30 Day Anime Challenge – Day 24: Moment That Shocked You The Most in An Anime

This post is part of The 30 Day Anime Challenge Series alongside the Cosmic Anvil Kickstarter campaign. Click here to read the introduction, and click here to check out and support the campaign to help us fund the printing and distribution of our first collected volume of our manga-inspired comic series, Age of Revolution.


[SPOILER ALERT! There will be some tragic/death scenes and plot twists mentioned in this post.]

Jess Hardcastle Marketing Whizz Kid

What shocked me the most out of all the anime I’ve seen so far has to be the surprisingly dark themes in Puella Magi Madoka Magicka. I went into the series blind only knowing it was about magical girls but it turned out to be a hell of a lot grimmer than that!

Even the cute cat-like creature, Kyubey, who initially appears to help and guide the magical girls turns out to be an emotionless, scheming alien that has a total lack of regard for the girls’ lives! Mainly as he doesn’t tell the girls that once they become Puella Magi, if they fall into despair they become the very witches that they are fighting!

kyubey turned around

I mean… how could this cute creature be so evil?!

Honorable mentions: L’s Death (Death Note), Maes Hughes Death (Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood), Lucy killing Kouta’s Dad & Sister (Elfen Lied) and Eren becoming a Titan (Attack On Titan).


Hannah Collins Co-Founder and Artist

Until recently I would have had a hard time choosing between moments for this one. That was until I saw the feature-length anime Perfect Blue at the Kotatsu Japanese Animation film festival in Cardiff a couple of weeks ago, and am still trying to get over it weeks later! [Just as a warning, this film is rated 18 (R-rated) and I will be discussing some very NSFW content.]

Perfect Blue Film Poster

Perfect Blue Film Poster

Perfect Blue is a psychological thriller about a J-pop idol called Mima who, after enjoying some success as part of a pop group called ‘CHAM!’, is encouraged by her management to try and channel her talents into acting instead of music. She unhappily complies, taking up a small role in a TV crime series. Unfortunately, following this break she starts to become pushed into doing more and more ‘mature’ work, supposedly to be considered as a ‘serious’ actress, involving a hideously gratuitous rape scene on her TV show, and nude photo shoots. Whilst this is going on, Mima also becomes the victim of online stalking in the form of a blog that claims to be written by her called ‘Mima’s Room.’ The blog tells Mima’s fans how unhappy she is with her new life whilst detailing with creepy accuracy everything that Mima did each day. Moreover, people around Mima who could be seen to be taking advantage of her keep ending up dead.

Mima performing with CHAM!

Mima performing with CHAM!

As Mima becomes more and more unnerved by the attacks, the stalking, and being forced into uncomfortable situations for her new line of work, her mental state becomes more and more fragile. She is haunted day and night by a ghostly projection of herself in her J-pop persona who mimics that words of the blog, making Mima question her own identity and image. Is anything in her life real anymore? Who is the real Mima and who is the performer? As the film shifts between her real life, her TV life, and the waking nightmares in Mima’s head, we as an audience also become less and less sure of what is real and what is fantasy, to the point at which all three blur incomprehensibly together.

Which is the real Mima?

Who is the real Mima?

In a film that is wholly quite shocking all the way through, perhaps the most shocking scene for me – other than the twist at the end – is when Mima is attacked by her stalker (the writer of ‘Mima’s Room’) in the TV studio at night who beats and nearly rapes her before she is able to escape him. She runs away for help, only to find that his unconscious body is gone. The scene is eerily similar in lighting and placement to the one she shot for the TV show is stars on, and the disappearance of his body also reinforces the feeling of uncertainty that the attack ever happened at all.

I felt super uncomfortable watching both of the sexual assault scenes in this film, which I know is the correct feeling you’re supposed to have when watching them, but I also felt very divided about their execution. On the one hand their unflinchingly graphic nature worked to add to the film’s classification as a horror/thriller, and as both were revealed in the end to possibly not be real at all, their almost overly lecherous overtones could be fabrications of Mima’s intense nightmares. However, I am always dubious of how far rape scenes need to go in terms of graphicness. After all, rape is an expression of violence and dominance, not sex, and the constant leeriness of the camera angles as Mima’s clothes are ripped and her body positioned in suggestive poses throughout both ordeals seemed unnecessarily sexual.

Mima's rape scene in the TV show

Mima’s rape scene in the TV show.

Based on a novel by Yoshikazu Takeuchi and directed by Satoshi Kon, this film was interestingly originally supposed to be live-action direct to video, but after the studio was damaged in the Kobe earthquake of 1995 the film’s budget was slashed to the point that it could only go ahead as an animation.  It would be fascinating to see which – if any – alterations to the film were made through this transition. I can’t help but also wonder if the film’s highly graphic subject matter would be a little less shocking if they were performed in real life by actors rather than drawn figures. After all, as much as I’m used to and open to anime grappling with adult themes, it still feels quite shocking to see cartoon depictions of murder and sexual violence.

Honourable mentions: Eren gets eaten by a Titan and survives (Attack On Titan), the chimera is revealed + the ending of Full Metal Alchemist, Asuka’s death (End of Evangelion), Shinji masturbates over Asuka’s comatose body (Neon Genesis Evangelion), L’s death (Death Note), Kyon’s death (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya), the ending of The Big O.


Huw Williams CO-Founder and Writer

SPOILER ALERT! This entry is a HUGE spoiler for The Big O, so if you are watching/reading it or are thinking of watching/reading The Big O, DON’T READ ON as this is a major spoiler!

Epic Team Up

BIG O!

I think I have already mentioned Big O in this series of blogs, so I’m not going to go over the plot again, but I will say that this anime definitely makes you think.

It’s film noir style matches perfectly with it’s story, a tale of twists and turns, corrupt governments, femme fatales, and hidden identities. It’s truly a brain teaser that has a great merge of style and substance.

However, the film noir feel get’s flipped right on it’s head as it becomes ultra-Sci-Fi at the end. Yes, there are giant robots and androids in this anime, but the anime up until the end was always more of detective drama, but everything changed when the finale happened.

Angel

Angel: Femme Fatale

The final episode blows your mind. It has the standard giant robot fight take place that you’d expect of a mech-themed show, but in the final moments of the episode, Angel – the femme fatale who has been teasing the protagonist Roger – transforms into a giant robot called ‘Big Venus’. She walks toward Big O, the city vanishing with every step she takes, until there is nothing left other than Big O, and then Big Venus merge with him, and the end of the episode fades out with the same monologue that Roger gives in the first episode. This reveals that the world that Big O is set in is a virtual reality, and that Angel is the one who controls it all, once this is discovered she resets the reality to the first episode of the show, and it all just loops.

Big Venus

Big Venus/Angel deleting the virtual reality around it.

This blew my mind… It doesn’t help that the episode itself doesn’t really explain what’s going on. It feels like reading an essay without a conclusion, or a mathmatical sum without a result. You can see all the workings, but you can’t really see what it’s meant to lead to. So only when reviewing it and reading up on it did the pieces fell into place for me, and even after discovering what the final episode meant, it broke me.

Sorry for spoiling it all, but I will always recommend Big O to people, as it’s clever, it makes you think, and it has giant robots. What more do you want?


Written by the Cosmic Anvil team.

Check out our own Welsh-manga (or ‘Wanga’) series, AGE OF REVOLUTION on our official site and Comixology! And if you want to join the fight to get the AGE OF REVOLUTION Volume printed check out our Kickstarter page

Kickstarter age of revolution volume one cosmic anvil new reward tiers added

Kickstarter new reward tier £15 pledge cosmic anvil

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30 Day Anime Challenge – Day 13: Anime Character You Are Most Similar To

This post is part of The 30 Day Anime Challenge Series alongside the Cosmic Anvil Kickstarter campaign. Click here to read the introduction, and click here to check out and support the campaign to help us fund the printing and distribution of our first collected volume of our manga-inspired comic series, Age of Revolution.


Jess Hardcastle Marketing Whizz Kid

In terms of personality, I find definitely find similarities between myself and Madoka Kaname from Puella Magi Madoka Magicka as she sees herself as a person without special qualities or talents and is against fighting. She also cares deeply about her friends and family.

Madoka_Kaname

Madoka Kaname, Puella Magi Madoka Magicka


Hannah Collins Co-Founder and Artist

It’s difficult to relate to many anime characters as – less face it – they’re not exactly the most realistically written fictional characters, are they? If I had to pick a character that I identify the most with though, it would probably be Maka Albarn from Soul Eater.

Maka Albarn Soul Eater anime manga 30 day anime challenge cosmic anvil

Maka Albarn, Soul Eater

I like that Maka is academically driven to do well in school (which I was) but also isn’t a stereotypical awkward nerdy girl – she can still kick some major butt. She’s also fiercely independent, get’s wound up easily, bottles up her insecurities, and highly values her friends and those close to her – all traits I can identify with. Plus, the Soul Eater Shibusen academy is like my Hogwarts. I’m still waiting for my acceptance letter from Lord Death.

Shibusen Soul Eater Academy

Shibusen Academy


Huw Williams CO-Founder and Writer

This is probably the hardest question on this list for me. Anime characters are so over the top that it’s hard to pick one that I think fits me. I guess I’m an emotional guy and I love to eat…so maybe, Toriko from Toriko?

Toriko

Toriko, from Toriko

Toriko is a Bishoku-ya or Gourmet Hunter, which means his role in the world is to hunt for ingredients for the Government (International Gourmet Organisation). These ingredients are then distributed around the world and sold to the public, or IGO-owned restaurants. Toriko is an incredibly powerful fighter and loves his job.

Toriko’s personality is like mine in certain aspects. He is described as a glutton and quite rightly so, as he has one of the biggest appetites in the world, which I can certainly identify with as I have admitted in the past that I do tend to eat for fun.

EAT!

EAT!

He is very particular with his food as well, only allowing the best ingredients in the world to be added to his ‘Full Course’. When it comes to food I would like to think that I’d eat anything, but it has to be just right. Especially with fruit, I love fruit, but if I notice anything ‘wrong’ with a piece of fruit I refuse to eat it.

He is also super-emotional, just like me. He also has strong bonds with all his friends, always insisting that he and his friends take part in feasts together, and he can’t help but overreact to delicious ingredients. He’s stubborn and has tendencies to throw his toys out of the pram as well, much like me. However, I have his good stuff as well. I may tend to overreact, but I feel that I have strong bonds with all my friends, and love eating food with them all.

Just wish I had his physique...

Just wish I had his physique…


Written by The Cosmic Anvil Team.

Check out our own Welsh-manga (or ‘Wanga’) series, AGE OF REVOLUTION on our official site and Comixology! And if you want to join the fight to get the AGE OF REVOLUTION Volume printed check out our Kickstarter page!

Kickstarter age of revolution volume one cosmic anvil new reward tiers added

Kickstarter new reward tier £15 pledge cosmic anvil

kickstarter age of revolution cosmic anvil new reward tiers pledge comic book comic strip art commission

 

N00b Reviews: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica

Welcome to this week’s N00b reviews! This week I am looking at Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica also more commonly known as Puella Magi Madoka Magica. It is interesting to note this is a manga adaptation of the Puella Magi Madoka Magica anime series produced by Shaft and Aniplex. Also i’m definitely reading something a bit different this week, just looking at how girly the cover of the manga is.

mahou-shoujo-madoka-magica-l0


Summary:

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica is set in the fictional city; Mitakihara and follows Madoka Kaname, a middle school student and her friend Sayaka Miki. After encountering a small, cat-like creature name Kyubey they are offered a contract which sees them obtain magic powers and fight witches in exchange for a wish granted. The story follows their journey into what it means to be a magical girl and takes dark twists and turns along the way.


First Impressions:

After looking at the first few pages, you can definitely tell that the manga is adapted from an anime series with the typical anime art style (big eyes, glossy looking hair) and it also reminded me a lot of Sailor Moon and Cardcaptors Sakura with it’s similar theme of magical girls and cute looking pet like creatures.

(L-R Sakura & Kero, Sailor Moon & Luna, Madoka & Kyubey)

e4-manga-costume

mahou-shoujo-madoka-magica-2002221

26

 


What I liked: 

I liked the fact that whilst the series was about friendship and magic it also had darker undertones about sacrifice, jealousy, danger and suffering. The series seems to have a unique mix of cuteness and despair running throughout especially. In particular,  Kyubey in appearance is adorable but his personality is scary with his lack of emotions and regards for the girls’ lives. I also liked how Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica was able to appeal to an older audience than a lot of the other magical girl genre manga.

creepy


What I disliked:

One of the major flaws of Mahou Shoujo Madoka was how the illustrations became too chaotic and confusing during fight scenes. It made it hard to concentrate what was going on like some other manga I have read in the N00b Reviews series. I also disliked the time travelling aspects as it got hard to keep up with what was going on. It was a nice idea to have time travelling elements but I don’t think it was executed very well.

too much


How does it compare to the anime:

You can definitely see how the manga is adapted from the anime with the cute artwork and psychedelic fight scenes, it certainly sticks very closely to the anime for references. For the first couple of episodes, Mahou Shoujo Madoka appear to be typical of a magical girl series like Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura with comedic moments between friends, dream sequences and cute creatures.  However none of the Puella Magi in the series attack with rods or elements of nature or other cute stuff – they attack with guns, swords, spears, and similar weapons which hints at the darker side of the show.

Witches

Witches

The thing that really sets the series apart from a lot of other anime and makes it truly unique is the fact that there is very little filler and the story is nicely wrapped up in 12 episodes rather than a cliffhanger or weird finishing point. I liked how it also leaves itself open to interpretation, so even after you finish the series you still have something to think about.


Overall Opinion: 

Appearances really can be deceiving, Mahou Shoujo Madoka personifies this message. From the first impressions I thought this manga would be girly and pretty and nothing drastically bad would happen, oh how wrong I was! It definitely takes you on a roller coaster of emotions and you really feel for the girls that become Puella Magi without understanding the sacrifices they have to make to fulfill their wishes.  I enjoyed it so much I am contemplating on whether or not I want to read the Mahou Shoujo Oriko Magi the spin off manga series focusing on Oriko and Kyoko but I don’t want to be disappointed with it compared to the original series.


Written by Jess Harcastle, Marketing Whizz-kid for Cosmic Anvil.

Check out our own Welsh-manga (or ‘Wanga’) series, AGE OF REVOLUTION on our official site and Comixology!