In/Spectre – The Birth of a Modern Ghost

I’m a bit of a repeating record lately but there’s a lot to say about myth and magic.  And sure, it’s fun to think about the classics but what about the here and now?  Humanity didn’t stop making up stories when we stopped believing in the creatures in them.  Even now, we spread around a lot of fun creatures and ideas, as well as plenty of unique ones.  That’s something that In/Spectre seems to be tackling as their main arc this season: how an idea turns from creation, propagation, and then ultimately forms a fluid myth of its own that carries genuine power and weight.

Within the story of In/Spectre, Steel Lady Nanase is a ghost that was birthed not from the original dead idol that had tragically perished, but from a myth that her ghost had come back.  Even her form isn’t that of the original woman, but of an artists’ representation of what an idol in her costume would look like carrying a heavy steel beam.  Rather than a tragic incident birthing a dark creature, it was the thousands to millions of people that took that idea and fleshed out its mythos that caused a creature made from thought to come to life.

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Monthly Manga – I'm a Villainous Daughter, so I'm Going to Keep the Last Boss.

Ah, the classic love story.  A shy, quiet girl of common birth falls in love with a prince, far above her reach.  However, fate plays its part to bring these two together, though many troubles stand in their way.  For instance, the jealous noblewoman, betrothed to the prince finds herself at odds with this common child who opposes the nobility.  Spiteful and angry, she attempts to poison her nemesis’ love. However the nobleman and our common girl’s love for each other is too strong, and not only is the day saved but the heroine and prince are finally wed in happiness.  The nobleman woman gets her just desserts and ends up destitute and dead.

Or should she?  What was her deal, anyway?  Was she really a rich bitch or was there more to this that a new perspective would uncover?  That is where I’m a Villainous Daughter, so I’m Going to Keep the Last Boss comes in.  While a technical isekai, this manga likes to play uniquely and so twists a few things on their head, including certain isekai tropes.  Obviously, the story is about the jealous rival rather than the “protagonist” of the love story, who in finding out her fiance is actually in love with the protagonist and not her, finds herself suddenly remembering odd things she hadn’t before.  Like, for instance, how this is all a game and because she’s played it to death in a previous life, she knows exactly how this story will play out…

And also that she winds up dead at the end.

Right to left

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Digital Media Preservation: Why the Interspecies Reviewers Controversy Matters

Anime has come so far from the days of having to watch subbed episodes of Evangelion on bootleg video tapes and trying to find any anime streaming site worth its salt that just wasn’t clustered with ads. One thing that I appreciate about modern anime streaming services and availability is being able to just sit down and watch a series when I want to without having to go through the hassle of worrying about where I’m going to find the episode or when the next episode will be subbed and released before I can watch it. It’s something that only now I can appreciate, looking back upon what I would have considered the “golden days” of anime (and I’m sure many others consider it those as well in certain regards).

There’s no question about it; the anime streaming industry has become such an integral staple of everyone’s watching and consumption of anime these days. Crunchyroll, Funimation, and many others (yes, even Netflix…) have created their own sort of anime accessibility bubble that burst when these sites became popular. They’ve popularized a lot of shows that may have been considered “niche” years ago and allowed everyone to enjoy great shows that lots of people had never heard of before, which is fantastic for the medium at large.

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Seasonal Showcase Winter 2020 — Idols, Turtles, and Detectives

Since the winter season’s been in full swing for several weeks, everyone’s likely chosen what anime they want to watch from the seasonal pool of shows. We’ve got all of these Great Winter Anime this season, and honestly it’s probably one of the best Winter seasons we’ve had in recent years. It may be so good, though, that narrowing down what shows to watch can be a huge issue, as it has been for us at The Backloggers.

Well, that’s where the Seasonal Showcase comes in! Perhaps you’re looking for some hidden gems or overlooked shows from this season, or maybe you’re just trying to find a new interesting show to try? In either case, you’ve come to the right section of Anime Town™, where I discuss some of the dark horse picks of the season that are interesting in their own way and may be worth a second (or perhaps first) shot. Anyway, let’s jump right into it!

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Monthly Manga – Shadow House

Some of my favorite stories involve elements of what made classic fables so enthralling to me.  Some aspects are easy to see, like the fantasy setting, but I also enjoy the darker world that’s mixed with a child-like innocence which tinges each story, allowing us to take in the horror aspects a little easier.  Fairies and other creatures of myth are no joke, and the original stories attest to how devious they can be.  However, we always see their pranks rather than their murderous rampages when we read those stories of old.  Fables historically were made to teach a lesson and help to educate children on the dangers of life. So the palatability of a darker world that we only catch a glimpse of has always intrigued me.

Shadow House is very much a story like this.  The story follows Emilyko, a “living doll” in a very dark and mysterious mansion, who serves Kate, a member of the Shadow Family, who owns the property. Emilyko spends most of her time taking care of Kate but also ponders on the behavior of the Shadows.  The Shadows are creatures seemingly made up of some dark material that creates soot, as everything they touch is dirtied with it, along with their negative emotions causing them to release a black smoke that can cover the room in the same material. Added to this is the odd behavior that they have some physical control over the soot they produce and leave behind.

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Anime Can (and Can't) Successfully Talk About Big Ideas™️

“Everyone, have you heard of the trolley problem?”

Over the last few years, I recall numerous times seeing folks on Twitter crying for politics, social issues, and “SJW”s to be kept out of anime. Comments and sentiments like these have been around for quite some time, even though they may not use the same language or platform to disseminate those ideas. Hilariously enough, however, one can easily look back to some of the oldest anime we have, or some of the anime considered to be in the canon of the medium, and see that there is a solid history of series that have worked to discuss issues that are deeply important and relevant to the human condition. So when I hear people complaining about the so-called “tainting” of their entertainment media, I can only think about how many shows have worked over the years to actually be about something, even if it isn’t right in your face, and how the medium has always, in some ways, been political or about real-world ideas.

With that being said, I think that it is important to consider how shows actually work to approach more serious concepts. While a lot of shows might want to be about some loftier or more important ideas, the inclusion and handling of them might not always be handled well, which honestly may be worse than not talking about them at all. Considering this, I have a small selection of shows from the current and previous anime seasons that I feel highlight the two different extremes of this concept – shows like Stars Align and The Case Files of Jeweler Richard, which effectively highlight current social and cultural issues that don’t get much attention in anime, as well as shows like Babylon, which try and fail miserably to be about mature moral and political issues.

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Owningmatt93's Picks for the Anime of the Decade

So, it’s my turn now, huh? I don’t think the world is ready for my Anime of the Decade list, but here we are! 

Just like the other two, I’ve chosen shows that I enjoyed the most and found the most interesting throughout the decade. No gimmicks; no “one anime from each year”; no rankings or any of that. These are solely shows that I most enjoyed from 2010 to 2019 in the order that I first watched them. That’s it; nothing fancy. I like to think of it as a sort of journey through my anime life, I suppose. 

Anyway, I won’t hold back on the content in the picks themselves, so let’s jump into some of my favorite anime of the decade, hooray! 

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