Archive

Lists!

So, how was your holiday? How was your New Years? how was your 2017 in general? Well, mine wans’t any better, which is why I’m glad I’ve got a two week vacation from work coming up in less than two weeks.

If you saw my post from last week, you’ll know two things: I’ve been phoning in my content lately, and I have a brand new kitty stalking around the house. His name is Sgt. Pepper, he’s very lively(cat person talk for annoying) and I’ve done my best to spoil him rotten over the month and a half that I’ve had him.

Why am I talking about him? Because I’m hunched in front of my computer trying to type, and he’s literally draping himself over my shoulder like a scarf right now. Since his claws and teeth aren’t currently digging into me, I’m counting that as a win.

Anyway, the last review that I wrote, which you’ll be enjoying next weekend, was another highly recommended ‘tearjerker’ series, and to it’s credit, I did like it slightly better than Tokyo Magnitude 8.0. But as I sat through it, mystified over the fact that it drew out the sad, devastated tears of so many people, I figured it was way past time that I start telling people what anime gave ME the crippling ailment known as the feels.

The following are ten different anime, both movies and series, that actually made me cry. Technically, this is not my opinion, but pure fact… They made me cry, and in some cases, continue to do so on each viewing. I did, factually, literally cry. If you didn’t experience the same effect, it doesn’t make me better than you… It’s actually completely unrelated to the fact that I’m better than you!

To avoid spoilers, these entries will be brief. I’ll be including any kind of tears, with the exception of anime that made me cry from laughing too hard. That’s not technically a feel.

Let’s go!

10: Cat Soup

While I’m making no bones of the fact that you and I cry over different things, I’ll be the first to admit that this movie is a weird choice. I mean, hell, it’s a weird EVERYTHING. I called it a surrealist masterpiece in my review last spring, and I still hold to that, but thanks to other events that happened this year, it’s become something of a tearjerker for me on a strictly personal note. It’s about one cat traveling to the ends of the earth and defying God to bring another cat back to life, and in the week leading up to that post, I’d been forced to put my favorite pet of all time to sleep after we’d spent two thirds of his life and one third of mine together.

Yeah, remember Shadow, from last week’s post? There’s a good reason I dedicated my review of Cat Soup to him. It’s not a movie most people would get any sort of emotional reaction from… And understandably so… And yeah, this entry is an entirely, objectively personal one, but for me, it’ll always remind me of him.

Oddly enough, so will Kanye West’s Only One.

 

9: Lucky Star

I don’t have to find an entire show emotional in order to consider it a tearjerker. In some cases, it only has to be one particular moment that effects me in a way that the rest of the franchise doesn’t. Lucky Star has one of those moments towards the end of the series, and if you’ve seen the show, you know damn well what that moment was. It involved a special visitor to the Izumi house, and… Heheheh…

Having said all that, yes, I am perfectly aware that the moment I’m describing is not genuine. It exists in it’s own little bubble in the series(even moreso than most of it’s content), it doesn’t really connect to anything, it’s not set up, it doesn’t come back… But I think that’s part of what makes it so effective. It’s completely out of left field, and almost feels like you’re watching a different series. There’s not much else I can say about it, other than your tear ducts don’t stand a ghost of a chance.

 

8: Hell Girl

As I stated in my review back in 2016, this is a show about revenge. Almost every episode, we’re introduced to a villain and a victim, one who does horrible and unspeakable thing to the other, who in turn must suffer. This formula gives us endless opportunities to shed tears over tragic occurrences, as well as tears of joy whenever the aforementioned villains get their deserved comeuppance… Or so we think, until we get an episode where a stalker uses Ai Enma’s revenge services against a nurse that he’s obsessed with so he can send her to hell, kill himself and chace after her there.

Yeah, there’s something for everyone to get disturbed over in this show… The murder of newborn puppies, for example… God, I love how much you can say about this show without really spoiling it. People will be affected by it differently… I’ve been effected by it differently out of my numerous viewings of it… But the one episode that always makes me cry is the one where one of Ai’s former clients, an elderly man whose life is about to end, prepares to meet her for the second and final time. It’s not just a bittersweet time for him, and a huge emotional reveal for the audience, but it actually breaks through ai’s tough facade as well.

But like I said, you’ll find something in this show that’ll tug on your heartstrings. Just trust me.

 

7: Princess Tutu

Ya wanna know what sucks about running this blog? In order to keep up a weekly release schedule for the past four years, I’ve had to heavily restrict my time, and only view what’s necessary. Generally, i’ll watch an anime for a review, watch one or two other anime for fun, and then watch another anime for review, while binging one or two non-anime shows per year. As a side effect of this, I haven’t rewatched a single anime after reviewing it. That’s not an exaggeration, by the way. Look at the list of anime I’ve reviewed, on my Browse page… I haven’t watched any of those shows again since reviewing them. That alone makes me want to cry.

I’m remedying this problem right now, however, and there are two shows I need to rewatch before any others. One of them, that I’m rewatching right now, is Princess Tutu, the magical story about magical stories, and if there’s anyone out there who wants to call me less of a man for loving it and openly weeping through it… Yeah, okay, whatever. It deserves the love, and it deserves the tears. Princess Tutu is a show about characters in a story trying desperately to change their fates, and some of the most emotionally powerful moments in it come from them failing to do so, but succeeding in changing the context of their fates, making for surprisingly bittersweet resolutions.

I first saw this series over ten years ago, and as much as it effected me then, I’m watching it again as a 31 year old and even six episodes in, I’m already feeling choked up for scenes I never felt that way about before, making it officially one of the few anime that was already great, but just got better as I got older.

 

6: From the New World

Hey, remember how we were talking a little while ago about how people all seem to love a good death scene? You know how gut wrenching it is to fall in love with a character, only for them to suffer a tragic end at just the right time to leave us emotionally devastated? Well, try this on for size… How about if some extremely likeable supporting characters leave the show, characters whom you already feel sorry for, and you’re told that they’ve fled for parts unknown, and then it’s revealed a few episodes later(about five years, in the show’s time) that those characters were dead the whole time?

Ho. Ly. Shit. That is not how this is supposed to work. I’ll admit that I didn’t cry the first time I watched this show, but it pulled off it’s twists and turns so expertly and mercilessly that I found myself lying in my bed and staring at my ceiling for hours inbetween episodes. It wasn’t until my second viewing, where I knew where everything was heading, that the waterworks really started.

Right away with this series, I got an uncanny Rainbow Factory vibe, and points to anybody who gets THAT reference. It’s an anime that tells it’s story and makes it’s points better than at least 90 percent of the anime that I’ve seen, and it just so happens to shatter your heart into a million pieces in the process. I highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t already, but if you do, make sure you’ve got some comfort foods and a cuddly pet nearby to help you through it.

 

5: Toradora

Excuse me, Clannad, excuse me, I respect you, I’mma let you finish, but Toradora is one of the greatest romantic comedies of all time! Of all time! Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. I don’t actually have any respect for Clannad. Anyway, this is the second anime I’ve reviewed that I plan to rewatch, as soon as I’m done with Tutu. When I reviewed it, back in 2015, I remember saying that it isn’t just great, it’s glowing, and that’s an assessment I still hold to after almost two years of not seeing it.

Toradora is an extremely emotion-driven show, and it’s not to cover up any logic or plot issues like a show that’ll be appearing later on this list. It’s a series about two social misfits who have fallen in love with people that they acknowledge to be way out of their league, and after discovering each others’ unrequited crushes, they make a pact to help each other land their desired partners, who coincidentally happen to be each other’s best friends. I don’t think it’s really a spoiler to say that they’re actually destined for each other, but whether or not they’ll ever realize it is entirely up in the air.

Toradora is a series that pulls off quite a few impressive feats… In addition to deconstructing and subverting a number of romantic comedy anime cliches, it also captures the feeling of teenage romance… That is to say, how it’s awkward, full of fail, and nobody knows what the fuck they’re doing. There are a ton of individual moments in it that constantly leave me in tears, but the one that stands out among the others is a certain scene during the christmas arc… Yes, there’s an entire Christmas arc… Involving what my memory is telling me was a Santa bear costume, but hey, it’s been a few years. Here’s hoping I enjoy it as much next time as I did last time.

 

4: Kotoura-san

Also known in the states as The Troubled Life of Miss Kotoura, I am honestly dumb-founded by how many people have never seen or even heard of this title. It’s one of the best anime to come out of 2013, which was, let’s be honest, a really great year for anime. I love this series with all my heart, and yet it’s so obscure that Rightstuff was selling the bluray box set for only 22 dollars. Don’t get me wrong, I like buying things cheap, but it’s worth so much more than that.

Haruka Kotoura is a mind-reader. As a child, she thought hearing peoples’ thoughts was normal, as she really didn’t have any basis for comparison. She used her new powers to dominate rock paper scissors and blurt out peoples’ secrets to each other, with no idea that these thoughts were supposed to remain private. This not only alienates her classmates, but it even goes as far as to destroy her family and tear apart her parents, who wind up abandoning her. That’s not even the end of her suffering as a child, it caps off with another truly devastating loss… And that’s just the first ten minutes of the first episode.

The rest of the series takes a lighter tone, as she enters high school and transfers into another school… And if i’m being honest, the middle kinda drags… but the deep psychological scars and complexes continue to plague her character as she tries to reconcile her new happiness with the question of whether or not she deserves it, and the final episode delivers a few perfect pay-offs to everything that’d been set up so far. I love the characters in this show, and I couldn’t help but get invested in all of them, especially Haruka herself. Check it out if you get a chance.

 

3: Angel Beats!

Even if I weren’t so ready to admit that I’m a really strange person, you could probably figure it out just from a cursory glance at my work, let alone this particular post. I cry during the weird 30 minute ova where fish eat cat shit. I cry during the moe space olympics(just wait). My tastes are weird, but if there’s one conventional choice that I have to begrudgingly bow to, it’s Angel Beats. I reviewed it a few years ago, and then I spent an entire post-review-post talking about it’s plot holes, and it’s one of my tear jerkers.

For the most part, I cry at the same scenes you cry at. This is a story about teenagers getting a second chance at life to make up for their disappointing childhoods, so of course a lot of them are going to have tragic backstories, but whoever was writing these little vignettes was NOT fucking around. These backstories aren’t just dark, they’re Steven King dark, and not only do they perfectly inform their characters, but they take on new layers on repeat viewings. I’m pretty sure Otonashi accidentally killed his sister and then walked around in public with her fresh corpse on his back.

And yeah, just like you, I get destroyed by that long, drawn-out, cheesy-as-hell graduation scene. I even cried over characters I didn’t like. I don’t get hit as hard by Kanade’s confession to Otonashi as other people do, but that final credits scene where everyone disappears one by one? The post-credits scene at the end, that was probably stolen from the deleted scenes of The Butterfly Effect? I can talk for hours about how stupid this series is, but that’s when i’m not too busy looking around for a fresh tissue. Does it make any sense? God no. Does it have a consistent plot or premise? Fuck no. But like I said in my review, I just can’t stay mad at it.

 

2: Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust

In case you were wondering, yes, Angel Beats was a fluke. It’s pretty much the only normal choice on this list, and true to form, let’s talk about a vampire movie from the year 2000. The original movie holds a special place in my heart, but the sequel is about 1000 times better. I haven’t seen it in a while… Which is weird, since I haven’t reviewed it… But I distinctly recall it having a feature that I have never seen on any other anime DVD. On the DVD… At least, on the old DVDs, I actually don’t have the recent release… There’s a top ten list of the fan-voted best scenes of the film.

Now, yes, this does sound like a pretentious and entirely masturbatory move, like they’re patting themselves on the back for a job well done, but what can I say? That list actually captured all of the most memorable and resonant moments, especially with it’s pick of the epiloque as number one. The plot is basically that a vampire has run away with a teenage girl, and the titular D is hired to retrieve her. A mercenary faction is also hired, so things get complicated as they compete for the bounty… And then they get even more complicated when it’s revealed that the girl went along of her own free will, and they’re actually in love. No glamour or nothing.

There’s not a lot that I can say about this movie without giving away major spoilers… You really should just go watch it for yourself, it’s only about an hour long… And while some of my favorite scenes could have probably been cut out, like a horse seller putting his career on the line to defend D while dropping a HUGE bombshell about him, I still enjoy every single second of it. It has a ton of great characters that have a ton of great character, and hell, even the stone cold killer D gets some time to be vulnerable and show us that he has an empathetic side. And yes, of course, there’s that epilogue, which was perfect in just so many ways.

 

And now, for some honorable mentions.

Wolf’s Rain:  While I love and highly recommend this show, I’ve honestly never cried while watching it.

Fullmetal Alchemist:  There’s a funeral scene that gets me a little choked up, but not to any impressive degree.

The Ghibli/Miyazaki library:  I may have cried to a few of these, but I can’t remember, and I’m not going to marathon them just for the sake of this list.

Bunny Drop:  I didn’t cry through this, but I came close when I read how the manga ended.  I mean, good God.

Clannad, Air and Kanon:  You kidding me?

Steins;Gate:  You kidding me?

Another:  Fuck this show.

 

1: Battle Athletes Victory

What’s that? You say that I must have misspelled Your Lie in April? No, I most certainly did not. Just wait until next week if you want to see what my thoughts on that mediocre disappointment were. For the esteemed honor of the most tear-jerking anime that I’ve ever seen, we’re looking back at one of my favorite older anime, which I actually reviewed back in July. I went into great detail about why this series is so emotionally powerful, but to repeat what I said there, it’s a show about truth… Mostly, about different characters having to face hard, challenging truths about themselves and the world around them.

Battle Athletes Victory is a series whose feels just sneak up on you. It starts off really silly and over the top, and while it never actually stops being like that(trust me, you won’t want it to), this stupid show that started off with a bunch of teenage girls racing while rick-shawing giant steel wheels behind them pulls no punches as it examines the psychological issues of it’s cast, all of whom you become intimately familiar with over the course of the story, troubling racism aside. This is a sports anime, and there are stages where only a certain number of athletes can move forward, and very few characters are just inconsequentially written out when they lose or get eliminated.

You feel for all of them as they fall into despair, learn more about their identities, and then grow when the story gives them the chance to redeem themselves. The actual issues they go through can range from the simple, like the happy go lucky girl realizing she cared about winning more than she thought, to the main character who learns that she’s arrogantly using self-doubt as an excuse to sabotage herself. This show does Gunbuster better than Gunbuster. If you’re not in tears by episode five, you WILL be by episode seven, and that’s only the beginning. Every defeat every victory, every obstacle, every breakthrough will tear at your heartstrings in ways you never thought it could.

Now if only they’d release the damn show in a new format. There’s, like, eight DVDs of this, and they’re all wildly out of print. I’m not going to insist on Bluray, but at least a thinpack DVD set would be nice.

And that’s my list. If you didn’t see an anime that you particularly found just joyous or heartbreaking enough to draw your salty drops out, tell me about the shows I missed in the comments below.

Advertisements

So, I just saw The Disaster Artist, and it was outstanding. It’s the second best movie I’ve seen this year, right behind Get Out, and I’ve been looking forward to it for at least a year. I’ve read the book twice, with the announcement of the movie happening inbetween my read-throughs, and yeah, they made a lot of changes for the movie. These were mostly good changes, with the only negative effect being that it painted Tommy with way more sympathy than he allegedly deserves, but they were mostly in the interest of tightening up the pacing and telling a good story, so I can forgive them.

But I’m still going to name a few of them, because if I have this knowledge, then as a christmas present to all of you, I’m going to share it!

These are 25 of the biggest changes from the book to the movie!  Oh, but for this post, however, I’m going to assume you’ve already seen the movie, and want to know how things went in the book.  Just wanted to let you know up front.

1: Tommy and Greg did the scene in class, and it wound up being a beautiful trainwreck that the class enjoyed, but the teacher didn’t.

2: Tommy didn’t immediately move in with Greg, he just lent out his unused apartment to him.

3: Greg actually landed a few roles in LA before The Room. He was a featured extra in Patch Adams(meeting Robin Williams), he had a brief recurring Soap Opera role, and he starred in Retro Puppetmaster.

4: Greg and his mother are french. Greg speaks both languages, and can use a flawless French accent, which is how he landed Retro Puppetmaster.

5: Before Tommy and Greg leave, his concerned mother says “No sex.”  Tommy is bewildered by this, and says “What a story!” after they’ve left.

6: Tommy hired another actor to play Mark, and then bullied him out of the part through convoluted means.

7: Tommy and Greg’s friendship was already badly strained before he wrote The Room, what with Tommy becoming jealous of Greg’s limited success and becoming toxic over it.

8: Juliet Simmons got the part of Lisa because she was willing to make out with Tommy for it. I’m not making that up.

9: Tommy was emotionally devastated after seeing The Talented Mr. Ripley, which Greg considered a metaphor for his creepiness.

10: It wasn’t a conversation with Amber that convinced Greg the movie would be bad… He knew it from his first glance at the script, and tried to get out of it.

11: Dan Janjigian had to threaten Tommy to get his paycheck and expense coverage.

12: Tommy didn’t pretend to be Greg’s age. He pretended to be 28.

13: The Birdman story, which served as a potential backstory for Tommy, was not included in the film.

14: Greg wasn’t trying to keep his beard for a Malcolm in the Middle episode. He was trying to wait until after filming to shave, so he could have a better chance of getting work after the film with people not recognizing him from it.

15: Tommy blatantly lied about trying to get air conditioners. He didn’t just refuse to do it.

16: When Claudette’s actor fainted, Tommy actually drove her to the hospital.

17: The costume designer Safowa Bright was a black woman.

18: Sandy and his team left way before production was completed. The movie ultimately had three production teams.

19: At one point while still looking for work, Greg was almost seduced by a male producer, whom he did not name.

20: Tommy attacked Greg for using his french accent, not for asking too many questions.

21: Tommy promised to buy Greg a car after filming. When he showed up with a new camera crew to film some scenes around the city, that was Greg’s new van he was driving.

22: “Hi Doggy” was improvised. Afterwards, he asked the shop owner if the dog was a “Real thing.” Similarly, “How about your sex life” was not in the original script.

23: When Greg is telling Mark’s story about Domestic abuse, he improvised the ‘on Guerrero street’ line to try and piss Tommy off so he’d do a take without laughing, as that location was supposed to be one of Tommy’s secrets.

24: Tommy got his SAG card by filming a commercial for the mysterious company Street Fashions USA.

25: The Room being enjoyed as a comedy wasn’t so immediate. It took the efforts of the first two fans, who fell in love with it after reading a scathing review.

1: There would be OVA episodes
2: RWBY Chibi would be called something more creative.
3: Ruby’s most powerful attack would take multiple episodes to charge.
4: The students would have a homeroom class, instead of just a few exposition classes.
5: In that class, Ruby would sit in back by the window.
6: Right behind Weiss.
7: Characters would get profiles detailing their birthdays, blood types, favorite flowers, etc.
8: One of the characters… Probably Blake… Would be an aspiring manga artist.
9: Ren would make rice balls or pork buns, instead of pancakes.
10: One of the wealthy characters would have their own summer home/private island…
11: On which we’d have at least one beach episode.
12: And at least one onsen/hot springs scene.
13: Or just bathing and showering in general. Seriously, it’s even common in kids anime.
14: They’d also jealously compare bust sizes.
15: Weiss would probably have pigtails.
16: Ren and Nora would be related… Most likely cousins.
17: Nora would likely have a kansai accent.
18: Yang would drink a lot more, and at least once make a reference to Misato Katsuragi’s iconic beer chug.
19: Jaune’s dress would have included a wig and fake boobs.
20: Volume 4 Cinder would be wearing an eyepatch.
21: Roman would be prettier, and have long white hair.
22: Pumpkin Petey’s would come in hundreds of different flavors, including limited editions.
23: Pyrrha would be a terrible cook, and her team would just pretend not to notice.
24: Jaune, on the other hand, would be an unexpected prodigy at it.
25: Beacon would have had school clubs.
26: Instead of barking, Zwei would only be able to say his name
27: Jaune would have a terrible sense of direction.
28: Blake would constantly insert the sound “Nya” into her speech.
29: Tai Yang would have married Summer when she was a teenager.
30: Ozpin would be a horny old man.
31: One of the named students would be Ozpin’s niece/granddaughter.
32: LGBT characters would be portrayed in offensive, obsessive, predatory ways.
33: Jaune would occasionally walk in on Weiss changing and get his ass kicked over it.
34: One of the female characters would be constantly groping her peers.
35: Romances between characters would be teased, but never confirmed.
36: Team RWBY would have an ultimate attack that called upon the power of friendship.
37: Zwei would get his own episode, likely involving a night on the town and silly hijinks.
38: Chibi would have a fraction of the main show’s budget.
39: Volume 4 would have featured an episode involving CFVY, FNKI, SSSN, etc.
40: Grimm Eclipse would include a vs. mode.
41: In addition to Grimm Eclipse, there would be at least one dating game/visual novel.
42: Tai-Yang’s mother would be alive, living with him, and 3 feet tall.
43: It would utilize occasional public domain classical music pieces.
44: They’d save money with close-ups, speed-lines, and extras frozen in the background.
45: People and interiors would be 2D, ships and environments would be 3D.
46: They’d have series recap episodes.
47: Penny’s first word would have been her name.
48: .Beacon would have had cultural and athletic festivals.
49: More characters would wear glasses.
50: It would have been made in Japan.

Ah, Grimm Eclipse. To some, it’s a limited, cheaply made rip-off of Dynasty Warriors. To others, it’s fucking addictive. I am proud to call myself a member of that camp. I got that game and Overwatch this year for my PS4, and when I finally got Playstation Plus, I was able to play them. Since that day, I’ve felt sorry for my lonely, unloved copy of Overwatch, but what can I say? Grimm Eclipse is just too hard for me to put down, and in honor of the recent eclipse, we’re going to talk about it!

Since it hit consoles and I started playing it, I’ve spent an inconceivable amount of time on it, completing it 100 percent after only two months, and yet I still kept playing it. After all that time, I’ve become familiar enough with the material that I’ve decided to share my wealth of knowledge with you. In this post, I’m going to be ranking all eight characters available in the game from worst to best, and I’ll be judging based on a number of factors, including damage potential, special abilities, dash length, weaknesses, and the like. I’ll be exploring their pros and cons, figuring out what they’re good for and where they falter, and ultimately deciding who’s truly the best character.

But keep in mind, none of them are necessarily bad characters. Worst is a relative term. If there is any grouping of diverse entities, the one on the bottom will always be seen as the worst, even if they’re perfectly fine in their own right. Also, you might not agree with my rankings, but I forgive you for that. Nobody’s perfect.

Onto the list!

#8: Lie Ren

Lie Ren is a very strange character, and you have to use him in very specific ways to make him worthwhile. His best attribute is probably the fact that he’s one of the three best dashers in the game, but aside from that, nothing about him is really very impressive. His ranged attack is a hot mess, and even when it’s beefed up, it’s not even powerful enough to justify the time you put into unlocking it. His ultimate attack does decent damage, but it’s unreliable, which is a shame, because you’ll need to rely on it a lot. It works the best when you’re facing individual powerhouse enemies, like Ursas or mutant Beowulves, but if there are multiple enemies on the field, such as in the final battle of Story mode, he can’t be trusted.

On top of that, and I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around this, his heavy attack… Which does decent damage, to be fair… Does recoil damage. Who the bloody hell thought that would be a good idea? His team attack is pretty boss, and he’s quick on his feet, but he’s not a very easy character to master, particularly with the aiming difficulty present in his ranged attack, which is why I consider him the worst character.

 

#7: Pyrrha.Nikos

Despite having a terrible dash length, Miss Nikos probably has the second best ultimate attack in the game, right behind Ruby’s, as they can both kill full-health Beowulfs with one hit, but that’s really all she has going for her. In order to use this character at her full potential, you’ve gotta have a lot of patience, and spend a lot of time wearing down hordes of enemies with her counter before safely moving in for the kill. She is the only character who can counter while standing still, which is her only real special attribute, although highly skilled and intelligent players will be able to use that technique in conjunction with her team attack to overcome her weaknesses.

I’m honestly not a fan of the fact that she has an entire skill tree dedicated to melee attacks, because while she may be decent as a striker, that’s not the kind of technique you want to be using to quickly and cleanly disperse of a large number of enemies. Also, her long range attack is kind of a joke, although it does feature a stun effect. As I said before, no character in this game is technically bad, but I do believe she’s the second weakest of the eight.

 

#6: Yang Xiao Long

Honestly, I kind of consider #6-4 to be very close, almost tied, but with just barely enough differences to distinguish them from each other. Yang could have actually jumped to #4 if she had a good dash length, but she just barely falters in that category. Her special attribute is that she can restore her ultimates by losing health, which sounds great on paper, but it comes with two nagging problems… First of all, that puts you at risk of getting knocked out, and second of all, in oirder to make the best use of this attribute, you’d need to unlock it as well as both extra Ultimate bars, and Yang’s only a considerable threat when all of her skill trees are unlocked.

Yeah, you heard me… Yang is really only a worthwhile character when all three of her skill trees are at the maximum. At level two, her team attack and ranged attack are a joke, and her ultimate is… well, still above average, but nowhere near as powerful as it is at level three. All three of her skill sets are powerful when beefed up, but in order to get there, you need to pour all of her points into them, rendering her defensive and support stats bare, making her a glass cannon. She’s great for kamikaze players, but clumsy with most others.

 

#5: Nora Valkyrie

For the most part, Nora’s an average character. She has one of the worst dash-lengths, is an okay striker, and like Yang, her team and ultimate attacks aren’t really useful unless they’re bulked up. The reason I put her above Yang and the others is that she has the second best ranged attack in the game, and it’s pretty useful even at low levels. Instead of just one attack, she launches a whle barrage of bombs, which gives her move great spread, and can damage multiple enemies at once. True, the damage from this attack gets better with each level up on the skill tree, but the stagger effect alone is really useful against tougher enemies, and it’s the best and fastest way to build up a long hit streak, which is important for both completing challenges and refilling the ultimate bars.

She still has really good Ultimate and Team attacks, as long as you’re able to spare enough points to beef them up. Her ranged attack is more or less fine at level 2, leaving some points for defense and support. Actually, now that I think about it, since it;s so easy to fill up the Ultimate bar with this character, you can actually afford to skimp a bit on the Team Attack, and just rely on ranged and ultimates.

 

#4: Ruby Rose

First off, Ruby is the second of the three characters who have the best dash-lengths in the game, which definitely counts for something. Second, her ultimate attack and Team attack are both totally boss, with her ultimate easily being the most powerful in the game, and she’s also really fast with her combos. She’s a deadly character who’s a lot of fun to play, but she also has one serious flaw: Her ranged attack is an insult to the player.

It can deal out status effects, which is fine if that’s what you’re into, but it has a four level skill tree, and even if you max it out to the fourth level, which is always a VERY time consuming task, it takes two complete rounds to kill a fucking Creeper. I guess the second level is acceptable, just because it stuns, and you can just stop there and pour your remaining points into getting all three Ultimate bars, so she’s still a fine character.

 

#3: Jaune Arc

At first glance, Jaune doesn’t look all that impressive. His dash-length is shit, he has literally no ranged attack, and his ultimate, on it’s own, doesn’t do a lot of damage. But oh, does he make up for all of this. First of all, he’s one of two characters who start out the game with a broken, powerful attack at low levels. His heavy attack is quite a bit more powerful than anyone else’s, both the charged version and the aerial version. They do heavy damage, but on their own, they’re pretty risky. They require you to fight close-range, and if you get crowded and mess up your timing, the results could be devastating for you. Luckily, Jaune has a system in place that makes these moves even more powerful than they already are.

As you already know, Jaune’s ultimate Attack has the power to give your team, or just yourself, stat boosts. The speed boost is a nice little gimmick, fun to use for a bit, but ultimately not very useful. The damage boosts, however, are a godsend. And the best part is that while every other character has an ultimate attack that hits once for the price of a whole ultimate bar, Jaune’s attack instead elevates his regular attacks, so by the time it’s effect has expired, you’ll have already dealt massive damage AND filled your bars back up. Take this effect and add his ability to utilize his own Team Attack set-ups, and you’ve got yourself a perpetual motion machine of bad-assery. Hell, you don’t even need to beef up your heavies at all, so you’ll still have points left over for the necessary support stats.

 

#2: Blake Belladonna

Here we have yet another character that really doesn’t look like much. Her ultimate is powerful, but you need to boost it to a fourth level just to maximize it. That’s not to say the second and third levels aren’t decent or can’t be worked with, but the fourth is still way more powerful. Her team attack is essentially the same as Ren’s ultimate attack, and it works better as a Team Attack. She also has a decent ranged, but not very good Dash-length, and no real special attributes… Unless you know the secret to using her.

See, Blake is a slightly above average character at best, but if you know how to use her to your advantage, she is indispensable when it comes to battling hordes. I can’t even imagine someone getting the Platinum trophy without relying heavily on her. The secret lies within her second level ranged attack, which is by far the best stunning move in the game. It has great range, a decent spread, and it moves through targets, meaning the amount of enemies she can stun is limited only by how many are right in front of you. They’re also instantly aggroed, so if you’re looking to exercise some crowd control in order to keep the hordes away from a node, Blake can do this with ease. Using blake is the easiest possible way to achieve Horde Master, Horde Hero, Crazy Science Machine, The Old Fashioned Way, you name it.

 

#1: Weiss Schnee

Remember when I said Jaune had a broken move really early on? Well, so does Weiss. It only takes one experience point to unlock her second level ranged attack, which does heavy damage, staggers opponents, and can be used rapid-fire to take down enemies before they even get to you. Back it up with her second level Ultimate, which is decent but not overpowered, and you can cruise through campaign mode with those two moves alone.

The third level of each of her skill trees is a freezing attack, which I don’t really see the point of. So, if you stop at level two with each tree, you will officially have her at her maximum damage potential… Yeah, her ultimate only kills about half the life of a Beowulf, but her ranged attack more than makes up for it, with a staggering effect that even works on Mutant Beowulfs. Aside from Blake, she’s the best character to use against both red and white android enemies, and right behind Blake, she’s the second best character to use in Horde battles(especially Mountain Glenn), and she’s able to reach this level of power with six entire experience points remaining, which can be fed into her Defensive and Support stats, making her by far the most well-rounded character in the game. also, out of the three characters with the farthest dash-lengths, she’s slightly better than the other two.

She’s a deadly character for experienced players, the perfect character for beginners, and my pick for the best character in the game.

So, let’s leave all talk about whether or not this movie was any good off the table. I saw it, I hated it, but if I’m being honest, I gave it the benefit of the doubt. It didn’t have to accurately represent the books, it just had to be good on it’s own merits. Some people say it did, some people say it didn’t, whatever. With this post, I’d like to take advantage of my knowledge of this 7 book trilogy(8 if Wind Through the Keyhole counts), which I read very recently, and compare what happened in the books to their interpretations from the movie. This is for people who’ve read the books and want to know what they’re about to get into, and it’s also for people who’ve seen the movie and want to know how literally everything that happened in it was more interesting in the source material.

There are heavy spoilers below, but I’m assuming that if you’re reading this, you’ve already finished AT LEAST the movie or the book series.

1: In the movie, Roland is black. In the book, he was white. This doesn’t really cause any problems, especially since Idris Elba does a fantastic job with the role, but it would have conflicted with one of the book’s late sub-plots, as Roland was supposed to be an alternate universe doppleganger for Stephen King himself.  Since the movie ended on a fairly conclusive note, I think we can safely say this plot point isn’t going to happen any time soon.

2: Opening line
In the movie, when Jake is waking up from a dream, we hear “The Man in Black fled across the Desert and the Gunslinger followed,” which makes no sense, and comes out of nowhere, since we have no idea who’s saying it and we never even see either of them in the desert. In the book, that line is not a psychic message, it’s from the book’s own text, and it describes exactly what the two characters are doing right at the beginning, as the Man in Black flees and Roland follows him.

3: First two books
In the movie, we start things off with the introduction of Earth Jake. In the book, he’s not introduced until book three, as he’s Roland’s third companion. In fact, there are two entire books that are skipped to get to that point, with Roland chasing Walter, going through a village on the verge of ruin, meeting an alternate version of Jake, moving through a tunnel full of mutants, sacrificing that version of Jake, walking miles across a shore line, pulling his first two companions into his world, etc.

4: Jake Chambers
In the movie, Jake is obsessed with drawing pictures of the other world, and everyone thinks he’s crazy. In the books, he keeps having visions, but he keeps them to himself, except for one poem that he writes, that his teacher mistakes for a work of genius. He leaves his home on his own accord, and never returns.

5: Jake’s parents
In the movie, Jake’s dad is dead, a heroic fire fighter, his mother is highly stressed, and his step-father is a dick. In the books, he has his original parents, and his father is a cocaine-abusing hard-ass who wants him to succeed. He actually lays off a bit towards Jake’s departure, believing all of his studying to have over-exerted him.

6: The Man in Black
In the movie, The Man in Black is a constant presence, and is actively involved n everything. In the books, he’s barely present, and only appears on rare occasions, including two different areas of Roland’s backstory. He’s also revealed to have far more names and identities than Walter O’Dim, including John Farson and Randal Flagg.

7: Eddie and Susannah
In the movie, these two flat out don’t exist. In the books, Eddie is Roland’s first companion, a drug addict in deep trouble with the mafia. His second companion, Susannah, is a wealthy black woman with a split personality and two missing legs. The two fall in love in oddly quick fashion and wind up married by book three.

8: Roland’s poisoning
In the movie, Roland is stabbed in the shoulder by the tail of a generic monster. In the books, he’s attacked in the beginning of book 2 by a giant mutant lobster who snaps off two of his fingers and one of his toes, leaving him poisoned. He has to walk for miles along the coast, slowly dying of infection, before finding his companions to help him pull through.

9: Susan
In the movie, Roland’s revenge is set forth by the murder of his father. In the fourth book, Wizard and Glass, which is my favorite of both the series and the entire King bibliography, we go back to his teenage years, where he’s patrolling a western-like town, and the interferences of The Man in Black lead to the death of his first true love, local girl Susan Delgado.

10: The Spheres
In the movie, Walter uses a glowing orb to spy on Roland. In the books, these are far more heavily fleshed out, with a few of them appearing in the story. The black one especially acts as a particular nuisance in The Calla when they find it buried beneath the town church. In his teenage years, Roland discovers the pink sphere, and after the murder of his lover, becomes obsessed with and entrapped by it.

11: The Beam
In the movie, Roland’s journey seems a bit aimless, and you wonder why he doesn’t just sit on his ass and let Walter come to him. In the book, he’s following a specific path that he calls The Beam, that only he and other Gunslingers can sense and follow.

12: Arra Champignon
In the movie, this character is a see-er who helps to decipher Jake’s visions. In the books, she’s not alive in the current timeline, having been assaulted and murdered by bandits after leaving Gilead to birth her child with her outsider husband, against Roland’s father’s wishes.

13: The Calla
In the movie, Jake and Roland spend some time at a random village that’s eventually ransacked by agents of Walter. I’m not sure what they were going for specifically, but the village is reminiscent of Calla Brynn Sturgis, or The Calla for short. It’s a farming village that the low men send soldiers called “wolves” to steal children from every generation or so, returning them as adults with their minds ruined. In an homage to Seven Samurai, the Calla hire Roland and his companions to help them defend themselves against this generation’s onslaught, which they’re able to do with only a couple of casualties. Interestingly enough, the Wolves have been designed after elements of Keystone Earth’s pop culture, and are basically robots designed to look like Dr. Doom, with Lightsabers and Sneetches as weapons.

14: Ka Tet
In the movie, Roland pairs up with Jake because he proves useful, and they develop a bond way too quickly. In the book, all of Roland’s companions… Jake included… Are companions that were chosen by destiny to be part of his ka-tet, a band of warriors that are more like a family. They are all extraordinary individuals from previously ordinary lives, and they all have Gunslinger potential.

15: Oy
Speaking of which, Jake has no animal companion in the movie. In the book, he befriends a Billy Bumbler, a wild animal native to Outworld, who has limited mimicry related speech capabilities, and names him Oy, after his parroting of the word Boy. I know this may sound kitschy, but the Bumbler actually proves himself useful and even a vicious warrior on several occasions. He even dies defeating the final villain.

16: King Arthur
In the movie, Walter tells us that Roland is descended from King Arthur, and his guns are made out of Excalibur, despite this information being completely irrelevant to the new version of the story. In the books, we’re given several hints about Roland’s lineage until it’s eventually confirmed, and none of it is expository or out of place.

17: The Rose
In the movie, there’s a rose painted on a wall at the end. In the books, the rose is an important plot point, as Jake is drawn to it in an abandoned construction lot, as it’s a direct reflection of the status of the tower. Roland and his ka-tet have to go out of their way to protect it, as killing it would destroy the tower.  There’s a long story arc about two of them going back to earth, forming a fake company called the Sombra corporation(which is also briefly referenced in the movie) and buying the lot to keep it safe.

18: Pepsi to Coke
One of the stranger changes on this list is Roland drinking a Coke on the subway. In the books, his first taste of an Earth beverage is a bottle of Pepsi, which he has an animated reaction to the overbearing sweetness of, and which somehow helps to heal him of his poisoning for a limited time. He’s also given tuna fish sandwiches, which he calls tooter fish. Oh, also, he calls sandwiches ‘Popkins.’ Just felt like adding that.

19: The Rat Man
In the movie, Walter randomly yells at someone named The Rat Man. In the books, this is likely supposed to be Gasher, a character who kidnaps Jake and takes him hostage when Roland and his companions are crossing a downed bridge, thus setting off the Lud story arc.

20: Charlie the Choo-Choo
In the movie, while Roland and Jake are traversing the ruins of an old theme park, we see a decrepit train with a happy face on it. This is likely a reference to Charlie the Choo-Choo, a children’s book character whom Jake discovers in the book, and winds up being a hint towards Blaine the Mono, an enemy they’d have to contend and put up with between books three and four.

21: Jake’s development
In the movie, Jake’s development is a joke. He gets one shooting lesson, he possesses a shine(see The Shining), and even though he’s little more than a damsel in distress in the final act, Roland proclaims him a Gunslinger. In the books, his “Shine” is actually a psychic connection that ALL members of Roland’s ka-tet share with one another, although Jake’s is stronger than anyone else’s due to his unnaturally high perception and senses. He does learn to shoot very quickly, but up until he’s suffered, matured and lost a close friend, he doesn’t start to come into his own as a Gunslinger.

22: Connections
In the movie, there are a few connections to King’s other works. We see Cujo, there’s a portal marked 1408, the Shine is mentioned, there’s a Rita Hayworth poster shown. In the book, there are connections all over the place, with a few major ones being Father Callahan from Salem’s Lot, Ted Brautigan from Hearts in Atlantis, Patrick Danville from Insomnia, etc. Even Stephen King himself is a character in the later books.  Mostly, though, connections to the Dark tower are found in other books, rather than in the Tower novels themselves.

23: Your father’s face
In the movie, we get snippets of the lore of the books, including Roland’s mantra about forgetting the face of your father, but it isn’t explained. In the books, this mantra is more of a reference to the traditions and beliefs of the Gunslingers and the line of Eld, sort of in the same line as America with it’s founding fathers. If you fail to behave in a manner that upholds and honors the traditions and teachings you were raised on, it’s said that you’ve forgotten the face of your father.

24: Walter dies
In the movie, Roland kills the Man in Black in a fateful encounter full of Hollywood bullshit. In the books, Walter isn’t even killed by a main character… He’s taken by surprise and eaten by a newly introduced villain, a human/spider hybrid named Mordred, who was recently born and is, if you excuse the spelling, HONGRY. Yep, sorry, but the Man In Black goes out like a bitch by something that a group of children could have conceivably punched and kicked to death.

25: Sequel?
A lot of this movie’s inaccuracies are blamed on the movie being a sequel to the books. This does hold a little weight, as the book series ends with Roland being forced to repeat time and begin his journey anew due to him forgetting to hold onto a crucial item from his past, but this doesn’t explain how his entire backstory seems to have been erased from the lore of the movie. The sequel excuse COULD explain the lack of Eddie and Susannah, but it can’t explain the removal of Susan Delgado from his youth. Oh, and did I mention Walter manipulated him and his father into murdering their own mother and wife, Gabriella Deschain? The fact that Roland is motivated by the murder of his father in this version completely derails the sequel excuse. Complete bullshit.

That was 25 of the differences between the movie and the book series, and I don’t think I included even half of the relevant ones. If you can think of a change that I missed, feel free to post it in the comments below! Thanks for joining me, and may you have long days and pleasant nights.

When people talk about their favorite anime, they’re normally talking about their favorites in regards to series and movies. What I don’t often hear about is their favorite OVA specials. Well, stand-alone OVAs, sure… Be it the old classic three-to-four episode titles that were popular during the eighties and nineties, or entire shows that were unable to release on TV due to their excess of mature, graphic content. But today, we’re not talking about any of that. We’re talking about series relate OVAs.

I’ve always had a fascination with these kinds of OVAs, whether they come as bonus episodes or entire bonus story arcs, and especially regardless of whether they came before, during, or after the series. Being that they aren’t considered a direct part of the series they come with, they’re given their own slots on Myanimelist and are able to be judged separately from the source material, giving them the ability to surpass said material in some circumstances.

And so, I’ve decided to list off a few of my favorites, in an effort to explore a concept that I honestly doubt anybody’s ever done before, and if someone has, I’d love to see a link to it. In the mean time, strap yourselves in for an extravaganza, where we’ll be looking at the best OVAs that anime has to offer. Well, I say that, but it really is just my opinion. Some of them are from anime that I hate, some of them are from anime I love, but they’re all ovas I enjoy watching.

Also, for various reasons I won’t be including any OVAs that also worked as the end of their series, unless I can somehow do so without spoiling anything. Otherwise, you’d definitely see the Steins;Gate ending here, and Wolf’s Rain would be unquestionably #1.

 

10: Another the Other: Inga

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I hate Another. I appreciate it’s great production values, but the story and plot make my blood boil. The mascot character and her goth gimmick were completely pointless to the mafia ghost plot, and the two only managed to connect in ways that were insulting to both parties. So how did the OVA managa to salvage some dignity out of all that crap? Well, first of all, they cut the school plot out of it almost completely, leaving only a couple of brief references, none of which left any hint to the Final Destination feel of the series. Not only did this save the OVA from being bogged down by bullshit, but it also made the mascot character infinitely more likeable, as she’s not a fucking murderer this time around.

You’re gonna see me saying a lot on this list that an OVA has the ability to capture everything that’s good about an anime while avoiding it’s flaws, and while that’s not the case everytime, it’s definitely the case here. The Other captures the high budget animation and brilliant art direction of the series, and instead of building up a mystery that’s going to collapse around us, it focuses on making us like it’s principal(only) characters. It’s able to give us details about their backstory without having to resort to exposition, which is always nice, and those details go a long way in helping us to like and relate to them, so the idea of something happening to either one feels genuinely tragic, and not just shocking due to gore content.

I can’t imagine anyone caring about the fate of the characters in the larger Another series. I can only see people watching it for it’s pretentious Hot Topic appeal and generous portions of over-the-top gory deaths. I can’t picture anybody getting invested in the lives of a bunch of kids who keep submissively coming to a school that they know is out to kill them, struggling to save themselves despite already having accepted their fate, but I can easily see people getting invested in the story of two estranged twin sisters coming together after several years only to face the possibility of being separated in an even more permanent way. If this is an indicator of what Another could have been, then to put it nicely, at least something good came out of it.

 

9: A Certain Scientific Railgun: Someone’s Watching

Well, to be more accurate, the title of this OVA is “Since Misaka-san is the Center of Attention Right Now,” which is a bit too much of a mouthful to say. Personally, I originally thought it was just the 25’th episode long before I ever figured out that it was an OVA, and can you blame me? It just feels so canon, like it fits right there in the story as the cool-down period of the Level Upper Arc. It has the same tone and pacing as any other Railgun episode, and even the exact same animation style, production values and everything. It’s missing an English dub, but other than that, it fits into the series like a glove.

Following the events of the Level Upper arc, where a mysterious criminal enitity was selling artificial power to the level zero students of Academy city, and no, it’s ties to drug trafficking were no accident, Misaka and her friends have returned to their normal lives, as normal as those lives can be. However, Misaka has been jumping at shadows, constantly feeling the unpleasant presence of a new entity watching her from behind, making her feel constantly unsafe and uncomfortable. This inspires her friend and loyal stalker Kuroko to take up the case, investigating the recent urban legend “Someone’s Watching” in an attempt to figure out the source of Misaka’s turmoil.

I’m eventually going to post a review of the first season of Railgun, so I’m not going to bore you just yet with all the reasons I love it so much more than it’s predecessor Index, but suffice to say, Railgun is an anime that I love watching, and this OVA feels like not only a legitimate member ofit’s episode count, but I’d even go as far as to say it’s one of the better episodes, as Railgun is very plot and arc heavy, and this one stands out perfectly fine as a standalone, despite it’s references to the plot that preceeded it. Most Railgun OVAs that I’ve seen ranged from okay to pointless, with this being the only awesome one of the bunch. also, the ending is one of the funniest moments in the series… Nay, the franchise.

 

8: Strike Witches: Operation Victory Arrow

This is another anime that I’m planning to review at some point in the future, although my attempts to do so have resulted in some unfortunate difficulties. I’ve loved the series since 2010, and while it does have an unfortunate reputation for having way too much excessive and sometimes poorly thought out fanservice, I’ve always felt as though it’s strengths in terms of animation, character development and story progression ultimately made up for it. Thankfully, like The Other, this is an OVA that focuses on the best of it’s source title with a reduction of it’s lesser elements.

In this iteration of the series, we’re given three separate episodes, each dealing with different characters and the lives they’re living after the disbanding of the 501st Joint Fighter Wing. In the first episode, the three Karlsland soldiers, Deitland-Wilke, Barkhorn and Hartman receive a visit from Hartman’s twin sister, who brings them new technology to try out. In the second one, Lucchini and Yaeger must attempt to destroy a Neuroi without harming a historical island. Finally, Closterman and Bishop must take care of a couple of refugee children who’s experiences have turned them against the witches. And all of this is framed by the main character, Miyafuji, reading their letters.

First things first, yeah, I’m pretty bummed that Yamamoto and the Orussian girls didn’t make it into this OVA. Everyone loves a good Eila and Sanya story, seeing how their status as a pairing is borderline canon. Having said that, I really can’t complain about what we did get, which is amazing. All three of these stories are compelling and show off the strengths of the involved characters while still challenging them. The fanservice is kept to a minimum, with the show’s notorious panty shots getting almost glanced over during action scenes, and there being only a minute long nude scene in episode 2. Those action scenes, by the way, are beautiful, some of the franchises best. It was nice to see these characters out of their element, even if it cut some characters I would have preferred to see.

 

7: The Lucky Star OVAs

It’s been several years since the last time I watched Lucky Star, and while I was a huge fan of it back in the 2000s, I’m not sure how it would hold up if I watched it now. What I do keep coming back to, however, is the OVA collection, released undubbed a few years after the release of the series proper. At only 42 minutes in length, this OVA collection is a series of short stories from the Lucky Star universe, and since none of the material is from them anga, it feels more like a cast reunion than anything else. It captures the humor of the series, along with the wei… Okay, to be fair, Lucky star never got this weird.

The scenarios we’re given are as follows. First, we get a reminder of the forgettable B-side of Licky Star, filtered through the perspective of a character’s dog. We then cut to Tsukasa struggling to keep up with her more experienced friends in an MMORPG. We also get a few menial but still overblown and melodramatic scenes like a cast volleyball game, a school trip that ends up with the main cast getting lost in the woods, and a live action Lucky Channel, but operhaps the most memorable clips are Kagami having a dream about Konata taking her on the nerdiest Cinderella adventure ever, and a trip to the pet shop that ends in… Let’s just say surreal fashion.

While the clips are mostly comedic… Except for the closing segment, which is a little boring… This ova does a great job carrying over the distinctive personalities and dynamics of the characters. These skits have the feel of the original series, but removed enough that they don’t have to worry about tying into a longer narrative, which was never one of Lucky Star’s strong suits in the first place. Come to think of it, maybe Lucky Star was always better off in 8-10 minute chunks, rather than 22 minute episodes… Well, we’ll save that argument for an actual review. If you’re a fan of the series or the manga, this is an OVA I highly recommend checking out.

 

6: A Little Snow Fairy Sugar: The Play

To tell you the truth, this is a series that I watched very recently. It’s been out for around fifteen years, and I really only knew about it from it’s infamously sugary name and occasional appearances in the first few AMV Hell videos, but I never really picked it up until I saw it for 15 bucks in the Sentai filmworks holiday sale, and I wound up watching it as part of my January vacation from work. I was expecting a dumb, pandering, diabetically sweet series meant to keep little girls quiet while entertaining them with as little effort as possible, but I was surprised to see that it was actually one of the best children’s anime I’ve ever seen. And the OVA at the end was even better.

I won’t spoil the framing device that the OVA uses, because it actually is a pretty big spoiler, but it does feature an event that apparently took place in the timeline of the series. Saga’s class is putting on a play, which was written by one of her classmates. The fairies also put on a play of their own, despite having only recently learned what the concept of a play really is. Their play winds up being a sort of distillation of the original, named Princess and Fairy,” and while we don’t get to see the play from start to finish, we do get to see the Fairies’ interpretation of it, as well as just enough material to tie up the various plot threads of the episodes.

As highly as I regard Sugar, it had a couple of flaws that made me back off from giving it a perfect score. It had a vaguely pedo-ish story arc involving an actor in a bear costume, and while Saga talking to her invisible fairies in front of people made her look crazy at first, the story seemed to drop that piece of logic very early on, so she could have entire side conversations with them and nobody would notice. The OVA manages to avoid both of these problems, despite the fact that it brazenly references the bear storyline at several points. It acts as a call-back to many characters and events, but at no point does any of it feel forced or contrived, and everything works into the plot perfectly.

These special episodes really are a representation of everything that was great about Sugar, with no noticeable drop in quality either for the animation or the writing. True, it doesn’t really represent the more emotional moments in the series, but there are feels to go around in the bookend sections, and the fact that it was able to combine so many elements into one short story while remaining true to everyone’s personalities and dynamic means that it must have been put together with a deft hand by someone who loved and understood the original material.

 

5: Hellsing Ultimate

As a concept, Hellsing has always been awesome. It’s about an anime representation of Dracula being used as a weapon by a secret anti-supernatural organization, although whether he’s being used willingly or not is up for debate. I didn’t hate the first series, but it’s problems were blisteringly obvious, from it’s bare bones animation budget and pointless characters all the way down to it’s pretend plot and terrible, terrible writing. I’m not much of a manga reader, so peoples’ assurances that the manga was infinitely better fell on deaf ears with me, but if the ultimate OVA was as accurate as I’m told, I have to read it at some point.

Hellsing ultimate needs little introduction, as it’s probably the most famous and well known OVA on this list. Not only does it have a higher budget than the first series, it’s also much better directed, and the only real area where the first show trumps it is with the pacing of the first episode. While the two shows start off similarly, with the origin story and subsequent character development of Seras Victoria, but the conflict that we jump into is completely different… Instead of some fake-vampire chip mystery that never gets resolved and an enemy that might as well not exist, we get all-out war with fucking Nazis!  how cathartic after the last couple of years, am I right?

I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen this show in years. I generally tried to rewatch everything on this list before writing about it, but I really don’t have enough time in my schedule to watch an OVA consisting of ten 45 minute episodes. Really, it’s longer than the first series. Luckily, Hellsing Ultimate is damn near impossible to forget, as my favorite moments from the series are still vividly available for replay in my memory, including The Major’s speech, Kari Wahlgren’s performance as Rip Van Winkle, the same character’s outstanding fight with Alucard, and the balls-out invasion of London that results in an unbelievable level of casualties, to name a few stand-outs.

Out of all the OVAs on this list, This is the one that improves upon it’s source material… Second most. Yeah, just wait until number 1. Ultimate is dripping with atmosphere and personality, confidently balancing it’s tone between sensationalist gore and classic terror. Oh, and it feels no hesitation portraying Nazis as warmongering bloodthirsty monsters whose asses are ripe for the kicking, which I can only imagine makes Myanimelist a little uncomfortable. Every fight scene is awesome, no matter how many combatants are involved, and every plot twist will have you screaming, gasping, or in some cases cheering, because why not. I’d keep going, but you’ve probably seen it, and you probably love it.

 

4: Carnival Phantasm

My knowledge of the Type Moon fandom is somewhat limited, but I have experienced the majority of the anime incarnations of the Fate series, from the highs of the first season of Fate/Zero to the lows of the second season of Unlimited Blade Works. I’ve also seen the Tsukihime anime, but it was dog shit and I don’t remember it to any sort of vivid degree. I’ve never played any of the games… Sue me… And I’m vaguely aware that there’s a thing called Melty Blood that exists, among doing other things. I still think I know just enough to enjoy Carnival Phantasm to the fullest, as the humor is well-written enough to not be lost on newbies, at least for the most part.

In any case, this OVA is a non-canon comedy collection featuring the stars of Type/Moon’s various intellectual properties, with the excuse being that a certain Carnival has caused a rift in time and space, allowing people from different worlds to meet, or something. I never could catch all of it, because I was too distracted by the sight of tiny little cat people trying to make serious expressions and nodding their heads enthusiastically, making me laugh so hard that I’m literally shaking while typing this sentence. I may actually break my keyboard before writing up entrant number three.

Thankfully, most of the material is based around the original Fate/Stay night and Unlimited Blade Works, and the Tsukihime material is easy enough to grasp. The skits and scenarios are diverse, but for the most part, it works around one core joke… The Fate universe is super-serious, and this universe is super silly. You might think that would be too narrow a concept to base a two-and-a-half hour series on, but it works, mainly due to the fact that it heavily emphasizes both extremes. It knows how 100% serious Fate was, so everything about it is lampooned and played for laughs in the most ruthless ways possible.

Whether the contestants in the Holy Grail War are drag racing, playing on a game show, trying to survive mundane every-day tasks, dressing up and eating each other, or just watching Lancer die over and over again, this was an idea that couldn’t possibly fail, and you can just tell that Type/Moon is having the time of their lives with it. And hey, if that’s not enough, this OVA comes with it’s own OVAs! Seriously, you can watch the Holy Grail battlers face each other in a Mario Party style game to face the boss Ilya in her Berser-Car! It’s a laugh a minute OVA comedy series, and it couldn’t be parodying a more perfect series.

 

3: Black Rock Shooter

There are two versions of this title available… The OVA, which came first and is about an hour long, and the TV series, which is about 8 episodes long. The tv series had a lot more character development, a lot more background to the mystery of what was going on, and actually took the time to explain itself. The movie was much more contained, only focusing on about three characters, and never explaining how the real world was related to the alternate world where the two badass ladies were fighting. Contrary to what you may have guessed based on that description, the TV series was boring and stupid as fuck, and the movie… well, the OVA, really… Was a lot more engaging and entertaining.

The OVA strikes a really fun balance between the two worlds. The fight world is intense, overblown and action packed, even though you don’t know what they’re fighting over, potentially making it’s story significance feel small. The real world features a much smaller scenario, two high school girls becoming friends and attempting to stay friends, which doesn’t sound like much, but you like them and believe in their bond so much that you want everything to work out for them, which leads to them making a bigger impact than they should. These two worlds work off of each other brilliantly, with one almost seeming to provide depth and meaning while the other provides action and excitement, and they even feel related in some way that’s never explained.

And thank God for that, because the series sacrifices the development of their friendship to try and explain itself, but without that strong dynamic to keep us feeling invested in the story, it all falls flat. The interplay between the two world in the OVA version feels… And I never thought I’d say this about anything… Jarring in all the right ways. To be fair, the animation is just as good with both titles, but ultimately, this is one of those rare cases where the mystery is more intriguing than the truth, as each answer just brought about more questions.

I was unaware, until I started writing this project, that Black Rock Shooter was an offshoot of Hatsune Miku. Apparently, her music got remixed into the instrumental soundtrack of this film. All I knew was that I’d never seen anything like this before. The action is hardcore, the duel animation style is impeccable, and the focus is exactly where it needs to be. This may be a bit of a stretch, but the juxtaposition of the two worlds may be a metaphor of how you often need to fight to keep a friendship going… Even against your friends themselves, sometimes… But at the end, it’s always worth it.

 

2: Spice and Wolf: Wolf and Tail of Happiness

The only “Special episode” entry on this list that isn’t considered one by Myanimelist, Tail of Happiness was the seventh episode the the first season, but for some reason, wasn’t originally aired on TV. It was released alongside the series on DVD, sitting comfortably in it’s proper place in the lineup, fitting in so well with the other episodes that you’d never guess it was an OVA, even though very little that happens in it would be missed had the episode been outright skipped. It’s also my favorite episode of the series, with the two season premieres coming in at second and third, but that has little to do with it.

This episode takes place directly inbetween the resolution of the first story arc and the catalyst of the second story arc, and it takes this time to develop the characters of Holo and Lawrence, as well as to flesh out their relationship as the two of them prepare for the onset of the next leg of their journey. They wander through Pazzio, making deals to endear themselves to the local marketplace, as Lawrence buys Holo new clothes, and Holo tries to offer him her hand, making this feel more like a date than anything else. Oh, and also, Holo struggles to choke down an entire barrel of apples while learning the different values of several coins. The best material here isn’t all mushy.

Actually, you could probably point to this episode as the moment their romance actually began to bloom… And I’m not just talking about the hand holding, as much as Holo wanted to call it the tail of happiness. It also featured a lot of flirtacious doubletalk and innuendo between the two, along with some moments of flustered expressions that had rarely been there before. Lawrence gets jealous, Holo notices, and the entire fandom melts into a puddle of feels. It’s nice to know that while Holo understands the whims of the human heart, she’s not jaded enough to be above them.

They bicker, they banter, they play cute little mind games with each other, they deliver on all the beats of their lovable dynamic without any complicated plots getting in their way. That’s not to say that the plots in this series are, bad, I mean if that were the case I wouldn’t have given it a perfect score. Still, every anime needs an episode like this… Some pleasant downtime to allow us to get better acquainted with the people and wolf Gods tht we’re supposed to be rooting for, and this might just be the most pleasant of its’ kind. I’d tell you more, but wouldn’t you rather have a bite and see for yourself?

 

Honorable mentions!

FMA Premium Collection, FMA Brotherhood 4Koma Theater: I rewatched both of these in preparation for this list, but neither one was as good as I remember.

Toradora Rice Cooker episode: I almost put this in just for the sake it being Toradora related, but honestly, this OVA kinda sucks.

Love Hina episode 25: Unlike the rest of the series, this one sticks close to the manga, which actually allows it to be funny, bare-bones budget aside.

Black Lagoon, Roberta’s Blood Trail: It was kind of fun, and it did a good job integrating the larger cast into it’s story, but the writing just wasn’t very strong.

Sankarea OVA: It actually does manage to fill in some holes from the series, but it’s pretty forgettable. It should have been included with the DVD.

Higurashi Outbreak: It’s easily the best of the OVAs for this series, but like the others, I appreciate how weird it is moreso than how good it is.

 

1: Hey, you know that thing the Nostalgia Critic does where he goes through a list, and then cuts off at the end and saves the #1 slot for it’s onw review the following week?  That’s really lame, right?

Tune in next week for a full review of my favorite series based OVA of all time!

At first glance, it may appear to you that I’ve run out of ideas and decided to pull something out of my ass.  That may have been true with some last year’s January posts, but to tell you the truth, I’ve been putting this list together since September with the explicit intention of starting off 2017 with it.  Why?  Because I have really weird ideas, and if I feel strongly enough about them, I act on them, damn the logic.  I want you to know me a bit better, and if that doesn’t interest you, that’s fine, I’ll have a full review up next week.  For the rest of you, the readers who keep pushing this blog above and beyond it’s limits, I’d love to hear more about YOU in the comments.

Let’s go!

1: While I was born at Langley Airforce Base, Virginia, I’ve lived in New York since I was 3.
2: I’m thirty years old, and my birthday is March 12.
3: I have Asperger’s Syndrome, a high functioning form of Autism.
4: I don’t monetize this blog, I earn my living from a full-time retail job.  I do sell on Ebay, though.
5: I am Asexual. I came out on social media one year ago this week.
6: There’s also a distinct possibility that I’m Aromantic, but I’m not sure yet.
7: Politically, I’m an Independent who leans slightly Democratic.
8: My favorite food is Chicken Parmesan.
9: My favorite beverage is Limeade.
10: I hate mayonnaise and caramel.
11: My favorite anime is Fullmetal Alchemist 2003.
12: My favorite wrestler is Shelton Benjamin.
13: My favorite movie is Big Fish.
14: My favorite TV show is Firefly.
15: My favorite animal used to be frogs, then it was rhynos, now it’s frogs again.
16: My favorite cartoon characters are Donald Duck and Daffy Duck, the original Angry Birds.
17: My favorite subjects in school were the writing/reading ones.
18: My least favorite subject was French.
19: My favorite video game is TMNT 4: Turtles in Time for the SNES..
20: I have two cats… A 12 year old mix, and a 15 year old Maine Coon.
21: I’ve cosplayed Alucard, Maes Hughes, Auron from FFX and Rorschach.
22: I have a sizeable collection of Pop Funko figures.
23: I’m a huge fan of Gold Peak tea. Some might even say a snob over it.  Green and Peach are the best.
24: I’ve tried two GP flavors that they don’t sell in stores… Pomegranate and White Citrus.
25: As well as 2 limited edition flavors, Summertime Lime and Harvest Pear.
26: According to Pottermore I’m a Gryphondor, but other tests have called me a Slytherin.
27: I only read Harry Potter for the first four books, and lost interest before 5 came out.
28: I don’t read very much manga. I only collect 1 or 2 series at any given time.
29: I’m weirdly drawn towards women named Rachel. I blame Animorphs for this.
30: I can’t stand ‘true otaku’ challenges on Facebook. They’re easy to the point of condescension.
31: My first anime was Adventures of Nemo in Slumberland, although I didn’t know it was anime until later.
32: I won’t say what site they’re on, but I have a ton of terrible Cardcaptors fanfics available online.
33: I’m a Protestant, and a member of the United Church of Christ.
34: I was an atheist until the age of 24.
35: A lot of my early manga exposure came via my local library. Azumanga Daioh, Love Hina, Chobits and Excel Saga were the big ones.
36: As much as I love Haruhi Suzumiya, I’ve never seen it in broadcast order.
37: My reviewing style was largely inspired by Jesuotaku and The Nostalgia Critic.
38: I did Theater in school, appeared in Pippin, and am a 3 star thespian.
39: I’ve never broken a bone or had non-dental surgery.
40: I used to be so obsessed with Pokemon that my first GF broke up with me over it.
41: And yet, I’ve never played Pokemon Go.
42: Possibly because I’ve never owned a cell phone.
43: On the rare occasion that I prank someone, I can be particularly nasty.
44: My late Grandfather fought in WWII, and said Patton had a really foul mouth.
45: My first job, I put “Fanfic author” on my resume. I’ve kept this job for nearly 13 years.
46: I attempted to do video reviews, but I sucked at it, and hated the entire process.
47: I have a steel Christmas tree stand set aside as my Zombie Apocalypse weapon.
48: I hate months that contain five Saturdays, because they make me do extra work.
49: I don’t believe in illegally streaming anime, unless there’s no other available option.
50: I believe that everything that happens in a fictional universe must be taken aat face value as a distinct possibility in that universe, even if it was meant to be comedic, no matter what that possibility implies. Everything that happens, happens, and cannot be ignored.

Manga/Anime Essays

I have strong opinions about Japanese cartoons

YAHARI BENTO!!

In Depth Anime/Manga/LN analysis & some reviews in one blog/box. Which one would you like to eat in Yahari Bento?

I drink and watch anime

Anime drinking games pretending to be reviews

Manga Toritsukareru Koto

"We are not obsessed. We just need anime and manga in our life."

Anime Girls NYC

Anime all day everyday!

100WordAnime

Anime blog discussing seasonal anime, reviewing older anime, and creating features and top 5 lists about anime.

The Fullmetal Narcissist

Your home for in-depth anime reviews!

Otaku Nate's lost worlds of Anime

Taking you to Realms unknown in the anime spectrum!

Fujinsei

Embrace Your Inner Otaku

The Houston Aspie Blogging Collective

We're aspies and we know it.

LMG comic updates

Find the webcomic at lmgcomic.com

nolazyway

Anime, Manga and Reviews

watchmemakestuffs

My site about cosplay

Lily Art

Where Imagination Runs Free

Classic Anime Blog

This WordPress.com site is the cat’s pajamas

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging