Top Three (times three!) Thursday 12/24/15: Nine favorite anime series of 2015

Well, I have been writing quite a lot about anime lately, but since fall 2015 has pretty much ended and it’s almost Christmas, I will have to do something special and talk about nine (as opposed to the usual three) anime that I enjoyed this year.

Note: This is a personal list (and therefore excludes anime that I have not watched), and it excludes second seasons of anime that started in earlier years (e.g., Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic, Non Non Biyori Repeat).

9. Sore ga Seiyuu! (summer)

This slice of life involves three aspiring voice actresses and how they go through life in the industry. Futaba Ichinose (the left one on the cover) starts out lacking the raw talent required to become a voice actress and therefore needs experience. Ichigo Moesaki (right) pretends to be the princess of the strawberry kingdom or something or other and is usually the most energetic of the three. Rin Kohana (middle) is the youngest but most experienced, having made her debut at age five, and holds a dual responsibility as a junior high student. The three not only become separate voice actresses who happen to be friends but also form an idol group known as Earphones and host a radio show as well. The anime is a sort of cutesy way of showing what it’s like to start out in the industry, and I found it to be pretty interesting.

8. Monster Musume no Iru Nichijou (summer)

Ever wonder what it’s like for mythological monsters to live alongside human beings? Lamia, harpy, centaur, slime, mermaid, arachnid…all of these species end up becoming a part of the host family of Kimihito Kurusu, a seemingly normal human being with a surprisingly high tolerance for pain. These monsters are told that they are capable of marrying humans (although interspecies breeding is a no-no), so there is definitely some romance involved. It’s not all peaceful, though, as there is some conflict within the household about who should get to be with Kurusu, as well as conflict caused by impure humans and monsters alike who abuse the “Cultural Exchange Between Species Act” (which sums up to “monsters cannot deliberately harm humans or vice versa”) for their own benefit. I have written about the characters once before, and I have to say, it is surprisingly interesting to see how they live alongside human beings, although this particular anime depicts it in a rather perverted way…not that I’m complaining; just a warning in case it wasn’t obvious.

7. Gakusen Toshi Asterisk (fall)

This sci-fi harem story is centered around Ayato Amagiri and his search to find out the truth about his elder sister. In the process, he ends up enrolled in Seidoukan Academy, partnered with Julis-Alexia von Riessfelt for the Phoenix Festa, wherein competition among the six schools forming the city of Asterisk takes place. It has some cool characters (especially Saya Sasamiya) and is pretty decent as a whole. However, I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: I dislike the idea of a harem being carried all the way to the end of the story (although I guess MonMusu is an exception to that rule), so I’m hoping Ayato and Julis will get more serious about each other by the end of the second season (which is scheduled to air spring 2016).

6. Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry (fall)

As you may or may not know, I reviewed this and Gakusen Toshi Asterisk simultaneously in a review series known as “Cavalry vs. Asterisk” (parts: 1 2 3), and I made it clear that I preferred this anime. It starts off about the same as Asterisk (guy sees girl changing and is forced to duel, girl warms up to guy after the duel, both participate in a tournament), but there are key differences that separate the two, mainly that the romance in Cavalry is completely one-to-one, pretty much eliminating the harem aspect, and that the protagonist and deuteragonist fight their own battles (at least for now). The former difference is the main reason why I like Cavalry better, not to mention the anime has what I find to be the best opening theme song of 2015: Identity by Mikio Sakai.

5. Juuou Mujin no Fafnir (winter)

To those who have not seen my winter 2015 anime analysis, it may seem odd that I put an anime like this so high on the list. I mean, what could possibly be so great about a generic fantasy harem that starts off with the protagonist enrolled in a chiefly female academy and seeing a naked girl at the very beginning, right? Well, the primary part of the anime that grabbed my attention was the debut appearance of the antagonist: Kili Surtr Muspelheim, a black-haired beauty with the ability to create explosions by snapping her fingers. (She’s not on the cover, by the way.) From then on, various other aspects stood out to me: the coolness of the protagonist, the relationships between the characters, and how the characters struggle to take out a threat that could have destroyed the world, even with Kili’s meddling. So, I suppose the reason why I like this anime is because I came into it with low expectations and had those expectations completely blown away by the antagonist.

4. Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo (spring)

This is another anime that I delved into with low expectations; in fact, I didn’t even consider it until episode 5 had aired. It follows the supernatural high school experience of Ryuu Yamada, a delinquent who meets some girls known as “witches” with magical powers that are triggered through mouth-to-mouth kissing, starting with honor student Urara Shiraishi, who, as Yamada learns the hard way, can swap bodies with whomever she kisses. Basically, it’s a supernatural rom-com that I liked mostly due to its supernatural elements, comedic moments, and satisfying conclusion. (I wrote a full review as part of my spring 2015 anime analysis, which goes more in-depth about the plot and touches upon the characters I liked.)

3. Overlord (summer)

I decided to binge-watch this anime before writing this top nine list, and I’m glad I did. While not for the faint of heart (especially episode 10, which I’ll admit really freaked me out, especially when Shalltear Bloodfallen took on her more monstrous form), it is a pretty swell anime. It’s about some MMORPG player with an undead avatar who, in his stubbornness to stay in the game even during its scheduled shutdown time, becomes his avatar and is forced to live in a world that is noticeably (but not completely) different from the MMO and that he plans on conquering since he has become an overlord (hence the title). Even though this protagonist, Momonga, starts off unfamiliar with the new aspects of the modified game world, he finds the ability to adapt increasingly as the story progresses. Let’s just say it’s like Log Horizon but with faster pacing and significantly more cruel protagonists. That’s why I like it. The protagonist is quite the brainiac, so, even if the odds are against him, he has a way out of pretty much every situation, no matter how smug his adversary may be. The question is how, and the “how” is generally answered in an elegant manner, one that does not disappoint.

2. Hibike! Euphonium (spring)

Nothing really convinced me to watch this anime as it was airing, but based on how others evaluated it after it finished airing, I decided to give it a try, and it certainly did not disappoint. The story is centered around Kumiko Oumae, who starts high school not wanting to return to playing in a band, let alone on the euphonium, due to an incident at her prior school involving her childhood friend, Reina Kousaka. However, through the red thread of fate, Kumiko is led by her new classmates, Hazuki Katou and Sapphire Kawashima, to return to her former glory as a musician (made to return to the euphonium by one Asuka Tanaka) and mend relations with Reina. However, the new club advisor and conductor, Noboru Taki, gives the band members a hard time by telling them bluntly that they have a long ways to go before making it to nationals, where Reina and eventually the others aspire to be. Because the band members are initially inexperienced and/or uncoordinated, I can never help feeling nervous when they are about to put on a show, and that is the primary reason why I like the anime so much, the secondary being the emotionally gripping moments between Kumiko and Reina. In summary, it’s like K-On but with more prominent characters and stronger feels.

1. One Punch Man (fall)

When all is said and done, it’s no question that One Punch Man is the anime of 2015. It’s action-packed, comedic, and has a kick-awesome opening theme (second to that of Cavalry, I say). The best aspect, though, is the selection of characters that the anime has to offer. Obviously, we have the protagonist, Saitama, a seemingly bland hero with super strength, and Genos, a cyborg who accompanies Saitama and calls him “master.” What’s really cool, though, is what the anime has to offer in terms of minor characters. Mumen Rider is a particularly notable one, showing the most spirit even when the odds are clearly stacked against him and he has literally no chance of winning. In fact, thanks to Saitama being so obviously overpowered, pretty much every character with screentime is given a chance to shine. (There is a fight at the end that takes Saitama more effort than just one punch, but I won’t spoil anything more about it.) Words alone don’t do justice to this anime; all I’m saying is that it, if nothing else, is worth a watch.

 

In the end, I have to say: 2015 is the best year of anime that I have come to witness, and it is the first (and probably the last) that I have had the pleasure to write about in such a manner as this. I hope this writing was enjoyable and/or informative and, if not, apologies.

Nowi Wins À la prochaine! (Until next time!)

Top Three Thursday 12/10/15: Anime that I might consider watching

In case it wasn’t obvious, I like anime. However, there are many series that I have not watched yet, and plenty of them I find interesting but do not bother putting time aside to watch (most likely for professional reasons). Here are the main three on my mind:

3. Dog Days

Supposedly, Dog Days is the anime that bears the closest resemblance to Mondaiji-tachi (my all-time favorite anime) besides No Game No Life. Because of this, I feel it’s worth a try, whenever I get around to it.

2. Overlord

An anime that aired this year and takes place in a video game world, much like Log Horizon, another anime that I really enjoyed. However, from what I can tell, the protagonist of Overlord seems to be more inhuman and geared towards conquest than that of Log Horizon, so it should be at least somewhat of a fresh experience in that regard.

1. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

As a relatively frequent browser of KnowYourMeme, I have heard nothing but good things about JoJo. So, some time ago, I watched the first episode of the 2012 series, and even though that’s only the beginning, the series already seems like something I can get behind. I have put it aside due to other matters, but I wish to pick it up again some time.

 

This was a bit of a rushed post, but I felt I needed a moment of respite after finishing the semester with a programming assignment that was due earlier today.

Nowi Wins À la prochaine! (Until next time!)

Top Three Thursday 11/26/15: Things I’m thankful for

Top Three Thursday is always when I have the most difficulty thinking of a topic (and having a research paper due tomorrow afternoon doesn’t help), but since today is Thanksgiving for those who celebrate it, I figured I would celebrate the occasion in the most obvious way possible. (This may be a little rushed, but it is sincere.)

3. Education

Not something I (or anyone else) can take for granted. If not for education, I would be significantly dumber than I am now. I wouldn’t know how to read or write, how to speak, how to solve math problems (with or without a calculator), how to interpret world phenomena, how to communicate in French as well as English, or how to use computers. In fact, I feel that without education I wouldn’t even be typing this right now.

2. Technological advancement

Isn’t it great how far we’ve come in terms of technology? That’s nothing to be taken for granted either. Not just electronics like computers and television, but also the simpler things like air conditioning, light bulbs, washers, and dryers, not to mention the many forms of transportation to which we have access—cars, trains, planes, and so on. The best technological development of all, though, is the Internet, a means of people the world over to communicate amongst each other without having to do so face-to-face. It also gives me a way to reveal my thoughts to the public in blog form. Finally, the easy accessibility of mass media gives us myriad ways to entertain ourselves.

1. Family

Without family, I literally would not even be born. They raised me well, providing for me while I’m still young, having taught me all I know about moral conduct, and introducing me to the God who brought them together. In addition to that, I am thankful to be able to consult them if I have a problem beyond my control. Honestly, I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am if not for my family. In fact, they are responsible for my education and the fact that I can keep up with technological advancement.

 

Most of all, I am thankful for God, who transcends this top three list with all that He has done.

3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:3-5

So, Happy Thanksgiving, and remember to be thankful for what has been provided (even if you don’t celebrate the holiday; it’s always good to be thankful).

Nowi Wins À la prochaine! (Until next time!)

Top Three Thursday 11/12/15: Christian music for non-Christians

As I mentioned in an earlier Top Three Thursday, even though I usually keep things secular on this blog, I am a follower of Christ who frequently listens to K-Love on the radio (in fact, pretty much any time I drive solo), and I enjoy Christian music, between the power behind the lyrics and the occasional upbeat song here and there. Be that as it may, I do not feel comfortable sharing my faith with others. Still, if I had to recommend Christian music to people of different faiths, three particular pieces come to my mind.

 

3. My Story – Big Daddy Weave

“Oh, to tell you my story is to tell of Him.” Honestly, we would be nothing without Jesus. Wherever our faith may be placed, His kindness draws us in. His love never gives up. It gives us hope, lets us live freely (not to be taken out of context), and triumphs over the enemy. No matter what we are going through, He is writing our individual stories as we speak, and we will, before long, realize to whom we truly belong.

 

2. Prodigal – Sidewalk Prophets

For those unfamiliar (including myself at the time of writing this), a prodigal is defined in this context as a person who leaves home and behaves recklessly but later makes a repentant return (alluding to a parable in Luke 15:11-32). The bottom line of the song is: no matter how far you may think you are from God, He is the Father of mankind who loves you as His flesh and blood. Moreover, we all have this longing deep down in our hearts for an unconditional love like His, a longing that is especially prominent in times of desperation. The song is upbeat, and it carries a powerful message.

Also, looking back through the parable mentioned earlier, I noticed how the prodigal son had a feast prepared for him whereas his brother, who had been slaving away all his life for the father’s sake, did not receive such a feast. This shows how much more significant it is for a lost person to be brought back than for an already faithful person to continue being faithful (which could be seen as one reason for this blog post).

 

1. Flawless – MercyMe

The music video shown above flawlessly (heh) depicts the overall message of the song. Notice how the band members are covered in paint that gradually disappears as the song progresses, as an accurate depiction of the effects of Jesus’ death on the cross—He suffered so that we would be made flawless in Him by faith. Also notice the people who are shown during the chorus—at first, they are labeled with some form of pain (which is not necessarily physical); then, at the last chorus, they are simply labeled “FLAWLESS”.

Additionally, the first verse provides an accurate description of how we perceive each other in a worldly view: doing right and wrong, thinking there’s worth in what we do. In truth, however, it is not about what we have done, but what Jesus has done for us. His unconditional love is indeed enough to take our wrongs and make us righteous. The cross has made us flawless.

 

Like before, I recommend to anyone reading to visit K-Love’s online radio player at http://www.klove.com/listen/player.aspx (again, regardless of faith). God bless the people who were inspired to compose this music in His name so that we may have an easier time connecting with Him.

Nowi Wins À la prochaine! (Until next time!)

Top Three Thursday 10/15/15: Responses to failure to meet a deadline properly

3. If the assignment has a penalty, compare its gravity to the worth of a hypothetical on-time submission

This is a recent happening. I had a project due at noon today, but I put it off too long and couldn’t get any more than half of it finished, even after I tried to stay up all night working on it, so I figured, “Hmm… For programming assignments, the professor takes 20 points off for each week it’s late. Well, why turn in a half-baked submission for such a low score if I could instead give myself a week to ameliorate it and potentially get an 80? (not likely)” To be honest, though, it doesn’t really help that I’m putting a handicap on myself by refusing to use the Windows software required for the course and instead stubbornly using alternatives that work on my Mac. (I refuse to run Windows on my Mac; it’s not that I’m strictly anti-Windows, it’s just that I don’t want to use it if I don’t have to.)

2. Get a rough draft up on the deadline and polish it up afterwards

This really only applies to my blog posts here, though. As I try to keep up with this once-per-two-weeks routine, sometimes I may happen upon circumstances through which I just can’t think of a topic (writer’s block) or was constrained by the due date of one or several assignments. A recent example is my MonMusu character evaluation, of which I posted a rough draft at 11:50 pm featuring only the bit about Meroune, and I stayed up between 5 and 6 am finishing the darn thing. Thought Dump 4 I actually ended up posting at exactly 12:00 am on Sunday, May 10, where the scheduled deadline was the day before, which was (and still is) the first post where I failed to post the original on time.

1. Do what little I can in what little time I have left

It’s basically what I’m doing right now. I have done it for many assignments, including one I submitted not too long ago (and actually got a 95, which is surprising, considering I had no idea what I was doing). I have also done it on many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, so many of my posts up to now. Again, I don’t know what I should be doing about my poor time management. I can dismiss it, saying “It’s just me,” but at the same time, time management is very important in the workforce, of which I will soon inevitably be a part. My mind is just so fickle, though, that it’s difficult to focus on any one thing. That’s the main thing I blame.

 

Short version: I find it hard to keep up with this routine and real life, but I try my darnedest to make something work whenever I’m in a pinch.

Nowi Wins À la prochaine! (Until next time!)

Top Three Thursday 10/1/15: Advice I would give to new Twitch users

Twitch.tv is a top streaming website where people stream media (mostly video games) live and receive input from a chat full of users talking amongst themselves or to the streamer. However, for those who are new to Twitch and have never used chat before, I have some advice. (Keep in mind that this may apply to not-so-new Twitch users as well.)

3. Know your emotes

If you don’t know your basic emotes, like Kappa , FrankerZ , and BibleThump , educate yourself at twitchemotes.com. It may save questions about “emoji”, and most of the global emotes have descriptions when you click on them, so that you won’t have to ask about the origin of emotes either. For instance, when you click on Kappa, it shows this:

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 2.19.44 PM

Also, if an emote code appears as text, it means one of three things:

  1. The emote code has at least one non-space character adjacent to it. For example, typing “OpieOP/” appears as “OpieOP/”, not “/”. This update occurred a few months ago, but some people still don’t seem to get it.
  2. The user does not have sufficient privileges to post the emote. This applies to Twitch Turbo emotes (KappaHD, MiniK, copyThis, pastaThat, imGlitch) and subscriber emotes.
  3. The emote is either FrankerFaceZ or BetterTwitchTV, and you have not downloaded the extension in question. This is why you may see text like “ZreknarF” (FFZ) or “FeelsBadMan” (BTTV).

On that note, it’s important to know your extensions, and I mean study the settings thoroughly. In FrankerFaceZ, click the gray  icon in the chat box, which will pull up a menu not only showing the channel’s custom emotes but three other menus as well. The gear is where the settings are found. A feature of which I would especially like to raise awareness is the “Enter Emoji By Name” feature.

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 11.21.26 PM

FrankerFaceZ emote tooltips are capable of showing emoji codes, but typing the codes won’t result in emoji unless this setting is turned on. Hopefully now I’ll see less “:+1:” (for instance) as plain text.

BTTV settings can be found by expanding the left pane and clicking on the upside down red Twitch icon beside your username.

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 11.27.01 PM

For users of BTTV, remember to turn on “BetterTTV GIF Emotes” before asking what happened to “SourPls” or “(ditto)” or whatever.

I guess the main point is: look before you leap.

2. Respect the streamer and the other chatters

They’re humans, and you are too (most likely). Don’t just belt out an insult and expect to get away with it without a fair warning. Don’t post random/obscure links without permission, and use emotes carefully. Remember: adding  to the end of a hateful comment doesn’t always (if ever) justify it. If you get purged or timed out for doing something wrong in chat, don’t do it again. Above all, don’t complain about how the chat is moderated; it only makes things worse. What can I say? Use common sense. It’s not that hard. Some streamers handle misconduct better than others, but it’s safest just to be as careful as possible, which brings me to my next point…

1. Read the title and/or info before asking questions

Even if you’re on mobile…at least try. Or, just use mobile exclusively for the streams you’re familiar with. I’m tired of seeing, “Oh, I’m on mobile so I can’t read the title” as an excuse for a question that can be answered by reading the title. Look before you leap. (Also, I wouldn’t recommend Twitch mobile unless it’s your only resort. Then again, I’ve never used it.)

If you enter a stream for the first time, the first place you want to check is the info, which can be found by scrolling down on a normal web browser. The info should tell you everything you need to know about the streamer. Some combination of FAQ, rules, social media, etc. can be found down there. Don’t ask questions before reading the info, or else your question may be one that can easily be answered by the info.

 

Man, all I’ve said in this entire post is along the lines of “use common sense” and “look before you leap.” Well, sometimes obvious advice is the best advice. Still, though, I’m not trying to be forceful; I’m just giving advice. I will admit that I’ve had my share of dumb mistakes, and I’m not even going to pretend that I’m perfect. It’s…again, just advice. (Also, I could have posted this earlier (and maybe better), but my laptop lost its ability to connect to WiFi during classes. Thankfully, it’s all fixed now.)

Nowi Wins À la prochaine! (Until next time!)