List: My Favorite Sci-Fi Anime

Last time, I shared my five favorite fantasy anime. This time, the science fiction genre gets the focus as I share my five favorite sci-fi anime. Instead of being a top 5 list that ranks these series, I am listing them in alphabetical order.

Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop is set in the year 2071, and the series features a crew of bounty hunters traveling around in a spaceship called the Bebop. The crew of the ship includes Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, Faye Valentine, Edward, and Ein. This unusual group of people travel the universe as bounty hunters. Many of the episodes focus on a particular bounty that the crew is trying to apprehend, and sometimes there will be an emphasis placed on the backstory for one of the main characters.

One thing that makes Cowboy Bebop stand out is how the series is able to combine several different influences you wouldn’t normally expect to see together, yet the writing makes these disparate influences work well together. Over the course of the series, you can see influences from kung fu films, westerns, science fiction, and film noir.

I appreciate how the character development is handled in the series, and how it turns out that everyone aboard the Bebop is damaged in some way. The series perfectly infuses lots of Western influences into it, and combining this with the storytelling, characters, and the music, it becomes a very enjoyable anime to watch. It’s this uniqueness that helps Cowboy Bebop rank among my top five favorite sci-fi anime.

Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem

Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem is an anime film produced by Toei Animation and supervised by Leiji Matsumoto. The members of the band Daft Punk specifically asked Matsumoto to make this film to bring their Discovery album to life.

One of the most fascinating things about this film is the fact that the story is only told through animation, music, and minimal sound effects; there is absolutely no dialogue in the film. However, the lack of dialogue doesn’t hurt the production, because a viewer can piece together what’s taking place in the story with relative ease.

The story features for blue-skinned aliens who perform together in a band. They are kidnapped by humanoids, their memories are altered, and their skin color is changed to make them look human. The kidnapper, who makes himself their manager, also implants mind-control devices on the band members. A pilot named Shep, who is the same race as the blue-skinned alien band, tries to free the band from their captor’s control.

Overall, Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem is an incredible viewing experience, and Matsumoto was able to effectively utilize the music and visuals to convey the story.

Martian Successor Nadesico

The series takes place in 2196, a year after a race of aliens known as the “Jovian Lizards” attacked Earth’s colonies on Mars. Earth is now at war with the aliens, and a company called Nergal designs a battleship known as the ND-001 Nadesico.

The main protagonist of the series is Akito Tenkawa, a young man who had once resided in Mars’ Utopia colony and escaped its destruction. When he escaped, he awakens on Earth with no memory of how he got there; however, he has a fear of the Jovian Lizards. He doesn’t want to fight and dreams of becoming a chef. After a chance encounter with his childhood friend, Yurika Misumaru, he ends up on the Nadesico; Yurika is the ship’s captain. After coming on board, Akito is constantly asked to act as a pilot for an Aestivalis, which is a humanoid combat robot.

There are actually quite a few characters among the crew of the Nadesico, and they all add something important to the mix. But even with all of these characters, the primarily focus falls onto Akito. The series follows him as he changes from the frightened young man who’s forced to pilot a mecha and fight the enemy to someone who’s more decisive and realizes what it is that he needs to do.

Martian Successor Nadesico has a mix of comedy and drama, but the mixture works well for the story that’s being told in the series. While the characters either fall into character types or may be exaggerated at times, I still came to like them and to care about them. Ruri was one of my favorite characters, and I never got tired of her constantly referring to the rest of the crew as “fools.”

As I watched Martian Successor Nadesico, I found myself recognizing references from some earlier mecha and space opera anime series. I was primarily finding references to Space Battleship Yamato and Super Dimension Fortress Macross, and I believe I even found a couple of references to Neon Genesis Evangelion and Mobile Suit Gundam in this series.

One of my favorite elements, though, was that Gekigangar III, an anime that’s popular in the world of Martian Successor Nadesico, became an “anime within an anime.” But it’s not included just to help provide some of the jokes and humor in the series; it actually plays an important role in the story of Martian Successor Nadesico.

Neon Genesis Evangelion

The story of Neon Genesis Evangelion goes back to the year 2000, when a global catastrophe known as the “Second Impact” occurred. During this event, Antarctica was destroyed, and half of the human population of Earth was wiped out. The government announced that the cause of the disaster was due to a large meteorite landing on Antarctica. However, it turns out the “Second Impact” was caused by experiments authorized by an organization called Seele; the experiments were actually done by a research organization called Gehirn. They were experimenting on “beings” that are referred to as Angels and Adam.

Three years later, Gehrin evolved into a paramilitary organization called NERV, which is located in Tokyo-3, a militarized civilian city located in one of the last dry areas of Japan. Seele has given NERV the mission to locate the remaining Angels and destroy them, and accomplishing this through developing biomechanical mecha called Evas. Each Eva has its own designated pilot, and operates by synchronizing the pilot’s soul and the human soul inside the Eva; this is done by using a liquid substance known as LCL.

The series itself starts in the year 2015, and the main focus is on Shinji Ikari, the 14-year-old son of Commander Ikari. Shinji is ultimately guilt tripped into piloting an Eva after seeing Rei Ayanami, an Eva pilot who has been injured. Shinji suffers from anxiety, depression, lack of self esteem, and loneliness, which are qualities that probably aren’t the best for an Eva pilot. When Asuka Sohryu Langley joins the other two as a pilot, this causes more problems for Shinji.

Neon Genesis Evangelion seems to start out normally enough, but as the series progresses, the viewer comes to realize there’s a lot more going on than there appears on the surface. By the end of the series, there’s been a serious look at the psyches of all three of the main Eva pilots. While the evolution of the feel and storytelling of the series can be a little frustrating the first time you watch the series, it actually turns out that this element is what makes Neon Genesis Evangelion stand out from other sci-fi anime. The series ultimately takes things to “the next level,” and it’s a series you’ll never forget after you’ve watched it. For me, I find that I gain a greater appreciation for the series each time I see it.

Space Battleship Yamato

Not only does Space Battleship Yamato rank among my top five favorite sci-fi anime, it also ranks among my top five anime from the 1970s and 1980s.

I first encountered this series when I was a young child; of course, at that time, I saw the English dubbed version, which aired in the United States under the title of Star Blazers. I’ve never had the opportunity to see this series in its original Japanese version, but I have seen the first five anime films in the franchise in Japanese.

As a child, and even now when I watch this series as an adult, I’m riveted by the quest of the first series. The story features a group of people going out into space and into the unknown in order to make a journey to a distant planet to obtain a machine that will rid the Earth of the pollution that was brought about by “planet bombs” dropped onto our world by an alien race. It’s fascinating to see this crew trying to adapt to being together on a spaceship, leaving the known galaxy, and heading out into the unknown.

With the second series, it was interesting to see how the Earth had been rebuilt after the successful completion of the mission in the first series. As a kid, I always thought it kind of sucked that Earth was in danger again from the Coment Empire after being restored to its former glory.  While this series didn’t have quite the epic scope as the first one, it still included some mystery and intrigue.

While I have seen the third series, The Bolar Wars, on two or three occasions as an adult, I have to admit that I don’t remember it as well as the other two series. That’s probably due to the fact that my sister and I taped the Iscandar and Comet Empire episodes off of television and had the ability to watch them over and over as we were growing up, so I have the nostalgia to go with that. The Bolar Wars isn’t bad, but it’s just not as memorable to me.

Anime Blu-ray Review: Evangelion 3.33 You Can (Not) Redo

Originally written for WatchPlayRead.com

Evangelion 3.33 You Can (Not) Redo is the third of four films for the Rebuild of Evangelion, which retells the story of the Neon Genesis Evangelion anime series.


Evangelion 3.33 You Can (Not) Redo
Directed by: Hideaki Anno, Mahiro Maeda, and Kazuya Tsurumaki
Written by: Hideaki Anno
Starring: Megumi Ogata, Megumi Hayashibara, Yuko Miyamura, Maaya Sakamoto, Akira Ishida
Run Time: 93 minutes (theatrical version), 96 minutes (uncut edition)
Rated: TV-14

For viewers who have already seen the original television series, it’s readily apparent right at the beginning of this film that the story has progressed past the ending of the original series. But any viewers, whether they’re fans of the television series or are experiencing Evangelion for the first time through the films, will find themselves feeling very confused for almost the first 20 minutes of the movie. It’s not until after Shinji Ikari is retrieved from Evangelion Unit 01 and is brought to see Misato Katsuragi that the audience starts receiving the exposition that’s needed to understand what’s happening. It’s revealed that 14 years have elapsed since the end of the second film, Evangelion 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance, and that Shinji has been sealed away for all of that time. Perhaps Anno purposefully opened the film in a way to leave the audience as confused as Shinji until he learns what’s happened. By telling the story this way, I think it helps the viewer to better empathize with Shinji.

The character of Kaworu is introduced in this film, and he ends up having a bigger role here than he did in the original television series. The film was better able to develop the relationship between Kaworu and Shinji than the original television series did, so it’s much easier to believe that Shinji would be affected by something that happens to Kaworu during the movie. I really liked the scenes of Kaworu and Shinji playing the piano together as they bond to become a team, even with some of trippy animation of the piano. But this different animation style helps to make the scene memorable.

But poor Shinji goes through a lot over the course of Evangelion 3.33 You Can (Not) Redo. He’d already been dealing with self-esteem issues and depression prior to this film, but between missing out on 14 years, having a couple of bombshells dropped on him that make him realize that he didn’t actually know what he thought he knew, and a major event happening right near the end of the movie, Shinji becomes completely broken. As a viewer, I was left with very serious concerns for him at the end of the movie, and how his mindset will end up setting the stage for the next film.

This film also has a much darker feel than the previous two films. On the surface, this was an obvious choice because the world has become even more of a dystopia due to the Third Impact event that took place at the end of the previous film. However, I also believe the darker feel also emphasizes Shinji’s mental state as everything he thought he knew falls apart all around him.

Fans of the Neon Genesis Evangelion anime series might have problems accepting how the story progresses during this film. While I’ve seen the original series, I’ve been trying to keep an open mind while watching these “rebuild” films. With the changes that were made to the story during the first two films, the progression of the story in the third film makes a lot of sense. Although, I have to say that seeing what happened to Misato and Ritsuko and the other characters that we knew from NERV 14 years later and discovering they have a much different role now, took a lot of getting used to as I watched this film. But I was glad to see Mari, the new character introduced to the Evangelion franchise in the second “rebuild” film, have more of a role in this movie. After seeing this film, I can see why Mari was added. With Shinji sealed away for 14 years, they needed to have another Eva pilot around for the story to work.

When it comes to the bonus features on the Blu-ray release of Evangelion 3.33 You Can (Not) Redo, there were a lot of trailers, teasers, and TV spots included. But in this case, quantity didn’t necessarily mean quantity. Many of the promotional spots seemed to be rather similar to each other, to the point that I had to watch carefully to find any noticeable differences. The “Rebuild of EVANGELION 3.33” feature included 11 minutes of various scenes, showing how they progressed from the storyboard to the final version that appeared in the film. FUNimation also made sure to include previews for other anime releases they were promoting at the time the Blu-ray pressing of this film was released.

I would recommend Evangelion 3.33 You Can (Not) Redo to viewers who have watched the previous two “rebuild” films and enjoyed them. For the “rebuild” films as a whole, I would recommend them to fans of Neon Genesis Evangelion who won’t mind the changes that have been made to the story, as well as to newcomers to the franchise. However, newcomers should be aware that while you don’t necessarily have to see the original television series to enjoy the films, they could be a little lost early on until information begins to be revealed during the second and third films.

Five Worst Fathers in Anime

Originally written for WatchPlayRead.com

Last month, I focused on the five best fathers in anime. This time, I will be focusing on the worst fathers in anime.

This list features the worst fathers that have appeared in the anime that I have personally seen. I’m not ranking these choices into numbers, because it’s just too hard to figure out which fathers rate worse than the others.

Gendo Ikari (Neon Genesis Evangelion)

Gendo may be a brilliant scientist, but he’s very cold toward his son, Shinji. After Shinji’s mother dies during a test of an Evangelion unit, Gendo abandons his son. Gendo doesn’t have much contact with Shinji until he is 14, when he summons his son to come to Tokyo-3 to become the pilot of an Eva unit. Gendo uses an injured Rei as a way to force a reluctant Shinji to become a pilot. But even after Shinji becomes a part of Gendo’s world, his father is still very cold and distant to him. As the series progresses, we learn that Gendo isn’t just a bad father he’s also a very ruthless individual.

Genma Saotome (Ranma 1/2)

Genma is the father of Ranma, and he started showing himself as a bad father when Ranma was a young child. He took Ranma on a decade-long training voyage to improve their martial arts skills, and he told his wife that if Ranma could not prove himself as a man after his training they would both perform seppuku. During their journey, Genma would constantly make deals with fathers of young girls for their daughter to be betrothed to Ranma in order to gain something he wanted, which was usually food. Genma also decided to teach Ranma “cat-fu” by throwing him into a pit full of cats after only reading one page of a training manual, and this caused Ranma to develop a lifelong fear of cats. And Genma is also the one who took them to the cursed springs at Jusenkyo even though he couldn’t read Chinese and didn’t pay attention to the tour guide.

Shou Tucker (Fullmetal Alchemist)

Shou is the Sewing-Life Alchemist who had supposedly produced a chimera capable of human speech. When Ed Elric and his brother, Al, go to see him to pore over his library of texts, they meet his daughter, Nina and their dog, Alexander. The Elric boys learn that Nina’s mother had left the family two years earlier, but it’s later revealed that this was a lie perpetuated by Shou. While Ed and Al are at Shou’s home, Shou is desperately trying to pass his yearly State Alchemist assessment since he hasn’t had a breakthrough since his chimera two years earlier. Shou becomes so desperate that he uses his alchemy to create another chimera by merging Nina and Alexander into one being. Ed then learns that Shou’s first chimera had been created by merging his wife with an animal. Ed becomes rightfully angry, and this incident plays an important role for Ed’s development as a character.

But Shou is an absolute jerk who only cares about himself and is willing to sacrifice his family in order to get what he wants. He easily makes the worst father list because he used his own young daughter as a test subject to create a lie just to keep his standing as a State Alchemist.

Sabato Rokudo (RIN-NE)

Sabato is the father of series protagonist, Rinne. Sabato is the head of the Damashigami Company, an illegal business where renegade shinigami steal the souls of people who are not yet ready to die. When Rinne was a child, he was sent to live with his grandparents, and Sabato would be seen sneaking into Rinne’s room to steal money from his son’s piggy bank. When he’s caught one day and Rinne says he’s saving money to see his mother, Sabato cheerfully informs his son that his mother is dead. Now that Rinne is older, Sabato takes out IOUs in Rinne’s name and burdens his son with a mountain of debt.

In the series, Sabato also tries to force Rinne to take over his company that is essentially in business to murder people, even though Rinne hates his father and has no interest. Sabato is a very greedy man, and has no scruples with doing whatever he wants to try to achieve his goals.

Charles zi Britannia (Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion)

He is the emperor of the Holy Britannian Empire and is the father of Lelouch. Charles fathered children with 108 consorts, and installed almost all of his offspring into important positions in the empire to see their true abilities. But he didn’t view his children as people much, although he did seem to care for a select few of them.

When Lelouch was 10 years old, he questioned his father and Charles disowned his son right then and there. As part of being disowned, Lelouch and his sister Nunnally were sent to Japan as political hostages. In the second season, we see Charles using his ability to rewrite memories on Lelouch.

This list represents my personal opinion, and it is not meant to be a definitive list. Are there any fathers that you believe have been overlooked? Let us know in the comments.

Nominees for the 46th Seiun Awards

The 54th Japan Science Fiction Convention (Nihon SF Taikai) has revealed the list of nominees for the 46th Seiun Awards. The awards this year are separated into nine categories: Japanese Long Story, Japanese Short Story, Translated Long Story, Translated Short Story, Media, Comic, Art, Nonfiction, and a “Free” category. Each category has between 4-10 nominees. The nominees were chosen among works that were released between January 1 and December 31, 2014.

The attendees of “Comecon” in Yonago in Tottori prefecture will vote on the winners. The 54th Japan Science Fiction Convention will take place during the convention, and the staff will announce the winners on August 29, 2015.

The nominees of the Media and Comic categories include:

Media Category

  • Expelled from Paradise film
  • Space Dandy TV anime series
  • Interstellar film
  • Uchu Senkan Yamato 2199: Hoshi-Meguru Hakobune> (Space Battleship Yamato 2199: Star-Voyaging Ark) film
  • Big Hero 6 film (called Baymax in Japan)
  • Kill la Kill TV anime series
  • Nazo no Tenkosei (Mysterious Transfer Student) television drama

Comic Category

  • Gainax, Khara, and Yoshiyuki Sadamoto’s Neon Genesis Evangelion (all 14 volumes)
  • Masayuki Ishikawa’s Moyashimon (all 13 volumes)
  • Kosuke Fujishima’s Oh My Goddess! (all 48 volumes)
  • Tamiki Wakaki’s The World God Only Knows (all 26 volumes)
  • Kazuhiro Fujita’s Moonlight Act (all 29 volumes)
  • Riichi Ueshiba’s Mysterious Girlfriend X (all 12 volumes)

Source: ANN

Weekly Evangelion Chronicle Magazine Is Returning for a Third Time

Publisher DeAgostini is relaunching the Weekly Evangelion Chronicle magazine for a 20th anniversary edition.

The magazine initially premiered in 2006 and ran for 30 issues, and it was revived as a “new and revised edition” in 2010 with a planned 40 issues, but ultimately went on to publish 50 issues. With this new revival, the plans is for the magazine to have 60 issues.

The first issue will ship with an exclusive binder, and two more binders will be sold as a set. When the magazine was revived in 2010 there were four planned binders, but this time there will be six. Subscribers will also receive a 30-magnet set in a paper frame.

Each new issue’s 32 all-color pages will be split into different sections, including some new sections: mechanic, character, timeline, storyboards, design, gallery, petit Eva (super-deformed characters), story file, tactics, installation (a guide to locales), technology, and extra.

Source: ANN

New York Times Manga Best Seller List: February 8-14, 2015

Here are the top 10 selling manga in the United States for the week of February 8-14, 2015, according to the New York Times.

1. Neon Genesis Evangelion Volume 14 by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto
2. Assassination Classroom Volume 2 by Yusei Matsui
3. Unofficial Hatsune Mix by KEI
4. Attack on Titan Volume 1 by Hajime Isayama
5. Sword Art Online: Progressive Volume 1 by Reki Kawahara and Kiseki Himura
6. Dragonar Academy Volume 5 by Shiki Mizuchi
7. Say, I Love You. Volume 6 by Kanae Hazuki
8. Akame ga KILL! Volume 1 by Takahiro and Tetsuya Tashiro
9. Alice in the Country of Joker: Circus and Liar’s Game Volume 7 by QuinRose and Mamenosuke Fujimaru
10. Black Butler Volume 19 by Yana Toboso

Source: The New York Times

FUNimation Comments on the Status of Evangelion 3.33

FUNimation Entertainment has commented on the status of the release of Evangelion 3.33 in the FAQ section of their website.

The entry reads:

What is the status of the home video release of Evangelion 3.33?

We are working directly with the Japanese studio and the original creator on the upcoming Evangelion 3.33 home video release. This is a unique opportunity that presented itself to us, and since the plot for Evangelion 3.33 is so different from previous story lines, we are thrilled that the creator has asked to be so heavily involved in this project. Studio Khara has even decided that they would like to create their own special subtitle tracks for the release! We thank you for your continued patience as we work to confirm a release date. Please keep an eye on our social channels and our website for more updates!

Source: Crunchyroll