Want to watch all your favorite anime via the CR iPad app, but on a brand-new 16GB Wi-Fi version iPad? That's not a spelling mistake! Yes, we said it. iPad! Well, all you need to do is become a Fan of the Crunchyroll Facebook Page and be a Crunchyroll Premium Member on the day of March 31st (Pacific Time).
Typical Shounen scenario: Fearless hero faces insurmountable odds and is on the brink of death. Background fades to black, spotlight on the protagonist kneeling in a pool of his own blood, time stops, and voices start speaking to him. He hears his departed terminally ill little sister ( wearing glasses... and cute hairpins ) say that he can succeed at anything he sets out to do, because he's her onii-chan, or maybe his best friend, who died tragically in a previous battle against the evil faction, repeats the words he said a few seconds before his death urging him to finish the battle without him. The hero opens his eyes, he is now filled with sudden strength and unwavering determination to accomplish his goal, gets up and proceeds to wipe the floor with everyone. This approach has been used so frequently that it has become a staple. Using a quick and handy flashback to remember the pain of losing someone dear to you and the will to avenge their death is more often than not enough to give any hero the will to continue fighting to the end. The Tower of Druaga, however, takes a refreshingly different spin on the concept and forces the whole cast to remember what they truly are fighting for, or fall victim to the illusion of the past and lose their way.
After facing challenges more daunting than anything they've seen and travelling through doors leading to different “floors” of the Tower, the party of Climbers eventually reaches a floor with bright blue skies, luscious grassy plains, a refreshing breeze and but a single feature standing out from the scenery: the Chateau of Everlasting Spring. This mansion makes more than one appearance in the series, and, in retrospective, was one of the major turning points in the story, and one that takes its root from the very moral of the anime. This is where the team will hit a wall they never expected to face: a reunion with the past.
When confronted with the meeting of their deceased family, friend or comrade, most of the cast will become lulled into second guessing their reasons to carry on with the quest at all, even though they fully realize that what they are seeing is an illusion, albeit an incredibly convincing one. Every character must then find their own answer.
In the very first scene of the second season, Kaaya is seen bathing in the Chateau, taunted by the Succubus about her wavering heart and her regrets about leaving Jil and the others behind by climbing to the top of theTower alone with Neeba. To symbolize her victory over her past and her will to carry out her mission to defeat the Shadow of King Gilgamesh, she leaves the clothes she had been wearing in the first season when traveling with her comrades behind and entrusts them to Ahmey.
Later, the main cast arrives at the house themselves. When Jil hesitates when asked about why he's so hell-bent on reaching the top of the Tower, he finds his resolve in these clothes when Ahmey takes one of the accessories found in them and uses it as a headband for him. She then reminds him of one of the hand signals she taught them in their first ascension of the Tower: the signal to “move forward”, taking on a whole new meaning now as he walks into the doorway to the next floor, leaving the illusion of Ahmey to disappear.
For others, the Chateau's ability to reunite with the people you want to meet again wins over their will to continue. For example, Cumu, an experienced member of the Golden Knights, is reunited with his older sister, who appears to him as much younger since she died at a young age. After everyone but him and the leader, Uragon, were wiped out on the other floors of the Tower, he finds little reason to follow in the footsteps of his arrogant, incompetent leader and decides to stay behind with the comforting illusion of his sister.
Uragon is in fact the only member of the cast that is not reunited with someone he has known in the past. His loneliness and lack of any real purpose in climbing the Tower aside from following orders eventually lead him to side in with the Shadow of King Gilgamesh later on.
Even though the Chateau of Everlasting Spring episode is comparatively low on action, it is a key element of the anime as it illustrates the main concept behind the plot: If you can't forget your past, you will lose sight of your future, your goals, and will not want to move on. This is concretized in the events surrounding King Gilgamesh, who becomes increasingly evil and chaotic as he gradually forgets about his ambitions and dreams, eventually becoming a ruthless tyrant as his mind gets taken over by his shadow self living in the Tower. Even Jil, the main character, spent months tucked away in his room when he lost hope to ever see Kaaya again. Had Ki not appeared to give him a new purpose, he might have followed a path similar to the king's and remained stuck in the past.
It's this element of retrospective and purpose that really elevated the characters and plot of this under-appreciated anime to the next level, by taking unique characters with different motives and uniting them as a party to surpass all obstacles.
It seems we may have been spoiled of late with the choices of shoujo anime where the female protagonists’ greatest fears are confessions and possible rejections, fully accompanied by sweet-sounding (if not high-pitched) OPs and EDs. Whilst such anime can be a great source of escapism, sometimes, what we need to fill our lives is a balance, which is provided nicely in the form of Myself; Yourself.
After tearful farewells and an exchange of gifts, Sana Hidaka leaves his friends and his hometown with a heavy heart. Five years later, he finds himself returning to Sakuranomori, with a wristwatch tightly and jealously guarding his secret. While the town sends him riding on waves of nostalgia, he harbours high hopes of achieving a fresh change of pace in the comfort of familiarity. His first few moments back saw his encounter with a mysterious, yet oddly familiar girl who seems to have a habit of avoiding him. Things then kick off rather innocently as Sana settles in with his newfound independence and making new, amusing acquaintances. Upon catching up with his old friends, Aoi, and the twins, Shuusuke and Shuri, Sana derives comfort in their friendship, which has survived the five years he was absent, Aoi’s blossoming chest size and Shuri’s cooking skills. This was until the strange shrine girl shows up in his class. A very surprised Sana soon finds out, at his peril, that she is actually Nanaka, an old friend he has always possessed a soft spot for. However, this grown Nanaka was but a sullen, brooding version of her old, carefree self.
In his valiant efforts to reach out to Nanaka, Sana not only discovers the importance of proper communication but the enigma that Nanaka has become, and the depth at which each person’s insecurities run. He is irrevocably thrown into a world seemingly recognisable on the surface, but beneath it lurks the many five-year old skeletons which are just bursting to come into light. Suddenly, things are no longer as simple as confessions and the determination to outgrow one’s A-cups. As the story progresses, Sana realises that underneath everyone’s fresh-faced façade are struggles with inner demons, broken families and sufferings from traumatic experiences.
Myself; Yourself sets itself apart from most other high school anime by unapologetically exposing darker, more serious issues of the human psyche that plague us every day – bullying, depression and suicide are merely the tip of the iceberg that this anime highlights. It is thought-provoking to the point of being disturbing; it reminds us that people will respond to changes in different ways, and when consequences are dire and emotions are involved, lines between right and wrong can be blurred.
However, it is not all about the heavy stuff with Myself; Yourself. There are sufficient comedy and light-hearted episodes to make this anime well-rounded. With his own Ghost of Middle School Past to battle with, Sana – imperfections and all – gives us hope as an unlikely hero who can empathise by being able to, not just change Nanaka’s life, but also save it. In the end, when push comes to shove, the only thing we can do with our circumstances is to start the change within Myself; Yourself.
Stan Lee (shown right), known for creating Marvel titles such as X-Men and Spiderman, has teamed up with BONES, the animation studio who was worked on Eureka 7 and Ouran High School Host Club, to create a new anime series entitled Heroman, featuring an American-themed giant robot. As of March 8th, a new trailer for the series has been released on Heroman's official web site. The TV series debuts on Japanese television on April 1st, with one Heroman manga volume being releases just days before the TV premiere, on March 30th. There is currently no word on whether or not this series will be licensed in the United States.
Voice Actress Yuu Asakawa to Attend Anime Expo
Yuu Asakawa, singer and voice actress, will make a guest appearance at this year's Anime Expo. Asakawa has given her voice to such characters as Misuzu Kusakabe in 11eyes, Fuuka in Naruto Shippuden, and Nesty in UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie. Other guests of honor at the event include J-Rock group Sophia, and famed anime director Shinichi "Nabeshin" Watanabe. Anime Expo takes place at the Los Angeles Convention Center, July 1 - 4, 2010.
New Manga by Creator of Aoi Hana Listed on Amazon
Amazon has listed the manga title Wandering Son to be released on December 22, 2010. The story involves a young feminine boy who makes friends with a girl who wishes she were a boy. The manga is written and illustrated by Takako Shimura, whose previous works include the manga and anime Aoi Hana. Amazon's listing of the manga does not necessarily indicate that the title will go on sale on that specific date.
After viewing Gintama episodes 101 through 105, it did not occur to me until now just how much thought, design and technique go into the unwieldy swordfight between Gintoki and the creative portrayal of Bansai Kawakami’s guitar strings. I couldn’t help but watch the intensity of Gintoki’s unyielding determination as he pulls Bansai’s strings to the ground with his wooden sword. In these episodes, Ito plans the destruction of the Shinsengumi. Of course, Gintama fans laugh at such a notion, after all, the Shinsengumi characters like Kondo, Hijikata and many others are an integral part of the series’ comedy. Speaking of which, bad boy Hijikata, nemesis of Gintoki, hires the Odd Jobs trio, Gintoki, Kagura and Shinpachi, in order to solve the case. Embarrassing, but true.
I began writing this article because the characters, good and evil reminded me of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous quote: There is nothing to fear but fear itself. Hijikata’s confidence is shattered by a cursed sword that he borrows from a swordsmith. The curse binds the wielder of the sword in fear. His inability to overcome cowardice gets him fired. When Kondo’s life is threatened by Ito’s plans, Hijikata has no choice but to hire his arch rival Gintoki. Viewing Kondo as the heart and soul of the Shinsengumi, Hijikata unwittingly teams up with Odd Jobs. The battle between Ito’s mercenaries and the combined forces of Odd Jobs and the Shinsengumi is brought about by a catharsis of blind heroics of the latter. On the battlefield, taunted by Gintoki, Hijikata finally comes to realize that he is psychologically backed into a corner, and has nowhere to go but forward. Hence swallowing his fear, he battles against the mercenaries. Unfortunately, his milksop personality doesn’t end here. A new twist evolves in Toshi Hijikata’s character as he develops a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde personality, unable to relinquish the cursed sword.
Naruto and Utakata successfully enter the Tsuchigumo village thanks to help from Sakura, Sai, and Yamato. Utakata senses the chakra filling the atmosphere and terrain behaving oddly, and together with Naruto, they enter the cave where the anomaly is originating.
Seimei takes the risk of being dismissed as lead guardian of Edo by undoing the Shikigami placed throughout the city, and fueling himself with all their power to face Douman. Their fierce magic clashes, and Douman is forced onto the defensive as Seimei’s jutsu overwhelms him. Just when the battle seems over, Douman recalls the history between his family and the Ketsun clan as repeatedly told by his father. The mystical mark spreads across Douman’s body!
Irie and Spanner start up the base unit and try to escape as Kikyo draws near. They decide that the best thing to do right then is to escape, at least until Yamamoto defeats the opponents’ target, Daisy. However, the enemy’s base unit is guarded by a sturdy barrier, and they can’t get through. And Tsuna is still unable to break free of Torikabuto’s illusory space. Gokudera races over to hold Kikyo back, but without his Box Weapon, he is unable to stop her from breaking through into their base unit.
Did you know that Yoshitaka Amano, most well known as the illustrator for the Final Fantasy series, first worked at Tatsunoko Studios in the animation department. His first paid project? Speed Racer. Amano is also responsible for the character design of many other famous Tatsunoko series such as Gatchaman, Tekkaman, Time Bokan, and Casshern.
Word of the Day
ひな壇芸人 (pronounced: he-nah-dahn gey-neen): this word refers to the comedians who sit in the back row in Japanese variety shows who became more popular and gained attention recently.