My Top Ten Favorite Anime (Sort Of).

Everyone’s got a a list of their favorite shows and what’s on the list is always different for everyone because we’re all different people with differing opinions. But since I’m awesome, my opinion is fact and everything in this list is pure gold and if you disagree with that then… Okay. I hope you liked the list anyway!

Not everything in this list is an anime that I’d describe as a masterpiece per say. They’re all just shows that I really like for multitudes of reasons, but with that, let’s just get to it already starting with!

10) Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma (2015)

Food Wars is a cooking manga/anime (that I’ve reviewed.)

NSFW foodgasms inbound.

NSFW foodgasms inbound.

Here’s a tip for all you Food Wars fans out there—go read the manga. The anime’s just as good, but go read the manga because woof… the anime ended too soon and left out one of my favorite tournament arcs ever and one of my favorite scenes/speeches from a manga (Ch.102). For those who aren’t familiar with the show: Food Wars is a hilarious and strangely epic cooking anime that revolves around Yukihira Soma as he battles (cooking battles) his way to the top of Totsuki Culinary Academy, the best damned cooking academy in all of Japan. Seriously, if you want a good laugh and great thrills, go watch Food Wars… Just make sure that you have food in the house because you’ll get hungry.

9) One Piece

A grand adventure in an even grander world seen through the eyes of a small, but larger than life pirate crew.

800 chapters in and we're still probably only half way there.

800 chapters in and we’re still probably only half way there.

Okay so everyone knows what One Piece is about and some people might have groaned seeing a member of the Holy Shounen Trinity in a Top Ten anime list. But while my taste in anime have developed and I’ve fallen out of love with the rest of the trinity, One Piece remains to this day as one of my favorite shows to watch—okay maybe not favorite show to watch because as big a fan as I am, I’m not ignorant to the fact that it drags on way too long with it’s flashbacks. But I do love it all the same because at its core, One Piece is a really fun show featuring a cast of fun and awesome characters.

8) Kimi Ni Todoke/Ore Monogatari!!

One features a girl that looks like the creepy chick from The Ring while the other features a gorilla, I mean a boy… who looks like a gorilla—both shows are about two misunderstood teenagers who simply want to be accepted.

Kimi Ni Todoke has some annoying bits regarding misunderstandings, but I still find it to be very endearing.

Kimi Ni Todoke has some annoying bits regarding misunderstandings, but I still find it to be very endearing.

When I think of romance anime, I laugh. I laugh because when I think of romance anime I think of harems and ecchi anime—two things about anime that I despise. I’m not a prude by any means, but I like subtlety. I’m the type of guy who cringes at most girls that twerk and I prefer seeing women in fall fashion to no clothes or summer clothes. I’m also the type of guy who believes in the idea of love, or at least likes to, because even I’m not dumb enough to know that it’s all just a lie…

Screw moe anime, Ore Monogatari is the epitome of cuteness!

Screw moe anime, Ore Monogatari is the epitome of cuteness!

But lie or not, two anime that never fails to put a smile on my face are Kimi Ni Todoke and Ore Monogatari!! Yes, these two shows are only here because of how cute they can be… and because of how much joy they both give me. I’m a fairly pessimistic person, but even I feel fuzzy inside watching these shows. Are they the best ever? No, but I love them regardless. They both feature outcast teens that just want to be accepted and find true love, and though the idea of love in both is highly idealized and innocent, I love it all the same.

If you want to know more about Ore Monogatari then you’re in luck! I already reviewed it here!

7) Mekakucity Actors

A show about something

Someone please explain this to me!

I really don’t get why this is here either.

Look I’m not going to lie, Mekakucity Actors is in this list because I’m looking for someone to try and explain to me why I love it so much because even I don’t know why I love it. Like seriously… Mekakucity Actors is a fine show, but it’s not even an 8/10 in my book. And yet for some reason… I really love it. All I know is that it features an ensemble cast of teens with special powers and a plot… I guess. I also know that it’s an anime based on a series of Vocaloid songs and somehow, it made me not want to punch my computer screen in the face.

6) Death Parade

A show about life. (And another show that I’ve reviewed!)

Boom boom boom! Dancing through the skies!

Boom boom boom! Dancing through the skies!

Death Parade is an original anime by Studio Madhouse and it’s probably my favorite anime of 2015. The basic concept of Death Parade is simple, two people enter a bar, they’re forced to play a game, an Arbiter watches the proceedings of the game and based on how the players reacted while playing said game, the Arbiter will then decide which of the pair would be sent to the void and which one would be sent for reincarnation. Again, simple concept, but like any good show, there’s so much more to Death Parade. Because despite being a show featuring dead people, it is a show about life itself as well as the experiences people have living it, may they be good or bad.

5) Hajime no Ippo

An anime featuring a bullied youth that learns the true meaning of strength through boxing.

Packs a PUNCH... Get it? No? Okay then... v ~ v

Packs a PUNCH… Get it? No? Okay then… v ~ v

I don’t enjoy boxing, or sports—actually I watch a little soccer here and there, but for the most part I don’t care for any of it. And yet… One of my favorite animes of all time is a boxing anime. But saying that Hajime No Ippo is JUST a boxing anime is like saying that Moby Dick is just a story about trying to kill a white whale. There’s more to both these stories than just their surface plot, and though Hajime No Ippo doesn’t go as deep as Moby Dick does in a thematic way, Hajime No Ippo does do a pretty impressive job of telling a riveting, pulse pounding and inspiring drama about an underdog who makes it big as a boxer. And yes, I consider Hajime No Ippo as a drama more than I consider it a fighting or sport anime, because though there is fighting and sportsmanship involved but at it’s core, Hajime no Ippo’s really all about the main character Ippo Makunochi and his rise to glory and greatness.

4) Gatchaman: Crowds/Insight

An anime about clashing ideals regarding the evolution of humanity as a society.

IN THE NAME OF LOVE! GATCHAMEN! ASSEMBLE!

IN THE NAME OF LOVE! GATCHAMEN! ASSEMBLE!

I’ve never seen the Gatchaman of old, but from what I’ve gathered, (and please correct me if I’m wrong) the original Gatchaman was a fairly simplistic hero anime where a group of Power Rangers esque individuals get together to fight aliens who threaten to destroy the Earth. The Gatchamen of Crowds and Insight however are vastly different. Rather than have a black and white narrative, the newest reincarnation of Gatchaman focuses more on opposing ideologies. In both Crowds and Insight, there was never a clear villain (maybe more so Insight than Crowds), for the most part, the enemies that the Gatchamen are going up against are well meaning, but dangerous individuals or groups who just want to see the world be a better place. And it’s exactly because of this that I’m putting Gatchaman in my list—it’s an anime that not only has fun and interesting characters, but it also takes time to look at society and even criticize it in a non-pretentious manner.

3) Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

A show about sacrifice, brotherhood and a bunch of other really awesome shit.

Remember October 3rd.

Remember October 3rd.

Action, comedy and drama—FMA: Brotherhood has it all. I never really liked the original anime, I thought it was fine, but was severely flawed. Brotherhood on the other hand is hands down just a masterpiece of awesome. It has a well-written narrative, great characters and some of the best fight scenes in anime. Go check it out if you haven’t seen it yet what the hell are you doing with your life?!

2) OreGairu (My TEEN RomCom SNAFU!)

An anime about a loner who sees himself above his peers as he treks through the icy road to true maturity.

Chin up kid, you'll get there one day.

Chin up kid, you’ll get there one day.

My Teenage Rom-Com SNAFU! is a show with a fanbase that irritates the heck out of me… Sort of. I just don’t like how every time I go into comments sections of episodes or discussion boards I seem to always find people who are constantly obsessing about the protagonist Hachiman’s harem. I don’t like that because it’s not what the show is about and it goes against everything that Hachiman stands for. It’s just not genuine. But I get it, talking about pairings and harems is fun—sure, I’m not going to take that away from anyone.

But it’s not why I love SNAFU and it’s not why I watch the show. To me, SNAFU is more than just about romances or harems. It’s not about how cool it is to be a loner, because even the show itself depicts Hachiman as being in the wrong even though his methods work. SNAFU is Hikigaya Hachiman’s coming of age story. I know that the synopsis says otherwise, but ignore that because trust me, this show really is something special.

Similar to how I have Kimi Ni Todoke and Ore Monogatari in this list for mostly emotional reasons, part of why SNAFU’s on this list is because of how much I can relate to Hachiman’s struggles with life. It’s rare for any work of fiction (and non-fiction) to ever affect me this show has, which is why I have so much respect and adoration for it—because not only does it make me feel all weird inside, it’s also a very well-written show filled with great characters and both hilarious and dramatic scenes and conversations.

1) Gintama

An anime that made me cry way too much, especially since it’s primarily a comedy show about a feudal Japan that has been taken over and modernized by aliens.

Nobody with naturally wavy hair can be that bad.

Nobody with naturally wavy hair can be that bad.

When I first started watching Gintama I wasn’t sure what to think of it. I liked the protagonist Sakata Gintoki, but I couldn’t figure out what the show was going to be all about. There were hints of Gintoki’s past and how it might come back to form an overall and overarching plot, but fifteen episodes in and still there was nothing. For the most part, Gintama seemed to be just a comedy anime (a really funny and heartfelt comedy anime) but story or not, I was still in for the ride because like I said, I enjoyed the comedy bits a lot!

There were more hints of a plot thrown in there and I was satisfied just having a good time laughing at the almost self-contained comedy episodes. I loved the smaller dramatic episodes too and grew to really love the whole cast. But what really got me were episodes 58 to 61—that’s when everything changed. Not permanently. But it cemented Gintama as a series that would forever be in my list of favorite anime.

Episodes 58 to 61 were when the Benizakura Arc happened, Gintama’s first serious arc. Every Gintama fan knows what it was like to first to fill the thrills and chill of seeing our goofball favorite characters be put in a high stakes and life or death situation where they need to go up against a villain that better suited a more serious anime. The Benizakura arc still had plenty of comedy to it, but for the most part, it was the story arc that laid the foundation for what’s to come—it established the villain, the main story and a better look at Gintoki’s past. I mean we’ve always known that Gintoki was a badass, but it was his fight scenes in the Benizakura arc that showed just how awesome he could be.

I can’t really explain why I love Gintama so much, but I know that despite having hundreds of episodes I’d still recommend it to people. I know that that’s a commitment and I know that the payoff may not come until fifty episodes in, but my God, does it PAY OFF. And even after the Benizakura arc the show does return to form and remains a comedy for a dozen episodes before tackling another serious arc—but I’m okay with that. Others might not be, but I swear, you must give this show a chance. You owe it to yourself as an anime fan to watch Gintama because not only is it a hilarious parody comedy anime, but it’s also an exciting and touching story about a man who refuses to be broken by the world and how desperately he needs to pay his rent.

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Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma Series Review

For a shorter and sweeter version of the review, here’s a YouTube video!

 

Intro and Plot

            Anime with an underdog story are nothing new, anime focused on cooking are nothing new and of course, quality story-telling and well-developed characters in the medium are nothing new either, but just because Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma is something that I’ve come across before it doesn’t mean that it’s a bad thing. I love Food Wars and not to spoil my own review, I think that it’s one of the best shounen anime I’ve seen in a while. Granted, I haven’t caught up to Assassination Classroom yet (I’ve heard that that show is something special), but from what I’ve seen of Food Wars has impressed me thoroughly.

Catchphrase!

Catchphrase!

The show centers on Yukihira Soma, son of Yukihira Joichiro—owner of the humble Yukihira diner and a chef of legendary status. Now while Soma has worked side by side with his father and faced off against Joichiro in hundreds of cooking battles ever since he was a child, Soma has no knowledge of his own father’s legend. As far as Soma knew, his father was just an excellent chef and never really questioned how he got to be so good. All Soma cared about was surpassing his old man and he attempted this through good old-fashioned trial and error.

However, knowing that simply keeping his son cooped up in their family diner and not allowing him to experience the vast world of the culinary arts would not help Soma achieve his goal of surpassing him and become a better chef, Joichiro decides to send Soma to Totsuki Culinary Academy—his alma mater. And upon his arrival at Totsuki Soma quickly learns the high prestige looming over Totsuki and is looked down upon by others due to his humble background…

Soma is looked down on by some nameless extra.

Soma is looked down on by some nameless extra.

but then again he also did come off as a little cocky to everyone he met and did tell the entire first year class that he’ll be blowing them all out of the water and will easily take the number one spot in Totsuki. So yeah, I guess the initial hate for our protagonist might have been justified.

Soma does prove to everyone in Totsuki that he is the quality chef that he claims to be through his superb performance in school activities and intense cooking battles known as “Shokugekis” where students are to face off against each other and make wagers that both parties would agree upon. But as good as Soma may be, Food Wars follows the classic shounen anime tradition that demands for there to always be someone better and stronger than our protagonist for him to try and overcome. So naturally, Food Wars features a whole ensemble of rival characters for Soma to face off against as well as allies and mentor type characters that would help educate and guide him along the way.

Characters

One of Soma’s most notable allies is his closest one, Tadokoro Megumi. Before meeting our protagonist, Megumi starts of as a talented, but incredibly timid (AND ADORABLE) chef who would often perform miserably in class due to her stage fright and inability to perform well under pressure.

NO MEGUMI NO!

NO MEGUMI NO!

However, while acting as Soma’s number two and “victim” to both his vile experimental dishes and misadventures, Megumi slowly grows to be more confident and comfortable whilst cooking in class either with Soma or on her own—which is what I enjoy the most about her character. Like our protagonist, Megumi is initially looked down upon by many people in Totsuki, but after overcoming great odds, Megumi shows everyone just what it is that she’s made of and impresses even the most critical figures in all of Totsuki.

Speaking of which…The other character of note in Food Wars is none other than the wielder of the legendary God’s Tongue herself, Nakiri Erina.

Erina is fun and awesome, but also kind of boring sometimes.

Erina is fun and awesome, but also kind of boring sometimes.

Now I’m not going to lie. I don’t really like Erina all too much because unlike Soma’s other rivals, she’s just kind of bland. Yes, she does have a personality and I don’t dislike Erina for her haughty attitude, general bitchiness or infallible skills (well maybe the skills part), but rather, what I don’t like about Nakiri Erina is her lack of an arc. I’ve read up to chapter 129 of the Food Wars manga as of writing this review and have seen pretty much everything that the first season of the anime will cover, and I can say with confidence that Erina’s character is static. She’s sort of a rounded character, but she lacks growth. I understand what her purpose is in the show, and no it’s not just to look attractive, Erina’s character serves as the ultimate rival and challenge to Soma, at least amongst the first years in Totsuki—which is exciting. She’s very knowledgeable, talented, creative and confident, however she ends just as how she began. We learn a thing or two about her, but the revelations surrounding Erina’s character are small and feel like nothing more than just mere teases for a character development waiting to happen.

Maybe in later chapters of the still ongoing manga, most likely when Soma and her are about to face off in a Shokugeki or a big challenge comes her way, we’ll learn more about her and we’ll see more growth on her part. The shounen genre often does stretch its stories out, so it wouldn’t surprise me if somewhere down the line we’ll see an arc or two devoted to Erina’s growth. One of the later chapters in the manga teases a potential direction for where her character might go in terms of development, but as of right now, she’s yet to face failure and doubt as Soma or Megumi experience in the first season of the show and thus has yet found the need to grow herself as a person—and by extension a character. There are of course other characters in Food Wars that don’t get any development like Erina, but the thing about her is that she’s always put up front and center in the openings and advertising of the manga and show, which practically screams that she’s one of Food Wars’ main characters, which is why I probably expected too much from her and thus was disappointed.

Yukihira Soma's about to cook!

Yukihira Soma’s about to cook!

As mentioned earlier, Yukihira Soma is cocky. He’s a typical protagonist in the shounen genre, the type that would take on any challenge without question either for the sake of testing out his own mettle, proving a point or simply because he relishes in the promise of battle. However, like any good protagonist, Soma learns and develops throughout the course of the series. When he first came to Totsuki he didn’t take any of his schoolmates as seriously as he should have because to Soma they were all just snobby rich kids who have never actually worked in a real restaurant before like he has. But after facing off against other chefs who possess skills, knowledge and experience that he himself has yet to develop, Soma gets to taste defeat and learns from his failures.

And that’s what makes him special. Unlike Nakiri Erina who was born with a natural talent for cooking, Soma learned everything he knew through trial and error and by ceaselessly pushing himself to be better and eventually, the best. He accepts failure as something that happens and when it does happen, he sees it as a chance to learn and as an opportunity for him to grow as a person/chef. Soma is unrelentingly courageous and despite being confident in his skills, he can humble himself and admit that even he still needs to improve.

Soma gets mad.

Soma gets mad… but he’ll get over it.

Which is why I really love Soma’s character. Yes, nothing about his character is new or unique to him, but I don’t need new or unique to be impressed or to enjoy a good story. Soma’s a cliché shounen protagonist sure, but so what? He’s a well-written cliché and I thoroughly enjoy his character.

And thankfully Soma, Megumi or even Erina are not the only characters that I find to be entertaining and enjoyable about Food Wars. From everyone living in Polaris Dorm, to the Totsuki Alumni and other various students of Totsuki, each Food Wars character has something about them to be enjoyed may it be a laugh or a sense of thrill and suspense. For this review I’m only going to be talking about the three main ones that I’ve already mentioned, but I guarantee that the other characters of Food Wars are all impressive and well realized, not all of them are well written, but they are all well-crafted and enjoyable.

Presentation (Visual and Audio)

Now another thing I greatly enjoyed about Food Wars besides its characters (as well as openings and endings) is the show’s presentation.

Intense cooking time yay!

Intense cooking time yay!

Yes the art is pretty standard for an anime and yes the soundtrack is also pretty standard, but just as how a meats and vegetables are standard ingredients for a dish, in the hands of a chef with great talent and skill, simple standard ingredients could make for a wonderful dish the same way a great writer, director and animation studio could craft a wonderful anime. It’s hard to explain without going into specific and spoilerific scenes, but Food Wars has some of the most intense and gripping confrontations I’ve ever seen in an anime or manga—the anime especially as every intense and epic scene in the manga is intensified thanks to a great and powerfully riveting soundtrack. Many people might not take the idea of cooking battles or even a cooking anime seriously, but my God, I can say without exaggeration that some of the cooking battles in Food Wars is just as intense if not more intense than some of grandest of battles in anime and manga devoted solely to fighting and that’s thanks to not only great setup and tension developed through the story, but also just art and music oozing with intensity and suspense.

However, Food Wars’ presentation and art isn’t without dirt in it…

And when I say dirt, I mean lewdness and perversion.

MEAT JUICES!

MEAT JUICES!

Yes, the cooking and dishes in Food Wars is apparently so great that it will send people into fits of orgasms. Now no one actually wets themselves in this show, however, people’s clothes do get ripped off (at least as part of these metaphorical scenes conjured up by foodgasms) and things might get a bit risqué for some viewers. Personally, I don’t mind these foodgasm scenes either way, especially since not all of them involves people’s clothes being ripped off—some of the foodgasm scenes have in them great humor and enjoyable (and mouth-watering) descriptions of the dishes cooked up by Totsuki’s best. I can understand why these lewd foodgasm scenes might turn off people but thankfully the show does tone down on the lewdness and does steer more towards the creative.

In Conclusion

Like I said, Food Wars is a great anime and is definitely one of my favorite shows of the year (or ever). It’s not perfect, but boy is it engaging and boy is it intense. Not only is Food Wars fun and engaging, it might even be educational. So if you still haven’t seen it, go watch it and if you have seen it and love it, congratulations, your taste has just been verified to be good by some schmuck on the Internet.

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