AniB’s Summer Kickoff: 10 Thoughts

Hi everyone!

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? While I do deeply apologize for the long hiatuses (and this was one was the longest of all), life sometimes demands that you put your best foot forward into other endeavors, and thus, through both a desire to maintain the quality of AniB Productions as well as the need to take care of academic pursuits, that was the reason that until today I’d been so quiet. With my return though, I can assure you that new reviews and pieces will be coming your way all summer long- and in turn, I didn’t stop thinking about animation during this layoff, or some brand new thoughts and ideas. I also like to do plenty of reading, and inspired actually by hockey columnist Elliotte Friedman and his 31 Thoughts column, it seemed like a fun idea to get the ball rolling with some insights of my own on animation now in the middle of May 2018 (at the time of this writing). So, here we go:

 

1. I never understood the rush by people to obsessively pour over new seasons of shows, be it Western animation or the cours they have in anime. Of course I like to watch new seasons or try a new show out or two, but I think you’ve got to be selective and pick your spots when it comes to jumping headfirst into an ongoing series. It’s not a bad thing to commit to a series that you know you’ll enjoy regardless (like My Hero Academia for myself right now), but it’s not always fun to get stuck watching something you simply are watching because the internet is talking about it. Don’t chase fads, but always chase quality.

 

2. Coming this summer, I plan to write a treatise on fanservice. This issue has been boiling in the back of my mind for quite a while now, and similar to that Valentine’s special I wrote over a year ago on shipping, it’s a controversial big picture topic worth talking about far more intelligently. To put it bluntly, fanservice is something that I at least view as a bigger threat to the medium’s legitimacy outside niche circles, particularly when it comes to anime, but I’ll have more on that when the time comes.

 

3. Speaking of Hero Academia, the end of season 3 should really be something. It’s one of the few series I picked up in manga form on the side, and let’s just say the finale will blow some minds if they stick to script like they have. High hopes, I have there.

 

 

4. On the Western animation end of things, I’ve miraculously avoided spoilers on Season 3B of Star vs the Forces Of Evil, though I am aware the season wrapped over a month ago now. While my studies kept me from watching the rest of the season yet, I do plan to follow it up with a post-season 3 review when I watch it soon. As for the first half of season 3…it’s fair. For better or worse, I’m hoping for a bit of “wow” from a show that’s now established and has built itself quite a bit of character development and storyline at this point. (And no, don’t spoil me in the comments if you follow the show.)

 

5. Coming soon to you: A Devilman Crybaby rant. Seriously, this has been in the works for months, but between bigger priorities and a piece that never seemed to come together right, it hasn’t been published yet. Here’s a preview: I have a bone to pick with this show, and it ties into my first thought on this column. Either way, it should be fun.

 

6. If you couldn’t tell by most of these thoughts so far, my watching habits have taken a heavy turn towards the East in the past year, and it has little to do with Western animation, but more so to do with always wanting a deeper context to the medium of animation and the diverse genres and plots it can carry. Anime is pretty terrific, but it definitely has shortcomings, and the same can always be said for the Western cartoons I’ve covered at length in different reviews as well.

 

7. However, one Western show has caught my notice in the days of my malaise, and it’s classic The Simpsons clips. You only have to watch a few of these to get a sense of why the show has stuck around so long, and there’s some absolute comedic gold (such as the woebegone lunch Skinner attempts to put on that spawned an Internet meme), but like other shows that became long-running phenomenons, doing a complete review and grading might just be the most daunting task any of us could ask for. I don’t think long-running, “classic” series should be immune to criticism, but it’s also hard to dish out a balanced report over a run that spans 3 decades as of next year. (Still, I might write about the show in some capacity at some point.)

 

8. I noted in passing that Rick and Morty, the Adult Swim phenom show, got renewed for 70 more episodes. Good for those guys, but even at this point, I really don’t get the hype about the show. In one of those rare “behind the scenes” moments I’ll talk about, I watched the first 4 episodes of the show a while back, and found myself with some mix of revulsion and general boredom, but I might resume the show at some point for purely professional purposes…if someone can persuade me. I want to be fair to every show I encounter, and so I find myself at an impasse with this series: Something I really don’t want to watch any more of against something people might really want to read about. Who knows? The comment section is useful for this sort of question (or for any of these numbered points, really.)

9. On a hint of what I’ve watched in the past few months, I can tell you all that there’s been a lot of anime as previously mentioned and a pretty healthy backlog of shows that could make their way on here for a review outside of some of the aforementioned shows in this column. The hope is that I can get back to writing regularly this summer, and schedule things moving forward so that I will have time to deliver the same quality material at a more consistent rate. The best news about this point though is that shows are coming! (and you are all hopefully excited now.)

10. It has been 2 years, 3 months and 4 days since Gravity Falls ended its run on Disney X.D. Man, time flies when you’re having fun…and when you’re busy too.

And there you have it- 10 thoughts on animation, for better or worse! If there’s one thing I was doing, it was giving everyone who has been so patiently awaiting a new piece something to chew on as more new material does in fact come your way. A long break off deserved a long response. I look forward to a lot more interesting pieces to write and commentary to be read and replied to!

-AniB


Like what you see? Thrilled to have me back? Leave a comment!

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Preliminary Review: My Hero Academia (Boku no Hero Academia), post season 2

The Lowdown:

Show: My Hero Academia (also often referred to as Boku no Hero Academia)

Studio/years aired: Bones, 2016- present

AniB’s thoughts: First off, happy October to everyone! As with any new beginnings, something had to end, and so the last day of September also saw the conclusion of My Hero Academia’s second season- an action packed season that stretched all the way from April.  It also has been a while since I’ve done one of these pieces, and so perhaps there’s no better way to return than by covering my personal favorite pick of the various anime that I covered over the course of the past summer; one in which I even gave in my initial thoughts on a while ago. With the official conclusion of this cour, it’s now time for the full review process to commence, and I couldn’t be happier to note that the show has continued to impress since those first impressions.

With two seasons of brisk, vibrant material to pick through, as well as a (now) full knowledge of the source manga’s full run, it’s safe to say BnHA is in fact, an incredibly faithful translation of the source material. While I noted this key point in my preliminary thoughts on the show, it mostly works to the benefit of the production (though there have been some complaints about how accurate the flashbacks are too). It’s also safe to say that it’s quickly developed into one of the better shonen productions around, mostly striking a critical balance between storytelling and heated action sequences in just the right fashion.

(SOME SPOILERS HERE: SKIP TO GRADING IF YOU WISH TO AVOID.)

After Season 1’s rousing finale featuring top hero All Might in a no-holds barred fight against the incredibly powerful mutant Noumu, Season 2’s was a much more subtle but no less tense event featuring the ever growing audacity and newfound conviction of Tomura Shigaraki (the major antagonist), and his mentor, the hidden All For One, as a looming threat not just growing but beginning to thrive in the shadows. Along the way, fans were treated to an action packed follow-up that built off the end of the first season, from U.A.’s world famous Sports Festival, to the saga of the so called “hero killer”- Stain.

Something that stands out for My Hero Academia in particular is how wonderfully the aesthetic of the super-powered world it exists in pops, from the snappy designs of the extensive cast, to the wide and varied color palette used that does everything from painting U.A. Academy as bright and clean, to the dingy hideout in which Shigaraki carries out his sinister (and still developing) plans. It was in all likelihood an enormously difficult task to truly keep the feeling of the manga run ingrained in here, and while this preliminary review is specifically focused on the show and its merits, it’s hard not to admire how well the cast came to life in full motion and color.

As for the second season in particular, it brought a good deal of major story lines and arcs to the forefront, along with vibrant new additions to the cast, which had varying roles, and along with the growth in the story came progression for the characters, both in their own paths and powers (5% One For All hype!) but also in the growing sense of unease, which persisted as a constant undercurrent through the season, and sometimes, right out in the open, which was the case with Stain. All this primes Season 3 for another big tonal shift when it comes, and, if the manga is anything to go by, the anime-only viewers are potentially in for a real treat.

Two solid seasons with plenty of standout moments and a few, but not major flaws is always a real positive, and I’m looking forward to how the anime progresses (mostly expecting a continued manga-centric path, but being excellent in its own right.) The bar has been set high; simply put the show has gone beyond thus far, but let’s see if it’s truly… PLUS…ULTRA!!!


Animation Quality: As you might expect from Bones (the people who did Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, the quality of the hand drawn, computer shaded 2-D is on point. Vibrant and faithful to its source material, the fight sequences are beautifully crafted; a wide ranging and immersive color palette brings the world of heroes and villains to life, and it’s all done in a tasteful way that completely enhances the effects of the show at every turn. 5/5 points.

Characterization: BnHA has an extensive cast, but a few core players worth mentioning here specifically, led by the main character of the series, Izuku Midoriya.

Best known as “Deku” (his chosen hero name) from both fans of the show and the actual cast alike, Izuku’s dream of becoming the world’s number one hero is a pipe dream for him in a world where 80% of the population possesses superpowers, (or “Quirks”, as they’re referred to in-universe) and he has none. His life changes though with a chance encounter with the current #1 hero and his idol, All Might- where he is bestowed the powerful “One For All” quirk. Driven by relentless determination and a kind heart, Izuku’s got a lot of crazy in him- jumping into situations with little regard for himself- but he’s also committed to the suddenly steep and difficult journey that piece by piece, unfolds before him.

Speaking of which, All Might serves as a major character in the show, juggling multiple roles as Midoriya’s mentor, his still-extant run as the #1 hero, and a brand-new teaching position at U.A. Academy- the premiere school for training future heroes in the BnHA canon. As a hero, he’s the stereotype of a Silver Age comic book hero on the outside, wielding the awesome power of One For All- but hides his true form as a skinny man with disheveled hair and baggy clothes from all but a few. Despite the huge difference in strength and appearance, All Might is the same on the inside as a steadfast protector of the people and takes seriously his role as the “Symbol of Peace,” so much so that he’s unable to pace himself in his hero work…

Deku’s archrival from childhood is the brash and ill-tempered Katsuki Bakugo (spelled “Bakugou” in the manga). True to his personality, his Quirk allows his sweat to have nitroglycerin-esque properties, which in turn allows him to create localized explosions from the palms of his hands. A prodigy in terms of skill, his persistently foul moods mask to many his brilliance or his undying resolve to also be the top hero. As BnHA unfolds, Bakugo begins to resent Deku more and more, which leads to the beginnings and development of said rivalry on a grand scale.

It would take a while to highlight every last important character on the cast beside these three, but there are a few more worth mentioning in brief due to having larger supporting roles:

Ochaco Uraraka is the first person Deku meets at the U.A. Entrance exams, and after said sequence of events, they become quick friends. Noted for her ability to manipulate the gravity of objects with her fingertips, she’s bright, kind and hard working…but also has a crush on Deku, which is low-key but quite obvious.

There’s also Tenya Iida, who despite his uptight nature, becomes close to Deku and Uraraka as well. The younger brother of the hero Ingenium, Iida looks up to his sibling and has a stringent, strict sense of honor and decorum…but there’s more to his character than meets the eye, as he has an ability that grants him great speed produced from the jets in his calves…

Gaining a great deal of relevance in Season 2 is Shoto Todoroki, the son of a very famous hero (no spoilers on that!) and another prodigy with a powerful Quirk that allows him manipulation of both ice and fire. Since he’s a walking spoiler for parts of season 2 (for those who have not seen the show) I’ll note that his resourcefulness and power are very impressive, though his level of control and personal path to walk pose their own issues for him.

Finally, I’ll mention Shigaraki again. I talked about him in my thoughts, but know he’s the major threat moving forward.

It’s a bit of a shame that this section can’t cover every last one of these characters in the show, but it’s a solid cast that translates the incredible design work of the manga well and in turn, the animation itself does wonders in bringing them to life thus far. 4.25/5 points.

Story quality: As you may have guessed from the character section, My Hero Academia’s tale is following Izuku Midoriya’s tale of “how he became the the #1 hero.” However, it’s never quite as simple as getting from point “A” to point “B” in a good to great series, and so it’s the vibrant mix of character development and different subplots converging at key moments that really makes the show’s story. It’s got a good flow and pacing for the most part; there have been gripes from some about the show’s usage of flashbacks, particularly in key moments, but this slight drawback hardly outweighs what otherwise is an enjoyable ride as heroes and villains alike gather their strength on the collision course known as “destiny.” 4/5 points.

Themes: Perhaps the most impressive themes of the series are the comprehensive exploration of “just what does it mean to be a true hero?” and the ever-well received (and in this case, well executed) message of one’s ability to always aim higher and break past their limits in a worthwhile pursuit to be great at one’s goals. There’s plenty of other more typical themes in there, from the friendship and rivalries aspect that’s typical in shonen, but the in-depth look and partial subversion of the hero genre is really very, very interesting thus far. 4/5 points.

Don’t insult the viewer: Clean-cut with just the right amount of rawness around the edges for a superhero shonen show, My Hero Academia’s an easily engrossing watch. There is some minimal fanservice, but hardly enough to warrant a deduction in the intagibles of the show (I’m looking at you, Mineta). A special note for the OST of this series, which has been fantastic up to this point and fits the essence of this world and its characters perfectly. 5/5 points.

Total Score: 22.25/25 (89%). A joy to watch unfold, My Hero Academia captures both a great sense of fun and storytelling within its immersive world; with a Season 3 coming at an undisclosed time (as of this writing) it’s a rock-solid start for a show that figures to stay on the forefront of conversations.

 

First Impressions: My Hero Academia (Boku no Hero Academia)

Hello long-awaiting readers,

It has been a while since I posted something, but I’ve not been simply twiddling my thumbs, and so my star summer anime project has turned out to be finally watching what’s been released so far of My Hero Academia. Consider this a very strong impression, indeed…PLUS ULTRA!

If you’re a fan of anime or have been following anything at all the past year or so, the biggest show outside of the long-awaited Season 2 return of Attack on Titan was this one- My Hero Academia, often referred to by its Japanese name, Boku no Hero Academia, or BnHA for short. The bottom line here is simple from yours truly: it’s becoming the next big shonen to erupt in the popular conscience…and it’s really, really good.

For those who don’t know (like myself before watching), it’s a show about a version of Earth in which superpowers- known as “quirks” in the BnHA universe- manifest and become commonplace, so much so that society itself becomes the stuff of comics, and regular humans with no such abilities dwindle to a mere 20% of the population. In turn, there’s heroes and villains- and becoming a hero has become a highly sought after and revered position in society. For the main character- a quirkless boy named Izuku Midoriya- this is his dream, though his status as a normal kid makes him a big dreamer and fanboy of the actual pros but not much else.

As fate would have it, it all changes with a fated encounter where Midoriya is rescued by his childhood hero, who also happens to be the world’s symbol of peace- All Might….and it takes off from there.

While I normally don’t like summarizing the beginnings of plots at all, these sort of initial impressions are almost difficult to do without them since in my excitement, I’ve caught up to the current run of the show. I’ll also mention that BnHA is being simulcast online via Funimation. But to get to the meat of what really is at stake here: this is a show absolutely worth watching for a number of reasons:

-The characters: Just from watching many shows and writing many reviews, there’s a premium to be placed on character development and a great cast, and this show delivers, big time. Midoriya is a delightful protagonist, and the rest of the main and supporting cast is diverse and interesting, with distinct personalities– a must in a show that features the superhero genre.

-The animation: The studio doing the show is Bones- and if you know anything about them, they’re the folks behind Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (which I gave a glowing review of.) The action sequences are richly detailed and vibrant, the colors pop, and everything is just so lively.

-The soundtrack: There’s some really catchy tunes and appropriate music that enhances this show exponentially. The theme songs in particular are real winners. Here’s a taste.

-Faithful manga adaptation: While I’m not really so much of a stickler about the exact 1:1 accuracy of manga adaptations, this show’s really faithful. It also doesn’t have filler, which is a huge plus in my book.

-Themes: Strong, straightforward themes are given a new lift and weight by the other strong story and character elements…plus, there’s some very real issues that occur aside from the tropes you’d expect in a show of this style.

 

I’ve completely fallen in love so far with My Hero Academia, and while I’m not doing a graded analysis today (given this is an impressions piece), I will give a 2-season preliminary review once the second half of the current season finishes its run. The show’s well worth a look as both a summer treat and for viewing purposes in general, and while I could say much more that is specific to the show, I’d like others to experience it too without spoilers. Find out what it truly means to be a hero and go beyond…


Like what you see here? Love My Hero Academia or has your interest been piqued? Leave a comment!