hey guys~ hope you guys are all enjoying the Naruto Shippuden Facebook Application that we released last week! If you haven't had a chance to play it, you can check it out HERE! Also, hope everyone has collected most of the mahjong tiles for a chance to win a FREE THREE-MONTH MEMBERSHIP in our Saki campaign going on now! For more details, click here. Good luck to all those participating!
For those who are new to this series, you might be thinking the same thing most Americans might think: “American football in Japan? What’s going on here?” Most people would know that historically speaking America’s other favorite pastime, baseball, has a firmly planted seed in Japanese society. But American football is uniquely…well…American! When you ask what the greatest event in football would be in any other country they will describe the World Cup, but in America we think Superbowl. In some counties in the US, football is so engrained in their culture that many joke it has become a religion. Because so few countries outside of the US play American football, Americans might even consider the sport as a token of national pride. Though the reasons why Americans love football so much are practically endless, there is something about a sport that demands so much raw power and endurance that appeals to the American public…or it could be that Americans just enjoy seeing guys in padding literally slam the stuffing out of each other. So why would such a sport that has a rough reputation appeal to a mild mannered Japanese public?
If you look deeper into the heart of football, then you’ll see that the values critical for success are ones that ring true for the Japanese as well. Take such values, pump up the adrenaline to a ridiculous level, and you’ll get Eyeshield 21.
Beneath all the flashy techniques and ridiculous training sequences (fighting an angry bull with your bare hands?), the viewers will get to know the true heart of the game. The real strength that allows the Deimon Devil Bats to climb their way towards the Christmas Bowl is their bond as a team. Each player of the Devil Bats has their own strengths and weaknesses; from Sena’s speed to Hiruma’s strategy, Kurita’s sheer strength to Monta’s catching ability. This anime does its job of establishing unique characters that all have something significant to contribute to the team. As each character grows in their own right during the series, we also see how the team grows from a scrappy football team into a force to be reckoned with. Seeing how the entire team can combine all of their strengths to overcome insurmountable odds is a staple in any shonen anime, and it is also the most thrilling part of watching a football team play.
Another quality that an underdog story such as this tends to have is the team’s undefeatable spirit that is common in shonen series. Nearly every opposing team the Deimon Devil Bats have faced had something that no normal team should have and, by all accounts, the Bats should have been wiped out. But it was moments like this that sheer determination carries the team to victory with incredible results, much to the delight of the fans. Even if the characters are completely cartoonish, the story does a fantastic job of conveying the raw emotion that comes with playing the game. You can sense the burning desire that shows that the Deimon Devil Bats will win this game no matter how hard they have to charge through. Such spirits almost always catch the opponents off guard and in the end the team earns the right to compete in the Superbowl of this series: the Christmas Bowl. While all of this may sound like the typical shonen fare, putting it in the context of football allows the audience to connect even closer to the team instead of a crew of pirates or ninjas.
Finally, the blend of raw power and strategic thinking involved in football creates a perfect backdrop for a shonen series. In many shonen stories it is not simply the might and will of the heroes that allow them to succeed but also the ability to outthink an overwhelming opponent. In Eyeshield 21 one can see that every play and practice the team captain Hiruma makes has a definite purpose, even if his methods are rather extreme (side note: AK47s do not make good motivators). This idea that one does not have to be physically strong to overcome obstacles is certainly something that a Japanese audience can take to heart.
So after a hard look at what Eyeshield 21 has to offer, maybe American football isn’t that foreign for the Japanese to understand. The audience follows the exploits of Sena Kobayakawa, a small boy with a knack for running fast. He is thrown into a position in which he has no choice but to play American football. Here we have a sport that offers a world of pain, guaranteed for a naïve newcomer. With the exception of a combat sport, American football creates the kind of one-on-one intensity that feels almost like a warzone through its hard hitting tackles and its systematic strategy. And yet through it all, Sena not only manages to survive the onslaught, but also becomes a hero that any young Japanese boy can look up to.
It’s intense, intelligent, and awe inspiring: everything that a good shonen story should be.
Kanamemo traces the story of Kana Nakamichi who had already lost both her parents when she suddenly loses her only remaining relative, her grandmother. Her home is intruded by movers who take away her grandmother's belongings but no one takes the time to consider where Kana will go. Therefore, she ends up looking for a part-time job in order to support herself and the only one she finds with room and board is at a newspaper delivery office filled with charming, self-assertive bishojo. So, just who are the girls of the Fûshin Shinbun newspaper store? Take a look and see who's your favorite!
Kana Nakamachi (CV: Aki Toyosaki / 豊崎 愛生)
After losing both her parents and her grandmother, Kana finds herself working as a new recruit in the Fûshin Shinbun newspaper store. Somewhat shy and reserved, Kana is the "airhead/clumsy" character, making her quickly loved by her fellow colleagues in the store.
Yume Kitaoka (CV: Ryou Hirohashi / 広橋 涼)
Currently a student at a patisserie academy, Yume is a cheerful, optimistic character, and usually sets the cheerful mood for everyone else. Being a pastry chef, she has the bad habit of putting sugar or sweets in just about anything she cooks - including curry. She also seems to be in some kind of relationship with Yuuki Minami.
Yuuki Minami (CV: Aya Endou / 遠藤 綾)
Yume's "love" partner and fellow worker at the Fûshin Shinbun. Somewhat soft spoken and placid, she's rather protective of Yume, and is easily affected when people other than her receive Yume's affection.
Haruka Nishida (CV: Yui Horie / 堀江 由衣)
Studying bio-fermentation at a local college, Haruka mixes her work and play by regularly drinking sake and other brewed concoctions pretty much any time during the day. In her intoxication, she usually has no inhibitions openly professing her love for little girls (lolicon fetish).
Hinata Azuma (CV: Eri Kitamura / 喜多村 英梨)
After failing twice in her college entrance exams, Hinata makes up for most of her failures by engaging in money-making activities, such as gambling (i.e. horse racing) and investment banking. She appears to be a little less crazy than her fellow workers, but her lack of self-confidence makes her easily affected when talk about her past failures is brought to light.
Saki Amano (CV: Kaoru Mizuhara / 水原 薫)
Officer-in-charge of the Fûshin Shinbun and a bona fide elementary school student. She is the most mature of the group, as she polices most of their antics throughout the day. She is called by the nickname "dairi", which means "deputy".
Check out more of Kanamemo hereand learn more about your favorite characters!
Right from the start, anyone familiar with current events will be able to see the similarities between the current wartime era and the setting in Gundam 00. From the energy depletion that spawned the solar power collectors orbiting the futuristic Earth to the impoverished civilizations heavily dependent upon such resources, Gundam 00 on some levels represents the microcosm of current wartime conditions.
As mentioned above, the first of those similarities addresses the overconsumption of our limited resources, specifically with energy. The setting in Gundam 00 is painted on a backdrop that deals with the advent of earth running out of energy and the chaos that will soon follow: larger nations snuffing out smaller ones for resources with total disregard for humanity and casualties along the way. Not only does this mirror our own present day situation on planet Earth – especially surrounding our depleting source of fossil fuels – it also serves as a chilling reminder of what could become our future without the solutions to our energy crisis. As we follow protagonist Setsuna Seiei, we start to sympathize and begin to understand the mentality and motivations from residents of countries that are impoverished and heavily affected by the war.
Wars are generally never started because of one reason, rather a variety of events and problems that precede the next. So too is the case with the battle that rages on in Gundam 00. Aside from just the fight over resources, the war takes on another dimension as religion finds a way to work itself into the overall scheme of things. Religious radicals from the 00 universe see the new source of energy as blasphemous towards God, and thus perpetuate the Solar Wars. Even Setsuna has some issues regarding the existence of a higher being and the implications of religion’s role in this war during the opening moments of the series.
This battle rages on fueled by a group called Celestial Being, who ironically feels their purpose is to cleanse the Earth of all war. To accomplish this, they use the power of their Gundams to eradicate any signs of conflict through deadly force. Early on in the series, Celestial Being appears on videos being played across the world’s news stations declaring total war. To many, at face value it can be seen as just another element to a wartime story, however upon closer examination and analysis, this can also be seem as but a thinly veiled satire of our current political landscape, whereby various nations and radical groups broadcast their own declarations of war against each other.
While most other anime series shows a clear cut difference between these two opposing forces, Gundam has always taken a more realistic approach when it comes to conflict. The Gundam universe as a whole has never established any line between good and evil, it goes beyond it. It investigates the human condition wrapped in neatly composed animation showcasing human enemies, passionate beliefs and philosophies that remain in the grey area.
Since Gundamseries always tend to bury deeper meanings in their stories, I think as fans we should appreciate it for the fantastic mecha fights and its engaging story, but also must take the time to scratch the surface and discover the message that lies beneath. We may not have orbital elevators that harvest interstellar energy nor giant humanoid mechas to fight our wars, but there is no denying that basic conflicts in the world of Gundam may just very well be a reflection of what’s going on today, or what’s to come. I’d like to end on this quote the opening of another Gundam movie: “History is just like an endless waltz: the first three beats of War, Peace and Revolution continue on forever”.
Did you know that in the Miyazaki's classic film "Grave of the Fireflies" the candy that Setsuko carries is called Morinaga Drops, which is one of the more common and nostalgic candies that you can get in Japan.
We finally welcome the Nationals for the individual tournaments. Saki needs to regain her strength with the ones that remain in this tough competition. Momoko goes into stealth mode for the strong, hard battle. At that time, Saki recalls the intensive training she had during training camp.
The Odd Jobs Trio are wrapping up a case and waiting for the elevator inside a skyscraper at night. The gang receives a handsome reward and the gang decides to celebrate by having yakiniku. And as they excitedly discuss which place they should go to, the elevator arrives and trouble starts to occur...
Word of the Day
アゲアゲ (ah-geh ah-geh): Originated around 2001 and used predominantly by young people, this word helps describe a situation where the excitement and energy quickly escalates. Where things get crazy, high-energy or wild, アゲアゲ is used.
At the club when the DJ plays a popular song, everyone goes crazy (with excitement).