her dad, neighbours and friends, all with a gung-ho attitude.

This manga is a celebration of a carefree life as a kid, and the fun that just comes from your daily adventures, and thankfully, there’s none of that moe. I definitely recommend reading this manga; a good-read especially after some heavy genres and one just to keep on that reading list.

This Week in Anime: Spring Season Suggestions

Hello! We have some more recommendations this week!

Kyoukai no Rinne

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Sally, Merchandise Director:

I’m recommending Kyoukai no Rinne. Why? Because it’s hilarious and gosh darn cute, and I have a soft spot for shoujo. (;w; ) It’s a story about a girl who can see ghosts and one day in class she notices a classmate who no one else can see but her.

Initially assuming he was a ghost and deadpanning his existence off (since she’s been dealing with ghosts bugging her for most of her life) she is surprised to see him (quite literally) in the flesh the next day in class. Then she’s dragged into his world- one with demons, restless spirits and poverty (you’ll see what I mean)

A cute romance/comedy/supernatural anime from the lovely lady who also did Inuyasha, Kyoukai no Rinne is worth checking out. Also, the opening is really catchy XD

MyAnimeList link

Comical Psychosomatic Medicine

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Kenny, Co-Events Director:

This week’s review, I’d like to recommend an anime that had debut halfway through last season, and is ongoing currently. A late bloomer, so it doesn’t get mentioned as much. “Anime de wakaru Shinryounaika (アニメで分かる心療内科)or as subbed, “Comical Psychosomatic Medicine” (not sure how ‘comical’ = ‘learned from anime’ >.>)

Besides the point, this anime is a completely short, less than 10 mins per episode, anime that satirises psychological symptoms and illnesses and has a discussion on said topic. A heavy topic, no? Couldn’t be more wrong!

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The variety of characters and their various mental issues every episode make for a hilarious comedic sketch revolving around a psychological specialist and his hard-to-understand nurse. It is presented quite professionally, with appropriate inappropriateness here and there to make it that more funny to watch.

Difficult to explain the whole appeal of this anime, but it’s something you’d have to watch to get. I recommend this anime just for quick laugh. Currently 11 episodes in, and each episode is short, you can get caught up real quickly.

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Remember, if you’re suffering from a mental issue, head to the medical clinic~(=w=~)

MyAnimeList link

Hibike! Euphonium

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Chris, Gaming Director:

Cute girls playing instruments in a wind ensemble. It was everything I expected + more. Animation/soundtrack is also super good. Trumpet girl is clearly best girl. Very deep and meaningful. Anime of the year for sure.

MyAnimeList link

Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru. Zoku

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Richard, Media Director:

Yahallo! Ah, this show. I came for the slice of life and “romcom”. Yeah yeah, usual delinquent/antisocial/pretty girl tropes from the synopsis. Instead, what I got was something much, much better. I’m not sure if this show will appeal to everybody, or at least appeal to them for the same things I enjoy it for. It might be a bit—no, it will be a bit pretentious sounding—but the way the characters think and feel is brilliantly written, and far from shallow. A lot of it resonates with me actually, and I find myself a lot of times up at night thinking about the episode I just watched, then taking myself onto more and more tangents of thought. Not a bad thing to me! (Except for my sleep.)

The second season comes with a studio switch, from Brains Base to Feel, giving us a much more detailed and vivid art style. The older, more cartoony look I’ll definitely miss, but the new style absolutely fits, and I definitely can’t complain about the backgrounds and lighting. (Ep 2 was particularly beautiful. Remember the bridge and forest scenes?) The same sound director’s around too, and we’ve got a new OP by Nagi Yanagi, which I instantly loved. As for character design, Hikki may have lost his dead fish eyes, and somehow switched hair colour, but the new, more mature look to him, as well as others in the cast, suit them great. They’ve gone through a lot to this point, and I can’t wait to see how they continue to grow and change throughout the rest of the series.

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If you think you might like a different take on the usual school series with romcom elements, absolutely give this series a try. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t expect it to be for everyone, but if you like it, you’ll be hooked before you know it. I strongly recommend you start with the first season if you’re new, but if you’re not, you might want to consider rewatching anyway just to refresh yourself on things.

MyAnimeList link

This Week in Anime: Spring Season Roundup

Oliver, Arc Delegate:

Here’s my first opinion on a few of my anime that I’m watching this season. I’m not going to state if anything is good or bad like in most reviews since I judge everything here decent enough to watch. I’ll try my best not to just recount the story or spoil anything so I’ll leave explaining the plot and synopsis to mal/ann/wikipedia.

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Arslan Senki

Arslan Senki is a low fantasy anime about the prince Arslan adventuring to retake his kingdom. It’s an interesting story about the experiences he has as he tours his country for the first time and meets companions who accompany him in his journey. The anime is directly adapted from the manga, which was adapted from the novel, which was adapted from the Persian legend. I haven’t read the novel but the manga was a decent read so I’m looking forward to watching more of the characters being animated. An exceptional story from the author of the Legend of the Galactic Heroes.

Baby Steps 2

Baby Steps is exactly as you would expect if you’ve watched the first season, it jumps straight into Maruo’s training camp in America and how he has to adapt and further his tennis style to match up to the world standard. The anime is great as it started with a plain character and just like the title it showed every step he look as his his life slowly became filled with new things like tennis, rivals, challenges and even romance. There are many sequels this season so this definitely won’t be the first.

Danna ga Nani o Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken 2-sure-me

Danna gaWakaraniken is an exceptional short about a cute little comedy about otaku husband and hard-working wife and have a spare 4 minutes but can’t fit in a full episode of anime then this is perfect.

Denpa Kyoushi (Ultimate Otaku Teacher)

Denpa Kyoushi has quite a unique plot and the beginning of the anime has only shown the tip of the iceberg as it has a GTO-like story following a teacher with no experience getting shoved into a class of troublemakers. It’s a good comedy which delves deep into otaku culture and a lot of classroom fun filled with hopes and dreams.

Diaya no Ace: Second Season (Ace of the Diamond)

Diya no Ace is quite a typical baseball anime and the second sports anime this season, it’s a good adaptation of the long-running manga but is quite slow at times compared to other sports anime. If you watched the first season and kept with it then you’re probably already going to watch this but unless you really like sports anime or have the endurance to get through 75 episodes of the second season I honestly wouldn’t recommend it. The first two episodes of the second season were also recap episodes…

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Digimon Adventure Tri isn’t out yet but I’m sure everyone is keen to watch it when it does get released ^_^

Dungeon ni Deai o Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka? (Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?)

Danmachi is a fantasy story based around a labyrinth city where adventurers dive into the underground dungeon seeking wealth, glory and power! If you’re looking for a weak to strong story where the character looks up to the heroes in story story books and was taught to believe that picking up girls in a dungeon is the right thing to do then this is just the anime for you! I personally love stories like these and and watch all fantasy anime without fail and I very much enjoyed the light novel version so you should all look forward to more of this cute rabbit-like main character to fulfil his dream of becoming a strong adventurer!

Etotama

Etotama is about a cat. The cat trying to become the 13th member of the zodiac. The anime really just has all the zodiac (female) going around doing their own thing while the cat who lost her memory meets a student (male) who happens to live in Akihabara. A comedy filled with fanservice and cute girls doing cute things.

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Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works 2nd Season

Fate: UBW has returned!!! This low-fantasy magic story follows a wanna-be mage who stakes his life to fight in a war for the holy grail. Set in the present era but with magic and legends mixing to create a grand free for all battle with the participant’s lives on the line. I’m a huge fan of TYPE-MOON so it may be biased but this is by far my top pick for this season.

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Gintama°

Gintama is hilarious comedy and after 200+ episodes it’s still on-going. The do-whatever-you-want group of alien-fighting jack of all trades has episodic stories with the occasional arc creating an overarching plot. It has a cast of diverse characters and this is a must-watch for all comedy-lovers.

Grisaia no Rakuen

Grisaia has more mature themes and isn’t for those of the faint-hearted and for those who have watched the previous series it isn’t a sequel, if anything it’ll be a prequel as it recounts events that happened in the past. His past as a child soldier is explored further and chaos ensues -spoiler- happens and more -spoiler- occurs. It doesn’t actually have any continuation from the last season though.

Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic

Kiniro Mosaic has cute foreign girls doing cute foreign things. gaijin girls doing gaijin things. uguuuuuuuuuuuuu not sure what else to write.

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Hibike! Euphonium

Hibike is the new kyoani show about a group of grils playing music, except this time there’s no tea. It didn’t match up to K-On but it seems to be building up to more drama rather than just slice-of-life anime with a group of girls playing music.

High School DxD BorN

High School DxD BorN is a third season, to get that far you must know that High School DxD has a lot of fanservice, the original content also had a lot of fanservice. The main character lives for that fanservice and his drive is that fanservice. The main character gets beat up and grows stronger, gets beat up and grows stronger again, it’s quite simple until this arc. High School DxD BorN is when things really change up, but to get this far you still have to like fanservice because there’s a lot of it.

Kekkai Sensen

Kekkai Sensen has a seemingly plain main character who has really good eyes. I’m not sure where they’re going with this but I’m liking the action. Oh look, another group of alien-fighting humans.

Kyoukai no Rinne

Kyoukai no Rinne has revealed much about the characters yet but a love comedy will surely ensue between the main girl and the death god. The original manga is written by the author of Inuyasha so it’ll be similar to that and Ranma ½.

Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha ViVid

Nanoha is now onto it’s fourth season! My favourite magical girl series has unveiled itself once again! This time Takamachi Vivio, the daughter of the former main characters, is going to enter 4th grade and get caught up in magical trouble of her own.

Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku

A girl enters a boarding school seeking another girl, for romantic reasons. What more needs to be said? Well in this school the student clubs fight with powers and your treatment at school is decided by how high your club ranks.

Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu (The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki)

Nagato Yuki, literary girl who takes the chance to invite Kyon-kun into the club to avoid being all alone. Spin-off series of Suzumiya Haruhi.

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Nisekoi:

Nisekoi has such a cute romance, winning your heart through blushing. The indecisive main character lures the girls into embarrassing situations and the girls will surely capture your heart. Tsumugi cutest girl.

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Ore Monogatari!!

Misunderstandings, so many misunderstandings. A really cute romance anime.

Owari no Seraph

The world was taken over by vampires. A lot of vampire-killing action.

Plastic Memories

Robots with a limited lifespan, incoming feels.

Re-Kan!

A girl who can see ghosts, a girl who’s scared of ghosts so she pretends that ghosts don’t exist.

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Shokugeki no Souma

Anime about making food, a true food-porn anime.

Takamiya Nasuno Desu!

A short. Spin-off of Teekyuu.

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Another short about girls who are in the tennis club and have fun with tennis.

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Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru. Zoku

Oregairu is such a good show and the second season will surely come with more feels. I would recommend this to anyone.

Yamada-kun to Nananin no Majo (Yamada and the Seven Witches)

An anime with so much kissing in it that you’ll start blushing.

Genre Picks

Best: Fate Stay Night: UBW

Comedy: Denpa Kyoushi / Gintama

Food porn: Shokugeki no Souma

Feels: Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru. Zoku / Grisaia no Rakuen

Romance: Nisekoi:

Cute guy: Ore Monogatari

Cute guys and girls: Yamadakun to Nananin no Majo

Cute girls doing nothing: Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu

Cute magical girls: Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha ViVid

School: Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku

Adventure: Arslan Senki

Action: Dungeon ni Deai o Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka / Owari no Seraph

Feels: Oregairu / Plastic Memories

THE END. Now if there’s a show that I haven’t reviewed that’s because it’s bad and I don’t want to review it… or I ran out of time. Yes, that means I think everything I reviewed is a good anime.

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kick off 2015 croppedHey, we’re alive and breathing! It’s past the 21st of December… that means the Mayans were wrong! Wait, you don’t have any idea what I’m talking about? Come on, you know, 21st of December 2012, apocalypse, no point updating the website if we’re all going to get hit by some huge meteori yeah, that’s right! Now we’re on the same page! Oh, we’re way past 2012?!

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