Archive for March, 2010

GAR’s Greatest Gems

Action. Suspense. Bravery. Violence. EXPLOSIONS!

These are just some of the amazing things that GAR anime and manga have to offer. So, which titles are the cream of the manly crop? Sit back and enjoy my humble opinion of the greatest anime and manga gems that are chock-full of GAR goodness!

*Keep in mind by the way that my favorite GAR moments are limited to those that are not spoilers. Also, remember that I can only recommend what I’ve seen. With that, read away!*

Bastard!!

This powerhouse of a show is a quick and thoroughly enjoyable experience. It’s full of demons, warring factions, bloody battles, devastating magical and mystical attacks, and huge cities named after famous rock groups (come on, how bad-ass is that?). It’s also slightly erotic for those who enjoy that kind of thing. The manga is far more expansive than the 6-episode anime, so check the both of them out!

My Favorite GAR Moment: Dark Schneider sitting on his windowsill bare-ass naked. Because he’s that much of a pimp that he can do that and it comes off as totally acceptable.

Berserk

This is the story of a mercenary group who wind up gaining the attention of the king. As they move up within the ranks of the kingdom’s armies and fight off attacks both physical and political, their leader slowly becomes corrupted by fame, power and a mysterious evil force, leaving the newest member Guts to try and save those he holds dear from his leader’s fall from grace. This show is powerful and exciting as well as interesting and thoughtful, mixing political intrigue with bloody battles. The gorgeous art adds to this to make a completely beautiful and unforgettable experience.

My Favorite GAR Moment: A cocky man completely encased in a heavy armor takes down a slew of people who challenge him, only to be taken out by Guts in a single stroke!

Fatal Fury

This set of 2 OVAs and a full-length motion picture are the epitome of early 90’s classic fighting anime. Based off of the classic SNK fighting series of the same name, they star Terry Bogard and his regular crew of friends as he fights to avenge those he has loved and lost while trying to find his own inner-peace. It features all of the characters’ signature moves from the games being used to create bloody and thoroughly enjoyable battles. The DVDs are hard to find, but if you can track them down they’re more than worth a try!

My Favorite GAR Moment: When a powerful man interrupts a high-class party looking for a fight, Kim takes to the challenge. He surprises everyone by letting his two young sons watch his battle so that they can better understand him and learn the true meaning of fighting for what is right. To make the moment even more memorable, his wife kneels down beside his sons and watches with them. As a side note, this method apparently works; in the game Garou: Mark of the Wolves for the Dreamcast, Kim’s sons are playable characters.

Saint Seiya

As the grandfather of the sentai anime genre, Saint Seiya is not a show to be missed! It involves plenty of warriors in gorgeous armors, each with their own unique fighting styles and abilities, fighting in the name of Greek gods to either save or destroy the world as their masters see fit. Beliefs are challenged and battles of body, wit, and sanity are waged throughout this expansive and breathtaking series. This mention on my list also includes the five movies, the three Saint Seiya: Hades OVA series’, and the currently airing Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas prequel series, as well as the currently running Saint Seiya: Next Dimension manga. All together they make a truly epic anime and manga experience.

My Favorite GAR Moment: In the first episode, Seiya cuts off Cassios’ ear with an attack, forcing the lovable lug to spend the rest of the series with only half his hearing abilities!

Vampire Hunter D

Tired of your vampires sparkling in sunlight and stalking innocent humans? Then go back to the blood-sucking basics with this movie series! The music for both Vampire Hunter D and Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust is incredible, and all of the art is done by Yoshitaka Amano of Final Fantasy fame, so you know that the visuals are going to be just as stunning as the battles, which are enthralling, bloody, and downright hardcore! If you’re not convinced yet, then allow me to remind you that Bloodlust was the first anime movie to ever air in American theaters. Why are you still reading this? Go watch them!

My Favorite GAR Moment: There is a flying leap in the air that D lands that cannot be described in words, but is guaranteed to leave your pulse pounding. It also bore one of the greatest quotes to come out of the series: ‘Have you ever heard the term ‘too close for comfort’? Because that was damn uncomfortable!’

Yoroiden Samurai Troopers

You may know this show better as Ronin Warriors! This sentai anime started out as a small mini-series (I believe it was supposed to be six episodes long), but it ended up two seasons long with three OVAs. It also became the parent of of one of the most famous blunders in anime history when a mistake by the television station airing it in Japan led to the same episode being aired twice in a row, making the creators cut the show one episode short due to scheduling obligations and incurring the wrath of Japanese GAR fans everywhere. This clearly shows how beloved this action-packed show is, and I guarantee you’ll love it just as much if you check it out yourself; the music and awe-inspiring battles will leave you hooked!

My Favorite GAR Moment: When Ryo finally gets fed up with Jun trying to follow them as they fight their battles, he turns around and smacks his armored hand right across the little boy’s face. This moment is the breaking point of the fear and tension surrounding their battle, and it leaves an impression that you won’t soon forget (Jun is also one of the more annoying characters in the show, so the slap is more than satisfying in that regard).

Yu Yu Hakusho

I have spoken a few times here on Chu*Blog about my love for this series. This is my favorite anime of all time, period. Why? The action, the thrills, the music, all of it culminates into well-paced fist-pounding action. It also manages to get some comedy and a slight sprinkle of romance in as well, all while keeping the show all about the fights, powers, and techniques. The characters are well-developed and have great back-stories and rivalries with other characters that make the battles all the more exciting. This is one title you CANNOT afford to miss!

My Favorite GAR Moment: When the younger Toguro brother carries the old stadium’s ring over to the new stadium ON HIS BACK to the new stadium after its destroyed during the Dark Tournament.

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New Hampshire Rep. Hates Anime…a Lot!

By now, most of you have probably heard about the story broken by RedHampshire.Com concerning New Hampshire State Representative Nickolas Levasseur jamming his foot into his mouth by sporting this Facebook status:

anime is a prime example of why two nukes just wasn’t enough…..

Obviously, this is a sad and troublesome thing to see. America is on shaky ground keeping peace with Japan as it is, and this certainly won’t help things if it gets out to the Japanese people. This statement is plain insensitive and ignorant. If he hates anime and wishes to say publicly that he hates it, he is more than welcome to do that, but it certainly did not call for taking a shot at its country of origin at the same time.

I have heard a few people say that they see nothing wrong with Mr. Levasseur saying this because he is exercising his freedom of speech and that it is wrong that they are holding what he said on his Facebook page against him, even to the point where some feel it is an invasion of Levasseur’s privacy to dig that far. While I agree that he has every right to say what he wants, the truth of the matter is that he is a Government official and a representative of his state. In his position, he is supposed to use intelligence and discretion concerning things he states publicly, because when he speaks he is not just a reflection of himself, but of what he represents as a state official. He had the right to say what he said, but doing so was irresponsible for someone in his position, and no excuses can absolve him of being responsible for what he said and the things that may result from it.

Clearly, he is already feeling the backlash; Levasseur has already publicly apologized for what he said and acknowledged that it was wrong. However, I am skeptical as to whether he will really learn a lesson from all of this, because when I tweeted about this article, people replied to me with other articles about other inappropriate and questionable remarks that Levasseur has made in the past that landed him in the news.

I also question his knowledge of what he is talking about; while the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are common knowledge, clearly he is not aware of the fact that atom bombs were used in these attacks, not nukes.

Long story short, I think it is clear that Mr. Levasseur needs to start reading more and talking less.

Feel free to comment with your (mature) opinions on this controversial statement!

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Changes to Chu*Blog

As you may have noticed, some changes have come to Chu*Blog today. I thought it would be a good idea to make a post outlining these changes.

First of all, I have created a new blog called GinaMarie Writes where I will keep all of my blogs on my writing, on literature, and on writing in general. I would love to see some of you guys come on over and check out this blog in addition to Chu*Blog =D

Although I have made this change, my L.J. Smith reviews will continue to be posted on Chu*Blog because this is where my L.J. Smith fans know where to go to get those reviews, so they will be staying.

Secondly, I have deleted several blogs that never really got any views and had nothing to do with the overall theme of Chu*Blog. Those posts were:

  • The NaNoWriMo update posts
  • The ‘T-Virus’ 2-part Twilight bashing series
  • The first two posts I made about my Christmas gifts and about the state of the economy
  • My movie reviews
  • My Twilight/Vampire Diaries ‘why you shouldn’t compare’ blog

However, I also moved some of my posts to GinaMarie Writes. Those are:

  • My blog on book publishing versus online publishing
  • My Anne Rice editorial

So, there it is. Why have I done this? Well, to be honest I think Chu*Blog had a little too many things going on all at once. Also, I really, really want to start spending all of my time and energy on my writing, which means that you’ll be seeing a lot less frequent posts here on Chu*Blog. I’m sorry about that, but I really need to start getting my goals in order. I hope you all will understand.

I WILL be continuing to write manga reviews for JanaiBlog, so if you enjoyed my first one you can rest easy at that. I will still be blogging here whenever I can, however I have gotten some feedback that the things I talk about are overdone and that my posts are too long, so I am going to try and work on that as well. It should allow me more time to blog and also make the overall quality of Chu*Blog better.

So, that’s it. Make sure to check out the past couple of new blogs if you haven’t already, they’ve been my most popular yet so I think you’ll enjoy them!

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Censorship: The Blame Game

Censorship has once again become a hot topic in the anime world as of late when FUNimation announced that they had acquired the license to Dance in the Vampire Bund. People rejoiced, until FUNi subsequently released a statement saying that they were cutting out scenes which are not relevant to the plot that ‘may possibly’ offend ‘some’ people. Worse than that, they are making these cuts on the TV aired versions AND on the official DVD and Blu-Ray releases. This came as a shock, especially when they also announced they were still releasing Strike Witches uncensored.

Clearly, this did not sit well with the fans. Many people declared they were boycotting FUNi, some promised to simply boycott Bund and all other future FUNi releases that will be censored, and some even openly admitted they agreed with FUNi’s decision to censor this show, which I find to be just insane.

I will point you to my blog on the anime industry where I discussed this issue previously. I explained there how censorship really turns fans off and makes them reluctant to buy official releases. FUNimation handled censorship the right way previously with Yu Yu Hakusho. They censored it on television, and then released both censored and uncensored DVDs of the show so that the viewers could choose which to buy. While companies don’t have the money to release anime this way nowadays, that choice still makes it very clear that FUNimation is aware of how censoring negatively impacts their sales. While I am not surprised that yet another anime is going to be censored, the fact that they are doing this on the DVD and Blu-Ray releases as well is something I find downright shocking. Why in the world would they do such a thing?

Well, many people have blamed it on the Handley case. For those that don’t know, Handley is a man that was recently convicted in court for crossing state lines with pornographic material in the form of loli manga. Many people have theorizied that because of this high-profile case, FUNi is being extra careful to not release anything that may be deemed illegal or inappropriate by authorities or parents. This pisses me off.

Why? Because once again this falls into one of the most insanely frustrating things in this world: Parents and officials blaming outside content for the actions of a person. If a kid watches a violent movie and then goes out and shoots up his school, it has nothing to do with the movie, it’s the kid that’s the problem. Rather than try and mask anything that could be twisted into something negative, we should be working on getting help for those people who would take those ideas and use them in wrong and hurtful ways.

Parents would rather blame these kinds of things for their children’s actions than admit that something is wrong with their child, or that they perhaps didn’t parent correctly. Officials would rather point at a manga and say that it is the reason that a person may sexually assault a young girl than try to get said person some help and try to figure out why he would ever have such tendencies in the first place (I am NOT saying that this was Handley’s intention, I am using it as an example). It’s all about putting the blame on someone else, and it instills fear into our country and causes us to be overly-sensitive about what we expose ourselves to entertainment-wise.

So what am I doing about it? Well first off I am not boycotting FUNimation. I think that is just silly and will only serve to drive yet another anime company out of business. However, I will most certainly not be buying Dance in the Vampire Bund from FUNi. I am not really a fan of the show, but even if I was, I would not be purchasing it because I am adamant about my opinion that censorship is wrong. It infringes upon our right to say what we think, it stifles creativity, and it keeps those who wish to view the censored content from getting the full range of what said content has to offer.

An Addition
I was just about to post this when a friend of mine tweeted to me about a 3 year old girl who died when she accidentally shot herself with a handgun. Her father said that they owned a Wii remote shaped like a gun and she mixed the two up. Rather than question why the hell her father had a handgun within a 3 year old’s reach, the media is now pointing at the video game industry. It is this exact kind of thing that I am talking about here. It seems as if the media will do anything to not have to look at the grim reality of faulty parents in this world.

Feel free to comment if you wish with your own opinions!

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The Pains of Being a Female GAR Fan

One of the first things you’ll notice about me as an anime fan is that I prefer GAR and shounen shows over just about anything else. I get a lot of interesting comments and accusations about this, and quite frankly some of them really get me angry, while others just make me laugh. So, I decided to write an editorial on why I love manly anime. Considering the responses I normally get in reference to this, I think many of you will be surprised.

What is GAR?
I suppose it would make sense to first share with you all my interpretation of what GAR is. Just like moe gives you that feeling of love and adoration, GAR in my opinion gives you that feeling of strength and general badassery. When you see a person or action that is GAR (normally it involves badass fights or conversations), you just want to jump up and scream ‘HELL YEAH!’ and high-five the person closest to you. It’s powerful, its awesome, and its downright hardcore. I think of all of these things when I think of GAR.

The Double-Standard
While 4chan isn’t really an accurate way to gauge anything, I posted in their Anime & Manga board one day about Samurai Deeper Kyo, one of my favorite manga. I wanted to see if anyone else had read it and see what they thought of it. Instead, I got a post completely bashing my thread, after which the poster specifically said they were doing so because I was a girl. Out of curiosity, I asked the poster about what made him think I was a girl since I had posted anonymously. His response was that the manga, while shounen and made for guys, had good-looking men in it, and that meant nobody else but a bishounen-loving girl would ever like it.

This angered me greatly. First of all, Samurai Deeper Kyo was suggested to me by a male friend of mine. Secondly, while the good-looking men were a nice bonus, they most certainly are not why I love the manga. I love it because of its incredible fight scenes, character backgrounds, and the way the plot was woven. Thirdly, there are plenty of anime like Gurren Lagann that have good-looking men in it and have plenty of fans that love it specifically for said good-looking men, yet is still considered GAR and hardcore by its male fans.

So clearly the stigma is out there that because I’m a girl, I have to love shounen and GAR anime only because of the hot guys. Honestly, this sentiment is one of the most ignorant things I’ve ever seen come out of the anime fandom. To set the record straight, I would never start watching a show completely based off of how sexy the characters look. While good art style is always a plus, there is far more to a show than how hot the guys are. If I see a show with a lot of good looking guys, I might feel compelled to look into it and see what its about (admittedly that is how I got into Saint Seiya, but is NOT what kept me watching), but if I don’t like what I see, I won’t watch it.

Also, why does having hot men seem to exempt shows from their rightful GAR status? A title that I find gets this treatment a lot is Saiyuki. The men in the show are very nice to look at, and it has a lot of female fans, and most people I know consider it a girl’s anime. Yet, its a shounen title and the male fans of it that I know most certainly consider it GAR. Would you ever watch Higurashi and consider it a girly show just because it has cute young girls in it? Some people would, yet if you watched the show you’d know that its actually a horrific, terrifying anime with plenty of GAR moments of its own.

Why Do I Love It?
Let me count the ways!

First of all I find that, for me, shounen and GAR shows tend to generally have deeper and more pleasing plots than other anime. Now don’t get me wrong, I love all different kinds of anime that have great plots, but my favorite animes are almost always either shounen/GAR shows or softer shows that have intensely deep and emotional plots and characters. As a writer, the most important things to me in anime is the plot, the characters, and how they effect you, pull you in, and make you emotionally invested in the show. I simply find that, for me, shounen shows do this far more often than any other kind of anime or manga.

I also happen to think that fighting and martial arts is awesome. I love seeing different kinds of weapons, moves, and battle tactics. It’s also a lot of fun to see characters change and grow even in the midst of a battle. To add to this, my love of the horror genre also gives me an affinity for blood, gore, and violence in my entertainment. As I always say about horror movies ‘the more sick and depraved it is, the better!’, and this applies to my love of anime and manga as well.

In addition, I love seeing logic and strategy in stories. I love seeing people trying to outsmart one another, to try and get each other killed or generally screw each other over, or even just play mind games with each other. While these things do play into other genres of anime, I find it most abundant in GAR and shounen stories, because often these things go with a lot of GAR-related things like fighting.

The Bottom Line
In the end, its just plain wrong to assume that a person would like anything just because of one shallow aspect of said thing, although this can be true in some cases. I for one am sick and tired of the assumption that I love my GAR and shounen titles just because they have hot men in them. I certainly appreciate the eye candy, but as long as the story, characters, and emotions are well in place, I really couldn’t care less what the characters looked like, and in my opinion that’s the way it should be.

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