The Kidds Top 12 Anime of 2015

•January 27, 2016 • 10 Comments

2015 was actually a very good year for varied kinds of anime, we got all sorts of genres consistently throughout the year. We even got a major smash hit the likes of Attack on Titan in One Punch Man. The following list is comprised of anime I saw to completion and actually enjoyed a whole tonne, if a show is not on the list then I probably dropped it or didn’t watch it.

Tsukimonogatar/Owarimonogatari – 12

bcee7d65c66988782fbb796e00a846521443307660_full

Another year another Monogatari, I’ll never tire of this franchise simply because its the only thing in the world like it, there’s absolutely nothing else like Monogatari out there and I dread the thought of it coming to an end. Tsukimonogatari was more fun and less serious than its predecessors and i enjoyed that. Sure it had the most copious amounts o fanservice and sleaze since Nisemonogatari but that’s not a negative at all, not in regards to this franchise atleast. I’m currently a few episodes into Owarimonogatari and that has the more serious deadpan tone we have become accustomed to. I’m very curious about the movies coming I hope they will live up to the unrealistic expectations we have come to bestow upon it.

Charlotte – 11

23921

There was a considerable amount of hype for Charlotte when it was first announced late in 2014 and who could blame the community? It was an original PA Works show penned by Jun Maeda of Angel Beats and Clannad fame and directed by the same team that worked on Angel Beats. The show had immense potential and started out strong with some memorable characters and fancy animation that we have become quite accustomed to. The twists and turns in the second arc kept the show fresh and intriguing but the 3rd act completely peters off into the mundane and silly. Had it not been for the weak climax to the show, it would have ranked higher and left more of an impact on the community.

Durarara!! season 2 – 10

varios_257307

To say I was highly anticipating this would be the biggest understatement of the year. Durarara!! holds a special place in my heart, I have the figurines to prove it. The show started off a little bit slow but then when it did pick up it added a whole bunch of new colorful characters that made the show way more epic. Izaya was still Izaya and his antics kept the inner city of Ikebukuro alive. Durarara!! is just cool and has stayed cool, it wasn’t nearly as good as its stellar first season but the same spirit is present here and its fantastic.

Death Parade – 9

21464

I saw this one very late into the year, I ignored it for whatever reason and I was a fool! Death Parade didn’t impress me with its visuals or technical aspects it was all in its themes. A sort of purgatory where your lifes deeds are presented to you and judged based on a bunch of mini-games you play. It raised many questions about the meaning of life, what it means to be human, the afterlife and even religion. Death Parade is a must watch for anyone interested in exploring these themes.

Fate Stay Night UBW season 2 – 8

Fate-stay-night-Unlimited-Blade-Works

I am still bitter about Illyasviel, yes it happens in all the main routes and I should be used to it by now but God damnit this one was the worst for sure. Its ufotable showing up everyone again with their fancy animation and brilliant battle sequences. The conclusion to Unlimited Blade Works was just as flashy and bombastic as I had imagined it would be and I can only thank the heavens for that.

Non Non Biyori repeat – 7

24353

Non Non Biyori is the perfect show to explain why I love moe shows, its cute, mundane but not boring, slapstick but not ridiculous, funny and just overall very very soothing and relaxing. I didn’t give the first season its due because I didn’t see it in the year it was released so this is my chance to say season 1 was actually better than season 2 and look at how highly I’ve ranked the second season for comparisons sake. The show is like a cross between Yotsuba and Tamayura with a dash of Hanasaku Iroha in there. Its one of the few anime that you can watch with the whole family and thoroughly enjoy.

Working!!! – 6

ba33f8f69bd179fcf843c444497a647b1435186538_fwide

Its been quite a journey for the staff at Wagnaria and the rest of the colorful cast of characters that embody this franchise. We’ve seen characters grow up, form relationships and even mature. This season was a very fitting and satisfying end to one of anime greatest comedies.

Hibike Euphonium – 5

wgGApYY

 

Oh man, this show, it fills me with so many varying emotions and they aren’t all positive but in the end I believe that’s a good thing because its the desired effect. First of all this was by far the prettiest show I have ever seen, KyoAni pulled out all the stops on this one, they made it look gorgeous. I criticized the show earlier in the year for not having much
ambition and sometimes it felt that way until the very end. The sports anime like flow of the narrative is what really kept me watching and before I knew it I was so invested in the characters and their progression. Hibike Euphonium was one of my favourite dramas in 2015 because of how it dealt with its characters complex emotions towards the world and each other and yes that includes the bi-curious characters as well. I hope the second season is just as good and keeps the same tempo and feel of the first season.

Gakkou Gurashi – 4

cOw72gl

I wrote about this show and why you should watch it. The shows opening episode works on shock value so if you are unaware of its plot don’t look it up just watch it for the full effect, if not then I can tell you that after the first few episodes the show tackles heavy subjects such as PTSD and escapism. It really doesn’t sugar coat anything and hits really hard, the show is not for the faint of heart for sure. Its finale made my eyes watery for a myriad of reasons but also because of how excellently executed the direction and cinematography of the show was. Watch Gakkou Gurashi its a unique experience you
are bound to never forget.

Gatchaman Crowds Insight – 3

15483

I have wanted to write about Gatchaman Crowds for a couple of years now but have always felt a bit… under qualified or intimidated by the numerous number of themes and subjects that it tackles. On the surface the show is an artistic masterpiece all on its own. The art direction, the cinematography, dialogue, editing all of that is so unique and worth a 2000 word article alone. Its also worth noting that the visual aspect of the show is deliberately designed to be in service of the complex themes that it represents. Our heroine for example, Hajime an outlier in this world and in the way she tackles problems is a symbol of change and disruption to the norms of society. This is clearly laid out for us to see in the second season when her think bubble is colourless for the entirety of the show.

Gatchaman Crowds is a show about social politics, economics, social media and the effects it can have on a new generation and an old one. Gatchaman is a thinking mans anime that also happens to have sick EDM beats to bop to when the action goes down. Its the most stylish and consistent anime from 2015 and needs to be seen and dissected. And yes a Kenji Nakamumra show made my list again, the man can do no wrong and he seems to only be getting better.

Yuri Kuma Arashi – 2

9af62c0140a838a1a6598cc7d475b8561420158389_fwide

 

The show that made me a Kunihiko Ikuhara fan after so many years of thinking whats the big deal anyway? Yuri Kuma aired at the perfect time for me, a time when I was/am at the height of my fight for inclusivity and representation. Yuri Kuma is a show about Stigma and segregation and what it does to society. I wrote about my theories on the show while it was still airing and they still ring true to this day. On the surface level Yuri Kuma is insufferably cute and colourful, aside from one or two gut wrenchingly dark and miserable episodes the show is great to look at. Ikuhara’s signature motifs are ever present here and they have only gotten better with time. I highly recommend this show to anyone who has a soft spot for drama and symbolism.

Shirobako season 2 – 1

fc12c0e533d75513ccd96dbc29d92aa81412806440_fwide

Shirobako is one of the greatest anime ever made, right up there with the best of them. Its realistic but somewhat over exaggerated portrayal of the production of anime and the industry struck a harmonious chord with me. The cast of leading characters were
treated like real live human beings and went through real struggles that I could certainly find believable as a young adult. The passion that the characters possessed was mirrored by the passion that was clearly put into the production of the show. The call backs and “cameos” by real life anime industry people gave the show a level of gravitas and realism that only seeked to served the suspension of disbelief and enhance the immersion of the viewers.

Shirobako was excellent, it was borderline perfect from start to finish. I doubt we will ever get a show as good or as passionate as it for a very, very long time.

The Kidd’s Top Ten Games of 2015

•January 21, 2016 • Leave a Comment

The year 2015 was one of the best years in gaming history, so many great games were released and the variety was so sparse as well. From narrative heavy games to straight up gameplay only ones, AAA games, indie games and everything in between as well.

This list is compiled of games I actually got around to playing in the calendar year which means there are some big games that don’t make the list such as; Tomb Raider, Halo 5, Fallout 4, Rocket League, Bloodborne and Until Dawn.

10. Splatoon

splatoon

Look at how cool they look!

I only managed to play about 5 hours of this game and that was all online matches. I really love the aesthetic off the game especially the music. The idea of letting the players draw stuff to share was really brilliant too, there has never been a better online hub world. It didn’t matter whether you were a Squid boy or Squid girl, your character looked super rad. Nintendo met my expectations with this one and proved that they can still make original games well.

 

9. Invisible Inc

invisibleinc

Oh man I love my turn based strategy games, I love cyberpunk, I love Klei Entertainment and I love rogue-likes, turns out Invisible inc has all of these elements and gave me all of them plus extremely memorable characters with vastly different abilities that allow you to plan and tackle various situations dynamically. Invisible Inc is hard yes, but its fair, subsequent playthroughs get you to understand the mechanics of the game and I can safely say it has some of the best emergent gameplay in games that have been released in 2015.

 

8. Titan Souls

titan_souls

Titan Souls reminded me of my time with Super Meat Boy and the masterpiece that was Shadow of the Collosus. You could even say that it was Shadow of the Collosus lite if you want to be reductive about it. The controls were spot on and so was the atmosphere and the music. I really feel like this little gem was forgotten in the glut of fantastic games that were released this year, It however left a lasting impression on me which is truly saying a lot and not only because it was excruciatingly punishing.

7. Ori and the Blind Forest

ori and the blind forest

I love Metroidvania games, every year serves up a good one but 2015 in particular served up one of the best I’ve ever played in years. Ori is one of the most emotional games ive played that did not use voice acting or  conventional text. With clearly the best art direction of the year and the best original soundtrack, Ori and the Blind Forest is clearly the most artsy game I played in 2015. The pin point controls married with the great level design and punishing gameplay gave the game a substantial level of weight that that I had not experienced in a very long while.

6. Mortal Kombat X

morrtal kombat x

For the better part of 2015 MKX was my game of the year, I absolutely loved the story mode and the new characters that were introduced. The cheesy  B-movie like script and acting in the story mode kept me super entertained all the way through. The jump in visual fidelity and sound design helped a lot and so did the new and refined fighting game mechanics. MKX was our chosen party game of 2015 and it was well deserved.

5. Her Story

her-story

I was 2 hours into watching the videos and taking down notes before the prompt to ask me if I was satisfied with my findings came up and I clicked NO. I wanted to see all the videos and be completely certain that my  findings were accurate. A few minutes later  I did and the credits rolled. Sam Barlows game is my fav FMV game that ive played so far and I would certainly be up for playing more like it. It was one of the most unique experiences I had in 2015 and hope for more like it in the future.

4. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

witcher3

As of writing I have sunk about 40 hours into The Witcher 3, It is certainly one of if not the best open world RPG I have ever played. I got a chance to play Dragon Age Inquisition earlier in the year and it really does pale in comparison in almost all aspects. Its been said before and ill reiterate it, the level of care and detail put into the side quests story and designs is like no other game ever made. I found myself putting more time into the side quests not because I wanted to grind but because the story and characters were just so well written.

The Witcher 3 is leagues better than its predecessor and it only goes to show you how great of  a year 2015 was that it didn’t get my top spot.

3. Undertale

undertale

This game came out of nowhere and forced itself into my best rpg of all time list by the 5th minute of playing. Undertale is one of the most charming, funny, sad and fun games that pays a huge homage to old school jrpgs like Earthbound. Both the narrative and the characters were so well written and memorable that they stick with you long past your 3rd playthrough. If you love rpgs and meta commentary that is actually good, play Undertale.

2. Life is Strange

lifeisstrange

I became a Dontnod Studios fanboy way back when they released Remember Me, a 3rd person action adventure game that dabbled with some interesting time bending mechanics. Fast forward a few years later and the release of cult favourite Life is Strange has finally given the studio the recognition it deserves.

Sure the dialogue is cheesy and terrible but honestly that just adds to the overall charm of the game. Life is Strange is the best “Telltale like game” since The Walking Dead season 1 simply because it refines that structure and adds a few new elements that make the formula fresh again. I love Chloe, I love Max, I love the music and the atmosphere and most of all I love the story in this game.

1. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

mgsv-the-phantom-pain

I had waited for over 4 years to play another numbered sequel in the Metal Gear franchise and the wait was well worth it. Hideo Kojima and his team somehow managed to redefine the conventions of what an open world action adventure is supposed to be. Metal Gear is known for its bombastic characters and over the top story and shenanigans, all that is present in this installment but not served in quite the same way as its always been. If you frequent gaming sites often you might be sick of hearing the term “emergent gameplay” unfortunately for you and me its really the best and quite honestly the only way to describe the experience that is MGSV.

I managed to get attached to most of the characters in the game especially Quiet, she had a realy strong character arch that the player for better or worse had to choose to engage with on their own. Thats really the story of MGSV in the end its all about player choice and immersion. The overall narrative was not as compelling as past installments but that was compensated with stellar gameplay and interesting characters.

MGSV is my game of the year because it married the best of gameplay mechanics and unique and new story telling methods in a manner that felt like my own. the action set pieces are all moments that are so unique they are nearly impossible to recreate and the stealth moments are even better. What a way to close the chapter on this great franchise.

 

 

Gakkou Gurashi and Escapism Through Moe

•July 17, 2015 • 6 Comments

If this current season of anime and my personal life have taught me anything its that life can get really busy and one needs sufficient rest to recuperate from the hustle and bustle of normal days life. I have personally gotten more work in my personal life recently which has given me less time in front of my computer to do silly fun stuff like play Civilisation V all day (and night) and the luxury to watch trashy moe shows. However, I have also noticed thanks to the second season of Non Non Biyori which aptly has the subtitle ‘Repeat’ that the gap between good moe anime and average moe anime is extremely large, let me explain.

 

 

Moe anime has certainly gotten its fair share of a bad reputation over the years and looking back at the copious amounts of shovel-ware, built for market, designed by committee with no artistic value whatsoever material out there its easy to see why. On the other hand, every once in a while we get gems like K-on! And Squid Girl which allow us to remember what makes the sub genre so good in the first place.

 
Okabe Escapism
Continue reading ‘Gakkou Gurashi and Escapism Through Moe’

The Kidd’s Most Anticipated Games From E3 2015

•June 19, 2015 • 4 Comments

Im going to get this right out of the way, this years E3 is the best I have ever witnessed ever! We got so many great announcements and gameplay trailers, I lost count of how many females I saw up on stage, we got two black female presenters on stage at the same time, I didnt think Id ever see that ever, I lost count of how many female playable protagonists we got. What a year for games we really have matured.

This is also the year we got 9 Press Conferences, its a full week of nothing but games games games. So here were my highlights in order from the show but first some Honorable Mentions;

Honorable Mentions

Honorable Mentions

Deus Ex Mankind Divided: My number 11 to be honest just didnt see enough gameplay to make the list.

Tacoma: Gone Home in space with a hearing impared protagonist maybe?

Halo 5 Guardians: Its more Halo, I love Halo.

Edge of Nowhere: Insomniac making a VR exclusive 3rd person AAA game.

Beyond Eyes: A beautiful Indie game with a watercolour aesthetic about a blind girl using her other senses to feel out the world around her.

Ancestors The Human Odyssey: The new Patrice Desilets game that wasnt at any conference but has great ambition. Look out for this one.

Continue reading ‘The Kidd’s Most Anticipated Games From E3 2015′

Faith, Friendship, Death, Life, God and Haibane Renmei

•June 9, 2015 • 4 Comments

I had been meaning to rewatch Haibane Renmei for a very long time now, it took me a good 5 years to finally get the stomach and be in the right place mentally to watch it. Very frequently and commonly lauded as one of the best anime out there Haibane Renmei is one of the few great anime I find hard to recommend because it does require a certain amount of….thought to fully appreciate.

Haibane Renmei is on the surface an ‘iyashikei‘ anime, an anime that is meant to soothe and relax, most moe anime fall into this category and this show especially the first half definitely does. Taken as a whole though it turns out to be a psychological drama that really doesn’t pull its punches and thankfully tries its best to not be as obtuse about its true meaning. It was written by Yoshitoshi Abe, creator of Serial Experiments Lain and Texhnolyze, it shares those shows aesthetic and use of symbolism.

Haibane Renmei

Haibane Renmei is basically a story set in a fictional world where the citizens of a town called Glie are walled in and cannot leave, apart from a mysterious group of people called the Toga. The town of Glie also has a few special beings called Haibane, these Haibane are all teenagers or children that have wings and halos, very similar features to Christian Angels. The Haibane live separately from the humans and are treated differently, they are kind of protected by the townspeople and are looked upon as a sign of good fortune by some. Continue reading ‘Faith, Friendship, Death, Life, God and Haibane Renmei’

The Euphoric Sound of Ambition and Expectations

•April 14, 2015 • 4 Comments

I recently saw what could be the best representation of what it feels like to be insanely ambitious in arguably the best movie of last year, Whiplash. It centered around two very heavily egocentric but determined individuals both seeking to find and become the best musicians the world has ever known, a simple task no? Whiplash worked because it showed the dirty side of this selfish lust, it was both inspiring and kind of scary to see the lengths that these individuals would go to achieve their goals.

A similar piece of entertainment which should be more familiar to you guys would be Chihayafuru. Ive written about Chihayafuru before briefly, its basically an intense sports anime that wraps itself in the facade of a josei drama. It is extremely intense and quite frankly awe inspiring to see what the characters in the show have to go through to get to where they are.

So, what do both of these media have in common? Intensity, hard work, ambition. Hibike! Euphonium… does not, not enough of it not for now atleast and I’ll tell you why that’s discouraging.

vlcsnap-2015-04-14-10h22m36s75

Continue reading ‘The Euphoric Sound of Ambition and Expectations’

Yuri Kuma Arashi : A Lecture by Kunihiko Ikuhara on Stigma

•March 27, 2015 • 1 Comment

Kunihiko Ikuhara is a very well respected, well decorated Director and screenwriter in the anime industry. He has been around for close to 25 years now. His most notable works are Revolutionary Girl Utena, The second half of the second season of Sailor Moon and most recently Mawaru Penguindrum.  Its no secret at this point that I really did not enjoy the latter half of Mawaru Penguindrum (most of it actually) and Utena didn’t really capture my attention, but there is something about Ikuhara’s works that just brings me back hoping that there is something there that I just didn’t understand or ‘get’ and I believe I have found it in his latest offering Yuri Kuma Arashi. Yuri Kuma header

Continue reading ‘Yuri Kuma Arashi : A Lecture by Kunihiko Ikuhara on Stigma’