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Sam’s Top 10 Favorite Anime!

Sam

Not many topics can both unify and divide people as well as anime. Politics? Religion? When compared to waifu wars, they’re nothing. Rem Best Girl 2016, by the way. Anyways, I’m Sam – a somewhat new writer here at Unime –  and here are my top 10 favorite anime!

 

luluco and dad ~ sam's top 10 favorite anime

 

  1. Space Patrol Luluco

I can honestly say that I’ve never known a studio as crazy as Trigger. With the zany over-the-topness of Kill la Kill, they’ve definitely made a name for themselves, and Luluco is no different. It’s a really fun short-form anime that’s perfect for bite-sized binges, and it knows this. The fast pacing is highlighted by the crazy story, and the characters are fun caricatures of classic stereotypes. I love a good comedy, and this show has well-timed humor that works perfectly each time. Even so, the story hides deeper elements than you might think, and it has some good character development wrapped in each segment. Crazy and fun, Space Patrol Luluco is an anime I definitely recommend.

 

overlord ~ sam's top 10 favorite anime

  1. Overlord

Everyone talks about Sword Art Online and Log Horizon, but few talk about Overlord. Given that it has a similar “trapped-in-a-video-game” premise as the other two, I can’t imagine why it isn’t more well-known. One of the features I love in anime is when a show knows what feeling its looking to impart. Some anime want to feel serious and psychological, some happy, others emotional. This show wants to offer fun with a consistent story and likeable characters, and it delivers. As cunning as Shiroe yet as OP as Kirito, the protagonist Ains Ool Goan is both relatable and a unique character in his own right. In fact, all of the characters are fairly uniue and add their own flair to the series. For a somewhat unconventional fantasy anime, Overlord hits all the right notes for me.

 

madoka and friends ~ sam's top 10 favorite anime

  1. Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Ah, Madoka. What is there for me to say? I love the series for a lot of reasons: it’s dark, beautiful, poignant. It was the first magical girl anime I saw, and it’s left a permanent mark on me. Starting off typical and evolving into so much more, Madoka Magica is definitely a roller coaster of emotions and plotlines. Fleshed-out characters with established backstories are always a plus in my book, but the series goes farther and gives you a reason to care about each of them. Each cast member has a different role and are necessary to the story; there are no throwaway characters here. With intense battle scenes, and epic score, and an amazing story, Madoka will always remain a treasure to me.

 

erased ~ sam's top 10 favorite anime

  1. Erased

I’m gonna be real here: the only reason I ever watched this show is because it beat out Steins;Gate and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood as #1 on MyAnimeList for about a week. To accomplish such a feat on MAL of all places without even being finished made it definitely worthy of my attention. Was it worth it? Totally. The plot reminded me of Steins;Gate for sure, but the overall handling of the story in relation to the characters was very well-done.

Time-travel can be hard to implement without hamfisting it at times, but Erased used it just enough to keep the story moving at a nice pace. For a main character, Satoru was a nice balance of relatable and inspirational, and I liked the way he approached problems. Even so, his journey to save his friends was definitely a ride, and it kept me on the edge of my seat more than once. While the climax wasn’t as epic as I’d hoped it would be, it was still satisfying. All in all, Erased is a sci-fi/thriller about growing up. What more can you ask for?

 

chaika the coffin princess ~ sam's top 10 favorite anime

  1. Chaika the Coffin Princess

I love any type of comfort media. Y’know, something you can switch on and enjoy no matter how you’re feeling. Like a warm blanket, it’s always there for you when you need it. That’s what Chaika is to me. It’s not exceptional, but it’s not bad either. A slightly above average fantasy anime with a somewhat simplistic main story, it’s just unique enough to make it stand out.

The main premise is pretty much a fetch quest: Chaika is the last daughter of the evil Emperor Gaz, and wants to gather his scattered remains in order to give him a proper burial. She is joined by the ninjalike sabatours Toru and Akari, and together the show is less of an epic adventure and more of a slice-of-life with fantasy/action elements. This gives it a laid-back feel that really opens it up to have fun with the setting and the characters, which is where the show really excels. With two seasons under its belt, Chaika is definitely a good anime to check out if you’re looking for something fun and different.

 

barakamon

  1. Barakamon

As you’ll see with the rest of this list, slice-of-life anime are something of a guilty pleasure of mine. I love getting a glimpse into someone else’s everyday life, and anime just makes that so much more fun to experience. Barakamon is a show near and dear to my heart due to its focus on personal growth and maturity, something I can relate to as a college student.

A testament to the necessity of a village to raise a child, Barakamon really focuses on the place that community plays in self-identity and self-worth. It’s very character-driven, and this makes pretty much all of the main characters memorable in some way or another. You have the boisterous Naru, the closet otaku Tamako, the confident Hiro, and of course the insecure Handaa, as well as much more. It’s a show that takes its time to show the development of Handaa as an individual, and by the ending you’ll see how much he’s grown. Laid-back with a great sense of humor, Barakamon will always be one of my favorite series.

 

anohana cast ~ sam's top 10 favorite anime

  1. Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day

I never thought that an anime would make me cry. Then I watched this show. Anohana is a story that grips quickly, and it never truly lets go, and it’s an example to me of the power of storytelling. Stories allow us to experience the point of view of another person for a limited amount of time; a well-written story uses this to its advantage, using characters, plot, and dialogue to take the viewer on a journey.

Anohana does this perfectly by putting us in a position to understand the struggles of each member of its small cast. From Jintan to Yukiatsu, each character struggles with the loss of their mutual childhood friend. Their loss drove them apart, but as they slowly reconnect, their scars begin to heal. It’s a beautiful tale of love and loss, guilt and redemption; a story that you need to experience to understand.

 

ed and al ~ sam's top 10 favorite anime

  1. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

I’m a huge fan of well-written fantasy, and this show ranks pretty high on my favorite epic fantasy list. An established world, an intriguing plot, and memorable characters gives this series a weight that many other anime simply don’t carry. It leaves an impression, and I appreciate that about a story: it leaves you wanting more.

You feel for characters on both sides of the moral spectrum, and I myself was surprised several times at the turns the show took and the way it handled specific characters. The powers of alchemy in particular are well-written: the alchemists truly are scientists who have to find ways to use their gifts to max effect. Rather than a “get-out-of-jail-free” card, alchemy is a means to an end and it works with the plot to form a cohesive world that feels…solid. Immersion is a huge plus for me, and FMA:B is one of the easiest anime to get sucked into, in my opinion.

 

saitama's grade ~ sam's top 10 favorite anime

  1. One-Punch Man

You’ve seen the memes, you’ve heard the theme song: by now, everyone knows about One-Punch Man. It’s a hit manga with an even more explosively popular anime, and it truly does live up to the hype. Everything about this show parodies and satirizes all eras of superhero culture, from the over-the-top comical baddies of the Golden Era to the dark and brooding powerhouses of today.

The main character Saitama is basically Goku if he hit max power level and became a meme, and his sidekick Genos embodies the spirit of the classic shounen hero. This is the only show that I watched that made me wait three weeks before watching the final episode, simply because I didn’t want it to end. It is one of my fondest memories of 2015, and it’s a must-watch for any fan of action and comedy.

 

steins;gate ~ sam's top 10 favorite anime

  1. Steins;Gate

Of all the anime I’ve seen, only Steins;Gate has truly touched me on a deep, personal level. It has everything I love in a good story: an original premise, fun-and-yet-deep characters, a well-paced plot, and a lot of character development. It has a smallish roster of characters, but this allows each and every one of them to have a direct impact on the story.

While I resonate the most with Okabe’s special brand of crazy, I could see a little bit of myself in each character, making each of them distinct, yet relateable. I found myself faling in love with each character, which made the twists and turns of the series all that much more real to experience. To me, Steins;Gate is the kind of anime that comes around once in a long time. If you want to experience some of the best storytelling that a visual medium can offer, I wholeheartedly suggest that you give Steins;Gate a try.


Be sure to leave a comment below with your opinions and don’t forget to share. Thanks for reading!

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4 Anime That Could’ve Been Mainstream

Sam

witch craft splash screen

Trying to get into anime is a lot like trying to get into celebrity culture. There are so many things going on at once that it can be hard to know where to start. Where do I get my news? What should I start watching? What’s the difference between shoujo and shounen? People tend to look towards the most obvious sources for answers. A person interested in celebrities might start reading magazines that feature their favorite actor to start with, before learning about other famous people.

Most take this approach with anime, starting with success stories like Dragon Ball or Naruto. Famous shows are famous for a reason, but in all the hype and glitter some get overlooked. So in today’s post, I bring you my (first?) list of 4 anime that could be mainstream, but aren’t for some reason.

rainbow nisha

#1 Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin

Let me get this out of the way first: this anime isn’t for the light of heart. It’s definitely a mature anime, but in a different way than a casual observer might think. Centered around the lives of 6 young men in a 1940s Japanese prison, the show is brutally real at times. It’s a testament to tasteful maturity: it is explicit without being pandering, with thoughtful restraint. No character is a plot device: each has an understandable backstory and developed personality that fleshes them out.

The plotline is unique enough to make it stand out, and the story has an air of historical fiction that reminds me of Joker Game and 91 Days. With something of a renaissance of period anime these past couple seasons, I feel that Rainbow: Nisha has the potential to make a big impact.

 

luluco

#2 Space Patrol Luluco

One of the underappreciated gems of the Spring 2016 season, Luluco is a short-form anime produced by studio Trigger. Yes, the same people who made Kill la Kill in all its’ over-the-top glory. They continue their traditions here, with a tale of intergalactic justice, famililal bonding, and true love. Its’ 7-minute timestamp makes it easily consumable in small bites or long periods, and the story is as ridiculous as it is entertaining.

Luluco and her friends really make this anime shine, and there is some surprisingly deep character development for a show this short. Combining ease of access with Saturday morning charm, I don’t see why Space Patrol Luluco isn’t the next big thing.

 

witch craft works

#3 Witch Craft Works

I’ve always been a fan of school-based anime, but I also love a good fantasy story. As a fun, action/comedy mélange of both, you can imagine how surprised I was to find Witch Craft Works. The main reason I love the show is that it plays with sterotypes in a way that makes the entire story better. You have the overpowered hero character…who’s not the MC, but the friend of the MC. You have the MC with superpowers…but the MC can’t use them: in fact, his powers are a catalyst that makes him a target.

You have your dastardly villain faction and your courageous hero faction…which act a lot more like rival sororities than actual warring clans. As you can tell, this anime is full of juxtapositions that make it a lot of fun to watch! While not perfect, Witch Craft Works is definitely an anime I wish more people knew about.

 

silver spoon

#4 Silver Spoon

Fourth and finally, we come to an anime that’s something of a diamond in the rough. A slice-of-life about a boy’s journey through agricultural school, Silver Spoon really crystallizes the essence of life during the high school years. The struggles and the triumphs of life at the cusp of adulthood are hammered out through the means of animal raising and crop gathering, and it’s definitely a change of pace from the typical high school anime.

This unconventional setting paves the way for lovable characters and an overall plot that feels both familiar and new. Coming from the pen of Hiromu Arakawa, the mind behind Fullmetal Alchemist, the series is unexpected but retains her usual level of polish. Easily one of the most accessible anime out there, Silver Spoon is well worth a watch.

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Apple Music and the Future of Anime Streaming

Sam

For someone with so little musical talent, I have a large affection for music. I’ve done piano on and off for over 10 years, and while I should be an advanced level player, general laziness has relegated me to the intermediate level for a long time. Or at least, I think it has. I tend to just pick up pieces and figure them out, but that in and of itself shows the power that music has over me. It’s no wonder that most of the space on my iPhone is consumed by music of all genres, ranging from hip-hop and R&B to instrumental and EDM. As a firm believer in the superiority of Apple mobile devices (when it comes to desktops I’m a PC fanboy), I’ve loved the accessibility that iTunes has given me to all of my favorite music. Apple Music in particular has been an interesting beast to tackle.

apple music and the future of anime streaming

For a monthly price of $9.99, Apple Music grants its users access to the entire iTunes music library, whenever they want to. Users can stream music whenever they want to from Apple Music, and even download songs onto their device of choice. This type of versatility is one that is employed by services like Spotify, but I tend to trust sources like Apple Music more simply because I feel that it has more credibility. Despite your feelings about either service, I do feel that the platform that Apple Music and Spotify employ is one that anime streaming sites should take advantage of. The mobile market is growing at a fast rate, increasing the amount of time and money that people put into their mobile devices. Most (legal) anime streaming services do offer apps that will allow you to stream onto your device, but they tend to lack key elements that both Spotify and Apple Music have included into their services.

 

apple music and the future of anime streaming - crunchyroll

– Easy to Use Interface –

One of the most important features of a music streaming service is ease of access. How easily can users find and listen to the music that they like? This is a high priority on the desktop versions, and more so on the mobile platforms given that most users are on the move when using the service. Apple Music and Spotify both have fairly intuitive interfaces on their mobile platforms, but anime streaming services have had some notable struggles. Funimation in particular had a very clunky app until as recently as spring of 2016, and while Crunchyroll and Daisuki each have easy to use interfaces, I do believe that they could all take inspiration from the clean look of Apple Music and the way that Spotify organizes its information. The option to search by voice actor, studio, or origin (manga, visual novel, original story) should be a standard for all anime streaming services, as well as auto-generated suggestions based on ones’ watch history. In fact, watch history is a simple and somewhat intuitive service that I’ve wanted from both Crunchyroll and Daisuki for a long time, and yet it’s still absent.

 

– In-App Social Features –

One area where Spotify shines over Apple Music is in the area of social features. Spotify allows users to share playlists, recommend songs, and even has a limited chat feature when sharing music. Apple Music, on the other hand, is more focused on uniting artists and fans. Apple’s Connect feature allows users to see upcoming music videos, backstage photos, and even the ability to share songs and messages from the artists they follow – who can in turn reply to if they so wish. Unfortunately, social features are pretty much completely absent in most anime streaming apps. While full sites like Funimation and Crunchyroll do offer extensive forums and reviews on their full sites, their mobile platforms lack any type of social interaction. A Friend List system could go a long way in helping users connect and see what others are watching, and user-created “playlists” of anime could do a lot to increase overall watch time and foster a growing community of users.

 

apple music and the future of anime streaming - spotify

 

– Offline Watching –

Both Spotify Premium and Apple Music allow users to download music onto their own devices, allowing playback of favorites even when not connected to wifi or cellular data. It’s a feature that’s incredibly useful, allowing the user to download new artists on a trial basis or allowing them to collect music from their favorite artists that they might not already own. This is the type of feature that would come in handy for mobile users, especially for reviewers, as it would make both checking back on completed shows and keeping up with simulcasts a lot easier. Even being allowed to download only a specific amount of episodes of a show (perhaps relative to your storage size) would be a simple way to keep viewers coming back to the service.

 

– Family Sharing –

One of my favorite features in both Apple Music and Spotify Premium is Family Sharing. For $14.99 per month, up to 8 users on Spotify and 10 users on Apple Music can all share the same music library and streaming privileges. It’s an extremely convenient way to share music with people close to you, and it saves me the trouble of telling my close friends/family about a song when all I have to do is tell them to download it from my Recent Purchases list. I’ve often wondered why this type of service hasn’t been implemented by anime streaming services, as it would allow for a high yield of return among viewers for a somewhat low cost of entry. Some video streaming services like Amazon Instant Video do something similar, but most “account-sharing” is really just sharing passwords, which most companies try to discourage. Allowing users to share their premium status with other users for a slightly elevated price would give more users the flexibility to enjoy more anime, and increase the use of legal sources for anime streaming.

 

Are anime streaming services going to change just because I made a nicely notated, well-written list? No. Anime streaming services are often somewhat slow to change or introduce new features, but I do hope that I’ve at least helped to point out some shortcomings in the systems that we currently have. Streaming in general is a form of media consumption that is still in its adolescent stages; the successful streaming platforms know what the consumers want and learn to integrate and streamline the processes that take place within their services. Here’s hoping that anime streaming learns the same.

 

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Anime Themed Study Music: Motivational

Sam

As necessary as school (apparently) is, we can all agree that sometimes it can be a real drag. After slogging through your fifth essay or your 50th algebra problem, time seems like an elusive foe, and homework becomes an all-consuming monster bent on your mental destruction. To combat that, here are 15 anime themed ost that are guaranteed to pump you up and get you motivated to tackle your workload!

 

Guren no Yumiya: Attack on Titan OP 1

Attack on Titan seems to be a hit-or-miss anime for most people, but I think we all can agree that it has some amazing theme songs. From my first listen up until now, Guren no Yumiya never fails to get me pumped! 

Ignite: Sword Art Online II OP 1

I felt that Sword Art Online II was a big step up for the series in many ways, and the new OP perfectly captures that. Eir Aoi brings her powerful vocals into a song that’ll keep you going even during that grueling track meet or basketball practice.

ReDo: ReZero OP 1

One of my favorites entries in the Spring 2016 anime season, Re:Zero surpassed my expectations in a lot of ways. It’s the kind of song that’ll motivate you to take a journey of your own. 

Clattanoia: Overlord OP

For a somewhat lesser known anime, Overlord definitely knows how to set the tone with its OP. The relentless rock provides the perfect backdrop to whatever project you’re working on. Except maybe orchestra class. 

Hey Kids!!: Noragami Aragato OP

This upbeat track feels like something that a fun-loving god of war might compose. Something that Yato can relate to, I’m sure. Pulsing excitement tinged with a crazy circus vibe, this OP is audible caffeine for those long essay-writing sessions. 

Cerulean: Gundam Build Fighters Try OP 1

Gundam Build Fighters Try is a series built around hard work and passion; appropriately, the OP is amazingly motivational. This song especially helps focus me for long periods of tedious homework. 

black bullet: Black Bullet OP

Despite having taken the name of this OP from their Department of Redundancy Department, black bullet is quite the OP. Tinged with hope and determination, it’s perfect for whatever type of study you’re doing.

COOLEST!: Sakamoto Desu Ga OP

My favorite comedy of Spring 2016, the OP for Sakamoto Desu Ga is the perfect anthem to start your day off right! Who knows, maybe you’ll be as cool as Sakamoto this year? no you won’t…

The Day: My Hero Academia OP

My Hero Academia feels very inspired by Saturday-morning cartoons. Fittingly, the OP is just the right mix of spicy rock and vocals to give that feeling of awesomeness you experienced as a kid. Good for long hikes or jogs. All-Might approved.

Flyers: Death Parade OP

For an anime so occupied with death, Death Parade has one of the most swinging OP’s I’ve ever heard. More party than anthem, it’ll get you up and moving even at your desk. Just try to keep it lowkey.

Headhunt: Durarara x2 Shou OP

Durarara!! had a lot of theme songs, but I have to say that this one excited me the most. It’s mellow rock and escalating themes really pull you into it, and it has a hip-swinging charm to it that does just enough to bring a smile to a tired face.

Raise Your Flag: Gundam Iron-Blooded Orphans OP

As far as anime anthems go, Raise Your Flag has to be my favorite. From the rising intro to the pulsing guitar and drums, it hits all the right notes to get you into action.

Hard Knock Days: One Piece OP 18 OP

As someone who stays away from One Piece due to the length, even I have to agree that this OP is really motivating. You can feel the shounen influence very strongly in this song, but that just makes it more fun to listen to.

ZERO!!: The Devil is a Part-Timer!! OP

Since The Devil is a Part-Timer!! is an anime that mashes up fantasy and modern slice-of-life, the OP faithfully reflects that in its otherworldly feel combined with its poppy backbeat. It’s the type of cheery song that’ll pick you up after that post-homework nap.

Skyreach: Akame Ga Kill OP 1

What does an epic fantasy anime need? An epic OP. That’s exactly what this OP is. A driving guitar, pounding drums, and a powerful vocalist keep this song going, and it’ll be sure to keep you going throughout the semester.

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Anime-Flavored Study Music: Relaxation

Sam

All good things must come to an end, and so seems to be the case with summer. August is finally upon us, and with it’s dawn comes the beginning of the end of summer vacations and week-long anime binges. The responsibilities of school are creeping up ever so quickly, but don’t let that get you down. As the school year sets in, here’s a quick playlist of 15 relaxing anime theme songs to help keep you sane as you study. 🙂 

Aoi Shiori: Anohana OP

 

As someone who absolutely loved the melancholy slice-of-life Anohana, this beautiful summer song perfectly captures the bittersweet feeling of the series, while providing a nice acoustic escape from your everyday stress.  

Tabi no Tochuu: Spice and Wolf OP

I will admit: I haven’t seen a lot of Spice & Wolf. From what I have seen, though, it seems like it’s a rustic, calm take on the fantasy genre; this OP pulls out the essence of the feeling the anime was trying to convey in it’s sweet, melancholic tones. 

Brave Song: Angel Beats ED

Angel Beats was one of the first anime I really got into, and I remember skipping past this ED most of the time in order to get to the next episode. The soft singing along the piano and strings really lends the song an air of comfort and rest, fitting with the afterlife theme of the anime. 

Dango Daikazogu: Clannad ED 1

I have two things to say about this song. One, I still have not seen Clannad yet: I’m waiting for a good time to sit down and truly experience it. Please don’t kill me. Two, this song is as cute as it is utterly relaxing. It feels like a mix of lullaby and nursery rhyme, and I can see myself singing this to my future children. 

Bokura no Ashiato: Black Rock Shooter ED

Black Rock Shooter is an anime that proves good things can come in small packages. As short as the series was, it’s ED is even shorter, but it still manages to capture the emotional essence of the series. 

Innocence: Barakamon ED

Barakamon is definitely a summer anime. From the island setting to the plot, the contrasts of sunny and stormy that characterize summer are evident within the series. This ED captures the child-like joy and peaceful innocence that the series encompasses so well. 

Orphans Namida: Gundam Iron-Blooded Orphans ED

With a powerful entrance and moving jazz, Orphans Namida is the kind of song I lose myself in. It always formed a nice climax to the episodes of Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, and it has just enough emotion and instrumentation to feel epic, yet soothing. 

High High High: Usagi Drop ED

Usagi Drop is a cute slice-of-life. High High High is a cute ED. What else can be said? 

Uchiyoserareta Bōkyaku no Zankyō ni: Beautiful Bones ED

Beautiful Bones definitely surprised me last year, and the haunting-yet-chill quality of its ED did as well. I can see myself sitting back with a cup of tea, looking out of a window while listening to this song.  

Asayake no Starmine: Plastic Memories ED

As far as fun romances go, Plastic Memories is definitely one of my favorites. The joyful journey of courtship is reflected in the happy tones of this song; while more upbeat, it does just enough to be calming at the same time.

Utsukushiki Zankoku na Sekai: Attack on Titan ED 1

Whether you love or hate Attack on Titan, its music definitely fits each mood like a glove. A take on modern classical, the ED progresses from minimal to powerful. It’s the type of song that ends out your day. 

Hoshi yori Saki ni Mitsukete Ageru: One-Punch Man ED

What’s the best way to contrast the strongest man alive? An ED that’s quite soft and delicate, with a hit of melancholy. 

Shiritaku Nakatta: Akame ga Kill ED 1

Like the anime it ends, Shiritaku Nakkatta knows exactly what it wants you to feel, and it flows accordingly. It’s sad overtones intertwine with the introduction of each instrument perfectly, and once it hits you’ll feel this song for a while. 

Yake Ochinai Tsubasa: Charlotte ED

A nice, more hopeful ED, Yake Ochinai Tsubasa both calms and points towards the future. It’s just the kind of song you listen to after a long day. 

Friends: Gundam 00 ED 2

Wrapping up with a personal favorite of mine, Friends invokes the fun and frienship of summer. From the guitar to the vocals, its potential to relax might depend on you, but for me it prompts me to relax and think on old memories of time spent with loved ones. 

 

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