KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!

anime konosubaEnglish:  KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!
Japanese: 
Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo!
Genres:
  Comedy, Fantasy
Episodes:  10
Aired:  January, 2016 to March, 2016
Hummingbird | MyAnimeList | Crunchyroll GogoAnime

“Kazuma Satou is a shut-in die-hard fan of games, anime, and manga. A traffic accident brings his disappointingly brief life to an end, or it should have, but he wakes up and sees a beautiful girl who introduces herself as a goddess. She asks him if he’d like to go to another world but he can only bring one thing with him. Kazumi chooses to bring the goddess. With that, he is transported to another world and his great adventure subjugating the demon king begins, but first the hard work of finding food, clothing, and shelter begins. Kazuma wants to live in peace, but the goddess raises one problem after another, and then the demon king’s army has its eyes set on him.”


KATELYNN’S REVIEW

Rating:  Solid 5 / 7 [ * ]
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
Started:  January 13th, 2016
Finished:  March 16th, 2016
Drink Pairing:  Peach Cider and raspberries for the Goddesses!

The weeks ahead are looking bleak without Konosuba.

aqua konosuba

If you haven’t yet dreamt of living in an alternate world and becoming the Hero of said world, then let this serve as a warning to you.  KonoSuba is a hilarious anime that follows Kazuma Satou through his afterlife where instead of going to Heaven to live happily ever after, he is reborn into a world terrorized and run by the Devil King and his monstrous army.  Aqua, the goddess who leads humans who die too young into ever-after, offers one special buff for being reborn into the world to give new Adventurers an advantage (to “avoid instant death”, but really it’s just bribery).

Kazuma was a professional shut-in NEET (as Aqua so affectionately refers to him) who only left his house on a bright, sunny day to buy a new game when he sacrifices himself to save a classmate from getting run over by a tractor.  Of course, given the opportunity to be reborn into a world he had spent years gaming and living in, avoiding reality, he jumped on it and began analyzing the buffs he could bring with him to his new life.  When Aqua rushes Kazuma into making a choice, he throws caution to the wind and chooses to bring Aqua simply out of spite.

And thus, Kazuma and Aqua begin their journey to become expert Adventurers.  Their stark personality differences and lack of cashflow (into their pockets) keeps them in the beginner starting town throughout the first season.  We see their misfit group grow with two other members – Megumin, a young crimson demon ArchWizard who can call forth the ridiculously overpowered magic “Explosion” that can beat almost all opponents, and Darkness, a Crusader with amazing endurance and a strong urge to protect and defend.  Unfortunately, the Goddess-turned-ArchPriest drains any cash with celebratory meals and her never-ending debt, the ArchWizard is rendered immobile after one burst of Explosion and tends to destroy most of the town (and any quest rewards) with it, and Darkness has a masochistic and perverted obsession with torture and pain.  The four of them make the perfect comedy group as they try to stay on top of their impending debt and lack of any useful skills, whatsoever.

“Pound me harder!”
 – Darkness

aqua konosubaLooking at KonoSuba, you could say that it takes a hard look at life and it’s unfairness and hides behind it’s wit.  No matter how hard you wish for something, and no matter how many people before you have gotten that same wish, it doesn’t mean that you will walk the same path or have the same experiences.  One choice does not end the same for any two people, and starting over doesn’t necessarily change things unless you work harder and harder to make it happen…

… I mean, I could go on with the bullshit but why bother?

“Hey, Darkness. I know how stubborn you are, but set aside your hopeless fetishes for now and join me at the edge of the road – ”
“Given my usual behaviour, it can’t be helped that you would think that way, but do you really think I’m a woman of such rigid adherence to my own desires?”
“Sure. It’s obvious you are.”
 – Darkness & Kazuma

KonoSuba is a fantastic self-aware anime that mocks the mainstream fantasy animes that play into the dreams of virtual realities, alternate dimensions, or being re-born and given a second chance (I’m looking at you, No Game No Life, Sword Art Online, and Log Horizon).  The characters are either overpowered and useless or useful and can-barely-hold-a-sword weak, but their flaws make them the perfect match for each other.  Unlike all other adventure shows, they start and end in the same town with almost exactly the same abilities (wait, my apologies – Aqua learns wicked awesome party tricks).  I’m falling short on words for this anime because it transcends words for me at this point – it’s so unbelievably fantastic and loveable and beautifully animated…

I’m not sure how you’ve gone through the first three months of this year without seeing KonoSuba, but you’re probably lucky because you can no-life the entire show without waiting for the next week.  Seriously, go watch this now.

“Explosion!”
 – Megumin

Barakamon

anime barakamonEnglish:  Barakamon
Japanese: 
Barakamon
Genres:
  Comedy, Slice of Life
Episodes:  12
Aired:  July, 2014 to September, 2014
Hummingbird | My Anime List | GogoAnime

“As a punishment for punching a famous Calligrapher, young handsome Calligrapher Handa Seishu is exiled on a small island. As someone who has never lived outside of a city, Handa has to adapt to his new wacky neighbors, like people traveling on a tractor, unwanted visitors who never use the front door, annoying kids using his home as a playground, etc. Can this city guy handle all the crazy hardships? Find out in this wacky island comedy full of innocence and laughter!!!”


KATELYNN’S REVIEW

Rating:  5 / 5
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
Started:  February 2nd, 2016 (?)
Finished:  March 15th, 2016
Alcohol Pairing:  Vodka gingerale – preferably something sickly sweet though, like blue-raspberry vodka and blackberry gingerale (IT’S A THING AND IT’S AMAZING).

“You ain’t gonna know unless you climb up yerself. Ain’t no way to look if you don’t try.”
– Kotoishi Naru

Barakamon is an adorable Slice of Life anime that makes you laugh, tugs at your heart strings, and makes you remember all the times you finally stopped worrying and stressing and finally appreciated the simple moments in life.

Handa Seishu is a professional calligrapher who devotes his life to the art of Calligraphy.  When his dedication goes overboard and he finds himself acting outside of the cool, collected artist (and using more of his fists than his wrists), he is banished to an island to cool off.  The city-hot-shot is completely out of his element and his reclusive habits are pushed to the limits as the neighbourhood children take a liking to him (and his house) and continue to appear out of the wood-work.  As Handa grows and matures, he teaches and is taught by the children and adults of the island.  Eventually, what started as an annoyance turns into the comfort that allows Handa to bloom into the independent calligrapher he inadvertently set out to be.

I absolutely loved this anime.  It was fluffy, funny, and memorable.  I watched three episodes months before I finally finished the season and I didn’t need a re-cap (trust me when I say this is an amazing feat with my horrendous memory).  Occasionally, Barakamon would pop into my head and acted like a cup of tea, radiating pure comfort.  I’d find myself vaguely wishing for mini friends like Naru and her gang, until I realized that I am Kosuke – Handa’s arch-nemesis calligrapher – who is terrified of both children and bugs, so I’m going with stick with adoring this anime from the comfort of indoors instead.

The animation fit Naru to a T – her personality shines through the flawless emulation of her character that feels so raw and familiar that if you don’t fall in love with Naru you failed the test.  The other characters have something absolutely astounding to them as well – I can tell their ages apart just by looking at them! It’s probably because I haven’t watched enough anime, but I was eternally when the elementary kids looked like they really were seven, the middle schoolers looked 11, and the high school students looked 18.  After realizing Handa is twenty-three, I didn’t mind that he looked like a high schooler because I’m twenty-three and some days I still feel like High School was yesterday so I relate Handa – I relate.

Despite the fluff, there were a lot of simple insights that lead to more in-depth moments.

“That’s because you keep looking up all the time. The trick is to wait patiently and pick up the ones from the ground around you. You won’t see any opportunities from below if you keep looking above your head all the time.”
– Yasu-ba

Each episode seems to focus on a flaw that we gain as we’re thrust into adulthood.  Stressing over something we’ve blown out of proportion, being overly critical of ourselves for not achieving what we set out for, and just learning to be an adult with the still raw rash where we used to wear our childhood like a badge.  They’re simple in their delivery.  As I tended to view Handa as an impossible character (mainly because calligraphy is non-existant in Canada… unfortunately), it took a moment for these simple statements to hit home – I’m sure some of them flew over my head because Handa barely reacts, simply says, “Oh,” smiles – and then Naru and cuteness resume.  But the fact that the adults giggle at how hard Handa tries to adult (and still send food over because he’s hopeless), that they just do what they always do and don’t bother to give Handa a helping hand if it would serve as a lesson, is beautiful.  Tough love.  Their little moments of brilliance usually followed, which was followed by Naru.  With a contrast as that, it’s a gentle reminder to relax and just do your thing.

Learning to grow up is hard, so stop beating yourself up.  Adults still have a lot to learn, too, but never forget how to play.

“You’re making Gloom-Fumes. ”
– Naru

Food Wars

anime food warsEnglish:  Food Wars!
Japanese: 
Shokugeki no Souma
Genres:
  Comedy, Ecchi, School
Episodes:  24
Aired:  April, 2015 to September, 2015
Hummingbird | My Anime List | Crunchyroll | Amazon

“Yukihira Souma’s dream is to become a full-time chef in his father’s restaurant and surpass his father’s culinary skill. But just as Yukihira graduates from middle school, his father, Yukihira Jouichirou, closes down the restaurant to cook in Europe. Although downtrodden, Souma’s fighting spirit is rekindled by a challenge from Jouichirou which is to survive in an elite culinary school where only 10% of the students graduate. Can Souma survive?”

 


KATELYNN’S REVIEW

Rating:  4.5 / 5
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
Started:  January 30th, 2016
Finished:  February 8th, 2016
Wine Pairing:  Something red wine-esque.  And food.  I dare you to get through an episode without getting hungry.

This show is like floating down a peaceful river in the rainforest, while monkeys and beautiful amazon men in loinclothes swing through the vines overhead.

It’s awesome.

Despite being an ecchi anime, the food animation is enough porn for any dedicated food fan – male or female, fan of ecchi or not.  I haven’t eaten much food since watching Food Wars! because I ate so much because all the food is animated so beautifully it makes you hungry.  I’m pretty sure at this point, I could be butchered for Mito and would be happy with my life.

Food Wars! follows Yukihira Sōma as he transitions from the second of two chefs in his fathers Diner, to freshman in the prestigious Tōtsuki Culinary Academy where only 1% of the class graduates.  To graduate is to solidify your career in the food industry.  But Yukihira doesn’t go in for the fame – he goes in to beat his father (who says that only if he graduates will he have a chance at becoming better than his father).  Of course, Yukihira is a typical ecchi protagonist:  naive, ambitious, spunky, and thick-headed.  As he moves through the first year, he makes friends, enemies, and fans while only viewing everyone else as a challenge.

The characters that are brought into the show are diverse, unique, and hilarious in their own way.  While almost all other characters are brought in, and still are, opponents for Yukihira to beat in his journey to become the top chef at Tōtsuki, you can’t help but become fond of the opponents and root for them and Yukihira at the same time (very conflicting).  Some characters develop, some are just strong for the sake of being strong and dangle the awesome anime episodes that could happen if a challenge arrose right in front of your nose, and others are just for comedic effect.  Regardless, they are all unique and diverse and contribute to the overall feel that is the food industry.

Out of the whole anime, I believe my favourite thing about Food Wars! is how they make cooking look like an epic battle between contestants, with animation plays on the knife usage, produce throwing, and perspiration of the chefs.  The exaggeration of the cooking and the showdowns compliment how serious the Food Industry truly is, but it also makes this anime hilariously epic in it’s seriousness.

Overall, I think Food Wars is a full-frontal food porn, light hearted, fun anime that is great fun to watch.

Try it! It’s so disgusting you’ll laugh!
Yukihira Souma

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One Punch Man

one punch manEnglish:  One Punch Man
Japanese: 
 One Punch Man
Genres:
  Action, Comedy, Parody, Sci-Fi, Super Power, Supernatural
Episodes:  12
Aired:  October, 2015 to December, 2015
Hummingbird | My Anime List

“In this new action-comedy, everything about a young man named Saitama screams “AVERAGE,” from his lifeless expression, to his bald head, to his unimpressive physique. However, this average-looking fellow doesn’t have your average problem… He’s actually a superhero that’s looking for tough opponents! The problem is, every time he finds a promising candidate he beats the snot out of them in one punch. Can Saitama finally find an evil villain strong enough to challenge him? Follow Saitama through his hilarious romps as he searches for new bad guys to challenge!”


JONATHAN’S REVIEW

Rating:  5+ / 5
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
Started:  October 4th, 2015
Finished:  December 20th, 2015
Booze Pairing: Miller Genuine Draft

Have you ever wanted to watch a show about insanely-overpowered, hyper-generic, anime Superman that destroys everything in his path with a single punch? If the thought never crossed your mind you probably never would have wanted it. Personally I didn’t know I wanted One Punch Man until I started it, then I couldn’t get enough; to me it was the anime equivalent of heroine.

This show is a HUGE parody on shounen battle anime in general, from the cities, to the Main Character’s name, and even the Antagonist’s designs, the aura of satirical creativity is endless in this anime. The entire gag of the show is that Saitama doesn’t operate within set ‘power levels’ that many anime establish, and he can apparently warp and bend the laws of physics and logic around him at will because regardless of how strong his opponent is he will always win; as far as the show itself is concerned he’s unbeatable for the sake of comedy, which I have no personal complaints against. Getting back to the show itself, One Punch Man is just so much fucking fun to watch, both sober and at all levels of inebriation; the animation style is gorgeous (MADHOUSE has put out some seriously beautiful anime these last few years), the jokes are perfectly timed and don’t seem forced, and the show constantly pokes fun of many shounen troupes while still maintaining a semi-serious, badass undertone that just made the anime for me. The ‘overarching’ plot doesn’t develop until a several episodes in, but it’s there nonetheless and the show isn’t purely episodic as it might first appear to be.

You’ll know whether or not this anime is for you from the first few episodes, but I will say this: Two of my roommates back at my university residence more or less despised anime in general, and yet they both fell in love with One Punch Man. If that doesn’t speak volumes as to the audience One Punch Man can reach then I don’t know what will. I just hope you enjoy it half as much as I did.