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Friday, January 15, 2021

The 12 Best Anime Reviewed in The Land of Obscusion's First Decade Part 2

Reducing this list of "the best" to only twelve (overall) picks was by no means an easy task. I could have easily made this list twice as long, and still feel that there would be some notable omissions. Therefore, allow me to start the second half with some "honorable mentions", because they still are worth bringing up:
-Yugo the Negotiator (two halves done by two completely different studios & staffs, and both are great stories)
-Hareluya II BØY (animation is cheap & chintzy, but literally everything else is just outstanding)
-Yakitate!! Japan (some might feel the comedy goes too ridiculous the longer the show goes, but it's still easily one of the funniest anime I have ever seen)
-Saint Seiya: Legend of Crimson Youth (if you only ever see one Seiya anime, it should be this, as it's the purest distillation of the series & the best movie)
-Ring ni Kakero 1 (because of course it would be included somewhere here)

So, with that out of the way, let's move on to the other half of the best anime I've reviewed on this blog over the previous decade!

Yasuhiro Imagawa may not have a large amount of anime on his resume, but his work as a director is generally considered some of the best out there. However, not mentioned anywhere near as much is Imagawa's work as a screenwriter, which he actually has a slightly larger amount of titles to his name, though this does include some anime that he also directed. The first time he was in charge of series composition (i.e. he was head writer) but didn't also direct was Violinist of Hameln, the 25-episode TV anime adaptation of the manga by Michiaki Watanabe. This anime debuted at the end of 1996, following a theatrical short film earlier that same year which was done by a completely different studio & staff. However, whereas the movie is accurate to the comical stylings of the manga, the TV series went in a completely different direction, and Yasuhiro Imagawa made sure he delivered on director Junji Nishimura's concept... All by himself.

Friday, January 8, 2021

The 12 Best Anime Reviewed in The Land of Obscusion's First Decade Part 1

Welcome to 2021 here at The Land of Obscision, the start of a brand new decade for the blog! For those unfamiliar, I have indeed been putting out new pieces at this blog focused on the obscure & forgotten for just barely over 10 whole years, which often seems to surprise people. Because of that, I have done traditional reviews for, as of the start of this year, nearly 257 different anime & manga (there are some multi-part reviews, hence the "nearly"), as well as video games & "other" adaptations of anime/manga. Therefore, after an entire decade, I think it's time for me to finally look back & pick twelve review subjects that I feel were the best of them all! Before we start, though, some ground rules. First, this is for anime only, as they make up ~83% of the counted reviews. If you're curious what the best manga, games, & "other" reviewed are, though, it'd be (in no order) B't X (Manga), Ring ni Kakero 1 (Manga), Bastard!! (Manga), Otoko Zaka, Super Robot Wars GC/XO (Game), Fuma no Kojirou (Live-Action), & Team Astro (Live-Action). Second, like what I just did, this isn't a numbered list in any way, though I will be saving the "best" of them all for last in Part 2. Finally, while I could certainly include more, this will be only a list of twelve (though multiple reviews will count together in some instances), as that's my standard amount for lists like these. Why? Because I like to go one step beyond "one step beyond", and it also can still be split up evenly.

With that out of the way, let's start with what is easily the oldest review in this list!

Dororo [1969]
For most, if you were to ask them what their favorite Osamu Tezuka creation is, I'm sure the most common answer would be either Astro Boy, Black Jack, Phoenix, or maybe one of his gekiga-esque works. Personally, though, my favorite is definitely Dororo, which is admittedly amusing since Tezuka had admitted that the only reason he even made the manga was because he saw how successful Shigeru Mizuki's GeGeGe no Kitaro was doing, and Tezuka's competitive nature made him jealous; to no surprise, Dororo barely ran for a whole year before getting cancelled. However, it's that very short-lived nature that has allowed Dororo to have a long life in the annals of Tezuka's vast catalog, as literally every single adaptation of the manga goes into its own direction, especially when it comes to giving the plot a proper finale, which Tezuka was never able to. The first of these adaptations was the 1969 TV anime adaptation done by Mushi Pro, Tezuka's original anime studio, and it's just outstanding.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The Land of Obscusion's Twelve Favorite Posts of 2019 & 2020!! Part 2

Looking back at that first part of this (two-year-spanning) "favorite posts" list, I definitely put the massive efforts into it, the stuff that took literal months to fully do. It was a great reminder of the sheer insanity I had put myself through the past two years, and I really have to avoid doing that to myself like; plan smarter, not harder. Regardless, there were still way more "traditional" articles/pieces/posts/etc. over these past two years, so let's end off by looking back at more of these less insane but still cool subjects that I covered. And what better year to start seeing off the hellish year that was 2020 by looking back at the 75th Anniversary of one of the most horrific moments in world history, and the way those who survived it were horribly treated by their own country!

Trust me, things will get more upbeat after this first one.

It's been more than a century since World War I was a thing, "The War to End All Wars" as they called it, while 2020 marked 75 years since the end of World War II... Because the first was so much trouble that they had to make it double. And how did WWII end, pray tell? By President Harry S. Truman feeling that it was necessary to drop two atomic bombs onto Japan, specifically Hiroshima & Nagasaki, killing hundreds of thousands of Japanese citizens, as well as 1 British, 7 Dutch, and 12 American prisoners of war! You know what was even "better"? The post-war "hibakusha" being treated like horrible monsters by their own fellow Japanese, and looked at as potential science examination subjects by the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission! Thankfully, one of those very hibakusha, the late Keiji Nakazawa, wound up becoming a mangaka, eventually creating the manga Barefoot Gen, which showed the trials & tribulations Nakazawa went through (by way of fictional proxy Gen Nagaoka) after surviving the Hiroshima bombing as a child. However, I knew that other people would cover the obvious subject of Nakazawa's iconic manga for the 75th Anniversary of the atomic bomb (props to Bennett the Sage for an excellent video about the anime movies), so what I felt was worth writing about was how Nakazawa first told his feelings on what happened that day... specifically the sheer anger & hatred he had.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

The Land of Obscusion's Twelve Favorite Posts of 2019 & 2020!! Part 1

Happy Boxing Day, once again! (after skipping last year)

So last year I didn't make a "favorite posts" list, partially because I felt that there were too few things to choose from; I want to be forced to make actual decisions regarding this stuff, after all. However, I did mention in the 9th Anniversary piece that I would consider combining two years into a single list, so that's what we'll be doing this time around. The past two years have both been less productive from a sheer quantity perspective, but they were definitely strong contenders for some of the best quality I've delivered, if you allow me to toot my own horn for a microsecond. Therefore, it actually was a bit tricky to whittle down this list to just 12(-ish) entries, and I did want to try to keep things relatively even between 2019 & 2020. The end result is this list weighing more towards this year, but the picks from last year are definitely great, so let's get it on & see what I thought were the best from the past two years!

I considered somehow getting all 27 volumes into one image,
but that'd be insane, even for Bastard!!.

Bastard!! (All of the Manga) (February 29, March 7 & 26, & April 12, 2020)
With the concept of this year being the blog's last being a factor at the start of this year, though now it certainly isn't, I wanted to cover some subjects that I had planned on doing for literally years. Easily the biggest one for me, personally, was to finally review the entirety of (or at least whatever there is of it) Kazushi Hagiwara's "heavy metal dark fantasy" Jump manga, Bastard!!. As of this "Part 1" getting posted, it was announced that Tatsuki Fujimoto's Chainsaw Man will be moving from Weekly Shonen Jump to the online service Shonen Jump+, after having finished "Part 1" of its story, and that only reminds me of what happened to Kazushi Hagiwara's late-80s fantasy manga. Much like Fujimoto's work, Hagiwara's Dark Rebel Armies storyline, though still following some of the standards of shonen action manga, featured a wild level of violence & sexuality to it, the likes of which would make one wonder how it even managed to run in the magazine at all, which was aimed at (more or less) young teens. Similar to what's happening now, Hagiwara's manga came to an "end" after the story arc finished, only to wind up being moved to an offshoot, in this case the Shonen Jump Seasonal Specials, which is where the majority of the next arc, Hell's Requiem, was told, & the change in magazine allowed Hagiwara to be even more violent & sexualized than before.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Kill Me Baby: This Ain't the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew Mystery, It's Just Yasuna & Sonia in Your Vicinity

On three prior occasions I participated in the Reverse Thieves' Anime Secret Santa program, where participants get a "victim" (as I like to say) & have to recommend three anime to pick one from & put out an article, podcast, or what have you in time for Christmas Eve. Last year, the podcast All Geeks Considered took the reigns & have returned for another year, so I decided to participate once again. I specifically asked that my "Santa" challenge me this time around, and the trio of anime I got definitely is one of the strongest I had to choose from, I'd say. First up was 2018's SSSS.Gridman, Studio Trigger's wild & highly beloved interpretation of Tsuburaya Pro's tokusatsu series from the 90s, better known in English as Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad, hence the "SSSS" part of the title. Second was 2008's Michiko & Matchin, the directorial debut of fan-favorite Sayo Yamamoto that had music produced by Shinichiro Watanabe. Without a doubt, both of these shows are ones that I have had interest in watching one day, and both would definitely challenge this blog's focus on obscurities, as both have very ardent & notable fanbases. However, that made the third choice I was given feel all the more from out of left field, and it's definitely something I probably wouldn't have gone after on my own, hence why I chose it.

The actual title splash is rather generic,
so here's the literal final image of the show!

Debuting in mid-2008 in Houbunsha's seinen magazine Manga Time Kirara Carat (home of manga like K-On!, Hidamari Sketch, A Channel, & Doujin Work), Kill Me Baby is the debut work for a man known only as Kaduho (though he specifically uses the rarely-seen katakana "ヅ",  so it should technically be "Kadzuho"); it's also known in Japan as Baby, please me kill me.. Like its fellow Kirara Carat series, it's a 4-panel gag manga that's still running to this day & is currently at 11 volumes. At the start of 2012 a 13-episode TV anime adaptation done by J.C. Staff aired in Japan in late-night, followed by a bonus OVA episode coming out in mid-2013 alongside a CD album called Kill Me Baby Super. While Kaduho was initially hesitant about how the manga would adapt into animation, he wound up being very active in its production, attending production meetings & responding to any & all questions about dialog the staff had for him; everyone had hopes for a second season, but it never came. The anime then found itself in hot water in late 2015 when cast member Ai Takabe was arrested for allegedly owning cocaine & the like, resulting in the anime being taken off of streaming services, though the charges were dropped in early 2016 & the anime returned to Japanese streaming; Takabe has yet to act in another anime, however. Sentai Filmworks licensed Kill Me Baby in early 2013 & released a dual-audio DVD boxset later that year, followed by a Blu-Ray set in late 2014, though the OVA is not included in either release, so I'll be relying on a fansub for that bonus episode.

I have absolutely no prior experience when it comes to this kind of source material, so will I regret asking for Patz from The Cockpit podcast to challenge me, or will Anime Secret Santa give me yet another pleasant surprise? Let's lock & load and find out!