A little background, first. So, yes, Medaka Box is an anime about Sandbox Academy's student council. Medaka Kurokami's insane charisma has earned her a very one-sided win as the 98th student council president and she delivers on her electoral promise of setting up a suggestion box where anyone can ask anything and have their problems resolved as soon as she sets up shop.
She takes on absolutely all of the council's jobs except the General Affairs position, which she hands over to her only subordinate and childhood friend, Zenkichi Hitoyoshi. Like Medaka, he is also a very capable person, excelling in combat and also thankfully more level-headed in order to counter Medaka's eccentricity. We mostly see the story unfold through his eyes, which more or less makes him the main character. Even though his outward attitude seems to suggest he dislikes Medaka, their relationship dates way back and he has the privilege of being the only one Medaka “needs” in order to function as the student council president. The show follows their slow expansion into a full-fledged team and their struggles to resolve any and all requests that come their way. Requests come in a wide range of flavors, from finding a lost dog to expelling thugs from the Kendo Hall, modeling half naked for a painter or finding ways to answer all the clubs' budget increase requests. Absolutely none of them will be resolved the way you'd expect.
Argument the second: Nisio Isin writes the manga. This is probably the fact that surprised me the most, as Medaka Box feels very different from his other works, such as Katanagatari, Bakemonogatari and Nisemonogatari to name some that have been adapted into animated works. The setting, pacing and general feel didn't feel like Nisio Isin at all to me, but the gags, refreshing characters with depth and unpredictable plots clearly let his touch shine through.
Thirdly and lastly: What comes next. This one is key. Before the anime was even made, I had overheard fans of the manga singing its praise at multiple occasions. After viewing the first 7 episodes, I was sold on its quality, but was still slightly incredulous at all those overwhelmingly positive vibes, so I asked around. I'm going out on a limb here, since I've only glanced at a few pages of the manga's “Clash with the Enforcers” arc and asked a few people, but things apparently get pretty awesome, pretty quick. We're talking action, drama, shounen-esque epic battle scenes and violence. Even though the first 7 episodes were a great time, the impression I got from my investigation and glancing at the comments of the 7th episode is that everything up to now was just a primer for things to come. In fact, even the anime's opening animation hints at this at the very end with a quick flash of bloody, scratched up thighs and a severely torn uniform. Just how much of this is true? I can't say right now. Is it getting me even more excited to keep watching? Definitely.
Bluntly, Medaka Box is an anime to get excited for. It has great writing, characters you want to see evolve, surprises around every corner, humor that hits the mark more often than not and a plot that promises to reach very interesting heights. So, yes, Medaka Box is an anime about Sandbox Academy's student council, but you've never seen such an OP student council before!
Despite what the mainstream implies, it’s not necessary for a successful anime to be packed with epic battles and cheesy romances. Sometimes a deep anime simply about life, friendship, and a dash of music can be one of the most understated, yet most fascinating anime to watch. This is the case with Kids on the Slope. Kids on the Slope, also known as Apollo on the Slope, is a mature, complex anime that does away with mainstream cliches that, through its inclusion of jazz music, realistic 1960s setting, and wise way of portraying human relationships, proves to be thought-provoking, moving, and most of all, enjoyable.
The 1960s setting of Kids on the Slope, rather than being random, also has serious implications on the show. To properly convey this realistic setting, the artwork and animation reflect the same realism in return. There are no Japanese characters with huge blue eyes and blond hair; the entire cast reflects what Japanese people traditionally look like, and not everyone has to be beautiful either. The attractive characters are charming in a classic sense, whereas some characters are plain or even unattractive. This creates a bond between the audience and Kids on the Slope because, for once, the cast is filled with characters people may be able to relate to. As well, the 1960s isn’t too long after the end of World War II, which resulted in thousands of American soldiers being stationed across Japan. These soldiers were prominent in the early decades following World War II, and this is reflected in Kids on the Slope. Throughout Kids on the Slope are gaijin bars filled with American soldiers (who have perfect English instead of, as some anime cheaply are guilty of, broken English with a heavy Japanese accent), and among them is segregation of African Americans and Caucasians. This is extremely typical of the 1960s, so it definitely makes the setting of Kids on the Slope more believable. There are numerous smaller touches like this, such as record players and LPs, that make Kids on the Slope definitely a realistic period piece that remains intriguingly mature.
It's not normal that you find a show about talking animals more watchable than Polar Bear's Cafe. Usually, by the third episode of animals talking through flowery shoujo-type screen frames and vignette in front of crashing waves, the audience loses what little interest something like talking animals can grab. Have I mentioned this is a show about talking animals? What makes this show more than watchable - dare I say, "funny," "witty" and even "heart-warming" is the amazing writing and unbelievably talented voice cast. Not only will you instantly fall in love with Polar Bear, Panda and all of their friends, but you'll wish Penguin would take you out on a date. Weird? Not at all...
The show is thoroughly devoted to being light and generally pointless. There's a long bit about Polar Bear driving Panda and Penguin around, a half-episode about watching cherry blossoms in the park, another about Panda getting a job at the zoo (as a part-time panda), and still another about Polar Bear and Penguin visiting him at the zoo. During most of Polar Bear Cafe, we are really just watching animals walking around like humans, talking like humans, doing things humans do. It's actually kind of weird the way most people don't interact with them in an awkward, "I'm talking to a polar bear right now" kind of way. Don't get me wrong, this show is smart. How smart? Smart enough to use its monotony and mundanely styled humor to play up the charming personalities of Polar Bear, Panda, Penguin and how they interact with other animals according to how they would in the wild. Yes, it's THAT smart.
In the middle of a meandering conversation Llama will whip out a tongue-based smartphone technique. A discussion of special-event parfaits will lead to a grisly dessert-eating spectacle. An episode about dieting will be interrupted by a terrifying look at Panda's “ideal shape.” Some episodes seem to be heading nowhere when they're actually getting ready to make you snort out a lung. Panda and Polar Bear's trip to Grizzly's bad-boy bar idles along like a fish-out-of-water trifle until it hits you with the lessons Panda takes away about being “wild.” Not every (half) episode hits such a high, but in a backward kind of way that works to the show's advantage. None of the jokes would be as funny as they end up being if you weren't constantly being lured into a whimsical stupor before they land
Another thing about Polar Bear Cafe is unlike other anime shows featuring animals as the main cast - these aren't overly-cartoony "versions" of animals. They are and look exactly as the animals look in real life. They are not cuddly caricatures of animals, they are TALKING ANIMALS. It makes for a lot of odd visual humor, as when Penguin asks for a shoulder massage and Polar Bear's large predatory appendages do exactly what they're supposed to—which is most definitely not soothing cramped muscles. Or when the animals try to use smartphones that were very much not designed for, say, penguin use. It also puts the strangeness of their world, where animals walk and work right alongside humans, in stark relief.
Fair warning, though. It's also a series that is very much to be enjoyed one long, leisurely, and periodically uproarious episode at a time. It's very easy to get fed up with the long dead spots between or leading up to its periodic flashes of comedic brilliance. And even easier to start starving for substance. Take it one episode at a time, though, and it's a right fun time. In my experience, watching Polar Bear's Cafe is like Story Time during a kindergarten class. It can be a very nice re-visit to the days when you didn't have to deal with the stress of being an adult, or high school, or anything. All you had to focus on was carrot sticks and plastic zoo animals.
In a parallel world… well, anything can happen in a parallel world, but the one we’re interested in here is that of Crunchyroll’s new show this season, Sengoku Collection (Parallel World Samurai). In that parallel world, the daimyo that fought so viciously to conquer Japan are girls, and, for some reason, they are thrown into modern Japan and left to fend for themselves.
The history and dramatization of the Sengoku era has been retold and romanticized across multiple forms of media – from games to literature to anime – for a while now. The Sengoku Collection anime is not the original format for this alternate retelling of history as it started as a CCG-style social game that’s played on mobile devices, published by Konami; now it’s been brought to life by the animation masters at Brain’s Base (Durarara!!, Natsume Yuujinchou).
Having a transgendered form of the legendary heroes of that time is not new either. Take, for example, one of Crunchyroll’s earlier simulcasts, Battle Girls - Time Paradox. However, how the stories are retold is a bit more unique.
Instead of a sweeping epic, like how most retellings of this part of history play out, Sengoku Collection is rather a collection of vignettes that is somewhat more of a slice-of-life look into how these gender-swapped generals might fare in today’s world. These speculative tales show our ambitious young leaders winning over Japan in other ways, such as through media, entertainment, and the underground world of the yakuza. All except for one, anyway…
Our world’s Oda Nobunaga was regarded as a brutal and ruthless leader, one that almost succeeded in unifying all of Japan. The parallel world version is depicted as fearless and unfailingly confident in herself. While the other generals seem to have accepted their new way of life, Nobunaga is determined to return to her time, so that she may continue her conquest. So, in order for the parallel-version Nobunaga to hop back over to her world, she must collect the Secret Treasures that reside within each of the other great generals that were spirited away into the modern world.
Kenshin’s parallel-world persona, on the other hand, has become a world-class model since arriving in the modern world. She is tended to by an infatuated Kanetsugu, who became color-blind after learning that Kenshin no longer had any desire to spread the word of Bishamonten through their conquest of Japan. Kanetsugu is also something a little more than human as we learn in the end…
How these girls, who were once ambitious conquerors and generals hoping to win or hold on to their own slice of Japan during a tumultuous era, cope with the relatively peaceful modern age with all its amenities and conveniences is one of the more interesting aspects of this show. How do you think you’d handle things if you were suddenly transported into the world 400 years into the future?
The commando unit is in hot water as they engage the reanimated Kekkei Genkai shinobi, which include Zabuza Momochi and Haku. Luckily, Kakashi and his unit arrive in time to assist them.
NARUTO SPIN-OFF: ROCK LEE AND HIS NINJA FRIENDS Episode 9
Neji's cousin Hinata is trying to get some training in, but it's not easy with Lee getting in the way. And Guy, Kiba, Akamaru, Shino... Hinata's one weak point is her tendency to faint around her beloved Naruto, so Lee and several others don some familiar orange outfits to help her fix the problem.