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So, yeah… no challenges from the readers. I got a couple of suggestions for posts, but they were more like research assignments than challenges. As such, I’m not entirely sure what to post about this week. Well, random anime rambling GO.

So, I’ve been watching a lot of Ao no Exorcist. I’m enjoying it. Fairly standard stuff, but entertaining to watch. It hasn’t gotten all shonen-pretentious on me… if anything, it is taking itself less seriously as time goes on, though that could just be the filler talking. I’m interested to see what will happen when the plot eventually kicks in, right now they’ve taken the first season or so establishing characters. I’m fine with that, though, nothing better than well-developed characters, be it for romance, death, pain, tragedy or comedy. Now that I have a sense of who these people are, maybe I’ll care about them. That being said… I don’t have a sense of who some of these people are. FREAKING HELL, PUPPET GUY AND GAMER HOODIE! When will you background fellas gain relevance?!

I’ve also been trying new abridged anime. While Team Fourstar’s Dragonball Z Abridged and LittleKuriboh’s Yu-gi-oh! and Naruto Abridged are still just the absolute BEST, I thought this one deserved some praise. Code MENT, an abridged version of Code Geass, is actually pretty funny. The first episode has a few problems, but for the most part it does a great job in pointing out the MASSIVE plot-holes and problems with the original version. The second episode is great stuff, the forced exposition started raising my warning flags in the actual anime… but in the abridged version, it almost comes off as a joke. If I hadn’t watched the actual show, I’d swear he was making this stuff up. While I’d never recommend Code Geass to any living being, Code MENT is decent. It isn’t Yugioh abridged… but it is decent.

I’ve recently started reading the History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi manga, trying to catch up to where the anime left off and see what happens after. If you haven’t seen Kenichi yet, I’d recommend it highly. It has a very interesting dynamic that is pretty unique in the shonen fighting-anime world. Most battle anime focus on the fighting and, whenever training comes up, they show the beginning of the training and then montage or skip to the end. Kenichi, on the other hand, seems to focus mostly on the training. The main character grows in strength because he puts in hours and hours of hard work and determination. Because of this, the fights generally tend to be rather short. It makes his accomplishments actually feel more… accomplished! In a normal shonen show, when the main character has off-screen training, we need the upcoming battle to prove to us that he has gotten stronger… but, since we didn’t really use the training time to establish dramatic tension, that requires him getting his butt kicked for the first half of the fight before unleashing his “new technique”. Kenichi, on the other hand, will unleash that new technique first thing out of the gate. Bam. This is what I learned in school today. It is like he doesn’t WANT to be beaten near-to-death to have his power level go up!

Imagine that.

So, yeah. Nothing major going on in the anime department right now… OH, by the way:

I picked up Legend of Mana on the playstation network today. If you haven’t ever played this game, let me tell you, it is beautiful, wonderful and sad. It is a great example of a RPG that does its storytelling through tiny insights rather than massive exposition. There are some seriously iconic music tracks that took me back the moment I heard them, gameplay is fun and engaging, everything is beautiful, and there is serious DEPTH in the crafting, pet raising and fruit growing. If you haven’t tried this one, or if you fear scratching your black-label version, pick up a copy on the PSN for six bucks. I guarantee quality.

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Okay, so a while back, when I was talking about new anime of the season, I briefly touched on Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko. I gave it kind of a wishy-washy “well, watch it if you want to, I mean I’m not going to force you or anything, I’m not an anime cop, I’m barely an anime critic” kind of review. Okay, forget that. Tear it up, toss it to the wind, read what I am writing now.

You will watch this anime and you will like it or, so help me, I will use more bold text on this website.


Yeah, really!

You know how a lot of slice of life anime sell themselves on being believable stories about average folk? Well this one is a interesting story about not-so average folk. It actually is very charming once you get past the first couple of episodes. I was having trouble following it, originally, but around episode 4 or 5, it really kicked into gear. They got some more characters out there, branching away from Erio the crazy futon girl. After a while, I found myself rooting for a romance in a harem anime that didn’t try to sell itself solely on harem-value. I found myself really adoring the little hangups the different characters had. After all what person doesn’t have a quirk or two, right?

Let us take, for instance, the main character. I hadn’t really gotten much chance to really know him in the first couple of episodes. I slated him as a sort of bland everyman boring main character. That is only partly true, however. He IS a everyman maincharacter, that helps foil his crazy cousin in the first couple of episodes… but this man isn’t boring or bland. Frankly, the dude is downright awesome. Did you like Kyon in Haruhi? (Rhetorical question. Of course you did.) Well, this guy is a similar sort of fellow. He reacts as sanely as any pubescent Japanese boy would in an odd situation. The best part, though, is that he really doesn’t want odd situations. He wants a standard, happy, youth that he can fondly look back on without too many awkward memories. As such, he has invented a series of Puberty Points he can assign to various happenings based on how ideal or positive they are for his happy youth. Talk to a cute classmate girl? +1 point. Get embarrassed in front of the girl you like? -2 points. At the end of every episode, his points get totaled up and we get read his current running total. If someone is really loved by the gods, they can accumulate 20 points in the 3 years of high school. With this, you can see just how important a healthy and youthful high school life is to him.

So far, it is actually one of the anime I’m following closest this season. That is odd, considering I’d given up on it only weeks ago! Do you know what brought me back? The DARN CATCHY INTRO MUSIC. I got the opening theme song stuck in my head because it is so awesome… and I just had to come back for another episode. I mean, if I’m watching the opening sequence, I might as well watch the next bit of story, right? It is only fair to the people who worked so hard on the opening sequence, after all… and bit by bit, I found myself growing enthralled. So, where I previously encouraged you to try it and see if you liked it, I now encourage you to try it UNTIL you like it. I’m sorry, I should have told you earlier.

Now, dear readers, I have a bold and daring announcement! I was looking through my older posts the other day, checking to see what youtube clips were still alive, when I noticed something. Two of my favorite articles were based on reader questions or reader challenges! I’m talking about the ever-popular Tom’s Anime Harem: The Top 5 Females and Tom’s RPG Party. Both of those articles came out of an interaction with a fellow anime fan. As such, I would like you, the readers, to ask me a question or give me a challenge. Anything. Ask me my favorites, my least favorites, who I would pair with who, what I would verb with noun! Bring it on, community, send me the thing that I hadn’t thought of that gets me thinking! Think you can do it? I know you can!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I return. I write this entry fresh back from A-Kon 22, in Dallas, Texas. As always, it was packed full of anime lovers of all sorts. Cosplayers, crossdressers, freaks, geeks, sneaks, vocaloids that gnaw on leeks, pugs, mugs, bugs, lugs, and a few normal folk thrown in for good measure. As always, the crowd at A-Kon is a wonder to behold. The great thing is that, in any given room, you are not the weirdest person there. There is a wonderful feeling of acceptance I always enjoy at conventions. There is a brotherhood of men, like-minded individuals that accept your eccentricity.

As far as A-kon observations go, one thing struck me about this year’s convention when I compare it with previous years. There wasn’t that anime this year. In previous years, there has often been a singular anime that dominated the collective consciousness. There were floods of Code Geass lovers last con, Death Note lovers before them, and so on. This year, I was greeted by a modest sampling of Panty and Stocking cosplayers, but not really on the same scale. Perhaps this is some sort of reflection of the anime of last season? The One Piece and Bleach cosplayers continue unabated, but there isn’t really an outpouring of new costumes for this last season. It makes me wonder if there will be a big hit anime before next A-Kon that will cause another cosplay frenzy.

Though, shifting topic slightly, one thing I always enjoy every year is seeing what non-anime things are popular amongst the community. Do you know what I found massive love for this year? My Little Pony. I mean, I’ve seen My Little Pony fan-stuff before, cards with pictures of a Jack Sparrow pony… or a Sephiroth pegasus… that sort of deal, but not in any large numbers. This year, however, there was a great deal of grassroots support for My Little Pony, thanks almost entirely to the amazing show reboot My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

I know what some of you are thinking. “Really, Tom? You come back from A-Kon and all you want to talk about is My Little Pony?!” Let me assure you, this show is serious business. I had several pony-based conversations with many different folk at the convention. I heard large groups of people singing the theme song multiple times. I saw pony cosplayers… thankfully none in freaky fursuits, just sweatpants and accessories, but the point is that they were present… and I got to thinking that that might mean something. The show itself is wonderful. You should watch it, regardless of age or gender, as it is one of those marvelous shows that has multiple-level writing with classic, timeless values attached. The entire series can be viewed for free on YouTube, so you really have no excuse on this one. Here, watch the first episode. I will wait.

Welcome back. It has been 5 hours! How many episodes did you watch?! Seriously though, I first watched the series as a joke with a friend… then secretly, as a clandestine pleasure… then openly with peers. Now, I’m blogging about it. Internet, I love this show and I’m not alone. This stuff is spreading like some sort of pony-based wildfire. Tell your friends: Ponies are serious business, even at anime conventions.