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THEM Anime Q&A #4! At Long Last!!!

August 8, 2016

It's wayyyyy overdue but thanks for being patient with us.....it's been a hellish week for some of us (grad school tends to do that....a lot).

Anyway, no less than *five* reviewers participated this time! Though not every reviewer could answer every question (sorry!)

TJ - Tim Jones
CR - Carlos Ross
SH - Stig Høgset
AM - Allen Moody
NB - Nicoletta Christina Browne

So let's get to it!

Hello, i'm Juan but my pseudonym is daniyan and i'm come from Chile.

First to all, congratulations for keep the site for many years and for my opinion is the best site for review anime series, while another sites reviews recently aired series and one to another classic or known series.

1.) My first question is, there is another site for review who calls your attention? I know who are review sites in the links but many are outdated or simply are offline.

2.) My second question is, I liked very much two series, Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata aka Saekano, and Yamada-kun and the seven Witches. Some review sites consider Yamada-kun as a hidden gem of last year, but others have a very disliked opinion for the known-cliched story and poor pacing. what's your opinion of the two series (if someone watched them) and when will have a review?

3.) And my final question is, maybe is a requested question, but what's sports liked the most and what's sports disliked the most?

That's all, goodbye and thanks for the site and keep the site running for many more years.

-Juan Pablo Arancibia

1). TJ: Thanks for the congrats! You kinda answered your own question. I used to follow Anime Jump! when they still active, but after that I stopped following anime review sites. I do occasionally check in on AnimeNewsNetwork, because they're the only big-name review site that's left that I follow.

CR: These days, not really. A lot of the "classic" review sites have really gone by the wayside, lost to the sands of time (which flow faster on the internet). Aggregate sites like MyAnimeList are notoriously unreliable, and I don't really watch YouTube channels as I find the emphasis on personality over content to be offputting.

SH: Yeah, we need to do a cleanup there. Fortunately, we've recently had a really good site overhaul courtesy of our newest webstaff member, Kmarple.

Nowadays, I mostly use Anime News Network. I used to enjoy the reviews of Jason Huff and his site The Anime Review, but it's been some time since he last updated that site. I do tend to go back there from time to time, though.

NB: It's true that a lot of older sites are inactive....part of that is that there's been a movement towards reviewing anime on people's personal blogs or tumblr profiles. I think it's why ANN started doing episode reviews, honestly: that's now a much more popular way to review anime (as opposed to reviewing the whole show at once), since so many TV series are available for simulcast streaming, now.

I have to admit that I haven't been great about following bloggers, but it'd be worth searching around for some you like and following them! I think a lot of the older sites are either down or inactive because the creators have either lost interest in anime or are too busy with their day jobs...ANN stays up and running because it's so many different people contributing, but if a site has just one person making updates, it's super prone to the whims of work, their interests, and real life issues in general. We've managed to stay around because even if some of us are out, *somebody* will usually be able to come up with something every week.

2). TJ: Never saw either show.

CR: Haven't seen them, so no opinion.

SH: Sorry, but I haven't watched either of them, so I don't really have an opinion on those two.

NB: Well I'll break the silence, I guess....I only saw Yamada-Kun, which I wasn't that into. I talked to some fans of the manga who were let down at how fast it went (perils of adaptations, I guess), and I kinda agree with them on that front. At least it was *decent* as far as the bodyswap gender-bender aspect went, and I did think it was funny that the main character got bored of playing with "his own" boobs really fast (that's such a common and tiresome trope). But yeah, can't say I'm a fan of it.

3).CR: If this is a question asking me what sports I like and dislike: I'd have to say, I'm actually a huge fan of American football. I don't really dislike any sports and generally follow all major league sports in the United States, as well as a fair number of teams overseas (Japan League baseball, world football, sumo, curling, etc) (a rarity among anime fans, to be sure).

As far as sports *anime*, I have been watching Ace of Diamond on and off, because my wife is a huge baseball fan.

SH: Stereotypical, I know, but if I watch anything sports on TV, it's going to be skiing. I prefer alpine, but regular ski... running? (I'm actually not quite sure what the English term for it is -- we call it "langrenn", which translates as "long run". Think of it as marathon runs with planks on your feet on snow.) I used to like rallycross events too.

I don't really dislike any sports. I tend to be somewhat disinterested in sports taking place on small arenas, with European Football -- I.E. Soccer -- on the top of that list.

NB: I'm kinda apathetic towards sports, usually; if this gives you a picture, I didn't even realize that the Olympics were happening this week until a few days ago! I'm not a super-competitive girl, is one thing, and my preferred modes of exercise tend to be pretty relaxed (i.e. hiking or biking with people who *aren't* aiming to break records).

But, I'll watch soccer or basketball if they're on. I don't get that invested in them (again, me not being super competitive), but it can be fun to watch. I also like watching it with my grandparents because my grandpa's reactions tend to be pretty funny.

And that kinda extends to sports anime...I haven't been hooked on that many. Buuuuut....I am a massive Chihayafuru fangirl (yes, I count that!) and I'm also pretty into Ping Pong: The Animation. Usually there are reasons outside of the sport at hand that hook me on a sports anime: for Chihayafuru, I love the cast, plus the focus on Classical Japanese poetry through karuta is a good draw for me, and for Ping Pong, I just really, really like Masaaki Yuasa. ^__^

Hello there, I think I remember asking questions last time you guys did this so I'd like to do this again, if that's ok with you. I thought up some sort of new questions you can answer, but if you can't answer some of them, I understand... ok here I go.

1.) So far, do you think this is a good year for anime, compared to the last two years, or is it too soon to say?
2.) What was your favorite anime you reviewed in 2014? 2015? What about least favorite?
3.) What are your thoughts on anime remakes (animated or live action)? Have you seen any of them?
4.) What's your favorite anime soundtrack ( including OP, ED, OST)? If you could, would you go out of your way to buy it like online or at a store?
5.) Are there any anime you like that come from a genre (or genres) you otherwise wouldn't care about or even dislike?
6.) Most disappointing anime in your books?
7.) Do you guys take requests on what to review or at least suggestions? How do you handle who does what review on each week?
8.) Favorite voice actor/actress? Best performance you've seen in any anime (it can be from them if you want)?
9) Do you read manga?
10) If so, what's your favorite manga?
11) If it's been adapted as an anime, do you like it more than the anime or do you prefer the manga version?
12) Is there any manga you would like to have adapted as an anime?

Ok, I think that's all of them that I got this time. Thank you for taking your time to read this (once again), and keep doing what you guys love. Sorry if you can't answer all questions (again). Hope to see more of your reviews again soon. Stay fresh and classy~

-Celeste Irizarry <3 :3

1). TJ: I've barely watched any anime this year. I'll say that there is much less that looks interesting to me this year than in the past few years. My brother, who regularly watches five to seven anime a season, could barely find anything to watch last spring. As for this summer, the only anime I've watched are the new Danganronpa series. (I do plan to watch Amanchu! and last season's Flying Witch.)

CR: Honestly, I am not a great person to ask as I've been over here in Love Live! land for the last couple years. There's always one or two shows a season I'm interested in (this season is Sweetness and Lightning) so I guess, a wash?

SH: It has. There's always a lot of uninspiring shovelware that's... alright, more or less... but 2016 saw me with another new favorite show of all time. I know I'm fairly generous with the five star ratings, but Flying Witch truly was something special that doesn't happen often.

NB: Might be too early to say but on the other hand, last year there weren't really any shows that I'd consider giving five stars...which was a letdown. There've been a few, this year, some of which I still need to actually review, like Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinu, and I'm completely with Stig on Flying Witch.

Don't get me wrong, there was some good stuff last year (and also, I'm super interested in both Blood Blockade Battlefront and Yuri Kuma Arashi and have yet to watch them, so that might break the streak), but nothing that I'd really list as being among my all-time favorites. Compare that to 2014.....which had a *terrible* Winter season overall but then some amazing stuff: Shinichiro Watanabe coming back with the bizarre but super-entertaining Space Dandy, a continuation of Mushi-Shi, a new Masaki Yuasa show, and then a few things like Shirobako and Barakamon that took me totally by surprise and blew me away. I guess maybe this year and 2014, I had some super-awesome surprises, but 2015, not as much.

2.)TJ: Favorite of 2014? Non Non Biyori, with Erin a verrry close second. For least favorite of 2014, Pilot's Love Song, which would be in the bottom 10 anime I've ever seen period. For 2015, um, I only reviewed six shows, but my favorite was I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying for being really cute and sweet. Least favorite of 2015 was by far Himegoto, which I found just plain terrible.

CR: I have reviewed far too few anime as of late, but I would have to say my favorite show of the last couple of years has been Erased. I've backed off my output. While Stig got to it first, I thought Yona of the Dawn was magnificent. (My wife and I even cosplayed Yona and Son Hak. You're *never* too old to do this sort of thing.)

SH: 2014: Favorite: This year saw me with my review #300, and I chose The Twelve Kingdoms for that particular milestone, though there were two other shows that could've given it a run for its money, namely Beast Player Erin and The Eccentric Family. Least favorite? Pilot's Love Song. My God, I hated that show. It almost toppled Kono Aozora off my all-time list. In fact, I'm still considering replacing that with Pilot's. In fact, the two shows have in common a main cast I'd like to see piledriven into broken bottles covered in salt and orange juice.

2015: Favorite: I finally got the chance to watch (and review) Hidamari Sketch: Honeycomb after waiting forever for it to arrive on DVD, so I guess that could count as my favorite. But there's also Encouragement of ClimbM, which actually got a sequel.... that was technically a 2014 show, but my review was made in 2015. Least favorite: Captain Earth. Infuriatingly stupid with a bunch of bland nobodies that got to do too much of the cool stuff, a cool character that didn't get to to all that much and a wallflower that had her moment, but were sent back to the kitchen again afterwards. (Not literally, but... yeah.) It wasn't bottom of the barrel, but 2015 actually saw me through without having to suffer through much of that.

AM:From 2015, I loved Umaru-Chan. I didn't get to review it, but I think all of the THEM staff liked My Love Story! Another one I thought was fun (and clever too!), that Tim will be reviewing, is School-Live! I've got similar feelings about Nurse Witch Komugi R. Neither of the latter two was shooting for profundity, so it was easy for them to exceed expectations.

NB: Mmmmm.....in 2014, reviewing the new Mushi-Shi series was a highlight for me, since I never *ever* thought that would be revived. And then Shirobako. Thank god for Shirobako. It's one of the only shows I actually truly consider essential viewing for anime fans, and reviewing it was an absolute *blast*.

As for 2015, it was a weaker year for me but I did really like both Death Parade and My Love Story!! for different reasons....they aren't transcendent enough for me to land on my favorites' list, but they're still both good shows.

As for least favorite, Winter 2014 had some real awful shows, like Recently, my sister is Unusual, and I synchroed The Pilot's Love Song with Stig and Tim, so I'm with them on that show being absolute misery to watch. And for 2015, the worst grade I gave anything was a 2 stars for Comet Lucifer, which honestly isn't unwatchable but just uninspired. I think I was better about not watching shows I knew I'd hate; I *just* flunked Kuma Miko a few weeks ago, and that was honesty the first time I can remember writing a one-star review in a super long time. Having less anime time means I drop crappy shows way faster.

3.) TJ: Animated remakes are fine if the people who make them understand the source material and wish to add something the original series didn't, due to lack of technology, the manga not being finished at the time, or money then being an issue. In short: not like Sailor Moon Crystal. (I'm sorry, but I could not finish that series.)

CR: I'm more interested in new stories than rehashes of classics, honestly. There are a handful that are done right, but too many of them feel like cash cows, or vanity projects. Even out of the good ones -- well, seriously, how many more ways can you retell Evangelion before deciding enough's enough? That being said, there are certain series that could benefit from being told with more technologically capable animation (I've yet to see the new Arslan, but I can already see they've been able to flesh out that narrative far more in the new iterations of the franchise than the 90s OAVs were ever able to).

SH: I recently watched the Captain Harlock movie that was made in 3D CG. It was alright, though I didn't really appreciate what it did to a certain character. That said, it was alright. Other than that, I haven't really seen much of the remakes. I tend to avoid live action versions of stuff.

If the new Ushio and Tora series counts as a remake, though, then we have a good example of when a remake is a good thing. Unlike the original OAV, it sees the story the whole way through. Probably shortened, granted; I can't tell, not having read the original manga. But yes, I'm very much looking forward to finishing that one.

NB: I'm with Tim, a lot of the time it's a money-making thing, so I'm not impressed, but on the other hand, when I do really like a show it's always fun to have more....so I can't get *too* negative about it even if the nostalgia-baiting sometimes goes overboard.

I wasn't big on the first part of Sailor Moon Crystal but the 2nd part actually did what the first part didn't: get the show's charm but with better animation. The first half didn't do either, and I dropped it just like Tim: the queerness is all gone, plus bad CGI is bad...but I actually super enjoyed what they did with the most recent season. It took a friend's convincing for me to go back to it, though.

I will say, though, that there haven't been many times where I've preferred the newer version....except for a few special cases, like JoJo's Bizarre Adventure (where that one little OVA they released in the 90s is really just...unfinished). I like the new Sailor Moon, now, and I'm happy to see more Cardcaptor Sakura coming out, but it's more that it's nice for me as a fan than it's actually totally essential viewing.

As for live-action movies....no, but.....I do want to watch the Nana movies at some point, since I've heard they're good. I'm definitely an animation buff who digs unique character designs, so live-action adaptations lose that part of the charm for me. Though I'm aware that for a few shows, like Great Teacher Onizuka, the live-action TV is better because the anime adaptation is more functional (if still good) than something that really adds much to the original manga, whereas the live action TV runs away with the source material much more.

4.) TJ: b>Cowboy Bebop, with His and Her Circumstances being a very close second. I actually DID buy the latter when it was released in North America, but have since lost the CD.

CR: No specific soundtrack per se, but I generally seek out stuff by Kanno Yoko. Kajiura Yuki, whenever she's not phoning it in. Also, Love Live, but that's on a slightly different level.

SH: Aria's, no contest. Really, the music is definitely a part of what really made the show, and it couldn't have gotten a better soundtrack. Even the opening, ending themes and insert songs fit the show like a well-worn, warm, cozy glove. Or two. I'm actually sort of irked that I can't get a hold of the "full band" versions of the insert songs in the last half of episode 19 of Natural as well as the last episode of Origination. The ones on the CD only has the "song and piano" versions.

As for whether I would go out of my way to buy them... I dunno. Maybe? I haven't really had any problems with finding the music I'd like to buy in online stores, so it's been easy breezy to follow up on that.

NB: I listen to the Haibane Renmei soundtrack while working, a lot of the time....just a lot of really pretty guitar and piano pieces, with some lovely soft songs, and it cuts down on my stress a lot. I should buy the soundtrack, but I found a YouTube playlist that has all of it, plus some extras that never made it into the show, and so I often just listen to that. But...yeah. I should buy it.

I also listen to Studio Ghibli music the same way: find a track on YouTube and let autoplay take me through Joe Hisaishi's glorious strings and piano. Takes the edge off a long day in the lab.

I also really enjoy the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack and I *should* buy that one.

5.) TJ: Yes. The iDOLMASTER, despite not liking idol shows at all 99% of the time, was a funny, clever, cute series with a fun cast and decent storytelling.

CR: Back in the day, I really liked Vampire Princess Miyu. As a rule, I generally *loathe* horror anime; much less live-action film, it tends to sacrifice character development and skilled storytelling for gore and shock value, and I've become, if anything, *less* tolerant of that style through the years (see my answer to the next question for a recent example). The original VPM video series was creepy and dark, but also a really effective morality play where all the morality was in shades of gray. I feel that sort of nuance is too often missing in the genre. A more recent example *might* be Erased, but that is really more of a coming-of-age drama with supernatural events, rather than true horror-suspense.

There's also Ghost Stories, but that's not because of the anime creators (it's really a shoddily made series on its own), but because of the truly amazing (and incredibly offensive) comedy dub.

SH: Hmm. There are no genres I really dislike, even if harem tends to have the biggest case of genre rot. Well... not that "harem" is necessarily a genre. So let's go with "would care for", and by that extent, Magical Girls shows. When I started writing for THEM -- or even before that -- I tended to look on them as toy vehicles for gaudy items and/or costumes aimed at the gender side I'm not a part of. While in some cases that might be true, I've had to partially recant that opinion on the strength of shows like Card Captor Sakura, an absolute delight of a shoujo/magical girl series.

NB: I mentioned this earlier, but while I'm pretty apathetic towards sports anime, I adore both Ping Pong and Chihayafuru. Also....I normally hate harem, but I got a weird kick out of Monster Musume (Stig gets credit for getting me to watch that one), even if there's still plenty about it that bugs me. I think it's because the characters *are* the mythical creatures instead of just being scantily-clad girls with cat ears, tails, or whatever, and so it's just marvelously weird. Sexist and stupid, but it doesn't pretend not to be. Also, Ground Control to Psychoelectric Girl was actually a really good series, even though SHAFT harem comedies just really aren't my thing (though it's been a few years since I watched it...)

6.) TJ: Oh gosh, that would probably be the wasted potential that was Persona Trinity Soul, the sort-of anime adaption of the video game Persona 3. Sort of. Kind of. Terrible animation, lame characters, and just plain slow and boring all-around.

CR: ANOTHER. The animation is great. The character design is really good. I was hoping for something interesting. Aaaaaaand instead the plot is a Rube Goldberg Machine designed to kill off as many students as possible in stupid ways that are telegraphed to the audience so blatantly, you might as well be covering an elevator or umbrella or what have you with LED lights spelling out the kanji for DEATH. I hated that type of storytelling in the Final Destination series, and I hate it here.

Peach Girl was also really disappointing: they took a manga I enjoyed and really made all the characters incredibly unlikable.

SH: Ozma! It was supposedly going to be a Leiji Matsumoto show, but I reject it as such. It was made to honor the memories of people caught up in that terrible tsunami, but... it's just such a bad show, and a backhanded compliment as a memory of anything to do with any of this. I'm almost morbidly curious what Leiji Matsumoto thought of the show. It's not the only kinda-sorta terrible show based (however loosely) on his work -- just look at the second season of Galaxy Railways -- but it IS the biggest disappointment of them all. Even more than Galilei Donna, and much more than Chaika ~the Coffin Princess~, whose only problem was a rushed letdown of an ending.

AM: My personal opinions here, not necessarily reflecting anyone else's at THEM. (Same applies to my likes of course.) Stig liked GATE quite a bit more than I did; I found its jingoistic and pro-colonial subtext a bit disturbing, as well as the lopsided battles (only the dragons were much of a challenge for the JSDF crew.) Everything Becomes F had lots of quality production and a great heroine, but the weakest of motivations for its villain.

NB: Your Lie In April, if only because I *adored* it at first....I'm also classically trained (cello), the OP kicked ass, and it does really capture the feeling of stage fright amazingly in animation. So it had a lot to sell me on. But it has such a bad case of "manic pixie dream girl" syndrome and that really made me hate the show by the end. The shows I hate most tend to be those that I saw potential in at one point, and this is one of those.

7.) TJ: We do have a request thread on the forum, and some of our reviewers have reviewed things based on requests. I myself do not, though. As for what gets reviewed each week, we limit one reviewer to one show a week except for special updates. Nowadays, though, with the reviews slowing down, we just typically pick the last completed show before the following Monday we put up reviews on.

CR: We do take requests and suggestions (in the review thread), and they're divvied up based on who has the interest and time to do so.

SH: Yes, and we try for both. But seriously, a lot of the time, we review stuff we think we'll like or strongly dislike. Suggestions are always welcome, though, but availability plays a large part in what we review or not, especially now that fansubs aren't nearly as important to the anime community as it used to be.

AM:Requests can be posted in the appropriate one of the Forums. We take all suggestions seriously and if possible find someone who's willing to do the show. As for how we decide who does what, it's usually whoever claims dibs on a show first, and since I'm a little slow (I'm OLD), I sometimes end up looking for something older or more obscure to review. But some of THOSE have been gems. :)

NB: Yep! We have a thread on the boards and we also take suggestions via email! People sort of just put dibs on what show they want to review.....stuff sometimes doesn't get reviewed for a while because we're busy with our day jobs or school. It's a bit of a haphazard process, but it's a small site. I can't speak for everybody but sometimes *gentle* nudges will help me get to something faster.

8.) TJ: Favorite actors would be Kappei Yamaguichi (guy's a total riot), Koichi Yamadera (too many good roles to count), Toshio Furukawa (the only Piccolo for me), and the deep manliness that is Noriko Wakamoto. For actresses, I really like Miyuki Sawashiro, Aya Hisakawa (Ami Mizuno), Eriko Hazuki (the sweetest sounding actress ever), and Rie Tanaka (very versatile range of voices).

CR: I'm thoroughly guilty of picking favorites based on personality, anymore. My current favorite is probably Tokui Sora (Yazawa Nico, Love Live). From a pure performance standpoint? Sugita Tomokazu's unreliable narration as Kyon always gets me.

SH: Ooohkay, I'm not that much into the voice acting fandom. Most Japanese voices tend to come across as capable to me, with very few exceptions. (The ICE OAV comes to mind, but I hated that show with a passion, so take that opinion with a pinch of biased salt.)

NB: I'm with Stig, I tend to follow directors and writers more than voice actors.....so I *might* have to plead the fifth for absolute "favorites," but I will *always* adore Asami Seto as Chihaya Ayase in Chihayafuru and Ami Koshimizu as Holo from Spice and Wolf. I think I tend to be that girl whose favorite voice actors also voice her favorite characters. ^___^

I will say that I did find out that Kouichi Yamadera, of Cowboy Bebop fame, is basically to anime what Frank Welker is to American cartoons.....he does a *ton* of the animal sounds and sound effects in the industry. He's already a pretty great actor, so mad props for that.

9 and 10.) TJ: Very sporadically. Every few months I'll really get into reading manga and then stop a few days later. I was really big into manga in my late teens and early 20's, though. Of the ones I've finished: Love Roma, Azumanga Daioh, Land of the Blindfolded, and Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou. I was also really big into Sgt. Frog until Tokyopop lost the rights to the manga when they went under in the early 2010's.

CR: Arguably more than I watch anime, anymore. And this is far easier than picking a favorite anime:
(1) Bride's Story (Otoyomegatari) by Mori Kaoru (2) Red River (Sora wa Akai Kawa no Kotori ~Anatolia Story~) by Shinohara Chie.

SH: Absolutely. I buy tons of it too. My favorite is actually not Aria, amazingly enough, but a probably little heard-of and irritatingly unlicensed masterpiece called Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou (or "Yokohama Shopping Trip Log".) Much like Aria, this one is just something all on its own. YKK is more than just a slice of life or a futuristic sci-fi robot drama. It takes the concept of world building in a completely different direction than any other manga, and despite its melancholy tone, it has an eye for wonders that I haven't seen used very often.


AM: We've got several devoted manga readers here. As for me, I read Princess Resurrection and Moonphase until both stopped being available in the U.S. I also read Mysterious Girlfriend X to the actual end of the story. I kinda liked most of these better in the anime, though I've never been able to figure out why three of the Moonphase vampires had animal heads/masks in the anime, since they had perfectly decent "human" ones in the manga. I thought Mysterious Girlfriend X's story got a bit repetitive in the manga. I've also read Miyazki's own manga version of his Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind, and found the manga both better and worse than the anime- better because certain characters, Kushana in particular, get more development in the manga; worse, because what I consider Miyazaki's mushy metaphysics gets more space in the manga as well. (Nausicaa is sometimes considered Miyazaki's Lord of the Rings.) Overall animes tend to condense storylines, which can improve the pacing of the main story (though sometimes at the expense of interesting side stories or characters.)

NB: Yep! Way more than I used to. I absolutely adore CardCaptor Sakura (I'm kind of a CLAMP fangirl in general). There are two series I can think of that I absolutely couldn't put down, too: A Silent Voice and The Flowers of Evil, both of which I totally *marathoned*. For A Silent Voice I just completely had this sensation of not being able to leave (aka stop reading) until I had some sense the characters were okay.


11.) TJ: I typically prefer the manga version of whether anime gets adapted. The one major exception to the rule is CardCaptor Sakura for me.

CR: It's really hit or miss. Condensing hundreds to thousands of pages of manga into episodic or theatrical format can really take out a lot of story and character motivations, but the trade is motion, and color, and music, and voice acting. There are a few manga that I feel are vastly improved in the transition to anime (Angelic Layer, Excel Saga, Martian Successor Nadesico) and others ... not so much (Peach Girl being particularly egregious).

SH: There is actually an Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou anime that, while good, is also egregriously brief. Two OAV series of two episodes each, which in total doesn't even cover one of the manga's fourteen volumes. As such, I prefer the manga, but the anime is interesting enough that I wonder what we could have had if it had been shown the same courtesy that Aria and its three seasons, one single-episode OAV and one three-episode OAV was given. Oh, if only....

NB: One reason I read more manga than I used to is that not that many manga I actually like get very long adaptations (or sometimes any adaptation at all); I picked up the Gunslinger Girl manga years after I saw the anime and realized that a lot of the most important character development didn't get shown in the anime just because it wasn't very long. The thing is that I'm more likely to watch anime than read manga because of cost (a crunchyroll subscription is way cheaper than buying lots of books at once), so what usually happens is that I'll get hooked on a series and then seek out the source manga. I guess that's sort of how I roll. ^__^

I will buy way more manga, of course, if there isn't an anime version......because some of the most interesting manga don't get adaptations (they're either very niche or they're one-shots)

Sometimes anime adaptations and manga are pretty different, though; Flowers of Evil comes to mind, since the anime and manga operate so differently and work in different ways (at least for me, I do know that the anime is still pretty divisive). Sometimes, those kinds of works are my favorites, since I get to enjoy a different piece of work each time: as much as I like Monster, one reason I haven't read the manga still is that the anime is very close to the manga (and that's one rare case where the entirety *did* get adapted).

12.) TJ: I would love to see Love Roma get adapted as an anime, provided they can get the manga's vert unique artwork to work in animated form.

CR: I almost hesitate to say Bride's Story and Red River, though given that Emma got a pretty capable anime adaptation, I'd like to think the same could very well happen for those.

SH Yes, there is. I would very much like to see an anime made of Yotsuba&! Sadly, from what I've heard, Kiyohiko Azuma isn't very fond of that idea. (Though don't quote me on that.)

NB: I still haven't read A Bride's Story but I'd be down with an anime adaptation, since I've been itching to check it out for a while now! I also really like Kyoko Okazaki's stuff (like Pink) and I'd love to see that animated, but most of those are standalone volumes, her visual style is definitely a bit out of the mainstream (which I think is one thing that stops these from getting animated), and....it's also *very* sexual. But a girl can dream.

1. What are your honest views on anime streaming (legal, of course)? Are they preferable to buying anime on disc, or not?

2. In what ways do you support the anime industry (other than anime reviewing, of course)? Are any of you collectors, for example?

3. Do any of you like any anison artists/anime musicians in particular? Why or why not?

4. I've noticed that there are several cases when a show fails to sell well in Japan but ends up becoming more popular among Western audiences: two very good examples of this are Welcome to the NHK and Elfen Lied, which sold poorly in Japan but today are well-regarded by non-Japanese anime watchers. What is your view on this phenomenon?

5. Do any of you have an opinion on the retirement of A Certain Magical Index/Shakugan no Shana singer Mami Kawada, who announced her retirement this year after a final concert last May and the release of a final best album some time this year?

6. What is/are your favorite anime opening theme(s)? What is/are your favorite anime ending theme(s)? Why?

-Fredrik Ezekiel de Jesus

1.) TJ: 1.) In my case, I very seldom rewatch anime, so I like to stream, having the option to rematch them again on my computer in the off-chance I would do so. I only buy anime on DVD to support shows I really like. I USED to blindly buy DVDs in the days before streaming sites; let's just say those were the "buyer beware" days.

CR: I no longer have the room for a large collection, so sites like Crunchyroll are a godsend. Not having to buy things to try them out is absolutely a game changer for me as a fan and as a reviewer.

SH: I think it's great. It makes it much easier to watch stuff, both as a test run for potential purchases and for saving my shelves from overflowing with shows I'll watch only once. Sure, I prefer owning a physical media, but that's mostly for shows I can watch again as many times as I'd like.

AM:Well, if you're going to be looking at a lot of anime, streaming's certainly cheaper!!! If I really like something I've seen, I'll try to buy it on disc, but I HAVE wondered if streaming has contributed to the dramatic increases in disc prices in the last few years. (Well, that, and the "bundling" of Blu-Rays and DVDs together, of course.)

NB: Personally I love having streams....it's a pretty cheap way to check out a lot of different shows (especially since I live in the US, where nearly everything now shows up as a simulcast *somewhere*). I'm not really able to buy lots of discs right now, not to mention that having lots of unwanted stuff (i.e. if I end up disliking the show) is a drag...especially if you have to move a lot (which is true for me, right now).

But I love having discs of shows I really like, since I'm likely to go back to them at some point. I do like to collect, just...I limit it to shows I actually really like and might watch again. And for movies, it's still the way to go....Netflix and Amazon Instant do stream some movies, but it's usually dub-only (which I personally dislike).

2.) TJ: Like I said, I sometimes buy DVDs of anime I like. Otherwise, I don't buy merchandise or OSTs. I have thought of collecting Nendoroids in the future, though.

CR: I used to be a collector of stuff, but now I'm more of a collector of *experiences*. I am highly supportive of the English-language voice actor community, particularly as I've made many friends there. Including a certain THEM Anime editor (on hiatus) ... (no, not me!). I do a lot of conventions (more so now in Texas than during the Florida years) and try to keep my online and offline spaces as safe havens for anime fans (and industry folks, now) to meet friends and network. I guess you could say I'm an informal social group facilitator!

SH: My shelves have been featured on Shelf Life on ANN, and it's only grown since then. As long as there are shows made that I like, I will continue to buy them. As long as physical media continues being made of shows worth holding on to, I will expand that collection.

AM:Will I spend $150 or more for a character statuette? Nah. I do have a cheap plastic figurine that's supposed to be Ah! My Goddess's Urd (at least the box swears it's her; resemblance is questionable); she's standing on my bookshelf between Gumby, and an Albert Einstein action figure. ( I really don't know how my OWN mind works, sometimes...)

NB: Oh my, if I didn't stop myself I'd easily have my room filling up with Utena, Sailor Moon, and Love Live! figurines.....I've gotten more interested in that recently, but the cost means I have to hold back a bit. I do like buying t-shirts and fanart, though; I have some *very* nice Princess Mononoke and Sailor Jupiter paintings on my wall right now. I...will admit to reading *some* Love Live! fanfiction based on the recommendations of a certain Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, too. ^__^

And I go to cons and cosplay when I can. As some of y'all may know, I'm currently mid-transition, which makes cosplaying a bit difficult, but when I'm further along I totally want to try cosplaying more. Also, don't take that as a "you need to look a certain way to cosplay!" bit of advice; this is just how *I* feel!

3.)TJ: Aside from Yoko Kanno, I don't typically pay attention to background music composers' names in anime. Good music is just good music to me.

CR: Interesting how "anison" is set terminology now, I don't even think that existed as a word five years ago, much less in the 90s when I started reviewing!

I miss Okazaki Ritsuko. I enjoy Sakamoto Maaya and Nakajima Megumi. I am also extreme Love Live! trash. Like, I sang Cutie Panther at karaoke the other week in the correct register. (Except for the Nico-talks-too-fast parts... "Nando mo iwaseru tsumori na no?")

SH: Choro Club will always have a place in my heart for the work they did on Aria. That includes Takeshi Senoo, who, as far as I know, is NOT a part of Choro Club, and also the late Eri Kawai, who did Athena's singing voice in the show.

Other than that, I rather like the ending themes for each season of Hidamari Sketch, all of which were made by Marble. I'm not sure whether to classify them as pop or light rock. And then, there's always the ever-talented Yoko Kanno.

NB: I love Etsuko Yakushimaru...her OP for the new season of Sailor Moon Crystal was pretty great, and she's also done some fabulous work for stuff like Penguindrum, The Tatami Galaxy, and Space Dandy (though it helps that I also love those shows). I also love the late Ritsuko Okazaki's voice (Say, "I Love You" isn't my *favorite* show but its OP is amazing) and can usually be persuaded to listen to anything by Maaya Sakamoto.

I also have a weakness for both Kalafina and ClairS, probably a product of me being a Madoka fangirl. In general, actually, I do tend to get into anisong musicians based on the shows I like.

Funnily, I've now discovered more than one musician I listen to regularly via anime OPs and EDs: I turned into a huge David Sylvian fan recently, and I have the first Monster ED to thank for that.

4.) TJ: It shows that something can have the opposite effect even in its country of origin. It reminds me of Sonic the Hedgehog, a franchise that sold mediocre in Japan in its 16-bit heyday, but was a huge success here in the U.S. and in Europe. I personally like seeing the popularity effects of anime and other media. To me, it's one of the most fascinating things about media.

CR: I chalk it up to cultural differences, as well as differences in taste between fandom groups. The otaku subculture in Japan leans heavily towards harem / moe stuff, and, well, as a 37-year-old married professional, my tastes are not necessarily going to jive with that. Note, too, that the demographics of fandom in North America are very different : more gender-egalitarian, and much more open to public knowledge. I don't have to hide my fandom at work to be taken seriously as a person or a worker. That's not always the case out there...

SH: I've read some pretty interesting pieces over the years, like a rundown of why a lot of Japanese shows take place in high school and why the Japanese are so nostalgic about that. I'm not very well versed in things like these, but the short (and probably not even close to covering) of it is probably "cultural differences". Not just necessarily things made to cater to each region in turn, but also the ones presenting "the other side of the fence", so to speak. But the real reasons are definitely much more complicated than that. I don't really have a good answer to give you.

NB: I don't think there's just *one* reason, but I can speculate for a few examples. Baccano! had a fast-paced, multi-viewpoint style that doesn't feel all that common in anime, plus it's set in the US: I think both of those partially explain why it's so much more popular here than in Japan, where it sunk without a trace. The same author's Durarara!!, which did way better in Japan, is super-similar tone-wise but it's set in Ikebukuro, so maybe the setting is really what did it (the anime adaptations are made by the exact same people, too). As for Elfen Lied, I think that it gets a lot of attention here for its being so graphic....because of the false dichotomy of anime consisting of titillatingly intense material you don't find in "kids stuff" American cartoons, I guess even though the whole "animation is for kids!" attitude kind of a myth).
Gore does get people's attention.

As for Welcome to the NHK, I don't feel that political anime tend to do very well.....and while that show isn't overtly about "politics" it is head-on looking at a pretty serious social problem in Japan (that is, alarmingly large numbers of young adults who give up looking for work due to crippling school or work-related anxiety). I remember that the A Silent Voice manga nearly didn't get published because a conservative group claimed it "portrayed Japanese society negatively"....they didn't stop it, luckily, but I do sometimes get this sense that anime and manga that consist of full-on social commentary or look at society *very* negatively tend to fall into niche markets. But in the US, I think it got a lot of peoples' attention precisely *because* it delved into something that normally gets dealt with in passing (i.e. the one "NEET" in the show is a bit of a gag character), and maybe also because US fans were curious about the dark side of otakudom.....since we all know that exists, but you don't see the anime creators themselves talk about it much. And as for sports anime always failing here.....maybe it's because Americans would just rather watch live-action sports? Aside from some cult fanbases around shows Chihayafuru the sports anime that do well over here all seem to have a good amount of fanservice or manservice thrown in as well (Free!, anybody?)

I don't think there's a sweeping answer for "why some anime do better overseas", but hopefully that breakdown helps you think about it, a bit. One thing I'll add is that it's very rare that anime are really tailored for foreign audiences very much....until recently, you'd only every so often even have any cross-Pacific collaborations, and those shows haven't even done especially well (i.e. Heroman, IGPX). I have heard some people say that Space Dandy wouldn't exist the way it does if it hadn't been designed somewhat with American audiences in mind, though that's a special case......I think the creators wanted to have fun with playing with the expectations of the Cowboy Bebop fanbase, since the "we want more Cowboy Bebop!" faction had been loud for a while, and a big chunk of that show's fans are Americans.

5.) TJ: Sadly, I'm not super familiar with her works.

CR: That's just the nature of the industry. Stars rise, shine, and then fade, allowing for the next star to come along.

SH: Not directly, but I think an artist should always be able to decide how far he or she wants to take their career, contract stipulations notwithstanding. The things I've heard about the Japanese music industry isn't always the best, though most of the worst stories tend to be more about the idol industry than the general pop music industry.

The only music of Kawada's that I've heard personally are the themes she did for Nagi no Asukara (aka A Lull in the Sea), which had some pretty nice themes.

NB: Wellll...I can tell you're a fan of those shows. She's *pretty* good but not my favorite singer, but I can definitely get that you'd be down if a singer for a show you liked stop producing (not that Origa did that many anime OPs, for example, but I did really love both the GITS: SAC themes and so I was definitely bummed when she passed). But...yeah. People retire, and also, a lot of voice actresses and singers tend to retire when they get married, also. That....can be a bit of an unfortunate trend, when it comes to gender equality.

6.) TJ: Favorite opening themes: Tank! (Cowboy Bebop - very energetic and gets you in the mood to watch it), Purachina (CardCaptor Sakura - beautiful and atmospheric), My Soul, Your Beats! (Angel Beats - that kick-ass intro), both versions of Moonlight Densetsu (Sailor Moon - a classic), all three opening themes of Pani Poni Dash! for being addicting, Hyadain no Kakakata kataomoi-C (Nichijou - addictive and energetic), Tingo Mogire Beam!) (Zan Sayonara Zetsbuou Sensei - rare dark rock song I like), Love Together (PaRappa the Rapper - neat little R&B song from the most unlikey place), and Night of Summer Side (Kimagura Orange Road - an 80s classic), among others. I've really warmed up in recent months to Guren no Yumiya (Attack on Titan, as over-the-top it is at times.

Favorite ending themes: Otome no Policy (Sailor Moon R - just like everything about it), Ride on Shooting Star (FLCL - instantly memorable opening chords), To All Tha Dreamers (Yakitate!! Japan - reminds me of m-flo, who I'm a fan of), Mebae Drive (Hidamari Sketch - really pretty), Tokimeki no Doukasen (Fushigi Yugi - cheesy but memorable). I don't have as many to list because I seldom listen to the ending themes more than once when I watch an anime.

CR: All-time? In no particular order:
OP: "Inner Universe", Origa (GITS:SAC). "Tank", The Seatbelts (Cowboy Bebop). "Kiseki no Umi", Sakamoto Maaya (Record of Lodoss War TV). "Duvet", Bôa (Serial Experiments Lain). "Soramimi Cake", Oranges and Lemons (Azumanga Daioh).

ED: "Hare Hare Yukai", Hirano Aya / Chihara Minori / Goto Yuko (Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi). "Heart of Sword ~Yoake Mae~", TM Revolution (Rurouni Kenshin). "Real Folk Blues", The Seatbelts feat. Amane Mai (Cowboy Bebop). "Karehairo no Crescendo", Mizushima Yasuhiro (Marmalade Boy).

Definitely a combination of nostalgia and recognizable talent, in differing quantities. I guess what it boils down to is ... not sounding like everything else? ;)

SH: Since I don't want to repeat myself by bringing in the Aria songs or Marble's Hidamari Ending Themes, I'll mention some others instead. Like... say, Maaya Sakamoto's intro themes for Tamayura, each and every ending theme for all the seasons of Natsume's Book of Friends and don't be surprised if the ending theme of Amanchu finds a spot on that list.

AM: Considering either (or both) the music and the visuals, my favorite OPENERS, in no particular order:

The Skull Man- the montage opener was great, even if the story itself was a mess.

Moonphase - Yes, I DO like "Nekomimi Mode". For its oddness if nothing else.

Simoun- I still love the strange, yet beautiful, graphic design of the CG in this show, which the opening prominently features.

Spice and Wolf, Season 2 - a lovely ballad, along with classic adventure story scenery (forests, sailing ships, etc.); add a touch of romance, and you've got just about everything here.

Favorite CLOSERS:

Black Lagoon - Revy on the beach, a pretty imposing visual.

The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya- Just a song, but WHAT a song!! (See the review.)

Magic User's Club, Season 1- Again for the song; the animation's not exactly that impressive, but the lyrics of the song capture the tentative feelings of first love so perfectly that I always smile when I watch this. Understatements are often the best statements of all.

NB: For OPs, in no particular order: "Tabi no Tochuu," Natsumi Kiyoura (Spice and Wolf), "Yakusoku wa Iranai," Maaya Sakamoto (Escaflowne), "Hikaru Nara," Goose House, (Your Lie in April, as much as I hate the show), "The Light Before we Land," The Delgados (Gunslinger Girl), "Hacking to the Gate," Kanko Itou (Steins; Gate), "Friendship," Ritsuko Okazaki (Say, "I Love You"), "Nornir," Etsuko Yakushimaru (Mawaru Penguindrum), and last but not least, "Rise," Origa (GITS: SAC 2nd GIG) And I might be able to go on. I'm total anime trash.

For EDs: "The Real Folk Blues," The Seatbelts ft. Mai Yamane (Cowboy Bebop), "Gravity," Maaya Sakamoto (Wolf's Rain), Kalafina, "Magia" (Madoka), "Miagetegoran Yoru no Hoshiwo," BEGIN, (Twin Spica), "Blue Flow," Heart of Air (Haibane Renmei), "Tsuki no Uta," GACKT (Texhnolyze), and last but not least, the wonderfully haunting "Dear my Future" by Coultar of the Deepers (Mawaru Penguindrum). Again, I could go on. XD

Also, to throw some movies in there, "Fine on the Outside" by Priscilla Ahn, the theme for When Marnie Was There, really makes me cry. A lot. And I promise it's not just the estradiol.

1.)This is a general question but what do you guys at THEM think are the best anime series of this year so far?

2.) Again a general question: do you guys at THEM get paid for your reviews or do you just run this site simply because you love anime?

-Bishop Moore

1.) TJ:Wrong guy to ask. I barely watched anything this year.

CR: I'll defer that to the others, as my anime viewing time is largely taken up by, um, Love Live Sunshine, which I know isn't really five-star material, but I don't care because SHINYYYYYYYYY! (And with its animation and pacing issues, Ace Attorney can't possibly qualify.)

SH: Flying Witch seems to be the top contender for the throne so far, but there's another season of Natsume's Book of Friends in the works. So who knows? I'm also still holding some hope for another season of Encouragement of Climb.

NB: I've now been sitting on the review for Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu for several months....because that show was an *experience* and I really, really want to get the review right. So much going on in that show when it comes to Japanese history and queer culture in Japan....plus, that's an example of great direction and execution *really* getting my interest in something I'd never even heard of before. So that might count. But I'm also with Stig in thinking that Flying Witch was pretty great.

2.)TJ: We do not get paid. We do have PayPal, but that goes to covering the site's server costs. The only thing we get paid is in knowledge.

CR: Apart from the occasional donations from fans wishing to voluntarily contribute to the upkeep of the site, I don't get paid a dime. Note that we don't have advertising -- we'd like to keep it that way.

SH: No and yes, in that order. It seems like a pretty nice dream to get paid for this, but in my case, I think it's better to keep it as a hobby. Mostly because it makes it easier to avoid total burnout this way.

AM: Whether I stream or buy discs, I actually GO IN THE HOLE to do this, so it MUST be a labor of love. :)


NB: Nope! I write because I'm a fangirl. I'm a grad student by day. I like the relatively low commitment of this, because if I have to stop writing reviews for a while then it usually doesn't cause me any issues.

And that's all folks! Thanks for sending in your questions....and sorry for the lateness! We'll have a regular update tomorrow, too! Woo!

- Nicoletta Christina Browne


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