A lot of exciting things are happening here as we get closer and closer to the new year! From more music appearing to the new DRAMA MEMBERSHIP that just released. Be sure to keep your eyes open for more great things coming your way!
Imagine a world where the souls of those who have passed on have become tangible tomes open for any curious reader to scour through. All of your experiences, your memories, and details of your past all become public knowledge for those who wish to seek it. Within this grand collection of “books”, there are bound to be secrets certain individuals have taken to the grave that, if left unprotected, could spell the end of civilization as we know it. It is for this reason the Bantorra Library exists, to keep all of these books in a safe and secure place. It’s also the reason why there is an elite group of Armed Librarians, each member especially gifted, to deal with those who would use such knowledge for their own selfish gains. Welcome to the world of the Book of Bantorra, and what a fantastic world it is.
As with many fantasy series, you’re going to get thrown into the plot fairly quickly with little to no warning as what to expect. All that’s explained is that the Armed Librarians of Bantorra have been sent on a mission against the Church of Drowning in God’s Grace, an organization dedicated to self indulgence of the most extreme degree. These two organizations have been at odds with each other for centuries, and now human bombs have come into play in their latest struggle. Couple that with the various abilities of each of the members of the Armed Librarians and an interconnecting backstory for one of the human bombs along with the book of a mysterious woman from the past, and what you have is a very densely packed story that serves as a window into a complex fantasy world. Did I mention that all the above happens within the first four episodes?
If taking all of this in seems intimidating to you, I can assure you that it is not. What the Book of Bantorra does in its first four episodes is introduce the viewer into a fantasy world that’s completely different from the stereotypical swords and sorcery one comes to expect in the genre. Instead we’re treated to what seems to be a turn-of-the-century period interwoven with myth and magic. For fans of fantasy, part of the fun is figuring out exactly how everything works and drawing the connections from aspect to aspect of such a world. What exactly allows one to become an Armed Librarian in this world? What kind of magic governs the land? The most important question also becomes the state of the soul in this world, in which death is inconsequential because the soul lives on within books. Anyone can pick up the book of a loved one and relive all those memories, thus making sure that the deceased lives on.
There is so much more that the Book of Bantorra has to offer, and a quick glimpse won’t be enough to cover for it. What sort of grand scheme does the Church of Drowning have, and why are they so adamant about taking down the Bantorra Library? What sort of impact does the Bandorra Library have on the rest of the world? What drives each member of the Armed Librarians to their duty, and what other surprises await them? And finally…what the heck is up with their borderline psycho of a team leader anyways?
Like any good book, it would be a severe disservice to explain everything to you in one short article. Instead, crack open a page and check out the series for yourself. See what you can make of all the mysteries and myth that surround this land, and most importantly let the vivid world soak in. You don’t know what the story holds for you or how it will end, but it will make for an interesting read (or in this case, sight).
Imagine growing up with a grandmother who would always make you feel better whenever you were feeling down. She would dry up those tears just by presenting you the most immaculate cake baked to perfection just for YOU!
Not only did it look like the most beautiful piece of artwork, but with each bite, your taste buds experienced emotions that never seemed possible. Who knew taste buds could experience emotion? There was the combination of flavors that you never knew could exist so cohesively together and your palate would experience the most amazing thing ever and would make you get that feeling of falling in love for the first time. Very few people experience such a thing but if you are one of the lucky ones, your sole purpose is to spread that experience with others and strive to make desserts just like your grandma to take all their sadness, worries, and stresses away by a piece of edible art.
Ichigo Amano is the protagonist and while always being overshadowed by her sister, she was never particularly good at anything except eating sweets. She was always a bit clumsy and never shined above others in anything she did. Her mother worried about her as she becomes an adult but you can see right away that she’s daddy’s little girl when he always defends her shortcomings.
Ichigo’s talent of being really good at eating sweets is recognized when she randomly meets Henri-sensei at a Sweets Festival when she can describe the exact feeling that Henri-sensei intended for his cake; “First Love”. The way Ichigo describes the sweets is so animated that you can visualize her experience each time she takes a bite out of it. This is a type of talent that causes Henri-sensei to invite her to enter the prestigious St. Marie Academy for becoming a patisserie where only the elite can attend.
Her admittance in St. Marie Academy begins the story of her journey to become a patisserie and all the challenges she faces as there are those who are waiting to watch her fail and even conspiring against her success. Her positive, innocent nature and her determination to share the love of desserts and make people happy through them never fail for her to overcome her obstacles.
This series resolves around sweets, the naming convention is quite clever as “Ichigo” means strawberry in Japanese and the first cake she successfully bakes is for Ringo-chan (ringo means apple in Japanese). It also has some similarities to the extremely popular Shugo Chara! since there are Sweets Spirits. A lot of the sweet spirits are named after sweets such as Vanilla, Chocolat, Caramel, etc. and only those with one can see the other spirits. Like the guardian characters in Shugo Chara!, these sweets spirits are out to help their owners in every way possible while having personalities of their own.
If you loved Shugo Chara! like I did, you will LOVE Yumeiro Patisserie. Let’s watch Ichigo Amano as she is on the road to prove her worthiness to everyone at St. Marie Academy.
From turn of the century until about 2005, it seemed as if anime was on the verge of being the next greatest entertainment juggernaut; a medium that both Japan and the US needed to fuel hopeful, bourgeoning economies and a somewhat stagnant entertainment industry. Anime’s scope was finally reaching countries that had little to no prior exposure to the intoxicating and addictive art. From the United States down to South Africa; Saudi Arabia to Australia, it seems as if the whole world was falling under anime fever. But that would all come to screeching halt.
As it turns out, anime would be a symbolic microcosm of Japan’s economic rise and fall from the 1980s to 90s, as it too is experiencing its own bubble bursting.
This time around, it was not due to poor investments, questionable allocation of money or an unnatural, unsustainable growth. No, this time the bubble will burst for a completely different reason. Anime’s bubble is bursting because of the very people who help turn this domestically Japanese culture to an international phenomenon: the fans.
It is audacious and ludicrous to solely blame the fans as there are a myriad of other contributing factors. But it is unarguably true that they have contributed much to both the rise and potential fall of this subculture, starting with where fans first gained power: technology.
The turn of the century has witnessed amazing advancements in technology, especially in the development of P2P networks, bittorrents and IRC channels where pirated content is allowed to run rampant. With little to no social morals, these networks have allowed people to freely download their favorite shows without paying a cent. The December 2009 issue of Forbes magazine appropriately labeled these illegal sites as “becoming the digital equivalent of the Somalian coastline in the fight against online piracy.”
Many media mediums have quickly put the bulk of the blame on technology. Sure, it’s easy. However - on the other side of the coin - blindly ushering the blame at technology for its irresponsible behavior, and sternly shake our fingers at it like a child deserving punishment is also being irresponsible. After all, it was BECAUSE of these channels that anime’s scope reached the greater part of the world. That said, it still does not justify piracy these days now that there are other legal options.
This ongoing and rampant piracy has hurt the very bread and butter that anime companies need to survive: DVD sales. In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal’s Yuka Hayashi, she reports that YouTube and other free Internet services have hurt sales of DVDs sliding downward 18% from a year earlier to 72.8 billion yen (about $800 million) in 2008, after peaking at 93.7 billion yen in 2006. She further asserts that it's only going downhill from there.
Evidence, even at the grassroots level, is quiet clear too as companies like Best Buy, Circuit City and many other retail outlets are now discontinuing the sale of DVDs because of the drop in sales due to online piracy.
Affecting the People:
It’s very easy to be apathetic about the whole situation:
“These companies make so much money, why should I care?”
“Someone else will pay for it and make them money. Not me.”
“I’m just a student.”
But it’s not all about the money. The advent and advancement of piracy is hurting everyone along the way, seemingly except the end user.
According to an investigative report by CNN on the recession affecting animation, piracy, rising costs and a deflating economy as a result, have forced these studios to take drastic action. Many of these entry-level jobs have been outsourced to the Philippines and South Korea in recent years.
CNN interviewed 27-year-old Mitani, an animator at a popular Japanese production studio, who said that the hours are long, and the pay is low -- about $800 a month.
"Every day I work about 10 to 12 hours," he said. "Often, we work on Saturday, and if it's busy, we work Sunday, too."
Under these circumstances, especially in the expensive Land of the Rising Sun, many animators just like Mitani will not and cannot sustain this type of lifestyle. Since pay has gone down because of the lack of revenue flowing in, the number of animators and creators will surely follow that downward trend, and as a result, so will the number of available titles.
The ironic part is that anime fans will apathetically argue to death the justification of their pirating ways. However, arguments without admonishing piracy will only lead the eventual deterioration of the quality, quantity and overall culture of anime.
Recently legal substitutions have emerged like Crunchyroll, which offers over half of the simulcasts being aired in Japan and others such as ViZ, Hulu and Joost. It is yet to be seen whether the fans are willing to continue their support of their alleged beloved culture.
Every generation has its flaws: the hippie generation of the 60s that only THOUGHT about the peace revolution, instead of following through with the actual revolution itself. The era of the yuppie would emerge out of the disco wreckage, spawning disgusting levels of greed and social irresponsibility during the late 70s and throughout the 80s. Generation Y – from the 90s till today – was supposed to signal in a wave of change. It seems as if the greed of the 80s never quite left, as we have become the generation of self-entitlement. The “hand-me-out” generation, for lack of better words.
We feel that we have the RIGHT to download and watch whatever we want online. It is not just our right, but our prerogative. Somehow we’ve come to believe that paying is something of the past, and getting what we want whenever we want is as simple as clicking a button.
And should someone be so bold and audacious to demand that we pay for something that we SHOULD legally and morally pay for, then we fuss and complain like some spoiled child coddled in the laps of luxury for too long.
We were supposed to be the generation to change things for the better. Now even that seems questionable.
So where does that leave us? Technology will continue to advance beyond our wildest expectations. People will still demand anime and the culture, like technology, only has room to grow. It now falls on us – the users and fans – to grow up and become responsible and accountable for our actions. To paraphrasing Gandhi: if you want to make a change, be the best example of that change and others will follow.
We can be like the children of the 60s and merely TALK about making a change, or we can be different and actually do something about it. We can be like the Generation X and allow the overwhelming greed consume us and hold the anime culture captive till it withers and dies; or we can take the responsible path by supporting and encouraging the creators, animators and artists.
We always have the choice to walk our own path. Choose responsibly.
Did you know that after the success of the Appleseed movie (2004), a TV series was announced to be produced? Unfortunately, the series was called to a halt in 2008 by Production company Micott & Basara and what ensued was a lawsuit by Radix mobanimation (animation studio) due to a monetary loss that resulted from halting the production.
Yuuto has been asked by Haruka to go out to an amusement park. Yuuto and Haruka, of course, are anxious and excited as they realize that it is a date. Then that day at the amusement park, they meet again with the professional celebrity manager, Kayahara Yayoi, who they met at their New Year's temple visit. Yayoi, who was at the park for work, asks the two for help. After enjoying a variety of rides, they leave to meet Yayoi. She had told them that she needed photos of the two of them, but the photo shoot ends up being mostly for Haruka. In actuality, Yayoi had other plans in mind...
Quinza appears before Noei, who is held captive in an underground prison. Both of them want to put the future of Raginei into Rumaty’s hands, though the two disagree on their ideas of how to reach that goal. Quinza comes to the realization that they will not agree on the issue and wants to execute Noei for a fallacious crime in order to gather momentum for the revolution. At the same time, Carl is heading to the palace along with his father, who is trying to take back Raginei from Burnsworth. On the way to the palace they are attacked by thieves.
Word of the Day
ただしイケメンに限る (pronounced: tah-dah-she ee-keh-men knee kah-gee-ru)
This roughly translates to "only if you're good looking (guy)". You can say this line after almost anything, as it's sort of a joke amongst Japanese; perhaps an equivalent to "That's what she/he said!"