10 Thoughts: Week of June 18th

Now presenting live: a week of heroes and villains, plus some other animation musings.

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It’s Hero Week unofficially here at AniB Productions- between the highly anticipated debut of Incredibles 2 this past Friday and the current arc in My Hero Academia, it’s hard for it to be anything else.

 

1.This week’s thoughts came a week late, thanks to the comprehensive Incredibles review that was posted last Monday instead. Before jumping into the highly anticipated sequel  this past weekend, it was worth a look back into its predecessor, which was an absolutely terrific film. Check out the review here if you haven’t!

 

2. Naturally, Incredibles 2 was a Day 1 viewing for me, and it lived up to the hype, which was impressive considering how good the original film actually is. While I don’t intend for this week’s 10 Thoughts to turn into a shilling column for The Incredibles franchise, here’s a link to that review as well.

 

3. One more Incredibles thought: It was an almost surreal experience to finally revisit that universe after all that time and anticipation, and while the true measuring stick for the sequel will be against its illustrious predecessor, this film will be the clubhouse leader for Best Animated Film of the Year, particularly at the Academy, where the revised rules as of last year made it far harder for foreign films to win at the expense of critics who often don’t take animated fare that seriously unless they specialize in the field. Much as I enjoy Pixar films and The Incredibles in any capacity, this is a change that feels for the worst- and in its first year of implementation resulted in The Boss Baby and Ferdinand getting nominations, which simply felt off.

 

4. Alright, I suppose it’s time to talk about My Hero Academia again, isn’t it? The series’ biggest fight to date in the anime finally occurred, and for those of you keeping up with the series, you’ll be well aware of the stakes that were involved in this one…which was translated pretty nicely from the manga.

 

5. I’m sure the followers of My Hero Academia also want more details on my thoughts of the fight that are spoilery for everyone else, so skip down to #7 if you haven’t seen or followed the series.

 

6. All For One is one scary dude with a terrifying Quirk that makes his options virtually limitless in a fight. Chances are that his abilities to augment Quirks was the inspiration for the Noumu program he’d spawned, given that the creatures are known for being essentially organic meatheads of stacked combat Quirks with enhanced physicals acrost the board.

What you really came to ask about though, was my thoughts on All Might’s final battle against his archenemy. It is in a word, symbolic. It’s not just that All Might throws the final embers of One For All in his body into defeating All For One, but it’s also the proverbial passing of the torch to Midoriya at last. Izuku is now truly the wielder of One For All, and the weight of that finally hits him as he gets All Might’s victory message… More importantly, it is a total changing of the guard. All For One is probably headed to a max-security outfit where he’ll no longer be in the picture, while All Might is no more as a hero, meaning Izuku and Shigaraki- who was teleported out of the battlefield against his will- now represent the new generation. (For the sake of knowing the manga, I’m just going to keep it to anime spoilers that I discuss here, but I’ll say this much: don’t expect things to slow down.)

 

 

7. Don’t look up if you want to avoid spoilers! It was definitely a fitting arrangement to have events go down the way they did in My Hero Academia and Incredibles 2 releasing in back to back days, which made for a vividly entertaining weekend in animation.

 

8. In non-hero week related stuff, the request to write a piece on “a anime harem of my choice” was quite entertaining, partially because it was so unexpected, but I do thank The Luminous Mongoose again for the nomination to do so. I think it embodied something important about life though: sometimes, when you write something outside of your usual routine, you grow from it, and even get rejuvenated to some extent as well. So it was a fun exercise!

 

9. Heard from a friend that Disney’s DuckTales reboot has had some more character developments, including a Gyro Gearloose that in their words, “is much meaner.” I’ve yet to sit down and really dig into the series, but I am intrigued, and last year even wrote an initial impressions piece based on the very entertaining pilot.

 

10. Since the success of the past character piece featuring Nagisa Shiota from Assassination Classroom, I’ve been hard at work on a new one, which hopefully I’ll release sometime this week. There’s also a few other ideas in the works going forward, so every day and week will continue to bring surprises!


I hope everyone has a great week, and feedback is always appreciated! If there’s any animation show, character, movie, or even episode you might want me to take a look at, let me know!

Build a Harem! (Special Post)

See Deku’s face? Welcome to AniB’s stab at an interesting request.

Well, it finally happened. I got a request to write about an anime harem that I’d pick according to these rules set here and well…I guess you could say challenge accepted!

First off, thanks to The Luminous Mongoose for the nod to do this piece. His blog is here if you wanna check it out, and he writes some quality, fun anime pieces.

Okay, so being perfectly honest, I initially laughed at the idea of building a harem, in part because I’m like the least fan-service oriented, harem-obsessed critic out there. But then a great idea came to me in light of this nomination, which was to of course, do something unconventional. Instead of the generic listing of anime waifus and has-been girls, I’ve decided instead to build a squad of 5 characters that best emphasize a desired trait that can be valued in a character. (By “trait” here, I don’t mean boobs and butt- I mean actual tangible qualities of a person.) So in turn, this “harem” isn’t the usual high-school comedy group that goes all over, but rather, picks that reflect the strongest personification of that quality I’d want in that individual. So, without further ado, here’s my picks:


Determination: Gon Freeccs (Hunter x Hunter)

I wrote a while back about Killua Zoldyck, and while he’d be an obvious choice for this exercise, given that he’s my favorite anime character in existence, it turns out that for this specific “harem” his best friend Gon was actually a better fit. Gon is the paragon of determination in a character. He won’t quit to achieve his ends, even if his recklessness could cost him his life- a price he comes all too often close to paying. However, there are few characters in anime with more conviction for their goals than the young Hunter, and even fewer that are willing to suffer, even greatly, in order to achieve them.

 

Truth: L (Death Note)

https://i1.wp.com/images6.fanpop.com/image/photos/35700000/L-Lawliet-death-note-35773784-500-343.jpg

Truth is justice, and justice is truth, if you’re the world’s greatest detective. L is someone who behind his eccentricities and unusual upbringing is ultimately only after the truth of the toughest crimes in the world so that he can solve them, and in his case, he gives Light Yagami all he can handle in his dogged pursuit to find “Kira,” the persona given to the man committing mass murder in the name of “justice.”

 

Love: Edward and Alphonse Elric (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood)

I thought carefully about this pick, but the brothers represent a very deep sort of brotherly love that is inseparable in the quest to regain Alphonse’s lost body. They are tasked with fixing a grievous wrong that was self-inflicted, but in turn, find themselves wrapped into immeasurable danger as their quest to find the so-called “Philosopher’s Stone” continues to get darker at every turn. Edward in particular is driven to ensure his brother’s survival, and is shown to be selfless in his pursuit of regaining his brother’s lost body.

 

Trust: Karma Akabane (Assassination Classroom)

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So why in the world would I pick Karma? At first glance, he doesn’t seem like a good fit for this type, but then you take a deeper dive…He’s a genius with a streak of frighting crazy behind those eyes, but he’s also a man who carefully evaluates the people around him, and for those he chooses to ally himself with, there’s a bond of brotherhood that can be forged as if it were put through fire. Karma’s acceptance of Class 3-E, along with his personal character arc that relates to his friendship with Nagisa Shiota, reflect this quality strongly.


Well, this group certainly isn’t a “harem” in any traditional sense of the word, but they are surprisingly strong characters in their given traits (and they’re also all boys. Apologies for anyone expecting cute girls doing cute things.)

I’m also not entirely sure who to nominate, but here’s 5 folks who might be interested:

1. negativeprimes

2. TheAniMessenger

3. Oishi

4. Shokamoka

5. (AniMo)nologues

….

Alright, here’s one girl for your troubles:

The Eternal Try-Hard: Yuuko (Nichijou: My Ordinary Life)

https://myanimelist.cdn-dena.com/images/characters/14/112668.jpg

Yuuko is someone who always keeps going, despite being a constant magnet of bad luck and downright unfortunate circumstances. She’s not the smartest or sharpest tool in the toolbox, but she is perhaps the one that is most admirable as she pushes onwards in her ordinary life, be it through silly games, poorly thought out jokes, or misadventures at a restaurant. Comedy, like life, ain’t easy.


Like what you see here? Any thoughts on this post? Leave a comment!

 

What’s In a Character: Nagisa Shiota

Unassuming danger, and a boy who looks to follow Korosensei. But down which path?

Well, I kept everyone waiting yet again. After the Christmas treat that was Nonon’s character piece, it took a while again to really put together one of these special character pieces for the “What’s in a Character?” series. Today’s entry takes a pretty dramatic turn away from one crazy school in Kill la Kill to Kunugigaoka Junior High’s Class 3-E. Yup, we’re taking a trip to the Assassination Classroom once more (here’s the review on the show), and who better to guide that journey than the main character and narrator of that series, student #11, Nagisa Shiota? There’s a lot more to that wispy frame and flowing blue hair than meets the eyes, and his talent for both reading people, and more unnervingly, assassination, is undeniable. Get ready to come face to face with one of Korosensei’s well-trained pupils, in both military training and in life.

WARNING: Major spoilers for Assassination Classroom follow.


Initially speaking, the obvious character choice to talk about from this series is Koro-sensei- the one of a kind Mach-20 octopus man and crack teacher. In fact, it’s entirely conceivable that he could still be talked about in another character piece, but for today, the spotlight instead shines on the actual main protagonist and narrator of the show- Nagisa.

So what’s unique about this kid? Quite a lot actually.

https://d.wattpad.com/story_parts/373035997/images/14a3a3167335e711361605822183.jpg

By virtue of being in Class 3-E, Nagisa was looking to overcome the odds along with the rest of his class. From the start of the series, it is shown that he’s an extremely perceptive individual, but at the time also lacks the sort of confidence in himself you’d hope for. Quite a few details are omitted and then brought to light as time went on: an unlikely prior friendship with Karma Akabane, the bad boy genius of 3-E; an almost abusive mother who projected her fantasies of wanting a girl onto Nagisa, reflected in his long blue hair that he usually kept tied up in those “floofs,” and his own dreams being suppressed in turn by said mother, which means Nagisa as a person blossomed in his one year as a 3-E student.

The discovery of Nagisa’s latent natural talent at assassination and the subsequent question of what his future holds forms a major aspect of his character arc. His talent is foreshadowed immediately in “Assassination Time” (episode 1), with the “suicide” tactic Terasaka cooks up for him; again in “Assembly Time” (episode 5) when the class is required to attend a school assembly and Nagisa’s mere look terrifies two would-be bullies, and it becomes readily apparent to everyone else in “Talent Time” (episode 13), when Nagisa turns the tables on Takaoka, displaying the unnerving ability to turn a combat veteran’s hardened experience again him, along with full use of his unassuming and normally non-threatening appearance to its full advantage. The dynamic only continues to intensify during the class’s vacation to the resort island, when Nagisa once again defeats Takaoka in a rematch coordinated by the rogue mercenary as a means of revenge (and unintentionally good training for the class.)

https://pa1.narvii.com/5741/4b70053325cbf1fd616dfda66a49210e72b23027_hq.gif

Takaoka should have quit while he was ahead. This is one battle he won’t win.

Since I brought it up, I’d be amiss not to talk at least briefly about his long-standing friendship with Karma. It’s revealed immediately that the two are on friendly terms the moment Karma steps into 3-E, surprising the other students, and while they are in fact friends, there was also a fierce rivalry that boiled beneath the surface of the two boys’ relationship. Even more intriguing was the contrast in combat styles: Nagisa was an assassin in the purest sense of the word, always looking for an opening and a quick takedown, while Karma was a brawler with a bag of dirty tricks, his fist backing up his mouth and his mind as a threat. Nagisa always felt in the shadow of his friend, but the dynamic in 3-E shifted as he grew through the year, especially in his skills with assassination, and eventually, everything came to a head in one of the best fights of the series:

I suppose if you want to make a lasting point, you settle it like men.

There was also  the relationship with Kaede Kayano that boiled over in the same season. For what it’s worth, it might be one of the better shipping fakeouts in anime, largely because everything prior to Kayano’s tentacled reveal can be questioned as whether it was genuine or not, given her role as a professional actress. What was not in question was that Nagisa regarded her as a friend and potential romantic interest. The specific way in which he helped stop her rampage was also a pretty unexpected callback to the technique Irina Jelevic used on him back in “Grown-up Time” (episode 4) and in an ironic twist, the skill Nagisa had carefully accumulated over time probably saved a life that day instead of taking one.

In turn, Nagisa’s aptitude in taking what he’d learned and practically applying it to situations served him incredibly well in another way aside from the assassin arts- as a teacher. In a heartfelt episode (“Before and After Time,” episode 28) , after the class accidentally breaks an elderly principal’s leg, Koro-sensei bans them from studying for the midterms…and in exchange, 3-E is tasked to repair the run-down school of the principal in question. It is here that Nagisa mentors a young girl beat down mentally by past acts of bullying in her life, and helps her back to a place of confidence as the school is completely renovated and repaired. In subsequent episodes, it is shown that Nagisa continued to help her out even after the class’s commitment to the school was paid off in full. It also provided an alternate glimpse into what Nagisa could become- someone dedicated to the forming and teaching of young minds, which presented an interesting conundrum: would he take after the Korosensei that was the “God of Death” from his previous life, or become like Korosensei the teacher, blessed with immense talent in certain ways but sworn to use it for the good of others?

 

 

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Much has been made of Nagisa’s androgynous appearance, and I believe this was a conscious character design choice with storyline implications that were surprisingly well-played out, gradually and steadily. To start with, Nagisa is not lazily homosexual as this stereotype might perpetuate; it’s reinforced subtly and obviously that he’s very much a straight boy outside of his appearance, and while his frame and hair allows him to easily crossdress, the two episodes in which he does, both times out of necessity (and actually forced by Karma and Rio Nakamura in the latter moment), there is clearly discomfort in having to do so, going beyond simply being uncomfortable in the opposite sex’s clothes, which I don’t doubt would be off-putting for plenty of people (and a turn on for others, but I digress.) Instead, it actually plays a very important part in the deeper inner conflict of Nagisa’s life with his mother and her delusional dreams of wanting a girl, despite the fact that she has been gifted a fairly kind and perceptive young man for a son. Nagisa’s appearance also has the patently useful side effect of making for great disguise when it comes to being an assassin, but I suspect the protagonist probably favored the high-tech P.E. uniforms supplied to them by the government around the midway point of the show. Further to the point though, Nagisa’s appearance also suggests the personal inner conflict of what his future holds. Will it hold his mom’s demands? Will it hold the quiet and sordid life of a master assassin? What will it be? In that sense, Nagisa’s appearance is that of a book yet to be written; one that will resolve itself with a resoundingly definitive answer.

https://i.imgur.com/GsHW6Ks.png

“Is it okay if I become an assassin?”- Nagisa Shiota, to Koro-sensei during career counseling  

Before we get there however, there was the influence of the greatest teacher anyone could ask for, and his role in his pupil’s life. Yes, Koro-sensei provided personalized guidance to every last one of his students, but it was with Nagisa alone that one of his class might try and take after his profession- but which one? As was said earlier, Nagisa showed natural aptitude and a rare skillset that made him an ideal assassin…but he also showed a talent for touching the hearts of people who seemed closed off or in need, from  the young girl at the at the old schoolhouse the class repaired, to a raging Kayano in her darkest moments. As with everything else, Koro-sensei let Nagisa discover the answers for himself as time proceeded. A duality existed between master and pupil: the ability to flip a switch the moment life and death was on the line, but a kind and almost disarming ease when not in the heat of battle, not only characterized by Nagisa’s distinctively non-threatening appearance most times, but also Koro-sensei’s ability to win over an entire class of people aiming to kill him in an entire year through superb teaching, heartfelt life lessons, and just enough unpredictability to keep everyone guessing.

 

“Goodbye…Korosensei.” – Nagisa Shiota, upon being given the final task of Class 3-E

The final resolution to follow Koro-sensei’s footsteps not as an assassin, but as a teacher, is a triumphant validation of the former “God of Death’s” duty fulfilled: a natural prodigy raised in a year long environment of both assassination and school instead chose the “classroom” part of “Assassination Classroom.” It is also the validation of Nagisa’s wishes and dreams, signaling his independence of decision making from his reluctant but now understanding mother, and it also in the grandest of traditions, the figurative passing of the torch, as Nagisa alone carries the academic flame of 3-E into the future. As we find out though, our little blue-haired assassin still kept those skills, and put them to very good use in his first ever teaching assignment. (Truth be told, he probably remembered the punks from the Kyoto trip in the first season, but those punks were now his students. And trust me, he was ready:)

Through tragedy, flowers blossom upon the fertile soil of the next generation. Be it Korosensei’s sense of duty to his fallen lover, or a student looking to follow the master’s footsteps, that too is part of the life lessons to be learned in Assassination Classroom. But this is about Nagisa at the end of the day, and he’s got a wonderfully complex character that comes together nicely over the course of the show, with heartfelt emotional highs and lows, and an underdog mentality to beat the odds, whether that be the open defiance of Kunugigaoka Junior High’s caste system, the takedown of a professional mercenary on a helipad, the drive to help his friends, from Karma and Kayano to his other classmates, or the important gain in self-confidence that finally allowed him to confront his mother and her repressive wishes for his life. Nagisa represents what it means to be constantly learning, even as we grow older, and the ability to find our way forward in life provided we trust in others, some good guidance, be it from God, family, or a giant octopus man, and ultimately, the reality that making tough decisions in life can be painfully transformative in ways we’d never imagine. But most of all, Nagisa Shiota is one heck of a character with a unique aesthetic and plenty of reasons to root for him. “What’s In a Character” is quite the promotion from E-Class for this young man, but he deserves every bit of it.

 


Like what you see? Fan of Assassination Classroom or Nagisa? Leave a comment!

Hunter x Hunter 1999 vs 2011 Part 3: The Zoldyck Family

Meet Killua’s family, the league of crazy assassins.

As the Hunter x Hunter dub enters the year of the Chimera Ants, the ever-popular head to head comparison series between the 1999 and 2011 anime returns! Finally out of the Hunter Exam arc, the shortest arc of the show commences- the Zoldyck Family arc, which gives the viewers a first look at Killua’s family, and also shows the extraordinary resolve of Gon and his friends as they attempt to rescue the former. For those who missed it, here’s the links to Part 1 and Part 2 focusing on the Hunter Exam arc.

 

The First Task of New Hunters! Find Kukuroo Mountain! Rescue Killua! (1999, Episode 32-36, 2011 Episode 22-26)

Admittedly, it’s difficult to even split up any portion of this arc, given that in both iterations of the anime, it spans a mere five episodes (which is is stark comparison to the previous Hunter Exam arc, which ran for 31/21 episodes in both anime version respectively. Add in 2011’s Chimera Ant arc, which spanned 60 episodes, and the brevity of the Zoldyck Family arc is even more pronounced.)

Despite its short length, the arc is extraordinarily important for two main reasons- the first being the introduction (at least briefly) of the rest of Killua’s family outside Illumi, who was introduced formally at the end of the prior arc; and the continuation of character arcs that see the main foursome begin to go their separate ways after this point, where outside of the Yorknew City arc, most of the viewers’ time would be dominated by the brilliant friendship and adventures of Gon and Killua, but that’s for another day.

As for the story itself, the Hunter Exam is now over; Gon, Kurapika and Leorio are officially licensed Hunters, and as such, their first unofficial job is the agreed-upon rescue of Killua from the clutches of his crazy family. After a brief confrontation between Gon and Illumi at the end of the previous arc, the location of the Zoldyck family estate is revealed to be Kukuroo Mountain, on a completely different continent and country (the Republic of Padokea, more specifically.)

Before we reach the family themselves though, the arc also introduced a number of family servants and butlers, who played a key role for the arc:

ZEBRO

1999                                            2011

    Image result for zebro

SEAQUANT

1999                                            2011

Image result for seaquant             https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterxhunter/images/f/f3/Seaquant_face.png/revision/latest?cb=20141110065042&path-prefix=ru

 

CANARY

1999                                                             2011

https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterxhunter/images/6/6b/Canary_high_quality.JPG/revision/latest/scale-to-width-down/250?cb=20120226162650      

 

GOTOH

1999                                             2011

     https://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterxhunter/images/8/8e/Gotoh_HxH_2011.PNG/revision/latest?cb=20120401042159

Once again, the lighter shading and style of the 2011 anime is noticeable in these character models; however, only Seaquant received a notably huge design overhaul, although his headband and mustache was preserved between both iterations. Zebro’s sideburns are noticeably bushier in the later anime adaptation; Canary’s design is remarkably similar, though her hair is now black instead of reddish (and fluffier-looking), her skin is more natural looking rather than the bleached sort of look in the picture, and her outfit has had a palette swap, with the bolo tie being slightly more pronounced. The same goes for Gotoh, whose face has a bit more definition, a lighter shade, and a red clasp on his tie.

(Of story note, Gotoh and Canary return to play important roles in the Chairman Election arc, which only the Madhouse adaptation has in anime form, but for now, the focus will stay on their roles merely in this arc.)


One of the more striking differences in the Zoldyck Family arc (and there are few, this arc is actually quite similar in both versions) is Gon’s confrontation with Mike, the family’s deadly hunting dog.

In both versions, while Gon is still insistent on entering the estate despite Zebro’s warnings, he instantly finds himself filled with a kind of primal fear upon merely sensing Mike’s prescence, let alone seeing him. However, in 1999, when Leorio accidentally breaks down the fake Testing Gate doors, Gon fins himself face to face with the fearsome canine, who proceeds to try and kill him; an encounter the young Hunter survives successfully with some help from Seaquant. Mike also has a sort of burgundy colored fur in the later version as opposed to the white fur he’s sporting in 1999:

MIKE (pronounced “me-kay”)

1999                                                 2011

        https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterxhunter/images/1/1c/Full_Mike_2011.png/revision/latest/scale-to-width-down/210?cb=20150111055109

 

White or red, this is one big dog you don’t want to mess with.

While the servants do get plenty of screentime and moments through the arc, it’s the titular family that steals the show. True to Killua’s claims to Gon, and further validated by Illumi’s official reveal and actions at the end of the Hunter Exam arc, the Zoldyck clan is one of dangerous, albeit eccentric, assassins, all incredibly deadly and driven by individual pursuits often unbeknownst to other family members. Their mansion is spacious, but has the look and feel of a medieval castle; it’s hardly what one might call “inviting” despite the obvious wealth obtained from the dark trade the family specializes in.

Perhaps what reinforces this mental image the most is our first glimpse of the estate is a torture room where Milluki, the portly second-eldest brother of the five Zoldyck children, is whipping a thoroughly unrepentant (not to mention bored-looking) Killua for his venture to take the Hunter Exam.

So, here’s the members of the Zoldyck clan we see for the first time in this arc. I should note that of the family silhouettes in the picture above (which also appear in the intros of the anime), 2 of the figures are not actually seen in this arc; one makes an appearance in the final arc of Madhouse’s anime, while the other never actually has made an anime appearance (and only appears in passing in the manga, for that matter.) As it stands though, here’s the rest of the world’s most dangerous family:

ZENO ZOLDYCK

 

 

SILVA ZOLDYCK

Image result for silva zoldyck

 

MILLUKI ZOLDYCK

https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterxhunter/images/a/a1/Milluki_Zoldyck_1999_Design.gif/revision/latest/scale-to-width-down/226?cb=20131022004202

 

KALLUTO ZOLDYCK

https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterxhunter/images/6/69/Kalluto_Zoldyck_2011_Design.png/revision/latest/scale-to-width-down/640?cb=20140919160854&path-prefix=ru

 

KIKYO ZOLDYCK

https://i1.wp.com/student.delta.edu/allysonwilliams/project1/Pictures/Kikkyo.gifhttps://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/hunterxhunter/images/a/a8/Kikyo_Zoldyck_2011.png/revision/latest/scale-to-width-down/200?cb=20150111053538

 

From top to bottom, you might note that the family’s designs actually are on the whole not too remarkably different, with a few exceptions, between the two versions. In fact, one of the most changed up Zoldycks between the two anime iterations is actually Killua himself, which was explored in the first part of this series,

Remarkably, Zeno’s overall design is almost a 1:1 match, if you take away the brightening of a few colors and the slightly wavier hair. His outfit, down to the kanji is almost exactly the same, with a few minor changes; the piping on his shirt is a lighter shade of purple in 2011 vs a thin line of white in 1999, and the metal collar around his neck has been made slightly rounder and shinier in the new version. In this arc, Zeno’s role of chastising Milluki doesn’t change much; he’s introduced without too much else to say here.

The current leader of the Zoldyck family, Silva’s design from Nippon’s to Madhouse’s gave him a bit more musculature, particularly in the shoulders, and his skin is paler as well in the later version. While his outfit has the same overall design in both, the blues present in ’99’s gi have been replaced with the predominant lighter purple indicative of the Zoldycks in 2011, and the belt has been changed to red from gray. Silva’ hair remains similar, though a slight bit longer in the newer version…in the story, his talk with Killua allowing him to leave the estate is quite similar in both versions, though in ’99 Killua sits in front of Silva, while in 2011 he sits next to him in his room during the discussion.

Milluki’s appearance as a fat guy doesn’t change; and his facial design is almost identical between versions. Madhouse’s show accentuates just how portly he is a bit more, where his shirt seems fit to burst; and in ’99 he’s actually wearing sweatpants and slippers at home, which is a bit different. Arrogant and overtly proud about his technological prowess while jealous of Killua’s place in the family, he’s the same guy in both versions.

Kalluto’s debut amounts to a cameo in both iterations of Hunter x Hunter for this arc. Paired along aside Kikyo, his mom (yes, Kalluto’s a boy despite appearances), he actually received the biggest design overhaul of any Zoldyck; everything from his hair to the color of his kimono was altered in 2011 (although in ’99, the black kimono shows up on him in the Greed Island OVA’s.) Despite the design differences, he doesn’t do much of note in this arc regardless of the version, only leaving an air of mystery around the youngest Zoldyck child.

As is evidenced by the many side by side comparisons, 2011’s anime once again brightened colors on the characters significantly; of interest is that Kikyo appears in a later arc for 2011, but in the Nippon Animation adaptation, this short couple of episodes is the only time she appears. The major difference of course is the yellow dress in 1999; it’s almost the exact same outfit, but now clad in the similar purple others in the family wear with the newer adaptation. As Killua’s mom, she still knocks out Canary in both versions and tries to prevent Killua’s departure from home once more, only to be defeated by her middle son’s furtive glance.


With all the major characters of the arc covered, there’s a few other changes and observations worth noting:

-In the ’99 adapation, each of Leorio, Kurapika and Gon keep working at the Testing Gate until they can open it individually (which is accurate to the manga.) In Madhouse’s version, once the trio is able to open the gate as a team, they proceed onwards to face Canary. In both cases, they thank Zebro and Seaquant for their help with training.

– I’d probably get skewered for forgetting this, but in 1999 Kurapika sports an amazing red outfit that he never wears again after this point, or in the second anime for that matter. In the latter version, the Kurta clan’s lone survivor merely wears the same outfit he had on during the Hunter Exam.

You can’t deny he’s got some style.

– During the Canary sequence in both versions, she has a flashback. However, the contents of the flashback differ, with 2011’s being far more extensive; which includes the entirety of her total victory over Seaquant’s party that tried to attack the family, and some time she spent with a younger Killua, neither really realizing that they wanted a friend… In 1999 it’s very short, showing Killua’s guarded return to the estate after the Hunter Exam, where he dropped his skateboard, which Canary propped up against a tree, along with a hand-drawn sequence that shows Killua offering the apple to her (which is true in both versions, but much more fleshed out in 2011’s context.) Furthermore, young Killua’s brief appearance in the 1999 moment was quite different from 2011’s younger Kil, who sported fluffier hair and a completely different outfit. Killua also asks her whether she wants to be his friend at a different moment; in ’99 it’s when he offers the apple; for 2011, it’s after Canary’s defeat of the hunters. He also shows off the Rhythm Echo in the later version, which Canary confirms she can use with great proficiency as well.

-In Madhouse’s version, Killua arrives at the butler’s quarters before Gon, Leorio and Kurapika, only to be intentionally stalled by Gotoh and company from seeing them when they arrive (and the coin game commences). The Nippon version had Killua still traveling to the lodge as the game was occurring, so as a result, he walked in as it concluded.

-After Gon and Killua are reunited, the latter’s skateboard is nowhere to be seen or in the plot of the Madhouse version, whereas the Nippon adaption has Killua entrust Canary with the board (given it was a part of that flashback and story I mentioned).

-The scene where the four main character depart each other is slightly different but still similar in both versions. (We’ll see Leorio and Kurapika again in Yorknew City!)


And with that, there’s a comparison of the shortest arc in either anime or the manga for Hunter x Hunter. Next installment, we’ll finally see Gon and Killua’s adventures begin with their journey to Heavens Arena, the greatest hub for martial artists in the world.


Like what you see? Is the Zoldyck Family arc your favorite of HxH? Leave a comment!

Random Episode Ramblings #2: “Duck Amuck” (Looney Tunes)

Happy New Year everyone! I hope all my readers had a great end of 2017, and I’m wishing everyone the best in 2018. And to start things off, we’re going back to a classic short that’s instantly recognizable to anyone who’s seen it… Also, it’ll answer the following question:

“Where’s the Western animated fare lately?”

Well, fret not. The second (and also long-awaited) episode review is a an absolute classic from one of the greatest animators in the history of the medium- Chuck Jones, and in turn, one of the more iconic outings for Daffy Duck, everyone’s favorite hard-luck egotistical mallard. The Looney Tunes are definitely something I’ve wanted to discuss for a while in writing, and rightfully so- the influence of this show and its characters in the history of animation cannot be understated.

Looney Tunes of course, is iconic in animation, and  for good reason. It was a pivotal show in writing the rules to the medium and featured some legendary talent that worked on it, along with unforgettable characters, especially Bugs Bunny and the aforementioned star of this episode- Daffy Duck, who in turn had an interesting history leading up to the creation of Duck Amuck.

While certainly worth an entire “What’s In a Character” piece, Daffy briefly had been the biggest star for Warner Bros. in the late 30’s and early 40’s, usurping the lead role in the common pairing he’d have with Porky Pig. He was the archetype of the lunatic-type character, giving audiences something very different in a protagonist, and on top of that had a fair bit of talent and wit. However, the latter decade quickly saw the meteoric rise of Bugs Bunny as the new main star of the Looney Tunes cast, and so Daffy in turn would find his role transformed into the eternal second fiddle and archival of Warner’s main star, bitterly hoping to be the main hero again but rarely succeeding, in large part thanks to an outsized hubris and always to plenty of laughs.

Duck Amuck therefore, was an interesting exercise in animation. Daffy had been well established and become widely known in the years since his introduction by the public; how would he fare though shoved into completely different contexts that both dug at the fundamental aspects of the form itself, and still generated a fair bit of humor? In turn, this episode delivered something that was simultaneously a deconstruction of cartoons, along with an all-time memorable Daffy episode.

“Scenery? Where’s the scenery?”

The short first starts off with Daffy armed and ready for what he assumes is a Three Musketeers parody, complete with the title cards to match, the swashbuckling hat and rapier. Unfortunately for him, no sooner does he begin his actions than does the scenery disappear, confusing the duck as he begins a episode-long argument with an unseen animator, who in turn makes it a very one sided debate…

The episode then continues to put Daffy through the paces of a variety of animated questions, all done in a fluid sequence of gags, orchestral hits and bits, and Daffy’s one sided dialogue. What, for example, happens when you take away his voice briefly? How about when he doesn’t even look like a duck anymore, save his voice? All in all, this episode proves to both be quintessential Looney Tunes but also unlike anything else in the show’s long run- where a literally unseen hand constantly and silently breaks the fourth wall. (Who the narrator is though, is a gag in it of itself. The answer might present itself quite clearly to long-times fans.)

“All right, wise guy. Who’s responsible for this?”

From my own point of view, Duck Amuck is not only brilliant, but required watching for those who want to understand the animated medium boiled down to its very nuts and bolts…all while making for a highly entertaining segment that indeed is very Daffy Duck despite it being nothing like any of his other outings. The pacing and flow of the short is superb, and the transitions (as well as those unseen questions) happen in rapid sequence, which in turn actually causes Daffy consternation, annoyance, and final outright anger at the mysterious source of his misfortune through the show.

Perhaps more interesting yet is still the fact that it’s an animated short that is about the medium itself, beyond Daffy as a front-man. The duck is self-aware that he’s in “an animated cartoon,” and loudly complains about the incompetence of the unseen artist who in turn is the animator himself- which means Duck Amuck in turn is an episode that’s also about the creativity and sorts of zany things animators can in fact do- with the template simply being “this is Daffy Duck in a Looney Tunes short. Go wild! And remember to make it funny!”

Duck Amuck’s simple brilliance continues to shine well over 60 years from its debut. In that sense, Daffy’s character survived intact in this short the final test for all animation- the passage of time- and the presentation and unmistakable presence of this classic ‘toon has succeeded with flying colors in that key regard. In fact, Duck Amuck found itself selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in the US Library of Congress- a rare honor for an animated cartoon- and only one of three episodes helmed by Jones that has that distinction. High praise, indeed.


Happy New Year! (The Bills made the playoffs!) Like what you see? Love the Looney Tunes or Daffy Duck? Leave a comment!

What’s in a Character: Nonon Jakuzure

Cute face, spunky, sassy personality: One of Kill la Kill’s Elite 4 takes center stage.

 

Finally, after many months of waiting, the “What’s in a Character” series returns, with a piece about…Nonon Jakuzure? Yes, it’s true that I wrote about Kill la Kill here, with no minced words, but I have my reasons for this highly unusual pick. She might not be the main draw of her home series, but she has a way of stealing the show on screen, whether it be through her devastating musical endeavors or just being the right mix of sass and cuteness…Without further ado…here’s Nonon!

WARNING: Spoilers for Kill la Kill ahead.


“Why?”

Choosing a character from an anime that I’ve made no bones about on its gratuitous fan-service might seem strange at first glance, but in reality, Kill la Kill does have some key aspects that work incredibly well in its favor. In particular, it has both superb character design and some pretty good character development, especially when it pertains to its key characters. While these discussions often revolve around Ryuko Matoi, the lead character, or her arch-rival/half-sister Satsuki Kiryuin, they less often fall on the latter’s faithful elite subordinates and commanders- the so-called Elite Four- and in conjunction with that, even less often on any of the individuals within that grouping. One such individual just so happens to be Nonon, and boy is she something else.

Chosen as one of Satsuki’s elites, Nonon is definitively not meek. The defining trait of Kill la Kill’s indomitable band leader of doom is her unabashedly rude, pompous and overconfident front that she juxtaposes from a position of power, hidden under a thin layer of saccharine sweetness and inauspicious cuteness. While this alone does not make Nonon’s character worth writing about, the context in which she’s deployed does to a by and large extent- and so the question of “what happens when you throw this character into unexpected binds and insane situations?” unfolds dramatically in concert with Ryuko’s challenges of Honnouji Academy’s various clubs, inevitably leading into confrontation with Satsuki’s Elite Four.

One of the truly remarkable aspects about Nonon as that she’s not a sympathetic character (at first) or even a protagonist archetype, but someone who is the right mix of sweet and sour who can become in equal part likable. There’s a clever juxtaposition of her musical motif- the band conductor- against her actual personality, which is far more spunky and not at all what you’d expect. She might like classical music, but her way of fighting is a punk rocker at heart under all the fancy trappings.

Physically, Nonon isn’t that impressive or crazily proportioned like some anime girls (including this series). She’s fairly petite, and has no defining physical features that would normally mark her as a key threat…but in a classic reversal of form, she might in fact be the nastiest and trickiest Elite Four member to fight- and her specially powered-up series of Goku Uniforms through the series emphasize a nice blending of her aforementioned motif along with disproportional power to her appearance.

Prepare to be pummeled cheerfully, jauntily and utterly one-sidedly!– Nonon, to Ryuko upon entering battle for the first time

In battle, Nonon proves to be ruthless, overwhelming Ryuko for stretches in her initial uniform before ultimately tasting defeat after a fierce battle, overwhelmed by the power of Senketsu. However, in all her on-screen battle appearances, she never backs down from a challenge, suggesting a fair bit of courage despite the bravado and attitude she possesses. As adversity mounts for her and most of the main cast with the show’s second half, her mettle is tested along with the rest of her compatriots, especially the other Elite Four members, as the truth of Honnouji Academy’s purpose and the Life Fibers come to light, and the subsequent turn to join up with their former archenemy- Nudist Beach.

Initially serving as a supporting antagonist, Nonon’s role shifts through the series while remaining steady in one key respect: as a loyal friend and subordinate to the aformentioned Satsuki, and while her loyalty is admirable, it borders on fanaticism. Her outsized sense of importance and rank meets some harsh reality as the show rolls on though, but admirably her bond with her boss/friend does not diminish.

Nonon’s temperament becomes a bit more muted after the defeat of Satsuki by Ragyo Kiruin, the latter’s mother, and her own losses that she suffered to Ryuko (although the latter point also made her hungrier for personal vengeance that never totally came.) While she briefly enjoys a resurgence of success in the show’s “School Raids” arc, the total defeat and takeover of Honnouji changes her role and position. She becomes a rebel fighter along with the rest of the Elite Four in the eccentric Nudist Beach group- guerillas dedicated to destroying the alien Life Fibers that serve as the core plot point of Kill la Kill.

 


When you boil her down to her essence, Nonon Jakuzure is a piece of work, but one that seems to get better as you continue to watch her. She’s not the main star (but you can tell on some level she wants to be); she’s bratty and cannot stand getting her way initially, but instead of simply preserving that personality statically through the show, she grows from her experiences while keeping a trademark caustic wit and sass that fits her position as the most trusted of Satsuki’s inner circle. There’s a decent, believable backstory to her as well, and it’s a simple, yet easy way to justify the roots of her actions, along with her positive trait of true friendship…Often times, a solid supporting character doesn’t need too much to fit their role well, but Nonon goes a bit above and beyond that with her well-though out design, developed personality and continued importance in the show even after her major defeat to Ryuko. Oh, and she has a kickass theme:

What does that mean?

Also, I couldn’t help but think of this as well:

(Well, she is part of the Elite 4.)


Like what you see? Any further commentary on Kill la Kill or Nonon? Leave a comment!

Hunter x Hunter’s Chimera Ant arc is finally getting an English dub

It’s about time- A brief history of HxH’s longest arc.

A few months back, I wrote excitedly about the fact that Greed Island for the first time was receiving an English dub, despite existing in some anime form since at least the early 2000’s. However, this might be even bigger…

An arc considered by many serious fans of the Hunter x Hunter manga and anime to be one of the finest not only in the show, but also across the genre, is finally on the verge of being dubbed. Very early Sunday morning will mark the beginning of the longest arc in the series airing in English on Toonami in the United States, and for those who haven’t seen it- buckle up, you’re in for a ride.

As with the Greed Island piece, here’s a brief history of the Chimera Ant arc:

2003: As the original HxH anime continued on with its set of Greed Island OVAs’, Yoshirio Togashi released the beginning of the arc in the manga on October 8th- which coupled with the frequent hiatuses of the series, would result in it lasting until April 2012- nearly 9 years!

2011: The Hunter x Hunter reboot (and the series mostly talked about) begins. At this point, the Chimera Ant arc is not complete yet in the manga, let alone the anime.

2013: Roughly a year after the manga finished the arc, the anime begins its version of it, marking the first new animated Hunter x Hunter story part since Greed Island’s OVAs finished in 2004. The arc would run into early summer of 2014.

2017: With the conclusion of Greed Island’s first ever English dub, the Chimera Ants will finally be heard in English on the Sunday of this writing (12/10/17 for posterity.)


As it stands, it’s rather difficult to talk too much at length about this very long and detailed arc without major spoilers for those watching for the first time, but the places in which the story goes during the next 60 episodes crosses the ranges of human emotions and psychology in ways shonen anime rarely, if ever does. It will be interesting to hear the VA choices for several characters, including the duo in the picture for this article, and with the shift in the story, it should really test the abilities of the dub actors to capture the same depth and intensity as the original VA’s.

Overall, there’s a lot to be excited about- and in many ways, it’s like an early Christmas present. Here’s hoping for both long-time fans and newcomers alike the English experience of the Chimera Ants is unforgettable.

Finally, here’s the very nice ending theme of the arc, but in 8-bits:

(I’ll leave the full version for the newcomers to discover. Credit to Studio Megaane for the track.)


Like what you see? Any more thoughts on Hunter x Hunter? Leave a comment!