Category: Anime


A Village Shrouded in Death ~ Shiki

“Death is terrible for anyone. Young or old, good or evil, it’s all the same. Death is impartial. There is no especially terrible death. That’s why death is so fearsome. Your deeds, your age, your personality, your wealth, your beauty… They are all meaningless in the face of death.”

Crosses, stakes, garlic, sunlight – these are the instruments of destruction and safekeeping that were once thought only to exist in fairy tales. But what if all the stories held some semblance of truth? What if monsters aren’t simply shadows of the mind, something kept far from causing us harm and danger? What if…Shiki.full.223876

In a small, desolate mountain village most known for its shrine and burial rituals, there remain many people comfortable with the way life is. The village doctor tends his patients under strict family practice guidelines carried down through his lineage; a young monk and novelist upholds his duty to the shrine, following in his fathers footsteps; and children work hard at school, studying for exams in hopes of either following into their parent’s footsteps or even perhaps to one day get far, far away from the somber place of their youth.

However, nothing ever truly stays hidden or the same.

When a young couple and child move into the old European style mansion on the hill (far out of place in a village of this measure), the locals look on in wonder.  Their big city style and mannerism is unheard of and not to mention that nothing good has ever come from that mansion since it creation. It was just what drew villagers away and drove some too it at the same time.

One particular villager, a young fashionista girl by the name of Megumi, became enamored by the couple; and earned her place among the first of many deaths that would occur over the next few months. Day  by day, more and more villagers fell to this strange illness. Rumors of a summer cold gone instantly severe and incurable crept through the clinic and thoughts of an epidemic were told to be kept under the strictest of secrecy.

Shiki 03It’s not long before suspicions arise of a force beyond the control of humans; something reigning from a realm far more supernatural of nature. Shiki, roughly translated to “corpse demon”, are vampiric in nature from their unprecedented strength and aversion to sunlight to their desire and need for blood. As more and more villagers die from unknown ailments the problem is no longer what is causing this plague nor how to cure it; but rather how many will rise up after their death and join the enemy’s ranks.

Shiki is a 22 episode anime that follows the transformation of a small quiet village through its untimely downfall into the mouth of hell. As two polar opposite protagonists, Natsuno, a young loner with few acquaintances and even fewer close friends, and Toshio, the village’s most trusted and only doctor, begin to follow their instincts into an unlikely possibility; they find that their efforts may have begun entirely too late.

Vampire series often follow a similar trend, yet it is how they stray from the norm and portray themselves differently that truly can make one stand out above others. Shiki excels in this category not only through a wide character cast but also through the overall mood and presentation of the storytelling. Certainly, going into this series most will have a generous idea of what is to come; yet many will not be able to predict exactly how each twist will turn out or even the surprises lurking within each twist.shiki1

At first, everything seems very predictable; and to a large extent, it is. However, the story unravels in a way that leads the viewer to soon question those very suspicions. Characters that never seemed to have much significance or depth begin to take on a whole new role. The lines between good versus evil are not clear cut; black and white meld into a shade of gray that leaves you feeling torn and emotionally attached to certain characters no matter what their affiliation. Whatever stance you take on the story at the beginning may not hold through to its end and that is something that makes this series truly gripping.

How can we be expected to love those that kill? To feel pity for those only following their instinct? Perhaps there is no correct choice; and in the end, that might just be what makes us who we are.

“Is it so bad that I want to live? Is that my sin?” 

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“They say life is powerful because there is death in everything…is that really true?”

How selfish the human race becomes when significant power stands to be obtained.

There are those that believe this world holds more than meets the eye.  What people regularly see and know is referred to as the outside world, the world in which most people dwell – and then there is the world of Nabari.

Ninjas.  Samurai.  Hidden villages.  Conflict.  War.  Forbidden Techniques.  It is a world few outsiders even know exist, and even fewer belong in; and those that discover themselves wrapped within its constricting depths usually find little but sorrow left in their wake.

Recently, a particularly formidable forbidden technique called the Shinra Banshou has been rediscovered within the body of an apathetic young man by the name of Miharu Rokujou.  This power has the potential to make its user the ruler of Nabari, the iconoclast of the world or any other desire the wielder may harbor.  However, Miharu has only recently discovered that he is the  the vessel of this power and he doesn’t want it…but there are plenty that will gladly take it off his hands by any force necessary.

Nabari No Ou is the story of an reluctant boy thrust violently into a world beyond his control.  The Banten Ninjas, which include his classroom teacher Thobari Sensei and fellow classmates Kouichi and Raimei, aim to protect Miharu and ensure the Shinra Banshou is never activated or used.  Alternatively, the Kairoshu will stop at nothing to obtain the Shinra Banshou for their own selfish purposes, even going so far as to enlist a Kira user (a forbidden and dangerous technique that grants the user extreme force of power in exchange for their own life force) within their ranks.

As if those facts alone do not complicate things enough, various other factions become involved, bringing their own forbidden techniques into play.  Not to mention Miharu befriends and promises to help the Kairoshu Kira user, Yoite – an act that blurs the lines between friend and enemy for nearly all parties involved.

Nabari No Ou is an 26 episode series packed with action, humor, blood and emotion.  The diverse cast of characters may not seem like much at first but as the truth emerges their depth and charm truly come to light.  You will both love and hate them and find yourself switching allegiances and loyalty as selfish desires, misunderstood bloodshed and bonds deeper and more tangled than anything imaginable are revealed.  There certainly are flaws and the story tends to crawl at times, but the characters and art more than help make up for that.  If nothing else it is entertaining.  After all, who doesn’t enjoy entering the world of the shinobi every now and again?

– A samurai’s sword should only be drawn for judging and killing. It can never save others. –

Good and evil. Darkness and light. The world lies perfectly balanced on the edge of a salient blade. How does this universe maintain it’s perfect level? Perhaps there are forces at work beyond normal human comprehension ensuring the path stays impeccably aligned.

Just imagine if you could be granted any wish you could possibly dream of. However, in order to maintain balance, in exchange for your miracle a contract must be made; a contract that will ensure the eventual, cruel end to your life. Would you take it? Is there anything you would want bad enough to risk everything you love – to risk your very life for? Think carefully…some mistakes cannot be undone.

The contract spoken of is one of becoming a magical girl. In exchange for a granted wish, a small cat-like being named Kyubei will enter into a contract with the chosen girl.  From that point forward, the magical girl lives only to hunt down and destroy witches that inhabit and curse the city, causing unrelenting despair and tragedy in their wake.

This is no easy task though and oftentimes death is the only reward the magical girl receives for her blood, sweat, tears, triumphs and defeat. As Madoka Kaname and Sayaka Miki are about to find out, becoming a magical girl is both an unimaginable dream and an unending nightmare as they set out down a lonesome path of tears, mistrust, and ever fading hope.

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica is a magical girl anime that brings about a darker, more terrifying side to the genre. A major decision can change the fate of every character and their loved ones in a matter of moments – but what is the right choice to make?

This anime is one that has really stood out this past year, and it is easy to see why. The characters and story are beautiful and sad, offering twists and fragments that lead to significant revelations and emotion throughout the entirety of the series.

The music and artwork of this show also stood out to me in a vibrant way. The score offered mystique and wonder which transitions effortlessly into confusion, sadness and terror through captivating and passionate pieces. Both the opening and closing included Connect! by ClariS and Magia by Kalafina (an exceptional group created by Yuki Kajiura). Visually, the art is unlike any other anime. The main images appear soft at times, almost as if it is lightly colored with pencils and gives the entire show an almost ethereal feel to it. The witch’s lairs also stood out immensely as an amalgamation of rough animations and cutout imagery – violent and chaotic with harsh conflicting colors and unpredictable actions.

I cannot believe I waited so long to watch this and am exceptionally happy that I have seen it now. There was not one episode that I did not enjoy. I feel as though there is much more I could say about this show, but I do not want to give away anything; which would undoubtedly happen if I continued. So, I will leave it as is. Remember that no matter how you may wish for your life to change, sometimes what you already have is more than you could ever ask for…or ever need.

Don’t forget.

Always, somewhere,

Someone is fighting for you.

Calamity – an event that brings terrible loss, lasting distress or severe affliction.

It all began 26 years ago when a terrible accident, its causes still unknown, occurred resulting in the unfortunate death of a popular honor student at Yomi North Junior High, 9th grade class 3. Distraught over the student’s death, the teacher and students continued on as if the dead student were still present; they left an open desk in class and even a seat at graduation. No one could ever explain how the dead student showed up in their graduation photo at the end of the year – a mystery that would eventually lead to malice, grief, and death.

Since then, every 9th grade class 3 has had to take special precautions to prevent the calamity from re-occuring. So long as the rules are strictly followed, the year will pass without occurrence…

However, when “another” student is added to the class or things that do not exist are tampered with, events begin to take a turn for the worst. Once the curse is activated, a student or family member will die every month of that school year until graduation. They say that the additional student is actually dead, but even they themselves do not know it and there is no physical way to tell who the extra or dead student might be. Although there are many rumors surrounding this curse, little is actually known except that it is a very real situation for those in class 3.

Transferring from Tokyo, Koichi Sakakibara is scheduled to start 9th grade at Yomi North Academy, class 3. Unfortunately, due to a lung condition, he is forced to start school a month late. Seemingly unrelated at the time, Koichi meets a strange girl with an eye patch in the hospital elevator. As the elevator finally comes to rest at the morgue, the girl gets off, pausing just long enough to answer that she is giving a doll to someone who is staying there.

The girl’s name is Mei Misaki, an enigmatic figure that doesn’t seem to be completely in touch with this world. Having spoken with Mei and a few classmates already, Koichi is soon thrown directly into the center of confusion and mistrust: no one will tell him what is going on, why people are horrifically dying, or anything involving the terrifying calamity that has begun. Everything soon rages out of control as students and family members begin to succumb to gruesome accidents and blame is thrown back and forth in anger and in fear. Nobody knows how to stop it; but if they don’t figure something out, it is uncertain who will survive to graduation…if anyone.

Another is a horror/mystery anime containing numerous elements of my hearts contentment. I somehow knew that I would enjoy this one, but then again I simply love anything within the horror category from utterly terrorizing to completely cliche. Horror, mystery, curses, strange relationships, death, violence, gore, blood, dolls and intriguing characters all make up this cruel story of unfortunate events. As the series progresses you will come to question nearly every character and their motives; never knowing who, if anyone, can really be trusted.

How far would you go to save a life?…to save your own life?

I know Another isn’t perfect, I will say this straight from the start, but I really did enjoy this one. The first few episodes set the mood and scene so well, you cannot help but begin feeling the dread and anxiety of the situation. The characters of the series also add a certain level of depth as you will not only begin to empathize with many of them, but it also enhances the overall fear and creates a more prominent impact when their lives come to such horrid ends. It is a bit slow in revealing what is actually going on, but at the same time this adds to the overall tension the series aims to create.  It is also more of a survival horror anime than a mystery series (not that I am complaining ^^), although the clues are there if you know where to look for them and can drag your eyes away from the numerous death scenes.

As for the ending, it is probably one of the most critically looked at parts of the series. It is not terribly difficult to discern where the final showdown will be taking place; but the actual climax and revelation of everything happens quite abruptly and ends with about as much flair. There are a few unforeseen aspects that add a nice touch to the overall bloodbath and chaos; and watching the students paranoia and complete collapse of sanity, even in the most sturdy of characters, truly adds to an atmosphere already filled to the brim with panic and suffering.

Despite its flaws, my love for the genre and everything it encompasses still places this anime high on my list. Another possibly unrelated note is that much of this show also reminded me of one of my favorite game series, Fatal Frame, in which I found many similar elements shared between them and perhaps also contributed to my instant attraction to this piece (“I wonder how long it’s been since my brother and I began to see things other people can’t see“, dolls, calamity, violent death…the list goes on and could probably be formed into a post all by itself).

If you are fan of this type of story then I would definitely recommend watching this. Be warned though, there is a great deal of blood, death and violence and absolutely nothing is left to the imagination. It may not be perfect, but see what you think for yourself.

After all, it’s only a fight for survival against a horrifying unseen and unstoppable force. Do you think you would make it out alive?

Death is not kind. It’s dark, black as far as you can see, and you’re all alone.

All alone…

Yes, but it’s no different when you’re alive, is it? No matter how many relationships we seem to have, we’re all alone.

Baccano!

If you ever had to ask yourself what the most incredible asset to the mafia could be, what would you say?

Guns? Ammunition? Liquor? Fast cars? Finely pressed suits??

How about alchemy and immortality?

Ding ding ding! Now you’re thinking! (Though the other suggestions were good too). But just imagine what can be accomplished when you eliminate the fear of dying…well, dying permanently at least. The possibilities are endless…

This is where a ragtag group of gangsters, thieves, scientists, and even a few bystanders find that they all have at least one common factor between them. Be it by luck, accident, purpose or simply being in the wrong place at the right time, a majority of this large cast of characters has gained immortality – effectively upping the ante on any and all jobs, tasks, or trouble they find themselves getting into.

Baccano! is an anime that accomplishes things that many other animes try to attempt and often fail. First off, it is a very large cast of main characters for the overall length of the series.  The characters all fit into one of five or so different groups that all pass by and coincide with each other throughout the entirety of the series; and yet it feels as though all characters get ample screen time to fulfill their part of the story. As for the story, it is not told in a general ‘first this, then that happened’ type of fashion nor is it told between present time and flashbacks. It is a mixture of everything. Simply stated, you cannot merely watch an episode or two of the series then give up – it will all come together in time. It may sound odd, but its ’round-about almost random selection of event scenes’ way of story telling does not leave out a single detail; and by the time the end comes around, all of the pieces fall perfectly into place.

As for what the story is about, it is hard to go into without giving too much away. It involves an event from two hundred years previous and a slew of exploits occurring within and around the early 1930’s in prohibition era New York. Mafia, thieves, gangsters, violence, alchemy, grand panacea, a mysterious boat expedition and a terrifyingly chaotic and dangerous train ride are all key elements that this series’ plethora of characters find themselves in and around.

It is a show of humor, violence, mystery, blood, action and crime – and definitely worth watching. As with most entertainment associated with the mobster genre, language and brutality should be noted and expected. Maybe it’s not a household name and the characters aren’t well known, but it is an amusing and fun show to watch with nary a dull moment. Especially for its short time investment, even if you aren’t a big fan of the genre you should consider giving this one a shot.

“Cast aside the illusion that there is a beginning and end to the story. The story has no beginning. And it has no end. All there is, is a performance of people connecting, living, influencing each other, and departing. ” ~Gustav Saint Germain


Theirs was the story of a promise; a tale of the great ruler of monsters and the boy who gave his all to her, and the eternal bond that they shared.

For as long as they have existed, humans have always wished to turn a blind eye to things they do not understand. Monsters, ghosts, vampires, werewolves, spirits – the list goes on; and most, if not all, of these beings are simply chalked up to fantastical writer’s musings and creative minds.

But what if they are wrong?

This world in which people live is a dangerous place where being different and going against the norm can entail severe consequences. So what if the world suddenly came to realize that these “fictional monsters” were in fact very much real? A world where vampires, beastmen, and other wonders walk amongst humans on a daily basis; simply using their fictional status as a shield against harm. However, the time for hiding away in secret has finally come to an end.

Vampires have made their presence known and the ruler of the vampires, Mina Tepes, has announced the creation of a place called the Vampire Bund – a place where all vampires can live in safety. Humans, and even some vampires however, are not so eager to accept this agreement and arguments over the bund, vampires, and their overall relationship are thrown into question at a rapid pace.

Meanwhile, Mina has been reunited with her sworn protector, Akira, with whom she made a lifelong promise with as a child. Akira is a member of the earth clan and is also a werewolf; but due to the failure of an important mission involving the vampire true bloods one year ago, he has lost nearly all of his memories and constantly struggles to piece his past, and his life, back together. Of those memories, one of the first to return is the promise he made to Mina as well as his love for her. Although his protection at first lies wholly on instinct, it soon forms into a duty he would lay down his very life for.

Dance in the Vampire Bund is a supernatural anime series involving action, romance, and malicious plots from every angle. The goal sounds simple enough: to create a specified area as a haven for all vampires of the region – but no plan is ever so flawless. Various Japanese politicians plan to withhold support and backing for the bund, a rebel band of humans and vampires called Telamir take constant action to destroy any peaceful prospects between the races, and the three true blood leaders bear their fangs and power in hopes of marrying the princess and continuing the blood line. Even amidst all of this turmoil,  a glimpse as to how humans are dealing with the emergence of vampires is seen through the academy Mina and Akira both have connections to. As students either run in fear or become vampires, the lines begin to blur between friend and enemy; and knowing who to trust can make all the difference.

As characters go, in general most people will form some kind of opinion of them whether it be love, hate, endearment, annoyance, envy or admiration. But what happens after all is said an done? Oftentimes, many of these beloved characters fall to the background – gone but not forgotten.  Every so often though, a character may emerge that truly stands out. Mina Tepes is one of these characters. She takes the form of a young girl with long blonde pigtails dressing in all fashions from school girl to Lolita to medieval dresses. But despite her appearance, Mina is anything but a child. Being one of four true bloods and the ruler of vampires, she is not one to be taken lightly as she is much wiser than her 9 year old appearance implies. She is a strong willed spirit that will stop at nothing to ensure her goals are reached; yet at the same time, she has a caring heart and even through the most difficult of situations she retains the perfect image of strength and courage. Although she wishes for humans and vampires to be able to coexist, she does not hold this above the safety and well-being of her own people. One of her main purposes even for building the bund was to provide a sanctuary for the fangless – vampires who voluntarily removed their fangs so as to not feed on the blood of humans. Mina draws her strength not only from within but from those loyal and close to her; especially Akira, and the unwavering trust they have for each other.

I honestly wasn’t too sure what I would think of this anime for the first couple of episodes, but somewhere along the line it drew me in (and don’t even think of comparing it to Twilight…just. don’t.). Some people criticize it for certain elements within, particularly concerning designs and occurrences with Mina in her childlike form; but from what I saw, they are not present enough nor create such impact as to mar and detract from the story being told. The story itself weaves a twisted path and oftentimes no matter how you want to feel about a character, their decisions dictate an automatic response – at least temporarily. Perhaps what drew me in was that the vampires, werewolves, and other beings have actual reasoning to what they do and how they exist. For example, vampires are generally destroyed by sunlight, however when a certain substance is spread on their skin they are allowed to walk in daylight for a limited amount of time unharmed. It does not simply magically happen. Perhaps it is the masterminding political intrigue that keeps everything between humans and vampires in a tumultuous state of order. Or it could be the relationships the characters form with each other. Or maybe it is simply a tried and true method of the princess and knight in shining armor deal, which even in all its overused glory still holds a certain charm.

I must admit that this short 12 episode series that I had very little expectation for has intrigued me – more so now than ever. I do plan to read the manga for this as well, and who knows how my thoughts and inclinations may change afterwards regarding what I have written here.  But regardless of reason, I am glad to have found this and look forward to reading more into it.

Even if you end up as the world’s enemy, I’ll still be your knight – Squall, FFVIII

Interesting fact: Mina’s name in the series comes from two distinct and well known entities. Mina is the name of the original woman Dracula sought as his bride in the original novel. Tepes is the Romanian word for ‘impaler’, originating from the historical warlord Vlad the Impaler.  This was a man often recognized by his patronymic name, Dracula, and who’s excessive cruelty was known and feared throughout Europe during the mid-1400s.

I also recommend listening to the opening theme: Friends ~ Aika Nakano

Future Occupation: Demon King

Things never seem to turn out quite how you’d like them to, especially when your entire fate is already decided by the first day of school:

“Future Occupation: Demon King”

Akuto Sai always dreamed of becoming a bearer of light for the people, ranked among the highest order of magicians and changing the world in the best and most peaceful way possible. Yet despite his wishes, Akuto is destined to become the future Demon King – the destroyer of everything; and no matter how hard he tries to do the right thing it always ends up backfiring. However, even despite the general consensus of terror attributed to him by the students of the academy, Akuto still manages to acquire a few quirky “friends”.

These “friends” include the android, Korone, who is a surveillance agent sent by the government to watch over and report on the future Demon King; the whimsical airhead, Kena, who constantly skips class, disappears, and eats more rice than can possibly be healthy; the class representative and Iga ninja clan heir, Junko, who inwardly battles herself on her feelings towards Akuto; a weaker classmate, Hiroshi, who is destined to one day become a hero and affectionately calls Akuto “big brother”; and lastly, Miss Eto, the head of the girls dormitory who dreams of avenging her brother’s death and becoming the next Demon Queen.

Together, this mismatched group faces droves of angry students, strange encounters, rogue demon beasts, unknown magic abilities and a chance to defy the very fate handed to them.

Demon King Daimao is a short 12 episode series encompassing a predictable yet amusing story, charming characters, and a humorous outlook presiding over the entire ordeal. Sure, the first episode pretty clearly shows what the next 11 will be about; but the small trials and odd situations that abound throughout the series are enough to keep you entertained.

It is good versus evil from a devil’s advocate perspective.  What if the greatest future evil is really doing what is best for the world while the good everyone knows is actually holding people back? Which side do you follow? Is there even a reason to this madness?

The anime is obviously not too complex, you don’t need note cards to keep up with everything that is happening, but at the same time it is an enjoyable show to watch. The characters are easy to like and their individual, and oftentimes insane, antics could make even the sternest of individuals crack a smile.  Even though there is only one season, it covers everything it needs to; and I think most people will be fine with how it turns out.  Of course, if for some reason that isn’t enough, people can always fall back on the manga to help fill in loose ends.

Maybe, after all is said and done, the presence of a Demon King could actually bring about some good in the world; and if not, well, at least it was fun while it lasted!

“If I’m fighting you with parlor tricks, then you’ll have no excuse for losing, will you?”

If you float around the internet long enough you may come across something by the name of Touhou – but what is it really? It seems most people either know what it is, or they don’t. Is it an anime? A video game? Manga? Art? Fanfiction? Music!? Most know of it but not as many know where it originates, or how far spread its fandom truly reaches. I, myself, was one of those left completely oblivious to its immense awesome-ness. So now, let me lead you into a world known as The Touhou Project…

For those who may be unsure if they know what I’m even talking about yet, perhaps you have seen this video (and if not, watch it anyways – it is amazing and you’ll be caught up to speed with the rest of us):

So what exactly is it then? The Touhou Project, or Project Shrine Maiden, comes in various forms; but at its very core lies an anime style shooter game. Created by one-man developer Team Shanghai Alice, its only member (known as Zun) is responsible for nearly all of the music, graphics, and programming. This type of game is affectionately known as a bullet hell shooter, and is something akin to be launched into laser gun fight in the middle of a fireworks show finale. It is chaos. It is panic. It is confusion. It is addicting. It is epic. There are also a few games of the fighting genre as well. As of now there are currently 13 games in the series, the most recent being Ten Desires released in August, 2011.

Having learned this small bit of knowledge I near instantly decided I had to try this game out for myself. Just to precess this, I will be the first to admit I am a console gamer as keyboards, mice, and gaming just never really zen-ed with me. However, being the determined soul that I am I didn’t let that stop me. So of the 13 games I began to play the 12.8th (yes, point eight.  There are actually a few in between titles in conjunction to the 13 – just let it happen…) game of the series titled Yōsei Daisensō ~ Tōhō Sangetsusei (Great Fairy Wars ~ Eastern Three Fairies) and follows the story of Cirno, an ice fairy with the ability to manipulate cold and freeze bullets (although, apparently, she is not very bright and is often seen as the clown of the group).

The basic concept of the game is you have control of Cirno (or whichever main character, depending on game) and you must simultaneously shoot down your foes whilst dodging their attacks and gaining powerup cards.  Each character in the series usually has two special card abilities – one that can be used close to death and another to use at will, though only so often and indicated by a charged percentage meter. For example, Cirno can become briefly invincible and allow you to focus purely on damage; she can also turn any bullets connecting around her to ice which can then be shattered, effectively clearing the screen for a short time. The power-up cards you collect enhance your own projectiles thereby destroying your enemies faster. After a predetermined onslaught of foes you will come across a boss for the level. Bosses not only have far more ability and range in firing their bullets but also can use cards of their own to enhance their abilities and even offer additional protection. Each game has a few different paths you can choose from as well as different difficulties (easy, normal, hard, lunatic).  Additionally, if you can survive through a certain level of difficulty without using any continues an extra path will be accessible with a longer stage, more enemies, more bullets, and harder bosses.

Yay for screenshots =)

...and this is an easy boss

It all begins around a place known as Hakurei Shrine which acts as a portal between two very different and dangerous worlds. On one side of the portal lies a region known as Gensokyo (literally meaning ‘illusion village’) and on the other side lies the human world which we are all familiar with. It has been said that many things that disappear from the human realm, such as extinct animals or ancient spiritual practices, tend to show up in the realm of Gensokyo. Long ago strange phenomenon began occurring where yokai (spirits or monsters) began preying on lost wanderers into the realm. In order to remedy this problem, exorcists were sent in to battle and eliminate the yokai. Whilst human civilization began to grow using vast technology and advancement on the outside, within the now sealed Gensokyo realm, magic and spiritual qualities prevailed with humans and yokai coexisting – although, not always amicably. However, now the seal at Hakurei Shrine has weakened and more and more people are finding themselves wandering deep within the dangerous Gensokyo realm. This is the story of Touhou and now it is a fight for survival.

Touhou is now so much more than a game as it has grown into a vast fandom base. Stories, manga, fanfiction, beastiary guides, dojinshi, artwork, music, novels, and even full conventions have been born of the franchise; and many characters from the series, even the minutist of bosses, have accrued mass fan appeal and adoration.

Needless to say, the art and story was enough to capture my attention from the start; but now that I’ve experienced the games it has moved to an entirely different level. The Touhou Project is something that embodies many positively awesome aspects, including a couple of my favorites: anime and video games! The games certainly are not easy, and you will die…a lot, but they are an addicting challenge that you will find yourself constantly returning to in hopes of getting just one more level further or defeating that particularly insane boss.

So what if it’s not your average anime, manga, or video game? Who says average is the only thing worth doing any ways?!?

“When you lose your way, you can blame the fairies.”

Baka Baka Baka!!!

School really is a drag, isn’t it? Studying, tests, grades, studying…well, you get the picture. Now, what if we decided to make things a little more interesting!?

Fumizuki Academy is a school of academic excellence, marked by a pivotal placement test given to all students at the beginning of the year.  This test not only determines an overall grade but actually places the student in a particular classroom; class A being the best and brightest students going all the way down through F, the “idiot” class.

As if that fact alone isn’t motivation enough to do your very best, each class is significantly different not only in academic level but also down to the very equipment (desks, pencils, chairs, etc.) each class is allotted. Class A, as you might imagine, lounges in reclining chairs, have personal laptops at every desk, and even have their own coffee bar to use at their convenience. Alternatively, class F has fruit boxes for desks, flat cushions to sit on, and their class sign hangs outside the door in pieces held by some thread and tape.

In case it is not obvious already, tests are kind of a big thing at this academy – but there is an even more unexpected reason for this! Every student and teacher at the academy has the ability to summon an avatar, or small chibi version of themselves, which can then fight battles between students. The only catch is that each avatar’s strength comes from the student’s most recent test scores in a particular subject. The battlefield for these particular fights must be activated by a teacher of that subject. For example, if a math teacher grants permission for the battle, both student’s avatars will be measured by their most recent math test. Depending on the difference in scores an avatar has the chance of being either handsomely victorious or completely obliterated, that is their score reaching zero. This ends the fight and the dead or losing student gets immediately swept away to the much feared and loathed remedial lessons.

Sounds fun, right?

The anime Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts follows a set of students who belong to class F. There is Akihisa Yoshii, the main protagonist, probationary student and ultimate idiot of them all; Yuji Sakamoto, the class rep and good friend of Akihisa; Mizuki Himeji, a class A level intelligence girl in class F due to being unable to finish the placement test; Minami Shimada, a tough girl who excels in math but flounders miserably in Japanese; Hideyoshi Kinoshita, the pretty boy everyone loves; and Kota Tsuchiya, never without his camera. A few characters from rival Class A and other classes also appear frequently both friendly and competitively.

It is a light-hearted comedy that truly shows what can be accomplished when even the worst of odds are against you. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your friends and allies can be the difference between victory and defeat. After all, trying is only a means to an end; but so long as you try your best what have you really got to lose?

Problems with studying? Voila, solution: An avatar battle based on test scores with terrifying remedial lessons as punishment. Can you say, ‘Hello motivation!’

Find the opening (with stupidly happy and addicting song ^^) here:  http://youtu.be/mf5W24fdsy0

At times people harbor extreme fears, phobias, of things that appear completely harmless to others. Why is it that our brains were designed this way? Why were we made to experience reactions that are completely beyond our control? What sort of survival instinct is fulfilled by suffering chronic fear from things that cannot harm us? Why must even our minds lie beyond our control?

Why? What? Who? How? People have always had the desire to question things they do not understand – especially when it comes to the supernatural.  Some people easily dismiss anything mysterious, noting that there is no way it could be real and that to think so would be ridiculous. There are others who challenge what they do not understand, using science and logic to ground beliefs and superstitions to realistic proportions.  Then there are those who may not completely understand it, but accept unknown phenomenon in its own special way.

The supernatural anime Ghost Hound strives to challenge both the viewer and the characters within on things that many people do not, and in some cases do not wish, to understand. Sometimes you must face your fears head on in order to move on with your life; other times, even that may not be enough. Centering around a tragic event that played out years before, three friends are brought together as they try to mend their lives and prevent any further harm from being done.

The amygdala governs human emotions such as fear and hate; the hippocampus is the brains information processing interface. These adjacent organs are the core of the limbic system, the neuropathways that store our memories. The word limbic is derived from the Latin word ‘limbus’ or border. In the past it referred to the frontier between one world and the next, between the hidden realm and the visible realm.

The show itself moves at a fairly slow pace, especially when it comes to the main story; however, if you are even slightly intrigued by neuroscience or the preternatural than this show might be worth giving a shot. One of the first things discovered is that we all live in something called the physical or visible realm; however, overlapping this realm and often unseen lies the hidden realm – a place where spirits dwell and inhabit. There are certain people who know of both these realms and even those that can travel in between them via something called soul traveling (a form very similar to astral projection). In addition to that transcendental skill, the show encompasses a young shrine maiden who is possessed by the gods, an old abandoned dam and hospital where spirit forms culminate, an ancient religious sect revival, kidnapping, suicide, spiritual transformation, psychological study and scientific experimentation gone awry.

Ghost Hound ranges 22 episodes with much of the show simply introducing viewers to a variety of clues and slowly leaking information throughout the remainder of the episodes.  The characters are likeable enough with their own unique quirks and personalities; although aside from each character making some stride of progress towards their own personal growth, they are not too deep or complicated. One of my favorite aspects of the show actually occurs after the credits of each episode. While previewing the next episode, interesting facts and knowledge, each somewhat pertaining to the episode, are given – oftentimes incorporating real life case studies and situations that have taken place over the years.

Memento Mori – a Latin phrase meaning ‘remember that you shall die’. Even without this admonition, human beings cannot live without contemplating death. Regardless of ones beliefs regarding the afterlife, the pain of losing a loved one is undoubtedly universal to people of all religions and creeds. Memento Mori, even unspoken, perhaps this is one of the few concepts common to all of mankind.

This is probably a show that can just as easily be watched as not. Personally, I liked it well enough but I also know it is probably not going to make the top list of shows I tell my friends they have to watch. Loving the mysterious and supernatural already, I was more than intrigued by the plethora of enigmatic facts the show provided but the slow pace of the story itself often left me with a feeling of nonchalance by the end of each episode (in other words, I wasn’t going “WHAT!? No way that just happened! *plays next episode immediately*). So, tldr; if you find yourself with an unquenchable desire for the paranormal keep this one in mind, if not, it’s probably not going to be a huge loss if you pass it up.

Here are some additional fun facts: ^^

It is said that with proper training humans can learn to control the flow of their dreams. However, neuro-scientist Francis Crick asserted that dreams were meaningless. He maintained that dreams merely exist to dispose of needless trivia accumulated in the cerebrum. According to Crick, they are nothing more than a 40 hertz signal causing a sympathetic reaction in the brain. Dreams – their form and their world: the hidden realm.

Over the years doctors have devised many different techniques to treat patients suffering from psychological trauma. One approach has the patient move their eyes while recounting their traumatic experiences. With the use of bilateral brain stimulation, it is believed the patient can more fully process their traumatic experiences thus reducing their distress. But what is it that the patient truly sees while his eyes are at work? What secrets lie behind the therapist’s finger?

A Canadian neurosurgeon named Wilder Penfield succeeded in producing the sensation of an out of body experience by using electrodes to stimulate the cerebral neocortex of his patients. Although Penfield made remarkable advances in the localization of brain functions, he never relinquished his belief in Cartesian Dualism, which asserted that the mind and body were two separate entities; even when dealing with the brain.

In 1923, a French woman known only as Madame M reported that a secret organization in Paris was imprisoning a large number of people and replacing them with imposters. She also claimed that many people in her personal life had been replaced as well including her husband and eventually the very police she complained to. Today, this delusional mis-identification syndrome is known as Capgras Syndrome, after the doctor that documented the case.

In 2003, a group led by Richard Wiseman performed an experiment during a concert in an old music hall in London. During the show they exposed the audience to ultra low frequency sound played through a seven meter long pipe. They found that 22% of the audience reported experiencing unusual sensations. Wiseman theorizes that reports of encounters with ghosts are actually caused by exposure to low frequency sounds.