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My Hero Academia Season 1 Review

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Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here. Today I’m going to begin my review journey through the My Hero Academia series. Some of you may know this title as Boku no Hīrō Akademia.

I’ll be starting at season 1. Over time, I’ll slowly move my way through all of them. Super hero anime quite like this one are particularly hard to find. It’s worth the effort to re-watch the series and gather my thoughts accordingly.

When it first released I was dubious. I wondered if the series would be another sub-par shounen romp. Thankfully, it really isn’t. Like most anime fans out there, I’m always searching for new anime to watch. While I certainly prefer older anime from the early 2000’s and the 1990’s, I jumped on the bandwagon for My Hero Academia fairly quickly.

I must say, I enjoyed season 1 for all that it had to offer. This 13 episode masterpiece won’t leave you hanging for more. There are plenty of seasons to pick up after you finish this one.

I don’t think I have to tell you that this series is worth the watch for any fan of the hero’s journey, which Deku, our main protagonist displays in spades. Really, I think that’s the most compelling part of this anime; Deku himself and the wider world he faces down.

We can thank  Studio Bones for its high value production quality and intelligent fights. That certainly helps a lot too.

The Basic Story

The world is dominated by two main types of people. Those with powers named “Quirks” and those who don’t have that power. The series is fairly utilitarian. It boasts the concept that a person should do what they most excel at to benefit the wider community. It isn’t a dystopian world though, far from it.

Our main protagonist is a run-of-the-mill guy named Izuku Midoriya, nicknamed fairly early on as Deku. That’s what I’ll be calling him from here on out, by the way, Deku…

This middle school kid has a dream to become a hero. There’s just one problem, Deku doesn’t have a Quirk of his own. Within the series, this excuse happens to be handled this pretty believably too. We get a solid medical explanation in a flashback scene.

During a doctor’s appointment Deku is told he’s absolutely unable to develop a Quirk. The doctor, almost cruelly tells him that he could never become a hero. Those around Deku tell him this continually, believing he should find a new goal in life.

This headstrong boy refuses to believe he can’t become a hero. He absolutely won’t give up his dream for anything. Now I’ve discussed the powerful storytelling found in Deku as a character. If you’re interested in that, check it out here.

The majority of the first season is about challenging the preconceived notions you might have about “hero shows” like this one. Deku spends his time facing adversity, his own mental struggles, and the preparation he needs to take in the power “One For All”. That particular Quirk belongs to All Might. After Deku proves himself, All Might decides to pass it on to Deku.

Note: Not all quirks can be passed on, but “One For All” can be.

Deku dives into his efforts head first at nearly every opportunity. He’s so engrossed in the training it takes to become a hero. You truly do want to root for him. The bond he makes with All Might is really a special thing. It reminds me heavily of Kakashi’s bond with Team 7 of the Naruto series. His role is almost paternal. This bond between them deepens from mentor and protege into teacher and student once Deku is accepted into the “UA” high school.

What makes My Hero Academia  knows exactly what story it’s trying to tell. It doesn’t deviate from the core themes. The series carefully balances humor with emotion, but the story is also tight paced and full of action where it suits. Better yet, the character conflicts hold their own emotional weight.

One of the best characters to facilitate the emotional conflict for Deku is Bakugo. He might come off as your average bully, but there’s more going on under the hood with this character for sure. Even early on, you can see that in spades. While Bakugo’s rage at Deku certainly feels a bit misguided at times, the emotional warfare feels realistic to the universe.

Yet, what would an action series be without stellar fights?

Animation

The animation won’t do you wrong. The combat feels weighty, the animation itself is very slick during the fights. The characters don’t “float” where there shouldn’t be any floating to their movements. All of the Quirks suit the characters well, even if we don’t fully understand the complete magnitude of these powers. Bakugo’s explosions feel bombastic. Todoroki’s ice powers feel layered and amazing.

Combat choreography isn’t something a screen shot can adequately depict. This is a series you have to watch to fully appreciate. I should call it raw magnitude. Well and truly, the fights are raw magnitude for a lack of a better description.

The attention paid to the tiny details really shows how much care the animators put into this series.

Final Thoughts

Honestly, this is a solid first season to a pretty good shounen anime over all. In my opinion, it’s also one of the best seasons because of how clean and concise it is.

There are so many anime in this genre that feel clunky or overdone. I promise you, My Hero Academia comes out of the gate strong. It doesn’t feel clunky in the slightest. Shounen anime often feel like a dime a dozen, but My Hero Academia feels like more than that.

The first season is only 13 episodes long, you could binge watch the first season in a single weekend with time to spare. The ending is wonderful too, paving the way for more great seasons down the line.

With the strong introduction of the main cast, and a few decent villains like Shigaraki, there’s a lot to like here. I often return to this first season for the tight writing, punchy characterizations, and compelling storytelling. If you haven’t seen this series, you probably should.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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Review: A Little Snow Fairy Sugar

Hey all, this is Kernook here. Today we’re going to talk about a series that’s gentle and easy to watch. However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows either. Sometimes this anime is a little bitter-sweet and contemplative above all else. While it touches on the subject of loss, you’ll find the themes to be easily digestible and never too dark.

Today I’m talking about A Little Snow Fairy Sugar. Please don’t forget to follow this blog and out social media for more content.

Before I dive into the series, let’s talk about the usual technicalities. As of right now the series can be hard to find. You can rent or buy it digitally on Amazon Prime. I’m not sure if you can locate it anywhere else. I still have my old DVD copies so that’s how I watch the show.

Speaking of that, the series was originally released on DVD in North America by Geneon Entertainment.  Sentai Filmworks partook the license later on. The animation was done by J.C. Staff, for better and for worse. For the time it was pretty decent, average at the very least. That said, it hasn’t aged well.

Thankfully, the character designs by Koge-Donbo save this problem. The characters are wonderful. Let’s dive into the meat of the show properly.

This is a short 24 episode series, centering around the main protagonist, Saga. She’s an interesting girl. She likes to have everything organized to perfection. To some degree her this nearly obsessive character flaw stems from hardship, but I’ll get to that later. Saga lives with her grandmother in Muhlenberg, Germany.

Side note: As far as I can tell, this is a fictional place. It isn’t real. Although interestingly enough, there was actually a man by the name of Frederick Muhlenberg. If what the urban legend says is true, then that is the guy who prevented German from becoming an official language of the United States. This is the sort of thing you find while researching for blog posts, I swear. Tangential learning, everyone! Anyway, I digress.

At the time the series begins, Saga is 11 years old. She goes to school and keeps a part-time job at the “Little Me” coffee shop. As a hobby she visits the local music store to practice playing her late mother’s piano.

As you can see, Saga’s life is entirely ordinary with nothing out of place. One day during a rain storm, Saga encounters Sugar, an apprentice Season Fairy. As you can guess, everything neat and orderly in Saga’s life goes completely askew as soon as she meets Sugar.

The seasons and weather such as snow, wind, rain and the sun are controlled by these little creatures. Also as expected, we find out that these little buggers are entirely invisible to humans. Saga can see Sugar. That is the crux of the show. The next thing Saga knows, she’s befriended the adorable little pain-in-the-butt. The general story goes like this…

In order for Sugar to become a full-fledged Season Fairy, as an apprentice she must first journey to the human world. These little fairies have a lot to learn during training. Naturally this causes problems for Saga as she tries to keep the little snow fairy out of trouble. 

A Little Snow Fairy Sugar is full of simple everyday adventures, nothing more, nothing less. All in all, this show is light and airy. It’s a breath of fresh air, really… however there’s a few sad little elements too. Beneath the overtones of gentleness and spunky characters, the series has a very clear and honest tone.

You see, ultimately this is a story about life and loss. Growing up can be awkward and painful. This show speaks to that in a very real way. Really, the themes are about letting go of the past. The sincere friends and beloved family that we inevitably and tragically lose can’t put our lives at a standstill. We don’t get the time back after those emotional ties are gone, but we have to move on.

In this way, you might say A Little Snow Fairy Sugar is very similar to Sweetness and Lightning.

Although the series never beats you over the head with this concept, it is a pervasive theme. A Little Snow Fairy Sugar heavily and constantly implies that Saga can see Sugar because of her own childhood traumas. This is concept lampshades further due to the memory of Saga’s deceased mother.

Saga’s constant recollections of the woman speaks volumes. In some facets this is her journey of personal catharsis after grief.

Saga needs to learn to move on with her life. The show makes it clear. Every week, she visits her mother’s old piano. To her, this is the replacement for a gravestone. As I said above, she is an obsessive type character. Her routine visits are deeply tied to her emotionally.

There comes a time when Sugar finally discovers what she needs to know. That’s it, her training is done. She can go back home, if she only wanted to. She doesn’t want to return to the fairy realm. If she did that, it would mean leaving Saga behind forever.

This is a wonderful series, and it certainly is worth your time. The series is certainly aimed at a slightly younger audience. Adults may not get the same sort of benefit or enjoyment from the series. A middling or younger teenager would likely benefit best. That being said, the series is kid friendly and that makes for wonderful family viewing.

If you’re an adult anime fan that requires anime appropriate for small children around, this is reasonable viewing. Honestly, if you like these kinds of stories, the series will probably be a solid choice for you regardless of age.

Importantly though, it won’t offend the sensibilities of small children and it won’t be so absolutely annoying that older kids flat out hate it. It’s certainly aimed at girls more than boys. That being said, I know a lot of boys who do like it, so don’t let that stop you.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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The Simpsons Season 1 Retrospective Review

Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here. When I think of influential television shows, The Simpsons comes to my mind instantaneously. I wanted to discuss the first season, so that’s what I’m going to do.

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Honestly, I doubt that The Simpsons even needs an introduction at this point. It’s hard not to know of this series. With fifteen separate dubs and nearly thirty subs, The Simpsons stands right up there with some of the most prolific shows of our modern age. When it comes to worldwide appeal in the animation space, this series is something of an enigma.

Plenty of cartoons are, sure enough, but The Simpsons wasn’t exactly intended for children and it sits within an odd middle ground. It isn’t a Japanese anime, it’s not your average American cartoon, either.

Rather I should say that it didn’t used to be an average one. Back in the day, the series wasn’t directed at family friendly viewing. It just wasn’t so egregious that you need to slam the television off the moment a small child walked into the room. It’s no Family Guy or South Park in that way. It just wasn’t intended for children and appeared on a network and time slot that children wouldn’t gravitate towards.

The Simpsons got a start on the Tracy Ullman Show back in 1989, when the Fox Network wanted to appeal to young adults in the late teens and early twenties. My memories don’t actually include that, it’s just hard to be a Simpsons fan and not know that crucial little detail. I was also born in 1989. As you can probably guess my earliest memories of the show happened during my early childhood in the 90’s.

I remember The Simpsons as its own separate series. I grew up with it because my family watched it, thus I did too. I’d suspect many of you out there are the same as me.

In 1990, it began airing regularly as its own separate television show. The first season is about as messy as you can get. It was a new thing back then. Animation of the era, particularly american cartoons were sometimes questionable at best in terms of art style and quality. The Simpsons as a show wasn’t really any different.

Matt Groening, the cartoonist and creator of The Simpsons deserves his own separate blog post, but the key thing to note is that he wanted to put a lampshade on what a real american family was at the time. With his finger on the pulse he managed to do just that.

I don’t think any Simpsons fan would disagree that season one has a strange feel to it. It’s both a classic to television history, just as it is a complete and total mess by today’s standards. As a series in its infancy though, it was very well-liked and highly regarded. The distinctive feel of the early concepts we know and love today were just beginning.

These days if you were to look at the first season without context, it would be like walking into a bizarre world.

Waylon Smithers doesn’t look like this anymore. He’s yellow, like a large majority of The Simpson cast. I think it just goes to show how much the series was still in its infancy.

It’s funny, because when a lot of fans are “purists” about something, they’re usually referencing the earliest seasons. However, when it comes to fan of The Simpsons the idea of a “purist” usually refers to slightly later seasons, when characters began to feel fleshed out and the animation quality became stable.

Generally speaking, you either love or hate The Simpsons in the first season, or you just don’t remember the first season at all. Really though, I just can’t fault anyone for that. This animated series had a lot of bumps and bruises along the way to being the cultural icon as we know it today.

High Concept, Low Execution

The Simpsons was closer to a sitcom rather than it was a children’s cartoon, and that was by design. The colors were chosen to be bright and catch the attention of channel surfers, but despite the brightly colored characters, this was never meant to be for kids.

The characters themselves were generally down to earth when they needed to be, however the animation was experimental and occasionally that resulted in a total mess. While real character focused stories often took center stage, the scenes with a lot of characters on screen at once made for something of an eyesore.

If you look closely at almost every crowd shot within season one, you’re going to find a goofy little thing or two. It’s good for a small chuckle, I’ll give it that. This particular moment of unintentional hilarity comes from the episode Homer’s Odyssey. If you look carefully, you’ll see that it looks like two guys are either joined at the skull or they’ve freakishly snapped their necks.

I’m not sure if the creators intended it that way, or if it was just an accident. Either way, the first season of the Simpsons is absolutely bursting with moments like this. This is honestly one of my favorite ones to point to because it’s just so goofy that I easily remember it.

However, it wasn’t the animation that kept us viewers glued to our seats. The show almost always had something interesting to say. You see the thing is, The Simpsons portrayed a typical American family. At the time shows didn’t like to display families that were dysfunctional at best and absolutely downright awful at worst. The Simpsons refused to shy away from dysfunction. In fact, nine times out of ten, real and direct family dysfunction was the centerpiece.

The usual concentric focus of family related sitcoms get put under a looking glass where temptation and personal character failings demand attention too. While Homer and Marge do have a loving relationship, and arguably a more stable one, the failings of the romance still shows through plainly.

They can discuss marital issues, such as Homer going to a stag party and make notes of objectifying women with an earnest bent. The theme of the episode aside, in Homer’s Night Out the series still maintains the close family bonds that the family struggles to keep close at hand. The party itself is one thing. However the deeper theme is about how this impacts Bart’s view of women and Homer’s ability as a father to correct that.

Every episode is handled with similar attention paid to family drama and muddling their way through life. The same holds true for all the characters, although here in the first season we get more Homer or Bart related stories than anything else. They monopolize half of the episodes to stories centered around at least one of them.

Since the first season is only 13 episodes long, that’s a pretty large monopoly of screen time for these two characters. Although, I have to admit, that was probably a solid decision. These two characters certainly add a larger measure of flair to the family dysfunction.

We shouldn’t overlook the fact that the other family characters still get a large portion of screen time too within these focused stories. There’s a lot to be said about Lisa and Marge getting great early character development because of the stories that were told.

There’s a real sort of emotional focus upon the actions these characters take, and what impact it has on the family unit. We can have moments of Bart and Lisa arguing about who loves their father more, only to then have the joke subverting our expectations.

That’s not to say every episode hits it out of the park, or even manages to flawlessly get its point across. Many times, The Simpsons isn’t able to do that. What it can and does do flawlessly is leave the viewer with a loose ethos of what the series tried to represent. It asks you to either take it or leave it, and it doesn’t particularly care what you do with it.

The show is full of parody and satire culture, along with hot button issues of the era. You didn’t have to like the show back then, you just had to take notice of it. The series wasn’t trying to be a mindless popcorn viewing for the masses. Even though you could do that and enjoy the show just fine as it was, The Simpsons refused to be ignored either.

It gracelessly showcased the often questionable cultural identity of the white American family when “proper” sitcoms of the day hesitated to do strictly that. Homer was not the perfect father figure or husband, Marge while supportive was often short sighted, and the children were merely that; children. Bart was the wayward hell-raiser, and Lisa was the intelligent, if mischievous little artist. Maggie was the baby back then, clearly a very smart one, but she hadn’t come into her own as a character just yet.

There was a lot to unpack if you cared to, and many people did. The series was relatable, and that meant a lot.

Does The Simpsons Season 1 Hold Up?

Yes… surprisingly so, actually.

The Simpsons still continues on today, even though many fans often think the series has been milked for all it can be worth at this point. It lives on anyway. Perhaps it is a bit geriatric these days, lacking the more pin-point accurate depiction of what a microcosm of America should look like. However, you can look back on the first season of The Simpsons and find a relevancy there that hasn’t quite gone away.

Yeah, it looks dated, sure it does. The animation is a bit goofy looking sometimes. The series is over thirty years old, give it a little bit of slack there. It might not be perfect, in fact I’d say the show is very flawed. In a way though, that was the point.

The Simpsons should feel flawed. It should feel off kilter and askew while still feeling entirely relatable, and that’s exactly how season one feels even to this very day. Be it school yard woes and the topic of bullying, or martial problems and the struggles of faithfulness, there’s downright honesty to be found here.

It is satire, meaning it’s never too dark, or too gritty. There’s a humor and a light to be had at the end of the darkest moments. However that darkness pervades a little too. At the end of the day, the series has a lot of heart and soul embedded deep within every episode of this first season.

It can be funny and it can be dumb on occasion. No matter what though, it will always be astoundingly honest with you, the viewer. The Simpsons has a first season that doesn’t quite know what it is, and its beginnings are as humble as they are unsteady… but, well… we wouldn’t have so many seasons of the show, if it hadn’t started someplace.

If the series is a cash cow still to this day, then we only have these early seasons to thank for it, this first one most of all. That start really isn’t half bad even nowadays, either.

It truly is worth the watch. Even if you’ve already seen it, go back to the very start and get yourself a good dose of nostalgia. Enjoying the good old days every now and then really isn’t as much of a sin as we all make it out to be.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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To Our Supporters

Thank you for helping us to enrich our content.

Patreon Supporters:
($3) Little Ferrets: None
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Anime Review: A Place Further than the Universe

Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here with another anime review. Today I’ll be discussing A Place Further than the Universe.

Looking back, the year of 2018 was a very strong year for anime. We had amazing contenders in the anime line-up every season, with plenty of content to choose from. From series like Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online to Cells at Work! and My Hero Academia Season 3, it was difficult to pick and choose what anime to watch that year. There were just so many solid choices to pick from that it was hard to go wrong.

One of the most notable anime of that year is A Place Further than the Universe. It’s also known in Japan as Sora yori mo Tōi Basho. The series was released in January of 2018 and finished around March of that same year. Written by Jukki Hanada the series started off on a strong foot for that alone.

For those of you who may not know,  Jukki Hanada also did the writing for such anime as Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl and the 2011 Steins;Gate series.

A Place Further than the Universe was directed by Atsuko Ishizuka, who is also known for his work on the design production and storyboard for Monster. That’s another anime I’ve reviewed on this blog, and find it to be one of the best classics that anime has to offer. As far as his directing skill is concerned, you may also know him from such anime as The Pet Girl of Sakurasou and No Game No Life.

Monster – You Have To Watch This Thing

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’m hesitant to say that A Place Further than the Universe ticked all the boxes for me. I deeply enjoyed it, but it would never make a top ten list for me. I’ll explain why near the end of the post. For now what you need to know is that the series is certainly noteworthy and you shouldn’t bypass it. If you like cute girls and slice-of-life series and you haven’t seen this anime, go watch it.

To me, this anime is required viewing, because it sets the baseline of what a serviceable anime really needs to be across the board. I think I just don’t hold the series to quite the same level of prestige because 2018 was such a strong year to begin with. It was an amazing year of anime, hands down.

If you doubt that, you were either under a rock that year, or you missed out on some really solid series someplace. Alright then, with that out of the way, onto the meat of this review.

The plot is simple enough, I suppose. Four girls, one big journey with a slice-of-life feel and a coat of cut girl paint. You have a character named Mari Tamaki. She’s a second-year high school student who wants to make the most out of her youth. The thing is, she’s a bit of a coward and she’s usually too afraid to step out of her shell. 

One day, she meets Shirase Kobuchizawa, someone much more brave and with big ambitions. She’s been saving up to travel to Antarctica. It isn’t just a pipe dream. It’s a goal with emotions attached, since mother disappeared three years ago. These two characters are eventually joined by two other girls, Hinata Miyake and Yuzuki Shiraishi. These four eventually make their way to the Antarctic.

It’s a simple series, with simple elements. The plot itself isn’t contrived, thankfully. It isn’t bombastic and it isn’t flat out stupid. What is very nice about the show is that it has 13 episodes. That’s just long enough to tell this story in a fulfilling way. The series doesn’t overstay its welcome and it doesn’t draw out nonsense plot elements to the extreme.

Honestly, I’d say the series could have used a few more episodes, even if just one or two. It is a packed series from start to finish. That’s a good thing, a very good thing. You’ll probably be left wanting for more after the series concludes and I think another episode or two would have given it just a little more room to breathe. Honestly, even without extra content, this series stands as a hallmark of a great anime.

When you get the benefits of a fulfilling ending and you still crave more, that’s when you know the series goes on a top ten list someplace.It might not be in my top ten list for anything particularly, but to say this anime is anything less than steadfast is a direct injustice. I’ve watched a lot of series across many genres, and every single thing this series does, it does very well.

The pacing is where it should be for a series like this. It’s the sort that slowly builds, but it is also tightly packed with key character moments. That’s the main draw of this show after all. It isn’t about the adventure itself, but rather our four main protagonists and what it means to them. They need to work hard to get to the Antarctic.

This isn’t an adventure where they sit around on their hands doing nothing but giggling their way through the show. Although I would say it is about cute girls, they’re not always doing cute things. Sometimes they’re put to real work, and the trip is occasionally far from glamorous. There are scenes where they even acknowledge that the cramped spaces they’re shoved into could be problematic for them.

These girls are multi-layered and very compatible on screen together, but they know they can sometimes clash in ideology too. It isn’t heavy handed, but there’s a real down-to-earth mentality used in this show. Unlike a lot of the other slice-of-life series you may come across, there’s not a lot of mindless or useless fluff. The character moments always feel as though it has been planned to enrich the story. These girls are all very likable and that helps too.

As a general rule, the series wants the girls to be fun-loving and adventurous. We see this most of all. They’re not dimwitted, and they’re not trying to do something entirely idiotic. Honestly, I just can’t praise A place Further than the Universe enough for this aspect alone. The series really hit it out of the park with these characters.

We get the same compelling banter between them that you’d expect from high school girls, but you also get some real heart and soul out of them too. The series hones in upon their dreams, fears, aspirations and insecurities. Frankly it does a phenomenal job of letting viewers get to know each of the four girls. At the same time, the series isn’t interested in cramming contrived emotional stupidity in front of our faces… when there is an emotional outburst, it means something valuable and important to the wider story.

We never lose out on that wider narrative either, nor the unpredictability of the adventure they’ve embarked upon. There are obviously a few small layers of drama, but it’s perfectly fitted for the story at hand. The series focuses deeply upon forged friendship, and facing tragedy.

As I said above, Shirase’s mother went missing three years prior to when the series actually starts. That’s a plot point that adds a layer of emotional gravity and uneasy tension to the journey. Also, the fact that they’ve got some measure of adult oversight and supervision means that the story is believable for these four high school students.

They travel with the Civilian Antarctic Observation Team, so as an adult watching this series, you’re not going to be raising an eyebrow. There’s no need to sit there wondering how in the hell these four girls are going to pull this trip off without suspending disbelief. It is a very believable story with a very steadfast component of grounded and logical plot elements.

You’re going to get an ending to this short series that’s about as complete as you could hope to expect for a 13 episode runtime. The plot ties up nicely, what isn’t addressed doesn’t need to be, and there’s a satisfaction to the ending. That entire final episode leaves you feeling justified for having enjoyed the show. There’s no need to point at the manga and say “finish the story there” although, there is a manga too and it is worth the read as well.

I’ve not said one single bad thing about this series, because there’s nothing bad to say about it. The visuals are solid, the soundtrack works well, the story leaves you fulfilled. So, you may be wondering if I’ve lost my mind. You may be wondering why, in spite of the fact I praise so highly, that it wouldn’t sit on my own personal top lists for anime?

It’s not groundbreaking, that’s why. I wouldn’t have it on my list, because it didn’t knock me out of my seat the way others in the genre have. I was thoroughly entertained, but I can’t say that I was surprised or taken aback by this anime in any meaningful way. I’ve seen a lot of shows like this, or similar to it. I’ve seen the basic idea of a journey like this one a billion times over.

While the characters are a home run out of the park, you’ve still seen these archetypes before a billion times over too. Honestly, I expect anime like this one to have strong characters, because if it didn’t, it would be a failure of a series. The characters are what matter, they’re what make the story being told amazing. If you watch animated series like this enough of the time, you come to hold a baseline expectation of what that sort of anime should be.

Let me be absolutely clear; A place Further than the Universe is everything an anime like this should be. It ticks all of the boxes in a way that any anime fan should demand of a high quality slice-of-life series. That’s exactly what this series promises.

It promises high quality animation and sound design. It promises to be exactly what it advertises its story to be. It upholds that standard throughout its runtime, and never once do you feel stolen from as far as a quality experience is concerned. However, although it holds the high quality standard, I personally don’t feel it surpasses the standard.

Maybe I’m just a jerk, but I expect a high standard of grounded, down to earth slice-of-life series. This one touches upon and continues to uphold that high standard baseline of quality anime. You’re just not going to find anything new here or something that challenges your notions of what a series like this one should be like. To me, it’s not a revolutionary series, if you’d think of it that way… and my top ten lists, those ones have to rip me right out of my seat and knock me down.

To me a top ten list is the best of the best. A Place Further than the Universe doesn’t quite match that. However, it would likely sit someplace on a top twenty which is far from an insult. Trust me, watch as many anime as I have, and so long as the anime makes the top fifty it’s a damn good show… two decades of anime watching does that to a person, honestly speaking.

So, there you have it. Watch this show if you haven’t already. A Place Further than the Universe sets the baseline of what we should all be expecting from our slice-of-life anime series. Quality characters, interesting visuals, a great story and one that wraps up nicely at that.

If you want to see another review of this series, from someone other than myself, perhaps check this one out written by NEFARIOUS REVIEWS. I thought it was a good review of the anime, maybe 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. I’ll see you next time.

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Let’s Talk Anime: A Lull in the Sea

Hey everyone it’s Kernook here. Today I’m going to be talking about an amazing 26 episode anime, and one of my all time favorites: A Lull in the Sea.

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A Lull in the Sea, also known in Japan as Nagi no Asukara is a twenty-six episode anime that depicts two very separate sets of people. The ones that live on land, and the ones that live below it, deep in the sea. Released in October of 2013, this series is nearly pushing a decade old now. in spite of the age of the series, the show has a lot of charm.

Before younger anime fans crinkle their noses at me, trust me, this is an anime that can stand the test of time. Even by today’s standards, the anime looks and sounds wonderful. At least for a slice-of-life anime, it remains in my memory as perhaps one of the most compelling shows of its time. I return to it often enough because of the solid characters and the universe the story is set in.

That’s odd for me, considering that it is a slice-of-life series typically aren’t the types of anime that I settle into to re-watch often. Deep down at its core, this is a compelling series worth your time.

This anime boasts stunning visuals, and it can be praised for its somewhat curious plot. Neither of these elements falter even in the slightest. In a world where humanity once lived under the sea before adapting to live on land, the series follows four students that still live underwater. These days, they need to adapt to their new school on land, and that’s something they don’t always do well with.

Navigating these elements are central to the plot of these two communities coming together. The basic setup allows these characters to face emotional and cultural conflicts that surround their new scholastic environment. Some issues are large, some are small, but they’re all interesting to ponder.

For example, being too dry can agitate the skin of the characters that live under water. They need to take time to get themselves wet in saltwater to keep that agitation from happening. They’re looked down on for this, and those that live on land aren’t quite sure what to do about the sea dwelling people. The conflicts are brief, but very well done.

There’s a distinct emphasis on climate change too, and this shakes things up quite a bit later in the series. You’d think that might be a bit of a narrative problem, but it’s far from that. The climate change angle is neither preachy or ham-fisted, suiting the overall plot and character dynamics rather nicely over all.

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The main focus is clearly on the character relationships, just like many slice-of-life series. Honestly, that’s where things take a turn for the strange and somewhat melodramatic. Unrequited love is a core theme of the series, for interesting better and for annoying worst.

It’s hard to root for some of the couples on occasion, but thankfully it does tend to be rare. There are moments that after a while it all begins to feel a bit dragged out. That being said, generally these romantically inclined and tension filled scenes don’t often overstay their welcome. Even when they do, I’d say this is a minor nitpick at best for me.

I tend to find that A Lull in the Sea plays to other strengths, and more than makes up for any romantic goofiness that might fall flat. It will ask interesting questions about the passage of time, and what it means to disrespect the ways of nature. It’s neither too heavy for a slice-of-life, nor too dull as some of these types of shows can be.

With the story itself being cleanly and very concisely split into two distinct arcs, A Lull in the Sea adequately fills a weekend of binge watching without an issue at all. If you enjoy the slice-of-life genre, this is one I’d say you should try to watch just once and see if you like it too.

If you want to watch the series, you can do it for free over on Crunchyroll at the time of this post. If you want a proper in-depth review, particularly of the first 13 episodes, you can check out this post written by Lesley Aeschliman

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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Let’s Talk Anime: A Centaur’s Life

Hey all, it’s Kern here, and it’s time to talk some more about anime. This one is a bit of an odd one, A Centaur’s Life.

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A Centaur’s Life, is also known as Centaur’s Worries or Sentōru no Nayami. The manga came out for this series back in 2011 and it is still ongoing in 2022. The twelve episode anime was released back in July of 2017 and finished in September of that same year.

Now, to be quite honest with you, this anime is a bit strange. The manga it’s based on is a bit strange too. During the time it was all the rage, releasing with other series of its type; monster/animal girls became a somewhat common trope. The series acted as a curiosity of sorts, earning viewers because of it’s rather odd nature.

That being said, the series is primarily focused upon slice-of-life elements. Set in a world where all people are hybrids of various sorts of fictional creatures such as centaurs, it follows the everyday life of Hime, a… well you guessed it, a centaur. She’s a high school student and the series follows her and the lives of her classmates. In general the general themes of the show covers problems and challenges that Hime and people of other hybrid races like her might face day-to-day.

A Centaur’s Life also contains mildly placed hints at a possible romance between the main character and one of her female friends. Personally, I could take or leave that aspect, it’s cute I guess… but it’s not something I was invested in.

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The other major component of the plot revolves around the political reality of this world, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Now, you might think that the political intrigue will heavily influence the main character’s life in some sort of darker way, but from what we get in the anime that just isn’t the case.

The series boasts a few rather totalitarian themes about forced equality between various mythical races. There’s a tone of extremely harsh penalties of for any discrimination… and while the series isn’t too heavily focused upon it, it does come up enough to be jarring. Even what seems to be children’s books have a weird political bent to them. As though something like democracy is little more than a fairy-tale.

Add onto this that in the twelve episodes, the pacing continues to be slow and unhurried, and the tone feels off somehow. In a way, it’s almost as if the series forgot that it was supposed to be a slice-of-life… but I digress.

In general, the show pieces together a school life story that jumps the shark. A Centaur’s Life is riddled with cases of extreme propaganda, hard pressed security details, and a world that almost seems dystopian despite the slice-of-life tone the series works so hard to convey. It truly gives viewers an unsettling feeling that something very nasty is going on under the surface that the show refuses to truly address deeply.

That being said, A Centaur’s Life isn’t awful… it just don’t know what it seems to want to be as a series. Perhaps the manga is better, but I haven’t read it and I really don’t plan to. The show itself has a few elements I wish had been explored further, and I’m not entirely sure that it would ever make a top ten list of mine, or anyone that I know. It’s not among the worst I’ve seen, but certainly cannot stand as one of the best.

The last episode especially fell flat upon its face, containing absolutely no substance to speak of. To say it was unsatisfying is an understatement, but let’s be honest a lot of anime have that problem. This is certainly one where they want you to go and read the manga, and anime like that become a pet peeve of mine.

A Centaur’s Life had a lot of original and bold ideas, but I’d say that’s the largest problem it had. There were just too many to focus on one aspect, and therefore it all became wasted potential.

Is it worth a watch? Yeah, actually it’s worth streaming it at least once. The experience is worthwhile, because the series does display a few interesting qualities. Does it belong on your prized anime shelf? Probably not, and truth be told if it hasn’t been forgotten about by the masses already it will be in a few more years. It just can’t live up to the test of time.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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Let’s Talk Anime: A Bridge to the Starry Skies – Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi

Okay everyone, this is one weird anime, but it merits a discussion because it is your standard harem anime, but it’s not standard in the way it will subvert a few expectations.

A Bridge to the Starry Skies began as an adult visual novel in October of 2010. In April of 2011 an anime based on the series started releasing. Written media for the series came out in June of 2011, and ran until February 2012, with two manga volumes released during that time.

I say all of that so that you know where this anime hailed from, because it’s important to know where it all started; harem related material. Now, this is about the anime, not the visual novel or the written media it’s based upon.

That being said, this anime follows one distinct rationale; don’t judge any anime at first glance. Upon the first impression, viewers will get the implication that this is going to be an incestuous romance between two brothers. That’s the way it feels early on, and knee-jerk reactions being what they are, it’s easy to fall into the mindset that a sibling romance is what you’ll find here… news flash though, you won’t.

In truth though, A Bridge to the Starry Skies isn’t about that at all. Actually, subverting my expectations is one of the reasons that I watched this series back when it came out in 2011. I was told it wasn’t about incestuous romance, and I wanted to find out for myself. I was dubious of course, but my friend turned out to be right. Actually this anime isn’t half bad, not even for a harem.

The main plot is this; Kazuma Hoshino is a high school student. His younger brother, Ayumu is very ill. They both move move to Yamabiko to seek a better living due to Ayumu’s asthma (more on this later). While settling into their new surroundings the brothers become acquainted with several locals, many of them female. Romance, slice-of-life, and hilarity ensues.

A little light on the plot there, right? Well, that’s because it is.

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Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi or also known as A Bridge to the Starry Skies feels like your general run-of-the-mill harem anime. If you’re a fan of that trope, you know the drill. A bunch of cute girls clutter the screen, and generally speaking one male lead attracts all of the attention. Also, generally speaking, harem anime don’t tend to have any firm or clear romantic ending. There can be multiple reasons for this, but notably it’s because you want the audience to be able to pick the relationship they want to root for.

A bridge to Starry Skies is an interesting type of harem anime. It follows a lot of the same tropes, such as the male lead falling all over the place, which leads him to kiss a girl in the first episode. Yet, it’s also strangely unique as well, but for those reasons you’d actually have to watch the show. All in all, it has a lot of heart, but it’s also messy as hell.

Is it more focused on romance, or the family related plot lines having to do with a very ill little brother? I can’t say really, because the show doesn’t quite seem sure what it wants to be about. All the way onto the last episode, the series doesn’t have a tight narrative, and it lacks a lot of focus on its themes… that said that last episode, holy merciful crap. Seriously, talk about a shocker ending, worth the watch for that alone, I’d say.

Now, I know what you’re thinking if you’ve visited this blog for any length of time. I’m an anime fan that demands a decently driven plot, and I generally hate harem, so why in the hell would I be talking about this show? It doesn’t tend to tick any of the boxes I like in anime. Well, yeah, you’d be right. Typically I’d absolutely hate a show like this… but I like this particular one.

Sure, it doesn’t have a strong plot to praise. The illness the little brother has is vague at best. The romance is about what you’d generally expect. The main character’s stupidity and contrived notion of what a harem is stands firmly at the forefront of the show… that’s true too.

So, why did I like it?

Frankly, this series took my expectations for what a harem anime was and it cast it aside. This series reaches beyond what a huge number of non-harem fans (and likely a huge number of those that are) and kicks those expectations right out of the way… because as I said, there’s a lot of heart here. There are moments that will hit you, draw you in and make you care.

While the plot is weak as hell and I’d never defend it, the characters themselves aren’t half bad. Between that and the decent art style, it isn’t an awful anime to look at. It’s crisp, it’s clean, and you notice that right from the first episode we can see a great care was taken to its production value. The series doesn’t ever hit an all-time-low.

if you’re looking for an unusual harem anime, you might like this one.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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Character Spotlight: Kali Belladonna

Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here. Welcome to a segment called Character Spotlight, a series dedicated to why I enjoy particular characters from various series.

In this series, I’ll talk a bit about the fandom surrounding the character, and why I really appreciate their inclusion within their respected series. Today, I’m going to be talking about Kali Belladonna from the RWBY series, also coined as the real “super mom” by many fans of the show.

Really, there’s no question as to why that is. Many of the parents in the RWBY series are lackluster at best, and completely flawed beyond repair at worst. In the show absentee parents, alcoholism, and broken homes define a large section of the narrative backstory. Really, the number of halfway decent mothers in the series can be counted on one hand.

Most of those mothers are dead and gone, so frankly Kali just doesn’t have much in the way of competition. Even if she did though, she would probably stand above the rest, or at least equal to them in her parenting style and overall gentle nature.

Fandom Perspective

Kali is the mother of Blake Belladonna, and the spouse of Ghira Belladonna. This was a plot point that turned a lot of the ideologies of early fandom on its head. Prior to Volume 4, Blake’s parents were assumed to be out of the picture entirely. Either dead and gone, or still among the corrupted White Fang. Fan theories contained both of these ideas in spades, and fan fiction at the time reflected that, including my own written fan fiction.

In general, Kali is depicted among the fandom in two ways.

The first is the loving wife and mother that we all know and love. It’s not very common to see her removed from that mold, simply because it suits her so well.

However, when the mold is broken, Kali tends to turn into a shipper’s paradise. Honestly, when she’s contorted into that, fandom ends up with plenty of questionable adult content, particularly in the fan fiction side of the fandom. This is true for a lot of characters though, so it’s not a situation that’s exclusive to her… Glynda Goodwitch also tends to suffer much of the same fate.

Fandom gets weird sometimes, that’s just the way it is. For better and worse.

Thankfully, due to Kali’s nature, the vast majority of fan related content plays off of her genuine love and care for her family. Her characterization as we know it seems to be very well received among the greater fan base, so that is generally how she is depicted.

The Countless Merits of Kali Belladonna.

Often times it can be said that Kali has a lot of the characterization that Blake should have had. However, saying this disregards one of Kali’s key merits. Her age, and the perspective that comes with it.

Kali has time on her side. A lot of it. She has marched with the White Fang in her youth, fallen in love, and raised a daughter to the best of her abilities. Kali has her failings. That Blake ran away from home is proof of that, but Kali has always loved and supported her child. She has been waiting for Blake to return, and when she does, Kali embraces her without a moment’s hesitation.

This unquestionable devotion to her family is one of the key cornerstones to Blake’s own development, even if it is mostly just subtext. Kali has lived through many struggles that Blake just hasn’t yet, because Blake hasn’t had the time to do so.

Meanwhile, the struggles that Blake has faced are gritty, messy, and oftentimes don’t have a right answer. When at a loss for how to be helpful, Kali and Ghira offer unconditional love, because that meaningful acceptance is one thing the series often lacks when it comes to parenting. Kali takes her support a step further, welcoming Sun Wukong with open arms because that’s just the way she is.

Now, for this I’m just focusing on Kali. Ghira is worth talking about later, and he will get his own spotlight. However, that’s a different topic. His parenting methods are a bit different. He deserves his own analysis all about that directly.

On the topic of Ghira and Blake though, one thing I will say, is that the Belladonna family is fundamental to the series lore. The implications are absolutely staggering, given who the White Fang are, and what they hope to achieve. That being said, Kali is an interesting looking glass into in that history. One that we just don’t have the luxury to have with Blake or Ghira.

In the Belladonna family, Kali is the outlier to many questions that are never answered cleanly. In a show that has many conflicting themes, Kali is a breath of fresh air. She is bogged down by implication and metaphor, just most of the other characters. However, her implications doesn’t leave a foul sense of injustice behind.

Rather, Kali’s character offers themes of hope, acceptance, and unity, because Kali is not one to drown in sorrow. It is rare to find a parent, particularly a mother, like this in the series.

Like Ruby Rose, Kali is an absolute altruist at heart, but unlike Ruby, she understand where the line is. She believes in the concept, but she realizes that you can’t always use it. For Kali there are impossible ambitions that no one could ever achieve, and then there’s reality. The line is a grey area for Kali, but she believes in her personal moral code, and it shapes her in all ways.

For example, the subject of Menagerie becomes much less sinister when viewed through Kali’s lens instead of Blake’s. While her daughter sees Menagerie as a consolation prize for the Faunus plight, claiming it has done nothing to further the cause, Kali gives us a different way to look at the world of Remnant at large.

While Blake claims that Menagerie changes nothing, Kali stands as a reason for why Menagerie has changed everything in small ways. Kali showcases why it should exist, and why more communities like it should be built openly and willingly by the Faunus community, and arguably other communities at large, such as the mistreated workers found in Mantle’s slums.

Why? That’s simple, Kali is happy. She is not suffering. She is not in pain. She is at peace with life on the island, and she understands that one island does not diminish the greater plight than many Faunus rise up against.

In real life, people of like-minded world views gather together, and that’s just the way people are by nature.

Let’s face it, we don’t want to be friends or neighbors with people we don’t like. The Faunus of Menagerie don’t want to argue or deal with humanity anymore. They’ve rejected it, and found a safer harbor to build a life.

Kali doesn’t seem to feel that same distaste for humanity. In fact, she seems to have no issue with humanity at all, but she still lives in Menagerie because she understands that you can’t force your opinion upon others. Aiding and leading the peoples of Menagerie along side Ghira is simply the best way for them to help the movement at that moment. To still lead and guide, just in a different way.

Ghira stepped down from the White Fang, because they refused to follow his guidance anymore. You can’t make demands and expect everyone to comply. If he had done that, he would be no better than Adam, and brute force is not Ghira’s ethos, it’s not Kali’s either. They could have stayed with the White Fang, but at what real cost?

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Kali shows us that sometimes finding your own safe place is the better option for some people, and that’s what some Faunus chose to do. That doesn’t make the Faunus of Menagerie horrible people, and it doesn’t invalidate them. The plight can still make steps forward even with Menagerie’s existence, and arguably because of it.

Through Kali’s lens we see that the Faunus living on the island seem to live a fairly peaceful and happy life. Before the White Fang come to make havoc, the people living on the island are just happy to mind their own business. It isn’t the absolutely awful place that Blake wants to believe it is. Her personal convictions go beyond Menagerie, and well beyond the White Fang.

The same can be said for Kali, it’s just that Kali is older and wiser too. She understands and accepts that not every Faunus will feel the way her family does. Some will be perfectly happy on that island, and Kali’s incredible personality shows us the good side of that choice. It shows us what Faunus communities can truly become, and that there is no shame in the pursuit of personal happiness and fulfillment.

They harm no one by living this way, and Kali has that perspective because she lives among them. It’s only the White Fang that seeks to cause harm, not the rest of the Faunus in general.

Kali is both internally and externally consistent in her conflict of world views. She is very complex as a character, and she will occasionally contradict herself. However, it is never in a way that defies her moral codes and ethics. No matter what contradictions she showcases, she never looses the characterization that makes her uniquely Kali Belladonna as a person.

The Moral Ethos of Kali Belladonna

It is probably her morals and ethos that makes her so deeply loved by the fandom. Kali lives and loves with a free spirit, willing to allow herself to feel the full scope of emotions life has to offer.

She is by and large a pacifist more times than not, but she has a limit to just how much crap she’ll put up with. If she absolutely has to, she won’t hesitate to bring out a can of whoop-ass. It’s just that all other options need to be exhausted before she reaches that point. The fact is, fighting in any way, shape or form just isn’t her preferred method of handling conflict. She would much rather talk things out, but she’s not a pushover.

She’s willing to fight if she has to though, and that’s something we see showcased in Volume 5. Without a weapon and only a tray in her hands, self defense and the defense of others seems almost second nature. Given her obvious history among the White Fang, that makes complete sense.

In Volume 5, the Faunus of Menagerie stand together to face down the White Fang’s attack, we see that there is strength in numbers. This nuanced disposition shows us exactly what the old White Fang under Ghira’s command probably looked like, and how it ran. Appealing to a greater sense of community and unity, rather than forceful persuasion.

If we were to look at this situation completely through Blake’s eyes, we miss out on these tiny details. We lose the greater story. For Kali it is very clear that Menagerie was a victory, not a consolation prize, and not a loss for the Faunus plight. Rather it was a stepping stone, admittedly a small one. However, it was one that could have gone much further if Ghira had not stepped down as the High Leader. If the White Fang had been respected on their personal merits and not feared outright, more close ties between humans and Faunus could have been built.

Therefore, the loss was one not against humanity, but rather the Faunus themselves. Among their own factions, and the ideological divides that have separated them.

This is why I love Kali as a character. Yes, she is a “super mom”. Completely supportive and loving in the face of a world that has so much hate and neglect. She stands tall as a woman, both as a housewife and mother foremost, and secondly a leader upon which many Faunus can look up to in their own way. Seeing her peaceful path, and choosing that for themselves does not diminish their existence or hardships, nor should it.

Sometimes taking a few steps back is paramount to the greater goal. A breath, a break, and peace can offer respite in world that wouldn’t offer such a thing otherwise.

This is a fact Blake cannot accept early on, even when Kali does. Yet those two steps back pays off for all of the Faunus. It is only after those two steps back that the Faunus of Menagerie finally come to understand how monstrous the White Fang has become. Seeing the atrocities of the White Fang first hand, without their perspective on humanity to cloud their judgement, they can think more objectively.

They can come to terms with their own denial, and find the strength to move forward. To fight for a better world anew, and this time for the good of everyone. Human and Faunus alike.

All in all, this is a lens we can see manifest in Kali from the very start of her introduction. The echoes of a painful past linger here, and the healing process takes time. Kali is a validation for a plight that receives so little recognition. That so little is shown, is only further proof of just how much the greater society still needs to grow.

This is why the Belladonna family is important. They are proof that steps forward can and will be made, and that each step towards that goal, is one to hold aloft and in high esteem. While Blake sees fit to “fight the good fight” Ghira and Kali understand the strides in the movement, and just how far it has obviously come.

Adversity is not something you can change overnight. Sometimes, it is best to stop and take a breath. To live and love life for what it is, before gathering the strength to move forward once more. The difficult path itself is worth the journey, but to overcome adversity you must be emotionally prepared to stand against it. That’s not an easy thing to do, not in the real world, and not in the RWBY series.

Kali is the complete and total proof that the world is a better place than it once was. Even if it has a very long way to go, there is nothing wrong with savoring and appreciating that one step for what it is. Knowing it is only a step forward, but one that shouldn’t be disregarded. Progress is made on those small steps, and every movement in history had a least a few small steps like this.

For Kali, those steps are empowering. Sitting with Sun and Blake around the table while listening to stories about Beacon Academy, that is her reward. That is her personal accomplishment. Her joy is in knowing that her daughter could find a place to truly belong.

So long as Blake stands by her team, she will have no need for a place like Menagerie. It is clear that Kali still hopes that one day, no Faunus will. They are liberating because they mean that there were victories. That Blake and Weiss could even exist on the same team, proves what the next generation is capable of.

Through that lens, we see the Faunus plight anew. Through the eyes of a woman that speaks of love and peace, harmony is her core message that she can continue to have faith in, until that day finally comes. There is something deeply profound in that ideology. A comfort, a warmth and a promise that is so difficult to come by.

From a narrative standpoint, Kali is one of the best characters in the RWBY series, and one of my absolute favorites.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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Lesson Anime Taught Me – Personal Belief is Half the Battle

Anime is a powerful medium. It can take you to fantastical places. It can teach you valuable lessons, but failing all of that, at least it can give you a momentary escape from the daily grind.

I think that as an anime fan it’s important to examine why we collectively love anime. More than that, though, we should take the time to really appreciate what the medium does for the fan-base.

One of the most important things that anime taught me, is that believing in oneself the largest obstacle anyone might have to overcome. When doubt prevails, it’s easy to lose sight of the goals we have in mind. Ambition is only as powerful as our own personal drive to find success. When we allow our doubts to rule our minds and our actions, we’re put at a disadvantage. At that point, we’ve already lost half the battle to be successful in the first place.

There are plenty of anime that examine this concept. Honestly, you could aimlessly throw a dart upon a board and likely land on a name that uses this ethos as a key plot element. From Dragon Ball to Ranma 1/2, and Sailor Moon to Pokemon, you’d be hard pressed not to find a series that expertly crafts its narrative around this concept.

For this example though, I’m going to turn to My Hero Academia. You could point to classic, much longer lived series like Naruto too, but I find that ultimately, My Hero Academia has a much more truncated story. It’s just an easier anime to consume, and to me it stands out as a pinnacle anime to look at when discussing this particular ideology; personal belief and the struggles therein.

As an aside: if you want to actually read a review of the first season of the show, might I suggest going here to read Sammi C’s review of it.

When you sit down to watch this series, the first thing that the show does is impart the core ethos of the characters, and the way they see the world. It becomes clear quite early on that the main protagonist has plenty of personal doubt to combat within himself. However, it’s also true that plenty of the other characters doubt him too.

It’s the standard hero’s journey formula, nothing new there. However, the key thing about Deku that always stuck out to me, was just how far he was willing to go. In the earliest episodes of season one, Deku proves just how hard he has to work to prove himself.

It might not be realistic for him to become a hero at first, and it might not ever be possible as far as he knows; but being a hero is what he lives for. To him it is as much of a passion as it is a personal calling.

The faith Deku needs to find within himself and those around him isn’t something only held on a surface level. It’s so intrinsic to him as a person, that he’ll go to nearly any length to achieve success. To remove his dream from possibility at all, denies a core part of who is he, and who he aspires to be.

Now, you can say what you want about anime being simply that, anime…

To me there is something so noteworthy about the way he plucks his papers from the water fountain. Those ruined notes were cast aside by those that doubt him, and the feeling of loss portrayed here is little more than human, real in its design and desire to be worth something at all.

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We all go through that. There isn’t a person I can think of who hasn’t doubted some key facet of themselves to the point of nearly giving up. Deku nearly gives up his dream in the first episode.

The conflict he has within himself about whether or not he should give up speaks volumes about who he is as a character. There’s something to be said for the way a very disenfranchised Deku lifts his notebook from the water, angry and hurt. From having been bullied, told to jump and end himself, to having the one thing he cares about the most tossed aside, there’s little more than true humanity in these moments.

Aside from the cruelty that Deku faces, there’s a real firm ideology that Deku has to face down in becoming a hero too. Namely that he knows that in order to be successful at all, it’ll only get more difficult from here.

Watching these sorts of struggles in anime speak to me more heavily than almost any other medium… normally I’m not expecting it. When I first began watching My Hero Academia the same held true. I just wasn’t expecting this sort of content. At least, not in the first episode.

To say it was a punch to the gut would be the understatement of the century. Live action series tend to be darker, grittier, and typically try to speak to a level of realism I’m entirely prepared for. Therefore, it just doesn’t hit me that hard. When that grittiness presents itself, I’m prepared for it. Nine times out of ten, it occasionally feels “preachy” and that helps it to miss the mark too.

My Hero Academia does none of that.

In point of fact, it does the direct opposite. Placing a boy in front of us on the verge of letting go of his dream. From the very start of the series, the world around Deku forces him to question what he can really do. He really has to sit and think about his plans. He has to wonder if there’s anything he can do to achieve what he wants the most.

The luck of the draw isn’t on his side, and maybe it would be wiser to find a new ambition, but Deku lives for his.

It’s important to dream big, have lofty goals, and to aspire to something beyond your current measure. Maybe we won’t always achieve them, but the faith that we can if we try hard enough that matters too. In the end, plenty of people in reality have moved mountains for less.

I’m reminded of a real world example, a baseball player by the name of Jackie Robinson… now I’m no baseball guru, but for those that don’t know this man, you probably should. You see, on April 15th of 1947, Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s racially inclined color barrier. He was the first black man to play in major league baseball with white people. That’s huge, because the civil rights movement didn’t begin to gain any firm ground to stand on until 1955… to say he played an integral role in cutting down racial divides just doesn’t do the matter justice.

It’s a great example of the impossible becoming possible in reality. Within our daily lives, Jackie Robinson is a hero to be remembered. Disputing adversity, despite the odds, he became a major league baseball star. He did this in a time when that was just considered entirely out of line and out of place.

However, as I said, my expertise isn’t baseball, and it’s certainly not impressively historic figures like Jackie Robinson. There are people much more qualified to speak of him and what he managed to accomplish than I ever could. I merely bring him up, because the hero’s journey isn’t exclusive to anime… and watching the major league pay tribute to him, as they’ve done for years now, had me thinking on the topic.

We have real world heroes too… heroes that were likely scoffed at and told their dreams meant nothing. Validation matters, aspiration matters, never giving up… that matters… I can’t point to all things Jackie Robinson did to change the course of fate, but I’m sure that all of his acclaim is well earned in the very least.

What I can do is point to Deku, how I relate to him and his struggles. My Hero Academia reminds me so heavily that it is truly worth having a dream to live for and aspire to. Honestly, that is worth far more to each of us than anyone can put a price on.

The end of the first episode of My Hero Academia lends itself to a question, and it’s one that absolutely resonates with the core themes of the show. It all boils down to one thing, can Deku become a hero?

It’s the thing he wants most of all, and the thing that everyone tells him that he just can’t have is just to be a hero. However, his aspirations and convictions begin to touch the souls of many… and Deku eventually attains the thing he needs most in order to reach for his dreams.

At the end of episode one, though, it’s all still just a question. He has to believe he can. Personal belief is half the battle, and arguably, it’s the most important one…

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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Let’s Talk Anime: Apple Seed

Hey guys, it’s Kern here, and I just feel like doing a more laid back, casual post about an animated movie I love; Apple Seed.

Apple Seed is old these days, like 2004 kind of old. However, it is also one of those animated movies near and dear to my heart. I don’t think you can really bring up older CGI movie series without Apple Seed coming to mind. This show has everything you need in a good action movie.

bad-ass chicks, political subterfuge, a banger soundtrack, action packed combat scenes and utopia that seems askew from the start. Everything is neatly packed in a tight little package labeled under the context of “a good time”… at least, that’s what I would call it.

The series has a predictable ethos that is so easily summed up in a single sentence. I just can’t say it better than one of the political figureheads in the movie…

“What a creature is man, that he would choose to cadge himself so willingly? – Prime Minister Athena Areios

Say what you will about the similar feel of plot elements. You’d be right, and there’s no shame in that. The movie itself never feels like it’s so far up its own butt to know exactly what it is; a solid popcorn flick. It doesn’t feel like (or try to be) anything more than that. Still, I have to critique the movie fairly, guilty pleasure or not.

As futuristic as it feels, we’ve seen this basic plot a billion times before, but there-in rests just why I like it. It’s comfortable, and it’s just different enough to toss a couple of new spins on old tropes… at least for the time it came out.

Now, to be bluntly honest, there are times even the action stalls during a combat scene. There are moments that the movie doesn’t reach its full potential. Exposition gets lengthy, at times even cockily so (looking at you, elders of the utopia).

In spite of these glaring faults and predictable plot, I can’t help but feel as though the small moments of downtime time we get between the characters (Deunan and Hitomi particularly) more than makes up for it. Even after all these years, I still like it… I’ll let that speak for itself.

Factoring in the age of the series, and the fact it falls upon tried and true methods of story-telling devices, I think Apple Seed is a solid choice for any anime fan. You’re not going to find anything earth shattering or groundbreaking… that’s not what the movie caters to.

What you will find, is a science fiction classic with elements of mecha and a story that’s just deep enough to pass muster. If that’s your kind of entertainment, find yourself Apple Seed and hunker down for a good popcorn anime. If you do end up liking it, the series also has an earlier OVA, a second movie. I think there’s a manga too…

This has been Kernook of “The Demented Ferrets” where stupidity is at it’s finest, and level grinds are par for the course… I’ll see you next time. Meanwhile, enjoy some other great content below.

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