Monday, March 30, 2015

Anime Bowl Toonami Podcast - Episode 1

The first Anime Bowl Toonami Podcast!

My longtime friend and reader of this blog Michael had an idea to start a podcast on Toonami, so here it is. We talk about the new episodes that aired in the previous night of Toonami. I end up rambling and off-course a lot, but he reels me in. I'm still figuring things out on how to get the podcast on iTunes and to flat out get it on this blog, so please be patient with me.

Intro: 0:00
Dragonball Z Kai: 0:45
Kill la Kill: 7:09
Sword Art Online II: 18:48
InuYasha The Final Act: 30:27
Naruto Shippuden: 32:48
One Piece: 34:44
Attack on Titan: 38:25

2015 Anime Bracket: Final 4


It's time... for the Anime Bracket Final Four! We've got a foursome of deserving winners here, but only one can claim the ultimate prize. Let's first go with a tale of the tape:

#1 Homura Akemi
MADOKA Region Champion
2013 Anime Bracket Champion
2014 Anime Bracket Champion
16-0 all-time in Anime Bracket history

#14 Ryuko Matoi
TENCHI Region Champion
First year in field; 4-0 record

#1 Rei Ayanami
EVA Region Champion
2011 Anime Bracket Champion
2012 Anime Bracket Runner-up
2013 Anime Bracket Runner-up
2014 Anime Bracket Runner-up
31-5 all-time in Anime Bracket history

#2 Haruhi Suzumiya
FULL METAL PANIC Region Champion
2010 Anime Bracket Runner-up
2011 Anime Bracket Runner-up
20-6 all-time in Anime Bracket history

#1 Homura Akemi vs. #14 Ryuko Matoi
So here it is: Ryuko's best chance to prove herself on a big stage. The only way to get to the championship and get past Homura, is to, well, beat it out of her. No one's ever beaten Homura before. Homura's been resting on her laurels, having a strong fandom behind her, and possible problems being put off by my failure to see Rebellion. But the time has come for a new type of female character. Rather than one who is rather mysterious and quiet, it's time for one who speaks her mind and takes matters into her own hands. That's right, it's time for Ryuko - who battles through an entire show full of crazies to make her own name known. It's not easy picking against Homura; it never will be. But Ryuko's my pick to move on to the championship. She's won me over from her very first episode, which is not easy to do with me. She becomes the lowest seed ever to reach the championship match.
Winner: Ryuko

#1 Rei Ayanami vs. #2 Haruhi Suzumiya
So it's a rematch of the 2011 championship match, won by Rei. These are two girls with immense fandoms behind them, ones that can't quite be summed up easily in a battle write-up like this. Rei's had an incredible consistency in this competition, having made it to the championship match the last four years. But like the Homura-Ryuko match, it's time for the loud and proud character to beat the quiet one. Haruhi Suzumiya has deserved a chance to prove herself as worthy of having her face on this blog's banner. She's battled hard for years and years, and now she's finally going to get that chance again. I'm feeling in the Haruhi mood right now, and because of that, I've got to pick Haruhi. She knocks out Rei, and finally gets back to that championship match.
Winner: Haruhi

And thus it'll be Ryuko Matoi vs. Haruhi Suzumiya for the 2015 Anime Bracket Championship! See you tomorrow!

Friday, March 27, 2015

SAO II Premiere Liveblog

Live Blog SAO II Premiere Liveblog
Are you ready for some Toonami? We're liveblogging everything Saturday night. That's right. From the first minute of the first show (DBZ Kai) to the last minute of the last show (AoT) and especially Kill la Kill and SAO II. It's a marathon liveblog, and hopefully the start of a new tradition here at the only place you can find love for Leafa, the Anime Bowl!

2015 Anime Bracket - Elite 8

Time for the regional finals of the 2015 Anime Bracket! We'll decide the members of the Final Four here. Four matches, four winners. Here we go.

MADOKA Region Final

#1 Homura Akemi vs. #3 Soi Fon
Well, I really wish I had better news for Soi Fon, as she goes back to the Elite Eight, only to come up empty again. Homura remains as one of my absolute favorites (obviously), and Soi Fon doesn't have much of Bleach recently in order to boost her. And I know as soon as I see Rebellion, something's going to change about my view of Homura, for the positive or for the negative. But for now, I haven't seen it, and thus I've got to go with Homura. That makes it 5 straighte Elite Eight losses for Soi Fon.
Winner: Homura

EVA Region Final

#1 Rei Ayanami vs. #11 Madison Taylor
So Madison has once before been in a regional final - up against Sango back in 2010. As opposed to Rei, who has been in a regional final every year of the tournament's history! Rei's still a strong character, even if I haven't seen her recently. Madison (or Tomoyo, of course) was such a fun character in Cardcaptor Sakura, and that goes for whether you go by the dub or the more accurate sub. Still, I'm such a big Rei Ayanami fan, I have two artbooks devoted to her, as well as a figure (and plushies). And thus Rei Ayanami is on to the Final Four once more, but Madison gave her all she could handle.
Winner: Rei

FULL METAL PANIC Region Final

#2 Haruhi Suzumiya vs. #9 Izumo Kamiki
This is a tough one. How do I choose between two of the craziest characters in the field? I think Haruhi definitely has the bigger body of work to go by. After all, Haruhi owns an entire fandom, where as Kamiki is simply a supporting character in Blue Exorcist. At first I thought that Kamiki might win this whole thing, but she's run into Haruhi, who still has a lot to offer after all these years. Ultimately I've got to go with Haruhi to make it to the Final Four for the 4th time.
Winner: Haruhi

TENCHI Region Final

#9 Armin Arlert vs. #14 Ryuko Matoi
So, it's the region of Cinderellas. Both of them are in the field for the first time ever, so both are absolutely undefeated in this tournament's history. Armin's somewhere in between a main character and a supporting character - it's up to you to decide where he falls on that chart. It's a tough one to call, really. Trying to pick between these two isn't easy, but ultimately I got to go with the female. Yeah, you know I like the girls, but Ryuko has offered so much so far in Kill la Kill that I'm willing to pick her to win yet again. And thus Ryuko becomes the lowest seed ever to reach the Final Four at #14.
Winner: Ryuko

So the Final Four is set! It'll be Homura vs. Ryuko, and Rei vs. Haruhi. See you next week for those matches!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Endless Eight 8: How did that end, anyway?

Endless Eight episode 8 review

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So I decided to go back and watch the last episode of Endless Eight. We all know how that ends, right? Just like how Data remembered the number 3 and used that to break out of the endless cycle, Kyon convinces Haruhi to help him with his homework in order to break out of the endless summer. What I was more concerned about was how this episode was presented in the English dub version.

There were a few nuances I noticed throughout the program, like Kyon talking in a deep voice, that made me think that, as advertised, the English dub cast had a little fun with recording this episode. I've always been impressed by Wendee Lee as Haruhi. Oh, and Crispin Freeman as Kyon. Oh, okay, the whole cast. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya probably has the best of the best English dub casts. They pretty much pulled together an all-star lineup, and it shows in the high quality of their performance.

There really isn't that much more to say about the actual episode, but I really like how the final scene was performed. Haruhi in her own special way managed to make Kyon's choice all about her, and the acting was superb. And it's sort of to be expected, but it's still worth pointing out.

Episode rating (out of four stars): **½

2015 Anime Bracket - Sweet 16

There's a lot on the line, as we reach the final sixteen of this tournament. Not only are berths in the regional finals on the line, but very much like the real-life NCAA tournament, we have an undefeated character from years prior (Homura of course) going for yet another championship.

MADOKA Region

#1 Homura Akemi vs. #5 Haruka Tenoh
I think there's a rather obvious connection these two share - not that there's anything wrong with that! Haruka benefits from the "anything goes" rule of this tournament - I can choose characters based off anything. As Gul Madred said in Star Trek: The Next Generation, it's all "subject to my whims." And I do have a Sailor Uranus body pillow. Not that means anything, of course, if Homura is her same awesome self. But I heard that she's different in Rebellion - and yes, I haven't seen Rebellion yet, it's one of those movies I've just got to watch. Oh, I forgot, Homura did nothing wrong. And get this - I had Haruka penciled in here as the winner - but I just can't go up against Homura here. Not yet, at least.
Winner: Homura

#2 May Chang vs. #3 Soi Fon
So it's super-cute May Chang up against super-tough Soi Fon. I don't think Soi Fon would stand for May Chang's cuteness for one moment. Soi Fon has to be one of the most consistent characters in this tournament - she's won a match every year, and she's been to 4 Elite Eights in a row (failing to make the Final Four once). In other words, she's just like the Florida Gators, until last year, that is. (*whoosh* over your head that one goes - just trust me, Florida lost in the Elite Eight several years in a row) May Chang has also been very consistent - in getting knocked out by Rei Ayanami every single year. However, there's no Ayanami to knock her out this time around - it's all Soi Fon, standing in the way. Not sure where the Bleach manga has gone - though I know it's gone somewhere dark - but Soi Fon escapes with a close one here to make it back to the Elite Eight once again.
Winner: Soi Fon

EVA Region

#1 Rei Ayanami vs. #5 Leafa
So Rei benefits from everything - including the fact that recently someone put out an English translation of her video game, the Ayanami Raising Project. And even in broken English, Rei's so cute, especially when she refuses to eat meat. This by the way is a battle of the two figures I bought from Ohayocon. They're sitting on a table near me. Leafa's made it a long way to actually be considered in this thing. You notice that there's no one else from Sword Art Online? And SAO II comes back - will Suguha get a role in it? Eh, it doesn't matter. Even if she does, Rei is still better.
Winner: Rei

#7 Kyubey vs. #11 Madison Taylor
Kyubey and Madison both love magical girls, don't they? That's a real stretch, even by my standards. Madison's got an obsession with Sakura - who hasn't made the tournament in some time, and even when she did, was only a low seed who didn't win any matches. Is the magic in Kyubey's face, or is it in Madison's video camcorder? You know what, this is like one of those matches in the NCAA Tournament where you keep on rooting for the underdog even though they're not much of an underdog anymore. Like #11 UCLA in this year's tournament, #11 Madison is not really an underdog; she is an awesome character whether you know her by her true name Tomoyo, or if you're an old-school Kids' WB watcher like me. Madison pulls off yet another upset - yes, it's getting crazy in here.
Winner: Madison

FULL METAL PANIC Region

#9 Izumo Kamiki vs. #13 Rukia Kuchiki
Kamiki is obviously my favorite character from Blue Exorcist, an anime I feel is very underrated. Yet she was the only character from Blue Exorcist to make it in this year - if you'll recall, last year Rin Okumura got knocked out in the play-in game. Rukia, however, is from Bleach, which once got an entire region to itself. This time around, it's Kamiki riding the wave of support I threw to her last summer, and Rukia putting up about as good of a fight as possible, but not quite having enough. If Kamiki could knock off Kaname Chidori, she can knock off Rukia too, and advance to the Elite Eight in her very first tournament.
Winner: Kamiki

#2 Haruhi Suzumiya vs. #3 Asuka Langley Soryu
It was five years ago, when these two met in a match for the 2nd Annual Anime Bracket Championship. Asuka won by an eyelash, and that was nearly the end of it for Haruhi. Yes, Miss Suzumiya got back to the final in 2011 (like Butler), but she fell short again. Haruhi's itching to get her face on my blog. Oh, did I mention that the winner gets her face as my Twitter profile picture too? That's even more reason for Haruhi to want to win. But how does she get past Asuka? Asuka got a low seed based off recent results, but she's an all-timer. It's hard to ever go up against Asuka, but after my recent watching of The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, long-haired Haruhi won my heart - and Haruhi wins this match. There will be no third championship this year for Asuka.
Winner: Haruhi

TENCHI Region

#9 Armin Arlert vs #13 Hinata Hyuga
If you had told me back in Episode 3 or so of Attack on Titan that Armin would be in the Sweet Sixteen, I'd tell you that it would only happen in a "joke" bracket. (Like the "joke" bracket I made on April Fools' Day several years ago.) And all I've talked about with Hinata is how she got her happy ending - not so much about her as a character. She is a great character, a lot like me. But no anime character is more like me than Armin. He has no self-confidence, yet there's something inside him that begs to be heard from the world outside him. He has something to say, he just can't say it. How about all those voices in his head while the cannon's pointed right at him? That reminds me so much of myself. Now I can't say that I've come through in the clutch like Armin has, but I sympathize with the guy's weaknesses. He's a true winner, not a loser, and his run continues into the Elite Eight.
Winner: Armin

#2 Ryoko Asakura vs. #14 Ryuko Matoi
The strength of the beginning of Kill la Kill are about to be tested. Is Ryuko really that good of a character to continue on in this tournament? The answer may surprise you: yes. She is a fantastic character, one who breaks all the boundaries for a female lead. She isn't like any other character in this field, especially as a lead. Now she's up against Asakura, the beautiful girl with a knife, who's had lots of recent success in this tournament. But Asakura is worn out from the tight match she had against Yuki Nagato, and she doesn't have it in her to knock off an upstart Ryuko. Yes, that's right, Ryuko will reach the Elite Eight as a #14 seed, and she'll have a chance to become the lowest seed to ever reach the Final Four as she goes up against Armin.
Winner: Ryuko

And thus the regional finals are set!
MADOKA Region: #1 Homura Akemi vs. #3 Soi Fon
EVA Region: #1 Rei Ayanami vs. #11 Madison Taylor
FULL METAL PANIC Region: #2 Haruhi Suzumiya vs. #9 Izumo Kamiki
TENCHI Region: #9 Armin Arlert vs. #14 Ryuko Matoi

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

InuYasha TFA 15: Fly Me (Back) to the Moon

InuYasha The Final Act episode 15 review

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I wish I had a screenshot of the hilarious frame where Naraku's eyes had come out of nowhere to appear in space to watch the InuYasha-Sesshomaru forced battle. That was absolutely hilarious. Not only that, but he was talking as his eyes appeared. It was an unintentionally funny scene.

In fact, everything about this episode was unintentionally funny. From the fact that Sesshomaru knew Naraku was setting a trap, but stepped right into it - to the fact that InuYasha and Sesshomaru were stuck in the underworld "for good" yet it only lasted a couple minutes - to of course InuYasha and Sesshomaru being transported to THE MOON to have their fight - I couldn't stop laughing during this episode.

What is with all this love for the Moon? Gurren Lagann had a fake Moon and a real Moon. InuYasha now has a fight on the Moon - which was like 3 yards in diameter. And let's not forget the very fact that Sailor Moon exists. It's as if humans used to actually go to the Moon. But that's ancient history.

So InuYasha gets even more powered-up - what else would you expect from a shonen series? Now the question is, how does Naraku respond - or was this all part of the plan, like it always is? I don't know.

I miss Miroku and Sango.

Character of the episode: Sesshomaru
The fact that he knew it was a trap from Naraku but stepped into it anyway - that's the type of insanity we were dealing with today.

Episode rating (out of four stars): **½