Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Crunchyroll: The Best Anime Streaming Online

There are a lot of different places that offer anime streaming services online. Some of these places offer it legally and others, well not so much. It is always important to make sure you are accessing the material you are watching legally for a number of reasons. It is very much crucial to support the studios that are making the anime, as well as the producers and publishers who are allowing for the resources to sub and translate it for viewing around the world. Simply streaming anime off of unlicensed free anime sites is not only bad for the person doing it, but also for the industry itself.
When I was a little kid the only options on the table for anime watching was either Toonami or Telemundo. There were times where I would huddle around the television in order to catch glimpses of Dragon Ball Z episodes not aired in the U.S. yet even though I couldn't speak the language. Had the internet been something able to stream into households at the time, or had I had access to a network of just anime programs, I would have been watching DBZ on a site such as Crunchyroll. It's for these reasons and more that I don't mind paying for anime. I actually want my providers to be rewarded for bringing me good content and I want the content makers to get their money via royalty and licensing fees.

Anime Expo 2011 - Crunchyroll lounge
Anime Expo 2011 - Crunchyroll lounge (Photo credit: Doug Kline)
That brings me to you who choose not to pay but to find ways around the system. I understand not everyone has a fat wallet these days, but the cost of buying a months worth of anime streaming is half the cost of a ticket to a movie theater for less than two hours (on average). I simply don't see the excuse to illegally pirate, aside from when you as an otaku can't get a program so you need a fan sub. Crunchyroll is amidst other providers but chooses not to have commercials strung in between scenes, it offers simulcasts and HD viewing, so please stop the pirating.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fan Art Friday: Ryuko and Mako

For my first installment of Fan Art Friday I'm going share some great Ryuko and Mako fan art. Below the images are links to the accounts in order to check out more of their work. I didn't explicitly ask to use these images so if one is yours and you don't want me sharing it let me know! Also, if you have some anime fan art you'd like to submit to the Otaku Soup anime blog, please feel free to comment or send me a message as we'd love to share it!

This first image is of Ryuko and Mako done by Oponok

Let's admit it, our favorite character from Kill la Kill is Mako. Mako picture by Winumeri.

The third image this week is by Vaitranquillo and is an awesome Ryuko and Mako digital art that varies from the other styles you often see.

The fourth image will get your pulse up there if you are a Ryuko fan. This was created by Aconitea and it deserves a crud ton of attention...for obvious reasons.

The final fan art is by Theresnopointofme and is another fanart that is completely out of the typical Kill la Kill style. Also... look how happy Ryuko and Mako are!

Kill la Kill S1 E4 - Don't Be Late Day

Well, Kill la Kill has firmly established its place in my heart. I'm assuming you all for the most part have seen this episode and if you haven't you are missing out more than you know. I don't know how I could possibly sum up this entire episode in a blog post...so I will talk generally about it. Honestly I still am recovering from the constant laughter this episode caused me to spill out and every character had their shining moment.

The beginning of this episode establishes the constant rush and chasing that will occur throughout. Senketsu ends up fearing for his fabric life as Mako's mom decides it needs a wash. With Senketsu in the wash Ryuko is on her own without her power-suit to aide her for what she learns is 'Don't Be Late Day'.

Mako, Ryuko, and the mysterious Maiko who is later discovered to be a villain of sorts. One of the funnier parts of the show is the running gag in which Ryuko's panties are revealed throughout the episode by someone grabbing her pajama pants. The sheer site of it causes different members of Makos family who are trying to deliver Senketsu to her to break out in nosebleeds...even Guts.

Ryuko and Matsoi must navigate the traps that are set up in order to cause students to be late to class. If students are late to class they become instantly expelled. Mako takes the entire day seriously and this is made obvious throughout the episode. This episode is also where Mako is allowed to shine the most, offering heeps of jokes and gags along the way. I particularly enjoyed the segment where Mako was freaking out over not having money to pay for the rail fare.

I'm pretty sure the writers just wanted to go out with the comedy and gags in this episode. The cheese trap and random baby sucking its mom's breast are just case in point examples of how hilarious this show is and can be.

If you are a fan of funny anime shows, Kill la Kill is for you without a doubt. The scenes in this episode are so intensely random and in your face that you can't but help love it. I often found myself drawing comparisons to FLCL which is by far one of the most random and spontaneous anime ever made.

Alas Ryuko does make it to class on time and we make it to the end of this episode. It's sad that we have to return to a somewhat more intense plot after this, but I appreciated and enjoyed the break from all the fighting and enjoyed my fill of bloody noses and silly characters. Episode four of Kill la Kill is anime blog gold and has provided the anime world with some quality laughter that it needs. This show improves exponentially with each episode and has already established itself as a classic.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Beyond the Boundary S1 E4 - Hang on Akihito

As you've already been able to tell through these posts, Beyond the Boundary is one that has completely won me over and surprised me. The developing story between Akihito and Mirai is one that gets more intense each episode. While this show is based off of the series of light novels which admittedly I have not read, it presents a stunning execution for an anime series that continues to deliver. Episode four stays in line with all of my expectations and then delivers beyond what was expected.

The episode launches us into the full on chase between Sakura and Mirai, which now includes Akihito who came to save Mirai. In the previous post my brain stupidly reported that this was not Sakura Inami but rather Yui Inami, but I stand corrected as this episode revealed her to be Sakura trying to get revenge on Mirai. While fleeing Sakura, the two of them have to navigate a labyrinth created by their memories inception style. In a tiny moment of fan service Mirai is forced to take off her leggings in order to navigate the escalator because the escalator's floor became smooth as the stairs went away. This moment was more or less to relieve the tension of the scene and did act as a plot device later on in the episode as they tried to trick Sakura.

The time does come in the episode in which Mirai and Akihito face the Hollow Shadow. This is where things in the episode really get intense. The battle between Mirai and the Hollow Shadow is thee highlight of the series thus far and offers some on-edge moments that other simulcast anime shows are not currently offering. While it would be nice to see some character development of other secondary characters, I have no problem with the continued focus on Mirai and Akihito.

Akihito's story line in Beyond the Boundary is given more concentration at the end of the episode. We learn just how similar him and Mirai are, allowing us to get a closer bond between the two characters. Though devastating, the battle against Akihito himself at the end of the episode allows Mirai to better understand exactly who Akihito is.

The end of this episode leaves us with even more questions. A lot of suspicion seems to be implied surrounding the secondary characters and it's left me pondering what is brewing in the air. The bond and viewer trust in Akihito and Mirai is in my opinion now solidified through their struggles. Both of them seem to suffer and struggle for their sins, but their suffering is voluntary as a form of atonement. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts behind the motives of the characters in Beyond the Boundary thus far, feel free to drop a comment and get in on the conversation!

Beyond the Boundary S1 E3 - Mirai's Secret

Ok, wow, where to begin...where to begin... Episode three of Beyond the Boundary is a trip, to put it mildly. This episode is where all of the action starts to take place. After the second episode we found Mirai distancing herself from Akihito. Through some digging and research the beans are spilled all over the floor (and it's a mess) and it is revealed to Akihito that she actually murdered her child hood friend from the family she was adopted into. Initially this is just a hunch that is enforced by Mitsuki through a secret meeting on a train with Akihito, but it is later confirmed to be true by Mirai herself when Akihito directly confronts her.

One of the funniest scenes in this episode is with Akihito's friend Hiroomi. The scene plays out as yet another prolonged awkward moment which is then extrapolated by the reveal of Hiroomi's sister fetish which borderlines incestual, though let's be honest if you are young why wouldn't you be attracted to Mitsuki. I'm pretty convinced that all of Hiroomi's power and control over Akihito and barriers to fight off youmu stems directly from the scarf he wears...which at one point he even takes of and uses as some sort of weapon...scarfs OP. 

Part of the big reveal this episode is that Mirai is after the Hollow Shadow as it possessed her friend who she then killed.Though Akihito was warned that Mirai might be going after the shadow for darker reasons, it's pretty clear to us the viewers that it is more an act of revenge and a right of passage. So epic in proportion is this episode that Mirai ends up stumbling into and fighting her murdered friend allowing a battle for the ages to ensue. 

The area at this point is infested with youmu from the Hollow Shadow. Mirai is struggling to fight off her old friend but is rescued by Akihito, despite being told not to intervene. Ultimately it's Akihito's actions that end up saving Mirai's life and this is where the episode leaves us.

I've heard quite a few theories as to what will happen in episode four or after, but one of the most plausible seems to be Mirai defeating the Hollow Shadow through Akihito. This would somehow combine with his immortality to allow Mirai to complete the task (and hey Mirai loves to stab him...so why not). Episode four of Beyond the Boundary is sure to leave us with a lot of resolved and answered questions. To be quite honest, we are about three to four episodes into most of the new simulcast series right now on Crunchyroll and I have to say, and perhaps with controversy, Beyond the Boundary is currently my favorite even over Kill la Kill which I do indeed also enjoy. What a glorious time for anime right now!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Beyond the Boundary S1 E2 - How to Kill a Youmu

Episode two is where this series really takes off and starts to make more sense. While the first episode was created as a way to send us into the world of Beyond the Boundary, the second episode acts as a way in which to let us know what is going on. It is in this episode that we really learn what youmu and Spirit World Warriors are. Beyond the Boundary is a show that takes time to get rolling. There are many intricate details that are built into the plot that are meant to pave the way for Mirai's back story.

The episode begins where the first left off. We are brought to the epic fight between Mirai and the mummy-like youmu. Akihito remains in the background watching and observing so that Mirai is able to conquer her fears and slay the youmu herself (something she must do by stabbing its eye).

After Mirai finally defeats the youmu Akihito takes her to turn in the rock left behind (it acts as some strange exchange for currency). When Mirai is brought to the hidden location she is originally taken aback as the appraiser herself is a youmu. This while appearing trivial actually tips us off that youmu range in their form and abilities. In the human and Spirit Warrior world, a lot of youmu themselves are responsible for keeping barriers up to protect members of society. At a hilarious moment, Mirai and Mitsuki walk into Akihito talking about his glasses fetish. Mitsuki teases him and he then becomes further embarrassed with a greeting from his mom presented through a card...only she appears as a neko.

This was a great episode with really strong moments. Perhaps the strongest moment is towards then end when Mirai informs Akihito she can't around him because she had murdered someone in the past and must deal with her problems alone. This episode also introduces us to Akhito's friend Hiroomi, who is Mitsuki's brother, and every time he is on screen we are embraced with a tad bit of awkwardness. 

Beyond the Boundary is an excellent series thus far and if you are getting towards that point of deciding which shows to cut from your schedule, I would suggest not cutting this show. The anime is a bit slow at first but its slow pacing is met with portioned action that has purpose and intrigue. Beyond the Boundary poses a great deal of questions for myself plot wise and is sure to continue to provide a great weekly viewing.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Beyond the Boundary S1 E1 - Don't Trip Mirai!

I was looking for another anime to occupy my time whilst not watching Kill la Kill. I wanted something that would be fun to blog about and that would naturally motivate me to share with readers. Beyond the Boundary does just that, and with ease. These summaries will give brief overviews of each episodes and my opinions about them. I can't possibly cover everything and I encourage you to watch the full episodes yourself which are currently being simulcast on Crunchyroll. The first episode hits you like a freight train within its opening scene. I was was so intrigued by the two main characters and their initial reaction, that I had a general moment of shock.

Mirai Kuriyama is pictured at the beginning of the episode about to attempt suicide by jumping off the roof of a building when the other series' main character Akihito Kanbara arrives. This is the first seen that placed me into a state of awe and shock, one that gripped me instantly into the plot of the anime. The biggest shock (as shown in the image above) is when Mirai does a back flip and attempts to stab and kill Akihito. Akihito doesn't die and they leave the scene asking who each other are given the circumstances. Personally I like anime that give me the feels and kick me in the face to keep my attention, and so far this anime does all of that all in the first scene.

Later, Mirai gets caught by Akihito spying on him while he is talking to Mitsuki Nase who is the president of the literary club. This prompts some embarrassing tripping and klutzy movements by Mirai, ultimately establishing her as a likable klutz, and then a cat and mouse chase between her and Akihito. Her constant fighting with him is explained as a means to practice her youmu slaying, as she is a Spirit World Warrior. Akihito is immortal, so stabbing him repeatedly essentially is an easy way for Mirai to learn how to better fight (plus who doesn't like stabbing an innocent unarmed male over and over again?). Mirai is, as I stated before, a klutz. The best scene of this episode is where she cuts herself out of a locker/cabinet and emerges with a bucket stuck on her head. Honestly I probably love this series thus far based on her character alone, not even taking into account the story or plot.

The first episode of Beyond the Boundary acts as a way in which to bring us into the human and youmu world. While this episode culminates with a battle between Mirai and a youmu (once Akihito has convinced her to actually fight it) we aren't given a full explanation as to what is going on, but we don't need one yet. The first episode of the series is explicitly designed to grab our attention and act as visual candy that will be lent an expository set of episodes to follow. One of the interesting vague plot points that we are let known, is the fact that the character and head of the literary club, Mitsuki Nase, does not want Akihito to get involved with Mirai. We can only ponder as to the full reasons, but she links it to Mirai's ancestry and secretive past.

In the end of the episode Mirai finally starts to fight the youmu. Akihito is there but he seems to only be there to lend moral support. Honestly, I really like how Mirai's klutzy sublime nature and Spirit World Warrior blood wielding powers mesh. Having these abilities allow Mirai to shine as a lovable character and Akihito's fetish over glasses and her glasses adds to some of the comic relief so we don't get too bogged down in details and the world and characters being created. This show is a must watch for any self-respecting anime fan and is sure to yield a snowballing fan base as other viewers start to take notice of its polished style and engaging story.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Satsuki Fan Art Sketch by Birdy

I came across these this really cool Kill la Kill fan art sketch by Birdy (ImmortalBirdcage on Reddit)  posted on Reddit. If you are a Satsuki fan, this sketch will definitely make your day. Perhaps with a bit of convincing we can get Birdy to submit a color fan art of Satsuki.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Kill la Kill S1 E3 - Ryuko vs Satsuki

This is the episode you've been waiting for. By now I've come running with open arms to accept the fact that Kill la Kill is one huge finely crafted humorous fan service, but in episode three it transcends just the realms of providing everything an otaku would want and starts the fireworks firing in full glory. This is the episode that you breast and overall nudity lovers will grasp onto, that you fighter fans will clamor over, and well, holy crap. I should probably warn you, if you are a feminist you will not like this show. Kill la Kill takes no shame in the fact it is a giant fan service and as such almost all female leads in this episode are oversexualized.

The episode introduces itself with Satsuki narrating about her dress that we will later come to know as Junketsu. After this brief recollection we are brought to another creepy scene with Ryuko's teacher Aikuro. Aikuro appears completely shirtless and explains to Ryuko that he has been in a battle against the Kiryuin clan and even worked with her father. He also tells Ryuko that her Senketsu suit is completely made of life fibers and is known as a Kamui. While this scene feeds us more information as to why her suit controls her so much and acts the way it does, I can't help continue to be distracted by how creepy Aikuro actually is. At one point he implies because he isn't her actual teacher and is undercover as she is, that they can act different...oh Japan.

It's finally time for Satsuki to get naked, hair trailing down her breasts, and slip into her Kamui named Junketsu. As far as the show lets on, it operates the same way as Senketsu and makes Satsuki as scantily clad as Ryuko. The self parody of anime nudity and sexualization is hilarious in Kill la Kill and it thankfully tries not to hide it. I can feel feminists rolling eyes and making sounds of disgust, but I think they'd be missing the overall point of the show itself, it is a satire and parody of anime in general after all. 

To offer us a break from all of the tension and seriousness thus far displayed, we are briefly given some comic relief as Ryuko seeks continued shelter at Mako's house. Mako's family then takes it upon themselves to act as peeping toms and spy on Ryuko as she takes off Senketsu. It's as if the writers and animators just wanted to get in as much female flesh as possible in this episode. If you aren't partial to fan service, you will continue to hate this episode.

Alas, here we are in episode three and we are already in what appears to be a huge climatic battle...but not so fast! With both Ryuko and Satsuki wielding their suits Ryuko initially loses her epic (and I do mean epic) battle against Satsuki. Mako then steps in and teaches Ryuko she needs to embrace her inner exhibitionist (she isn't truly one) and not feel embarrassed. After Ryuko realizes she should not be embarrassed of how she looks wearing Senketsu, it is able to then reach its final form that Satsuki is also in and thus match her power. They do not however finish their battle and Satsuki informs Ryuko that if she is able to beat all of her students in Goku uniforms then they can have a rematch and she will tell all if beaten.

Honestly even more so than before, I have no clue where this series is going to go now. We all know that at her full potential with her suit's latest form, Ryuko can beat all of the students. This is a shot in the dark...but I feel a twist coming. We were provided a huge battle so soon and I am not willing to accept things at face value. This could be totally wrong, but is it possible that Ryuko and Satsuki could end up working together? Furthermore is it possible that Ryuko and Satsuki are sisters? These are the questions that I look forward to being confirmed or denied as the series goes on. What do you think?

Oh lord...I can't wait until next week!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Kill la Kill S1 E2 - Ryuko Plays Tennis

The first episode of Kill la Kill is really the gateway drug to the craziness that is the show itself. Episode two takes into account that you have seen the first episode and just opens the flood gates. This of course is not a bad thing as Kill la Kill's crazy is the kind of over the top crazy that drags you up and down on a roller-coaster of excitements and wtf moments. The second episode features Ryūko's teacher who had secretly introduced her to her raunchy Senketsu suit in the first episode. Her teacher is probably the most funny and awkward part of the episode and does a terrific job of setting the scene for the rest of the episode and most likely anime.

Before her awkward moment with her teacher where her suit is further explained, we view Ryuko at dinner with Mako. The food is...well not even really food (unless eating dirt and worms is your thing). I find the moments with Mako to be hilarious. The writers have the perfect formula for just weirding you out enough in order to continue the laughter. I think Mako plays into the whole notion of Kill la Kill not taking itself too seriously. The slice of life scenes with Ryuko and her are some of the best in the show. 

Let's now go back to Ryuko's teacher, Aikurō Mikisugi. After failing to ward off a tennis player yielding a goku suit, Ryuko is met by her teacher...in which one of the most weird scenes occurs. 

I totally understand that this scene is parodying a large selection of anime and is total fan service humor (as is 90% of the show), but I can't help feel a bit creeped out by Aikuro. Ryuko is 17 and while I'm not sure of Aikuro's age... we can all be sure the fact he is acting as her teacher makes him older and regardless her teacher... This is one of those moments where I laugh, smile, and sigh 'oh anime'. At any rate Aikuro explains to Ryuko how her suit functions and that when she runs low on blood to offer it, she becomes weak. I kind of have to find it hilarious that this guy is her mentor, or at least seems to be developing into the role.

Kill la Kill then gives us another opportunity to view Ryuko half naked as she takes on the same student she retreated from earlier and who is utilizing a goku tennis uniform. I'm also pretty sure Ryuko's boobs grow bigger when she is wearing Senketsu, but that's just a random observation. Ryuko gets the brilliant idea to turn her scissor blade into a tennis racket after the normal racket fails, and then is able to defeat her opponent and save Mako. The episode ends with a brief encounter against Satsuki that is utilized to just build further tension and momentum towards and eventual dual. 

Honestly Kill la Kill can go wherever it pleases as an anime. The writers seem to just shoot out random ideas for episodes and go, 'that'd be hilarious' or 'who wouldn't want a tennis outfit that could kill'. I look forward to future episodes as there is huge potential to do something different and new with this anime. It strives at not taking itself seriously and that's where all the love is.

Kill la Kill S1 E1 - Half a Pair of Scissors

So Kill la Kill is a thing and a very good thing at that. I started watching this show as soon as it aired, prompted by the news via Crunchyroll that it would be on their site. It's different and it's odd. I've been in need of an action packed tongue in cheek anime and this show absolutely delivers. I should probably now warn you not to read on in any of these season and episode posts unless you've actually seen the episodes...

The main character of the series, Ryūko Matoi, is introduced to us wielding half a pair of scissors. After getting in a scruff with some local children, she eventually befriends the series' comic relief in all her annoying splendor...Mako Mankanshoku. Mako is, simply stated, hilarious. Though incredibly annoying, she presents the opposite of Ryūko's cool and determined demeanor. I'm a bit worried that Mako might become a little too annoying for her own good and I am curious as to audience tolerance levels in regards to her onscreen presence in general.

Then there is Satsuki Kiryūin the 18 year old student council president who issues 'Goku suits'. The interesting thing about this is that Satsuki is actually only one year older than the 17 year old Ryūko. She is set up to be Ryūko's main nemesis who seemingly holds the answers to who murdered Ryūko's family. I mean shit is getting deep here, get ready for the feels. Ryūko has half a scissor of which the other half was used to kill her father. This scissor is able to cut the Satsuki issued Goku suits and thus act as a powerful weapon. The whole big twist the series throws in our face is that the suits are ranked by stars...and thus those with three star suits are much stronger than those with one stars. The star difference offers the big challenge to Ryūko.

What's an anime without boobs... Don't worry, Kill la Kill has it covered on that front. Probably the best catch of this early episode is that Ryūko's later discovered suit Senketsu (thanks to her creepily modelesque teacher) functions only after feeding on Ryūko's blood...yes her blood. Don't worry though, the blood suit concept is distracted by the fact that the suit itself forces Ryūko to be practically naked in its use. Considering the fact her dad made the suit and she is revenging his death...she might want to have a think as to why her dad made such a pervy piece of clothing, I'm sure he didn't have ratings in mind (but the creators knowingly did).

At any rate this is episode one, annoying, cool, mean girl, boobs and blood. That being said, Kill la Kill is a stellar show created from two of the people who worked on Gurenn Lagann and it doesn't take itself seriously at all, which is wonderbar. Just wait until you hear about episode two... 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Welcome to Otaku Soup!

I've indulged in more Japanese culture than ever this past year and it has inspired and encouraged me to go further down the neko cat hole. As such, this blog's aim is to bring otaku together with anime reviews, opinions, news, and overall posts about Japanese culture. If you are an otaku or just simply want to read about anything JP, this is the place for you!

Now this site is extremely casual. I will be inviting friends, readers, and others to comment and post entries as the site gets more developed and ages. The big goal here is to work together and share the power of the OTAKU! (A strong power to wield.) Please help us by commenting, sharing content with your friends, and letting me know what you want to read or see here!

I will keep this first post short as there is sooo much to write about and get ready! Enjoy all my favorite little otaku and welcome to Otaku Soup!