Anime

The Inaugural 2017 “Unime” Awards!

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It’s the end of 2017, the Fall Anime Season has wound itself down, and we’ve found ourselves looking back on the year, thinking of all the Anime we’ve watched, the hours we’ve spent, the stories we’ve heard. It’s been a good year, and as it comes to a close, several of us here at Unime took the liberty of putting together a list, detailing our favorite shows, characters, and other picks from all of 2017 (Please keep in mind, we did not include second seasons or carry overs, such as My Hero Academia 2… Sorry). We hope you enjoy, and please remember to let us know what you think down in the comments below!

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Anime

Black Clover: What Happened?

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Long-running Shonen shows are an absolute staple of an anime-watcher’s diet. If you haven’t seen at least one Shonen show, can you really consider yourself an Otaku?  From Dragonball to Bleach, Naruto, Fairy Tail, to the newer My Hero Academia, these shows usually create a massive following due to their large episode count and engaging, almost addictive material. But now, there’s a new kid on the block… and it’s been nothing but controversial.

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Controversial, or just a proverbial punching bag.

Black Clover, a Manga by Yuki Tabata, released its first volume in February of 2015. In the Fall season of 2017, it got an Anime adaptation, done by Studio Pierrot. Pretty much as soon as the first episode released, long-time fans of the Manga series were in an uproar, and it’s pretty easy to see why.

Let’s start with PACING. One of the draws of a Shonen show is, generally speaking, the fact that we get to the interesting, meat of the story very quickly. Black Clover, however, takes a full episode to give us exposition about our two main characters, and takes the second episode to give a flashback. Episode 3 is dedicated to the characters travelling from one city to another, and it just gets worse from there, with the first 5 or so minutes of each episode just being recap. Though I haven’t read the manga, personally, I do know that the first few episodes of the anime covered less than one manga chapter each, an abominable pacing for an adaptation.

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Why did we need an entire episode devoted to this?

The most notable flaw, however, has got to be the main character, Asta, himself. While it’s perfectly acceptable for Shonen characters to be somewhat loud and shouty, Pierrot’s interpretation of Asta is just downright annoying. Having someone be that loud, with such a grating voice, on a constant basis, is a huge turn-off for would-be watchers of the series. If you can’t even enjoy the main character, how are you supposed to enjoy the rest of the show?

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Pretty much sums it up, yeah.

Not only is the pacing rubbish and the main character annoying, Black Clover doesn’t seem to be doing anything we haven’t seen before. Main character with little-to-no power and a powerful rival ends up in a group of misfits and struggles to achieve his lofty dreams. Yeah. We’ve seen it all before, many times, only done better most of those times.

But, we can’t just talk about the bad stuff, can we? Black Clover has some pretty beautiful art, to be fair, especially some of the scenic shots. The music is quite nice, though i’m not a fan of the animation, but above all else, it’s been announced for a 50-episode release, right off the bat! So, if you’re looking to follow a relatively new, long-running Shonen anime as it simulcasts, Black Clover may be worth a look.

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The show really doesn’t LOOK bad at all…

If you want to know more about Black Clover, there’s a great, super in-depth post by my friend Plyasm, who is a reader of the Black Clover manga, so he has some very unique insights into the Anime adaptation. Also, remember to let us know what you think of Black Clover yourself down in the comments!

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Anime

Winter Wonderlands: 7 Beautiful Snow-Bound Scenes In Anime

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As winter approaches, Christmastime coming on, a chill settling into the air and lights coming up on the houses, who can help but think of snow, a soft white blanket coating the world, a snowy sky muffling the sounds and smells of society, bringing peace and tranquility. No matter where you live, no matter how old you get, the sight of a fresh snowfall is able to stir up emotions in anyone’s heart.

I love the snow. I love the way it creates a quiet sort of stillness, a freshness in the world.  However, that feeling can prove difficult to translate into a visual medium such as Anime. Luckily, some have succeeded in capturing the magic of winter. Here’s my list of 7 amazing, snowy scenes in Anime!

Land of the Lustrous – Winter Snowscape

As many of you may know, Land of the Lustrous is one of my favorite shows of 2017. The beautiful visuals and riveting story are wonderful, but so far, my favorite story arc has been the Winter one. The feeling of cold, of loneliness, of quiet, is captured perfectly in the many beautiful scenic shots, as Phos struggles to adapt to the change in the environment. It’s hard to capture the true nature of a barren winterland, but Land of the Lustrous manages it beautifully.

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Fate/Zero – Family Matters

Fate/Zero is my favorite installment in the Fate franchise so far. Episode 1 and 2 introduce us to the estate of the Einzberns, a family that is famous for their advanced homunculi, as well as being major contenders in the Grail wars. Episode 2 in particular gives us a wonderful scene of Kiritsugu playing with his daughter Ilya out in the snow, as Winter is gently fading away and Spring is starting to begin. It’s a beautiful and touching scene, showing us the importance of family, and the joys and wonder of wintertime.

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Erased – Childish Wonder

Erased was a smash hit series in the Winter 2016 season, featuring the story of a boy who goes back in time to save a classmate of his from a serial killer. Taking place heavily in a winter setting, Erased does a fantastic job at portraying scenes of winter from a child’s point of view, the magic, the wonder of the world covered in a blanket of snow… As well as the danger, the loneliness, the solitude that Winter can present.

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Kara no Kyoukai – An End to All Things

It’s no secret that Kara no Kyoukai is one of the most visually stunning series of all time. A dark and gritty thriller series, the beautiful, ethereal visuals continue to haunt me to this day. In Shuushou, the true ending to the series, we are treated to one of the most beautiful uses of snow in Anime… well, EVER, as Mikiya and Shiki meet again, having overcome the horrors that plagued them through the entirety of the series. In a touching scene, the snowfall brings peace, comfort, and closure.

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Mushishi – Silent Footfalls

Anyone who has seen Mushishi knows that it’s one of the most relaxing shows around. When it comes to scenes of peaceful nature, there’s no Anime around that does it better. Which is why, when the show gave us a winter episode, it was utterly unforgettable. Mushishi does a beautiful job depicting solitude in nature, and with the addition of snow, that feeling becomes even more pronounced.

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Kanon – A White Tragedy

Kanon is one of the first shows I ever watched that really drew a lot of emotion from me. The tragic tale of friendship, love, and loss, takes place in a snowy, rural town. The heavy use of the winter setting perfectly suits what the show is trying to do, as the main character meets, interacts with, and tries to save a variety of girls in this snow-bound town. It’s a show that really, truly brings out the “magic” of winter.

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Girl’s Last Tour – Tracks in the Snow

Another pick from the Fall 2017 season, Girl’s Last Tour’s first episode gives us a beautiful look at a post-apocalyptic world, covered in snow. With the calming, philosophical discussions of the adorable girls, and the wonderful snowy sound effects, this is a scene that is sure to warm your heart, even as it makes you feel the cold… just a little. It’s not one to be missed.

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Please, make sure to let us know what you think of our list down in the comments, and don’t forget to let us know what YOUR favorite snow-filled scenes in Anime are!

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Anime Reviews

Land of the Lustrous: More than just a pretty face?

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I don’t think anyone out there will dispute me when I say that there are a very large number of beautiful shows this Fall season. The visual fidelity of the shows this airing season are incredibly high, giving us a season that might be the best-looking one of all time. However, in my estimation, there is one show that stands above the rest, as far as looks go, and that’s Land of the Lustrous. But are beautiful visuals all it has to offer?

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All just a pretty face?

 

In a land where most people are the embodiment of gemstones, Phos (short for Phosphophyllite) is not well-suited for anything. Not only are they clumsy, but with a Mohs hardness scale rating of only 3.5, they’re fragile enough that they shatter easily. To give them something to do, the monkish Master Kongo assigns them to create an encyclopedia, though Phos would much rather be joining others in fighting off the Lunarians who attack them to harvest their bodies for their stones. As Phos reluctantly starts their research, they discovers that another of their kind – Cinnabar – may have it even worse, since they poison everything they breath or touch, and Cinnabar is even more fragile than Phos.

– AnimeNewsNetwork

What exactly makes it look so good?

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Perfect indeed.

Now, i’ll be honest. I didn’t have the highest of hopes, at first, when seeing the previews and such of the show. After all, it’s rendered almost entirely in 3DCG, which is usually somewhat awkward even when used sparingly. Shows that have used it extensively, such as Berserk 2016, Hand Shakers, and more, have been met with a violently negative response. However, let me be the first to say: Land of the Lustrous does not suffer from whatever disease the aforementioned shows did.

If you’re looking for smooth, fluid animation, you need look no further. The movement of the characters, objects, and even grass, modeled and rendered in CG, look utterly amazing, and move with a smooth, fluid grace that’s hard to find even in very high-budget Anime. Not only that, but everything has been modeled with such obvious love and care, nothing seems clunky or out-of-place, like they do in Berserk.

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Fluid movement, expressive faces!

True to its name, Land of the Lustrous is absolutely awash with color, and nearly every scene is just utterly gorgeous to look at. If you like scenes of sky, grass, mountains, or ocean, you’re going to adore this show, because it’s chock-full of incredible, detailed landcapes filled with vibrant colors and subtle shading, enough to actually elicit emotion, just on sight.

While i’m certainly not an expert in any of these fields, I do know that Studio Orange, a studio that hasn’t really made much, has come out of nowhere and created an absolutely magical combination of high-quality CG and beautiful landscape art to make one of the most visually stunning shows I have ever seen.

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How do you beat this?

What about the story?

To be honest, while I found myself falling in love with the visuals during the first episode, I wasn’t nearly as invested in the story as I maybe could have been. The story concept is interesting, sure, and I could sense a nice amount of potential in there, but the first episode was relatively tame and average.

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(Hint: it gets better.)

Thankfully, though, that’s just Episode 1. As the show has progressed, the story has grown and flourished, and it’s now quite a touching tale. The characters are extremely interesting and unique, especially the main character, Phos. Phos might just be my favorite character of the whole Fall season. She’s funny, interesting, and adorable, but most of all, she feels very real, her motivations are distinct, and she has had plenty of character growth and development already.

The world that they live in is a world in which humans, as we know them, have existed, but don’t, anymore. Instead, the main characters are crystal people, made of varying hardness, but above all, totally ageless, and essentially immortal. If broken, they can be reassembled and return to being as good as new… but they rarely grow, or change, and there are only a few of them left. The concept is interesting, and the execution is excellently done.

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Moving forward, every day :3

Not just that, though. The show has some elements in it that really make you think. For example, the growth and evolution of Phos’s character are directly related to the way her body is changing, being replaced, in a way that none of the other gems ever have. Unexpected change after a long period of little-to-no growth… Whatever could that symbolize?

Is there anything else to the show?

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I haven’t even gone very in-depth yet!

Land of the Lustrous isn’t all just good looks and interesting characters. With a fantastic soundtrack, including one of the best OPs of the season, as well as some stunning action sequences, and an immense amount of auditory fidelity, the show not only looks great, it sounds great too, and has some incredible, heart-pounding scenes of super intense action, emotion, and more.

Land of the Lustrous is truly, dare I say, a gem. It’s one of those shows that has gone far above and beyond what anyone expected it to, and i’m very happy to recommend it to anyone looking for a new show to watch. If you are a fan of quality Anime, with great characters, an interesting plot, and very high production value, then Land of the Lustrous is a great show to watch!

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I absolutely love it!

So, are you interested in watching the show, yet? If you haven’t seen it yet, go watch it! if you’ve already seen it, please, share your thoughts on it with us! We’d love to hear what you have to say!

Thank you all so much for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful day!

 

 

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Special Features

Labor Thanksgiving: Appreciating Our Workforce

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Eat up, eat!

As November comes along, those of us in America begin thinking about Thanksgiving; pies, turkey, stuffing, and more. However, many of us don’t realize that Thanksgiving isn’t a worldwide holiday, and those countries that do celebrate it don’t do so in the same way. In Japan, the 23rd of November is Labor Thanksgiving Day, a day to celebrate those who work in any career.

This holiday has evolved in Japan from an ancient Harvest Festival, celebrating the bringing in of the year’s harvest, as well as celebrating the hard work that went into making that harvest possible. Nowadays, the celebration encompasses everyone who works in a professional career in Japan, but it’s nowhere near as big of a celebration as we have in the States.

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When all the deadlines fall through…

 

There are plenty of things to be thankful for, though. After all, we’re all watchers of Anime, players of games. Just think about how much effort it takes, how many people’s cooperation is needed to produce all the Anime we watch every year. If you need a proper example, take a look at Shirobako.

For those who haven’t seen it, Shirobako gives us a super accurate look at the Anime industry, going into great detail about how Anime is made, from beginning to end. It takes an enormous amount of effort, as well as a large number of people, to get an Anime from a concept to a finished product. Let’s send out our gratitude this month for all the artists, animators, directors, producers, and more that help us feed our hobby, and entertain us every day!

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Now that’s concentration!

For all the gamers out there, make sure you send your thanks out to everyone who makes amazing video games possible. Whether it’s artists and 3-D modelers like Aoba and her friends from New Game, working in a professional environment to make pretty and fun games, to people like the cast of Saekano, making games just for fun, following their dreams to produce Indie titles.

Let’s not forget, however, the people working less flashy careers. Whether you’re like Maou from The Devil Is a Part-Timer, working afternoon shifts at a fast-food place, or like Miss Kobayashi, taking the daily slog of career work in order to support yourself and your family, everyone deserves appreciation.

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BK or Mickey D’s…

Let us all take this month to band together, as a family, connected by our hobbies and interests, and make sure that everyone feels appreciated for the work that they do. After all, there is no such thing as an unimportant career. Now, you’ve all heard what i’m thankful for; who or what are you guys thankful for?

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Special Features

The Horror of Shiki: When Vampires Are Done Right

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Ever since I was a child, Vampires have always fascinated me. Nosferatu, Dracula, and more; these shows presented vampires as mysterious monsters, cruel, but with a heart. However, Western media began to corrupt Vampires, turning them into the abominations we see in things like Twilight, True Blood, and many more. I was never again able to find that feeling I felt as a child when vampires were concerned… At least, not until I watched Shiki.

“Shiki, adapted from the horror novel written by Fuyumi Ono, goes beyond the average vampire story. It tells the tragic tale of survival in a world where one cannot easily distinguish between good and evil. Abandoned by God, the Shiki, as the vampires call themselves, have only their will to live as they clash with the fear of the paranoid/unbelieving villagers. Shiki explores the boundary that separates man from monster.”

-MAL

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Light and dark; Good and evil

What Is Shiki?

Shiki gives us a gripping tale about a rural farming village that has a family of vampires move into the castle on the hill. As the vampires slowly begin to leave their mark on the town, the resident city doctor starts investigating the mysterious deaths happening around the town, determined to save his village from whatever plagues it, at any cost. Literally. The behavior and actions of the villagers, especially Toshio, the doctor, is what makes Shiki stand out among so many other Vampire shows.

Western media has long been portraying vampires as either mindless monsters thirsting for blood, or sparkly fairies of otherworldly beauty, boasting incredible power. Shiki, however, turns both of those portrayals on their heads. The original vampires that come to the village are mysterious and beautiful, yes, but lonely creatures. As they begin to drink the blood of the town, however, some of the townspeople begin to rise from the graves, reborn as vampires themselves.

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Tragedy hits fast and hard.

These vampires, though possessed of seeming immortality, come with quite a number of drawbacks. While their wounds heal quickly and they don’t age, they aren’t really stronger than ordinary people, and they light on fire when exposed to even the slightest amount of sunlight. After biting a human, they can control that person’s mind, but they can only withstand a few days without drinking blood before they die from hunger. Additionally, they have the same personalities and appearances they had before they died, meaning many of them are immature, idiotic, or ugly.

The slow, methodical progression of the show, especially in the first half, may be a turn-off to some viewers, but I believe it’s one of the best parts of the series. It gives the show a chance to really build up the setting, and the story, allowing the utterly incredible soundtrack to do its job on setting your spine shivering. The dark, brooding nature of many of the scenes combined with the haunting soundtrack is one of the best parts of the show, and it perfectly sets us up for the climax in the latter half.

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Loneliness and isolation; a coping strategy.

What makes Shiki stand out?

Shiki does a wonderful job exploring the human psyche, showing us that not only can monster have hearts, but that humans can abandon theirs. By never giving us a reason to pick one side or the other, we can only watch helplessly as the conflict grows to a peak, and chaos envelops the village. While Shiki could have taken a shorter route to the destination, and been a decent horror gore-fest show, the slower pacing of the show makes it so much more than that.

The vampires are there because they just want a home, somewhere to live in peace, away from persecution and hunting. The humans have lived there for generations themselves, and want to protect their families and their way of life. As the vampires try to survive, to settle down and rest from the fear and pain of being hunted, the humans succumb to their fear, abandoning their ‘humanity’ in a quest to kill all the vampires, cleanse their village.

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Vampires really just want to fit in.

I’m unsure if it was intentional or not, but most of the characters in Shiki are extraordinarily unlikable in one way or another. Perhaps it was just a result of the direction, or perhaps it was made that way to help keep viewers from taking sides, but whatever the case, it makes viewers grow increasingly uncomfortable as they continue to watch, as they don’t know who to root for, or feel sorry for.

Humans and Vampires. Two very different ideologies. The two are totally incapable of getting along by any means. But with Vampires showing humanity, compassion, and grief, and humans revealing what cold, ruthless creatures they can be inside, the tables are turned. I love the way the show makes you think, makes you try to choose between one side and the other, yet leaves you stranded in the middle, right to the very end.

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When emotions take over, you lose sight of your original goals.

Should I Watch Shiki?

If you’re looking for some scares, proper vampires, and a fantastic story with lots of depth and emotion, I highly recommend you give Shiki a try. There are so many reasons to give it a watch; you’re really missing out if you don’t. It’s a show that I guarantee will stick with you for a very long time, and will keep you up at night, thinking, and glancing out your window from time to time. Enjoy the watch, don’t forget to leave your thoughts about Shiki down in the comments below!

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Special Features

S.H.S. – Why Another is such a great Horror series

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As we make our way into the month of October, and the Halloween season is on our minds, I thought it would be a good opportunity to share my thoughts on one of my favorite Horror anime, Another.

Spooky Halloween Special: Why Another Is A Great Horror Series

While it may not be the most polished show, and it definitely has it’s share of faults, Another is a show that has stuck in my mind for a very long time, and i’m glad to have an opportunity to share my thoughts on it.

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