In the second episode of Made in Abyss Season 2, Capital of the Unreturned our trio, Nanachi, Riko, and Reg, explore the sixth layer and find themselves being watched. They encounter some new beasts. The Mizoujack is a frog like creature that are considered “docile.” According to Lyza’s notebook their ” freshly laid eggs are good,” on of the main themes of Made in Abyss is survival. Not just for the humans but all the living creatures in the universe. It’s important to know which beast is prey and which is predatory. The environment is a part of everything’s survival.
Along with the bathroom humor (and realism) Made in Abyss uses food to illustrate how difficult life in the abyss is. The source of the food can be gross but it seems like Riko can always make them edible. Taking her mothers advice Riko and the others eat the eggs of the Mizoujacks. The eggs are round, spiral shaped, and light purple. After boiling them and killing the larva, they continued to move even after Riko fried them. Riko considers her friends at the higher level and she and Nanachi both write letters. They design a vessel to carry them to the surface but it’s comically snatch from the sky by flying creature.
After making camp Nanachi, Riko, and Reg awaken to find someone has entered their cave despite Reg’s trap, and Nanachi’s ability to read force fields. Regardless, whomever or whatever has stolen Riko’s white whistle, Prushka. With Reg’s keen senses the trio is able to track down a village. Along the way the locate a disturbing sight, two dead creatures with hairs from Riko and Nanachi stuffed in their anuses. A mysterious figure follows them watching as the reach the village. Once inside they encounter a number of creatures. One attempts to communicated with them. Majikaja as it’s called, looks to be stitched into a robot made of various materials.
It’s language is clumsy but sufficient to talk to Riko. Majikaja gave me an instant sense of dread. Knowing this series something terrible happened to it and yet I’m curious what occurred and what Majikaja actually looks like. Anyway, it tells them that “a specialist is working on the stone,” and they should “follow”. Made in Abyss Season 2 Episode 2 is well paced, further exploring the most dangerous layer, while introducing us to new creatures, environments, and dangers.
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.