Affinity for Anime

This spell costs 1 less to cast for each anime you've watched

Category Archives: Editorial

Anime of the Year 2014

Ok, I know I’m WAY late to be posting this, but my new year was super-busy with me moving and getting a new job. My life has been rather hectic these first few months of 2015 and things still haven’t really settled down, but I’m finally getting around to ranking my favorite anime of 2014. Better late then never, right?

As in previous years, I won’t be including anime that didn’t finish airing until after the fall 2014 season. So if a series started in fall 2014, but ended sometime in 2015, to me it doesn’t count as a 2014 anime. Any of those series will be included in my 2015 anime of the year list, which I’ll write in early 2016. I’m also only including series that I watched all the way to their conclusions, so if I dropped a series halfway or gave up after one or two episodes, it won’t be on this list. Lastly, I’ve only included TV anime, so there won’t be any movies listed, either.

I also want to be clear that I’m not evaluating these series by any metric other than how much I enjoyed them. So don’t expect some breakdown of plot, art, music and characters each getting a certain number of points and then the scores being added up to determine which is better. I’m going to try to keep my reviews much simpler than I have in the past because I want to get this done. Ok, here I go!

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Second Anniversary

Marlin-samaTwo years ago, I announced that I was starting an anime blog. Based on my previous attempts to share my thoughts with the world up until that point, I wasn’t optimistic that this would be anything more than a temporary diversion that I would abandon after a few weeks. But here I am not only still going strong, but expanding the scope of my projects to greater and greater objectives.

I set out to make my voice heard in order to counter the mainstream opinions and give anime fans a chance to think about not what they like, but why they like it (and often why I don’t).  To all my readers, I won’t say that I couldn’t have done it without you—because I most certainly could have.  But the journey wouldn’t have been nearly as fun and interesting without you.  And for that I say thank you.

I’d like to take some time now and reminisce about some of the high points over the past two years and do a “greatest hits” list of posts I enjoyed writing and/or others enjoyed reading.  So I invite you to make yourself comfortable as I take you on a journey that started back in summer 2011…gosh it feels so much longer. Has it really only been two years?  Read more of this post

RWBY and the Anime Style

Last Saturday, Rooster Teeth, the guys who make the Halo machinima comedy series Red vs Blue released the last trailer for their anime-inspired series about a group of female fighters called RWBY (pronounced “ruby”). Very little is known about the series thus far outside of what has been revealed in the four trailers themed after the colors of each of the main characters, red, white, black and yellowRead more of this post

Attack on Titan Helps Teach English

Marlin-samaI’d like to share something awesome that happened today.  As many of you know, I’m an English teacher working at several public schools in Japan.  One of the great side-benefits of my job is being able to connect with my students through our common interest—anime.  I’ve always said that one of the best ways to study is to associate the lesson with something you love.  If you can make the learning process fun, then it doesn’t feel like studying and you absorb the material more naturally.

Yomiuri GiantsSo during one of today’s classes, I was teaching the meanings of the five senses and how to use them in sentences.  A few examples would go like, “The sushi tastes delicious,” “The flowers smell nice,” and “John sounds sick.”  I was trying to think of colorful topics that all of the students could relate to so they could easily understand the meaning of the sample sentences, and since baseball is popular here in Japan, one of the phrases I had them say was, “The Giants look strong,” which was curiously followed by some hushed, but very excited chatter amongst a group of girls (for those of you who don’t know, the Giants are a Japanese professional baseball team and they’re pretty popular).  I didn’t pay them much attention since they weren’t interrupting and I proceeded with the lesson.

Attack on TitanAfter class, as I was packing my things up to head back to my desk in the teacher’s room, the girls approached me and asked, “Do you know Shingeki no Kyojin?”  At which point, I realized that they had made a connection to the anime through the word “giant.”  I told them I did and what followed was one of those moments when I can get my students to overcome their shyness around speaking a foreign language.  Our mutual interests allowed them to open up as we had a fairly coherent conversation about current anime during the break between classes.  Those are the moments I live for—watching my students’ brows furrowed in thought change to smiles of delight as the light bulb turns on in their heads and fills their eyes with understanding.

Nominated for the Liebster Award

Liebster AwardI guess it’s been long enough since the last post I wrote about myself that I can do another one.  Medievalotaku has nominated me and I’ll bite.  Here are the requirements:

1)Post the Liebster award graphic on your site.
2) Thank the blogger who nominated the blog for a Liebster Award and link back to their blog.
3) The blogger then writes 11 facts about themselves so people who discover their blog through the Liebster post will learn more about them.
4) In addition to posting 11 fun facts about themselves, nominated bloggers should also answer the 11 questions from the post of the person who nominated them.
5) The nominated blogger will in turn, nominate 9 other blogs with 200 or less followers (We’re guessing for our nominees) for a Liebster award by posting a comment on their blog and linking back to the Liebster post.
6) The nominated blogger will create 11 questions for their nominated blogs to answer in their Liebster post.  Read more of this post

Suisei no Gargantia – Morality of Feast and Famine

Ledo talks with BevelBased on my own research into philosophy and my experiences on the subject, it’s clear that morality cannot be categorized into good or bad, black and white.  It’s ever-shifting and depends entirely on the circumstances a society or even an individual finds him or herself in.  The culture clash at the heart of Suisei no Gargantia illustrates one of the times in which humanity might be forced to put aside its notions of protecting the weak and that’s the emptiness of deep space.

The thought of euthanasia and weeding out those people deemed incapable of contributing sticks in most people’s throats, but I think the key thing to remember is that Ledo comes from a very different society than we’re used to—one based solely on the quantity of resources. In space, limited supplies and proper allocation would be paramount to survival and it shows that when backed up against a wall, we’re capable of making tough decisions that are necessary for the benefit of all. Food, water, electricity and even oxygen are as precious as life itself (literally the essentials of life). Read more of this post

Madoka > Jesus – The Nature of Evil

I want to thank everyone for joining me on this philosophical journey over the past week.  I had a lot of fun revisiting the Madoka mythos, giving my analytical side a good workout and satisfying my secularist itch, but today is the last part of this series…for now.  It’s my hope that this isn’t the end because I’m looking forward to seeing where this can of worms I’ve opened wriggles off to.

7. The Nature of Evil

Madoka recognizes that good and evil aren’t black and white.  Jesus is absolute and tyrannical.

When Kyuubey reveals to Madoka the relationship between humanity and the incubators, she’s shocked and disturbed, but she recognizes that things would be much worse if we had never encountered them.  What Kyuubey does is a horrifying process, but nonetheless it has yielded something exceedingly beautiful.

By contrast, a certain interpretation of Genesis sees the serpent (a metaphor for Satan) not tempting Eve to sin, but encouraging her to pursue knowledge and free herself and Adam from living in ignorance. I think the majority of Christians would agree with me that learning about ourselves and the world we live in are laudable goals, but god doesn’t see it that way and Satan was punished for it and humanity with him.
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Madoka > Jesus – Madoka Enables; Jesus Indulges

Madoka supports the magic girls

Thanks Safebooru

6. Madoka Enables; Jesus Indulges

Madoka doesn’t invite people to rely on her.  She just fixed a problem that others were incapable of remedying on their own and allowed life to continue.  She gave freedom and because she acts transparently, people don’t depend on her.  Jesus on the other hand is a crutch that people depend on far too much, constantly praying to, asking for more favors and preventing Christians from living their
lives with self-reliance.

What’s despicable is how Christians want to spin every little coincidence of good fortune in our lives to be attributable to Jesus and all of our failures are our own.  “I found my car keys, praise Jesus!” but you never hear, “Jesus made me lose my shoe.”  Even if Christians claim that Jesus helps everyone regardless of belief, in the long run it still doesn’t matter unless you’ve been saved and thank Jesus for looking out for you.
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Madoka > Jesus – Madoka is More Plausible

5. Madoka is More Plausible

The story of Madoka is more internally consistent and has fewer details that are at odds with reality.

Now you might be thinking, hold on!  Doesn’t the “magic” part of magic girl indicate something supernatural is going on here?  But let’s look more closely at the process.  The reason Kyuubey is orchestrating all of this in the first place is because it’s his species’ mission to counteract the entropy of the universe, which scientists agree will be the ultimate demise of our sphere of existence.

Kyuubey indicates that he is simply using processes we can’t understand yet.  He’s capable of separating the mind and body, something we know to be interlinked, but there are theories about how one might go about separating them (mind-computer integration).  He also claims to be simply physically altering the structures of the girls’ bodies to make them more resilient in battle, almost a kind of bioengineering or integrated prosthetics, something that’s also being put to use with our current medical technology, but not at the level that Kyuubey is capable of.

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Madoka > Jesus – Madoka Succeeded, Jesus Failed

4. Madoka Succeeded, Jesus Failed

Madoka saved everyone. Jesus only saved a miniscule few.

Madoka is a story about a true savior.  When she discovered the truth behind the magic girls and witches, she was facing an external force that was influencing the future of humanity in a negative way.  All the magic girls are saved by Madoka’s kindness without the need to accept her as their savior.  Her methodology for saving the magic girls was transparent and didn’t draw attention to herself for it.  It was a thankless job that she accomplished all on her own.

By contrast, Jesus was the cause of the problems humanity faced in the first place.  He was obligated to remedy his own mistakes and despite his attempt to fix things, it ended in failure.  By only appearing to a single nation in a less-literate part of the iron-age world, it took thousands of years for his message to reach the world.
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