The second episode of the seven-episode Pokemon Twilight Wing’s miniseries, Training, focuses on the fighting Gym leader Bea. After a humiliating loss to Galar Champion Leon, she heads to the Wild Area to train. Bea is a young girl with grey hair and eyes. She’s an expert in Galar karate and appears to be quiet serious. She arrives in the dusty wild area. Accompanied by her Machop, Machoke, and Machamp she begins her training. First, they battle (off-screen) against a wild Rhydon.
The training consists of exercise, lifting rocks, long-distance running and even sparring with Machamp. Considering the fact that Machamp is a Pokemon capable of “moving mountains with one hand,” watching Bea spar with him was impressive. While resting in a cave, they become trapped. Without her phone (she dropped it) she explores the rest of the cave. Realizing that she’s been selfish, she finally learns to rely on her Pokemon. Together they manage to escape the cave.
Despite the short length of these episodes they manage complete an entire story arc. It’s not really necessary to know Bea’s entire backstory to see how determined she is. Throughout the episode, she changes. While I liked this episode, a small part of me wanted to see more battles. However, I think this series is supposed to focus more on the human characters. The Pokemon themselves feel more realistic. Looking at the emotions on the face Machop was particularly effective. Finally, the animation remains stellar making Pokemon: Twilight Wings a must-watch miniseries.
Pokemon: Twilight Wings is a seven episode limited animated series. Set in the Galar Region, the short anime series will follow the citizens of Galar. According to the Pokemon Company, the seven episodes will “show in detail the dreams of Galar’s residents, the realities they face, the challenges they must overcome, and the conflicts they must resolve.” Nintendo revealed last week that they will be adding new content to the Sword and Shield games through expansion packs. Coupled with an official anime and this new limited series, suggest that they intend on focusing this region a lot longer. Pokemon: Twilight Wings will feature episodes that run about 5 minutes each.
The first episode, “Letter,” takes place inside a children’s hospital. A boy named John wishes to see his favorite Pokemon Champion, Leon. He writes a letter to Chairman Rose to give to him during his visit. I wonder if the series will return to the characters more than once, but with the time limit I doubt it. I was left wondering if John got what he wanted or if Chairman Rose even read his letter. Despite the length of the episode John was quickly established as a sympathetic character. While his illness wasn’t clear, John’s inability to run was. I felt sorry for him as he struggled to climb the stairs to reach the roof. Japanese animators at Studio Colorido (Penguin Highway) did a great job with the animation. New episodes of Pokemon: Twilight Wings will be released monthly. You can catch the episodes on Pokemon TV or the official Pokemon YouTube Channel.
To celebrate my 900th blog post, I decided to make my top ten anime of all time lists. When coming up with the top ten I focused on series that had the most impact on me. At the same time I also choose anime that can and have stood the test of time (even from an animation stand point), and I would recommend to anyone. I don’t think any of these series are going to be surprise anyone, as most are mainstream to an anime audience.
[Note] One Piece, Naruto and Bleach aren’t on the lists because I prefer(ed) the manga.
10. Dragon Ball Z
If this was a list of the series that I was the most nostalgic about Dragon Ball Z would be number one. Most of my childhood was centered on DBZ . The Cartoon Network would torture me by repeating the same arc’s over and over again. I must have watched the Radditz arc at least 50 times before they moved on to the saiyan arc. The series has come to define anime for many anime fans and non-anime fans. It’s hands down one of, if not the most popular anime series of all-time. Dragon Ball Z has been often mocked for it’s constant screaming and it’s “inaction sequences.” My mother would often comment “did they start fighting yet” as she would walk past the t.v. Despite it’s iconic status, DBZ as a series had a lot of problems. This is mostly due to running up against the manga. DBZ had many bad fillers, dragged out fights and at one point took ten episodes for planet Namek to explode. Even with this, the series had some of the most epic fights and has clearly left a mark on anime in general. Dragon Ball Z still remains an anime series that I consider a must see.
9. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
A mecha anime series by Gainax, Gurren Lagann focuses on mankind’s rise from a subterranean existence to the galactic exploration. Taking place in a future where Earth is ruled by the Spiral King, Lordgenome, a young digger named Simon and his “brother” Kamina dream of reaching the surface. As they and Team Gurren make their way to the skies, they engage in epic, over the top mecha battles. Gurren Lagann features high quality animation, surprising deaths, fanservice, theme music power ups and cool mecha designs. Gurren Lagann resulted in another anime classic for Gainax.
8. Made in Abyss
My favorite anime genre tends to be shonen, but Made in Abyss made me appreciate the seinen genre more. Made in Abyss plays with expectation, if you think the adorable characters are going to have a fun adventure, you are wrong. While only having one season under it’s belt, Made in Abyss had a profound impact on me. Exciting, ruthless, filled with body horror, tear jerking moments and has a intriguing mystery to discover. Made in Abyss is not for the faint of heart, but it’s worth the emotional scarring.
7. Hunter X Hunter
For some reason I kept avoiding Hunter X Hunter. After running into a little bit of an anime drought, I decided to give the series a try. I wasn’t disappointed. On the surface Hunter X Hunter feels like a typical shonen series, but it’s more than that. Gon Freecss, the main protagonists, is a prime example of the undermining of shonen tropes this series does. I loved it’s complicated power system (Nen), character development, action and the uses of a narrator. Narration seemed unnecessary at first but I think it is an amazing addition to the series that adds to it.
6. Mob Psycho 100
An anime from web-comic creator ONE, Mob Psycho 100, is about a 14 year old boy named Shigeo Kageyama. He aims to be ordinary despite the fact that he’s extraordinary with telekinesis. He is a complicated young man struggling with his emotions and fear of his power harming others. Mob Psycho 100 main moral lesson is that despite having an extraordinary abilities you still need work to improve yourself as a human. Mob in particular embodies this theme. Despite his psychic powers he doesn’t think he’s better than anyone. That said, Mob Psycho 100 is still a shonen series with fluid animation, bright colors, humor, funny characters and epic battles.
5. One Punch Man
The creator of Mob Psycho 100 is also the creator of One Punch Man. The title is to be taken literally, as the main protagonist, Saitama is capable of defeating most monsters with one punch. One Punch Man is a parody of the shonen superhero series. It makes fun of the over the top and somewhat silly nature of the typical shonen anime, that results in the main character always defeating the bad guy. It’s surprising how satisfying you find Saitama’s one hit victories. The series does have interesting action, usually it’s other less powerful characters are doing the fighting though. Despite this the series does manage to keep us wondering, which monster can make Saitama hit it more than once. The first season is considered perfect, the second one, not so much. Still, One Punch Man remains an important series for anime fans to watch.
4. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
The story of the Elric brothers, Edward and Alphonse is a sad, tragic tale. Born into a world that practices alchemy, the brothers arrogance leads them to believe that they can break one of the most important rules of alchemy. Trying to resurrect their mother, Ed loses his right arm and left leg and his brother loses his entire body. The brothers go in search of the “philosopher stone,” so they can transmute without consequences. While maintaining a sense of humor, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, is full of themes like sacrifice, death, selfishness, what is truth, and the value of life. If you want to watch an anime series that balances dark themes, comedy and great action, FMA is it.
3. Attack on Titan
If you read this far it’s clear that I love anime series that manage to successfully combine dark, mature themes with great action and top animation. Attack on Titan is a series that lives up to those standards. What separates Attack on Titan from typical series is the level of dreariness. While the main characters are largely safe, you’ll never certain. Secondary characters and any other character are fair game. With characters that are constantly underdogs, failure is the most likely outcome. Often in anime you feel that everything will be fine, in Attack on Titan your surprised that half the squad is still alive. Attack on Titan has mystery, what are titans (weird giant humanoids) and why do they eat humans? Conspiracies, what is the government doing? As they fight for human survival, the scouts deal with trauma, lost and death.
2. Cowboy Bebop
For many Cowboy Bebop is the greatest anime ever. Considered to be a masterpiece, Shinichiro Watanabe blends elements of westerns with elements of film noir. The classic anime series Lupin the third was a visual influence and the three main characters of Cowboy Bebop are inspired by Lupin, Jigen and Fujiko from Lupin. The overall story is influence by Japanese cinema. Cowboy Bebop also uses a jazz heavy soundtrack that is iconic on it’s own, marking a major departure from the common use of J Pop. Cowboy Bebop focuses on mature themes like loneliness and difficulties escaping the past, it’s well animated, well (voice) acted and generally entertaining. Cowboy Bebop is considered a “gateway series” for anime, and I couldn’t agree more.
1. Neon Genesis Evangelion
When I first began watching Neon Genesis Evangelion it was for the epic and violent mecha battles. I couldn’t comprehend the more complex themes and imagery woven into the narrative. Evangelion is credited with revolutionizing anime as a medium. Set in the year 2000, a global cataclysm called the “Second Impact,” changes the world. Antarctica is destroyed and the planet’s axis shifts, causing flooding and a altered climate. After nuclear war, half the worlds population is wiped out. Teenagers, Shinji Ikari, Asuka Langley Soryu and Rei Ayanami pilot massive mecha called Eva’s. Their enemy are physic altering monsters dubbed Angels.
Evangelion explores complex themes like depression, human subjectivity, and child abuse. The series makes many references to philosophical, psychoanalytic concepts, as well as references to Kabbalah, Christian and Jewish religions. Evangelion even uses religious texts like the Book of Genesis within the series and the Angels share names found in religion like Sachiel. The series has been described as both a ” both a critique and deconstruction of the mecha genre.” On the surface, Neon Genesis Evangelion, is a mecha anime with distinctly designed robots that engage in brutal battles. However, the series has levels of deeper and more sophisticated themes that makes Evangelion one of the most well regarded series ever.
The bond between Tanjiro and Nezuko has already been established a close. However, due to her being a demon and staying in the wood box she can be forgotten. Tanjiro manages to escape terrible damage from Rui’s thread, only getting a scarred on the face. Meanwhile, Inosuke is impressed with Giyu abilities. Giyu is annoyed by Inosuke and ties him up in a tree. Shinobu injects Zenitsu with an antidote, while other Demon Slayers arrives to free the others. Tanjiro is finally cornered by Rui’s web of threads, Nezuko jumps out of the box. She saves Tanjiro, but is severely wounded.
This event stuns Rui, who claims that he wants that kind of relationship. His pretend sister, becomes insecure. She asks “what about me,” he cuts her into pieces. She begs for a second chance, he tells her to kill the other Demon Slayers on the mountain. Rui tells Tanjiro that because he’s so moved by their bond, he will let Tanjiro live if he gives him Nezuko. Obviously, this isn’t going to work. Tanjiro refuses and tells Rui that he’ll kill him first. Rui finally reveals that he’s the member of the Twelve Moon. His eye says “lower five,” which is an odd way of to number between one and twelve. We still don’t know a lot about the Twelve Moon’s, but it seems that maybe the numbering isn’t quite straight forward. Regardless, he simply takes Nezuko. She slashes him with her claws.
None of this seems to bother Rui. He tethers Nezuko in his threads, cutting into her limbs as punishment. She falls to sleep in order to heal herself. Meanwhile, Tanjiro uses the Final Form of his Water Style. He’s able to cut the threads now and creates a water dragon. Realizing the threat that Tanjiro possess, Rui uses his Blood Art to strengthen his threads. We get a flashback of Tanjiro’s family, mainly his father. His father was frail and was able to dance to pray to the God of Fire. His father told him that he was able to dance because he was using “special breathing techniques.” Tanjiro transforms his water dragon into a fire one. He now able to cut the more enhanced threads.
Tanjiro moves closer to Rui, who finally moves into striking range. He accepts that he will likely die from their encounter. Nezuko is awakened by a vision of her mother asking her to save her brother. Nezuko uses her Blood Art: Blood Ignite, burning the blood on the threads. The fire travels along the threads, destroying the webs that Rui created. As Tanjiro says that “the bond between he and Nezuko can’t be severed,” his sword with Nezuko blood on it severs Rui’s head. My review won’t give this episode any justice. We’re talking about anime here. The animation and the music created a experience that gave me chills. To say I was hyped would be an understatement. If you can watch this episode, you won’t regret it.
This episode seem to have marked a low for the series in terms of animation quality. There was weird distant camera angles, coupled with no faces on the characters. The episode is weirdly inconsistent animation wise and was disappointing. After some research it appears that the episode was done by Osamu Kobayashi. He’s known for having ruined episode 4 of Gurren Lagann. This style change is dramatic and really just overall unappealing.
Anyway, it turns out that the nun and the children were sacrificed to demons. Sabame’s prosperity is like that of Daigo’s. The village is able to produce rice due to their willingness to offer the children to the demons. The weird demon baby is a collection of the spirits of the dead children. Hyakkimaru is of course driven to kill the moth demon, regardless of whether it will have a negative effect on the village.
At the end of this episode both Hyakkimaru and Dororo end up responsible for parts of the village being set on fire. After he kills the original moth demon he gets his spinal cord back. You would think this scene would be bloody but it was rather uneventful. Also due to the animation style I didn’t realize what happened at first. Blood would have made it more clear. When Dororo and Hyakkimaru return to the village it’s burnt down and many of the villagers are dead including Sabame.
I was so distracted by the animation I didn’t really get into this episode. Hyakkimaru seems to begin his downward spiral where killing demons is all he cares about. I’m going to assume that he will be tasked with saving lives or killing demons and choose the later. Meanwhile, Dororo and Hyakkimaru walk their separate ways, leaving Dororo to be found by Itachi and his men looking for Dororo’s half of the map. Overall, this episode was a bit of a disappointment. Hopefully, the rest of the season will return to a higher quality animation.
I gotta say I was kinda disappointed when this episode began. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy Mob’s family isn’t dead, I just wanted to see Mob go off. Regardless, Dimple quickly informs Mob that the bodies aren’t real. Mob uses his powers and locates the fire starters. Hanazawa Teruki is attacked at his home, meanwhile, Mob is attacked by a guy that uses electricity and one that can make “impregnable armor out of energy.” Mob crushes them with ease.
Former Claw 7th division member Koyama and Sakurai arrive and give Mob a ride. Reigen and the former members claw, have decided that they are going to use their powers for good. Elsewhere, we are introduced to several new characters. Claw Foreigner Squad members, Joseph and Udo, and the head of Claw, Suzuki Toichiro. They goal is to “declare war on the world.” Hatori, an Ultimate 5 uses his ability to project Suzuki onto the worlds televisions. He declares to the world that ” a new world is about to begin.”
Shou is watching and it’s now clear that he’s not the bad guy. Mob and Ritsu’s parents are fine. Claw Division 1 leader Tamaki explains the “plan.” Infighting between the Ultimate 5, Claw’s upper echelon and Claw traitors. It’s all so confusing. Joseph admits that he’s a government spy. The insurgences are quickly defeated by the Ultimate 5. As, Reigen and the rest are eating, it’s noted by the narrator that they missed the message due to having the television off. It’s a silly but plausible reason that they wouldn’t know what’s going on, otherwise, the conflict would arrive too early.
Shimazaki is sent by Suzuki Toichiro to kidnap the Prime Minister. He’s blind, but can predict the movements of others and teleport. He takes the Prime Minister to a park. It’s here he encounters, Teruki. He uses telekinetic explosion, air whips, pyrokinesis and a new multilayered barrier. He defeat by the quick, Shimazaki, who then teleports with the Prime Minister. Last weeks ending was manipulative of our emotion, I’m not sure what for. Mob never blow up as Shou wanted him to. It was a wasted plan. He’s correct that Mob’s not a fighter, so asking him for help of front wasn’t going to work.
Mob’s family and friend being in danger is the only way. However, wouldn’t simply waiting until his father tries to take over the world, then use that danger to inspire Mob work better? Also there’s WAY too man characters in this episode, almost all the espers from last season, Claw and Ultimate 5. We’ll likely get familiar with most of them later though. It’s safe to say that front this point forward the battle will begin.
To say this episode has a dramatic shift in tone is an understatement. This episode begins with Mob’s family in a park (when he was a child), enjoying a picnic. Mob falls, hurting himself and begins to cry releasing his powers. It’s both a contrast to the heart wrenching ending and a foreshadowing of what happens during the marathon. The episode begins with Mezato narrating the rise of the “Psycho Helmet Religion.” Mob now has a building named after him, the PHR has over 700 members and they are actively recruiting new ones. There seems to be no real religion dogma.
The annual Salt Middle School All-Student Marathon Contest is upon Mob and his classmates. Mob has decided that if he places in the top ten, he will ask Tsubomi out. Of course Mob is incredibly slow, having placed 291 out of 300 students last year. Mob is determined to improve in ten days anyway. Together with Reigen, Ritsu, Dimple and others he begins to train. As the day of the marathon arrives Mob is in good spirits. He quickly is knocked down, however. He falls in the exact fashion he fell in the opening and cut’s his knee in the same place. Bleeding, Mob continues his run.
The animation here is perfect. Mob’s odd running form, heavy breathing, his anguish and exhaustion are clearly rendered. Mob passes out. However, he doesn’t seem to be too sad about it. Meanwhile, Mob’s mother is making a special dinner for them, when the doorbell rings. It’s Shou Suzuki from the final episode from last season. The tone and since of urgency quickly shift. What’s he doing there? Is he a threat? Ritsu isn’t strong enough of a psychic to defeat him, what can he do? Walking home, Mob notices smoke from his home. He’s shocked to see his house on fire and walks in.
As Mob’s emotions increase toward’s the high 90’s, he remembers his family. While, we the audience are desperately hoping that they escaped somehow. We are given one last grasp at hope when Mob asks if “someone could’ve taken them, too?” I instantly though of course they were taken and not killed that would be TOO dark for this series. Until. Mob opens the door and witness a horrific sight, his families charred remains. Mob’s emotions quickly surpass 100%, as he becomes enraged. This season aimed to focused on Mob as a person, not as a psychic powerhouse. On that front their wasn’t much that we didn’t already know, Mob is a powerful esper.
Until this point in the season, Claw wasn’t a factor and it seemed like Mob and Reigen had forgotten about the organization altogether. However, Shou didn’t want to be part of Claw. Why would he risk the wrath of Mob? Considering the overall tone of the series and the fact that a series that has psychics could have “staged,” the “deaths” of his family. Or maybe I’m just hoping they did.
Dororo encounter a spider demon in the process of eating a man that seem infatuated with her. Hyakkimaru fights it off. However, she escapes when she webs Hyakkimaru to a tree. It turns out that the spider demon has been kidnapping the villagers. The demon wraps herself in a cocoon of web and turns herself into a normal appearing woman. She is found to by a man named Yajiro. He gives her the name Ohagi and feeds her rice. Dororo meets Yajiro, who tells him that a reward has been posted for the demon.
Yajiro is forced to keep working in terrible conditions. A man died during his job, Ohagi asks if it’s “worth working to death.” Yajiro captures a cockroach and lets it go. Ohagi asks why Yajiro saved it. He says he believes that “life is life,” and human and bugs are the same. Ohagi struggles to cure her hunger. She clearly likes Yajiro and is unwilling to eat him. Ohagi appears emaciated and Yajiro hopes to help her later. Meanwhile, Dororo and Hyakkimaru are hungry and eat flowers.
Hyakkimaru and Dororo encounter Ohagi and Yajiro at night. As Dororo tells him that she’s a monster, he reveals that he’s the kidnapper. He’s been helping villagers escape this miserable village. They are attacked by soldiers looking to capture Yajiro. Ohagi fights them, eating two of them. She and Yajiro escape, however, they are eventually caught by the soldiers. Yajiro is hit by several arrows, Ohagi attacks the soldiers. She transforms into her spider form, but unlike other episodes of Dororo she escapes with Yajiro, instead of being killed by Hyakkimaru.
This episode marks a departure from the others. We were use to evil demons being irredeemable monsters that needed to be killed however, in this episode we meet a demon with a heart. Or at least she liked one human. Ohagi’s aura marked this progression. As she changed so did the color of her aura, from red to orange. Of course because Dororo never remains in the same place characters are quickly developed, then discarded. The romance between Ohagi and Yajiro feels premature, but they were never going to get more than episode to explore their relationship. Regardless, Dororo continues to play with our expectations.
Oh. This episode is a glorious display of animation brilliance. If you been reading my blog for a while you should know my love of Sakuga animation. Mob Psycho has always been a top notch animation tour de force. However, certain episodes display this the best. I figured this episode might have great animation. I wasn’t disappointed. The facial animations, with the 12 minute fight scene was spectacular. The cost must have been through the roof. And to think we aren’t even half way through the season.
Anyway, let’s start at the beginning. The first thing you may not notice is that it’s letter boxed. I actual though the entire season was that way and I just didn’t notice. Seems to have been a design choice to add a dramatic effect. Mogami claims that the world he created features “accurate representations of actual people,” and is a “parallel world.” Supposedly the only change is that Mob doesn’t have his powers. Mob’s world seemed too harsh. He’s slapped by a teacher, he’s bullied like in the normal world, it wasn’t clear that Mob’s brother Ritsu was no longer his brother or simply didn’t care his brother was getting beat up. My best guess, he didn’t care. Asagiri pours milk on his head. Mogami implores Mob to “get stronger.”
Back in the real world. Dimple and Reigen observe Mob. Dimple assumes that Mob lost. Claiming he should have “been done in a minute,” instead of 30. Reigen has faith in Mob’s strength. Filled with negative emotion, Mob begins to succumb to his emotion. Dimple frees the captives while Mogami is distracted. He asks why Reigen continues to remain behind, since Mob is “done.” Reigen trusts Mob. Dimple decides that he will manipulate Mob “from the shadows.” Meanwhile, Mob finally gives into his hatred. In his despair he demands that Asagiri apologize.
Dimple arrives to save Mob from the illusions. He reminds Mob, that he and Reigen are waiting for him. Mob remembers all his friends. Accepting the cruelty the world can deliver, he fights Mogami. As I mentioned the fight is epic. You’ll have to watch it for yourselves. Eventually, Mob returns to his body and Mogami is captured by Matsuo. The mean girl, Asagiri returns to normal. However, she sincerely apologizes for how she treated Mob. He says that he’s “glad they” meet. With her father in the hospital she tells him that Mob saved her. Her father donates 500,000,000 JPY to the Psycho Helmet Religion. Reigen tells Mob not to let his powers consume him like Mogami, while the eat MobDonald’s. This episode has set the bar real high, I don’t expect the next episode to top this, will the season finally?
The fourth episode of Dororo, The Story of the Curse Sword , starts with Hyakkimaru enjoying the rain. With his ability to feeling returning many mundane experiences must be profound. Dororo doesn’t seem to be too impressed though. He talks to a woman that was praying for her brother to return from war. As they are talking a man asks for help, collapsing with a large gash in his back. Hyakkimaru sprints off and Dororo follows. They find a terrify sight, a massacre.
Hiding behind a tree, a man wielding a odd sword attacks Hyakkimaru. He claims that the the sword was “thirsty for blood.” He says that the sword overtakes the body of the wielder and forces them to kill. Dororo notes that the mans facial expressions tell a different story. He attacks Hyakkimaru. During the altercation, Hyakkimaru feels his first injury during combat, a small cut on his cheek. He’s able to disarm the man when the sword gets caught in his artificial leg. Unfortunately, Dororo grabs the sword when he tries to retrieve Hyakkimaru’s leg.
Long lost brother
Osushi (the woman from earlier) finds the swordsmen when searching for Dororo and Hyakkimaru. It turns out to be her brother, Tanosuke. Meanwhile, Dororo is being dragged against his will by the sword. He resist but eventually the sword puts him into a trance. Dororo arrives at a village, but Hyakkimaru intercepts him. As Osushi tries to reconnect with her disinterested brother, he remembers being ordered to murder a man that built his master a castle, because he feared the man may spill its secrets. A first he refuses but then he’s given a sword to kill himself with. He then murders the man with it. The sword is called Nihiru, it reawakens after Tanosuke murders the builders.
Hyakkimaru verses Tanosuke
Tanosuke is drawn to Nihiru. He retrieves it after Hyakkimaru disarms Dororo. He fights Hyakkimaru, and as Osushi watches in horror, Tanosuke is defeated and the Nihiru sword is broken. Destroying the demon sword means that Hyakkimaru gets a body part back. This time its his ears. The first thing he hears is Osushi crying in the rain. This episodes ending was tragic. While, Tanosuke needed to be killed it was heart breaking that his sister never really got to reconnect with him. Hyakkimaru returning hearing was bittersweet.
One question I have is, does Hyakkimaru have sympathy? He seems to save innocent people but maybe he just want to kill the demons and as a result he saves lives. Dororo believed that Hyakkimaru was trying to help him, what if he only wanted to destroy the sword? I love the direction of this series. The begin and ending of this episode paralleled each other, with Hyakkimaru looking up towards the sky as it rained.