Otaku Korner

Ghost Hound

Let me start out that this anime did it’s homework on the subject matter it deals with. Ghost Hound deals with the “hidden realm” and the realms of Psychology, where reality and the spiritual collide.

The story revolves around a little town called Suiten, the odd things that develop as three boys try to dig up the facts on a crime 11 years old, and abandoned hospital swallowed by the Suiten Dam.

 

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The first main character is Taro, the son of the local brewer. When Taro was 3 years old he and his sister were kidnapped. Only he survived. Now 11 years later Taro is Narcoleptic, having Out of body experiences or OBEs and reoccurring nightmares. When Masayuki suggest getting a little exposure therapy at the place where Taro and his sister were held, the tree boys take their first steps into the Hidden realm.

Masayuki is the new kid in town who transferred from Tokyo when the “Japan Bio Tech” company moves into their new facility. He tries to make friends with Taro and Makoto by investigating the kidnapping incident. Although he gets ignored by the other two to start, they eventually warm up to him and become decent friends. Masayuki suffers from a fear of heights which he combats by using exposure therapy via a head mounted display virtual reality game. In the Hidden realm Masayuki evokes the weapons that he has in his game to defeat the spirit of Taro’s kidnapper that had been stuck in a loop of his last moments on earth.

Makoto is the brooding member of the group and also is a relative of Taro’s.  It was Makoto’s grandmother who told police where they might find Taro and his sister. His father committed suicide shortly after Taro was found and returned home. Because Makoto was the one to find his father’s bloody corpse, he now wishes to use the hidden realm to find out the facts on why his father killed himself.

As the anime goes on Makoto learns how to change the form he takes when in the hidden realm, towards the end his shape is that of a red eyed wolf hound.

At first he is cold to both Taro and Masayuki but after the course of a few trips to the hidden realm and learning more about the kidnapping 11 years ago he warms up to the other boys. His favorite pass time is playing the guitar.

Joining the boys is Miyako. Unlike the boys she is unable to travel to the hidden realm. To make up for that she can see the boys when they are having their OBE and on occasion she is possessed by the passing ghost. She lives at a shrine with her father and helps him with exorcisms when the need arises. She is a very mature character even though she is the youngest member in the group.

Things get a little rocky between her and Taro about half way through this anime. Taro gets it in his head that Miyako is the reincarnation of his sister. Let’s just say that she didn’t take it too well. After the big showdown at the end of the series Taro and Miyako manage to make up.

 

Those are the main players in this anime. However they are still just kids. Let’s talk about the adults a little.

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Takahito is Miyako’s father and priest at the local shrine. In his spare time he works for the University of Tokyo. When he was younger he was part of the first group to visit the village swallowed by the dam.

At the start of the anime taro is introduced to his new counselor, Hirata  This is the source of most of the technical terms when it comes to psychology. Like Takahito he works at the University of Tokyo and commutes once a week to see Taro at his school.

When Taro starts to report his OBEs to Hirata he attributes it to a scientific explination. That starts to change when he starts experiencing things for himself.

Joining Hirata in the techno speak is Reika Otori.  She is a part time Scientist at the Japan Bio-Tech and part time doctor.

Himeko Ogami  is also a bigger adult to mention. When Taro and his sister were kidnapped 11 years ago, it was Himeko who suggested in searching at the hospital behind the dam.

She is the current head of the Ogami religious sect. It is her wish that Makoto will take over for her in time. Only Makoto has no interest in it, much link his father before him.

 

This anime is a neat twist of two way to think about our personal experiences. If you have taken a psychology 101 course you’ll feel right at home here. Even if you know nothing about psychology, the anime does a nice job of keeping everyone on the  same page.

There is a manga to this but its incomplete and I doubt it will be finished. It’s titled: Shinreigari: Another Side There are only two chapters and the last update was in 2008. I would have loved to see where this could have gone. we may never know.

Even if the Manga will never be finished, ghost Hound should be added to your watch list.

 

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Wolf’s Rain

Wolf’s rain was my thing in middle school. I can remember reading the manga, watching the anime when I could and reviewing the episodes with friends at school. I totally just dated myself seeing how this anime originally aired in 2003.

This anime takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where the human race has been forced to live in domed cities and wolves have been extinct for 200 years. There is a prophecy in this anime that when the world comes to an end paradise will appear on the earth, but only wolves would be able to find it.

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Everything starts when a white wolf comes to a city that smells of Lunar flowers. His name is Kiba.  He causes a bit of a stir in the city when he is wounded and captured by local police. After breaking out with another wolf they run into the fabled Flower Maiden and their journey begins.

Kiba is a guy of very few words, so you know that when he says something he means it. When they group meets back up with the Flower Maiden she is the only thing Kiba sees. You could say he’s head over paws.

Joining Kiba on his quest for Paradise is are four other wolves. The first to join is a brown wolf called Hige. Hige runs into Kiba in the police department where Kiba was injured in a cage. With his help both boys bust out. He is known best for the collar he wears, but Hige is a wolf who loves food, girls and complaining on occasion.

When Kiba first wanders into town he crosses paths with Tsume. A tough grey wolf who was leading a gang of humans that preyed on the Nobel’s supply lines to survive. When his gang turns on him he leaves the city with the rest using the excuse that the town had gotten boring.

If Kiba is the Alpha of this rag-tag pack then Tsume would be the second in command. There are more than a couple of occasions where Tsume steps up to lead when Kiba has gone missing.

The runt of this pack is called Toboe. I swear for the longest time I insisted he was a girl. His hair is more styled,he wears a dark pink shirt and has bangles. I take it back Toboe.

You find out quickly that Toboe is the reason you shouldn’t keep a wolf as a pet. When he was a pup an old woman found him at the gate of the city. She brought him home and they lived together until she passed away. The journey to Paradise is a chance for Toboe to grow up and become a fine wolf.

The final wolf joining the pack is a she-wolf called Blue.  For the first part of the anime she is working with a human to track down the wolves. However after meeting the Flower Maiden she get separated from her partner and ends up switching sides.

cheza

Now this anime isn’t just about the wolves, there are a few more important characters to introduce. The most important I would say is the Flower Maiden, Cheza. Without her there wouldn’t be a story.

Cheza is the product of an ancient alchemy to create a maiden out of lunar flowers. Together with the wolves the Flower Maiden will open paradise for the dying world. When the wolves catch up with the kidnapped maiden the real journey begins. She smells of the Lunar flowers she’s made of, survives on sunlight and water and when she sings all the wolves feel at peace.

There are some humans in this anime too, and it wouldn’t be the same without them.

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The first one you meet is Blue’s partner Quent Yaiden. Before taking up the hunt for wolves he was the sheriff of a town called Kyrios. When the town burned, leaving him and Blue as the sole survivors, he saw this family being eaten by wolves in the flames. This determined old man is out for revenge.

Quent and Blue arrive in the domes city the same time that Kiba does. And it’s because of Quent that Kiba was injured. If there is nothing he loves more than hunting for wolves and Blue, it’s his love of Vodka.

Cher is a strong-willed scientist that was observing Cheza before she was kidnapped. She leaves the city to track down and retrieve the Flower Maiden.

Now you can’t have a strong-willed woman without a guy chasing after her. In Wolf’s Rain that man is Hubb. Once upon a time Cher and Hubb had been married but it hadn’t worked out; that didn’t stop him from loving her. So when a large white dog shows up at his police department and an old man toting a shot-gun start spouting off things about wolves, his world changes drastically.

The journey to Paradise would be too easy if there wasn’t a group of humans who want to take it for themselves. These people are called Nobles.

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Lord Darcia plays the largest role for a noble. It was Darcia’s family that created Cheza three generations ago. He is the one the kidnaps Cheza and fights the wolves for the final right to Paradise in the end.

Lady Jagura  is a minor snag in the road compared to Darcia. She is the twin sister to Darcia’s deceased love, Hamona. Jagura wants Paradise so she can finally be together with Darcia. A slightly twisted love story but an understandable motivate.

 

Both the anime and the manga are enjoyable. I personally love the musical score for this anime. The opening “Stray” by Steve Conte along with “Heaven’s not Enough” are my go to songs.

I might suggest that viewers and readers be able to handle mild language and the sight of blood in battle. I don’t me pink-sparkly-let’s-water-this-down-for-the-viewers or black ink, but thick blood on occasion. Don’t let that deter you though. This story deserves a three episode trial and then you’ll fall in love with it.

 

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Escaflowne

This is an older anime than most of the others featured either on the Otaku Korner radio show in fall 2013 or here at Surviving Freetime. But just because it’s older doesn’t mean it’s not good. The only thing that sets this apart as an older anime is the art style. For the first half of the anime the noses of the characters are very pronounced. To tell you the truth this bugged me a little. But soon you forgot about them and when you realized it again the nose style had been toned down.

Alright enough about the noses, what’s this anime about already!

Escaflowne is a mecha anime in category. This means that there are giant robots amongst the characters. The story follows a girl named Hitomi on her journey from her world to one in the midst of war and her journey to stay alive and get back home.

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Hitomi is a high school track athlete, who between classes, homework and practice tells the fortunes of her friends. When her world is swept away in a beam of light it’s her track and fortune-telling skills that help her through the world of Gaea. She is a strong-willed girl who cares for those around her, often putting other people before herself.

I should also mention, that on top of her knack of tell fortunes Hitomi seems to possess some clairvoyant abilities. Her fortunes are spot on. She also uses a technique called dowsing to find lost object and help van in battle.

Van Fanel  is the last prince of the Gaea kingdom of Fanelia. He meets Hitomi when he was hunting a dragon on earth. Hitomi literaly ran into him during a night race for her first kiss. At fist he is cold to her during his time on earth, but when she is taken back to Gaea with him he eventually warms up to her.

In Fanelia there is a right of passage to become king. The chosen prince just slay a dragon, take its energist and make a pact with the Guymelef Escaflowne. He makes the pack with Escaflowne in the midst of Fanelia being destroyed by the Zaibach Empire. Together with Escaflowne and Hitomi he plans to stop the war the Zaibach empire has started and avenge his Kingdom.

Allen Schezar is the third and final main character of this anime. Older than both Van and Hitomi, Allen is a knight of the kingdom of Asturia. He is a master swords man and guymelef pilot with a depressing family history. When he was younger his father left the family in search for Atlantis, his sister mysteriously vanished, and his mother dies shortly after her disappearance.Early in the anime, he tells Hitomi that she reminds him a lot of his sister.

Ok, what would you say to someone who tells you that you remind him of his lost sister and just happens to look like you high school crush? It also doesn’t help that this Asturian knight seems to be a bit of a “Playboy.” Even the youngest Asturian Princess has a thing for him.

Those were the good guys. Now how about we meet the men of Zaibach Empire?

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Folken is a Strategos for Zaiback. The best way to explain this position is to think technician mixed with science wizard. These guys test Zaibach’s technology to change things like fate and bring about a world free from war. Throughout the anime he is the mouth piece of the Emperor and the restraining leash for the attack dog Dilandau.

If you are looking for blood thirsty, vain leader of a group of elite Guymelef pilots, look no farther than Dilandau. This guy is a real piece of work. He likes causing destruction on a level that will have you questioning his sanity. Dilandau will do anything to capture Escaflowne and its pilot.

There is more I could tell you about this character, but it would reveal a MAJOR plot twist and spoiler. Trust me, you’ll thank me later if I don’t say anything more.

Emperor Dornkirk now this is the leader of the bad guys stirring up trouble throughout Gaea. Just because he’s not out on the battle field with his generals, doesn’t mean that he’s not pulling the strings from back in the capital. Dornkirk is a two hundred year old man who came from earth like Hitomi. He believes that everything, including fate is controlled by a universal law. It’s this belief that leads him to seek for the power of Atlantis and to create machines to alter fate.

For most of the anime Dornkirk is in his capital looking into a machine called a Destiny Prognostication Engine to see the future. However Van, Escaflowne and Hitomi cloud the future he wants to see for Gaea, hence the sending out of Folken and Dilandau.

That’s it for the heavy hitters, but none of these guys would go very far without the colorful character that make up the supporting cast. Again let’s start on the good guy’s side.

Merel this little spit ball is a childhood friends of Van’s. At first she isn’t Hitomi’s biggest fan because of the closeness to Van. However Merel warms up to the earth girl.

Millerna is the youngest princess for the Kingdom of Asturia. Of the three princesses she has the most freedom. She doesn’t want to marry for the throne, but wants to be a doctor. Its her medical skills that come in handy a couple of times throughout the anime. Millerna is also the princess who has a thing for the knight Allen.

Now for the Zaibach sidekicks

Nariya and Eriya these are a set of twins that work for Folken. When they were little they saw their parents killed and then were hunted off the side of a cliff. Folken saved them and promised to give them a future they could be proud of. They followed him ever since.

Jajuka this is the only soldier under Dilandau after his guymelef squad is wiped out by Van. Jajuka looked after the young Dilandau and now that they have been reunited he protects him from  himself.

I should mention that there are two characters that are neither on the good guys or bad guys side. They are Prince Chid (pronounced Sheed) of the Duchy of Freid and Dryden a wealthy merchant who is promised to  Princess Millerna.

 

This anime is better for young teens and up and is timeless in my eyes. After doing some research, I learned that there is a movie and manga of this anime. The only thing that doesn’t push my excitement through the roof is that all three stories are different.

The movie is the closest, but Van is more like a caveman than an angry greiving teen, Hitomi is depressing, Dilandau is a Zaibachan expirement with dragon blood and Folken is the master mind behind all the evil. At least this version keeps Merel in the cast, you still get guymelef battles and the setting is similar.

The manga on the other hand has the cast limited to Hitomi, Van, Allen, Folken, Dorkirk and that’s about it. It’s 10 chapters long and the Gaea setting looks more modern than the anime portrays. The one thing I did like about the manga was the development they give to Dornkirk and the connection he has with Hitomi.

All three versions are worth checking out.

 

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DNAngel

This was one of the first anime I watched all the way through. It’s one of my favorites. Now I know I say that about a lot of the anime I’ve featured, but I really mean it this time.

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DNAngel follows a 14 year old named Daisuke through his not-so-normal life. Daisuke is your average kid, he goes to school, he has friends and he has a crush. On his 14th birthday he confessed his love to the girl of his dreams and she rejected him. Needless to say the day wasn’t the best day but when the sun went down things turned around. I hate to use the word “transform” but that’s the best word for what happens to Daisuke. His mother explains to him that the men in the Niwa family have all turned into the Phantom thief Dark when they experience feelings of love. The only way for Daisuke to turn back into himself is to steal art pieces created by the Hikari family. If he can do that and also win the heart of the “Sacred Maiden” he can return to himself for good.

I have to talk about Dark seeing how he is Daisuke’s other half. Dark appears in every male of the Niwa family when they turn 14 and it’s been this way for the past 300 years. In the anime and manga, dark has   been dormant for the past 40 years and he is ready to stretch his wings. As I said before this thief steals the art works of the Hikari family, but the reason he steals them is to seal up the powers that have been leaking out of them and causing problems throughout the town.

They may share a body but Daisuke and Dark don’t always get along, one more than one occasion they will bicker over missions and the girls that have captured their hearts. Even though this is true Dark genially cares for is “host” limiting his magical uses to spare Daisuke additional pain. Think of their relationship as that of   an older and younger brother team.

Standing between this thieving team and their target is Satoshi Hiwatari. He is the same age as Daisuke and a fellow classmate, but this guy graduated from high school by age 8 and had a college degree by the time he was 13. If his so smart why is he still going to   school? To get closer to Daisuke, whom he knows to be Dark’s alter ego, of course. Satoshi is a decedent of the Hikari family, the same family that is having it’s art works stolen. His sole focus in life is capturing Dark at all costs.

If Satoshi is Daisuke’s opposite then the spirit that lives inside Satoshi is the opposite of  Dark. His name is Krad and he is everyone’s worst enemy. Like Dark, Krad lives within the body of his host, but where Dark tries to keep Daisuke safe, Krad cares nothing for the body he shares. He isn’t limited to feeling of love and will attempt to seize control of the shared body whenever he feels Satoshi weakening. He will use as much magical energy as he can summon and manifest his own pair of wings from Satoshi’s back. Once Krad is tamed again there will be two thin injuries on Satoshi’s back where the wings were. The reason Satoshi wants to capture Dark so bad is to seal both him and Krad away, thus ending his pain and saving his life.

Alright so we now have the protagonist and antagonist we can talk about the other colorful characters that call this anime home. I’ve mentioned the Scared Maiden before, so let’s start with them. The Twin Harada sisters make the love portion of this anime interesting.

Starting with the younger sister, Risa was the sister that Daisuke confessed his feeling to and was rejected. At the start of the story she rejects him because he is too “normal” rationalizing that she needs to have the perfect boyfriend to compete with her older sister. She finds that perfect guy in Daisuke’s alter ego Dark and falls head over   heels for him. As the anime goes on Risa starts to take more and more risks to see Dark, even going as far to follow him while he’s on a heist. In the anime Dark doesn’t return her feelings saying that he only plays along because she reminds him of someone he once knew. The story is a little different in the manga but I won’t say too much on that.  Out of the twins Risa is the slightly spoiled, innocent and more girly girl than her sister. The being a girly girl doesn’t change but as the anime goes on Risa matures into a fine   young lady.

Riku is the older sister. She is the typical athletic tomboy character, who is more down-to-earth than her sister. At first Riku just sees Daisuke as just a friend but after her sister rejects him; she starts to see him as an OK guy. In the anime she is uncertain how she feels about Daisuke, but when it comes to Dark she is not his biggest fan. After his first heist Dark took cover near the Harada household and Riku caught him. To stop her from screaming Dark kissed her. She resents this believing that Dark stole her first kiss.

There are more characters that appear and I could spend forever talking about them, but that wouldn’t leave anything for you to explore.

The sad thing about this anime is that it’s only 26 episodes long. Compared to some, that is not a long running time and I do feel that this story is wrapped up very quickly in the anime.There was so much more that they could have played with seeing how the manga is still going on and no decision has been made on which girl gets the Dark Daisuke duo.

Read it or watch it, either way you are in for a cute story line.

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Hikaru no Go!

Alright first Otaku Korner post of the new year. Once again this was one of the anime I featured on my radio show in November 2013. I’ll say up front, that this anime made me want to learn the game this anime is centered around. With that being said, Let’s get started!

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For the most part this anime follows the main character Hikaru Shindo on his road from normal 6th grade kid to Go Pro. Before I go into the characters, I should say a little about this game called Go. This is a board game that originated in china 2,500 years ago. Two    players use either white or black stones to encircle territory made up of intersecting lines on boards that can be 9X9, 13X13 or 19X19. Once a stone is place it cannot be moves unless it is encircled by the enemy. Simple really, but don’t think that this is a simple game; this game is all about strategy.

Hikaru and his friend Akari are first introduced to this game when they are searching through a shed belonging to Hikaru’s grandpa. When they stumble upon a wooden Go board things start to get interest and Hikaru’s road to going Pro begins, all thanks to a blood stain that only he can see.

The spirit of Fuiwara-no-Sai is attached to that blood stain, and seeing how Hikaru is the only one that can see it Sai possess him. Sai was the Imperial Go instructor back in his hay-day. His career came to an end when the rival instructor cheated in a match to decide who would continue teaching the emperor. Sai got a second chance to play the game he loved through real life Honinbo Shusaku. Now he’s again with Hikaru as his student. Through Hikaru Sai seeks to play the “Devine Move.”

As stated before, go is a two player game. The main rivals of Hikaru and Sai are a father and son team Akira and Koyo Toya. Akira is Hikaru’s rival throughout the series. He is already a strong player when the boys first meet. Hikaru’s seemingly impossible ability amazes Akira, driving him to discover the secret behind his rival’s strength. The amazement is felt by Hikaru as well. Akira’s ability to focus and how seriously he takes the game leaves Hikaru wanting to measure up to   him.

Koyo or Toya Meijin is Sai’s rival. Meijin is a title one can achieve as a Pro Go player. Most of the time Koyo is called Toya Meijin. Like Sai, Toya hopes to someday play the “Devin move.” After he is defeated by Sai, Toya retires from the Japanese Go circuit and goes to play in China. He makes a promise to Hikaru to play him in the Beginner Dan series after… Oops spoiler Alert. Mums the word.

Hikaru doesn’t go from novice to Pro by himself; there are other Go players who will challenge him along the way. Akari is one of them.  She is Hikaru’s childhood friend who starts to learn go along with him. Although she’s not a strong player, she later becomes the vice-captain of the Haze Middle School Go Club. Akiri also has a crush on Hikaru that is slowly returned as the anime goes on.

Kimihiro is a year older that Hikaru and the captain and founder of the Haze Middle school go club. He is a nerdy character who is normally seen consulting a Go book, although he is a strong enough player without it.

Another Go club member is Yuki. He used to play go for money but when he was out cheated, Hikaru stepped in to play off his debts. After this and much convincing Yuki  joins the Haze Go club.

There is another character that shows up from time to time but he’s not a full member of the Go club. His name is Kaga and he is the president of the Shogi or Japanese Chess club. He helps out the go club with a tournament or two and eventually convinces Kimihiro to ditch the teaching book.

Now that’s just an overview of the anime. The manga goes farther than the anime in plot length. I can’t say too much about the manga without giving away more spoilers about the anime; seeing how closely they follow one another. I will say this though, both the anime and manga are great for all ages and like I said before, I wanted to learn this game because of how it was portrayed.

Now I’m sure I haven’t given this  anime/ manga the credit it deserves. My best suggestion to you is to check it out yourself. The anime can be found on Hulu, and WatchCartoonOnline. And the Manga can be found at Barns and Nobel, if you are a paper and ink fan, or online at many manga reading sites.

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Blue Exorcist, Ao no Ekusoshisuto

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This is one of my all-time favorite anime. If I ever need something a little different this is the one that I go to. In English it is called “Blue Exorcist” but in Japanese it is “Ao no Ekusoshisuto.” This anime follows the main character and his twin brother as they attend an Exorcist cram school and take down demons of all types that are out to get them. Sounds normal up to that point. What makes this anime fun is that these boy are not just your average students, they are the sons of Satan. Yes I said Satan and please don’t let that deter you from at least watching the first two episodes or reading the first few chapters.

Shall we meet the characters?

Rin is the older brother and the inheritor of the blue flames of Satan. For the past 14 years of his life he has been living a normal human life. As normal as it can be when you are constantly getting into fights, unable to hold a job and have no interest in school. Things start to get turned around when he starts seeing demons and is targeted by an upper demon is his true identity is revealed. As a child his blue flames were sealed in to the demon sword Kurikara by Mephisto Pheles at the request of Shiro Fujimoto, his foster father. After learning his true identity Rin decides to become an exorcist to someday defeat Satan. A bold and risky move for sure, seeing how if any one finds out that he’s the son of Satan they will kill him on the spot. When his demon side is released from the sword the amount of flames he can control increases greatly and his teeth, ears and eyes take on a more animal appearance. For all his tough guy appearance he tries really hard to make friends and keep them after his secret is exposed. He is just like any other teen, just a little over powered.

Yukio is the younger but more mature brother. Unlike Rin, he did not inherit the blue flames of their father. His body was too weak to handle the flames so, Yukio is full human. This doesn’t stop him from being a strong person though. Yukio has been studying to be an exorcist since he was seven years old. He is now an instructor at the cram school and has two classifications in class, Dragoon and Doctor. It’s interesting to watch him interact with his brother. I would almost call their relationship more of a father-son than brothers. This is something that changes slowly over the anime and gets a more in depth look in the manga, but there are bonding moments for the brothers that are worth watching.

ok the two main characters are established, how about those who also come along for the ride? In the class that Yukio teaches there are other characters all trying to become exorcist alongside Rin.

The first is nick named Bon. Bon is a hot tempered individual who looks like the delinquent type, but out of all the male students in the class he is easily the smartest. Like Rin Bon’s goal is to someday defeat Satan, take revenge for the Blue Night and rebuild his hometowns temple. The manga does a better job of show Bon’s passion when it comes to his goal and even takes you on a trip to Bon’s hometown for a pretty major showdown.

Following behind Bon is the timid but brilliant Konekomaru. He is the shortest student in the class but he has the knack for coming up with battle strategies that will work for any situation. He is very loyal to Bon and Shima having grown up with them in the same temple. He is working to be an Aria type exorcist, which exorcists demons be chanting their killing verse from the bible. After Rin’s secret is out Konekomaru is one of the last people to place his faith back in Rin.

Shima is the third musketeer in this group. He is the typical laid back Buddhist monk who has a thing for the ladies, not that he has any luck with them. His main weapon is a staff and hasn’t chosen a type of Exorcist to devote his studies to. The anime doesn’t touch much on Shima, which is sad because in the Manga he had a larger part in the second half. I shan’t say anything more on that.

Don’t think that this is only for the men. There are also three girl students that round out the class. If Bon is the smartest boy then Izumo is the smartest girl, and she knows it. To start she is cold to everyone, except her friend Paku, but after a while she does warm up to the boys and Shiemi. Her pride doses get in the way sometimes, but after the secret is out about Rin she is the first of his classmates to accept him. Her reason for becoming an exorcist is unclear in the anime but the manga I think will touch more on this in the future. She has one of the rare talents to be a tamer, which is someone who can summon Demon familiars and use them in battle. She can summon two Kitsune to fight by her side.

Shiemi is the daughter of a shop owner where the exorcists go to get their supplies to fight against demons. She loves gardening and is a kind caring person but has a major lack of confidence. After a demon had been leeching life off of her decides to become an exorcist. At first she only talks to Yukio and Rin but after the Exwire test she becomes good friends with the rest of her classmates. Shiemi also has the skills to be a tamer, summoning a baby greenman spirit that can produce herbs and plant like defenses out on the field.

I did say that there was another girl in the class but if you’ll also remember that there are only 5 students in the class. Paku was mentioned earlier when I was talking about Izumo. She is Izumo’s friend who followed her to the cram school. These two have been friends ever since grade school. But after the Exwire exam she told Izumo that she didn’t think she was cut out to be an exorcist and went back to being the average student.

That’s it for the students and please that this is just about them, well it is, but there are adults with them the whole way. Mephisto is the chairman of the school where the anime/manga takes place. I’m not sure what to make of him personal, but he is for sure a colorful character even is his motivations are questionable.

Shiro was Rin and Yukio’s father growing up and also the top Exorcist called the Palidin. He was qualified as a knight, Dragoon, doctor, Aria and Tamer; needless to say this man could do it all. Even though he has minimum screen time the impact that he has on Rin and Yukio is immense. I cried along with the brothers when…. spoiler so I shan’t say anymore on that.

Shura is a student of Shiro who was charged with looking after the twins. For the first half of the anime she is undercover but is reviled during a mission and afterword’s becomes a teacher of Rin. Shure is an interesting character who doesn’t get a lot of time for her back story. The anime alludes to it, but you can understand the character well enough without it.

Where can I watch this?

Personally I used Hulu to watch this:                 http://www.hulu.com/search?q=Blue+Exorcist

Where can I read this?

I used a manga reader app on my phone but, try this:  http://www.mangahere.com/manga/ao_no_exorcist/

 

Pictures taken from Screen shots of Blue Exorcist episodes

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Ghost Hunt

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Ghost Hunt is a 25 episode anime that is comparable to the shows Ghost Hunters and Ghost Hunters International that one can see on the Syfy channel. However Ghost Hunt is lead by a teenager and the focus of the anime is more to solve the crimes that are happening because of the supernatural rather than show that there is something there. I had the pleasure of talking about this anime on December 4th 2013 on a radio show that I had to do for a class. Most of what follows about the plot and characters are an adaptation of that radio script. Enjoy.

The main character in this anime is named Mai. She is the 16 year old high school student who gets involved with the Shibuya research Center when she messes up on an investigation that results in the assistant getting hurt. To make up for her blunder Mai is drafted into helping the manager finish the case he’s working on. As the anime goes on Mai starts to develop her own latent abilities that help to aid in latter case that Shibuya takes on. Her abilities include Post-cognitive dreams, clairvoyance and once case of astral projection. Seeing how she’s new to the field Mai lacks faith in her abilities often not voicing what she learns in her dreams but as the events unfold as she dreamed she slowly starts cluing the others into the info. When she dreams there is a character that looks like her boss the leads her to the information.

The leader of the Shibuya Research Center is a 17 year old named Kazuya Shibuya. He earns the name Naru from Mai on their first meeting for his narcissistic attitude, a name that is slowly picked up by the other characters in the anime. He may seem cold and distant to those around him but he cares for his friends and co-workers. For most of the series you come to believe that he is just the brains of the operation but at the end shocks everyone by showing just how much of his own power he possesses.

Lin is Naru’s assistant that Mai injures in the first episode of the anime. He seems to get stuck with the not so fun jobs but he’s the strong silent type who doesn’t gripe about it. Lin later tells Mai that he doesn’t like Japanese people because of the conflicts they have had with China which is where he’s from. When Mai starts to cry he amends his statement saying that his dislike for the Japanese has nothing to do with how he feels about her personally.

Joining this team of three are four experts in their field that come alongside the Shibyua team to help solve cases. The first is a Buddhist monk called Takigawa. He isn’t the typical monk with the short hair and strict ways. His hair is long, has pierced ears and wars modern clothing when he’s not about to perform an exorcism. His day job is playing base guitar for a band. He can act as a leader when Naru is absent and acts like a protective older brother towards Mai.
Ayako is a self-styled shrine maiden. She says self-styled because she didn’t grow up in a shrine but has doctors as parents. She has talent but often times she falls short of dispelling the demons in an area. This could have been because she draws her powers from living trees and most of the cases there don’t seems to be any trees around, oops. But she tries her best with what she’s got.

John Brown is a Caucasian Catholic priest for Australia who taught himself to speak Japanese so he has a noticeable accent in the anime. He helps the team out whenever he can. John exorcises demons be sprinkling holy water and reciting the first passage of John for the new testament. This method is most often used when the team is dealing with human possession.

The final expert to help out the team from time to time is the Spirit Medium Masako Hara. She is always wearing a kimono and is the only one in the group who can see spirits and tell the nature they have. Its rumored that she has feelings for Naru which makes Mai a little jealous but the girl eventually settle their differences over Naru.

There is another character that join the team later on. His name is Osamu and acts like an assistant to Mai as she assists Naru and Lin. On one case he poses as Naru. He has no Psycic abilities but his sharp mind and great work efficiency make him a great addition to the team.

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Aquarion, Aquarion Evol

Aquarion

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Battles that decide that fate of the world, Harvest beasts appearing from the sky abducting humans to harvest their energy, A group of teenagers battling the harvest beasts with shape changing vectors and “elemental” abilities, and a love story 24,000 years old. This is just part of the plot that takes place in the Anime Genesis of Aquarion and it’s second season Aquarion Evol.

12,000 years before the setting of Aquarion a battle was being fought by humanity against the Dark angels. The Dark angels were harvesting humans to feed the “Tree of Life” to keep their world alive. During the war a Dark angel, named Apollonius fell in love with a human warrior called Celiane. Because of his love for Celiane the Dark angel Toma felt Apollonius had betrayed their kind, for this he cut off his friend’s wings.  Apollonius joined the sides of the humans and helped them win their war by giving them “Solar Wing” or the machine called Aquarion. for reason unexplained Apollonius leaves Celiane, but promises he will see her again in 12,00 years.

The setting of the first season, again, takes place 12,00 years after Apollonius says goodbye. The world is once again under the threat of the Dark angels and is waiting for the power of the “Solar Wing” to save them. Teenagers that posses elemental powers are trained by a groups called DEAVA to pilot the three vectors that make up Aquarion. This is the starting domino that brings the characters together.

Characters from Genesis:

Apollo: the red headed protagonist is an orphan living on the streets with a small group of other orphans. His mannerisms are beast-like and rough, which get him into trouble on occasion with the rest of the DEAVA Elements. A harvest beast attacks him and his orphan friends introducing Apollo to Aquarion. After DEAVA realizes that this street boy can pilot Aquerion without any training they recruit him to their fight. Apollo’s main goal in joining up is so that he can rescue his friends. Apollo is also believed to be the reincarnation of Apollonius.

Baron: he is a character that doesn’t get a lot of screen time but is still important. Baron is the unofficial leader of the orphan group and the person who gave Apollo his name.

Gen Fudou: DEAVA’s supreme commander. He is comparable to the crazy wise uncle that no one gets what he’s saying until just the right moment saving the day.

Glen: On the day Apollo was being investigated by Silvia and Pierre and the Harvest attacked, Glen was piloting a vector the came to the rescue. During the battle he was injured and falls into a coma. His friends Sirius and Lihua are deeply effected by his accident. Although he isn’t seen much in the anime, he does help out in the final battle to decide the fate of the world.

Jean-Jerome Jorge: DEAVA’s second in command that gave the orders until Gen Fudou returned. He’s everything Fudou is not, He’s more of the worry wart old woman who screeches and pulls out her hair when things get rough. Despite this he would love nothing more than to see the Dark Angels defeated and humanity safe once more.

Jun: An Otaku after my own heart. His talents lay computers and machines making him a decent partner for Tsugumi.

Kurt and Chloe: Fraternal twins  with the power to communicate telepathically. These two spend most of the battles monitoring from the control room. There are some hints that Chole has a thing for Pierre even if the twin don’t interact much with the others.

Lihua: A sweet sensitive girl who believes she is cursed to cause misfortune to those close to her, because of this she tried to avoid people. As the anime progresses she learns to turn her curse into a powerful attack to save her friends when they are in danger.

Pierre: is a soccer playing ladies man from San Jose. He was Silvia’s partner on the mission to find the “Solar Wing” the day they meet Apollo. 

Rena: The book keeper in Genesis of Aquarion. Rena is an odd character, she is blind but can read from the “Book of Holy Genesis” and people’s auras, bound to a wheelchair and sedative to light. Most of the other teenagers are intimidated by her; all except Apollo.

Silvia: She is a decedent from the Nobel Alisia family and the anime’s main female protagonist. she can be a bit of a hand full when she has her mind set on something. Silvia was sent on a mission to investigate a city for traces of “Solar Wing” with her partner and instead finds Apollo. To her he seems rude and untamed, and is not any fan of his. What makes her situation interesting with Apollo is the fact that she is the reincarnation of Celiane and hates the idea that she will come to love Apollo.

Sirius: Is Silvia’s older brother and the yin to Apollo’s yang in means of manners. He is polished, princely and recites poetry before going into battle. In the beginning many, including his sister, believed him to be the reincarnation of the “Solar Wing”. sadly as it be come more and more clear that Apollo is the “Solar Wing” and not Sirius he becomes bitter.

Sophia Belin: A female teacher, doctor, scientist at DEAVA and almost mother (almost) figure to the teens.

Tsugumi: She’s not a major pilot of the vectors, but can fly with the best. At first she is shy and prefers tinkering with engines than talking to people. this all changes as she becomes friends with the other teens, Liua in particular encourages her to come out of her shell.

Normally I would cover the antagonists as well as the protagonists, but in this case I’m going to leave out the Dark Angels. There are nine of them all together although you really only get to know three of them really well. I can’t spoil everything about this anime, so I’ll let you meet the face of humanities enemy for yourself.

 

 

Aquarion Evol

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Jump forward 12,000 years after the first season and you have the world as it appears in Aquarion Evol. The Dark Angels were defeated and the events of the first season have descended into legend and movies of the second season. This time it is things called Abductors that are the enemy of humanity, they come from a different dimension, take humans for an unknown reason. Fighting against the Abductors is Neo-DEAVA, doing the same job its predecessor did 12,00 years ago; training teens to pilot the vector the make Aquarion. Except this time Neo-DEAVA is divided into a boys and girls side and they are not allowed to pilot the vectors with members of the opposite sex. This all changes when two civilians hijack a vector during a battle and turn this new world upside down.

Amata: Is one of the “civilian hijackers” that piloted Aquarion the day the abductors attacked. Until that day he worked at a movie theater, minding his own business, but when a girl sticks around after the showing of a movie and he strikes up a conversation things get crazy. The secret he had been hiding all his life gets noticed and he is enrolled in the NEO-DEAVA school for the pilots of Aquarion.

Andy: The digger of holes. Holes are his life his life. During the time the sexes were separated at Neo-DEAVA he would spend many nights digging holes to the other side. 

Cayenne: Mikono’s older military strict brother. He is able to see bad events that may or may not happen in the future. he has had a reoccurring vision that there would be a wedding in mourning clothes; his sister is the bride. For this reason he would rather have his sister anywhere then at Ne0-DEAVA.

Crea Dolosera: The childlike Chairwoman of Neo-DEAVA.

Donar Dantes: The male instructor of the boys at Neo-DEAVA. Nine years ago he was part of an accident involving Aquarion that caused him to loose both his arms and the school to decide to divide the boys and the girls to insure that the accident never happened again.

Jin: Jin transferred in to Neo-DEAVA to originally gain information for the Abductors. However he finds a friend in Yunoha and digging brothers in Andy and Amata. He is the last born son of the Abductors.

Malloy: A male student at Neo-DEAVA. He claims to be from the south so he loves the heat but cant take a chill in the air.

Mikono: Is the daughter of a the famous Suzushiro family, which has always produced  strong Elemental. The only problem, is that she doesn’t have a special skill that would make her a Neo-DEAVA student. When she is saved by Amata during the abductor attack she is dragged into the world of Neo-DEAVA, much to the dismay of her brother. Slowly she finds that Amata is growing on her but she finds herself attracted to the dangerous Kagura.

Mix: The redhead stickler for the rules. Because of issues with her father she hates hole, which makes her the perfect foil for Andy; and like they say opposites attract. She also is very conservative which leads her to butt heads with Zessica over her choice of clothing.

Sazanka: one of the female girl Neo-DEAVA. She is one of Shrade and Cayenne’s biggest admirers.

Shrade: Because of his weak body he isn’t send out to fight the Abductors, much. He is Neo-DEAVA’s Ace in the hole with his ability to control peoples emotions through his music. Shrade seeks for the perfect melody which for him can only be heard when he’s piloting Aquarion.

Suomi Konepi: The female instructor for the girls at Neo-DEAVA. She dresses as a nun. There are some dropped hints that she was also a past student of DEAVA. This is odd seeing how she didn’t know the reason for the boys and girls separation until she did some digging.

Yunoha: She is the youngest student at Neo-DEAVA. For the first part all you can see of her is her stuffed “cat” doll, but after scaring her fellow students, on accident, and going into battle for the first time she starts to show herself more often. Yunoha is shy and soft spoken but she uses that to approach Jin when he transfers in and helps him to feel more at home.

Zen Fudou: The High Commander of Neo-DEAVA. Like the Fudou 12,00 years ago, this man is the wise crazy uncle to the students.

Zessica: A skimpy  competitor for Amata’s affections. She is more forward in her actions to Amata than Mikono, making a very interesting triangle. Too bad love is forbidden in Neo-DEAVA.

That was one side of the battlefield, shall I introduce the other? The planet of Altair is a dying world where only men can survive. To save their planet they abduct the women of Vega.

Izumo: The commander of the efforts to save Altair

Kagura: The angry animistic underling of Izumo that will not listen to orders. It is Kagura that Cayenne sees in his dream about the wedding in mourning clothes.

Mykage: A face that will look familiar to those who have seen Genesis of Aquarion. His goal is much the same as before. That’s all I’m going to say on that.

Ok, that’s more than enough from me. Go watch it, ‘cus I’m sure I didn’t do it justice.

Pictures taken from Screen shots of Aquarion and Aquarion Evol Episodes watched on Hulu.com

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What to watch, What to read: Suggestions

Q: Ok, I have too much time, I need something to do. Any suggestions oh wise Otaku?

A: Plenty. But the real question is: What do you like to watch or read? Anime and manga has something for just about everyone and going in blind will either land you with something you love and a springboard into more stuff… or you could find yourself watching something that will have you shaking your head vigorously saying “NOPE, Never Again!”

Thankfully I have had experience with helping introduce people to new Anime and Manga. Here I can give a few suggestions in a list form and later, as time goes on, I will be adding indepth(ish) character descriptions and basic plot overviews of anime I have seen and manga I have read.

A Preview of that will soon be talked about:

  • Aquarion
  • Wolf’s rain
  • Darker than Black
  • Fruits Basket
  • Nabarie no Ou
  • Naruto
  • Naruto shupudin
  • Toko
  • D’Gray Man
  • Soul eater
  • Rosario and a Vampire
  • Highschool of the Dead
  • Bacca + Test
  • Vampire Knight
  • Hikaru no Go
  • DN Angel
  • Vision of Escaflowne
  • Ghost Hound
  • Blue Exercist
  • Ghost Hunter
  • And Much more!
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