Awesome Series. 10. Shaman King (Boys into men! – Shonen Week!)

Welcome to; Boys into men! – Shonen Week. I know it is kind of near the end of the week. Though who says you can’t start a theme week on a Thursday and have it run till the next Thursday? No one, that’s who! This is just kind of a spear of the moment kind of thing and I was looking on my book shelf for some theme ideas. There was a couple shonen titles I wanted to talk about (and by shonen I just mean ran in a boys magazine in Japan) so thought heck with it, I will just do a theme week.

Shaman King is probably the first true-blue shonen series I ever got into. I missed the boat on Dragon Ball and Z mostly because we did not have satellite for a really long time. There was G Gundam but that was just the TV series and as far as I know the show came first there. So Shaman King was first shonen anime and also shonen manga I ever read, volume 4 was the first manga I ever bought. I really, really liked the show  and it caused me to seek out things like the manga for the first time leading me down the nerd path I lead today. Shaman King volume 4 is responsible for me having over 700 volumes of manga, all of this silly knowledge about Japanese cartoons and comics, and by extension making me want to create comics for a living. I will always thank Shaman King for that.

I think that Shaman King kind of shaped what I like in my shonen series. A cool hero that slowly gains a group of friends over time and faces all the odds no matter what. That kind of stuff really pushes all of my buttons. I think that might be one of the reasons I like FullMetal Alchemist: Brotherhood so much. I love the antagonist that becomes a good friend thing, I love the villein is much, much more powerful then the hero situation, and I love it when there is a good mix of comedy in with all the seriousness. Maybe a lot of series have pressed my buttons but Shaman King built the button machine.

All of that aside, Is Shaman King actually any good? I think, yes, it is a very,very good young boys series. I think kids 8-14 would love shaman king. Actually I am of the opinion that it is one of the best shonen manga for kids. So at what it is trying to be; a boys comic book, it does very well. Would the series as a whole do anything for adults though? Hm, that is a much harder question. I think that if you like a lot of shonen things you would probably get something out of it, but it is very typical shonen fair. I think if you are an adult and you have an intrest in Shaman king in anyway the best bet would be to go for the manga over the anime adaptation. The manga takes a few more risks especially near the end and after the artist finds his own style a couple of volumes in the art becomes very creative and striking.  If you are not really into shonen stuff, then I don’t really know what to tell you, you probably would not like this at all because this is totally shonen and neo-shonen at that. But if you don’t like shonen at least sometimes where is your heart!?

Shaman King actually ties in quite well with what tomorrows post will be. Ghosts and such.

Awesome theme: 9. Darker than Black.

Last night I saw The Dark Knight Rises. When I was thinking of what theme I was going to use for today I wanted to get something with an american comic book-ie type feel to it. As I am sure for a lot of people when you think “Batman, Anime” I thought; Darker than Black. Why is that thought? I got to thinking about it and the two properties really have very, very little in common. I mean they are both pretty dark properties with cool heroes that where mostly black and act diffident when they are in costume and not. . That is where the similarities really end. Hie, In terms of powers, well Hie actually has powers while Batman has none. Hie works for an organization while Batman just does it for Gotham. Biggest difference between them is that Hie kills (also sometimes uses guns) and Batman does not, will not kill. Am I saying that Darker than Black is bad because of this?  Of course not! I am just saying that the comparison between Hie and Batman is very very silly.

I really do love Darker than Black, I think it is one of the best looking shows of the past decade. I think it is one of the coolest show you can watch. Does that mean it is a good show? Um that is tough, I am of the came where Darker than Black is totally awesome if you don’t but energy into caring about the overall plot. Just watch all the awesome two praters and don’t worry, it will be okay. I don’t think it is Studio Bones’ best work (My personal favouirte anime studio) I mean the best things they have probably made are things like FullMetal Alchemist (and Brotherhood), Wolfs Rain, and Cowboy Beeboo: the movie. That said, I personally still think Darker than Black is one of their best and one of their most assailable to new fans. I mean you could show this show to someone who has never watched anime before in their life, maybe they are a comics fan or like action movies, they would probably get a kick out of this show.

I think this is kind of breaking the rules of “Awesome Themes” by way of not really having the best theme in the world. Sure, It is kind of cool but I would not really say it is totally awesome. But I think this is an anime that more people need to see, more and more people are getting into anime and just watching the very samey kind of harem/shonen romance type shows. If you like those kinds of things, that’s fine they just are so not for me, at all. I think Darker than Black represents how cool and sleek anime can be and it is important for people to try something new in their viewing every now and again. Remember kids, anime is a medium, the medium of animation, not a single genera. And Darker than Back is a very cool part of that medium so go check it out, it’s awesome!

Awesome Theme: 8. Cheeky Angel

If someone were to ask me what I thought was an underrated anime. I would not say something like “Cross Game” or “Wolfs Rain” shows that clearly have a lot of  fans and people know about them. When I think underrated I think; Cheeky Angel. I  have almost never met anyone that has seen the anime for Cheeky Angel. Honestly it was only by chance that I even saw it. You see back in the early days of high school when I was just getting into anime with shows like “InuYasha” (What was I thinking?) and Gundam SEED. My friend, who had a friend that burned a lot of subtitled anime onto disc and would lend it to him. (I don’t even want to go into the crazy ways we used to trade shows. I hurts my mind to even think about it now.) One day he lent me two shows, Black Cat (which is pretty bad aside from some pretty cool looking parts, some of GONZO’s best work art wise) and Cheeky Angel or “Tenshi na Konamiki”. I blew through Black Cat in less then two days and loved it.(I had bad taste back in high school) After a bit of pushing for my friend saying the show was indeed awesome I decided to watch it, and oh my, it was Awesome!

Honestaly the first hand full of episodes are pretty boring with some stand out parts that do make you want to keep watching. But I would say the show does not hit its stride until about 11-13 episodes in so if you do check it out just think of it as a Sunrise robot show. I think this was the first anime that ever introduced the whole “manly man have to do manly things!” type of a spirit, and now I can’t get enough of that kinda story telling. This show is all about the characters and how they interact with each other. They can be kind of one note such as “nerdy pervert guy” or “Straight edge, honor bound guy” but they are still awesome. The humor is much like the style School Rumble has. You do not really need to care about the over all plot. Just go with the flow and enjoy the crazy things that happen. This series has one of my favourite climax’s in all of anime  the ending is perfect for the series.

Everyone that reads this and does not know about this series please, please go check it out! It needs more fans!

Awesome Theme: 7. Tokyo Majin

More then a year ago at Anime North 2011 I was there with a friend and he was buying a probably bootleg mug of some shonen romance show. I believe I asked him “Do you even know that show? why would you buy a mug of a show you are not even really a fan of?” and he replied with “Well I don’t care about this show, I just like the characters and how it looks. Isn’t there a show like that that you like?” The first response that came to my head was “No, of course not” because what is the point of liking something let alone buying something from a show you do not care about. Then it hit me “Oh! Tokyo Majin!”

I really like Tokyo Majin, I have seen the whole thing a good few times. I can not tell you what happened at all in that show, I barely remember a single plot point especially in the first season. I think it is a totally forgettable show. That said, I do really like this show just for some of the cool fight animations and the art design really grabs me. I think this show has my favourite anime opening of all time, which is this song “Prayer” by ACID. I don’t know why, this song just really gets me going. especially the climax of the song. The little animation of Tatsuma turning into that fish and flying away is amazing. Let me be clear though, This show is not a guilty pleasure I do legitimately like the show and am not ashamed of it. I just think the show is not very good at all but still is one of the top shows I would just throw on to have in the background when drawing or something. I wouldn’t really recommend the show to anyone unless you like what you see in the opening credits her. Just be warned there is not much meat on the bone, still a fun time though for my moneys worth.

Awesome Theme: 6. GTO

GTO or Great Teacher Onizuka is one of those anime that I remember loving very much as I watched it. Now I don’t really remember too much from it aside from some gags and plot points. My opinions on what is funny and what makes a good show has changed a lot since I was in high school, the time when I saw GTO. One of the reasons I remember GTO fondly is because I have a friend whom in high school, his dream was to become GTB (Great Teacher Ben). I may not remember all of what happened in GTO but when I think about it I get really positive feelings and memories and inset that the greatest achievement of all storytelling in general? I think GTO as a character is awesome, maybe not very original but still awesome in how he is handled. A super badass who does what he wants when he wants and has a heart of gold but is also super broke, down on his luck and no one respects him. I respect you fictional teacher Onizuka. This song is pretty sweet too. I believe it is the first L’Arc-en-Ciel song to come up on this list so far, one of their best I think. There is also something about the video really striking to me and really melds well with me  aesthetically. I think it might be the way the animation flows and the camera movies. I want to get around to watching it again one day, maybe in a year or two. Eikichi Onizuka much like Koji Kabuto, will never die.

PS: one of the funniest things about GTO is that the kid that always got picked on and stuff had a t-shirt that he had all the time and it said “LOSER” on it. It always made me giggle.

Awesome Theme: 5. School Rumble: Second Semester

Okay, so this is the first song and this type of show I am posting on here.  First of all if you are judgin’ you are wrong, because School Rumble is awesome! In my Gintama review when I said the only good anime comedies I could think of were Gintama and Cromartie High school. I was wrong, because I forgot about School Rumble, how? I don’t know,(sometimes things just slip your mind) but School rumble is probably my favourite. Just like in Gintama, School rumble’s comedy is all about the characters. I even think School rumble does a better job of giving its even bigger cast its due. Every single character is at least interesting even if you don’t really relate to them. Though I think every guy can relate to Harima in one way or another! if not harima someone in the large cast. The story handles high school drama in a crazy and very funny way is very very effective. I think if you are not a big fan of high school type shows you should still give this one a shot. You will know if you like it by the first three episodes.

Now this opening is from the second season, It is just as awesome as the first season and improves on it in every way. This series has a set of episodes where the class splits up into two groups to have a super-serious air soft gun match to decide what kind of event they are going to have for the culture fest, It is awesome. I picked the second semester song because I like it a bit more. I do not dislike the first opening but this one just has something more “awesome” about it that makes it onto the awesome theme list.

Also this series has  one of the best lines in all of anime, “Damn, nothing but turtles”.

Awesome Theme: 4. Baki the Grappler

I love Baki, but it is the first anime that ever made me feel sick to my stomach. I don’t know why but every time they start talking about  different muscle related things and how to tear nerves and stuff just makes me go pail and feel faint. Its totally awesome but I cant watch it for long.  This song is awesome and basically the reason I watched the series after a friend lent it to me. I was going to skip over it because back in the day I was kind of a snob about “anime” art and thought Baki was ugly, well it is, but in an awesome way! Baki is the perfect “shonen power creep” show in that if you wanna show how strong someone is just show them beating up the guy that used to be the strongest. It’s a no fail system! I think I am one of a few people that is still waiting to see what happens next in the anime! I know there is tons of manga for it but I really want to see Baki animated again. Though I don’t think that day will ever come.

Awesome Theme: 3. Berserk

This song will never get old and no matter how silly it is when someone says “Berserk” the first thing I think in my head is “Tell me why!? Tell me why!? Tell me what you are!?”. Its just so awesome how kind of out of place it is yet it still fits. The biggest disappointment about the new berserk movies for me is that this song is not included. Yeah, Sure, Forces is good and epic and all that. But this song is just so awesome. I also think its really funny that the opening is mostly just Guts posing and doesn’t tell you anything about the story except Guts has a big sword, but really I guess that is all you need to know about how awesome Berserk is. The manga is on a diffident level but I will always love this anime and this song.

Awesome Theme: 2. FullMetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Disclaimer: This is not the first opening theme of FMA:B, but as this is now just “Awesome Themes” I think it is safe to say it does not have to be the first opening.

FullMetal Alchemist is probably my favourite shonen series of all time, topped only by its self FullMetal Alchemist brotherhood. I don’t like it better because it follows the manga, that’s not a reason to like something more. The reason I like Brotherhood better I will get into in a future post, but basically the series presses all of my buttons that a shonen series can.The only other anime that has even come close to FMA:B for me is maybe Yu Yu Hakusho.(mostly just for its third arc)

This song, much like the series is probably my favourtie FMA opening. That used to be Rewrite from forth opening from the first series. As much as I do love Asian Kung-Fu Generation I think that period is a little bit better for me personally at least. I can listen to rewrite maybe one or two times before I don’t want to hear it for a while but, man, Period I can listen to it over and over and not get sick of it. This opening does a very good job getting you excited for what you are about to watch. Normally with anime openings after you hear them once (or depending on the show, zero times) you tend to skip them, I did not skip period once.

What is your favourite song from FMA or FMA:B? I would like to hear some other opinions.

Review – Gintama

Gintama is awesome. It has been a while since I read any of it, over a year or 2 in fact. I have gotten around to re-reading a couple of volumes in the last couple days. It amazes me how it can still make me laugh as much as it does. I am not a big fan of a majority of anime comedy for pretty obvious reasons. but things like Chromartie Highschool and Gintama really blend with my sence of humor.  They play everything so straight faced and with such great timing that it just works.

I remember in high school when I first heard of Gintama I did not know it was a comedy. I just thought it was another shonen series I would probably never get around to seeing. Then a friend of mine started talking it up and saying how good it was, I remember there were particularly ecstatic over the Death Note parody episode. I watched a coupled episode and was not too drawn in, because quite honestly when it is trying to tell its serious sotry or not doing kind of a series of one off stories it is not that good. I hate to be the guy that says you have to watch/read to a cretin place in the story before it gets good. With Gintama though, It is kind of forgivable because it has to set up its characters so that when there is character related comedy you understand it. I think once you get past the first 7 or so episodes and or the first volume and a bit of the series you are in the clear for a good time.

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