Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Attack on Titan: Season 1

Age Rating: 18 and up
Rating: 8 out of 10
Episode Count: 25
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic, Dark Fantasy, Action, Horror
Format: English Dubbed

Official Synopsis:

"Known in Japan as Shingeki no Kyojin, many years ago, the last remnants of humanity were forced to retreat behind the towering walls of a fortified city to escape the massive, man-eating Titans that roamed the land outside their fortress. Only the heroic members of the Scouting Legion dared to stray beyond the safety of the walls – but even those brave warriors seldom returned alive. Those within the city clung to the illusion of a peaceful existence until the day that dream was shattered, and their slim chance at survival was reduced to one horrifying choice: kill – or be devoured!"

My Review: 

Out of the millions of people who have watched Attack on Titan, I probably am numbered in the less than 5% who didn’t like it to begin with, but grew to appreciate it over time. Without a doubt, Attack on Titan was an acquired taste. Despite its impeccable reputation, my first impression was less than glowing. I found its story choppy and underdeveloped, its characters one dimensional and cliché, its animation uncouth and often grotesque, its premise scary but sorely lacking in suspense, and its story border lining on repugnant. Now as bad as that sounds, I beg you to stick with me, because I’m about to start complimenting it real soon.

Ordinarily, I would drop a series that I feel that negative about within one to two episodes, but Attack on Titan’s raw and untamed potential wasn’t wasted on me. So despite the fact I had issues with multiple components at first, I chose to stick it out and see it through, whether it turned into something great or failed me on every level. I knew if it could just tweak a  handful of things, it could make a fan out of me as it had everyone else. It kept me waiting for almost half a season, but around episode twelve, I could feel the shift take place.

Suddenly, the characters that had felt so contrived and held back up till then now felt liberated and layered. The story that had felt constricted and forced was now starting to fly off the screen and come to life. Its dull animation began to take shape and become an extension of its dismal world—rather than just a medium to convey it. The threads of its potential began to weave together, finally forming a tapestry of slowly nurtured talent. Attack on Titan is the best example of an inorganic life form evolving that I’ve ever seen.

As it outgrew its awkward phase, I began to see past the things that had previously bothered me, and notice all the little things that make Attack on Titan singularly special. Easily the most humanistic series I’ve ever encountered, animated or otherwise, although it’s often one of the elements that can make it difficult to watch, this series uncensored portrayal of the human race is one of the many elements that separate it from the pack.

Despite the fact we always expect a classic hero to be confident, self-sacrificing, and unyielding, you will never encounter a real human being that can uphold those qualities at all times and in all situations. And if you did, I can assure you they aren’t human. Just like real people, the characters of Attack on Titan display authentic human emotions that would naturally occur in a heinous living environment such as theirs. They get scared and angry, discouraged and disoriented, they run when they should fight, and they freeze up when they should take action. Watching a bunch of characters standing around screaming when they could be launching into action isn’t always enjoyable, but it’s surely more realistic.

I’ve never done this before, but I honestly suggest that psychology students watch this series a few times. It’ll give you a creative insight on how environmental cues, social economics, and childhood trauma can influence the development of personalities and shape the society they live in.

My hyper critical nature of this series was brought on by the untapped ability I saw laying dormant in it at the beginning, but despite its first impression and my natural hatred for the horror genre, Attack on Titan still managed to find a way to win me over. I’ll never stop mourning where this series went wrong, or seeing where it could improve in the future, but I believe even that’s a sign of how much I love it. I accept it for what it is, but see it for what it can become.

I would never in a million years classify Attack on Titan as a fun series to watch. There’s too much death and destruction to call it a cheery thing like “fun,” but if you’re looking for an aggressive, gritty, and cringe worthy series to curl up with a security blanket, and box of tissues in hand, congratulations, you’ve found it!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Hue's How To! Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans Hat

What You'll need:
  1. Plain military cap
  2. Embroidery circle 
  3. Green and red Sharpie fabric markers
  4.  Sewing pins
  5. Scissors
  6. Paper Tekkadan logo
Mission Start!

Step 1: Place your embroidery circle in the center of your hat being careful to make it as centered as possible. 

Step 2: Cut out your Tekkadan logo to use as a template when tracing the shape onto your hat. 

Step 3: Using your sewing pins, tack your Tekkadan logo template onto your hat. One again, try to make sure it's centered in the middle of the hat.

Step 4: Using your template, trace around the Tekkadan logo with your green fabric marker. I used Stained by Sharpie for this project.

Step 5: After you've gotten the basic shape down, fill it in with the green fabric marker like so.

Step 6: Next, get out a red fabric marker and with both your red and green markers add in some random elements to help make it pop.

You’re done!
Now you have a cool hat to keep you warm in the winter, or shaded in the summer! I used green and red on my hat because I thought the green mimicked Tekkadan's military uniforms and red represented the blood shed by their comrades, but you can use different colors depending on the color and look of the hat you're working with. I hope you can enjoy representing Gundam and the incredible Iron Blooded Orphans of Tekkadan wherever you where this hat, whether to a con or just to the local book store. You can't go wrong with this kind of anime powered accessory. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Re:ZERO~Starting Life in Another World: Complete Series

Age Rating: 17 and up
Rating: 9 1/2 out of 10
Episode Count: 25
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Format: English

Official Synopsis:
"Natsuki Subaru, an ordinary high school student, is on his way home from the convenience store when he finds himself transported to another world. As he's lost and confused in a new world where he doesn't even know left from right, the only person to reach out to him was a beautiful girl with silver hair. Determined to repay her somehow for saving him from his own despair, Subaru agrees to help the girl find something she's looking for..."

My Review:

Re:Zero is the most enjoyable form of frustration I've ever known! This series crawls up under your skin, imbeds itself into your inner most psyche, and slowly but surely eats away at your patience, leaving you to revel in unsubstantiated musings and unprovoked rage!

Leaving many questions and very few answers in its wake, this anime appears to derive a particularly twisted form of pleasure in playing with its audience’s emotions. It jerks you around nine ways to Sunday, plays with your heart like a dog’s chew toy, never apologizes for an instant, and … has you thanking it for that misery.

Re:Zero is the most dysfunctional relationship you will ever have with an anime. This series could turn even the most sadistic of individuals into a masochist in one viewing. Despite the unprecedented frustration you experience while watching its infuriating story unfold, it somehow manages to not only keep you coming back for more time and again, but begging for it to do so.

As you quickly become accustomed to its predictably unpredictable nature, you’ll begin to realize that much of Re:Zero’s appeal lies in its nerve wracking suspense. Fueled by its multifaceted story, clever characters, luminous animation, intense pace progression, brilliant character arcs, gripping story, and foreboding OSTs, the anxiety it brings is anything but contrived.

Re:Zero effortlessly created a world in which everything is as thrilling as it is terrifying, beautiful as it is beastly, and everyone is as lovable as they are untrustworthy! It has you second guessing every conspiracy, conclusion, and possibility you contrive. It never lets you take a break for a moment—right when you think you’ve caught on to its little mind games and it can’t possibly fool you anymore, it pulls the rug out from under yet again, throwing in yet another unexpected element to its already complex story.

As undeniably stressful as it is to navigate through Re:Zero though, that’s what makes it so exciting to watch. You can never tell who is friend or foe, what confounded conundrum is coming next, or where its infinitely infuriating story is heading. In a day and age where most supposed twists and turns can be met with, “I saw that coming,” Re:Zero manages to keep its story fresh and fascinating. Despite its cyclical episodic format, by continually adding new characters, venues, and ventures, this series never felt stale or stagnant for a second.

I called it when I said Re:Zero was going to be the black horse of the Spring 2016 season. They say the opposite of love isn’t hate, but neutrality, and I think Re:Zero is a good example of that. Despite the frustration you feel watching it, it’s that same rage that proves just how invested you are in its story and characters. So if you find yourself wanting to throw your television out the window because something didn’t go the way you would have wanted it to, remember, that’s your love for this ingenious little gem talking.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Planetarian: Complete Series

Age Rating: 13 and up
Rating: 8 out of 10
Episode Count: 5
Genre: Drama, Sci-fi, Post-apocalyptic
Format: English Dubbed

Official Synopsis:

"For thirty years, companion robot Hoshino Yumemi has patiently waited to show someone the stars. Left in an abandoned planetarium, she sits hoping for customers that will never show. That is, until a Junker—a plunderer of goods and artifacts from the ruins of civilization—stumbles upon the crumbling establishment. Will he help her repair the planetarium, or will she be alone once more?"

My Review: 

Always helpful and sincere, never malicious or spiteful, polite to those who are rude, patient with those in a hurry, and tender to those in pain. Perpetually pleasant, with unraveled optimism, robots are the stuff sci-fi dreams are made of. Unless we’re talking about Ultron, in which case it’s more like a nightmare, but that’s a discussion for another time!

For as many series and movies as there are portraying robots as the villains, there are just as many displaying their original directive: to serve and help the human race in any way necessary. Good, bad, or indifferent, there’s something undeniably appealing about robots. Personally, I’m convinced that everyone, at one time or other has imagined what it would be like to live in a world where robots roam the streets freely.

Just think about it, for a moment. Have you ever gone up to the checkout counter in a department store to purchase an item only to find no one manning the register? Perhaps you looked around for some sign of life only to be met with your fellow customer who were equally frustrated at the lack of manpower? When a clerk finally arrived did they “cop a tude” and act like you were the one inconveniencing them? That, my friend, would not be a problem if a self sacrificing robot were the employee.

Let’s imagine Yumemi Hoshino worked at this theoretical department store. You’d be greeted by a clear, crisp voice warmly welcoming you to the facility, followed by a blow-by-blow of what the store has to offer. Should you need further assistant, Yumemi would only be too pleased to help you locate a specific item. Perhaps the human element is needed to solve your query? She will locate a competent employee and bring them to you immediately. Your business thus taken care of, Yumemi would then escort you from the facility, to your car, bidding you a fond farewell and including a singular request that you come again! That is service with an S!

This is the kind of unwarranted kindness Planetarian’s leading lady lavishly pores out to anyone within earshot. The cornerstone of this short but sweet series, Yumemi, was the perfect antidote to the weary and downtrodden Junkers curmudgeonly attitude. Rather than relying on a host of characters to muffle any discrepancies in it, this anime bared its soul for all to see, banking on the delightful duet its primary pair could provide.

With a brief five episodes to convey its story, Yumemi and the Junker wove a delightful, engaging, and mournful tale. Using its iridescent animation, sorrowful soundtracks, engrossing storytelling, and charming characters, Planetarian created a magical atmosphere. My only regret was that I didn’t know (until it was too late) that this series was written by Keys, the masochist behind heart wrenching Clannad, Angel Beats, and Air. I doubt any forewarning would have saved me from the inevitable suffering and emotional back lash, but it would have been a nice heads up anyway. So, without spoiling the ending, you have been warned to keep a tissue box handy on this one!

Even through all the tears though, it was easy to see what a special series Planetarain was. Easily the unexpected gem of this year, this is that little series you just don’t see coming until it’s already captivated your attention, and captured your heart.