The Cutting Edge of Anime

By Shannon H

It’s always going to be a big, fat mystery as to why the manga and anime publishers not only don’t keep more in step with what’s popular, but also why they don’t bring it over faster; most of the stuff to make it to our shelves is from at least two seasons ago in Japan. Obviously since fansubbers can get a new episode of an anime up within a few hours of its first air date, translation isn’t a problem. The issue of rights is probably the main snafu, but even then figuring out the worldwide anime market is apparently a giant business venture in Japan at the moment, so that’s not the problem. Really, it’s probably a question that will survive the end of all things, so I’ll quit expounding upon it, since my point is that there are plenty of new things happening in anime right now, and I’m here to help you keep ahead of the game. Here’s a quick run-through of fairly recent things I’ve watched and super enjoyed.

Most recently, I finished this amazing little half-season show called Princess Jellyfish (or Kuragehime), which is about a group of socially awkward otaku girls living together. However, they aren’t what you are thinking of when you hear the word ‘otaku’. In English we’ve come to associate that word with someone who likes anime and manga, but in Japanese it just refers to an overzealous enthusiast of any kind. So here, in addition to a fujoushi manga-ka, you have a girl who loves trains, one who is really into traditional Japanese dress, and another that is obsessed with the Three Kingdoms. The title character, Tsukimi, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, adores jellyfish. Her life is turned upside-down when she tries to rescue a spotted jellyfish from the local pet store, but is too afraid to confront the hipster shopkeeper until a beautiful woman intervenes and sweet-talks the situation into Tsukimi’s favour. But (plot-twist!!) it turns out that this lovely lady is hardly a lady at all, rather the cross-dressing son of an important politician! What follows is an incredibly touching story about inner beauty and the princesses that live inside every girl. I think it’s a great show for both dudes and dudettes, with plenty of great characters, stellar comedic timing, and lovely animation. One viewing of the opening credits should be enough to win you over with its overload of movie references >,< easy-peasy.

Another show I’m into right now is the brand new Studio BONES production, GOSICK. You like Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson? Well, this adaption of a popular light novel series is just the ticket for you. Though the beginning is a little rushed so that the main plot can get rolling, the meat–­and–potatoes of the show is entertaining in a Detective Conan sort of way. Victorique is the brilliant but unwanted daughter of an aristocrat living in a fictional European country just after the end of the Great War (aka WWI). She’s pretty much confined to the library of a ritzy boarding school, left to read until her attention–whore brother (who is the town’s detective) bustles in to pick her brain about impossible–to–solve cases and then take the credit. One day Kazuya Kujo, who is also a family reject, stumbles into the library and encounters Victorique. A friendship blooms between the two friendless teens, thus dragging Kujo into Victorique’s strange, mystery–solving lifestyle. The anime seems to have condensed a number of the mysteries from the light novels into one 24-episode series, but I think that they’re layered enough to keep the watcher trying to guess whodunit. And though Kujo is a little clueless (as the everyman Watson character), he plays off of Victorique’s Holmesian personality wonderfully. Definitely one to check out! Also, Victorique is definitely going to be the next cosplay fad, just you watch.

Since I’m running out of space, I will just briefly mention some of the other things I’m excited about. Namely there is Infinite Stratos, a cool new mecha anime where only women can pilot the mobile suits, which creates some interesting societal commentary and awesome battles. Another thing to keep an eye out for is the new Gundam series, Gundam AGE, which is due out in October. It seems to be aimed at a younger audience based on the art style, but it also is apparently going to cover more than one generation of MS pilots, which could be super interesting. If anything, at least they’re not trying to overtly rip off successful Gundam shows of the past, unlike certain OTHER lame-o additions to the franchise. (*coughSeeDand00cough*)

‘How do you see these things?’ you may ask. Well, there are lots of ways, and you don’t have to be an illegal internet pirate to do it, either. Most of these shows are streaming on Crunchyroll with permission from their original distributers as they are aired, so you can watch them right away. Another good source is as always conventions, as well as the jillions of forums on the inwebternetz that have reviews and previews for all the new stuff popping out in the Land of the Rising Sun. So quit settling for old news and get with the program!

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