Glorious Zipang

All the excitement of a documentary
by Bolt Vanderhuge

I have somewhat mixed feelings about this anime. On the one hand it’s an interesting take on the premise of the movie Final Countdown which features a modern Japanese Aegis destroyer named Mirai being transported to WWII rather than an American aircraft carrier, but on the other it tends to really slow its own plot and action down for the sake of philosophic discussion or just for the sake of military fanservice. This isn’t to bash on this series exactly, because I can totally go for slow, philosophical plots, or discussing the features and capabilities of both modern and WWII era ships and aircraft, but this can get kind of frustrating when it has the effect of slamming the brakes on everything else that’s trying to happen in the story.

Some of this comes from agonizing over whether it’s ethical to even defend themselves or to rescue anyone from this time period they see in distress as it might alter that timeline. This could be a cultural difference, as I doubt an American ship in their place would hesitate as much, and would probably be more concerned over how irreplaceable any resources might be. There’s also the awkwardness that comes from finding yourself in a shooting war with people you’ve grown up all your life thinking of as allies (their ship is even based on an American design). But most of the focus seemed to be on how any actions they take could alter time with the crew deciding they wanted to avoid this, that is when it isn’t taking time to nerd out over the various ships, submarines, aircraft, and weapons in the show.

There isn’t anything Freudian about this scene at all

Enter LCdr Kusaka, an Imperial Japanese Navy officer whom the Mirai‘s first officer, LCdr Kadomatsu, decides he just can’t watch drown as they come across his crashed airplane. They then double down on this by letting someone who was supposed to have died have access to the ship’s library, so he can read all about how the war and its aftermath are supposed to go down. This does result in interesting maneuvering by Kusaka, as he leads Kadomatsu on a cat and mouse chase as it’s not entirely clear what his endgame is beyond expressing a desire to end the war in a more favorable way for Japan, and in doing so creating a new Japan. This also leads to some interesting questions as to what has happened to the very aptly-named Mirai as events happen which make it clear what the crew knows as history has been altered, without causing any changes in them as per Back to the Future rules. Paradox? Alternate timeline? Who knows? After all, the anime never got a second season and it ended on a cliffhanger without ever answering any of the questions it brought up.

It is still a fairly interesting plot to follow, though, especially as the ship struggles to stay out of history’s way while ending up being repeatedly forced to act to defend itself, as well as making what allies it can to ensure the crew might actually have a chance of living through whatever is going on. Naturally both Japan and the US are interested in the ship and its technology and want to either get their hands on it, or destroy it so as to deny it to anyone else.

Ultimately, the most frustrating aspect of this show is its abrupt end and lack of any resolution. The anime came out in 2004, so it’s unlikely it will get any follow-up because you degenerates are way more interested in watching cute girls doing cute things than alternate history political thrillers. If you were hoping to get some resolution by reading the manga, you’re kind of out of luck unless you can read Japanese, Korean, or French, as only a quarter of its forty-three volume run has been translated into English, and only four were ever published in North America. But if you like drooling over military hardware and/or fantasizing about how a modern warship would fare in WWII, this anime might still be worth a watch.

Maybe Check it Out:
Zipang (2004) 26 episode anime
based on the manga by Kaiji Kawaguchi
Produced by Studio Deen, licenced by Geneon

Library War

Your Books or Your Life
by Bob Johnson

Maybe.

Fahrenheit 451 gets the anime treatment in the biggest brouhaha over print media since Read or Die. In an alternate year 2019, book learners and book burners have fought it out for over 30 years – while the general public is terrorized by the Media Betterment Committee, libraries retain academic freedom, guaranteed by the law and the Library Defence Force.

We see these struggles through the eyes of Kasahara Iku, a plucky 22-year-old trackstar who has become the first woman inducted into the Task Force, the elite security force of the LDF. Though gifted with physical ability, statuesque height, and stubborn determination, Kasahara struggles with the mundane business of sorting and finding books, which is still the main job the LDF does between battles.

Kasahara Iku, our hero! Plucky, light of foot, a bit more heart than brains.

In this, she’s assisted by her competent classmates Tezuka and Shibahara, while her instructor Dojo attempts to drill more discipline into the impulsive young cadet. Meanwhile, she wants to find the LDF officer who inspired her to join the force, and protect books just like him. From time to time she also deals with drop-ins from her tiger dad and worried mom, ever-fearful their daughter may be the next victim of a censorship raid.

Though it can be excessively moé at times (Kasahara is a Greek god in hand-to-hand combat, but a startled klutz with a book cart?), Library War is a solid show, well-drawn and animated. As a battle anime, the LDF are careful students of tactics and strategy, with a focus on preparation: planning, training, learning regulations. When you fail in battle, it’s because you didn’t do your homework. None of your Code Geass make-it-up as you go along here. Then again, the villains aren’t too fleshed out – the LDF is always the good guys, always quoting law and regulation, and never firing first. The MBC, on the other hand, are cartoon mooks whose main goal in life is to take books out of the hands of little kids, or just generally smash and grab dead trees.

Your tax dollars hard at work.

In romance, Iku is a true half-and-half tsundere, and faces two leading options. Tezuka is a pretty dry candidate, simply ticking the boxes needed for ‘responsible boyfriend’, while Dojo is pretty clearly best guy, but also is kind of her boss, and ‘too short’. And oddly enough, there’s not much in this show for bibliophiles, beyond the fact that they work with books: none of the leads is constantly nose-in on a tome or constantly quoting literature.

Library War is perhaps not significant enough to merit a solo watch, but its pacing of stretches of interpersonal drama, punctuated by pitched battles or hilarious reaction shots, keeps it engaging as a group or club title. It certainly won’t offend sub purists.

Maybe Look It Up:
Library War (2008) 12 episode anime
based on the light novels by Hiro Arikawa and Sukumo Adabana
Produced by Production I.G., Licenced by Discotek

Anime Endings are the shit

Not satisfied with the present state of DUB vs SUB as a controversy magnet, the editor of MaximumWeeaboo has commissioned these articles on INTRO and OUTRO credits. Bob Johnson claims that OUTRO is best waifu.

The best shows are the ones that you don’t want to stop watching! You know what I’m talking about. Them shows that like to lay down some thicc plot right before the end credits hit you like a big ol’ bale of bricks.

You sit in stunned silence as they play. Sure, you’re binging the show, but you know full well that next episode will play soon enough. Right now, you’re desperate for emotional recovery – you need to process, decompress, soak up the mood. And that’s what the end credits are for.

Thank Kanako the 1990s standard procedures for running the credits has passed into history. A minute at the start, a minute at the end, each of constant boring sameness so regular the skilled otaku doesn’t need chapters marked out to skip them with a simple click of the playbar.

Nowadays, the rule about credits are just like mullets. Business in the front, party in the back! Actually, good luck finding the start credits at all these days. They could be anywhere between the top and middle of the episode depending on how much teaser is needed. The end credits, on the other hand? Reliably near the end of the show, a steadfast anchor holding the last bucking decks of your favourite anime just offshore from a roiling sea of car insurance ads

And while front credits always seem to be the “next best thing” when it comes to the continued lack of good trailers for anime, it’s really the end credits that are were all the innovation is, anyway. Need extra time? Keep the show rolling whilst the end credits play. Need to set a new tone? Change the music from the usual number! Or maybe, in an crazed and isolated moment of awareness, you will craft entirely new end credits for each episode! And just think – without end credits, there could be no stinger! And if you miss those, you’ll miss some of the sickest drops in anime.

Finally, just after those end credits is that exciting moment for every anime fan, the episode preview. How can you get truly hyped for the next episode if you’re mashing NEXT like a lone guinea pig begging for morphine water to mask the unending pain of social isolation, and miss out on your eigo seiyuu cracking wise prior to that satisfying “next time, on” your show?

So watch your end credits, dearie. They’re good, and good for you!

FUCK YEAH, LOOK IT UP!
THE END CREDITS
available wherever anime is sold

Driver vs. Machine

A vision of Musk-sama’s desired future

by Punch Rockgroin

In the year 20X6, the vast majority of citizens will no longer drive. Instead, they will be able to rent an AI-driven car of their choice, depending on their needs. This system will greatly reduce the number of driving-related deaths, and also allow a more rapid response to road-related emergencies. These new cars will also be driven by electric motors, thus also being much cleaner for the environment.

But any system is prone to issues and random errors, and the world of éX-Driver is no different. When one of these self-driven cars goes rogue, a small but elite group of human drivers and their internal combustion-powered vehicles to chase and safely stop these runaway cars from going further.

Self-driving cars have been discussed for many years, and occasionally make an appearance in anime and other media. In éX-Driver, the concept is discussed a bit further to address the what-if and potentially hazardous situations a fully autonomous vehicle would cause if it ran amok.


Lorna prepares to use a Single Shot Sticky Stuff Shooter
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Riding That Bean

An ’80s Action Anime Classic

by Bolt Vanderhuge

As Anime Central 2019 approaches, and the premiere of a new crowdfunded OVA featuring Bean Bandit along with it, I thought I’d take a look back at the OVA that started it all. It occurs to me that some (or most) of you might not know who Bean Bandit is, nor the man who created him, Kenichi Sonoda. To be fair, most of the work he is known for came out in the ’80s and ’90s, but he’s probably best known for the anime and manga Gunsmith Cats. Less known is his previous work featuring many of the same characters, Riding Bean, which also takes place in Chicago.

Just imagine the Blues Brothers theme playing to this.

Bean Bandit is essentially a shady getaway driver for hire, who drives a tricked out sports car of his own design that is not only bullet-proof, but can swivel all four of its wheels ninety degrees so he can drive it sideways. If you’re familiar with Gunsmith Cats at all, you might recognize the name Rally Vincent. In Riding Bean, she’s a blonde-haired, blue-eyed anime American, who’s partners in crime (and the sack) with Bean Bandit, which is something of a surprise given their back-and-forth relationship in the Gunsmith Cats manga, and the fact he appears basically the same in both. He never did make it into the anime, though, which is probably why most anime fans aren’t even aware of him (uncultured swine!).

As for plot, Riding Bean isn’t super complicated or anything (it is only 48 minutes long after all). It’s just a classic ’80s action flick, featuring plenty of violence and brief nudity, and a tone that’s never quite entirely serious in spite of the blood and gore. Basically, a sadistic lesbian kidnaps a millionaire and his daughter, and her brilliant plan is to frame Bean Bandit for the kidnapping since he’s already on the Chicago PD’s shit list. Unfortunately for her, Bean Bandit is basically the Terminator, and manages to escape the trap she set for him by sheer awesomeness alone.

Please note this is after he’s been run over by this car.

The soundtrack is very ’80s, and despite the fact it was dubbed much later than the original 1989 release, the delivery of the vast majority of the lines fits right in with the era. But that’s okay, because that’s all part of the glorious ’80s anime experience.

There’s also an interesting “what if” scenario with this anime, because this was apparently originally planned as a series and that never happened. There was also a manga based on this premise that was left unfinished because the magazine publishing it cancelled, which caused Mr. Sonoda to move on and create the Gunsmith Cats manga. While Mr. Sonoda prefers Bean Bandit because he can identify with him better, I tend to prefer Gunsmith Cats and that version of Rally Vincent. All the same, I’m excited to see what the new OVA is going to bring, and I hope to catch it when it premieres at ACEN this year.

In the meantime, it’s fun to look back at what started it all, and I recommend you check it out yourself!

FUCK YEAH! LOOK IT UP
Riding Bean Original Video Animation
Based on the manga by Kenichi Sonoda
Produced by AIC, Licenced by AnimEigo

Check your rearview!

Future GPX Cyber Formula is coming back from behind

by Bob Johnson

One country’s breakout hit is another country’s also-ran. Notoriously, Cowboy Bebop – perpetual pinnacle of the genre among western anime fans – never caught on in Japan, whereas shows like Future GPX Cyber Formula outsold it and got sequel after sequel. So what gives? How is *THIS* such a huge franchise?

Maybe it appeals to Japan’s affinity for achievable futurism and plucky protagonists. At age 14, Hayato Kazami is hanging around his dad’s co-workers, “Cyber Formula” race team SUGO – but his main jam is riding his motorcycle. Everything is turned on its head when thieves come for the team’s car, forcing Hayato to take the wheel. Day saved, no problem? Well, Asurada’s computer locks everyone else out except the kid, and even the race team’s top cyber-whiz can’t crack the FaceID. So their up-and-coming Cyber Formula team is doomed unless Hayato can learn to drive.

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GOTCHA!

China makes its first shots and corrects for windage and elevation
by Punch Rockgroin

If the new Diablo: Immortal game is any indication, mobile gaming has yet to take off in the West in the way it has in Japan. Mobile gaming continues to grow in popularity, while the Diablo fiasco is only exacerbated by the statement “You guys don’t have phones?” As other parts of the gaming market lag and dwindle, mobile gaming has found its footing.

Japan is spoiled for choice when it comes to mobile, such as Granblue Fantasy and Fire Emblem Heroes, among others. One such mobile game I have mentioned before, Kantai Collection (for a time overtaking Touhou Project as the top spot for doujins released at Comiket), has stagnated and is falling behind a rival with a similar premise.

A rival made in China. Continue reading

City Pop

-or- How I Learned To Stop Worrying About the Radio In My Supra
by Gristle McThornbody

Once the domain of vaporwave-blaring hipsters pining to be ironic under the guise of A E S T H E T I C, city pop is Japan’s answer to the bombastic 80s. Clawing back from relative obscurity, we are treated to neon-filled, tape deck fueled ode to the big city life. Filling this watercolored, pastel world is the melodic and often horn-filled songs that toast to the bustling life of a never-ending, 24-hour day. To some degree, it mirrors America in the same time, with artists like Chris Cross who –well sparkle- with some technopop elements, while letting the mix aerate with elements that naturally advect into our stream of consciousness, and you have the recipe for that musical entrée.

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Illang: The Wolf Brigade

Ungrounded Jin-Roh retread misses the point
by Bolt Vanderhuge

When I heard that there was going to be another addition to the Kerberos Saga, a live-action movie made in South Korea, I was cautiously optimistic. While plenty of my fellow weebs know of Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, most don’t realize it’s actually the third adaptation of an alternate-history manga written by Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell, 1995). It’s set before the two live-action films, both directed by Oshii. Thing is, these films are not like Jin-Roh.

These movies are kind of weird to put it mildly.
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A look at copyright in Japan


Loveable rogue Lupin the Third – a case study in Japanese attitudes.

by Bob Johnson

The Japanese approach to copyright and trademarks used to seem a lot more relaxed, especially when it came to characters. In the 1980s it seemed like every other character was lifted straight out of a Hollywood film! In those days, to use some famous character in an anime, was seen as a parody in itself, or failing that, as no big deal. Probably the biggest example of this relaxed era is Lupin III, whose manga spawned an eternal fountain of new TV shows and feature films – plus a lawsuit from the Maurice Leblanc estate. By the time the family of the creator of the original Arsène Lupin caught on to the craze, their lawuit was essentially ruled to be too late.

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