Category Archives: Anime

Kern’s Collections: Haibane Renmei

Video Production

This is the finished video regarding this blog post, if you’d like to watch a video instead of reading. It is written, and read aloud by me.

I’m Kernook, or “Kern” for short. I’m part of “The Demented Ferrets”. You can watch the video on YouTube as well. I hope you enjoy the content.


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Hello everyone, it’s Kernook here. Welcome to “Kern’s Collections” a series dedicated to brief glimpses of media and why you might enjoy them.

Primarily this series will focus on anime related content. These aren’t full reviews. I’d rather offer a brief glimpse into a piece of media. I’ll offer a few thoughts, and perhaps a bit of introspection.

Today I’d like to talk about Haibane Renmei, a rather short and sweet anime that’s only thirteen episodes long. It is an anime that is gentle in its implied cruelty. Due to the nature of the characters and their struggles, there’s a depth in this series that you may find hard to locate elsewhere.

These lost souls, with wings and halos are known as charcoal feathers. You’ll notice they don’t actually have white feathers, but grey or charcoal colored ones. This world they inhabit is almost a purgatory. Living alongside humanity they cannot have the finest of things, and the names given to them hold special significance. One that they most hold aloft over all else. It’s their one key to eternal peace.

They are born into the world from cocoons, knowing little of where they came from and a foggy dream to light their way in this newfound life, if you could really call it that. Bound by a strict set of rules that they must abide, they await the day they’re called to skies, to what might be the heavens.

Haibane Renmei is just as much about grief as it is about joy. Sorrow and regret live alongside happiness and catharsis. These charcoal feathers have but one real goal. They must come to terms with themselves, their circumstances, and what they must ultimately leave behind.

There are certainly slight biblical representations in the series. You’ll find small nods to the concept of god, faith and scripture. The idea of an afterlife, and a place waiting for these charcoal feathers high in heavens. Although these themes are left vague, it is no question that these undertones exist. There is such a thing as being “sin-bound” in the series, and the Haibane that become “sin-bound” often suffer great personal struggles because of it.

I find myself at odd with the series more often than not, when I’m watching it. I often wonder at the conclusions the series comes to. I can only wonder if these ideologies can truly stand in the world upon which the main story is built. As poetic as those narrative decisions are, as gritty as they can sometimes be, they are at least acceptable.

This, I believe that this is the entire ethos of the series. It is what drives the plot forward, even thought it has very little in the way of action. There are so few moments that feel directly urgent to the characters, and I feel that is the point. This is about overcoming something larger than any foe. It’s about acceptance in a situation where such a thing is very hard to come by.

Haibane Renmei is not a series for everyone. It might seem soft and angelic, but the first time those same angelic wings spring out in a bloody mess, you’ll learn otherwise.

I can only praise this series for everything that it is, and forgive it for the many things it is not. I wish that I could say that you must watch it, but frankly I can’t say that. I hesitate to do so, because this is not an anime for the average viewer.

You won’t have amazing fights. It’s hardly in the genera of cute girls doing cute things, and really it isn’t a slice of life. It isn’t horror by nature and it’s not a healing anime either. It does not fall into any of the common tropes as anime fans understand them today. To classify it at all, diminishes it. At least, that’s what I believe.

What I will tell you is this.

Haibane Renmei sits proudly on my shelf. I regard the series very highly. I think that it is probably one of the most poetic anime I have ever seen.

I have watched many series that deal with the general themes presented here, but never in a way quite like this. The ending didn’t leave me overjoyed, but it didn’t spiral me into sadness either. It was, in a word, fitting.

If you want to watch Haibane Renmei, it can be found on the Funimation website.

For the right sort of viewer, it would likely be seen as a master piece. However, I’d bet that the sort of viewer I’m talking about is few and far between. You’re not to get all of the answers in a series like this. Even the mere question of… “What really is, a Haibane?” Will be left vague and without a solid answer. Sure there are things you can extrapolate, given their appearances. Still, that answer is not at all set in stone.

So, that’s where I’ll leave it. If you choose to watch the series or not, it’s up to you. This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets..

“Where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course…”

The Demented Ferrets…

To Our Supporters: Thank You!

With your contributions, you make our efforts possible. Thank you for supporting our content.

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A Glimpse Of Anime HISTORY: Vampire Hunter D

It’s long been said that the 80’s were the golden age of anime. With rose tinted glasses, and fond memories of simpler days, many anime fans were introduced to the medium thanks to the masterpieces of this decade. Every now and then, we should take a step back in time to appreciate these gems.

Vampire Hunter D, is one of these long buried diamonds. This is not a review of the movie that came out in 1985, this is just a glimpse and a few thoughts about it.

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This movie deserves to be mentioned because in this day and age, older anime falls off the radar. It can be easy to forget about them. Vampire Hunter D was considered a fairly huge success upon release. It mixed the finer arts of sci-fi and high fantasy in an easily digestible way.

The 1985 film carries a narrative that you can easily enjoy, without requiring knowledge of the series. The movie will explain things as it goes along.

The anime movie swiftly became known as a cult classic following its release, and that’s one of the many reasons it remains beloved to this day. In spite of it’s age, the anime holds up very well, all things considered. As one of the anime films to hit the United States in the ’90s, american fans were given a world that was little dark, and somewhat gritty.

All of this was wrapped in stunning visuals that only occasionally dropped in quality. It was the era of hand drawn, so occasional dips were to be expected. These visuals coupled with musical genius, making for an atmosphere that still echoes into fandom to this day.

It stands along the giants of its time, Generally speaking, the movie was more or less a a direct adaptation of the first Vampire Hunter D novel, which had been written two years prior. 

In this series, the vampire hunter is hired by a blonde-haired, blue-eyed farm girl named Doris Lang who wants to kill the vampire that attacked and bit her. The hunter in question is the child of a vampire and a human. This means he has extraordinary vampire powers but his human blood protects him from having many of the usual weaknesses you might .

It’s a simple premise but the story is compelling, and for many viewers it was our first real taste of body horror in anime, not counting shows with even more of it, like Akira that came out a little later.

Yes, that is a hand with a face in it. This is what I mean by body horror. There are other good examples throughout the entire series too. It’s enough to be unsettling, without being too awful.

The blend of many horror tropes is both amusing and freighting depending on what scares you. It could be both hilariously delightful, or well and truly haunting. It simply depends on what horror manages to scare you and what horror doesn’t.

All of this said, the movie, and later iterations of the series do a good job at keeping spirits held high. It’s not all doom and gloom despite the setting. From nearly steampunk robotic horses and Gothic architecture, the series carries diverse themes, though none feel out of place. Tacked onto this are the psychic abilities found in the in the universe, which is also a wonderfully addition.

On the topic of the horse for a moment, this is what I mean by it doesn’t feel out of place….

It very much could have felt that way. Many of the core themes, ideas and setting could have been campy, or clunk. They don’t feel that way, and is worth mentioning that directly. If these little things would have been poorly handled at all, the movie we would have ended up being total crap.

This was an animated film unlike any other for it’s time. It had the luxury of not having too many predecessors in its themes or ideas. At least, not in the animated format of a movie. This gave it an edge. Nowadays, it stands tall as a piece of anime history, and it’s worth the watch if you haven’t seen it already.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets.

“Where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course…”

The Demented Ferrets…

To Our Supporters: Thank You!

With your contributions, you make our efforts possible. Thank you for supporting our content.

Patreon Supporters

At the time of this post there are 3 notable contributors.

Demented Minions: Francis Murphy, Josh Sayer, and Andrew Wheal.

If You Enjoyed This Content…

Please consider following us on this blog. We also have other platforms with content to enjoy. At the time of this post we have a Twitter, Twitch, YouTube.

PLATFORMCONTENTSCHEDULE
TwitchLive streamsTuesday: 9:00 PM – 12 AM (GMT)
Wednesday: 9:00 PM – 12:00 AM (GMT)
Saturday: 12:00 PM – 3:00 PM (GMT)
YouTubeStream archive. Occasional Anime/Game/Movie reviews. Deep dives/analysis of RWBY.Videos upload Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 12:00 PM (GMT)
TwitterAnnouncements, Random tweetsWhenever a live stream begins or content releases. Doesn’t have a set schedule.
Our BlogAll kinds of written media including anime, games, RWBY and more.Posts are published every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 12:00 PM (GMT)

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Monster – You Have To Watch This Thing

There are times as an anime fan when I want a series to watch that’s off the beaten path. Something that may be considered a little too dry or complex. These sorts of anime fall out of fandom discussions quickly, eventually slipping into obscurity.

Naoki Urasawa’s Monster fits all of this criteria, as the series isn’t exactly what I would call a “pop-corn” anime. It’s probably far from it, because even when it came out in 2004, I can’t think of many people who found themselves talking about the series. My friends certainly didn’t, and neither did I.

I tried to watch the series when it came out, but in 2004 I was still in high school. I had other interests, and what might be thought of as “high-brow” anime wasn’t among them. It wasn’t until I was a handful of years older and gave it try a the second time that I really came to enjoy this gem of a series.

So, today I do want to talk about this anime, and all that it has to offer. I don’t know many people personally that actually enjoy it, which I think is a shame. First though, time for obligatory self-promotion…

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Anyway, let’s continue with the rest of the content. So, Monster is a weird series in fandom. Funnily enough, this series is ranked fairly highly on “My Anime List”. This is a little odd, I have to say. I rarely hear anyone talk about this show at all, but it does seem to be fairly popular in the grand scheme.

Think I’m joking? Take a look at this screenshot. That was taken just as I was writing this post.

Though, I do wonder how many people added it merely by its reputation. It is known for being an intelligent anime. The series tells a very perceptive and complicated story, so it isn’t something easily bandied about.

Outside of anime reviewers or very small corners of the internet, it just isn’t discussed despite the fairly high ratings. Therefore I can only conclude one of two things.

Firstly, that it is a show a lot of people enjoy, but simply don’t discuss at length due to its nature. Secondly, is that Monster has fallen into that realm of obscurity that I mentioned before. Either way, this is a series worth talking about.

It isn’t a typical anime in many ways. It doesn’t follow the standard formula, nor does it pretend to try. In the near endless flood of anime of today, you’ll still be hard pressed to find shows quite like this one.

I like anime that push the limits of the medium. Fantasy and magic found within anime is almost akin to the platformers, role-playing games, and shooters of the gaming world. Even anime aimed at older viewers seem to have some sort of super natural quality to them, and a vast majority are a dime a dozen.

Finding something that manages to break the confines of gaming as we understand it can be a bit difficult. The same is true for anime.

Monster certainly accomplishes that goal, and without too much fantastical idiocy to go along with it. This isn’t a series filled with magic, but I promise you that it has plenty of mystery. If you haven’t watched Monster, Today I’m going to explain why you should.

This is not a review, this is purely a suggestion.

The Narrative

Word of warning: This series can be incredibly offensive to anyone with a firm faith in religion to the point they follow it blindly and refuse to study it. If your faith in Christianity is so strong that you cannot even question the bible even slightly, keep away from this thing. It’s not for you, and it isn’t intended to be.

More on that later, when I discuss the intellectual ethos of the series.

Summary without spoilers: The series takes place in the 80’s. We follow the story of a Japanese man by the name of Kenzo Tenma. He is a young doctor based out of Germany. As a skilled neurosurgeon, he’s earned the attention and praise of people in high places. Due to his high standing he is placed in a rather precarious position, forced to make a choice that he really doesn’t want to make.

Two people need complicated life saving operations. One person in need is a political figurehead, the other person in need is a child.

Tenma is the best of the best. There is no one his equal in terms of skill. Due to how well respected he is, Tenma is expected to bow down to the political bias of the hospital. They want him to operate on the figurehead, thus dooming the child to die.

He has been at the mercy of these kinds of decisions before, doing as he was told with a respect to authority. However to doom a child this way is a decision he refuses to make, and goes to save the child’s life instead.

Ultimately this decision will come back to haunt him. Beyond this, I dare to step into massive spoiler territory. Instead of talking about that, I’m going to cover a few other details. I really want you to watch this series if you haven’t, and I refuse to be the one to spoil it for you.

Instead I will say this:

The story is as much a mystery as it is thriller. It’s slow paced, but it is by no means a slog to sit through. If you take it slow and don’t try to binge watch it, you’re in for a real treat.

Everything in this anime toes an emotionally grey line. You cannot expect complete altruism either, neither from our protagonists or the side cast. Even the best characters have a dark side, and sometimes that side is vastly unsettling.

You cannot expect firm answers or conclusions to every tiny detail in the show. This series isn’t going to hold your hand. It wants you to come up with your own conclusions based on what you see.

What you can expect is a story that is very well written, with characters that are as multidimensional as any anime could ever offer. What you’ll find here is a truly mature anime. It is one that is certainly worth your time to give it a try.

I don’t know if you will “like it” per say. However, I can say that Monster is an experience in and of itself, and that alone is reason to watch it.

The Intellectual Ethos

If you don’t want complicated yip-yap bypass this section. Actually, maybe just bypass the anime at that point. It is a very complicated series, and as I fan I have to accept that.

Don’t believe me? Strap in, we’re diving deep on this one.

This series begins with a biblical quote, and right out of the gate Monster refuses to be simple. This quote is from the book of Revelations, the final one in the new testament. The quote looks like this:

Now, it’s very important to note that interpreters of Revelations typically have four key ways to view this section of the bible. Now, I’m not hugely religious, but I’ll highlight the main four in very simple terms.

  1. Some believe that most of the events in Revelations have already taken place.
  2. Meanwhile, others take it as describing the long chain of events that may take place, or is in the process of taking place.
  3. The third group are those that find this book to be of the future, and place the book primarily in the end of times (which has not happened yet).
  4. The final group view it as symbolic pictures of what they call “timeless truths”, applying the book as the standard victory of good over evil.

Fortunately, the message of Revelation does not depend on adopting a particular point of view. Any of those main four will do. So, why in the hell am I bringing this up then?

Well because it ties into the series. The quote wouldn’t be there mindlessly. I would argue this series touches upon all four views depending on what character you happen to following in regards to the series. The ideological undertones will conflict and contrast in many ways. They are not always blatantly obvious, but they could be somewhat offensive based on your own religious beliefs this particular section of the bible.

But that isn’t all, either…

Buried deep into this anime there are two core ideologies at play. Both of them are on display for the main character, Tenma, at almost all times.

One ideology is complex and morally grey area. The other is an emotionally driven conclusion based on the facts that the main protagonist will never have an answer for.

The first ideology is in regards to personal agency and the value of ethical intervention. What would you do when placed between two horrible outcomes? Would you act, or merely just stand still? Something bad will happen either way, so what option will you choose? Is there truly a “least bad” option?

As a doctor, Tenma made a choice, and he makes choices every day. He often reflects on those choices. Sometimes choosing to save one life results in the death of another. The grieving woman in the image above is someone that Tenma has to face in the first episode. This is a flashback scene. He can only watch as she morns the death of her husband, a man that needed his help.

A man that he chose to deny because of the orders passed down to him by the hospital. A man he could have saved…

This loss of life was not needed, and it weighs on Tenma. This event will influence his decision between the young boy and the political figurehead in the series, and every event thereafter.

This is in essence what is commonly known as the “The Trolley Problem”, as coined by English philosopher Philippa Ruth Foot back in the mid 1970’s.

The simple version of this ethical problem is known as “Bystander at the Switch“. It goes a little something like this:

There is trolley that’s out of control. It is speeding along railway, and it cannot be stopped. Up ahead, there are five people on the track, unable to move. If the trolley hits them, they will die. Now, there is where you enter into the picture. You are able to pull lever nearby. However, if you pull this lever, the trolley will switch tracks. Sadly, there is one person on that other track. If you pull the lever, that person will die instead.

Thus, you have two options. The first is to do nothing, effectively allowing the trolley to kill the five people on the main track. The second option is to pull the lever. You’ll save the lives of five people, but by your direct involvement with the lever, the trolley will still kill one person.

So, what choice do you decide to make?

This is the first question the series asks, and answers through Tenma. The start of the series begins with this same sort of ethical problem. The choice he makes will carry through the entire series. His decision lingers with him in the aftermath.

The second ideology is less complicated, but no less deep. It is the ideology of perseverance in the face of dire straits and negative outcomes. How do you cope with your choices after you’ve made them? How do you live with yourself, when the choice you make is the wrong one?

Tenma’s choice is one that impacts his life, and the lives of the other people around him. He thought he was doing a good deed, but that deed is no more than a devil’s deal.

This is the crux of the series. It is what ultimately drives the entire narrative I mentioned above.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations. I doubt most will. Ultimately, what makes this show so well written is the minutia of little details. It comes down to the subject of interpretation. These are the same things that I feel hold this series back from being discussed at length.

Let’s be honest, trying to discuss Monster honestly has a lot of ideological landmines. I barely scratched the surface when it comes to the way the series presents its ideas, thoughts and themes.

That being said, the series is also a rabbit hole, there is such a thing as diving too deep. Let’s also be honest about that too. It’s easy to dive too deep on this one, and that can make it hard to relate to.

Some fans may end up seeing something that isn’t really there to find at all. Still the mere idea that you’re able to do that, is itself a nod to the main theme of Monster and the story it tells.

I can’t honestly review this thing because even trying to do that negates the reason why so many of us love this show in the first place.

I can’t just say “It’s awesome, go watch it!” nor can I say “The inevitable flaws are still worth your time…” because that alone isn’t enough to enjoy this sort of show. Saying “because you might like it” is a direct slap in the face for everything this show tries to do.

I doubt you’ll enjoy everything the series gives you. If you’re like me, there will be times that you will be flat out disgusted by certain characters and their world view. There are times you will not agree the subject matter, ethos, and ideology. However, you must expect it. That is the point of the title, after all.

These aren’t the monsters under the bed. These are the monsters of humanity. Everyone in the show could, at least in part, be classified as such. Just as in reality, we all have our vices and our failings.

We are all able to be monsters under the right conditions and circumstances. In the series, the characters argue that conditions and circumstances often do justify their actions, grotesque or not.

Monstrous, or not…

This isn’t an anime that I would merely pluck from my shelf and cram into the hands of my best buddies, because as I said, they wouldn’t like it anyway.

However, I’m going to be a pretentious twat for a second. Yes, I’m going to be “that asshole“. If you consider yourself a true fan of the anime medium in its entirety, or you consider yourself an anime expert even slightly, you have to watch this show.

There are no “if’s”, “and’s”, or “but’s” about it. If you are a person that is a collector of the medium, or consider yourself an authority of the medium in any possible way, shape or form, do your due diligence! Plant your ass in a chair and sit through it.

Sit through ALL of it, and then discuss it. This is a series worth talking about. It should not be left to rot in the recess of fandom, alone and forgotten.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets…

“Where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course…”

The Demented Ferrets…

To Our Supporters: Thank You!

With your contributions, you make our efforts possible. Thank you for supporting our content.

Patreon Supporters

At the time of this post there are 3 notable contributors.

Demented Minions: Francis Murphy, Josh Sayer, and Andrew Wheal.

If You Enjoyed This Content…

Please consider following us on this blog. We also have other platforms with content to enjoy. At the time of this post we have a Twitter, Twitch, YouTube.

PLATFORMCONTENTSCHEDULE
TwitchLive streamsTuesday: 9:00 PM – 12 AM (GMT)
Wednesday: 9:00 PM – 12:00 AM (GMT)
Saturday: 12:00 PM – 3:00 PM (GMT)
YouTubeStream archive. Occasional Anime/Game/Movie reviews. Deep dives/analysis of RWBY.Videos upload Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 12:00 PM (GMT)
TwitterAnnouncements, Random tweetsWhenever a live stream begins or content releases. Doesn’t have a set schedule.
Our BlogAll kinds of written media including anime, games, RWBY and more.Posts are published every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 12:00 PM (GMT)

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Anime- Top 5 Ways to Build Your Watch-list Every Season.

If you’re an anime fan, you probably have a list of the seasonal line-ups that you know you’re just going to have to watch. These are obvious to you, and you know you’ve got to catch that anime every week in a timely manner.

Well, what about anime that aren’t on your watch list? How do you choose more anime? There are so many out there, the season floods make it difficult to decide what to watch next. I’ve got a way to build my watch-list and I’m going to share that with you today.

I’m just going to dive into it, there’s no sense in beating around the bush. Before that, let’s cover the obvious ones that need no explanation. They are as follows:

  • Follow the trends.
  • Choose anime from productions houses and creators that you already enjoy.
  • Word of mouth.
  • Squeal fodder.

Okay, now that we have the basics out of the way, let’s begin.

#1) Challenge Your Conceptions

Every season that my watch-list isn’t bursting at the seams, I choose an anime I know I’ll probably hate just to give it a try. I have been pleasantly surprised in the past by this method. On occasion I do get hooked into a series and find that I truly enjoy it.

This was the case with Beastars in spades and to a lesser degree Made in Abyss. These sorts of anime don’t fall into my typical watch-list. Both of them have content that I generally find to be unpalatable. That being said, I have come to love these anime despite that.

Although they’re not always easy to suggest to others, they’re anime that really resound with me. When it comes to Beastars, the social commentary on society at large is well thought out. It doesn’t fit the typical mold for many reasons and it me it is a series right up there with Ghost in the Shell and Psycho-Pass for compelling stories regarding the human condition.

Another anime that strikes true to this rule is RIN: Daughters of Mnemosyne. This anime not only has unpalatable content, some of it is very sexually explicit in its nature. Usually I don’t watch anime with gratuitous sexual content, certainly not anime with this level of depravity. This is a very dark and gritty series, but it is also intellectual in a way few can really match.

That being said, I’m glad I did sit through it, because everything has a point . Mind you, it’s not always a point I agree with. Often times I don’t. However, I don’t think that my disagreement with the content lessens the experience I had watching this show.

I find myself to be a better anime fan because I’ve truly stepped outside of my comfort zone. That I continue to make a habit of doing so only broadens my horizons. I can appreciate the narrative of certain series because I force myself to try and look beyond my own preconceived notions.

Does this method work all the time? No, I’ve dropped a lot of series I knew I probably wouldn’t like simply because of that. I didn’t like them, and the chance I gave them wasn’t enough for me to like them.

So, if you’re having issues building a solid watch-list, find an anime you typically wouldn’t like and give it a watch. This is also a logical option when building watch-lists, but I often feel it isn’t brought up enough. As fans, we typically find an echo chamber and stick to it.

Moving out of your usual anime viewing will lessen the echo chamber and teach you about yourself. You’ll also be able to have a window into the wider community of anime fans out there.

#2) Find A Quirk

A lot of anime out there has a gimmick to put itself above the onslaught of other shows. Find a quirk you like about your favorite series, and choose an anime based on that. It can be as superficial or as deep as you’d like it to be.

Do you like anime that feature a particular type of protagonist? Choose an anime only based on that. Would you rather see the world at large, choose based on that alone.

Don’t worry about the other qualifiers such as genre or tropes common in the medium. Just focus your search on one thing and give it a try. This is how I came to enjoy Vinland Saga.

Vinland Saga is by far one of the best anime I nearly bypassed because I didn’t care for the manga. I absolutely hate a lot of the characters, but I do like the history and lore of Vikings. This was enough for me to pick it up and stay with it. Even after the narrative took a sharp turn outside of the things I hoped the series would be, the one thing I cared about was enough for me to want to stick with it.

Ultimately why I came to love the anime so much is because it does what the written media couldn’t do by its nature. It gave me beautiful animation, a powerful soundtrack, and a voice cast that make these characters easier deal with… the main protagonist is way easier for me to deal with in the anime because he’s so wonderfully conceptualized and brought to life by his actor. This applies to both sub and dub versions. I’ve seen both, I prose both.

I get to love everything about the story, and the world, My one joy for this series was magnified beyond any level that I thought it could be, all because I chose to side with my love of vikings, and not my hatred of the manga.

This is why it can be a good idea to focus on a topic, rather than the series itself.

#3) Pick the Worst of the Worst

Every season there is one anime that is absolute crap. There is no saving an anime like this, there is no redeeming how awful it is. You know it’s garbage from day one, you’re sure it will continue being garbage by the end. If you’re really unlucky then that dumpster will catch fire ingloriously and you’ll be left with an even worse pile of crap than when you started.

So, why do this then? Honestly, sometimes it can be fun. Others, it can be educational.

If you watch truly bad anime, then least then you have a metric for what a really bad anime even is. Anime reviewers, this goes triple for us! We have to watch this kind of crap, because we need the insight between mediocrity and a true actual trash heap.

There are some truly terrible anime out there, and I’m not talking about the content. I mean it’s just all around bad. The acting, the animation, and everything in between is all just terrible.

Why torture yourself this way if you’re not an anime reviewer? Well, bad anime can be fun. Sitting together with group of friends as you suffer a terrible anime together can be just as fun as watching an awesome anime together. With streaming services aplenty and VOIP being a thing, there’s no reason not to sit together and watch something that you all know you’re going to hate.

The inside jokes and idiocy that can result might give you years of fond memories. For me, Green Green is the series that gave me this insight. It’s been well over a decade, and we still make jokes about it.

Years ago, a friend of mine (a self proclaimed asshole) decided one day to buy this pure unfiltered unfiltered garbage. He did this purely to enjoy our suffering on the next group anime night. The night comes, and there’s a group of us eating pizza out of a box and watching this absolute abomination of a series.

Green Green is all around bad in so many ways that it won’t ever hit bar of mediocrity. Too many things are just below average in presentation that even for its time, it wasn’t even decent back then. Funny thing is, it’s not even once of those “so bad it’s good” series either. The pure enjoyment of this anime comes strictly from fond memories that were induced by complete idiocy.

It’s worth it to make memories like that, and to cherish them fondly. Obviously if you do this, Just don’t take anything too seriously. In fact, this suggestion is the antithesis of seriousness, because you know you’re going to make fun of it.

#4) Random Roll

Too many good shows and not enough time? I feel that, and it sucks. So, how do you choose when a seasonal line-up is a smash hit and you know you’ve got too many anime to pick from?

Get a few dice, plunk in the series names, and let fate decide. I’ve had to do this many times. The year 2018 comes to mind. I was busy that year, and it was one of the best years for anime in a very long time. Every season in that year easily had ten or more anime that I wanted to watch. It was a flat out crazy year.

I picked five that I knew I couldn’t let slip by, but the rest I rolled on randomly just to see what I’d end up picking if the dice were to decide. That’s what got me by that year, and I still had anime to go back and watch or finish in 2019.

Without rolling on it randomly, I would have been in a very sad situation. There were just too many good shows, and I had to axe a few somehow.

#5) The Sleeper Anime

I don’t have a good example for this one. However, this is a rule I cling to, because one day I just might.

Every year there’s at least one or two anime in a season that falls off radar fairly early on in the line-up. They may not be popular from the start, or they may be overshadowed by the mega hits and squeal fodder that keeps anime alive and well.

You can’t always rely on anime reviewers to see every single anime out there. Frankly there is just too many to keep up with. If a reviewer attempts to watch every singe one, they’re very likely to burn themselves out. Even if they do watch every single one, they may not bring up the anime at all.

If you notice an anime that isn’t being talked about on a seasonal line-up, pick it up. See for yourself just how good it is. If it isn’t circulating around in discussion the reason is simply that it’s not worth the discourse in the first place. it’s either not annoying enough to piss off the anime community, or it was never made to be a mega hit. Very likely, and very commonly, it probably wasn’t widely advertised in the first place.

The thing is these shows will be average to most viewers. They won’t be amazing, and the reason they were dropped is because they may be unremarkable or easily forgettable. That’s what is most likely to happen, but there’s a chance you’ll find it to be amazing.

That’s a chance worth taking. For you, that seemingly unremarkable anime might be a diamond in the rough. It would be unfortunate if you didn’t hear of an anime that could become your absolute favorite for one reason or another.

Picking up the anime that get buried prevents you from missing out on a real gem. Yes, it make take a bit of digging and research, but you may find that to be well worth it in the end.

Final Thoughts

Anime is and will always be a very subjective medium. There are thousands of hours of content worth your time, and every season brings more of it. What used to be traditional classics are now buried under a sea of new content every single year.

When I was young, watch-lists were simple and easy to come by. Anime wasn’t incredibly abundant. When it came to sub-genres there were lists that everyone followed like gospel, because we had little else. Fandom followed a certain flow, you might say.

There were probably only six or so squeals even worth talking about every year, and the Shonen trinity (One Piece, Naruto, and Dragon Ball)  was pretty much expected viewing. Since they were all on television and easy to access, everyone knew of them.

Other shows made it onto Adult Swim or early Saturday morning line-ups, and those shows also padded out the majority of anime related discussions. Anime movies were rarely discussed, and often times were off the beaten path.

Anime films were hard to come by back in those days. They weren’t widely talked about or discussed unless they were off shoots of major anime programming. Naruto and Inuyasha movies had the benefit of originating from known anime on television, so those movies were widely talked about. Meanwhile other masterworks slipped into obscurity.

Perfect Blue is a perfect example of a film that wasn’t family friendly and hard to find in theaters. It wasn’t on the radar here in in america, and therefore only very strong anime inclined viewers even knew of it back when it released.

Nowadays, none of that holds true. The anime medium is too large and vast to see everything. Sometimes you just have to pick and choose. That’s why I made this list of suggestions. Hopefully, it will make your watch-list choices just a little bit easier for you.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets…

“Where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course…”

The Demented Ferrets…

To Our Supporters: Thank You!

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Mushoku Tensei – A Grandfather of Isekai

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Mushoku Tensei is one of the 2021 anime that has a lot of people taking about it, and for good reason. It’s an interesting show, adapted from a wealth of written media. Now having not read all of the written material, I can only speak to some of it. Today though I’m going to focus on it’s anime adaptation, and the problems that are creeping to the surface because of its vast popularity.

The written media for Mushoku Tensei has been around since 2012, that’s why the series is so popular. It not exactly a huge stretch to say that this series would generally appeal to a far wider audience than most anime out there.

You see, this series contains actual full length novels, light novels, manga, an audio drama, and as of 2021 it now has an anime and a video game as well.

So, what’s the problem then? Well, you could call this series one of the grandfathers of the Isekai genre.

In these types of stories, characters will teleport into a different world in one way, shape, or form. Generally a character dies and is reincarnated, or they’re sucked into the world through some other event. Then that character lives in the newfound world after that.

The entire crux of these stories is the characters and the world they now reside in. Key plot points include living among the peoples that reside in these new lands, learning the laws and the way the world works.

Isekai anime all have a gimmick of some nature, and to be fair it’s not a genre I actively dive into regularly. This is mostly because the industry is flooded with them. Since the beginning of anime itself, we’ve all seen the series where a character goes to some mystical place, or our titular hero gets trapped in a video game. It’s standard, it’s common, and even before the term “Isekai” became part of the anime narrative, it has always been around.

Even anime that aren’t true Isekai can still feel like one. Think of anime such as Inuyasha, for prime example. I wouldn’t call it a true Isekai, but it does have many trappings of the genre.

If you want a good example of a great Isekai in the genre, look no further than “That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime“. The manga and anime are both solid, and it also has novels and light novels. That is the reason I use this example. The wealth of contented provided is very similar.

When it comes to written media, Mushoku Tensei is the modern-day juggernaut for the Isekai genre. Prior to this series, Isekai were more fluid in it’s nature. What we considered Isekai was also vastly different.

This series established most of the tropes we know today. Predominately, this includes the concept of reincarnation into a new world, our favorite murderous device often named by fans as “truck-kun”, and the asshole protagonist that requires a new lease on life.

Does any of that sound like something you’ve seen before? Well, that is the ultimate issue for us anime fans.

The series took too long to be animated. More creative Isekai anime out there are using these established tropes. Some of them are actually doing it better than Mushoku Tensei ever could. This is simply because they had the benefit of learning from their grandfathers of the genre.

Thanks to these improvements on the genre, we’re getting some decent content. “That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime” is the primary example I use. However, there are other solid choices out there if this is a genre you really enjoy. I just don’t, so it’s hard for me to really decipher what ones are best to list.

Sadly, Mushoku Tensei cannot live up to it’s competitors. If you’re a fan of the series already, it’s probably right up your ally and on your “to watch” list. For the rest of us it’s a “been there, done that, seen this before” type of show.

This doesn’t make Mushoku Tensei bad, not even in the slightest. It just means that despite the pretty visuals and decent voice acting, it feels dated. It’s hard for me to suggest this anime simply because of that, but there is a reason to watch it.

As I said before, Mushoku Tensei is one of the founding grandfathers of the genre. It would be ridiculous to overlook this series simply because any fan of this genre should watch it at least once. It is important to understand how this genre came to be what it is today, and this series allows you to do that.

The anime adaptation is still ongoing, so this isn’t a review on its quality. This is just a firmly placed suggestion. If you enjoy Isekai anime, you owe it to yourself to watch this series.

I know that I am enjoying it despite the dated feel, and I hope you will too.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets…

“Where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course…”

The Demented Ferrets…

To Our Supporters: Thank You!

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Review: The Promised Neverland

Before I begin, I want to make it clear that I will be discussing The Promised Neverland anime at length, and not diving deep into the manga on this review. I will be mentioning it, but not actually reviewing it. The written media for this series is amazing, and quite frankly it needs it’s own spot here on the blog.

The reason the anime for this series is so good in season one isn’t the same reason why the manga is also wonderful. They are very different ways to enjoy this story, and it would diminish both works to compare them in a single review.

This is not an anime made for young viewers, and thus some of the themes depicted in the series might be considered disturbing. That is the nature of this anime, you have been warned.

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The Promised Neverland is a story that caters to older viewers who enjoy darker tales. It isn’t squeamish about cutting to the core of emotional uncertainty. It doesn’t pull any punches either. This anime is terrifying due to the nature of its implications.

What makes this series so good, is that it doesn’t try to craft a narrative too big for its own good. With tightly packed pacing, it manages not to feel rushed. The themes are dark, but I see no reason to sugar coat things. The anime isn’t subtle about it, so I won’t be either.

The majority of this story revolves around children being raised to be consumed like cattle. This is contained in a society that no longer runs on the strength of mankind alone. Intelligent demons inhabit the world, and they eat humans. If that bothers you, don’t watch this series.

Anime like this one has the gift of animation on its side. If this were a live action, I wouldn’t be able to watch it. The show would border on the line of too inhumane, and absolutely revolting. The fact that it is an anime lends a certain power to its creation, and more accessibility because of it.

After all, not everyone reads manga. There are anime only fans out there, and this first season offers plenty to enjoy for those who like this sort of unsettling story.

That being said, if you do read manga, don’t bypass this one. The Promised Neverland has one of the richest experiences in the written media that I’ve ever come across.

The Story: Removing Childlike Innocence

The general idea of the plot is as trite as you’d expect it to be, if you went by the simple plot synopses. This anime is far from trite and doesn’t much care who it offends as it spins its twisted tale of an orphanage gone wrong.

Basically these seemingly orphaned children are raised at an isolated and incredibly idyllic facility. This place is known as the “Grace Field House”. Unfortunately a few of the smart children discover the secret of this orphanage. It’s not a paradise, it’s hell on earth. With demons running society, their sinister reason for existence soon becomes clear.

These children are raised for purpose of becoming meals, no better than pigs to the slaughter. They’re killed to become food.

This is what they were raised for. Terrified of this, the children of the orphanage rally together in order to escape. This is not made easy. Their caretaker, who they call “Mama”, grew up in a home not unlike this one. She knows all of their tricks, and it becomes a battle of wits to see if the children can escape successfully or not.

Ultimately this the main drive of the story, at least so far as the first season is concerned. The entire thing is wrapped in beautiful animation. The atmospheric soundtrack truly distinguishes itself fittingly in the world of the show. If you’re an anime only fan, the show won’t do you wrong.

The series is directed by Mamoru Kanbe and written by Toshiya Ono during season one. You can clearly see the love and care poured into the series by the team at ColverWorks.

I know many find the manga to be far superior when it comes to the story and how it plays out. However, I’d beg to disagree. It comes down for a simple question for me. Ju

It’s certainly a psychologically bent show, but in what way is it best enjoyed? This brings me to the crux of many disputes regarding the anime. Do you want it to be a horror or a thriller?

The best choices really comes down to that.

Horror or Thriller?

The Promised Neverland is both of these things, but when it comes to the anime it is far more a thriller than it’s manga counterpart. The manga is more terrifying, each turn of the page offers a better shock value.

I couldn’t possibly bring myself to care about that, but I can see the appeal. If you want The Promised Neverland to feel more like a true horror story, you should read the written media. If you want it to feel more like a suspenseful thriller, the anime is superior in every way.

The anime itself takes a different approach. It isn’t trying to shock or awe you with every narrative twist and turn. Rather, it places these plot twists in front of you and asks you to absorb them quickly. Instead of initial shock, you’re expected to keep up with the anime. You don’t have much time to analyze every tiny detail on screen.

The manga asks you to savor every moment, the anime pushes you along for the ride. In that way, viewers are more akin to the children trapped in the orphanage.

For the characters, there is no time to over think every little detail, and outwitting their “Mama” becomes a constant chore. It means the difference between life and death.

For the viewer, the anime offers feeling of urgency that is controlled and contained as every second ticks by.

Written media just can’t promise to provide the same inherent urgency on rails. That all comes down to the pacing of a reader. Faster readers will blow through the content very quickly, and if you’re like me that’s a downfall.

Therefore, the anime experience is one I find far more enjoyable. I get more out of the vocal acting, musical composition, animation style and general pacing of the show than I did from the horror aspect of the manga itself.

Now let me be clear, when it comes to story line, that is entirely a different issue. As of season two the story-line diverts heavily. It has split the fandom in ways season one never did. If you want the full manga story-line, you will not find that in the anime as of season two. You must read the written media to fully enjoy that side of the story.

This is why I must also separate the reviews for this series. Season two is still ongoing, and that’s a discussion for another time.

Characters: Wonderfully Conceptualized, Poorly Executed.

For me, the characters are the worst part of the series in absolutely every way. Characters are handled a little bit better in the written media, but not much. The anime has character failings in spades, and I can easily explain why.

There are many characters in this anime. During season one, most of them are under the age of eleven.

There are only two adults that have any reasonable merit in season one, and both of them are villains. The rest are demons that rarely have screen time at all. What this does is put the viewer into the mind of childish fears and ambitions to resist against authority.

Yet, this series was not made for children. Therefore, typically it would be hard to relate to them as an adult viewer. Only a story appealing to a true sense of danger would give a viewer something to latch onto.

You either have a concept of empathy and recall what childhood was like, or you don’t. You must suspend your disbelief that these young kids could outsmart and outmatch their greatest danger in season one.

Mama Isabella was groomed for her position at the orphanage. She was militantly raised to be superior in every way.

All in all, there’s two choices. Allow the kids to win the day, or let them all die and become demon chow. We know the show isn’t going to murder them all off, so plot armor it is!

This is just another tired old trope to be honest. I find it a little lazy. Especially when it comes to the way certain events play out. Mama Isabella can cripple these children thoughtlessly, and flat out does do that to one of them.

The whole idea behind the “Grace Field House” is that children are the most flavorful and delicious when they’re raised in a happy environment. Free of extensive emotional turmoil. This house provides some of the best human meat available.

Well, that just craps all over the idea that you could break a little girl’s shin, now doesn’t it?

By the time the children are ready to escape, they’ve seen enough of what hell on earth looks like. With that kind of emotional upset, they certainly wouldn’t taste very good. They’d likely be no better than scrap meat at this point. This is what I mean by you just have to suspend disbelief.

Other than the narrative of the world itself, you’d simply watch the show for the sake of hoping the children would be okay. Frankly, that’s a piss-poor narrative to strive for. After all, the main three children aren’t exactly easy to relate to. I doubt many of us were the brightest, most athletic, and top of our class as children.

Thankfully, the anime seems to understand this.

The story appeals to a near parental urge to hope these children beat the odds, but this is still a dystopia and the viewer knows it. Connecting with the characters becomes even more difficult if you think they’ll end up dead and turned into food.

So, to me the characters are flat out the weakest thing this series has to offer. Are they awful? No, not at all. However, they aren’t in the least bit relatable either.

We see this in anime all the time though, and it’s just the way things go. It’s not a deal breaker, it’s just a fact of this type of story.

In Conclusion

The Promised Neverland is a good series, but it is not a masterpiece. I love it, and I do highly suggest it to fan of darker storytelling. It’s great for what it is, but you’ll have to forgive it for what it isn’t.

That said, there is a lot of baggage that you see whenever you pull off the “fan goggles” and really look at the series maturely. It doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, like other anime of its type.

The series has flaws, gaping holes in logic, and a habit of being so far up it’s own ass with its narrative, that it doesn’t see any of it. It’s trying to tell a mature story, but in some ways it’s so childish in its handling of serious situations that it feels like an “edge-lord” tried to write it.

That being said, it’s still vastly entertaining. I know I sound almost ruthless in my critiques, but that comes from watching way too many anime in my life and knowing what I like.

I like The Promised Neverland, and it is completely worth your time to give it a try. However, it won’t ever be an anime that sits proudly on my open shelf. Nope, it’s in an old VHS/DVD cabinet. That’s where I store the majority of the shows that I don’t re-watch very often and have no desire to display.

A word of advice. If you’re going to watch this series, don’t look for any real depth. The character moments can be contrived at times, and others they’re just flat out stupid.

This is a pop-corn anime, philological horror or not. For me, that’s all it can ever be. The thing is, I’m perfectly fine with that. I enjoy this series, and I know others will too.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets…

“Where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course…”

The Demented Ferrets…

To Our Supporters: Thank You!

With your contributions, you make our efforts possible. Thank you for supporting our content.

Patreon Supporters

At the time of this post there are 3 notable contributors.

Demented Minions: Francis Murphy, Josh Sayer, and Andrew Wheal.

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Gateway Anime For Older Viewers.

Anime is a very diverse media, I will always defend its ability to offer robust and diverse stories. Particularly ones that fans would never see in other media. That said, most anime has a lot of tropes that do not age well as fans get older.

There doesn’t seem to be any end to the school life, battle, magic and high fantasy styles of anime out there. Those are all well and good. I love anime like My Hero Academia, Attack On Titan, and Ancient Magus Bride. That being said, I can only take so much before my brain begins to melt.

Sometimes I want anime closer to the live action shows I like. Series like Golden Girls, Fraser and N.C.I.S. just to name a few.

In a sea of releases aimed at children, teens and young adults sometimes it’s hard to see the true wealth of content the medium can offer to older viewers. Adult fans aren’t inherently creeps or mouth breathers. No, we don’t all fail to have a social life. No, anime is not just for immature viewers…

Gone are days of endless absolute crap like Green Green (don’t look that up, seriously) and shows like it. Yes they’re a thing, no they are not the only thing.

Thankfully this narrow-minded view has begun to change, but we have a long way to go. Unfortunately, there’s just one small issue holding this movement back a bit.

A Misunderstanding of Maturity

No, not all anime is strictly deviant in some way, shape, or form. Yet, this is a mindset that continues to plague the media. Many believe anime cannot possibly be something mature, without also being crammed full of things you’d be ashamed to admit being interested it.

Nine times out of ten when society (read: non-anime fans) think of an anime aimed at older viewers, they think of things that are somehow disturbing, raunchy, super violent, or just flat out pornographic. That’s the stigma, but it’s not the whole truth.

It’s drives me crazy that we are still bashing our faces against this stigma in 2021, but here we are. Now, as a thirty-one year old anime, I take issue with the logic that all anime aimed at older viewers needs to be questionable. It’s just not true.

I try to combat this stigma by educating people about the full scope that anime has to offer. With time, I’ve even had success with it. It all comes down to finding the right series to expose a non-anime fan to, and hope they take to it. At the very least, hope they see beyond their own narrow view of the topic.

There are some perfectly serviceable options for older viewers that just want characters to be near their own age, living in a down to earth society for once.

So, this is just a small list of possible anime to expose a non-anime fan to the medium. These are series that keep the tropes to a minimum and the idiocy factor fairly low.

You can expose them to that sort of thing on your own time. These are what I think of as gateway anime for anyone over the age of twenty-five. I’d like to consider these as ice-breakers to the medium, not necessarily anime that follow hard and fast rules of their respective genres at large.

You are not going to find anime like Akira and Black Lagoon on this list for the reasons above. You’re not goin to find the latest anime line-up either.

This grouping of suggestions wasn’t made for a difficult fan. It was made for a non-fan entering into the medium as an adult. This assumes that this non-fan has no desire for the obvious mega-hits that most of us would typically suggest due to the stigma’s mentioned above.

This list is in no particular order. That’s because each of them stand out based on what a person may be looking for. So let’s just dive into this, shall we?

Space Brothers: For Space Fans

Space Brothers is one the the absolute best option out there in my personal opinion. Two brothers aspire to be astronauts. One brother achieves his dream. The other decides to follow in his footsteps. This shows a life of an aspiring astronaut and the trials and tribulations he goes through.

Space Brothers is a perfect starter for a science fiction fan that wouldn’t mesh well with the idea of mecha anime. My father -who is in his seventies and absolute hates anime- has watched and enjoyed it. The entry point for viewing this series is to simply like the idea of going to space. It is accessible to non-fans that may not comprehend the space opera trope often found in anime.

To be honest, Space Brothers stands as a “catch-all” anime for me. If I don’t know what anime to pick out for a new viewers, I always go with Space Brothers. It is very accessible for an american viewer because the idea of going to outer space is part of our mass media to begin with.

Alternatively, you could always try Planetes since it is shorter. It is less down to earth in nature too, though. People have colonized on the moon, and this focuses on life within that society. The hero in this anime cleans space junk for a living.

Bartender: For Viewers of Dry Media

This is perfect for your bar loving companions in search of something thoughtful and slow moving. Bartender is a heartfelt drama at the end of the day. It chooses to dig down into the soul of personal struggles. I have a full review here, in the event you’d like more information.

Bartender is perhaps one of the best series for a character study out there. Or rather, it’s the one least likely to confuse a viewer unfamiliar with anime tropes. Unfortunately I don’t feel there’s a good alternative for Bartender, because it isn’t a “typical” anime to even begin with. It is certainly more sophisticated and refined than you would usually see in the anime medium.

Sweetness and Lightning: For Parents and Families

Sweetness and Lightning is one of the best stories of parenthood and family bonds to ever grace the anime world. If you’re in search of a typical sitcom type of show, this is it. Sweetness and Lightning is also very family friendly too, meaning children could watch with with their parents.

The single father is a widower. He is incredibly relatable to anyone who has needed to raise a child on their own. It won’t just be men that relate to him, either. Women can easily imprint upon his struggles, because they aren’t inherently based around fatherhood itself, but parenthood and the loss of a spouse in general. It isn’t a heavy series, but the themes have enough substance to resonate with older viewers. I have a review for this series as well, it can be found here.

Alternatively, there is Usagi Drop. This is a story about fatherhood and family, though this one is a bit more serious in tone. This is about a man who takes in a little girl, raising her as his daughter. The anime is absolutely wonderful. Just ignore the written media.

So, there you go. This selection of gateway anime should serve you well for older viewers. None of them are particularly recent, but they’ve all stood the test of time. Space Brothers most of all in that regard. There are countless other anime of course, but this post is getting long and diving deeper brings us into the complicated mess of sub genres and very specific tastes.

I will give more recommendations one day based on other key interests, but the down to earth anime needed to come first.

This is not a topic I will be done with any time soon, because there is plenty of gateway anime out there fully and completely serviceable to older viewers.

Until next time, everyone. This has been Kernook of the Demented Ferrets.

“Where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course…”

The Demented Ferrets…

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Anime Review- Bartender

Before I begin this post, please understand that today I am reviewing an anime that contains a bar and the one thing that usually happens in bars. Namely drinking… lots of drinking… hence this warning up top…please do not ignore this warning.

I do not advocate additive and damaging behavior that sometimes revolves around drinking and drugs Therefore, if you are an alcoholic that struggles with sobriety, or you are easily triggered into wanting a drink based on the content you consume, please bypass this post. Sobriety is not always an easy thing to commit to, so every day sober is a day of victory.

You have now been warned. If you read beyond this point, you will be reading a review of Bartender an anime based around a bar and the lonely souls that wander in.

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Bartender stands out as a refined slice-of-life series for older viewers. It isn’t your standard formula by far, and it doesn’t pretend to be.

It is soft and sophisticated without being obnoxious. Themes are sometimes vague, but not needlessly obtuse. Character stories are personal and often layered in simple but deep symbolism .Ideally a viewer would take the time to savor this series. It’s only eleven episodes long.

So, why do I give this show such high praise? Simple, I enjoy anime that doesn’t try to cram itself into the typical mold. Bartender stick out to me as an anime that doesn’t feel like an anime. It certainly is an anime, to be sure. Still, it lacks a lot of the mindless slapstick humor and overblown gags that make anime what it is.

Even anime aimed at older viewers can take a nosedive into childishness on occasion. While that can be fun, that can also get old fast. This series doesn’t do that. Bartender understands that it’s trying to cater to a more refined and thoughtful audience. That’s strictly what it does.

I highly suggest watching this series if you haven’t. There isn’t much conversation around this series, and since it’s a bit older it seems to have gotten buried under a flood of other anime over the years.

This is a crying shame to me, because Bartender is without a doubt a solid entry for an older viewer who doesn’t know what anime is, or may even be adverse to it. This is easily a gateway anime for someone over the age of twenty-five because it lacks many of the overblown tropes you often see in the medium.

It’s perfect for a viewer that has grown tired of the anime that continue clogging the typical seasonal line-up. Experienced anime fans may not have heard of this gem. Non-anime fans may be drawn to its down-to-earth representation of the characters and its story driven focus.

So with all of this said, let’s begin the review.

A Bar That Speaks to The Soul

Bartender first began as a manga in 2004, written by  Araki Joh and illustrated by Kenji Nagatomo. Now I won’t be speaking about the manga here, but as you can clearly see, written media is available for this series if you care to look for it.

Now, I will say this; the manga has clear story arcs. The anime is far more episodic in nature. Although it still contains vignettes about one or more of the characters, it doesn’t have as clear a structure or pacing as the written media.

There is also a live-action drama of Bartender that was released in 2010, but it is a bit harder to find. That said, if you’re trying to get someone who is completely opposed to anime and manga into the series, the live action is the perfect entry point.

The anime released in 2011, directed by Masaki Watanabe, and written by Yasuhiro Imagawa.

No matter what form you choose to enjoy the series in, the basic idea is still the same. There is a bar hidden deep in the alleys of the Ginza district. The bar’s name is Eden Hall. This quiet and lonely little bar is run by Ryuu Sasakura.

Ryuu is thought of as a bar-tending prodigy, widely acclaimed to the point his name precedes him. Rumor has it that he mixes the most incredible and prolific cocktails that anyone has ever tasted.

There’s just one little catch. The bar isn’t open to just anyone. Eden Hall chooses who happens to find it, and who enters its doors.

Customers from all walks of life and different backgrounds come into this bar seeking answers to life’s problems. Ryuu, being the prodigy he is, always knows the ideal cocktail to serve to his guests. This combined with his wisdom allows him to console and guide each afflicted soul that enters Eden Hall.

Knowing this, you can see how the series might come off as dry or bland in some places. You’d be right. It’s intended to be a soft-spoken series. Full of careful contemplation and a plenty of soul searching.

The entire series in wrapped up in wonderful animations and lovely music that can stand on its own merits. Even now, it stands the test of time, no question about that.

A Few Caveats

Number one, the themes may pose a problem. The general ethos of the anime can be thought of as problematic. The general idea is that the right drink, at the right time, is the perfect way to start an earnest inward conversation.

In other words, when a character drinks, they can find the answer to their problems within themselves. This frames the beverage as a looking-glass of sorts. I gave a warning above, but I’m going to cram it here too. If you have once had a drinking problem, or still do, please consider bypassing this show.

Each episode features cocktails that are made with love and care by Ryuu to serve to his guest. They’re poured, mixed, and served in a way that is pleasing to the eye. Given how tempting the animation makes these beverages look, a viewer may end up wanting something similar as well.

It’s very pretty to look at. The animation is stunning, but that’s both a bonus and a drawback when your talking about substances and ways to possibly abuse them.

Characters that come into the series are the sort that have baggage. They talk about their problems, they reflect on the issues at hand, and then have a drink over it. It’s not always portrayed as healthy, either.

The second issue is that it caters to a very specific type of viewer. It is calm, quiet, and methodical. If that isn’t the type of series you like, you’ll get bored fast. It is full to bursting with careful reflection and character stories that linger in subtle ways. That being said, this isn’t an anime about mind games, and there are no plot twists that leave your jaw hanging on the floor. That’s just not the sort of anime this is.

Final Thoughts

Bartender is without question one of the best anime you can find that isn’t on the beaten path. It’s stunning for its time visually, and each piece of music is just as carefully crafted as the series itself. A lot of love and care went into this show.

I find that Bartender is not necessarily for fans that want mystery and intrigue. Rather, the show is best suited to someone who enjoys a good character study without being mired down in endless drivel. Overall, due to the episodic nature of the series, no character lingers too long to outstay their welcome at Eden Hall. Ryuu is certainly entertaining on screen as well, rounding out each episode in a way I found fitting.

So, my conclusion is that you should watch the series if you can. Just be aware of the themes. Do yourself a favor and don’t try to binge it in one sitting. That doesn’t bode well. I’ve tried, and I love the series but even I can’t do it.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets…

“Where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course…”

The Demented Ferrets…

To Our Supporters: Thank You!

With your contributions, you make our efforts possible. Thank you for supporting our content.

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Top 3 Reasons to Watch: All Out

Hello everyone, Kernook here. In honor of the Superbowl here in the states I thought that it would be nice to discuss a rugby anime today. This one happens to be called All Out.

Now typically I don’t watch many sports anime, although the ones I do watch tend to be a few of my favorites. From Yuri on Ice and Ballroom e Youkoso, to Baby Steps and Megalo Box, I’ve seen my fair share of the sports anime medium. Not only one type of sport anime, but the wide range of them, including competitive dance.

Yes… even competitive dancing is a sport, believe it.

So, why am I suggesting All Out when objectively there are far better options out there for the rugby sport? Well, here’s the thing, the better ones are only better for anime fans. I wanted to suggest something that could also apply to regular sports fans too.

Have a relative or a friend who loves rugby? Are they reluctant to watch anime? Well, that’s the demographic that’s perfect for this anime.

I don’t suggest All Out because it’s a favorite of mine. Actually, it’s far from a favorite for me. That’s because I am not a hardcore rugby fan. In general find other sports more enjoyable.

Believe it or not though, I do enjoy this anime enough to have watched it several times. That’s why I can suggest it to you now.

As a Madhouse production made in 2016, it ticks all of the basic boxes of a typical sports anime without being an eyesore. It’s old enough to have fallen out of the discussion among anime fans, without being so old as to look like crap.

This anime is a great “catch-all” of sorts. If you like sports anime, or rugby in general, you’ll probably like this. So with that let’s get into my top three reasons to watch it.

#1. It’s Great for Beginners.

For those of you who don’t typically watch anime, this is a starter for you. This anime has all the trappings of your typical school life anime with sports mixed into it.

It has a subtitled version and a dubbed version. If you don’t want to read subtitles, you don’t have to. It also lacks a lot of the maddening tropes that are in other types of sports anime. It’s perfect for a beginners to the medium.

If you like testosterone ridden victories, action, and the highs and lows that comes with sports, All Out has it in spades. The anime is bursting with everything that you’d expect from any sport such as Rugby.

This is an anime, but it doesn’t feel like it panders only to anime fans.

#2. The Team

All Out features a large cast, as expected of sports anime. You might not get to know some characters as well as you might like, and others are perhaps hogging screen time every now and then. That being said, you’ll find someone to enjoy.

In general the characters are mostly what you’d expect of them and the struggles in the show are too. As a team, they have a strong chemistry, so that certainly helps to make them interesting.

They experience highs and lows with their ability to play the game and within their lives. That said, it’s never too dramatic, and never over the top. Personal story arcs align well with the themes of the show. All in all, there’s a good chance you’re going to find a character you like.

#3. The Plot

If you’re a huge fan of sports anime you’ve seen this sort of story countless times. Don’t believe me? Let me give you a synopsis and you can decide just how many times you’ve seen this set-up before.

Gion is a short guy. He’s the typical average anime protagonist. Due to his love of sports he watches a rugby match. When he does, finds out that you don’t have to be huge to be a good player. He’s invigorated by this and feels absolutely convinced that he finally found a sport he can be great at. Like most sport anime, he also drags a friend along for the ride. Obviously, he becomes part of the team. Once in the Rugby team, they train hard and aim to become national high school rugby champions.

See what I mean? It’s standard, it’s typical, but that also makes it a good choice to those who *don’t* typically watch this style of anime. It has just enough of its own heart and soul to stand out without deviating from the standard formula. Plus, the nods to the school life genre also make it an easy show to watch for non-sports fans.

Though, as with all sports anime, your enjoyment of several scenes will completely depends on if you like the sport in question. In this case, it’s rugby.

In Conclusion

All in all, All Out is a solid choice for the reasons above. There’s probably a fair few anime fans who haven’t seen it. It’s great for beginners to the medium. The characters are enjoyable and the animation is from Madhouse, so you know it’s quality.

It’s also fairly easy to locate. Seriously, a single google search will direct you to legal streaming sites in a matter of moments. Crunchyroll and Funimation both have the series for viewing.

So that’s where I’ll leave you for today. If you need some anime sports action, give All Out a try. It’s a solid entry to the rugby fandom and honestly it’s worth a watch at least once.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets.

“Where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course…”

The Demented Ferrets…

To Our Supporters: Thank You!

With your contributions, you make our efforts possible. Thank you for supporting our content.

Patreon Supporters

At the time of this post there are 3 notable contributors.

Demented Minions: Francis Murphy, Josh Sayer, and Andrew Wheal.


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Anime Review: Perfect Blue

Note: This was an old post on the original “The Demented Ferrets” site, and prior to that it belonged to my personal blog. It is being placed here because this is now where it belongs.

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Satoshi Kon was a master in directorial design. He took to his craft with a keen eye for detail. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2010, leaving behind his works of art as a legacy to the anime industry.

For more information on Satoshi Kon, you can check out my blog post about him here. For those of you who don’t here’s a brief recap.

In brief summary, Kon’s works are noteworthy to say the least and each of them are particularly unique. Frankly, his productions are incredible, even if they aren’t exactly mainstream media.

The fact of the matter is, most of Satoshi Kon’s greatest works are way ahead of their time thematically. They challenge viewers, and often require more than a single viewing.

Satoshi Kon combines the art of anime with his ability to craft an interesting narrative. His works are often saturated with several layers of metaphor to drive his stories forward. In order to completely catch every minor detail he skillfully embeds into his works, it’s best to watch them at least twice.

In 1997, Satoshi Kon had built quite a name for himself. His reputation grew quickly. His ability to craft compelling stories gave him an edge in the anime industry. In the 90’s animation was striving to do new things, and he was just the sort of person able to utilize his skills to the fullest potential. In collaboration with the studio Madhouse, Satoshi Kon was able to direct his first feature length film; Perfect Blue.

Satoshi Kon’s First Film: Perfect Blue

Originally, Perfect Blue was a fictional novel under the name “Perfect Blue: Complete Metamorphosis” written by Yoshikazu Takeuchi.

The animated adaptation does make a few narrative changes, so keep that in mind. There is also a second novel named “Perfect Blue: Awaken from a Dream”. Both are worth a read if you love the Perfect Blue series.

As of writing this review, you can find both books on Amazon, same with the film.

Perfect Blue is a psychological drama. Its themes are heavy and introspective. It dives feet first into the darker aspects of what it means to be a Japanese idol, and the implications of that choice.

Thanks to its deep narrative and chilling atmosphere, it will be an unsettling animated movie for some viewers. This is by no means a children’s anime.

Perfect Blue was originally released in 1997, but in 2019 it was remastered. Now there is a blue-ray edition of the film as well. There is a dub and a sub of the series, and both will serve you well. Though I must admit, I do prefer the sub slightly over the dub.

Spoiler warning: From this point onward, there will be spoilers for the animated adaptation of Perfect Blue. You have been warned. This is a film you may want to watch before you see the spoilers.

Perfect Blue tells the personal story of a Japanese idol named Mima. She’s established and fairly successful, but she believes that she can do better.

Therefore she decides to leave her singing career behind, choosing to become an actress instead. Quite quickly, she manages to get a small role in a murder mystery series.

Unfortunately, that’s when things start to go horribly wrong for Mima, and it’s the crux of the entire movie.

Now, there is something to be said about idol culture, and the mentalities surrounding it. Japanese idols are a strange concept to anyone unfamiliar with it. In truth, westerners don’t have a one-to-one comparison for idol culture, so can be hard to describe.

Basically, a Japanese idol is a teenage girl or a very young woman who fits into a societal mold. These girls are dressed up in cute outfits in order to sing, dance, and perform for their fans. Furthermore, idols are expected to behave in a certain way. They have plenty of rules to follow, and they don’t have a lot of personal freedom. Idols are meant to encourage and inspire their fans, maintaining a perfect image for the general public.

Perhaps the nearest comparison I could make is the old days of the Micky Mouse Clubs, but even that falls on its face because idols are usually not children. Rather, they are late teens or young adults.

A somewhat sinister fact to this is that normally these girls don’t come from prominent families. Most of the time, they’re nameless and unpopular at first, rising to stardom because that’s what idol fans like to see.

This cultivated narrative suggests to fans that anyone who tries hard enough has the chance to be an idol themselves. Perfect Blue portrays the dark side of idol this particular type of idol culture.

Mima can’t just leave her identity as an idol behind. As much as she might want to, Mima can’t escape who she was, or the image she portrayed. In a way you could say she is a slave to her fans.

One fan in particular starts retaliating when she decides to start acting. This new role takes away from her purity and innocence that an idol should portray. Due to that, things become dangerous very quickly for her. Sadly, this also trickles down to those she’s associated with.

As people in Mima’s social circle end up being murdered, Mima must learn to cope with these new dangers. To make matters worse, Mima has trouble coming to terms with her professional career.

She believes she making the right choices logically. Emotionally though, those choices aren’t fulfilling in the slightest. They just don’t excite her like she thought they would. Instead, she ends up just going through the motions of daily life, feeling almost numb to her success.

She doesn’t voice this outwardly as she much as she should, keeping it to herself. Inwardly, she feels as though she needs to live up to a certain expectation, and since she was once an idol, this is no surprise.

As Mima’s career path shifts, so does she as a person. She constantly finds herself placed in very uncomfortable circumstances . As dark realities start drifting to the surface, she struggles to find her footing as an actress.

Mima is forced to act out scenes for her television series that she isn’t comfortable with, and she attends photo shoots for magazines that contain nudity. This goes against Mima’s formerly squeaky clean idol identity. Sadly, she conforms in spite of her discomfort with it all.

As if all of this wasn’t enough, there’s one more detail to this sordid puzzle. A detail that truly makes this animated film something truly haunting.

Mima isn’t necessarily in her right mind. Instead, she begins to hallucinate. Her former idol identity manifests in front of her. This image begins teasing her, taunting her, and asking her to dive deeper into her own depression. This image begins to ask Mima if she’s living the life she really wanted for herself.

It happens more than once. Each time this happens, it’s rather disturbing, both to Mima and to us, the viewers.

The vision of her idol identity keeps appearing and toying with her at every opportunity. It’s as if Mima is slowly going mad. At one point Mima even sees her idol identity sitting in the back seat of someone’s car. A point that I’ll come back to later.

The mental spiral continues to get worse for Mima. She begins passing out during the day and waking inside her apartment. She has absolutely no recollection of how she got there. She begins to see photos uploaded to a fan site that she doesn’t recognize and she begins to question herself, feeling as though she’s losing her mind.

The most disturbing part of all of this is that the television series that Mima has been working mirrors this. It has all of the same basic story beats. This gives viewers several narratives layered with complex implication and metaphor.

As we watch Mima struggle, we’re inclined to wonder about who she is as a person. We’re brought to wonder just how much of her life is a fabrication, and how much of it is real. Viewers are encouraged to question the stability of Mima’s mind, and what she sees as reality.

Frankly, all of these contextual pieces would be terrifying on their own. However, mixed together the way that they are, it is truly unsettling in all the right ways. The themes linger long after the anime has been turned off, and that’s by design.

Perfect Blue’s Perfect Metaphors

Satoshi Kon knew how to get his point across. He understood the fine lines of media, and how to make them work in his favor. He approached Perfect Blue with a firm understanding of what he wanted to do, and how to get it done.

The meticulous editing and scene changes found in this film are some of the best I’ve seen in anime. The film relies heavily on implication and juxtaposition to carry important scenes forward.

One moment, she’ll be standing over a dead body in a scene she’s acting out.

In the next, she’ll be standing in front of an audience, preparing to perform.

These scenes compare and contrast two stressful situations for Mima. She’s wearing the same expression in both moments, but one is much more horrific than the other.

As I said above, viewers are encouraged to question her sanity and what she believes to be real. This is one key scene, among many others, that truly contextualize Mima as a character.

It’s at this point I’d like to remind you of two other important scenes. One is the scene about the photos on the fan site she found. As I said above, she has no recollection of the pictures that were taken of her. However, the clothes are certainly in her closet, even if she can’t remember buying them.

The second scene is of the moment she see’s her idol identity sitting in the passenger seat of someone else’s car. She can’t deny what she saw, but even she can admit the entire idea is pure insanity on its face.

As Mima questions herself, viewers are asked to question her as well. As the concept of reality shifts around her, we begin to see that not everything is as it seems. We realize that her experiences are not trustworthy.

We can’t help but question which of the experience she’s having is the real one. Maybe only one situation is, maybe they both are, or perhaps it’s all just a fabrication of a very ill mind. This brings me to my next point…

Who exactly is Mima?

Mima’s Conflicted Identity

Throughout the film, it becomes clear that Mima isn’t being entirely honest with herself, or those around her. As I stated above, she truly struggles to find her place in life.

She’s not a happy person, at least not professionally, socially, or emotionally. She lives a very complicated life, with several facets of her personality being hidden away from the public eye.

Mima lives a double life. It may be two sides of the same coin, but that is a very isolating thing to do. We see this play out in the film.

It’s arguable that her supreme sense of isolation leads to her unhealthy mindset and warped perception of reality. It’s also arguable that she’s isolated purely because her perceptions are warped to begin with.

Viewers will never truly know the answer, it’s left strictly up to interpretation.

Mima is rather lonely in the privacy of her own apartment. Meanwhile, her idol persona is outgoing and charismatic. Lastly, her actress persona is someplace in the middle of the other two.

These conflicting identities lead her to a crisis of sorts. At times, it seems as though the idol personality within her is trying to break lose. It seems to gain a personality of its own. The way it seems to harass her is another question in and of itself.

Are these her own personal thoughts of self hatred given form? Or is the idol within her becoming it’s own split off personality, separate from Mima as a person? Or is she simply a ghost of who Mima once was?

Once again, the answer is not so clear. While it’s true this isn’t likely a purgatory of sorts, the trials placed in front of Mima are no less troubling.

Most of what viewers see is through the eyes of Mima, and what she goes through in daily life. With these many personas in constant conflict, her personal identity gets lost in the shuffle.

It’s anyone’s guess. That’s what makes this film so good. You could debate this endlessly and never come to a final answer.

Has Perfect Blue Aged Well?

Perfect Blue was originally released in 1997. In some ways it is a product of its time. When it comes to the world itself, it shows its age in spades. Decor looks dated to be sure, and that says nothing about the world during that era of time.

Electronics in the film reflect the era of the late 90’s. As a result, so do some of the conversations in the series. For example, there’s a scene where Mima learns how to use the internet for the first time.

Televisions and computers are the sort that you would find in the late 90’s. What was once top of the line equipment now looks like a relic. If anything, I do appreciate the little Mackintosh logo at the bottom of the computer and on the box. There are plenty of little nods like this all over in the anime.

If you are old enough to remember the 90’s these are neat little additions. I’m sure that in the 90’s additions like this helped the narrative to be more immersive.

As far as the actual animation goes, it holds up quite well, even in it’s original state. Thanks to the blue-ray remastering of the anime, those who want high definition certainly have an option too. The soundtrack to the show is as haunting as it is beautiful. Each track melds into scenes flawlessly, building tension and atmosphere when it needs to.

Final Thoughts

Perfect Blue is not an anime film for everyone. In fact, I personally believe a good number of people won’t like it at all. It can be hard to recommend to the average anime viewer.

It isn’t a relaxing show, and it has some pretty brutal pacing. That, coupled with its dark and sinister themes, lead to a very complex and morally grey narrative. It is a thriller, and that can’t be understated.

The film relies heavily on its psychological drama to carry the story forward. Many scenes are purposefully unsettling, and Mima is an enigma by nature. Several questions are left unanswered and up to interpretation.

The ones that will be answered, may not be satisfactory or to your liking. That’s just the nature of this film, and Satoshi Kon’s directorial style in general.

That being said, Perfect Blue is by far one of the most compelling anime I’ve ever watched. There is so much to unpack about the world, Mima, and the concept of idol culture in Japan. If you can tolerate the concepts in the anime, you may find a real gem here.

This had been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets…

“Where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course…”

The Demented Ferrets…

To Our Supporters: Thank You!

With your contributions, you make our efforts possible. Thank you for supporting our content.

Patreon Supporters

At the time of this post there are 3 notable contributors.

Demented Minions: Francis Murphy, Josh Sayer, and Andrew Wheal.


If You Enjoyed This Content…

Please consider following us on this blog. We also have other platforms with content to enjoy. At the time of this post we have a Twitter, Twitch, YouTube.

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