Hopefully you guys out there have seen that we've released a whole bunch of new episodes from your favorite titles: more Bleach catalog and Hayate the Combat Butler season 1! We've also released a pilot of a potential new Crunchyroll-exclusive show with YouTube's Artichoke and Peachies! Let us know what you think of the show. And as summer finally winds down into fall, we're gearing up for what should be another great fall season here on Crunchyroll! Stay tuned for more details.
Often we are told by writing teachers that the simplest of stories are the best; and anime should be no different. Yet most anime plotlines are anything but simple. One result of the technical complexity of most anime is that the stories seem to get more complex as the technology does. There is often an over-reliance, in my humble opinion, on pseudo-scientific and convoluted plot lines which are often nearly impossible to decipher. We’ve all experienced “tuning in” to an episode of an only occasionally watched series only to be monumentally lost and confused in the thicket of plot twists and turns. Then there is “Catman.”
Created by Aoike Ryosuke, the series follows the eponymous Catman in his daily pursuits: his drinking, licentiousness, playing with guns, starting fights, and so on. Inhabiting a strangely familiar world of anthropomorphized cats, Catman’s aim in life seems simply to enjoy himself and find adventure. The episodes are short, ranging from two to four minutes, and there is no spoken dialogue at all.
The animation itself, unusually, is done completely in Flash, which gives the series both a rough and polished style with a gritty and unique color palette. The upbeat and modern (almost punk-sounding) soundtrack adds to the edginess of this fascinating series. Like poetry, each episode captures a brief moment in a day: Catman bowling in a bowling alley, Catman sitting in a cafe with his pet bird in a cage, Catman being carried away on a cargo train late into the night. And like poetry, each episode centers around a passing emotion or image, a snapshot of urban life in all its loneliness and isolation.
Episode 9 is a classic Catman episode: inspired while seeing a very Bruce Lee-like movie (starring a cat-like Bruce Lee), Catman falls in love with the notion of being a tough guy hero. He practices his kung fu moves on the sidewalk outside the movie theatre, then wanders the streets looking for an enemy to defeat. But his quest is quickly deflated when he comes to realize that enemies, true enemies, are few and far between in modern urban life. He wanders the street in loneliness. A cynical streak runs through each episode and, in fact, the urban grit of Catman’s city is an environment anyone living in a modern city will recognize. The episodes at Crunchyroll represent all three series of Catman.
As exciting as it is to get sucked into a long and complex anime series which requires each episode to be watched in succession, I’m thrilled that there is Catman, which offers short, focused episodes that offer a nice respite from the grind of our daily lives.
Battle anime, high school romance anime, anime that tells us to run into the sunset and enjoy our youth - someone has to admit that they’re way overdone. Even so, they become popular among the masses almost instantly. So, how exactly is it that Durarara!!, a supernatural urban comedy, became such a massive hit so quickly? The answer is simple, actually: it’s fresh, different, and above all, bizarre.
If one watches only the first episode of Durarara!!, the story of small-town Mikado Ryuugamine moving to the big city of Ikebukuro, Tokyo to attend high school seems to be too ordinary a story for such a supposedly peculiar anime. However, that’s only a scratch on the surface of what Durarara!! really is. In the labyrinth of twisting, dark tunnels that Durarara!! can easily be described to be, it pulls the viewer in like a monster until one is absolutely captivated, and it’s hard to explain just how. Even so, when you break the show down into its finer elements, it’s easy to see just how it does that.
Something really spectacular about Durarara!! is the storytelling. Noticeable from the first episodes alone, though Mikado is the glue that ties everything together, he’s not exactly the main character. In fact, there’s no true main character. The story focuses on all characters equally, sometimes telling the same story twice from two different perspectives. Because of this, the story mostly isn’t told just from point A to point B. It’s more like a web with various starting points, but with only one center, one conclusion that ends everything. This method of storytelling is a potential cause for absolute disaster, but Durarara!! pulls it off, creating a mood of peculiarity without confusing the viewers. Even more so, the contrasting points of view the show takes on manages to do so without revealing anyone’s secrets. Because of the various mind sets the viewer experiences, one may feel like they really know the characters, so when a character unveils something dark or unexpected, it’s absolutely mind blowing.
No show can be as successful as Durarara!! without fine tuning the smaller details. The art direction and choice of music truly bring the anime to life without becoming more prominent than what’s important. The animation focuses more on the backgrounds than the foreground, making the buildings and lights in the city all the more vivid. Considering how important the setting of Ikebukuro is in Durarara!! for how it ties people and events to each other, it’s outstanding how the city feels so realistic. The dark color palette used for many parts of the series also reflects the somewhat dark, quirky nature of Durarara!! As well, just like the anime itself, the background music is extremely unusual, from soft piano pieces to odd, Irish jigs. The urban songs bring out the metropolitan aspect of the series, but the entire quirky soundtrack also gets across the abnormal atmosphere in the eccentric show that is Durarara!!
The real secret to Durarara!!’s success is the perfect blend of fantasy and reality it creates. The characters range from perfectly ordinary humans to people with supernatural powers, and then some that are just not human, but look almost so. This anime isn’t afraid to push the envelope with strange character concepts, such as characters who love to toy with humans just for fun, guys that can easily fling entire vending machines across a city, and a headless, otherwise seemingly human woman in search of her head. Those are only some of the eccentric ideas this anime ventures into, and the fact that it breaks down so many barriers makes the show absolutely unpredictable. The lack of totally alien characters keeps Durarara!! from becoming too strange, but having almost regular humans as characters gives it just a bit of a creative, unique touch.
However, since the setting of Durarara!! is an actual city, and real landmarks such as Sunshine 60 are added into the anime, the series still has a realistic feel to it. This actually compliments rather than retracts from the strange ideas and characters that Durarara!! more than happily spews out. The mix of completely human characters and places mixed with characters that aren’t exactly normal appeals to the fantasies everyone secretly wishes for at one point or another, but won’t necessarily admit. For something amazingly different to happen, for something to occur that makes them special from everyone else, for something spectacular to make life more exciting, Durarara!! makes the viewer think that maybe something like that could really happen to his or her ordinary life.
Now, with a better understanding of what kind of anime Durarara!! precisely is, it’s easy to see why it’s so appealing to many people today. It’s a series that tells a story from different perspectives without giving anything away, a series that knows how to create a huge impact on the audience, a series that isn’t afraid to throw out weird ideas, a series that can so perfectly create the kind of world everyone wishes they could experience for even just a small amount of time. In simpler terms, it’s just this: it’s absolutely bizarre, but it’s an addictive, fresh kind of bizarre that blows your mind.
Naruto spends his days competing with Sasuke, the academy’s star student, only to screw up and be the laughingstock of the class. Due to the childhood trauma of losing his parents to the Nine-Tailed Fox, Iruka finds it difficult to interact with Naruto as his student.
Ichigo wakes up to find himself in the middle of a desert. Sitting next to a confused Ichigo are Uryu, Orihime, and Chad, all dressed in an Arabian style. Introducing themselves as “Urio,” “Ori Mei,” and “Chaido,” the three explain that they are in search of a treasure called the “Snow Crystal.”