Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Golden Time (Gōruden Taimu)

Not to be confused with the Korean medical drama of the same English name, Golden Time is a 24 episode rom-com brought to us from the same studio (J.C. Staff) that gave us Toradora! (here) and Ano Natsu de Matteru (here). Both of those shows you can find reviews of on this blog and I've even provided links to those reviews for you to peruse because I'm just such a great guy.

Golden Time actually just finished up its run on Thursday and I meant to post a review sooner, but work got in the way and I just found myself without the energy to wake up that extra bit earlier to do some reviewing. Hell, I still got some managerial testing to take just to get certified. Stress, stress, stress, etc.

Thank God for anime. That's about all I can say. Some people consume copious amounts of alcohol or drugs and destroy their bodies to cope with stress. I watch Japanese cartoons. Yet I'm the weirdo. Go figure that one. 

Generally speaking, I'm not a big fan of supernatural romance stuff. I'm not saying I couldn't watch the stuff or couldn't find redeeming qualities in such works, but I prefer my ghosts to actually do scary and badass shit. However, I am beginning to change my mind little by little. After watching Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day (here), I started thinking that ghost characters can be used in way a that furthers the story while strengthening the emotional impact.

Of course, Anohana was a drama whore and ignored some basic common sense ideas. I mean, if you see a ghost and others can't then why not ask the ghost if they can confirm their existence by picking up a pen or something. That didn't happen until way late into Anohana and I just can't get over that flaw in storytelling.

H2O: Footprints in the Sand (here) had a ghost, too. That ghost was just kind of a side character, though. Important at the end, sure, but until then she was just a seemingly goofy ghost.

Golden Time is a bit different from either of those in that the ghost is actually the main character. Sort of. The ghost is actually the "past self" of the main character Tada Banri. I'm not talking about reincarnation, either. I'm talking about memory loss.

Confused yet? Well, give me a second.

We start out with Tada Banri making his glorious debut at a private Tokyo law school. While losing his way and becoming overwhelmed by the fervent students there trying to recruit some of the new blood for their school clubs, Banri runs into Yanagisawa Mitsuo and his creepy stalker friend Kaga Koko.

Banri and Koko will fall in love and become a couple according to what is shown on the opening credits, but for the moment Koko is obsessed with following around Mitsuo. Even going so far as to enroll into the same law school as him. I mean, who enrolls at law school for love? Answer: A crazy bitch.

You are going to hate Koko at first. I did. Don't throw in the towel just because you don't like her at first, though. Yeah, she's definitely creepy at first and seems like the type who would go all Fatal Attraction on your ass, but her character does pull a surprising turnaround as the series progresses.

In fact, you'll soon realize that maybe it is Banri who is the most screwed up character. When Banri was eighteen years old he got into an accident and wound up getting his ass thrown off a bridge. Unfortunately, it's never told who tried to run him over. I would have liked for it to be Mitsuo or Linda, but I guess that is just wishful thinking on my part. If there's one thing I hate it is underutilized plot developments. 

As it is, the whole accident just serves as the beginning of the drama that is about to take place. Banri's fall causes him to lose all of his memories prior to his fall. At least that is what he believes. His memories have actually taken the form of a mopey ghost that stands by silently and watches as the new Banri completely forgets about the love he had for Linda.

Gradually the ghost becomes a bit vengeful and things come to a head when the new Banri begins falling in love with Koko the crazy bitch. To be fair, I'd've been pissed, too. I didn't like Ghost Banri at all, but I understood where he was coming from. Linda was a legitimately nice character and I felt like she never received any closure. Not even at the end of the series when all was said and done. Yeah, I guess you could say I was hoping for Linda X Banri instead of Koko X Banri. Of course, I knew how it was going to turn out anyway. Just like with Toradora!. The opening credits never lie.

The reason Banri was standing in the middle of a bridge like an idiot on the night of his accident was because he was waiting for Linda to give a response to his confession of love. She didn't make it in time, though. 

Naturally, Banri got his ass ran over and forgot everything. Let that be a message to women everywhere on why it is important to be on time and a message to men everywhere on why it is important to not stand in the middle of a bridge. 

It isn't until Banri's move to the Tokyo law school that he runs into Linda again... although Linda pretends to never have met him before at first. I guess you can say she was trying to make his transition into his new life easier, but in the long run in seemed to have the reverse effect.

In fact, just about all of the women in Golden Time seemed to want to make Banri as mentally unstable as humanly possible and at one point I wouldn't have been surprised if Banri went on a killing spree Columbine-style.

Had these characters just been honest about their feelings from the get-go then none of this shit would have happened. Of course, that'd make for a rather pointless show, too. So on with the drama. 

Ghost Banri certainly does his part. When he's not trying to reclaim his life by making new Banri forget all about Koko and everything else post-accident he's trying to make new Banri's life as shitty as possible by placing curses on him. Not exactly the definition of being good to yourself, is it? 

During the final few episodes this anime enters a bit of a dark (and sometimes over-dramatic stretch) that made me wonder how everything would be resolved in the final episode. I don't know about you, but I hate when endings are rushed and I certainly thought that there was a strong possibility for that to happen with episode 24. 

And it did happen. 

I'm not saying the final episode is bad, but I thought that the pacing could have benefitted from dividing that material into two separate episodes. Toradora! literally used every second of its final episode to the fullest, but that wasn't the case here. Yes, a lot happened in the final episode of Golden Time, but it didn't quite resolve the storyline as good as it could have done. 

I think my two biggest gripes both concern Linda. The first one being when Linda goes up and hugs Ghost Banri and tells him his long-awaited answer. Yeah, it was an emotional moment, but it was also a moment that made no fucking sense whatsoever. It was never established before that anyone could see Ghost Banri or even touch him. Yes, Ghost Banri did manage to have some communication with Linda while new Banri was asleep earlier in the series, but that's different. Since when could Ghost Banri make physical contact with other characters? Hell, if he could have done that from the beginning then this entire series would have been a bit pointless. Much like Anohana, it just seems like drama for the sake of drama. Tastefully presented and competently animated, but poorly written. Perhaps that scene made more sense in the light novel. I'm sure it did.

My second biggest gripe has to do with Linda's acknowledgement of Mitsuo's feelings at the very end. To be fair, I thought Mitsuo had been given the short end of the stick all series. First he gets stalked by Koko, then he gets dumped by Oka Chinami, and finally the girl he starts liking later on (Linda, in other words) ends up having some unresolved feeling for his best friend Banri. Mitsuo didn't get a break during much of the series. 

Yet I still feel that the scene between Linda and Mitsuo was just a little bit out of place. Yeah, I was pro Linda X Banri, but I like endings that are well-done and fully-fleshed out, too. It doesn't have to turn out the way I want, but it needs to happen at a good pace to fully resolve the story the way it needs to be done. 

To me, those things just felt a bit off within the confines of that particular episode. After all the drama of the last few episodes this final episode just felt too easy. Yeah, it ended the way it should have, but it also copped out a little bit by not taking just a bit more time to get there. 

Still, I really enjoyed this series a lot. I looked forward to watching this anime every Thursday and even with all of my gripes taken into consideration I still say this is a really good anime worth watching at least once. It was good enough for me to binge watch the first twenty episodes in three days, anyway. Waiting four weeks for those final four episode was brutal. 

I suppose that I'll give this show a Catalog of Greatness approval rating despite its flaws because if not for watching Toradora! during the same time period I probably wouldn't have sounded so critical of this anime.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Attack On Titan Vol. 8 by Isayama Hajime

I'm getting more stoked about the release of the dub by the minute. June 3rd can't get here soon enough. Still, I'm still not sure how I feel about Bryce Papenbrook being Eren yet. I am not too familiar with that guy and I haven't watched a dub in quite a while. Maybe he's a more recent name and I just haven't heard of him. What I've heard on the trailer isn't all that reassuring to me, but I'm willing to give the dub a shot anyway. 

Although with both Eren and Levi's English voices sounding off to me I'm not sure how good this dub will be. Funimation is pimping the shit out of their release, though. You'd think it was the Super Bowl (and considering that the most recent Super Bowl was an overhyped and brutal slaughter then that comparison could be quite apt). It looks like it will be a competent dub with most of the other actors, though. 

Why am I talking about anime right now when I should be talking manga? Well, volume eight is an important issue if you are familiar with the anime. That and I'm just brimming with fanboy excitement.

This is where the anime left off, folks. Everything after this is all new material. So you have to decide if you want to forge ahead in the manga or wait it out until the second season of the anime gets made. It's all about how you want this new material to be delivered to you. Read it or wait to watch it. Your choice. 

In this issue you discover that Annie Leonhart is the Female Titan. Right off the bat this issue begins with the Survey Corps's quest to capture Annie even though they aren't 100% sure that she is actually the Female Titan. I guess they might have bought Annie some beer and some new 3D Maneuvering Gear or something to make up for trying to capture her had their assumptions been wrong. They weren't wrong, though. Awkward apology situation successfully avoided. 

The only problem is that that Annie is inside of the Stohess District, an area on the eastern edge of the inner Wall Sina. Going after her recklessly could cause a slaughter of civilians and soldiers who have never even seen a titan with their own eyes. If Annie is in fact the Female Titan and chooses to resist then it will be up to Eren to take her down. 

Yeah, this is set up for Eren Vs. Female Titan Part Two and, boy oh boy, is Part Two a goodie. 

One thing I noticed was how Annie smiled before she became a titan in the manga, but she let out a bizarre laugh in the anime. I'm not sure how many people would notice those touches (well, I know quite a few would if they are like me), but how many would care? I don't know, really. I like both versions, though. 

It also took Eren quite a bit longer to transform into titan mode in the anime. In the manga it wasn't anywhere near that long of a wait. As soon as Mikasa and Armin decided to act as bait Eren immediately went into titan mode in the manga, but in the anime everyone was almost on the brink of death before Eren transformed. The latter was certainly more epic and badass (I remember getting chills watching), but the manga felt better pacing-wise.

Unfortunately, Eren and Annie don't duke it out for very long before Annie makes a run for Wall Sina. 

If you've seen the anime then you know what happens next. Sort of. 

Mikasa prevents titan-mode Annie from making it to the top of the wall by cutting off the tips of her fingers and Annie falls into Eren's clutches. Talk about falling for someone after being dumped, right? All the while Annie is having flashbacks about her father and something odd he told her. I'm sure this has something to do with her actions of today, but it's all too cryptic to really tell at this point. Nothing that really screams "MOTIVE" just yet. 

Annie's real body gets captured but she hardens her real body in an unbreakable crystal substance to put herself out of reach of an interrogation. 

Meanwhile, Mikasa is hanging from the wall when some rubble starts to fall. 

Now this is where some mouths definitely dropped. 

There's a titan inside the wall and Mikasa can see it plain as day. The eye of the titan even moves to look at her. Cue Frankenstein quote: "It's alive!"

The anime did this a lot differently. In the anime the rubble covering the titan didn't fall until everyone else was long gone. That was the very last thing that happened in the anime and no one saw it. I'm sure someone will see it once the anime resumes and things will play out in a similar manner after that, but until then it makes me wonder how much of a different route the anime will really take. This is a fairly important difference, after all. 

Anime-wise, it was a great fucking cliffhanger.

Chapter 34 is basically new material. This is what you want to avoid if you want to wait for the anime to resume. 

Hange Zoe grabs Pastor Nick by the collar and demands to know what is going on with the wall, going so far as to dangle him over Wall Sina and threaten to let him fall off. Pastor Nick leads a group of religious nuts that believes the walls are gods that should never be tampered with. Even making improvements to the walls is considered a sin to them. Zoe thinks that their protestations might really have something to do with the wall titan and that leads her to the conclusion that the walls themselves might actually be made from titans. 

Holy. Fuck. 

At the end of this shocking volume Commander Erwin is sitting down with some head honchos and listening to them rave about how foolhardy it was to start a titan fight in the middle of Stohess District, someone barges in and announces that Wall Rose has been breached and that titans are on the attack inside of the walls. 

I don't know if I want to read volume nine right now or not. If eight volumes make a season and the manga will soon be on volume thirteen then I've got to assume that the second season won't start getting made until the series reaches volume sixteen or ends. Whichever happens first. That could be a long and agonizing wait. 

Where the hell is that anime???


So you want to go on a feels trip, huh? I understand your desire. Sometimes a man just needs to sit down and watch a good rom-com. Call it a break from all the endless action and sports anime we normally watch. I for one like a good romance anime as a way to take a break from the shounen-fest I am currently involved in. And if you think there aren't any fights in a romance anime then you are wrong as can be. Sometimes the best fights happen in rom-coms. Trust me. 

Toradora! is a modern day classic of the rom-com genre. Perhaps what makes it so is that you have the knowledge of knowing exactly how everything will end from the very beginning. I think that's an important ingredient in a lot of romance shows. It sounds like a serious cop-out (and it is if you choose to look at it that way), but just think about it for a moment.

Think about every romance anime or movie you've ever seen. You know why Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are on the movie poster for Sleepless in Seattle? Because they are the main characters who will fall in love. That's why. I mean, it's not like Bill Pullman was the main star anyway. You just know Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan will end up together. The main questions are how and when. 

That's what basically all romance and rom-coms are about. Telling how and when. Why is obvious. Why is because the main characters are in love. Duh. 

Although there a few out there that don't end the way I just mentioned. White Album and White Album 2 are good examples. So is School Days. Hell, even Tenchi Muyo! would fit the bill although I don't call that a romance (although the more inferior of the series Tenchi in Tokyo comes close to being a romance). These shows don't really commit to a relationship ending.

There's nothing wrong with that, either. I like a show that doesn't give you everything you think you want every now and then. Sometimes no real resolution can be a good thing. 

But if you want a dependable romance. A show where you know what is ultimately going to happen then look no further than Toradora!

Our main male protagonist is Takasu Ryuuji and he is just your typical seventeen year old student. All of the other students are afraid of him because of his sanpaku eyes. They apparently make him look like a bully even though he really isn't one. Ryuuji lives with his mom in a little house right next to a tall apartment building. This causes their house to have a lack of sunlight and this increases mold growth. Ryuuji doesn't like mold. He doesn't like dirty or unneat things at all. Just seeing a sock by itself will freak him out. 

None of this has jack to do with the actual story but it's kinda funny. 

Living in the apartment room right next to the Takasu household in Aisaka Taiga. If you've ever needed confirmation that all short people are indeed evil (and flat-chested) then look no further. Taiga is known as the Palmtop Tiger because of her size and because of the way she snaps at other people. She lives by herself in the apartment room, but she doesn't really know how to take care of herself. Unlike Ryuuji, who grew up to become self-sufficient. 

What we have here are the two biggest misfits in the school living right next to each other. Perhaps it seems like a match made in heaven (or hell), but they both happen to like two of the most popular and upright students in the whole school. Might as well aim for the sun, right?

Ryuuji likes Kushieda Minori, a girl who plays softball. Red flag, Ryuuji. Minorin is also a good friend of Taiga. Another red flag, Ryuuji. Poor guy is doomed. 

Taiga likes the vice president of the student council and captain of the boy's softball team Kitamura Yuusaku, but Yuusaku doesn't seem to like her back... anymore. Taiga has never known how to deal with affection and praise so back when Yuusaku actually confessed his feelings for her she shot him down. Now Taiga regrets doing so, but doesn't know how to make up for it. Or if she could.

So Ryuuji and Taiga do the only thing that they can do in their situations. They team up and plot together how to win their respective crushes over. This requires spending a lot of time together and along the way Ryuuji and Taiga actually start doing some bonding. Hell, even Taiga and Ryuuji's parakeet Inko-chan get to know each other. The two of them spend so much time together that rumors start circulating about them being a couple (Ryuuji and Taiga, not Taiga and Inko-chan).  

Are these rumors accurate, though? 

As far as male protagonists go, Ryuuji is typically dense. Nothing new there.

The only two that seem to have a good idea about what is really going on between everyone are Kawashima Ami and Kitamura Yuusaku. More so Ami, though. 

Ami gets introduced in episode five and she is the one of the few characters that doesn't seem like an idiot. She's tough to like at first, though. In fact, you'll probably hate her in the beginning like I did. But she soon becomes a dark horse in the race to win Ryuuji's affections, giving both Minori and Taiga a run for their money. I'd dare say that without Ami's efforts this anime would never have ended on a satisfactory note (depending on who you were rooting for, anyway) or possibly at all.

One thing that makes this show as popular as it is are the fights. No, this isn't an action anime in disguise. There are just two important fight scenes, though. One of them in particular is badass beyond just about all things badass. You'll know it when you see it. I'm not saying you should watch the anime because of the fights because there are only two and they are short ones at that, but they are satisfying in their own right. Afterwards you'll think that more teenage girls need to settle their differences with other teenage girls using fists and wooden swords.

I think I've just about covered everything I've wanted to say with the exception of two things. I wouldn't call these two things complaints because they are not, but they are "almost" complaints.

During the intervention scene in episode 23 Taiga is essentially bullied by Ami, Yuusaku, and Minori into admitting her feelings for Ryuuji in front of him. They basically lock her in the classroom with them and won't let her leave until they are satisfied that Ryuuji is determined enough to chase after her. Think The Quiet Man with more feels. Don't get me wrong, it's a beautiful scene and an emotionally rewarding one, but I can't help but think that maybe things could have been done a bit less brutally.

My next "almost" complaint is the ending. Just for a little bit I thought I was going to be pissed the fuck off. If you are the type that skips ending credits or will "rage quit" a final episode then I strongly suggest you don't do either. Watch all the way until the end of episode 25. Watch until the very last second. That's the difference between smiling and going out on a multi-state killing spree.

I recommend this series wholeheartedly. I won't say it breaks the mold, but it does what it does so well and it deserves to be watched. All of the characters are likeable. Kinda stupid sometimes, but likeable. Sure, both Minori and Yuusaku could have benefitted from a bit more characterization, but other than that I have no complaints. You can certainly debate about who Ryuuji chooses (not that you will be surprised since you'll know all along), but in the end we all end up the winners for watching this anime.

It's a good one. Especially for Christmas time or Valentine's Day.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Recently, My Sister is Unusual (Saikin, Imōto no Yōsu ga Chotto Okashiin Da Ga.)

There are times where I wish that I didn't like blogging so much about things I like. I mean, I believe in full disclosure and in giving an accurate depiction about how I feel about a given series (or whatever). So I'm going to blog, damn it. Once I put my mind to something I do it. 

However, there are such things as guilty pleasures and it can be embarrassing to blog about those things. I don't particularly wish to let the world know that I watched Recently, My Sister is Unusual in its entirety (let alone enjoyed it), but I'm going to do it anyway. 

If you like lolis, little sisters, strong ecchi content (and I do mean very, very strong), and very little else in the way of plot then you might enjoy this series to a degree. It's not exactly Cowboy Bebop, but if you watch this expecting anything remotely that good then you need your head examined. 

I'm not going to defend this series in terms of content. Honestly, there isn't a single good reason as to why I would recommend it to anyone. Hell, I'd prefer to let everyone not know I watched this series. Queen's Blade was wholesome family fun compared to this. 

Hell, not too long ago I basically ripped a new one into the show Wannabe the Strongest in the World. I couldn't stand the over-the-top fanservice (or at least the way the fan service was depicted) or the stupid storyline (losing fifty matches in a row to the same finishing move???). It was terrible. Maybe it got a little better at the end and maybe I'll try to make it all the way through later on, but for now I've got other things to do. 

What does win me over (for the extreme fan service type of shows, that is) is when everything including the kitchen sink is thrown in. Just go for broke. Show me something that I'm going to remember. Blow my mind. Or else it's pointless. Making a show about nothing but extreme fan service can have its benefits for a while as long as there is at least something that resembles a decent story. When the fan service just doesn't feel right to me or feels too restrained and the story sucks then what's the point of watching? A terrible story with boobs is okay every now and then. A great story with boobs (or without) is okay pretty much all the time, too. 

But when a story doesn't have much of either then I don't see the point. Especially when boobs are supposed to be one of the attractions. For this genre, that is. 

Again, when it comes to extreme fan service, go for broke or give me a real story with as little fan service as possible. Or a lot. I'm not picky. 

Recently, My Sister is Unusual goes for broke. It's downright uncomfortable to watch at times. Or would be if someone accidentally walked in while I was watching it. That didn't happen, though. Thank God. Personally, I don't care what other people think of what I watch. I don't hide it, but I don't really brag about it, either. Sure, I'll blog about, but that's different than talking about it over Thanksgiving dinner with the family. 

I am aware of how certain things can be perceived and I prefer to not put myself in awkward situations. Life's easier that way. 

The show is about a girl named Mitsuki who gets into a new family when her mom marries Yuya's dad. Yuya essentially becomes Mitsuki's older brother and Mitsuki is having trouble adjusting to getting a new older sibling. Her being taciturn and moody by nature doesn't really help the process along, either. 

Things get even more complicated when Mitsuki becomes possessed by a ghost named Kotobuki Hiyori. If that were the strangest thing to happen in this story then there really wouldn't be much to talk about. 

Here's where things get kind of icky, though. You see, Hiyori wants to get "lovey-dovey" with Mistuki's new brother Yuya because doing so would get Hiyori to heaven. Yeah. Mitsuki is forced to wear a chastity belt with a heart-shaped vial on it and with this she is able to help Hiyori in her mission. 

Those two statements I just made seem a bit unconnected, right? Well, that's because I haven't told you that Mitsuki will die if she doesn't fulfill Hiyori's wish. How will that wish be fulfilled? Well, by filling up the heart-shaped vial, of course. What will fill up that heart-shaped vial? Well... yeah... I'm hoping you can figure that out. I'd rather not come out and say it myself. 

But basically whenever Mitsuki becomes excited (while in sync with Hiyori and her wishes, that is) the vial fills up little by little. Enough said. When the vial fills up Hiyori can go to heaven and Mitsuki can continue living her life normally. If the vial doesn't fill up and Mitsuki places more distance between herself and Hiyori (and consequently Yuya) then bad things will happen. Like death. 

This is one of those shows where I'm actually glad that the main male protagonist of this show is a dense idiot. You know how Leslie Nielsen never cracked a smile in Airplane despite all of the chaos around him? It's similar to that kind of thing. Kind of. Instead of thinking that maybe Mitsuki is somehow possessed by a horny ghost that wants to get lovey-dovey with him, he merely thinks that Mitsuki might be involved in a lesbian cosplay couple with a strange red-haired girl he sometimes sees and sometimes doesn't. Which is rational. Sort of. Weird as hell, but still more rational than the alternative. 

Yuya is always thinking of a rational explanation to everything. With all the of the screwed up stuff happening all around him (like his possessed sister trying to fuck his brains out... you know, like that) it's amazing how easily he just shrugs it off with a feeling of mild confusion. You'd think he'd get a hint (or a restraining order), but he just plays the straight and caring older brother no matter what. Completely incorruptible, I suppose. 

I suppose I should also mention the yuri scenes. Sometimes Hiyori and Mitsuki seem a little too close. Way too close. So close that we can't see what is really happening and instead a screen pops up with text that tells us certain intimate things that are happening. The sound effects are there, of course. Just not the actual events being told to us. I don't know if this is something they are saving for the blu-ray or if it's just a bit (understatement alert) of naughty humor. Either way, it is certainly interesting and funny. 

This show comes really close to being animated porn. Real close. I'd say it is, but all of the material that would qualify it as such has been kept at just enough distance. So this show is barely not porn. 

Oddly enough, there is very little nudity in this show... at least in the simulcasted version I saw. I don't know if the blu-ray will reveal a lot more or not. There are things censored like Mitsuki's chastity belt and the close scenes between Mitsuki and Hiyori, but I don't know what was intentional by the writers and what was intentional by the networks. That's an important distinction. 

The amazing thing is that is show was actually shown on Japanese television. Sure, there was controversy about the subject matter (more because of how the show was rated than anything else) and the timeslot changed a bit, but it was still shown in Japan on TV. 

God, I love Japan. 

But you know what? The "almost" adult content of this show wasn't reason I watched it or kept watching it. The premise seemed odd to me, but I started watching because I thought it was going to be funny. And it was. Dirty as hell and definitely awkward as shit, but I laughed my ass off during every episode. Yeah, the jokes got a bit recycled and the ending was typically silly, but it was still funny as hell and totally worth the twelve episodes it took to watch it all the way through. 

I looked forward to watching the show each week. That's the only real good thing I can say about the show in terms of honest praise that might actually win someone critical of this series over (assuming my words have any weight). I should find it terrible (like a lot of other people did or do), but I don't. I know normal people wouldn't touch this show with a hundred foot pole (hell, even Oreimo looks morally acceptable to this), but I'm not normal. Even among people who aren't normal I am less normal. 

This show was funny, damn it. And regretting laughter is stupid. 

So, yeah, that's why I'm blogging about this show. I watched it and enjoyed it. I probably have terrible taste. Don't listen to me. 

P.S. - There's a live action movie, too. Just think about that. Just... think about that. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Attack On Titan Vol. 7 by Isayama Hajime

They caught the female titan... or no, they didn't. Yup, she got away. While you don't find out who the female titan really is until the next volume you have to at least have a good idea who the female titan really is. Not necessarily because of any serious hints dropped, but because of similarities in fighting style and outward appearance. What isn't clear in volume seven is why the female titan is doing what she is doing. Of course, the same can be said of the colossal and armored titans who haven't made an appearance for quite some time.

What are the goals of these titans who are undoubtedly piloted by humans? Just who are the pilots? Million dollar questions, folks.

You won't get answers to any of them here, though.

Instead you get the inevitable first fight between Eren and the female titan. While the idea of the Survey Corps. capturing the female titan and returning home successfully is a neat one it's not one that plays out here at all. Attack on Titan isn't a happy-go-lucky story. If the worst can happen it will. If Eren seeing his own mother getting eaten by a titan in the first volume didn't get that point across then I sure as hell don't know what will.

After calling other titans to consume her titan body (because true minions will eat you if you command them to), the female titan manages to escape from the trap the Survey Corps. had sacrificed so much to lay. It was a brilliant trap, too. Unfortunately, the female titan had a huge ace up her sleeve. 

Once her titan body was consumed the pilot of the body made a quick getaway with her 3D Maneuvering Gear. Perhaps it was only coincidence that as she was making her getaway she ran into Eren and Levi's squad. Or maybe it wasn't coincidence. 

No one seems to live for very long in the titan world. I rather liked Petra and the rest of Levi's squad. Mostly Petra. Watching the female titan kill Levi's squad in both the anime and manga wasn't easy. It made the intense hatred I had for the female titan grow even more intense. I really wanted Eren to go into full titan mode and completely kick her ass. 

True enough Eren did go into titan mode, but he didn't quite get shit done as I would have hoped. Eren was the one who ended up getting his ass kicked and it was up to Mikasa and Captain Levi to rescue his sorry ass. 

Levi was the one who ended up taking the battle to the female titan. In fact, I'm pretty sure Levi could have finished off the female titan by himself. Not bad for such a short little neat freak. As to why he didn't... Well, I guess you could say that getting Eren to safety was more important at the moment. I'm not sure I agree with that decision, though. 

With the result of the mission being a complete failure, the Survey Corps. heads back to the wall only a few hours after setting out. Once they get back they aren't given a heroes' welcome. Instead they are treated with apathy and scorn. Like just another waste of the citizens' taxes, really. 

I think the saddest moment of all was when Petra's father walks up to Levi and begins talking about Petra's dedication to Levi and how that makes him a bit nervous. As if Petra would wish to marry Levi or something. She's still young, though, he says while waving one of her letters in Levi's face. Levi is clearly in pain although he tries to maintain his composure. He doesn't know how to break the news to Petra's father. 

And that's basically how this issue ends. 

Frustration. Agony. Nothing gained. 

P.S. - I'm getting stoked about the blu-ray release of Part I of Attack on Titan. I've had the special edition on pre-order for months now and I can't wait until June 3rd when it is released. I like what I've heard of the dub so far although I'm not quite sold on Levi's voice. I'm not sure just what all Matthew Mercer has done in the past, but from what I've heard in the snippets posted on YouTube by Funimation makes me wonder if maybe Matthew Mercer was the wrong choice for Levi. He just doesn't sound like how I would think an English-speaking Levi would sound. But, hey, maybe it's just me. I'm still going to get the blu-ray for the sub, if nothing else. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Outbreak Company (Autobureiku Kanpanī)

It's an odd genre, but it's one of my favorites. There's just about nothing I enjoy more than an anime about anime and hardcore anime fans. Although the topic does make me feel a bit at odds with myself. I'm not sure if I would qualify as a hardcore otaku or not. For one, I have a job and that often causes me to leave the house and to watch less anime. However, I do understand the attraction of the hikikomori lifestyle.

During the years 2009 and 2012 I did not have a job and wasn't in any type of schooling. I was nineteen when I got my driver's permit and twenty-one when I got my license. I didn't quite have the confidence in my driving skills to go anywhere and if I did go anywhere I wouldn't have money for anything. So I didn't go anywhere. For four years.

Yeah, I looked for a job, but I didn't really try as hard as I probably should have because I hated the idea of actually working and associating with people. Honestly, I still do hate working and it is still tough for me to really associate with people. It just doesn't come naturally to me and it's always going to be something I have to work at. 

But after four years of sitting in my room reading and watching television I decided to get serious and get my license and get a job. Now I have a job and I do kind of hate it (just kidding, boss... not!), but I remind myself what it was like to be jobless and without any anime. Although if I had had a large quantity of anime during that time then I might have been jobless a bit longer. 

What does all of this have to do with the anime Outbreak Company? Well, a lot. 

Kanō Shin'ichi is a hikikomori that has decided to get a job and end his shut-in lifestyle. During a job interview Shin'ichi passes out and wakes up in a room he doesn't recognize. His first words upon waking were "I don't recognize this ceiling" and upon hearing that phrase I knew immediately that I was going to enjoy the hell out of this series. Those of us in the know know that this phrase comes straight from the second episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Yup, the dude is an otaku. 

It turns out that Shin'ichi is in the Holy Eldant Empire, a land that resides in another dimension that only Japan knows about so far. The two dimensions are joined together by a wormhole and Shin'ichi basically got dragged there after being drugged during his interview. Once there he is told that he is the General Manager of the Amu Tech, a company that wishes to introduce certain products to the people of the Eldant Empire. The products that Amu Tech wishes to introduce are anime, manga, and games. 
I'd give my left nut for that job. Seriously. I'd chop that bad boy off, place it in a jar of formaldehyde, and ship it. So if you're hiring for that position just give me a shout out. 

Of course, there's a catch for Shin'ichi. Although he gets to live in a giant mansion with his own personal maid and giant lizard gardener and gets paid for teaching people what "zettai ryouiki" means, Shin'ichi is not free to come and go as he pleases. Only the JSDF (Japanese Self-Defense Forces) knows the location of the wormhole and they won't take him back home unless absolutely necessary.

For those of us that love references then this is a show to watch. Attack on Titan is mentioned quite heavily. There're also posters of The Devil is a Part-Timer and Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion to be found. Those were the first ones I caught anyway.

There's so many references it's tough to keep track. Hell, just trying to identify all of the action figures in the show would take some time. For me, at least. Your mileage may vary. 

Basically, if you have a trained eye and know your anime, games, and manga well then you'll have a field day with this show. Make a drinking game out of it with your buddies (assuming you have any, bless your otaku heart) and take a shot each time you catch a reference. Five minutes later you'll nose will be numb. 

I thought it was funny as hell when the Empress of the Eldant Empire (a tsundere type if ever there was one) summoned Shin'ichi so she could try out her tsundere impression on him. 

The Empress is Petralka Ann Eldant III and she is a loli character. Of course, she is. The loli character is just about as big of an anime trope as the maid and the furry girl (both of which are heavily featured in this show) and it was no surprise to find out that she is a tsundere. There's always got to be at least one of them. 

And yes, there is a beach/bikini episode, too. 

Playing on anime tropes isn't what Outbreak Company is all about, though. A large part, yes, but not everything. 

Two important sub-plots throughout this anime are the idea of invasion by culture and the prejudice between different peoples. Dwarfs and elves don't get along at all and yet they are sitting beside each other in Shin'ichi's class. When he tries to get them to get along by having them participate in a soccer game he learns just how deep the rifts are.

Shin'ichi is getting all chummy with his maid and gardener when it is a common practice in Eldant to treat servants like less than human and beat them into submission when they don't obey. Half humans like Shin'ichi's maid are especially subject to scorn. 

Shin'ichi wants everyone to get along, but if he's not careful he could start a full-blown revolution. That might not be a bad thing for Eldant if it means creating equality among peoples, but Japan doesn't want to lose any diplomatic ties or their influence. If Shin'ichi pushes things too far Japan might do something far worse than fire him. 

I like anime that has a message, but I wasn't expecting this one to get quite so deep at the end. It's one thing to help a country to find its own culture, but it's another to force a developing country to accept a different culture. 

In general, I'm not a big fan of forcing people to think a certain way. People and countries must grow and develop their own identities as independently as possible. Otherwise they'll never truly be independent. That's not saying I'm against the sharing of ideas and culture from an established country to an establishing country, but I am against the controlling of ideas and culture 100%.

I'd still take the job, though. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Beyond the Boundary (Kyōkai no Kanata)

There's nothing I love more than rubbing a quick one out. Anime, that is. Perhaps I should have chosen my words better in my opening statement in order to prevent any unwanted visual images from popping up. Oh, well, too late for that. 

Since I've been dedicating a large portion of my life to two animes over the last three months I decided to change things up a bit. While I love sailing with Luffy and kicking Akatsuki ass with Naruto, I've been needing some more diversity. 

Beyond the Boundary has been on my list of anime to watch although I couldn't tell you exactly why. I probably just added it on a whim like pretty much everything else. I'm not surprised I enjoyed it, either. My whims generally turn out well. 

However, I almost stopped watching this show after the first episode because I found myself being momentarily confused. The confusion was solely mine and not anything related to the plot or pace of the show, though. I simply confused this show for another show called Outbreak Company. I guess I really need to read those plot summaries closer (or at all), but this was one of those whim kind of things and it's not really a whim if I do a lot of research. I had initially been wanting to watch Outbreak Company since it had a plot about a huge anime fan doing nerdy stuff (or something like that), but I had a moment of temporary insanity and started watching Beyond the Boundary instead. 

You know that, "This isn't anything close to what I was expecting" line of thought you get when you watch a movie based on what you saw in a really bad and misleading trailer? Yeah, it was sort of that kind of thing for me. Since I thought I was watching one show but was actually watching another. 

It all worked out well, though. 

First things first. The animation is fantastic. Every episode is well drawn and all of the fight scenes are well choreographed. Hell, so are the dance moves (more on that in a moment)... and this provides me a perfect segue to my next praise. 

The only thing better than good animation is when good music goes with the animation. Not just good music either, but music that fits the tone of the show and the animation style. The OP and ED theme songs are great and they fit the credit animations perfectly. 

Although this show is about two hundred minutes longer than most movies I certainly felt like I was watching a professionally made modern anime movie. So the animators and music composers did a great job. Fantastic, really. 

Now onto the story. Anime featuring students of some sort and a school setting aren't new at all, but I do like the genre enough. I guess there's just something eternal about the awkwardness of school years that speaks to me. And once you add superpowers into that mix you have even more of a winner as far as I'm concerned, anyway. Unless you are the Great Saiyaman, that is. 

Our main protagonist is a school student named Kanbara Akihito and he is an immortal. The reason he is an immortal is because he is half-youmu/half-human. One day he meets a girl named Kuriyama Mirai that he mistakenly believes is about to jump off the roof of the school building. Well, one thing leads to another and Mirai ends up stabbing him with a sword made of her own blood. A lot and not all at once, either. 

Don't you just love the birth of young love?

Since Akihito is immortal he never gets killed by the shy would-be youmu assailant, but the wounds still sting him. After a while he manages to talk her out of trying to kill him for the moment, but Mirai still wants to kill a youmu to prove her worth as a Spirit World Warrior and Akihito finds himself wanting to help her.

There's more to her than meets the eye, though. A lot more. 

Since normal humans can't see the youmu around them we don't really spend a lot of time with any of them. Basically, all of the characters have a superpower of some sort and are capable of kicking some serious ass. There's not a lot of that, though. There are fights later, but there's a lot of comedy and drama, too. You'll see the main characters sitting around a table in their school club room goofing around just as often as you will see them kicking some supernatural ass.

It's all about the characters, though. Akihito has a thing for glasses and he is always gushing about girls who wear glasses. The way that Mirai says, "that's unpleasant" is just adorable. Plus she wears glasses and the way that affects Akihito is often amusing. Nase Hiroomi has a little sister complex and typically gets a nosebleed when ever his little sister calls him "onii-chan". A lot of hardcore otaku in anime are like that with fetishes and stuff. I'm sure there are a few folks out there like that in real life, too. In real life it's creepy as hell, but in anime it's kinda cute and funny. 

Akihito's mom is great, too. Crazier than a shithouse rat, but definitely a great character. 

I don't know, it's little things that really endeared this anime to me. It's not my favorite ever and I'm not even sure it is in the top fifteen, but it is good. If anything, the story as a whole feels unfinished. Perhaps that is because the light novel series that this anime is based on is still going or perhaps not. I don't really know. I haven't read the light novels and I'm not sure if they have been translated.

The ending is certainly satisfactory and I'd be fine with the story ending there, but there are a few questions I'd love to have answered. 

Still, that last episode had me going for a moment. I honestly didn't know whether it was going to be a happy ending or a "fuck, might as well kill myself now" ending until the last second. I'm still not quite sure what really happened at the end, but I'm sure it'll come to me once I think on it some more. 

I think my favorite thing about this show was how it didn't settle for being one type of genre. It could be downright funny, depressingly sad, or a kickass adrenaline fest all within the span of five minutes. You could take that to mean the show is uneven, but I think there was just the right balance to keep things interesting without becoming overwhelming. 

This is pretty much the end of my review, but I figure I might as well mention one more thing...

Episode six. It's filler. Episode six has nothing to do with the rest of the story. At all. You certainly don't have to watch it. 

But I'll be damned if that episode isn't the single best filler episode I've ever seen. I like to think that the quality of a show's writers can always be measured by the quality of its filler since filler isn't based on any other source material. The writers did good here. That filler episode is by far my favorite episode of the series. Well, almost. It's all thanks to the dance routine at the end, too. That was funny. It's just one of those things that would be a crime to skip. 

I recommend this show. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Attack On Titan Vol. 6 by Isayama Hajime

There's this old Motorhead song called The Chase is Better Than the Catch and I think that song's title fits this volume to a T. The subject matter is a bit different, though. And in a way this volume is like role reversal compared to the song. If you were familiar with both you might find my comparisons mildly amusing.

The one doing the chasing in this volume is the badass bitch female titan. She's leading a group of other titans into the heart of the Survey Corps. formation and her goal seems to be Eren Yeager. 

Eren is traveling with Captain Levi and a few of Levi's chosen subordinates. What we've been shown so far is that Levi isn't a weakling despite his diminutive stature and his still not quite fleshed out character. You would think it would be difficult for the female titan to take down Levi (or vice versa), but there really is no telling. The female titan is driven by some inner desire into the Titan Forest after Eren while the rest of the Survey Corps. climb into the trees to essentially act as distractions for any of the other titans roaming about. 

Once confronted with the female titan Eren must make a decision that he might or might not regret later. He can either choose to transform into a titan and go toe to toe with the female titan or he can trust in Captain Levi and the Survey Corps. and hope they can figure out something. As a fan, I know I wanted to see a titan brawl, but characterization is important, too.

I really liked Levi's speech at this moment. Levi flat-out admitted that he didn't know whether or not Eren should transform or not, but in this admission was a bit of damn good coaching. "The difference between our judgement and yours is experience, but you don't have to fall back on that so choose... Choose whatever you'll regret the least."

Then a flashback happens and Eren remembers something that helps him make a decision. 

I rather like the flashbacks that take place in this series. They generally always bring something a bit extra to the story. The bit about Eren using his titan powers to grab a spoon is a good example. I didn't quite understand it at first when I was watching the anime. Why show this at all? Well, it wasn't about Eren using his titan powers, exactly. The point of that story was how Eren affected his comrades. After reverting back from titan form the Survey Corps. members were shocked and threatened to kill Eren. 

But later on they admitted they were wrong to freak out and made amends by biting their hands. Essentially sharing Eren's pain as best as they could. 

Teamwork. Loyalty. Understanding. These are the values one learns when they choose not to rely on themselves so much. No matter how strong one becomes they are sometimes strongest when they are at their weakest. At that point sleeping powers almost always awaken. 

Attack on Titan isn't exactly a gimme, though. 

Eren chose to trust in the Survey Corps. and the female titan was captured in the end, but don't get too comfy. 

Remember that the chase is better than the catch. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Man From Nowhere

Once again I am extremely appreciative for things like Netflix and sites that specialize in or prominently feature Asian cinema. Thanks to them I've discovered some amazing entertainment that fits my tastes perfectly. This time the discovery I made was The Man From Nowhere. If you are a fan of action movies with a bit of characterization involved than this is your flick. 

At first I thought this movie was going to be a bit of a Taken-type of film considering the plot does contain some similar elements. That's not exactly accurate, though. The Man From Nowhere isn't quite as brainless and there's nothing unintentionally silly about it. This movie is a pretty dark flick and it's not as much of a chase movie as it is about the bond between a pawnshop operator named Cha Tae-sik and a little girl named So-mi who happens to have a heroin addict for a mother. In a way I guess you could say this movie is more The Professional then Taken (odd that Luc Besson directed both of those, huh?).

When some thugs sent by crime boss Oh Myung-gyu come for the heroin that So-mi's mother stole Cha Tae-sik finds himself drawn into the crosshairs as well. So-mi's mother had intentionally pawned off her camera bag containing the loot to Cha Tae-sik, making Tae-sik an unknowing accomplice. 

After the thugs kidnap So-mi and her mother, Cha Tae-sik is forced to act as Man-seok and Jong-seok's mule if he want to protect So-mi.

But Cha Tae-sik isn't just going to play around for long because So-mi is now being used as an "ant" and soon her organs are going to be harvested and sold on the black market. 

If he wants to save her he's got to go up against an entire organized crime group by himself while evading the clutches of the police. Cha Tae-sik isn't a weakling, though. In an almost Dean Koontz main character type of fashion, Cha Tae-sik is revealed to have a mysterious past and lethal skills that shouldn't be underestimated. If anyone can rescue So-mi then it's him. 

Trust me, if you want action and fights then there's all that and more here. 

Won Bin is great as the lead character and Lee Jeong-beom's direction is tight and fluid, but the true star of this movie is Kim Sae-ron. She was only ten years old when this movie was being made and she is just adorable as So-mi. 

At only two hours this is about the shortest Korean film I've seen. It also has the closest to a happy ending I've seen in a Korean film. So if you lost all hope for life after Silenced (aka The Crucible) then this film should provide you with a good pick-me-up. 

There are plenty of reasons to watch this movie and I suggest that you pick one of them and do it. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Naruto Shippuden (Seasons Seven & Eight)

Sorry, folks. I've been lazy on the blog-front this month. There are a number of contributing factors, but the most important one is my (maybe) promotion in the business world. For the past year and ten months I have been a fast food cook at a Sonic Drive-In and earlier last week I was asked if I wanted to be a shift supervisor/assistant manager. I said yes without really thinking it over because I knew being stuck as a cook is a dead end job (read as: one step above being homeless or in jail) and having "manager" in my resume would be a good thing.

Anyway, I'm wondering how I'm going to do this thing and these "distractions" have kept my blog feeling rather lonesome lately. Of course, none of this will mean shit if I can't survive my training (or lack thereof). 

Personal crap aside, I think it's time to get things going around here again.

To start with I want to talk about season seven of Naruto Shippuden. At only eight episodes it has to be one of the shortest "seasons" I've ever seen. Since this is filler that is a good thing. I'm not a big fan of filler period, let alone filler that drags on forever.

This mini-season is kind of a parallel to Naruto's relationship with Jiraiya. At this point Naruto doesn't know about Jiraiya's death and is going about his own business in typical Naruto fashion. After failing to capture Itachi and losing track of Sasuke, Naruto and co. begin their journey back to the Hidden Leaf Village only to be interrupted. Naruto, Sakura, Yamato, and Sai then journey to Land Such-and-Such in order to escort a woman named Hotaru to a village. This particular woman happens to have a reluctant master who can do cool stuff with bubbles. The two of them are the focal point of the filler arc and throughout the season Naruto gets to explain about how awesome his master is over and over again. It's pretty damn heartbreaking. 

One subject that isn't even touched during this filler arc is the whole Itachi/Sasuke debacle. I know it's filler, but Naruto doesn't even seem phased by that stuff. Either the writers wanted to leave that for the canon material to flesh out or they just chose to ignore the whole thing because it was easier to do and hey, it's fucking filler anyway, so who cares, right? That's one of the bad things about filler, though. Once the canon material resumes the filler can often appear as a blatant contradiction to the canon material even if that wasn't intended. 

For you folks out there who can't seem to get your trap fix then you'd be happy to know that there is a trap character in this filler arc. He's one of the villains and at first sight you will expect him to talk like a woman like the character from the previous filler arc. Not so, though. Mr. Girly Boy has a deep voice. I'm not sure which I find creepier. 

At the end of the filler arc Pain makes a move to attack the six-tailed Jinchuriki  (bubble dude) and that leaves us with a surprisingly sad ending to this filler arc. If I hadn't been rendered numb by the death-fest that was season six I might have been a bit more emotionally affected. 

Season eight starts off where season six left us. Naruto makes it back to the village and he's in his bed sulking about Sasuke killing Itachi and getting away. He remembers his last encounter with Itachi and this is where I will start to sound a bit foolish. In my previous review I stated that Itachi couldn't get his words across to Naruto because Naruto was being a dick. That's wasn't actually the case, though. 

Itachi asked Naruto just how he plans to bring Sasuke back to the Hidden Leaf. When he said that he would somehow find a way to do it without killing Sasuke while also saving the Leaf from Sasuke, Itachi shoved a crow down Naruto's throat. That may sound painful (pardon the pun), but Itachi said that it was some of his power even though he hoped Naruto would never have to use it. 

With that flashback over Naruto is brought back to earth by a knock on the window. It's none other than Kakashi Sensei and Kakashi tells Naruto that Lady Hokage wants to talk with him.

Okay, folks. Get those hankies ready. You know what's coming next. At the meeting Naruto is informed about Jiraiya's death. All of the frogs from Mount Myoboku are there, too. After a beautifully animated episode about Naruto sulking, Naruto begins Sage training at Mount Myoboku with the frogs. Naruto's goal is to do what Jiraiya couldn't do: Kill Pain. 

While Naruto is at Mount Myoboku Pain (all six of his forms) begins his (their) attack on the Hidden Leaf. 

At this point I am oddly reminded of Dragonball Z when the Saiyans are attacking earth while Goku is away on King Kai's planet training. Shounen logic dictates that the hero will make it back in time, but not until almost all hope is lost. Shit gets more dramatic that way. 

In a battle with one of the Pains, Kakashi gets killed while trying to help Choji escape. Since I knew Kakashi had to be alive in later episodes I figured something would happen to revive him, but I wasn't quite sure what. While "dead," Kakashi gets to have a sitdown with his own deceased father, the White Fang of the Hidden Leaf. The White Fang was shamed for saving his own comrades and abandoning a mission and the White Fang dealt with that shame by killing himself. That's just something ninja don't do. 

Watching Kakashi and his father chat was definitely neat. 

Naruto had a chat with his own father, too. After Hinata gets knocked out by one of the Pains, Naruto loses control and ultimately releases eight of the tails of the nine-tailed beast. However, just before Naruto can pull off the seal inside of himself that completely seals the nine-tails Namikaze Minato comes to the rescue. 

As a final resort, the legendary Fourth Hokage implanted some of his chakra inside of the seal. As the man said himself the downside was seeing the nine-tails again, but the plus side was seeing his son as a young man. 

Naruto is pretty damn shocked to discover that he is in fact the son of the Fourth. So shocked he punches Minato in the gut. I mean, it's got to be a pretty dick move to place a fucking devil inside of your son, right? 

The reunion is ultimately touching, though. Very short, too. There are a lot of unanswered questions left for Naruto, but one of them isn't about the leader of the Akatsuki. Naruto is told by Minato that the leader of the Akatsuki is actually the dude in the mask and not Pain and that maybe mask man had something to do with the nine-tails' attack on the Leaf sixteen years ago. 

Before parting, Minato completely reseals the nine-tails and tells Naruto that it's the last time he'll be able to do so. 

Once awake Naruto is back in Sage Mode and ready to finish off Pain. 

And he does so in pretty epic fashion. 

There is still the "real" Pain to contend with though and thanks to the use of his nature powers Naruto has found him. After managing to convince a few of the elder ninjas to let him go confront the real Pain alone, Naruto begins what can only be described as another step in his maturation process. 

Naruto wants to hear Pain's full story before deciding whether to kill him or not. Pain's real name is Uzumaki Nagato and his actual condition is kind of a letdown. Not much of one because I could see it coming, but I was hoping that Nagato would have been a bit more menacing-looking or something. Instead he reminded me of the first time I saw Darth Vader without the mask. Just kind of... "So that's the bad guy that killed Jiraiya? Is this a joke?" 

Before Nagato can tell his story we get two filler episodes that go back in time to the first series. I don't mind some flashbacks if they are canon, but these don't have shit to do with season eight. I think they were a movie tie-in or something. I skipped them because I wanted the real story behind Nagato's actions. 

His story is sad, too. Not sad enough to make you understand killing Jiraiya or destroying a whole fucking village, but sad enough if you are capable of even the slightest form of empathy. 

Perhaps surprisingly, Naruto decides not to kill Nagato and Konan. Instead he wants to make them believe that he will makes changes once he is hokage to stop the cycle of hatred that always involves ninjas. Perhaps even more surprisingly is Nagato's willingness to believe in Naruto at the end. At the cost of his life, Nagato performs a forbidden jutsu that will resurrect all of the people he had killed in the Hidden Leaf. 

And that's how Kakashi gets brought back to life. Yup, it's shounen. 

Let's see... I've just about covered everything except for maybe two things. 

The first is the sight of the village celebrating and treating Naruto as the hero he most certainly is. It's a welcome sight considering how much shit the village made him take over the years. One thing I like about Naruto is that it is an underdog's story and seeing him get bounced in the air by everybody was amazing. 

The other thing I should mention is Sasuke's apparent betrayal of the Akatsuki, but I'm not going to because I'm getting tired.