Categories
Anime Television

Star Wars: Visions Review – A Fresh Take on the Galaxy Far, Far Away

Jake: A lot of people love Star Wars, and a lot of people love anime. So, Disney had a thought: why don’t we just put them together like peanut butter and jelly or whatever the opposite of toothpaste and orange juice would be and made Visions! 

Dan: Star Wars is an IP that has so much potential with how it’s set up. There are so many types of stories that can be told in the galaxy. The strength of Visions is that it isn’t weighed down by “canon” and all that junk. Disney basically handed the IP to a bunch of big anime studios and told them to go wild. In my opinion, it was the best choice they could have made because Visions absolutely slaps. Making this an anthology series with different stories and teams on each makes it something truly special.

Exploring the Galaxy Far Far Away with a Renewed Hope

Dan: It’s taken you about 20 something years to get me to finally find an anime I enjoy. I just had a stubborn youth and I now know what works and doesn’t work for me in Anime. There is so much here that 3/4th of these episodes could be their own mini-series. I want to start by focusing on the abandoning of “canon” to tell extremely cool and fresh stories. Even though I think “The Duel” was my least favorite of the batch, it had one of the coolest uses of lightsaber tech. A lightsaber umbrella was just such a cool visual and use of the Star Wars stuff we know to do something radical. Every episode feels like a fresh take on the Star Wars universe and approaches it from different angles. There are episodes about Jedi, droids, and all the other odds and ends of the Star Wars universe.

Each episode has a score that stands out as feeling familiar in the vein of John Williams but never strays into feeling like carbon copies. Each has its own style that lends to the style of the episode. Nobuko Toda and Kazuma Jinnouchi’s score for “The Ninth Jedi” stands out for me personally as does the episode.

Jake: Anime is good and more people should have an open mind, and I think this series is a great sampling of what anime has to offer people. 

This series is so fresh with ideas of what Star Wars is and what it can be. Some of these are great interpretations and others are great additions to the mythos.

The Animation Domination

Dan: Jake, you know more about these studios than I do, how did these episodes hold up to other anime’s these studios have done?

Jake: Well, that’s a bit hard to say because some of these studios are legends in the industry. Also, it’s important to note which directors were involved in each studio’s piece. 

Production I.G that did “The Ninth Jedi” is responsible for animating the cyberpunk classic, the original Ghost in the Shell, and Psycho-Pass. I think for a short one-episode story they really brought their A-game! 

Then there’s Studio Trigger, founded by Gurren Lagann director Imaishi Hiroyuki, that did two episodes, “The Twins” and “The Elder,” both being very different pieces. Imaishi did the “The Twins” and it has big Gurren Lagann drill energy with the color choices of Trigger’s film Promare. I thought that was all big energy, big action, and lots of heart. “The Elder” was  very different in pacing and style. It’s director, Otsuka Masahiko, doesn’t seem to have much directing under his belt but he did a great job. 

Science Saru, known mainly for its Netflix releases of Devilman Crybaby and Japan Sinks 2020, bringing us “Akakiri” and “T0-B1.” ”T0-B1” reminded me of Astroboy and Megaman added into the galaxy far far away, and spiritually it lives up to their Devilman remake. “Akakiri” also lives up to it more thematically. 

The other studios all did great work as well, I don’t think any of them didn’t deliver their best work. Kamikaze Douga, did “The Dual” and it very much is in line with their work on Batman Ninja. Gave us the brilliant style of “Tatooine Rhapsody” which seems way different than their other works that I’m familiar with like A Whisker Away. Kinema Citrus did great work bringing with “The Village Bride” bringing their own style out compared to their catalog of adaptions. Geno Studio’s “Lop and Ocho” makes me excited for what appears to be a pretty young studio with only a handful of work under their banner. 

Force Highlights

Dan: So before I get into the best episode, I need to talk about “Tatooine Rhapsody” because it feels like someone working on this series was doing this for me. Essentially the plot is a rock band in the Star Wars universe and Jabba the Hutt is in it. I love Jabba the Hutt and somehow this series made Bib Fortuna very cute instead of looking like something that crawled out of George Lucas’s nightmares. When I saw this episode, all I could think was that we need 20 more seasons of Visions because this is the absolute best use of Star Wars.

Now I am going to say something that may turn some heads, I think “The Ninth Jedi” is my favorite Star Wars thing since Rogue One. The concept is brilliant, the storytelling and character are brilliant, and it could easily spin off into its own series with the wonderful concept that was set up in a short 20-minute window. It uses the tropes of Star Wars that we all know and rely on when watching, reading, or consuming Star Wars concepts and flips them in interesting ways.

Overall, I think Star Wars: Visions may have knocked Mandolorian out of my post-Rogue One favorite spot. It doesn’t rely on nostalgia like Mandolorian does in some ways. It takes things we know like the ideas, objects, and themes but never reuses them in a way that could be lazy to get some quick cheers. It stands alone as its own unique version of the Star Wars universe. If you were on the fence, jump off and ignite your lightsaber because you’re going to need it with all the wild ideas this throws at you.

Jake: I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiments about “The Ninth Jedi.” I really enjoyed the way it portrays lightsabers and their colors being loose and more of a reflection of their owner and their connection to the force. Also the colorless lightsaber was such a cool concept! Like it wasn’t just a which light it was just semi-visible energy. 

Visions is something I want more of and there are some of these episodes that I would love to see developed further into even just one or two more episodes. A few of them really left their ending open to further adventure and I want to see those adventures!

Categories
Anime

Stop Sleeping on the SSSS.Gridman

by Ed @AsleepTurnpike

The deafening sound of summer cicadas is the first thing we hear when SSSS.Gridman starts. The opening sequence continues, and more noises appear. Inside a high school classroom, we hear the unintelligible conversation between students, as a brass band tunes their instruments in the background. Outside the school, we once again hear the cicadas, but we also hear the noises students are making while they train for some form of athletic competition. We see several students walking through the school’s entrance, going about their day. On the school rooftop, a girl observes it all. We get several seconds of atmospheric sound as she stays next to the railing, only hearing the laughs of several students, the clang of a metallic baseball bat as it presumably hits a ball, and, of course, the cicadas. This goes on for a couple of seconds, and as the title of the show appears on screen, the sound of a practicing chorus becomes audible, still unintelligible beneath the noise of the cicadas. The girl looks to the sky, where a star splits into several smaller stars, with a deafening boom, as the screen suddenly cuts to black. Thus ends the opening sequence of SSSS.Gridman, a 2018 anime series directed by Akira Amemiya, with character designs by Masaru Sakamoto, and produced by Studio TRIGGER.

SSSS.Gridman is sort of a soft reboot of the 1993 tokusatsu series “Gridman The Hyper Agent”. This series starred a group of kids who teamed up with a digital hero, the eponymous Gridman, who would fight giant monsters that threatened the lives of the town residents. This series was re-tooled for the west as Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad, which is, at first sight, the inspiration for this show’s title. The original Gridman was a sort of spinoff from the Ultra series, which houses the classic toku hero Ultraman. This bears mentioning because Ultraman was a huge influence for Neon Genesis Evangelion, which in turn is the show that SSSS.Gridman references the most–both in terms of visual direction and style, but also in textual allusions (a group of secondary characters are all students from “Neon Genesis High”). This sort of ouroboros of influences gives SSSS.Gridman a very unique atmosphere, and one we can specifically pin down through the show’s use of sound and music. 

Like a lot of tokusatsu shows, SSSS.Gridman is divided into two types of sequences: Battle sequences, in which the protagonist connects with Gridman through a special computer, and fights giant monsters, and sequences in which we see the main cast live their day -o-day lives. In these sequences, the show utilizes practically no background music, the show’s atmosphere is simply made out of background noise, such as the blare of the cicadas. Then, when a giant monster does appear, this changes. Bombastic drums and strings set the tone for the destruction that these kaiju wreak on the town. As our protagonist prepares to summon Gridman, the orchestra blares in the background, and horns signal the hero’s imminent arrival. Once the fight itself starts, rock guitars serve as the backdrop for the conflict. This contrast between the show’s naturalistic style of ambience and the larger-than-life fights between giants serves to give monsters, the hero, and the battles themselves a unique tone in the audience’s minds, while also emphasizing the feeling that we’ve gone from the real and common to the unreal and uncanny.

 It’s a very smart and thoughtful use of a fantastic OST composed by Shirou Sagisu, who also created the original OST for Neon Genesis Evangelion and is making the music for Hideaki Anno’s upcoming Shin Ultraman movie. This naturalistic approach also extends to the character interactions themselves. While the main cast is made out of your traditional anime high school kid stereotypes, their mannerisms and attitudes are all fairly low-key. There are jokes, and there are improbable hair colors, but it all feels intentionally muted, to give you the sense that these kids are not just caricatures, but rather real people.

Why was this naturalistic approach chosen? There are several answers to this. First of all, the monster attacks in Gridman serve as an outside element that completely shatters the normality of the lives of the protagonists. By making sure that their normality feels grounded and real, the impact that these attacks cause is significantly stronger. This is also why the show’s OST mostly only kicks in during these fights. The mechanics of the kaiju attacks and the mysterious circumstances surrounding them are also a big focus of the narrative in Gridman. That mystery is core to the structure of the show, and it makes the grounded elements of the cast’s lives stand out more, in contrast to the fantastical element. Furthermore, without spoiling anything, Gridman deals with themes of escapism and ignoring reality around you. The show creates a reality that is actually feasible, kaiju attacks aside, so this message of embracing life can resonate with the audience. Finally, I think that the naturalistic approach is a consequence of the media that Gridman is pulling from, not just in Neon Genesis Evangelion, but also in Gridman: The Hyper Agent and the Ultra series in general. It’s both an homage to what has come before, but also an element of the show’s reality that connects to its core themes.

Gridman is a special anime for a lot of reasons. It came out of a short for Japan’s Animator’s Expo project and gained a life of its own. I don’t intend to spoil the plot in this article, but it tells a deeply compelling story about embracing life and empathy, and it is a fantastic-looking show in a time where the anime industry is oversaturated and projects like these are a rarity. It manages to be accessible to viewers who might not know anything about Ultraman or tokusatsu in general, while also serving as a love letter to the medium and the art the medium inspired, such as Neon Genesis Evangelion. In spite of not being nearly as popular as some of Studio TRIGGER’s other outings, such as Darling in the Franxx, it spun off its own sister show SSSS.Dynazenon (which is also a fantastic show), plus a third, upcoming project known only as Gridman x Dynazenon. SSSS.Gridman has an atmosphere like few other shows have nowadays, and I highly encourage you to seek it out and watch it.

Categories
Anime

GateCrashers: Happy Hour Presents Starter Pokemon Cocktails

~ I wanna be the very best / Like no one ever was / To catch them is my real test / To train them is my cause ~ Pokemon Theme (Gotta Catch Em’ All)

It was 1998 and the Pokemon phenomena was slowly building up into a frenzy. As a 10 year old boy, I was gifted a a Pokemon Blue GameBoy Game Cartridge as a back-to-school gift from my grandmother. My introduction to this immersive new world began with a simple choice from Professor Oak: Pick your starter Pokemon, the companion that we be with you to the very end of the game. Each one had its own advantages/disadvantages, so my brain was wracked with fear over choosing the wrong one. Eventually I settled one and made my way onto a new adventure. In honor of this beloved franchise, join me as I make cocktails to representing the creatures that became our interactive family.

INGREDIENTS

Watermelon Vodka

Cinnamon Liqueur

Lemon Vodka

Blue-Rasberry Liqueur

Watermelon Seltzer

Apple Cider Seltzer

Lime Seltzer

Cherry Seltzer

Organic Food Dyes

Ice

MATERIALS

Twelve Oz Cocktail Glass (Pokemon coverings optional)

Spoon

Measured Shot Glass

BULBASAUR

  1. Pour Ice into a glass, filling halfway.
  2. Pour 2 shots (60mls / 2oz) of Watermelon Vodka into glass.
  3. Pour 1 cup (8 oz) of Watermelon seltzer into glass.
  4. Stir.
  5. Enjoy!

CHARMANDER

  1. Pour ice into a glass, filling halfway.
  2. Pour 2 shots (60mls / 2oz) of Cinnamon liqueur into glass.
  3. Pour 1 cup (8 oz) of Apple Cider seltzer into glass.
  4. Stir.
  5. Enjoy!

PIKACHU

  1. Pour ice into a glass, filling halfway.
  2. Pour 2 shots (60mls / 2oz) of Lemon Vodka into glass.
  3. Pour 1 cup (8 oz) of Lime seltzer into glass.
  4. Stir.
  5. Enjoy!

SQUIRTLE

  1. Pour Ice into a glass, filling halfway.
  2. Pour 2 shots (60mls / 2oz) of Blue-Rasberry Liqueur into glass.
  3. Pour 1 cup (8 oz) of Cherry seltzer into glass.
  4. Stir.
  5. Enjoy!
Categories
Anime Manga

NARUTO: The Tale of The Utterly Gutsy Anime!

By Dan Avola

“My dream is to be the greatest Hokage! That way, people will stop disrespecting me and start treating me like I’m somebody. Someone important!” – Naruto Uzumaki 

When talking about The Big Three of Anime, you would be remiss if you did not mention Naruto. In today’s pop culture, even those who do not watch anime probably have an idea what you are talking about when you make fun of the kid “naruto running” in gym class, but hey, we don’t judge. I would be lying if I said Naruto was my first anime, like any other nerd growing up in the late 90s/early 2000s, I watched my fair share of Pokemon and Yugioh, but to this day neither of them tell stories that tear at my heartstrings like the ones in Naruto. 

Team 7

I do not want to wander too far into spoiler territory and risk ruining this show for you, but I want to talk just a little bit about the background of the show. Naruto takes place in its own world that does not follow our world’s rules for technology. Electricity exists, but guns do not. Do not think too hard about it. Each nation in this world is protected by a military power made up of Ninja, or Shinobi. And No, I do not mean the sneaky kind. Ninjas in Naruto are more akin to wizards who also know martial arts than someone who wears an all-black jumpsuit and sneaks around. Our hero, Naruto Uzumaki, lives in one of these military towns called The Village Hidden in the Leaves, which translates to Konohakagure, or Konoha for short. At the ripe old age of 12, kids can enroll in the ninja academy…or military school…to begin training to become one of their nation’s ninja. Gotta start ‘em young! It is Naruto’s dream to become the greatest ninja in his village, also known as the Hokage, however, for some mysterious reason, everyone in the village cannot seem to stand our main character. 

Naruto vs Neji during the Chunin Exams

At its surface, you might think Naruto looks like your standard Shonen story about an outcast main character who wants to be the very best like no one ever was….and you would be right. However, the real strength of the show/manga does not lie in just the main story arc alone, but rather in the arcs of its side characters. Sure, just like in your typical coming of age story, the main character goes through hell in order to achieve their goal and become accepted by society.  In this story, however, you also watch society change as a whole in order to become a welcoming place FOR the main character. All of the side characters have their own interactions with Naruto and have their perspective changed, not just because Naruto becomes hella OP, but because they see that the way they initially treated him was actually wrong. There is not only one big arc to follow but a series of little arcs that constantly push the main narrative forward. Each character has their own interactions with Naruto that help make him a stronger ninja, and Naruto helps make each character a better person. Everyone who looked down on Naruto eventually ends up looking up to him and rooting for him. Honestly, I think the viewer also plays the role of one of the town villagers when watching the series. At first Naruto is rash, loud, and annoying, but after enough time watching him grow and overcome every challenge put before him, you cannot help but root for the yellow-haired loudmouth knuckleheaded ninja. You sort of have to admire how little he changes as a person to get those around him to like him. 

Team KaKashi sans Kakashi aka Team Yamato

So, if you are looking to crash through the gate of anime, I can honestly think of no better place to start than with Naruto. It has comedy, flashy fights, compelling characters, and overall just an awesome story. It has its fair share of filler material, and that can easily be avoided due to the internet, but it has been released in its entirety, and for those of you like me, who enjoy watching their TV rather than reading it, has also been fully dubbed. So strap on that headband, learn those hand signs, and grab your shuriken because the Shinobi world awaits!

Categories
Anime Manga

The Run Down on Lupin the Third

Throughout my life, anime has been a somewhat monolithic experience. Frustratingly implacable in some cases and downright uncrackable in others. 

Certain shows still captured my still-developing frontal cortex, thanks to the weaponized delivery system of Cartoon Network’s Toonami and Adult Swim. Shows like Dragon Ball Z and the varying Gundam sagas thrilled and delighted me with their sometimes languishing serialized formats. Bursting up the monotony of summers indoors thanks to piles of VHS tapes and later DVD collections. Forming a sort of pre-binge era where the arcs were allowed to play with a different, but still pleasing and effective new patter.

But my friends and sleepover mates evolved beyond serialization; into longer-form anime and manga. I found myself outside of it all suddenly. Not really knowing where to go next or what to try and devote my precious teenage time to. Sure, I still had the TOMs and whatever Cartoon Network was willing to license, but beyond Bebop (and maybe like, Big O? Or Yu-Yu?) I didn’t really have a show that stood out for me. Not one to really call my “fave” beyond seminal stuff and features.

But then I met a weirdo named Lupin The Third and his band of equally strange (but noble) cohorts in crime. And it was like I saw colors for the first time! Well, at least, the color of jackets, that is.

This leads me to my personal effort for GateCrashers Anime August! A sort of primer/celebration of Monkey Punch’s Lupin The Third! A show and series that means a great deal to me, being a sap who grew up with pulp novels, James Bond, and The Italian Job. I was a WEIRD kid, okay?

But better still Lupin The Third, as a franchise, is pretty accessible! Sectioned off into Parts or “eras”, each with their own strengths and charms! And delineated with the simple visual motif of Lupin’s jacket color changing with each new incarnation! Visual and narrative in-roads easy enough to please even the most discerning of anime neophytes! 

I give you, A Jacket For Every Taste!

For Completionists – Lupin The Third Part I

(The “Green Jacket” Series)

For my money, probably the “purest” translation of Lupin from page to screen and roughshod, but a great place to start, should you want to. 

Animated by the legendary Masaaki Osumi and then later the iconic Hayao Miyazaki, the “Green Jacket” series is less of a story and more of an experience. Introducing viewers to Lupin and his team (along with the doggedly determined Inspector Zenigata)  for the first time, this series comes across a touch blocky if only because of its focus on its Bondian elements. Lupin and his crew are still criminals, but they are locked in a sort of ongoing battle with the nefarious SCORPION; a SPECTRE-like organization that wishes to kill Lupin and his crew in order to take the scores they would leave in wake of their deaths. 

The end results and episodes can feel a little scattered. As well as needlessly cruel and antagonistic, as, like its inspiration, Lupin is not a particularly heroic or warm character here (much like the Bond of the books wasn’t the version that translated to the screen). BUT, despite the push and pull from the series’ structuring, the plots and charm of the franchise still shine through. Coupled with some truly impressive animation, even from the early era and starting talents of it’s creatives.

A rough start, maybe, but a worthy one all the same!

 For Traditionalists – Lupin The Third Part II

(The “Red Jacket” Series)

The “Red Jacket” series is what most people think of when it comes to Lupin The Third. And for good reason too!

Serving as the second adaptation of Monkey Punch’s manga alongside its introduction to overseas audiences, thanks to its inclusion in the Toonami/Adult Swim rotation, the “Red Jacket” series finds the show shoring itself up both narratively and tonally. Alongside finding a whole new audience of fans.

Lupin and his gang are now fully leaning toward being “gentleman thieves”. Each episode serves as a mini heist film, complete with its own specific loot for that story. Better still, the sort of Ian Fleming-Esque globe-trotting of the first series is also improved, whisking Lupin and his team to all sorts of real-life locations and folding their visual flavor into each story in turn.

The tone of the “Red Jacket” episodes are, admittedly, pretty broad. Here a lot of the risque comedy and sexual innuendo of the manga are amplified for animation and through the voice cast (both in the subs and dubs of these episodes). It can make the stories seem cartoonish (I am so sorry) and theatrical, which can naturally be a turn-off for most viewers.

But the action plotting, score, and near-constant energy of the “Red Jacket” series cannot be denied. If you were looking for a breezy, consistently watchable way to get into this franchise the “Red Jacket” era is precisely the speed you wanna go. (Just expect a LOTTA jokes about boobs and butts). 

For Decontructionalists – Lupin The Third Part V: Misadventures in France & The Woman Called Fujiko Mine

(The “Blue Jacket” & “No Jacket” Series)

Two of the most “modern” inclusions in this piece, but two of the absolute best things of Lupin The Third I have ever seen.

Framed basically as soft reboots of the franchise, both Part V and The Woman Called Fujiko Mine have very different takes on Lupin but stand wonderfully with one another as “Prestige Cable” versions of the same characters.

Part V is clearly “What if Lupin and his friends operated in the world of Mission: Impossible?”. Presented as a cocksure, but lawfully chaotic bandit, Lupin and his gang now have to deal with a world overrun by technology, sectioned off in two-to-three episode mini-arcs. A sort of Silk Road-like drug outfit has been cornering the black markets, hidden behind the work of a now-infamous, but rarely seen hacker mastermind. Lupin has a simple plan on how to disrupt that. Steal the hacker.

What follows is a sumptuous animated, shockingly heartfelt exploration of Lupin and his gang, who are pushed further and further into positions of being the moral protagonists of increasingly murky stories. Even more, interestingly, the scripts consistently fold commentary on technology, personal autonomy, and war profiteering into the stories, taking Lupin and his friends across several entertaining arcs, taking them all over the globe. Also, there is an episode about Goemon going to a comic con.

The Woman Called Fuijko Mine takes this “Prestige” approach and just runs the fuck away with it. Barely featuring Lupin AT ALL and instead focusing on breakout co-star, Fujiko Mine, this “alternate history” on Lupin just really goes for it.

Just a word of warning, however, The Woman Called Fujiko Mine is a long way away from the hijinks based action of the “Red Jacket” series or even, really, Part V. It’s scripts are filled with stark depictions of violence and sexual situations that puts it more in line with The Sopranos than it does a regular “action-movie anime”.

But using that honed edge of adult drama, The Woman Called Fujiko Mine launched a whole ass separate “universe” of Lupin stories, sustained by follow-up series and features based on the tone set by The Woman Called. A universe where the co-stars admirably stepped into the roles of stars and carried on their perfect backs tremendously entertaining stories of crime, betrayal, and blood throughout the lives of professional thieves and assassins. 

The best part about all of this? This is barely even SCRATCHING THE SURFACE of the delights Lupin The Third can offer as a franchise.

There are a number of other shows, feature films, and even video games, offering up all manner of crafty and endlessly watchable crime yarns out there. Yarns like the now seminal Castle of Cagliostro (Miyazaki’s directorial debut!), the visually gorgeous CG animated Lupin III: The First (recently released in theatres overseas), and even stories in which he faces off against a legendary gumshoe (Lupin Vs. Detective Conan!) and even HIMSELF! (Green Vs. Red).

There is no wrong way to get into Lupin The Third so we here at GateCrashers wanted to give you a map to use however you wanted.

Treasures lie at the end of whatever path you take. Just make sure you hang onto them. Because once Lupin and the gang come around, they may lift them (and your heart) and you’ll never see them again.

Until Next Time,

Categories
Anime Manga

MHA Dabi: Gifted Kid Burnout

by Salem @cicada_cryptid

My Hero Academia has taken the manga reading and anime watching community hostage, having approximately 30 million copies of its manga in circulation as of January 2021, and with its anime adaptation still airing its popularity is sure to continue climbing. Much of its popularity comes from fans who love the fantastical characters created by Kōhei Horikoshi, and it’s not hard to get why, a relatable main character with a slew of side characters that sweep across the personality spectrum, anyone who watches the series (or reads it) is bound to find a character that they enjoy, and with the screen time devoted to each character there’s no shortage in seeing your favorite in action. So why has a villain character that’s been kept mostly a mystery grabbed the attention of the ever-growing fanbase, a character with less screen time than most of the other villains no less? Is it his cool attitude? Is it his simple emo-Esque costume?

Throughout my time as a fan of My Hero Academia I’ve always seen posts online of fans gushing about the character of Dabi. A villain with a unique flame quirk, much like another fan-favorite Todoroki, with the exception being his flames were blue. Even when I was a reader had not been introduced to Dabi as a character I already kind of liked him. All of this talk about Dabi came to a head for me personally when Ryan Stegman the artist for such titles as Superior Spider-Man, Venom, King in Black, and Uncanny Avengers drew a cover for the french edition of the manga in September of 2020.

(Ryan Stegman’s Dabi and Shigaraki)

Recently I saw a trend with all of the Dabi love and Dabi fan accounts that I was seeing, many of “his” fans were around my age, around 18 to 21. This conclusion led me to more questions, ‘why were people around my age liking this character so much?’ The answer lies in a lot of our childhoods, much like Dabi’s own motivations.

(The rest of this piece contains spoilers for chapter 290 of the My Hero Academia manga. As of writing this piece these chapters have not been adapted into the anime.)

“Gifted kid burnout,” a very real phenomenon has really taken control over my generation and many others. What is it? Well, in layman’s terms it’s a fixed mindset that has been instilled in a lot of us since we first entered school. Expectations placed upon us that frankly, a lot of us couldn’t keep up with. This gifted kid program was meant to help us find out potential and hopefully achieve that full potential, the actual reality is much less cheerful. A lot of gifted kids have grown up anxiety-ridden and depressed simply because we weren’t able to meet expectations. So, I’m sure you’re wondering just what this little info dump has to do with Dabi? Well, simply put, Dabi is a gifted kid, and much like the rest of us, he wasn’t able to meet the expectations put onto him by his father, pro-hero Endeavor.

If you’re not caught up with the manga of My Hero Academia Dabi’s mysterious backstory was finally revealed to the readers, Endeavor, and Shoto Todoroki all while in the cataclysmic battle between Shigaraki and the League of Villains and the pro-heroes joined by members of the UA hero program. Dabi’s real name is Toya Todoroki, a reveal so dramatic it would make any theatre kid blush. However, it’s his history that makes him so relatable to the now-grown gifted kids.

Toya, much like his brother Shoto, was born as a result of Endeavor’s vain goal to usurp All Might, and such a lot of pressure was placed on him from a young age. His quirk was similar to Endeavor’s being able to wield and create fire, unfortunately, his mixed quirk also made him vulnerable to his own flames, as his mother quirk allowed her to control ice, because of that Toya was simply unable to keep up with his father’s expectations of him. (See where I’m going here?) Toya, a child who just wanted his father to be proud of him kept going and kept trying until one day in an incident with his quirk he was thought dead. He almost literally experienced burnout. (Side note: wouldn’t that have been a wicked villain name for Dabi?)

Burnout and its effects are growing more and more common in today’s culture and to see a character like Dabi rise from that burnout to his own kind of success is really nice to see. That’s why so many people relate so hard to him. He had his burnout and has come back stronger, and besides the fact that he’s literally a serial killer, his endgame of sorts honestly has a hint of heroic ambition in it.

As we all know Dabi’s joining of the League of Villains was prompted by the Hero Killer: Stain, and his vision for a world with true heroes, and when we hear and understand what Stain wants one could make the argument of Stain technically being a hero. When Dabi broadcasted to all of Japan just what kind of person Endeavor was you could make the argument that he did so to protect Japan from the Endeavor that he and his family know.

When you look at Dabi’s actions in that way it’s hard not to see the conclusion. Dabi is trying to be a hero. Kids who experienced burnout at a young age are still trying to fulfill their dreams, seeing a character experience that, and still be able to somewhat do it, even if it is in a different way than originally intended. Dabi does see himself as a hero and the best way to understand that comes from the classic line from 2008’s The Dark Knight “not the hero we deserve, but the one we needed.” 

Dabi represents what a lot of ex-gifted kids see in themselves, and yeah maybe it is a little weird to relate to a fictional serial killer with an insane amount of daddy issues, (but seriously it’s only weird if someone related to him because he’s a serial killer,) but his story is pretty much a more dramatic retelling of gifted kids’ childhood. Obviously, not all of us had abusive fathers or faked our deaths, but we can relate to a character who is going through an extreme version of what happened in our own lives. Seeing that fear of failure in young Toya’s eyes really brings me back to when I was afraid to try new things because of that fear of failure. The legit fear of disappointing my mom when I brought back a test that I got a C on.

Categories
Anime

Mobile Suit Clash: Comparing Gundam 00 and G-Reco

By @tittyvillus

I’m going to be honest here, I’m extremely new to the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise. For the uninitiated, Mobile Suit Gundam is a generation-spanning mecha anime, centering around humanity’s future and the weapons it creates to wage war, the gigantic Mobile Suits, and the titular one-of-a-kind prototype, the Gundam. It’s a “real robot” anime, which mostly means that the robots are treated more as fancy tanks instead of as the killers of physics they really are. 

It’s extremely popular, but also extremely long, with there being almost forty official entries in the series since the first one in 1979. That had been the reason why I was so hesitant to start in the beginning, for trying to figure out where to start was extremely intimidating with all the things I needed to watch to even begin understanding the more recent entries. 

But as the pandemic raged on, I eventually bit the bullet and watched the two-part compilation film on Netflix (as recommended by Gundam fans on Reddit), before moving on to more modern entries. 

The G-Self Gundam of Reconguista in G

My choices were 2007’s Mobile Suit Gundam 00 directed by Seiji Mizushima, and 2014’s Gundam Reconguista in G, directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino. 00 was an “Alternate Universe” series, which meant that aside from a few elements, basically all the ideas introduced were new and didn’t rely on previous knowledge, while Reconguista was set so far in the main timeline that no previous series had any bearing on the plot. 

I eagerly watched these series at the same time, and as I did, I began to compare them. Everyone knows about Gundam’s strong anti-war themes at this point, but the difference in how these two shows presented this theme intrigued me. 00 was clearly based on real-world politics, but Reconguista tried for something more symbolic. They both came to the same conclusion, (“War is bad”), but had very different ways of showing it. 

The Gundam Meisters of Celestial Being, From left to right: Lockon, Allelujah, Setsuna, and Tieria.

For example, 00 was extremely inspired by the War on Terror. The protagonists are terrorists trying to end all war by uniting humanity against them. Several of the main characters hailed from the Middle East, and an important dynamic between a former child soldier and his former abuser/general. There’s even a reference to the Energy Crisis, with a subplot centering around a princess trying to get a reliable power source for her country. 

Reconguista is a bit different. It focuses more on the dichotomy between the young and the old in society, and if progress is important for human civilization. There’s also some environmentalism thrown in, as the oath that keeps technology from progressing was made to keep the environment of Earth safe from not only war but also pollution. 

As I mentioned before, this makes for a very interesting comparison. 00’s politics are firmly centered in the real world, while Reconguista is more of an allegorical tale based on reality. This also leads to a slight difference of tone, as 00’s all-consuming war makes the setting and characters darker than the circumstances in Reconguista, where the characters lived lives mostly untouched by state violence before the plot begins. 

Gundam 00’s primary Gundam Meister, Setsuna F. Seiei

In 00, the main character, Setsuna F. Seiei, is a former child soldier recruited to the mysterious paramilitary organization called “Celestial Being”. He views himself as a weapon, constantly calling himself a “Gundam”, and not having much of a social life outside of his dangerous job, a trait shared with the other members of Celestial Being. Even the characters not directly involved with the conflict talk about the war often. It has grown into something that has utterly consumed their lives, a monster with no end. 

But, in Reconguista it is very different. Bellri Zenam, the show’s protagonist, begins the series completely untouched by war. His first appearance is him being taught to use a Mobile Suit built for welding, not combat. Even after being press-ganged into joining the Pirate Corps, a “rebel” fighting force with a twist, it takes a while for him to be seriously involved with combat. Even Reconguista’s energy plot is a bit different, with the Pirate Corps stealing batteries in a short-sighted attempt to modernize their own country, hoping that it’ll give them an advantage in war. And unlike in 00, the cast of Reconguista has a very hard time seeing the big picture. 

Bellri the protagonist and pilot of G-Self from Reconguista in G

Take for example Aida Surgan, the secondary protagonist of Reconguista, versus Lockon Stratos, one of the four main characters from 00. Surgan is one of two ace pilots in the

Pirate Corps and she’s well…extremely stubborn. Even as she lectures Zenam about how small his worldview is, Surgan refuses to even try to meet him halfway. This becomes a microcosm of much of the conflict later on, as we learn that even she barely understands what she’s fighting for, nor the many opposing sides in the conflict. 

Aida from Reconguista in G

The cast of 00 is pretty much the opposite of this, especially the previously mentioned Lockon Stratos. He’s all too aware of what he’s fighting for, especially how it affects others around him. Stratos’ parents were killed in a terrorist attack, an event that led to him leaving his old life behind. The irony of joining a terrorist organization to prevent what happened to his parents from happening again is not lost on him and unlike Surgan, he immediately recognizes the hypocrisy in his actions, and that even the people he’s fighting against have valid points. 

I believe that the difference in reasoning in 00 and Reconguista is caused by the viewpoints of their directors. In 00, Mizushima reasons that the war is caused by opportunists who desire power, while Tomino believes that war is caused by miscommunication and an unwillingness to question society. This isn’t surprising, as the original Mobile Suit Gundam was directed by a much younger Tomino who held the very same ideas. This is ironic as, in an interview with a French magazine called “Nolife”, he stated as he had Reconguista take place far in the future so he wouldn’t be held down by his past work, or the work done by others in his absence. Guess nothing changes that much, whether it’s the far future of the Universal Century or the progression of real-world time. 

Mizushima had much of the same idea. He also didn’t want to be bogged down by Gundam’s expansive timeline, so he set 00 in an alternate future. This also meant that he could take Gundam from its regular far future and reflect the present more. Mizushima was adamant about making 00 parallel the modern politics of the early 2000s. In his mind, it was the best way to update the 79 series for a younger generation, who hadn’t grown up with the same politics as post-war Japan. Both of these series splintered off from the main timeline to do their own thing, but with very different results. For Tomino, it was a way to solidify his past ideas and recreate them for a future generation, while for Mizushima it was to create a Gundam that spoke to the current one. And these series did their jobs really well. I found myself thoroughly entertained by both series, even though I still hadn’t seen much of the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise at that point. For those who have never seen a Gundam anime, or even Mecha in general, they make for great entry points. All you need to do is discover which approach appeals to you more: A dark drama based on realism, or a more light-hearted affair that’s the culmination of years of ideas.

Categories
Anime Manga

How to Get Into One Piece

by Christian Thrailkill

So! You want to get into One Piece, the most successful manga of all time, and one of the most successful book series in history. Let’s get this out of the way: if you’re a new reader, it can be intimidating to try and get into One Piece. Having run consistently for 24 years, there are currently 1022 chapters of One Piece. Anyone telling you that’s a breeze to get through is patently lying to your face. The anime is just as daunting a challenge, currently sitting at 985 episodes. Simply put, there are very few convenient means of catching up.

Before attempting to read or catch up to One Piece, I would like to offer two pieces of advice. Firstly, read or watch at your own pace. This series has been going on for 24 years and will be going on for years to come. There is no rush, so read at your own pace of enjoyment. Secondly, It’s okay to not like it and stop! You should never feel forced to complete a series you don’t like. Reading and watching stories are ultimately about enjoying the tale being told. If you aren’t, there is no shame in just stopping.

Now that the caveats are out of the way, let’s get into it!

Luffy from One Piece from early in the anime

The simplest method of getting into One Piece is to simply start at chapter one. One Piece is incredibly consistent in quality and has its trademark blend of slapstick humor, character focus, and dynamic action from the very start. All the hallmarks of the series that will indicate to you if you’ll enjoy One Piece or not are readily apparent early on. The second reason to recommend starting at chapter one is that unlike other popular comics such as Superman or Batman, One Piece narratively functions as an epic, in the vein of Lord of The Rings or Game of Thrones. While not immediately apparent, every chapter, moment, and panel serves a larger narrative purpose. It’s quite common for off-handed comments or brief scenes to become pivotal to the plot hundreds of chapters later. While this makes the reading of One Piece incredibly rewarding for long-time readers, it also is a very real barrier to entry. The first 100 chapters of the series function as a prelude, for Pete’s sake!

With that in mind, If you’re looking for just an abbreviated retelling of early One Piece, look to my second recommendation: The “Episode Of” TV Specials. These are movie-length adaptations of the early sagas of One Piece to catch up fans who haven’t been reading the series for decades. The general narrative structure of One Piece is that every 100 or so chapters constitute a “saga”, with 3 or 4 smaller story arcs telling an overarching narrative. Each of these “Episodes” will retell the highlights of the 100+ chapters in order to help you catch up to the present-day story. This is something I’d recommend for children who are curious about what happened previously in One Piece, or adults who don’t have the time to invest that they might have had when they were younger. The tradeoff, however, is losing much of the climactic catharsis that comes with having 100 or so chapters to add in character depth and emotional stakes.

One of the ships belonging to the Straw Hats

My third recommendation for getting into One Piece is to try one of the One Piece Movies! There are currently 14 movies, and most of them capture the strengths of the series, such as incredibly detailed worldbuilding, engaging characters, and a sense of adventure and wonder. The movies Strong World, Film Z, Gold, and Stampede, in particular, were produced with direct creative input by the mangaka of the series, Eiichiro Oda. The English dubs of the movie are very well done as well, so there’s no pressure to watch the original Japanese either! My personal favorite is Gold, which is a pastiche of casino heist films like Oceans’ Eleven.

The fourth recommendation I have for new One Piece fans is to literally just jump into the current arc of One Piece. I started following One Piece in the middle of the Marineford Saga, which is the One Piece equivalent of Avengers: Infinity War. Thankfully, the story is so engrossing that it didn’t matter that I didn’t have the previous 500 chapters of context; I was immediately invested. The current Wano arc serves as the climax to the last 400 or so chapters of the series and is easily among the most entertaining and engaging One Piece sagas even without context. It’s worth diving in the deep end sometimes!

The final and the least recommended method is to seek out the famous anime fan edit One Pace. Due to the unique situation of being consistently on Japanese broadcasting for twenty years, the One Piece anime mutated from being a well-paced adaptation to one of the most infamously plodding anime in history. Episodes that used to cover 2-3 chapters of material now average covering around ¾ths of a chapter. The One Pace edit seeks to rectify this pacing issue by removing many of the padding tricks and cutting down 985 episodes into a significantly more manageable 415 episodes. This makes the anime still a major time commitment, but one you’ll save weeks of time on compared to the real thing. This is not an officially licensed or sanctioned edit, however. If you can support the official release, I highly encourage that over One Pace.
Overall, there are many of getting into One Piece, but few that are quick and easy. If you do decide to take the time to read or watch the series, however, you will be rewarded with one of the richest, most fully realized stories ever put to page. One Piece is a serious contender for being the greatest comic book series ever made and is an engrossing adventure epic worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as The Odyssey, The Mahabharata, or The Lord of The Rings. If that’s something that intrigues you, climb aboard and set sail into one of the great works of fiction!

Categories
Anime Manga

Watching Anime as a Queer Adult: Yu Yu Hakusho and the Soft Boy

By Pat Dickerson.

I grew up in a house that watched a lot of television. It was a family affair, so my T.V. viewing consisted of the ABC dramas that defined television in the mid-to-late-2000s. Not having much of a cultural reference for anime, when I did watch animated programs, it was usually American content, such as SpongeBob SquarePants, much to the dismay of my father who did not understand why I would spend my time watching “dumb cartoons.” And sure, I would occasionally watch the shows in the Toonami block, but not with much regularity. My only exposure to anime was through other means: the Pokémon video games or the Yu-Gi-Oh trading card game, staples of almost any kid growing up in the 2000s.

         Somehow, my friends never learned about my great failing when it came to anime. All my life, I was surrounded by peers who watched anime, read manga and were fully engaged in this cultural landmark. And yet, I personally had only watched a few episodes of some anime. Then one day, my boyfriend (now fiancé) sheepishly asked if we could give My Hero Academia a shot. He, of course, had watched anime his whole life, but was worried that I would judge him for being a “weeb”. However, I was happy to watch something new, plus My Hero Academia was on Hulu, so it was easy to watch. And so began my foray into anime.

         My Hero Academia is a genuinely great time. Its cast of characters, despite being insanely powered, were fun and relatable. The story is engaging and the animation is incredible. But in a media environment that has an abundance of superhero stories, it felt like another, albeit unique and very good, superhero universe. Its ease of entry and fast-paced storylines made it easy to catch up on all episodes that had been released.

         In December 2019, when I mentioned to my friends I was watching my first anime, they were astounded. Kate couldn’t believe it. Bernadette had known me for almost a decade and had no idea that I never engaged with anime. Amanda insisted that I had to set aside all other tv watching plans, and get started on rectifying this immediately. I was given express instructions to go on Hulu and start watching Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files right away. I was a little hesitant to start this show because it premiered in Japan in 1992; I was worried it was going to be dated, with cliches and characterizations that we had long moved beyond. I thought it would be like when you show someone your favorite movie from growing up, just to realize in horror that you only love it because it was an integral part of your childhood.

         But oh boy was I wrong. If you have ever watched Yu Yu Hakusho, then you know what I’m talking about. It was obvious right from the opening arc that these were characters that I was going to become obsessed with. They were troubled but loyal; strong, but caring, and solitary, but most powerful when they were with their friends. I couldn’t peel myself away from the screen. As I watched, I was updating my friends with such regularity that they created a whole new channel on our Discord server to discuss anime.

         I knew that something exciting was happening when my friends all started eagerly telling me about how thrilled they were for me to meet Hiei and Kurama, two demons who team up with delinquent humans Yusuke Urameshi and Kazuma Kuwabara; Amanda (of GateCrashers fame) let me know Kurama is “the softest, most tortured boy.” They were so happy that I got to experience this show for the first time. And slowly, but surely, I began to realize why anime was so important to them.

Soft and Tortured

As a queer man, something that I never really saw in media growing up was male characters like me. And while there were very few openly queer characters on my television, the depiction, in general, of men in American media was problematic as well. Television shows portrayed a sense of manhood that was rigid and often toxic. Male characters were aggressive, rude, gross, and misogynistic. Even in a show like Futurama, one of my favorite shows and one which features strong female characters, characters like Fry and Bender would spend entire episodes treating women poorly or refusing to understand their own emotions and engage in emotional labor.

Anime is not perfect, of course. There are continuing problems with the representation of queer individuals in many different manga and anime. It is not uncommon for a queer-coded character to be the villain, such as Sesshomaru and a number of others in Inuyasha. There is also plenty of queerbaiting, with many queer-coded characters being shoehorned into heterosexual relationships at the end of a series (for example, Ayo in Fruits Basket). But, on the other hand, Yu Yu Hakusho featured an openly queer character in a 1995 episode. This character, Itsuki, was a villain, but he was not just queer-coded; he was openly queer and openly expressed his love.

But while there were not queer heroic characters, there was something just as important happening while I watched Yu Yu Hakusho: I came across four very different men who not only felt their emotions and supported one another but turned those emotions into real, tangible power. Kurama was always soft of course, a dutiful son dedicated to protecting his ailing mother from those who were threatened by Kurama’s demon power. Hiei was dark and brooding, dedicated to obtaining more power and revenge despite the cost to his own health. And Kuwabara was already revealed from the start as a loyal friend and brother-in-arms, despite his hoodlum reputation.

But Yusuke had a harder time with his emotions, with a troubled home environment and a lack of support in school that led him to often act only for himself. He is also a creep, often crossing boundaries with his romantic interest, Keiko. However, once Yusuke became a spirit detective after a surprisingly selfless brush with death and began working with our other heroes, he started to soften too. Yusuke begins to see his colleagues as his friends and even starts to show more respect for the women in his life, including Botan, Keiko, and even his mother, despite her poor parenting.

The importance of his new companions became fully realized during the Dark Tournament arc, a marathon 40+ episode storyline. In the final match of this fight-to-the-death, Yusuke and friends find themselves at a severe disadvantage against the villain Toguro’s team. It is not until Kuwabara, his former rival and now best friend pretends to sacrifice himself does Yusuke gain access to a power source he did not know he had. This intense spiritual energy was unlocked by watching harm come to the friends that had become his found family. He allowed his emotions to take over and, through tears, avenged Kuwabara’s apparent death.

Yusuke vs. Toguro

I had officially been introduced to the “soft boy”. These shōnen leads were so different from the men who led American stories. There was an emphasis put on duty and honor, loyalty and devotion, and even emotional depth. And these characters could be funny, they could be strong, and they could also be emotional. They countered much of the toxic masculinity I had experienced my whole life, growing up in the Atlanta suburbs. They showed me that there were male characters out there that could feel how I felt.

Japan is a collectivistic society, almost opposite to the individualistic society of the United States. A collectivistic society is one where the people are dedicated to supporting the community as a whole for the betterment of everyone, where individualistic societies are focused on the success and independence of oneself. This translates in media to very different archetypes for male characters in particular: American television shows have characters that usually adhere to a strict, dangerous version of masculinity. However, in anime, male leads are often intelligent, dedicated to a cause, and loyal to a fault. Their emotions make them smarter and more powerful. Their friends, teammates, and countrymen work together to achieve their goals and protect their community.

It turns out this is a common theme. In shōnen from Naruto to Demon Slayer, we see these soft boys. Inuyasha, Naruto, Tanjiro, and Deku all get more powerful as they protect their friends and access their emotions. As I watched more and more anime, I realized that Yusuke was not an exception, but the rule.

I think what stood out to me the most about Yu Yu Hakusho was the genuine connection that developed between Yusuke, Kuwabara, Hiei, and Kurama. Queer people in the United States and around the world often find themselves on their own, alienated from their families and their communities because of who they are. Without support, it becomes necessary for queer people to create families of their own. These new families become safe havens that allow for a level of emotional support that many of them have never had before. These families held the queer community together during the AIDS epidemic and help queer youth escape homelessness and poverty. These communities are often much different from the individualistic tendencies of the most American aspects of our society.

Yusuke and his pals fought for each other would have died for each other and were there for each other when it got to be too much. I think about my friends who have become my family and support network. I’m not fighting demons, and I don’t shoot spirit energy out of a finger gun, but I would do anything for them. I would risk life and limb. I have cried about all of them. I have become stronger because of their presence. And being willing to access my emotions and share them openly has made me a stronger person.

A nice family portrait

I bottled up my emotions for so long. I was always afraid to show others what I was truly feeling. I was worried about being perceived as too gay or not manly enough. As I entered into a long-term relationship with my fiancé, my emotions came flooding out. I thought something was wrong with me. I was so worried that these emotions were unhealthy. But then I started watching anime, and I realized that I wasn’t the one who was wrong. Our society and its disdain for male emotions was unhealthy. I was afraid to be soft, but now I am proud to be a soft boy.

I did not start watching anime until I was 26 years old, but I am better for it, because Yusuke Urameshi taught me I should express my emotions. And he taught me it made me stronger.

The original series of Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files is available to stream on both Hulu and Funimation. The original video animations are available to stream on Funimation. I watched the dubbed version.

Categories
Anime Books Uncategorized

The GateCrasher Library: Anime August Special Edition

Welcome back to the hallowed halls of the GC Library. Take a deep breath. Can you smell the well loved pages just waiting for you to read them? You walk through the stacks, inspecting the titles for your next storytelling adventure. As you round the corner and out of the Young Adult section, you see them: mangas. Whether they’re a new experience for you or well-loved treasures, the GateCrashers are here to recommend their favorites, especially those they find very accessible to newcomers.


Dragon Ball by Akira Toriyama

The Enigma of Amigara Fault by Junji Ito

Ranma ½ by Rumiko Takahashi

Silver Spoon by Hiromu Arakawa

“There is beauty as well as horror, love and unity as well as grotesque transformation and vicious violence, in the spirals of Uzomaki.”

— Robert

Uzomaki by Junji Ito

Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer by Satoshi Mizukami

Outlanders by Johji Manabe

Sailor Moon is a classic and for good reason, it’s one of the best magical girl stories anywhere and doubles as a great story about girls being friends. It’s super accessible to anyone and also is really easy to find basically anywhere.”

— Reagan

Sailor Moon by Naoko Takeuchi

Haiku!! by Haruichi Furudate

Nine Dragons Ball Parade written by Mikiyasu Kamada and illustrated by Ashibi Fukui

Mobile Fighter Gundam G by Kenichi Matsuzaki

Paradise Kiss has lush and memorable visual style, a cast of likeable and charming characters make for delicious drama and lovely romances.”

— Bree

Paradise Kiss by Ai Yazawa

Death Note written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata

To Your Eternity by Yoshitoki Oima

One Piece by Eiichiro Oda

A Man & His Cat is a comfort food manga for any cat lover, highlighting the evolution of a tear-jerking relationship between a widowed older man and his adorable outcast cat.”

— Katie

A Man & His Cat by Umi Sakurai

Spy x Family by Tatsuya Endo

Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya

Case Closed by Gosho Aoyama

Nausicäa of the Valley of the Wind gave me one of the most magical reading experiences that transported me to another place and time through beautiful illustrations and an epically eco-conscious adventure.”

— Thomas

Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind by Hayao Miyazaki

Blood on the Tracks by Shuzo Oshimi

Yoshi No Zuikara by Satsuki Yoshino

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure by Hirohiko Araki

Fullmetal Alchemist‘s writing, from the characters to the world-building, is mature and well-realized.”

— Bec

Full Metal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa

Neon Genesis Evangelion by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto

Vinland Saga by Makoto Yukimura

Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto

Our Dream at Dusk is a beautiful story about coming to terms with your sexuality and developing bonds with people who exist outside of society’s forced binary outlook.”

— Matt

Our Dream at Dusk by Yuhki Kamatani

Given by Natsuki Kizu

I Hear the Sunspot by Yuki Fumino

Witch Hat Altier by Kamome Shirahama