Anime Lounge #18: Death Note Ep. 6 – 12

Series: Death Note

Episodes: 6 to 12

Premise: A young man named Light Yagami is bored and incredibly gifted mentally. He’s looking for things to do outside of hacking the national police database and is preparing to go to law school for a career in criminal justice. One day, while in school, he happens to notice a strange book appear outside. He opens it and finds a shinigami, named Ryuk, that’s bound to follow the person who finds it. Light’s discovery and subsequent dealings with Ryuk and his Death Note begin the twisted tale of justice as a means to an end.

Is it worth watching?: YES. This is one of the best anime to be released in the past 20 years. It’s got everything you could want: Suspense, drama, several murder mysteries, a plot that makes you question life choices and characters to root for.

Breakout character: Misa Amane. Say what you will about the second Kira, but she is the breakout star here. She immediately makes an impact on Light, good or bad, and she joins the story permanently at a crucial time.

Best episode: “Overcast,” Episode 7. Light finally succeeds in convincing the watcher that he has always had less than noble ideals as he commits a shocking murder. Not only is the person he murders shocking, but also the way that he kills the person using the Death Note shocking: He causes them to commit suicide with his written command. This was the point at which you ceased to sympathize with Light in any way, but it now makes an interesting mystery even deeper because it’s now a race to see just how long Light will get away with his crimes as Kira.

Where it’s going?: The heat ramps up on Light as Kira, as he will have to juggle discovering there’s another Kira, L’s continued investigation and his life otherwise.

Otaku Corner: Cosplay is not Consent Vol 2

Con foolishness: Full metal wildin’ out at anime panels

Trigger warning: This article contains descriptions of stalking, intimidation and sexual assault. Unless otherwise stated, the individuals mentioned are to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in courts of law.

In 2017, the #metoo movement made major impacts in various areas of society from public and private sector occupations to various forms of entertainment to empower women. Our geek culture has felt these reverberations in comics, movies and video games. The anime industry has also felt this impact recently, but not in a good way. As an anime fan and convention-goer, I have heard stories of non-consensual acts toward women at various cons without faces of accused individuals being presented. As of 2019, I have found four individuals publicly accused of these acts, ranging from regular con attendee to voice actor. I do not take any pleasure in presenting these individuals, but their actions have placed the anime industry in America in dire straits.

Matthew Masumi Toyotome: According to Anime News Network and Shasta County News Source, the 27-year-old Riverside, Calif., cosplayer was caught on security video pouring gasoline on fellow cosplayer Julia Monero Jenkins’ car. The resulting fire engulfed not only her car, but also several other cars belonging to attendees attending Anime LA in January 2019. Upon further investigation by police, it was discovered that Toyotome began stalking Jenkins after they stopped doing a YouTube series together and she left a Power Rangers cosplay group that they participated in. Toyotome was arrested without incident at his home and was held on bail ranging from $250,000 to $1 million.

Eric Torgersen: ANN’s Lynzee Loveridge reported that the former chairman of the Atlantic City, N.J., AnimeNext convention was being investigated by its board of directors after multiple allegations of sexual harassment by female staffers. The allegations ranged from inappropriate comments and touching, offering alcoholic drinks to underage staffers, to incidents that left irreparable relationships with musical guests, which caused negative publicity for the convention. Loveridge’s article mentioned that when concerns were made, the board of directors gave Torgersen a warning to watch his conduct. Despite the warning, staffers who were interviewed stated that Torgersen’s behavior continued. A staffer known as “A” alleged that they were threatened by Torgersen to “mind my own business or I would be sorry.” ANN attempted to contact Torgersen via Facebook for comment but was unable to do so. ANN was able to reach AnimeNext’s current chairman of the board of directors Keenan Slobodzian, who stated that the internal investigation was still ongoing. Slobodzian also confirmed that Torgersen was no longer on the board of directors but declined to state if he was still part of AnimeNext staff.

Ryan Kopf: Known as “the president of anime,” Kopf is the founder/CEO of Animecon.org, an organization that runs conventions in Minneapolis, Chicago and in other Midwest towns. Recently, staff from Anime Milwaukee banned Kopf from future events after an alleged sexual assault that took place at its con in February 2018. AMKE staff made a statement to ANN that Milwaukee police were called by Hyatt Regency hotel staff per their protocol, which resulted in Kopf and all animecon.org promotional material removed from con space and hotel property. In a statement to ANN, Kopf denied the incident stating, “When attending Anime Milwaukee in 2018, I was always in the company of at least one of my staff members. We were not approached by anyone and we were not asked to leave. The precise nature of these allegations remains [sic] unclear to me. I have not done anything improper at either of these events, and I fully intend to pursue holding accountable those who have continued to repeat defamatory statements about me.” As of GI press time, Kopf and his organization remains, despite calls for his removal from animecon.org and potential guests’ boycotts.

Mignogna
Rial

Vic Mignogna: The 56-year-old voice actor, best known for his roles in the Fullmetal Alchemist series, Bleach, Dragon Ball Z movie series and RWBY, was accused in February 2019 soon after the release of Dragon Ball Super: Broly of inappropriate conduct toward anime fans in addition to homophobic behavior. Mignogna was also accused by fellow voice actors Monica Rial and Jamie Marchi of inappropriate behavior, which led to many major conventions canceling his appearances and licensing companies Funimation Entertainment and Rooster Teeth removing Mignogna from future projects. According to Gizmodo’s Beth Elderkin, Mignogna made numerous apologies in public and private but decided to take legal action against Rial, Marchi and Funimation in April 2019. During the trial, anime fans drew battle lines for and against Mignogna using hashtags #KickVic and #IstandwithVic. On Sept. 6, 2019, 12 of the charges against Rial, Marchi and Funimation were dropped, which lead to Judge John Chupp to order mediation because of ongoing threats made to him and involved parties. On Sept. 17, 2019, Chupp dismissed all remaining charges against Rial, Marchi and Funimation. On Oct. 24, 2019, Mignogna filed an appeal against dismissal of his lawsuit, which was approved on December 11. At GI press time, no further court date was available.

I have gripes with all four of these individuals, which requires going in order. First, Mr. Toyotome. What the hell, sir? Your foolishness not only endangered lives, but also damn near destroyed a convention that infuses a local economy. You owe those con-goers, organizers of said con and your ex-friend numerous apologies and restitution.
Next, Mr. Torgersen and Kopf. You used your positions as con organizers to commit behavior not even the most heinous of geek villains would approve of. Apologize and leave the con scene, immediately. Finally, Mr. Mignogna. I can’t find words to say that you fracked up ROYALLY. I followed your story as it developed to possibly give the benefit of doubt, but the calls for you to resign and the court ruling sealed it for me. As much as it is painful, I believe that you are blessed enough not to be behind bars. You need to leave the voice artist business.

I apologize for this long piece but as a fan of all things geek and just, I could not give these individuals quarter for their actions. If our fandom has toxic behavior toward women, WE ALL LOSE. This is why the #metoo and cosplay is not consent movements still exist as well activists like Sean McGuinness, who do excellent lectures on the con circuit to inform fans. I hope not to make this a regular theme for GI, but if need be, so be it. GI folks, now that you know better, do better.

Brandon Beatty is editor at large of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb [at] gaminginsurrection.com

Anime Lounge #17: Junjou Romantica 2

Series: Junjou Romantica 2

Episodes: 1 to 12

Premise: Junjou Romantica is broken up into three storylines: Romantica, Egoist and Terrorist. Romantica is the story of main couple Misaki Takahashi and Akihiko Usami, who are brought together by Misaki’s older brother, Takahiro, so that Akihiko can tutor Misaki for college entrance exams. It happens that Takahiro announces at the meeting that he is getting married. Akihiko and Misaki are upset for different reasons: Misaki, because it means he is losing his brother somewhat after the death of his parents; Akihiko, because he is in love with Takahiro. Romance commences, with a reluctant Misaki along for the ride. Egoist focuses on Nowaki Kusama and Hiroki Kamijou’s developing relationship. Nowaki is considerably younger than Hiroki, who is a classic Japanese literature professor. Thus, their relationship centers on their everyday struggle to be a couple on equal footing. In Terrorist, Yo Miyagi and Shinobu Takatsuki become reacquainted after the end of Yo’s marriage to Shinobu’s sister. Shinobu is in love with Yo, but Yo doesn’t take him seriously. The resulting relationship between the two is interesting and deals with their pasts as brothers-in-law and their age difference. One protagonist in each couple knows of another in another couple. For example, Akihiko was in a relationship with Hiroki and Hiroki works with Yo.

Is it worth watching?: Yes. If you love romantic stories, this is probably for you. A word of caution, though: If you do not like yaoi, do not watch because the series’ relationships are all between men. If you are comfortable with it, you’ll come to love the characters and their relationship struggles.

Breakout character: Misaki Takahashi. He finally starts to come out of shell and become a little more open in his relationship with Akihiko. Instead of super shy and awkward Misaki, he’s a little more comfortable with being in an openly acknowledged relationship with Akihiko.

Best couple: Misaki and Akihiko. Despite their weird quirks, and them being the main focus, they are the most endearing of the three couples. Hiroki and Nowaki are the most serious, and Yo and Shinobu are the most realistic of the three. Misaki and Akihiko also happen to be the most fun of the three couples.

Where it’s going?: The three couples have issues to work on separately, but most importantly, Misaki’s time with Akihiko will be coming to an end now that he’s approaching graduation … or will it?

Anime Lounge #16: Kaichou wa Maid Sama Ep. 13-26

Kaicho wa Maid Sama wraps up love saga

Series: Kaichou wa Maid Sama

Episodes: 13 to 26

Premise: Misaki Ayuzawa is the student council president at a formerly all-boys high school. She also works at a maid cafe on the side to earn money to support her family. Misaki has problems relating to the male members of her class so she comes off a little more than brusque and overbearing. One of her classmates, Usui Takumi, happens upon her by chance as she’s being intimidated by a group of men. It just so happens that he comes to her rescue as she’s working so he learns her secret. Thus, begins the saga of Misaki and Usui, she trying to keep her secret and he trying to get her to open up to him. It’s obvious from the beginning that Usui is in love with Misaki but she’s about the only person in the cast that doesn’t realize it.

Is it worth watching?: Yes. The humor makes up for the slow pace of the story, but the payoff at the end of the series is worth waiting for over 26 episodes.

Breakout character: Misaki Ayuzawa. She’s the lead in this romantic comedy so she should be standing out at some point. Ayuzawa comes into her own by the end of the series, and you see her development as the main character come along nicely.

Funniest episode: Episode 26, “Too Cruel Ayuzawa & Usui the Idiot!” Not so much funny as it is a great way to wrap up the story in the anime adaptation, Episode 26 is one of the best payoff scenes in a recent anime. The way the story comes together to the inevitable finale — which you knew was coming after the first episode — is well done and satisfying.

Where it’s going?: This is the finale for the series but the story continues on in the manga with a nice epilogue.

Anime Lounge #15: Yuri on Ice!!

Get ready to skate

Episodes: 1 to 12 (all)

Premise: Professional figure skater Yuri Katsuki is in a career slump, suffering his worst defeat during the Grand Prix. Yuri’s confidence has hit rock bottom and he’s thinking of giving up and quitting skating for good. But he’s visited by his idol, fellow skater Victor Nikiforov, after a video of Yuri performing Victor’s signature routine goes viral. With Victor’s tutelage, Yuri works to get back into performing with a renewed vigor. Yuri’s efforts to become something better and his work toward developing relationships and confidence in his work and himself are documented.

Is it worth watching?: Yes. The story is hilariously played out, from Yuri’s struggles to stay in skating shape to his awkward attempts at befriending fellow skaters. The serious side of the story is also worth noting as it showcases what pressure to succeed can do to even the most confident of us all.

Breakout character: Yuri Plisetsky. The other Yuri, known as Yurio, is good and he knows it. He manages to steal every scene he’s in, whether he’s impressing with his brilliant skating prowess or creating a new depth of rudeness to everyone around him.

Funniest episode: Episode 10, “Gotta Supercharge it! Pre-Grand Prix Final Special!” The end of the episode reveals the motivation for Victor to come to Japan to train and teach Yuri. The scene is shown through flashbacks and gets increasingly funny as it goes forward. Yuri’s convincing of Victor to train him is right in line with their relationship: Surprising yet obvious.

Where it’s going?: With the end of the first season and Yuri’s move to St. Petersburg, Russia, to continue training, the ending was left open for a future sequel season and there is a movie in production. That season has been announced, so it remains to be seen just where Yuri’s career will take him and what he will have finally accomplished in his renewed state.

Anime Lounge #14: Death Note Ep. 1-6

Death Note-animeAnime-LoungeSeries: Death Note

Episodes: 1 to 6

Premise: A young man named Light Yagami is bored and incredibly gifted mentally. He’s looking for things to do outside of hacking the national police database and is preparing to go to law school for a career in criminal justice. One day, while in school, he happens to notice a strange book appear outside. He opens it and finds a shinigami, named Ryuk, that’s bound to follow the person who finds it. Light’s discovery and subsequent dealings with Ryuk and his Death Note begin the twisted tale of justice as a means to an end.

Is it worth watching?: YES. This is one of the best anime to be released in the past 20 years. It’s got everything you could want: Suspense, drama, several murder mysteries, a plot that makes you question life choices and characters to root for.

Breakout character: There are four: Light, Misa, Ryuk and L. Each of the four is central to the story and yet, all manage to steal the show in their own way.

Funniest episode: Episode 1, “Rebirth.” The opening episode finds Light interacting with Ryuk once he obtains the Death Note, which is hilarious for several reasons. Light doesn’t seem to be that enthralled with a death god near him and he immediately uses his powers of deduction and reasoning to come to several conclusions about the Death Note and its usage. Their interaction is always fun and serves to set up the way the rest of the series flows ultimately.

Where it’s going?: Light is in control for the first few episodes. He’s still learning the ropes with the Death Note and understanding how it works, and what kind of justice he can enact: Righteous or malicious. How Light continues to succeed in staying hidden and not getting caught is the name of the game going forward. It’s worth it to watch to see just how Light stays ahead of the game and avoids suspicion from the most talented investigator in the world, L.

Otaku Corner: Death Note Vol. 8

L continues to inspire justice in Death Note Volume 8

Brandon-2012-cutoutFour years after his death, the world’s greatest detective L continues to challenge Light Yagami in the most intense  game of cat and mouse via his successors. Will L and company triumph or will Light have the last laugh? The answer to these questions awaits in Death Note Volume 8: Target.
Written by Tsugumi Ohba, drawn by Takeshi Obata and published by Viz Media, Death Note Volume 8 lives up to its subtitle. At the end of Vol. 7, we left Light (Kira/the second L) — the newest member of the NPA’s intelligence bureau — unchallenged in making his idea of a crime-free world come to fruition. However, he was unprepared for a two-pronged attack from Mello and Near, L’s true successors. Mello joins with an organized crime group to kidnap Light’s sister, Sayu, while Near gains the support of the president of the United States to form the SPK (Special Provision for Kira). Both parties’ main objective is to capture Kira and the Death Note.
For a brief period, Light and Near cooperate to rescue Sayu while Light’s father, Soichiro, leaves for Los Angeles to deliver their Death Note to Mello’s henchmen. Although Sayu was safely recovered, the notebook fell into the hands of Mello, allowing him and the gang’s boss, Rod Ross, to eliminate individuals who sold various illegal goods without Ross’ permission as well as three senior members of the SPK.
As the psychological warfare continues, U.S. President David Hoope gets thrown into the fray via Mello, whoDeath Note Vol. 8 cover states that his group would give the U.S. Kira’s notebook in exchange for funding, weapons and shared use of the SPK’s satellites. Facing a potential global crisis, President Hoope briefly complies with Mello’s requests but also notifies Light. Light promised to protect the president but also requests use of special forces soldiers to combat Mello and his group. Unfortunately, Mello was able to use the shinigami Sidoh to eliminate the soldiers at the same time President Hoope was eliminated, possibly by Kira (aka Light).
Volume 8 continues the tried-and-true formula that made Death Note a smash success: A great storyline that combines action and mystery with elements of supernatural horror. I still can’t keep my jaw from dropping to the floor when I read about Light and his plans to keep him steps ahead of the task force, Mello and Near while acting as L and Kira. As Death Note continues, you will form a view of Light Yagami: On one side, you admire Light’s intelligence and his just goal to make the world a better place, while on the other side you despise him and root for his downfall.
The art by Obata-san is flat-out awesome, from character design to the locations in America. You will have to give Mello and Near credit; they’ve made some game-changing moves of their own such as Near letting Light take the lead while he still has authority over U.S. law enforcement, while Mello uses the mafia and resources to force the U.S. president to give him money and other support to slow down Kira and Near to stay on top. Viz media, again, did an excellent job of adapting and translating, this time entrusting both tasks to Tetsuichiro Miyaki.
Volume 8 continues the nonstop battle of good vs. evil with the victor claiming the  weapon to END all weapons. While reading, I felt like I got a front-row seat to a three-way battle of devious minds that are determined to be triumphant. Who will prevail?

Brandon Beatty is editor-at-large of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached via email at brandonb@gaminginsurrection.com

Anime Lounge #13: Free!

Free -- Anime Lounge

Anime-LoungeSeries: Free!

Episodes: 1 to 12

Premise: Three friends — Haruka, Nagisa and Makoto — decide to begin a swim club after a fourth in their group, Rin, reappears in their lives after living abroad and rejects their offer to swim together again. The trio recruit another member, Rei, into their club and begin in earnest to resurrect their old swim club and try to make it to Nationals.

Is it worth watching?: Yes. It’s got competition and friendship, which is standard for most anime these days. Also, if you’re into that sort of thing, the animation used in the muscles in this swimming anime is expertly drawn.

Breakout character: Rin Matsuoka. Rin comes across as a pretty dark jerk, but he’s got his reasons for staying away from the group. He’s interesting and he’s written well because of the realistic way in which he comes back to his roots after a long absence. The struggle is there but the way he manages it makes it worthwhile to keep watching.

Funniest episode: Episode 4, “Captive Butterfly.” It’s all about teaching one of the club members to swim, which is kind of the point of having a swim club in the first place. We won’t reveal which member can’t swim, but the efforts to teach are what make the episode hilarious. Also, searching for the perfect swimsuit in the episode also end in hilarity.

Where it’s going?: The Iwatobi High Swim Club trains hard to make it to Nationals. Their efforts will not go in vain, we promise, and it remains to be seen if they can patch things up with their former friend Rin. How they go about reaching these two goals is the best and brightest part of acquainting yourself with Free!

Top 5 on The Strip: Burning anime questions

Big O

1. Big O

What was the event that caused the amnesia 40 years before?

It’s hinted that an event caused everyone in Paradigm City to lose their memories. Every so often the city resets itself, but it’s also explained that a worldwide catastrophe is the cause of the amnesia, and that reality in the series is a virtual reality that resets because of Angel. Also, there is speculation that Roger Smith aka The Negotiator is a robot, but it is never confirmed.

Oreimo

2. OreImo

Which girl did the main character wind up with? And did his parents ever approve of his sister’s eroge collection?

The main character, Kyosuke, basically enters a harem situation with several girls in his life, including his sister, Kirino. All squickiness aside about the potential incest angle, the situation with the girls proves a point about siblings growing apart and then coming together again with maturity. As a side note, their parents find out that Kirino is an otaku and collects eroge but Kyosuke manages to defuse the situation and save Kirino’s eroge collection. The main question there, however, is did her parents ever realize that the eroge collection was, in fact, Kirino’s and that she still had it?

Cowboy Bebop

3. Cowboy Bebop

Did Spike actually die at the end?

Speculation has run rampant that Spike Spiegel, the main character of Cowboy Bebop, didn’t die in the final duel that he has with antagonist/main rival Vicious. According to some fans, Spike managed to survive his gunshot wounds after being shot down in the climactic clash at the Vicious’ headquarters and lived to see another bounty. Personally, we don’t believe so. He was very clearly shown to be dead as well as Vicious and the woman they were fighting for. Spike knew the battle was going to end one way and there was no coming back to Jet and the Bebop.

Legend of Korra

4. Avatar: The Legend of Korra/Avatar: The Last Airbender

Who is Suyin Beifong’s father? Who is the mother of Zuko’s daughter?

Popular characters from Avatar: The Last Airbender Toph Beifong and Fire Lord Zuko each present some interesting questions in relation to their future offspring. It’s stated that Toph has two children that you see in the series, Republic City Chief of Police Lin Beifong and Zaofu matriarch Suyin Beifong. The women mention separately that they have different fathers that neither knew. While Lin’s father is briefly talked about, Suyin’s is not. Zuko, on the other hand, is shown to be in a relationship with Mai at the end of The Last Airbender and to have a daughter who takes on the Fire Lord throne in Legend of Korra. This begs the question of who is the mother of his daughter, Mai or someone else? These questions are never answered.

Bleach

5. Bleach

Does Aizen actually carry out the full 20,000-year sentence?

While we do know that Sosuke Aizen is sentenced to his long stay in prison at the end of his arc in Bleach, we don’t know if he will ever carry out the full sentence. It’s probable that the villain will, given that souls do not die or age like normal in Soul Society and he was empowered by the Hōgyoku, which renders the person infused with it effectively immortal. Even though he was let out of prison in the final act of Bleach, it’s implied that he was effectively held to serve the entire sentence.

Anime Lounge #12: Special A Ep. 1-12

Special-A-1-13

Anime-LoungeSeries: Special A

Episodes: 1 to 12

Premise: A group of extraordinarily talented students are isolated in their school. The group is comprised of the top seven students from each class at Hakusenkan: Kei Takishima, Hikari Hanazono, Jun and Megumi Yamamoto, Tadashi Karino, Akira Toudou and Ryuu Tsuji, and they’re the best of the best within each class. Kei and Hikari, ranked No. 1 and 2, have a longstanding rivalry dating back to childhood and constantly compete against one another in every thing they do. Whether it’s academics or sports, Hikari’s goal is to one day surpass Kei. What Hikari doesn’t realize is that Kei is completely in love with her.

Is it worth watching?: Yes. It’s a major accomplishment when you can tackle a subject such as class warfare and in the same scene have a hilarious gag that makes a viewer laugh out loud. It’s great at being the serious and lighthearted simultaneously, which makes it worthwhile to follow through with the antics of the smart kids.

Breakout character: Kei Takishima. Kei has it all, quite frankly. So why he continues to persist in chasing dense Hikari, we’ll never know. But Kei is the breakout character here because, try as he might, the one thing he is never successful on the first try is getting Hikari to understand his feelings for her. However, Kei is a smooth talker and one of the funniest characters in the series. He’s that likable, which is great considering he’s the lead character.

Funniest episode: Episode 7: “Sensitive ~ Thickheaded.” Hikari tells Kei that she will tell Kei just what she said about him in the previous episode. Since Kei is keen to hear this info — he’s in love with her — Kei engineers a contest that he knows he will probably win with Hikari’s talk being the prize. How he gets her to open up and the lengths he goes to, to get the information from Hikari are absolutely hilarious. Kei will stop at nothing to get her to tell him how she feels about him.

Where it’s going?: Half of the series is left and there are some obvious questions that need to be answered: How does Hikari really feel about Kei? How do the others in the group feel about their potential pairing? Will they actually get together? And how the others in the group faring in their own lives and with each other? The pace picks up in the latter half of the series and it becomes the focal point of the show how things will end between the main characters and their friends.