first I want to thank everyone out there who read and supported the newsletter from its humble beginnings!
secondly, I want to say thank you to all of the writers who really made this newsletter what it is! so for the next 2 issues we are going to showcase the BEST articles of 2009, as voted by the CR staff. hopefully you'll read something that you missed or will re-read a great story. hope you all enjoy it!
Slam Dunk, the popular basketball-based anime series with 101 episodes and four movies, still holds onto its fame over a decade since it first aired in 1993. To this day, hardcore fans and casual viewers alike, wonder how it can maintain its fame in the anime world over such a long period of time.
Perhaps it's the typical shonen, sports storyline that lures fans and casual viewers? At center court we see Sakuragi Hanamichi, a young, hyper-active, over-enthusiastic male, who doesn't know the meaning of "giving up." He has a large amount of raw talent, and picks up what he is taught quickly. He is constantly ridiculed, and called an idiot by his companions. He is self delusional, boasting whenever he makes a small achievement. He believes that he is the greatest that there ever was, and no one can contend with him. The rival he has chosen is Rukawa: calm, quiet, and "cool". The complete antithesis of who he is. Truly one of the most skilled players in all of Japan, Rukawa refuses to acknowledge Hanamichi's potential, only adding tension between the two. This battle between the two carries on as they travel together with their team to the prefectural tournament.
Yes, sports and shonen perfectly blended together. But this can't be the only reason why it's popular.
Perhaps its long standing popularity stems from its influence on a burgeoning, disenfranchised generation hungry for something that they can relate to. As we know, Slam Dunk centralizes around a high school student who is seen as a 'troubled youth' that fights gang members, beats up his friends and deals with his anger in unhealthy ways. Finally there exists an anime that can connect with the youth and their issues so poignantly, while also instilling a sense of direction and hope. Those who grew up contend that Slam Dunk was the voiceless voice of their youth, iterating the importance of club sports and how it can help develop an identity, friendships and provide them with the means to express themselves in a constructive, healthy way.
Definitely a probable theory to its enduring success.
But perhaps it's still popular today because it is the benchmark to which all sports-based manga/anime brands are created. Basketball was just a lower-tier club sport, constantly in the shadow of martial arts and baseball. But in 1990 when Slam Dunkthe manga was first published, with a stroke of fate and luck, Slam Dunk would be propelled into the echelons of fame and popularity. One year after its release, Michael Jordan - one of the world's biggest icons - would break records in every category in basketball for his position and lead the Chicago Bulls to 6 national championship titles, all with a span of eight years (1991-1998) sweeping the world into a basketball frenzy. Japan was now obsessed with basketball as people flocked to join every basketball league, and pick up every issue of Slam Dunk, whose premier character happened to share a suspiciously similar jersey as the king of basketball. Now basketball set the shadow that baseball and martial arts would reside for the greater part of the 90s. In later years after circulation ended, Prince of Tennis and Eyeshield 21 would follow in the wake of Slam Dunk creating similar success.
Today, the artwork of Slam Dunk may seem a little dated, and dry, but the comedy helps draw you in long enough to get involved in the story. Yet the most compelling reason why this series has endured for so long is because you can feel the passion that inspired the creation of the show, and can revel in the sucesses and failures of the protagonist. Styles and trends change, time goes on, but passion perseveres through it all. So too will Slam Dunk.
Shojo anime can either be described as completely amazing or absolutely horrific depending on whom you speak to. For those who don’t know, the shojo (which literally means “young woman”) genre is aimed at teenage girls, and it is usually riddled with romantic, dramatic clichés. It is natural for people who don’t like shojo to avoid the critically acclaimed Skip Beat!, an extremely popular shojo manga and anime series. However, one should never knock something before they try it. Although it is indeed targeted at teenage girls, Skip Beat! features a unique and charming plot, humorous scenes, likable characters and interesting background stories that make it a new and enjoyable experience that any anime fan can enjoy.
The plot revolves around Kyoko Mogami, a girl who moved from Kyoto to Tokyo with her childhood friend, Shoutarou “Shou” Fuwa, to help him realize his dream of becoming a singer. She left her family, friends, and school behind just to take care of him. She even rented out an apartment, got a job, paid for their rent, and did all the housework, while Shou never contributed at all. Kyoko didn’t mind as long as she could see his dream come true. Eventually, Shou became a very popular musical artist, but he accidentally let Kyoko find out that he was using her as a maid, and he never had any feelings of mutual love or friendship for her. Furious, Kyoko vowed to get her revenge on Shou by becoming more famous than him. The plot is fresh and different from any anime out there, but that’s not the only factor that has made Skip Beat! a fan favorite.
Kyoko’s character may at first seem rather bland, but by the fourth episode, she sticks out as a surprisingly strong-willed female character. Kyoko’s reaction to Shou’s true thoughts about her was much different from what anyone would normally expect of a heroine. Her words of revenge were not a lie in the least; she completely changed her hairstyle, bought fashionable clothes, and talked to different talent agencies to pursue a career in acting. She has a deeper, more complex set of emotions than many heroines have shown before, and those feelings begin to show themselves over the course of the series. Kyoko naturally carries an optimistic, almost innocent demeanor to her (until she begins to think about Shou, that is, when she becomes humorously angry), but she as well has her own problems and easily becomes bitter about them. Her likable, but also realistic personality, had people wanting her to succeed and hoping that she would reach the top of the ladder of fame.
What makes Skip Beat! so interesting is not only Kyoko’s character, but the setting of the series. Several anime, especially anime of the shojo genre, take place at a high school. Skip Beat!’s setting is completely different, as it takes place beyond the walls of school and home. To have her revenge on Shou, there are several distinct places that Kyoko must go to for her advancement of her career in acting. These places include acting auditions, different talent agencies, the sets of music videos and movies, and even acting schools, as well as other places. Not only does Skip Beat! have new and appealing settings, it gives insight into the world of showbiz, a world that is not so often nor easily explored in anime.
The proper balance of humor and seriousness of Skip Beat! is definitely a factor that has contributed to its massive popularity. Skip Beat! is known for making people laugh every episode, which only makes the characters all the more likable when their solemn, grave situations arrive. Sometimes, anime can have too much corny and horrendous humor, and then the characters end up seeming pathetic. However, with Skip Beat!, the humor never turns stale, and the warm feelings the audience may feel from laughter changes into sympathy for the characters during the calmer, deeper scenes. With love, hatred, deceit, passion, and jealously, these themes are presented well throughout the more serious parts of the show as well. Combined with the likeability of the characters, these scenes are able to engage the audience and bring out their emotions quite well.
Skip Beat!’s first season, which was 25 episodes, ended on Crunchyroll on March 29th, but still remains as one of the most successful anime on the website. This anime is definitely worth watching for its refreshing story, insights into the showbiz, unique settings, humor, and fascinating characters. More than that, it just has a certain charm to it that will make you smile every episode.
Gankutsuou, a futuristic adaptation of Alexander Dumas’ classic epic Le Comte de Monte-Cristo (the Count of Monte Cristo), is a visual marvel. Utilizing Photoshop textures layered onto digital animation complimented with a classical and contemporary score; Gankutsuou creates a sensory experience unlike any other. Despite its slightly-derivative story, Gankutsuou is far more than a simple retelling, becoming an entirely unique journey for the viewer.
Although altered and modified in order to preserve the series’ distinct and innovative style, Alexander Dumas’ landmark tale is honored by the creative team (produced by Studio Gonzo, and directed by Mahiro Maeda). Gankutsuou takes liberties with the original plot, but conserves the intentions of Dumas, presenting the viewer with a futuristic tale of romance and self-awareness conversely paired with a timeless classic concerning morality and justice.
To suggest that Gankutsuou is complex, is something of an understatement; the viewer must focus intently on what is transpiring in the plot and the interpersonal relationships of the characters, otherwise, they will surely become lost and confused eventually. However, the devotion of attention is most assuredly worth the effort, as Gankutsuou provides the audience with an intellectual, visual and auditory feast.
However, while Gankutsuou commands a powerful and compelling story, with a majestic and engaging score, it is the visuals which garner the most interest, and deservedly so. Gankutsuou is beautiful. There is no other way to describe it. The combination of computer generated art and the classic anime style blend seamlessly and are used to great effect. Occasionally, one finds themselves simply in awe of what appears. An example of this occurs in the first episode, when the Count’s ship is in port. This simple image would have meant little with regard to script, but on screen, it is incomparable in terms of its magnificence. Truly, it is one of the most visually astounding series in anime history.
While the beauty of the visuals in Gankutsuou is something to behold, it can also work against the program. Occasionally, there is so much occurring on screen, it becomes difficult to follow what is transpiring. As mentioned above, the story is paramount, and consequently, when the visuals detract from the plot, problems arise. Sometimes, a scene will appear that is so full of life and color that the dialogue is overlooked completely, forcing the viewer to piece together what they have missed. However, when one considers all that Gankutsuou is, the sporadic periods when the series becomes hard to visually digest, either due to color, franticness or sheer scope, are a tolerable sacrifice for the beautiful art.
On face value, Gankutsuou could be compared to anime such as Le Chevalier D'Eon, due to their similar settings and styles, however after only a few episodes, it becomes apparent that Gankutsuou is something entirely its own. It cannot be fairly compared to anything else, because there is nothing else quite like it, and though it is not perfect, it is most certainly worthy of even the casual anime viewer’s attention. For the Dumas purists, do not expect a page-by-page retelling of the novel, for that will only lead to disappointment. Rather, enjoy Gankutsuou for what it is; a visual treat, and a loving homage to the grand tale that inspired it.
Did you know that the popular manga/series Great Teacher Onizuka is a sequel to a lesser known manga/anime called Shonan Junai Gumi (The Pure Love Gang from Shonan)? Shonan Junai Gumi follows the story of Eikichi Onizuka when he was just a teenager in the Oni-baku gang. Before Shonan Junai Gumi, there is an even lesser known manga called Bad Company which tells the tale of how Onizuka and Ryuuji meet.
Sasuke loses his left eye to Itachi, but it turns out to be a genjutsu created by the Mangekyo Sharingan. Breaking free of the Tsukuyomi by force, Sasuke makes a furious comeback against the injured Itachi.
Rikka is so overjoyed that the seeds they'd just planted had sprouted. She drags Amu and Rima to take a look. When Rima starts to thin out the buds that don't look so healthy, Rikka is upset because she thought that every sprout has the possibility to turn into a flower. The two have a misunderstanding, and Rikka runs off while Rima continues her work...
Through the kindness of Toru's older sister Aki, Tomoharu is reunited with Kanade and Ania, who arrived five years before him. However, Kanade is without her powers, and Misao is still missing. Tomoharu goes to Rakurowa High School with Aki, and the company of familiar faces reminds him of the loss he experienced in the second world. A Yukari reminiscent of the second world's Shuri approaches the devastated Tomoharu. When asked what he wants to do, Tomoharu expresses the strong decision not to lose anyone else.
Word of the Day
Literally this means herbivore boy/ carnivore girl. This phrase refers to the attitudes, approaches, etc. of a guy or girl in a relationship, with guys being passive (like herbivores), and girls being aggressive (like carnivores).