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toki3

咲‐Saki‐アンテナの皆さん、国際最萌リーグはご存知ですか。好きなアニメキャラに投票してワイワイしたりハァハァしたりするアレの一種です。こっちは2008年からやっていて、世界中のアニメファンの参加を歓迎する前提で行われています。

2010年に咲‐Saki‐のキャラもメイントーナメントに登場しました。わかりやすい作品の方は人気が出やすいという印象ですが、ところどころ咲‐Saki‐シリーズを応援する票を見ると、何となくあたたかい気持ちになります。(ちなみに怜ちゃんと穏乃ちゃんが一番の人気者のようです。)

なので、咲‐Saki‐のキャラクターを応援したいという方がいればぜひ参加してください。ちょうど今指名期間になっています。ここから指名できます(日本語で投票してもOKです)。左側にキャラ名・右側にシリーズ名を入れます。

ただし、せめて三つのアニメシリーズのキャラクターを入れないと票は無効になるので、咲‐Saki‐のキャラクターを沢山入れたい方は咲‐Saki‐のキャラクターを12人まで入れて、残り二人を別のシリーズ二本のキャラクターにしないといけません。まぁ、咲‐Saki‐以外のアニメをあまり見ない方はジブリとかでも大丈夫でしょうw。

14日まで投票できるので、興味のある方はぜひ。

 

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Tamako

With another year behind us, time to share the best of the recent anime offerings. As always at this place, I have a Top 12 list. What is different from usual is that movies, OVAs and ongoing shows are all off-limits. With plenty of good shows out this year, it was difficult enough cutting the numbers down as it is… Which is very good news!

 

amagi-brilliant-park

#12 Amagi Brilliant Park

This was a very good year for KyoAni. Tamako Market came back with all the visual power and none of the meandering weakness of the main series, making for the best KyoAni work in some time. Free and Chuunibyou had satisfying second seasons, and last but not least, we also got Amagi Brilliant Park.

With a silly and unique premise, Amagi was a huge unknown before it aired. And thankfully, it remained an unknown until the very end, with different wackiness taking place every week. Down-to-earth problems and magical cataclysms went hand in hand in this show, mixing a dream with a familiar “workplace” feeling for a highly memorable result.

chiyo

#11 Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun

It is crazy. It is fun. Plenty of people include this one in their favorites for the year, and I am not surprised.

If I liked the remaining characters as much as I liked the Nozaki-Chiyo-Mikoshiba trio, this would have been even higher.

[Vivid] Hanayamata - 11 [E9031827].mkv_snapshot_02.06_[2014.10.22_21.39.38] 

#10 Hanayamata

A simple story of a newly founded club aiming to prove themselves made fresh through exceptional presentation and organic relationships between the characters. Of note is the multi-layered title as well as the OP/ED combination moret than worthy of representing a dancing anime. It is too bad the middle and end of the anime are not quite as powerful as the briskly-paced and gorgeously animated opening episodes, but it is still a pleasant journey into the world of yosakoi.

mikakunin_de-shinkoukei #9 Mikakunin de Shinkoukei – Engaged to the Unidentified

For the most part, I have flawed but memorable series on this list. But from time to time, there are series like Mikakunin de Shinkoukei, which just never stumble and make that their foremost charm point. Simple and sweet, but inventive enough in its take on the central romance story not to feel repetitive, this show is a recommended pick for anyone looking for a dose of cute and relaxation.

yuna 

#8 Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru

For many of the things YuYuYu did throughout its run, there is some magical girl show out there that did it better. Which is why the beauty of the show lies in all the things you can get here and nowhere else.

There is the terror that comes not during a fight, but after it is long over – the time when you wonder if that is really the end or not, the time when you listen to a friend report on her injuries, and then reassure them while hiding your own fears and wounds.

There is that moment when having successfully defeated twelve powerful monsters, you and your comrades take on the last small fry five on one… and nobody can quite get it together and make the first move, because now, now you suspect all the magic and power might not have been free after all.

Certainly a series with some issues, but the interesting bits make up for it. With the last episode having aired recently, I am still reanalyzing some of the events in the final episodes (as well as reading the Washio Sumi wa Yuusha de Aru prequel novel), so I have my doubts about the show’s exact position on this list, but it is definitely worth a try for fans of the genre.

nagi-no-asukara

#7 Nagi no Asukara

Give Okada Mari two cours to work with, and you will get plenty of believable human drama and a sprawling but messy plotline. Okada did that with Wixoss this year, and the same goes for this show.

But the ambition behind this show sets it apart from other Okada works. There is a tug-of-war between the yin-yang worlds of sea and land presented in this show and the individual stories of each character. But at times the two threads beautifully intersect, creating patterns which could not possibly come to be in a different setting – like when a time-skip affects only half the cast, completely changing the rules of the relationship game.

saki zenkoku 2

#6 Saki: Zenkoku-hen

Kan, kan, kan!

I want a Shinohayu anime.

Ritsu, draw faster nghhh…

black-bullet-anime-2014 

#5 Black Bullet

Probably my favorite setting of the year, providing an excuse to pair up mercenaries and overpowered lolis on a planet-wide zombie hunt while also raising some questions of morality and portraying “life” as a powerful and universal, but also selfish force.

And yes, it did use all that potential in very weird ways. Kind of like bringing a shotgun to a fistfight only to try shooting it with your feet…

Log.Horizon

#4 Log Horizon

I mentioned this show last year, and my thoughts on it have not changed that much. It is one of the few anime of this type made with Japanese taxpayers’ money, and it shows. And I do not mean the cheap art and animation (those are certainly present). Log Horizon does not really care for universal appeal, so it does whatever it wants with its pacing and developments. You would kind of expect a series of boss fights to end with some great achievement, but not this show, here they will just have a talk. Talking is important.

I cannot exactly predict where this show will go at any given time, which I happen to like. Keeps me on my toes.

rokujouma-no-shinryakusha2

#3 Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!?

The best part about the show is that it carries all its likely weaknesses on its sleeve. It looks a little cheap, right? And the male-female ratio hints at harem mayhem.

Well, that just means that all the show’s surprises are for the better. This is a story of supernatural, extraterrestrial and sometimes cosplaying misfits locked in a struggle for six tatamai mats’ worth of space for the glory of their respective civilizations. Or saving the world. Or saving up on rent.

When the rivalry and insanity finally give way to camaraderie, an incredible team, or maybe even a family, is born. And there is plenty of trouble for them to face, all for the viewers’ satisfaction.

NoGame  

#2 No Game No Life

So if you thought you need to be smart to write stories about smart people… well, you probably have a point. However, NGNL proves that layers upon layers of presentation do much to cover up the warts.

What really makes NGNL work, though, is its determination to march forward without falling too much in love with any of its gags or ideas. The show is like a magician burning through one trick after another. And certainly, you already know some of those tricks and are not always equally amused. But the magician winks the disappointment away and fluidly moves into the next part of the spectacle.

Still, no show can go on forever. And in the end, when the lights go on, the audience might realize the tricks were just that, empty tricks. How do you prevent that? You do not let the show end. You turn the performance into a part of a greater trick, ongoing even as the audience leaves their seats.

NGNL ends in the middle of things, and had the show not found a way to deal with that (by diverging from the source material, too), it might have fallen off this list completely. But that is not how things turned out, and here it is.

illya4

#1 Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2wei!

I do not think there was another anime this year that consistently knew exactly what it wanted to do and how to go about doing it quite as much as Illya Zwei did. Combining a flexible and inspired direction style with Silver Link’s steady craftsmanship, the show constantly provided varied and gripping entertainment.

In a year with shows like Kill La Kill and Ping Pong to compete with on the visual front, Illya owes a lot to the art of restraint. Presenting a wide variety of tricks, but determinately avoiding repetition, the show always knows how to make the most of its potential. Most memorably, the show often chooses to make its statements by not-showing, rather than showing characters and their actions. During the farcical mud-trap rescue scene in the beginning of the show, the technique brings out the absurdity and comedic potential of what should be a clichéd transformation scene. During the mid-show confrontation between Kuro and Miyu, the same technique ends up filling a simple conversation with tension and allows for a dynamic switch straight into the action. Illya takes a similarly free approach to its background music, using its presence and lack thereof to flexibly switch between serious and comedic developments.

No matter the skillful execution, I expected to be able to shoot the show down on the storyline and ending fronts, the former of which kept the original series safely in the “average” zone. But here the show starts making use of its Fate roots to introduce a struggle with the shadows of the past each of the characters carries, giving meaning to many of the events of the first season while simultaneously creating cracks in the characters’ armors. Zwei ends in the middle of the second manga series, and should by all means fall apart at the end, but here the series skillfully puts the spotlight on the paradigm shift ongoing in Illya’s mind. The determination to protect her dear ones and her everyday life was there to begin with, of course, but now she is forced to admit that what constitutes those things might have changed without her noticing. And the show’s willingness to bet on the small changes of its characters allows for optimism regarding the forthcoming third season.

To sum up, 2014 was more about good shows rather than truly spectacular ones. With Shirobako and Parasyte, as well as Fate UBW and Log Horizon continuing into the next year, though, it seems like there will be enough big hitters to talk about next year to make up for it. Here is to another great year for anime and everyone reading this post!

Full list of stuff I watched this year for people who have recommendations. A * mark indicates stuff I dropped, with a ** mark signifying a first-ep drop. (Which does not immediately imply the series is bad, though.)

Akame ga Kill!*
Amagi Brilliant Park
Bakumatsu Rock**
Barakamon**
Black Bullet
Blue Spring Ride
Denki-gai no Honya-san
Engaged to the Unidentified
Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2wei!
Free! Eternal Summer
Golden Time**
Gonna be the Twin-Tails!!
Gugure! Kokkuri-san*
Haikyuu!!
Hanayamata
I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying
Invaders of the Rokujyouma?!
Jinsei**
Kill La Kill
Kuroko’s Basketball 2
Log Horizon
Love Stage!!
Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions: Heart Throb
Magimoji Rurumo*
Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun
Nagi-Asu: A Lull in the Sea
No Game No Life
One Week Friends
Ping Pong The Animation
Rage of Bahamut: Genesis**
Riddle Story of Devil
Saki: The Nationals
Sakura Trick*
Seitokai Yakuindomo*(**)
Selector Infected WIXOSS & Spread WIXOSS
Soul Eater Not!
Sword Art Online II
Terror in Resonance
The Irregular at Magic High School
Wake Up, Girls!
When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace
World Conquest Zvezda Plot*
Yuuki Yuuna is a Hero

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shirobako shunyuu

Ema is the first Shirobako character to worry not only about keeping her job, but also getting by even if she has one. Some exact numbers help put things into perspective.

The above graph combines survey data on average yearly salaries of various occupations in the anime industry. From left to right:

Animators 1 100 000 yen (92 000 yen/month)

University students 2 000 000 yen (166 000 yen/month)

Freeters* 2 180 000 yen (182 000 yen/month)

Assistant Producers 2 280 000 yen (190 000 yen/month)

CG Staff 2 610 000 yen (217 500 yen/month)

Directors (Effects) 3 330 000 yen (277 500 yen/month)

Directors/Storyboarders 4 950 000 yen (412 500 yen/month)

Animation Directors 5 130 000 yen (427 500 yen/month)

Producers 7 540 000 yen (628 000 yen/month)

Superstar Seiyuu 70 000 000 yen (5 833 000 yen/month)

*Freeters – people living from part-time jobs. Replaces “Novice Seiyuu” in this chart, since beginners in the seiyuu trade get very little job offers and initially mostly rely on a “secondary occupation”. University students also tend to live from part-time jobs, which is probably why there is little difference in the average incomes of the two groups.

Now, almost every major animation studio operates in Tokyo, which just happens to be known as the most expensive city in the world. Average rent for a one room apartment hangs at around 60 000 yen a month, and if you happen to eat food like any other mortal being, you will need another 30 000 yen for that.

Whoops, there goes an animator’s salary. That is, provided they do not own a cell phone, always wear the same clothes and commute to work on foot or by bike (this is where Ema’s bicycle comes in).

I think it is important to see how an animator’s work will often add up to nothing to understand where Ema is coming from. After a month of effort, you are either back to square one or in the red, and nothing seems about to change. So you either get really good really fast, try to break through to a more humane (and lucrative) position or just give up.

A large part of an animator’s salary is made up of a per-page bonus, so the more pages you can churn out a day the better off you are. I can see why you would try cutting down on precision work to increase speed. But of course desperate measures tend not to work out in real life (and this anime).

I wonder how Shirobako intends to answer this dilemma next week. Young animators getting worked down to the ground and burning out is a real problem with no obvious solution in sight. Ema seems to be a promising talent, and so she might get over her personal crisis just by grinding her teeth and waiting patiently for her five minutes. But on a larger scale, it is a discomfiting thought that the series we enjoy are built upon so harsh a foundation.

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liebster2

Thanks to medivalotaku for nominating me for the Liebster Award. It’s always a now-or-never thing for me with such community projects. If I put it off once, I’ll never get to it at all. Forgive me, then, for the simplicity of my answers/questions.

Rules:

1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.

2. Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. (Note that the best way to do this is to save the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog post.)

3. Answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.

4. Provide 11 random facts about yourself.

5. Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers. (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets the readers know this information!)

6. Create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.

7. List these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here.) Once you have written and published it, you then have to:

8. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!)

Answers

1. Do you watch the Olympics?

I tend only to watch the Olympics/other sports events together with my family. Most of the time, however, I live elsewhere and do not have access to a TV at all. In terms of sports I sometimes watch for personal pleasure, what comes to mind is volleyball and snooker.   

2. Who is your favorite historical figure?

Gautama Buddha. Thomas Aquinas.

3. Vikings vs. Samurai. Who wins on a level playing ground?

I’m no history buff, but my vision of the Vikings is that of an army wielding axes and the like, plundering some poor British village, while my vision of the Samurai is Nobunaga’s armies with firearms and stuff.

Samurai? Easily???  

4. Do you like Jane Austen’s books?

They are lovely. I remember reading about the frolicking of “young, gay soldiers” and wondering how the main character could be certain the soldiers were indeed gay.  

5. If you were marooned on a desert island with little possibility of rescue, which five books would you want to have with you?

Give me whatever survival tutorials of practical value that you have. Other than that admission of being a geek with no idea how to survive getting stranded?

The Dune, The Little Prince, Umineko (text-only printout is fine), some unfinished light novel to keep me hoping for more, one empty book for my own writing.    

6. Also, a lifetime supply of what drink would you want to have with you on that island?

Water.

Provided that water is abundant, tea. Or apple or orange juice. 

7. Have you ever thought about joining the military or joined it?  Which branch?

I have thought about how not to join the military. Thankfully, they didn’t really want me, either.

I still remember the questionnaire lady asking us questions after our meeting with the military commission. She got to “What is your stance towards military service?”, and my expression must have been telling enough, because after a moment’s pause, she continued with: “Yes, you can say ‘negative’.” 

8. If for one night you could dine with anyone–living or dead, who would it be?

Albert Einstein. 

9. If for a fortnight you could be transported into a fantasy world before returning to the real world, which one would it be?

Damn, I hate you xD. My practical side tells me to pick any fantasy world with magic-medicine developed and reliable enough for me to reap lasting benefits from those two weeks.

Even I can’t deny the temptation for a little bit of adventure here, though. A ticket to the Touhou-verse sounds most alluring. Even if I would likely end up serving as a hungry loli’s dinner before the fortnight is up. 

10. (For men) If you could grow a beard like JEB Stuart’s, would you?  (For women) If you could be any height you wished, what would it be?

I could, who would stop me? I see no point, though. The longest I’ve gone without shaving is less than a week, I think. 

11. What’s your favorite sea creature?

enguarde_02Teh Swordfish, ‘nuff said.

Fun facts

1. My grandmothers from my father’s and my mother’s side are sisters. There is some anime-esque not-related-by-blood stuff going on that makes the resulting diamond-shaped family tree legal and morally sound (???).

2. I can swim, ski and all that, but I first rode a bicycle a couple years ago, aged 22. I can now kind of keep the devilish invention going straight, but I’m not nearing any traffic with my current level of skill!

3. I was brought up in a “somewhat Catholic” household, like most Poles. By the time I was a teen, I was pretty no-no about the faith, but me and my mother agreed I would take part in the confirmation rite before doing whatever I wanted with my faith and ideology from then on.

The fun part of confirmation is that you get a third name (or second, if you never had that), which you get to choose from a list of saints. The choice is free, but you have to explain it to a priest first. My third name ended up being Boniface, for the patron of converts. I was able to tell the priest that my faith is not all that, and the support from Boniface might be necessary to help me.

I did not mention the other reason for the choice: that Boniface happened to be the name of a certain lazy cat…

bonifacy4. The number four is my favorite/lucky number, which often gets me awkward glances from my Asian acquaintances, many of whom link the number to death. (The words “four” and “death” share the same/similar pronunciation in both Japanese and Chinese). Then again, I always felt some kind of affinity for the necromantic side of force in fantasy/rpg settings.

5. I cried at a work of fiction thrice in my life:

  • Dracula: Dead and Loving It, when the titular character dies
  • Dragonheart, see above
  • Pokemon, near the end of the first season, when Ash loses to his friend in the league 

All those were in my childhood, and apparently at some point I’ve lost the ability to cry at fiction. Doesn’t mean I don’t get the feels from watching/reading stuff – I can be a real softie.

6. There is a Japanese textbook out there for Polish learners of the language with the entire grammar part of the book written by yours truly. The request for that came on a “by the way” basis, since my main job on the book was in proofreading, editing and romanization. “By the way,” my boss said at the end of the project, “could you also write a few pages explaining Japanese grammar? ASAP, please.”

The book apparently sold well enough, and it’s one of the rare cases where I’m happy not to be credited for my work. (Hint: try explaining the grammar of any language within the limit of about five pages and a two days’ deadline).

7. Through the years of writing anime-related stuff, I’ve had the pleasure of getting my work plagiarized, translated into foreign languages and adapted into animation.

A fellow fanfiction.net writer plagiarized large portions of Piko Piko Trouble. I don’t think he had any idea what he was doing, as he copied a surreal description of wind gradually breaking out of a time-frozen space straight into his own scene of an everyday conversation, but it was still funny.

Many of the character profiles for ISML2011 are available in Chinese. As far as I can tell with my basic grasp of the language, some of those translations are quite loose, but I hope to be able to read them properly one of those days. (I should probably put more effort into my Chinese.)

Finally, one of my readers came to me asking whether they could animate Twisted Equilibrium. I was like “Huh…? Um, go ahead?” The result was a Microsoft Paint slide show summarizing the story in a surrealistic manner. I regret not downloading the video from youtube at the time, as it is no longer available.

8. During my first year of high school, a piece of paper started circulating the classroom during a physics class, with the single question of: “Have you ever studied German?” and two columns of names underneath. Little did we know that the piece of paper would be used to decide who would qualify where… for the English beginner and advanced classes. Cue in people starting the language from scratch getting sorted to the same group as people with nine years of language study under their belt.

High school is an amazing place.

9. My mother isn’t sure whether she knows what anime is all about, but the few series me and my sister exposed her to “taught [her] that no one is ever fully good or fully evil”. Yay.

10. I was class representative (or vice-representative, or class something) for six years straight, starting from 4th grade until the end of junior high. Other than my close friends, classmates probably saw me as something akin to a half-teacher, and so I either learned about something first, or dead last. Towards the end of junior high, I accidentally discovered that half my class were smokers, and I had no idea until then. Something similar went down in high school – I know there were people doing drugs there, but nobody even bothered trying to invite me to join the club.

Should I feel left out, or just glad for the trouble it saved me?

11. One of my Japanese friends comes from Nishinomiya, and graduated from North High – the same high school Kyon & co. attended in the Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi. He was kind enough to give me and a couple friends a tour of the city, and our last stop was the high school itself. The idea was to ask the guard for permission to enter for a few minutes, but since it was summer vacation, no guard was present and the gate wasn’t locked, we, uh, slipped in for a bit xD?

The photos from that are my treasure, right next to K-On high school photos – but those were taken without breaking any laws.

Nominees

The Huge Anime Fan

Kyarakuta

A Thousand Years From Now

Anime Soup

Marusera no Sekai

Questions

1. The world will blow up in an hour. What do you do with your final hour?

2. Aliens come and want to know whether Earth is worth saving – they ask you to show them three works/things/places/facts to convince them. What do you choose?

3. The same aliens offer you a deal: they will save Earth if you can beat them at a (fair) game. What game/sport/challenge do you choose?

4. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve eaten/drunk in your life?

5. Name one thing somebody did for you that you are most grateful for.

6. Has your opinion on a subject ever changed 180 degrees after years passed/something happened/you learned something new? If so, what was it?

7. You happen to reincarnate as an animal of your choice, what animal do you pick?

8. Choose one anime character for president of your country.

9. Pick one book school forced you to read, and now you’re glad about it.

10. What is the ultimate form and kind of cheese?

11. Cat person? Dog Person?

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kohina243565

“Should have thought things through first,” Kohina thought as she found herself standing in front of the convenience store door, about to face the challenge of her first ever shopping errand.

Model Mantis VS Coffee

A silly fic that went all wrong? Homicidal loli goes shopping, but things are never quite as simple as they first appear.

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[Zero-Raws] Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S - 24 END (MX 1280x720 x264 AAC).mp4_snapshot_01.46_[2013.12.25_01.38.27]

ね、碧美、この街のことどう思う?

Hey, Aomi, how do you feel about this city?

To think that the best development a setting gets is not from the original material, not even from a spin-off, but a spin-off’s anime-original material…

At the end of the Academy Festival arc of Index, what saves the city from destruction are the fireworks that are part of the celebration. Supposedly, that represents the will and strong feelings of all the students living in the city. (Dunno how that works.)

Seems like there was little need for vague symbols like that, though. Even without Touma there to preach about it, the students of Academy City chose to protect their home and stand their ground when the situation called for it, overwhelming odds and 20 000 drones be damned.


It was my first time taking part in the 12 days of anime, and obviously enough I also broke my post-per-month record xD. I mostly went for outstanding but underappreciated moments, rather than the most obvious high points of a series. The order was more or less random.

A Top 12 Anime of 2013 post is in the making and will appear before year-end, though I’ll wait for some shows to air their final episodes this year. Until then! 

 

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[Zero-Raws] Monogatari S2 - 25 (MX 1280x720 x264 AAC).mp4_snapshot_22.49_[2013.12.22_20.04.29]

貝木さんもわたしをだますんだね。

It seems even Kaiki-san lies to me.

Because a good cliffhanger is never bad.

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