How to do Shounen Right (and Wrong)

Warning: This editorial contains minor spoilers for Naruto and One Piece.

Out of the many genres in anime, there’s one that’s undoubtedly the most popular: shounen. The term shounen means something like “young boy” and is used to refer to anime and manga directed at adolescent and teenage boys. Shounen series are primarily action based and outdo nearly everything else in anime and manga in terms of popularity. Some of the biggest hits in anime history have been shounen; Naruto, One Piece, Dragonball, Fullmetal Alchemist and Fist of the North Star were all shounen. In this piece, I’ll be looking at some things shounen should do or avoid doing to be good. None of these points are absolute and most apply to storytelling in general, but they’re all strengths and weaknesses common in shounen.

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How to Kill off Characters

The following article contains major spoilers for every show mentioned. Read at your own risk.

Character deaths can be extremely impactful in both anime and fiction in general. If done right, they can be the most emotionally moving scenes in a story and can signal a major shift the plot. They’re also very easy to do wrong. To be clear, I don’t mean minor character deaths or random villain deaths. When I talk about death scenes, I mean scenes for significant characters that are at least intended to leave an impact. In general, a character’s death should matter at least as much as the character did. Otherwise it risks feeling unearned if overdone or unsatisfying if underdone.

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Serial Experiments Lain Review

Serial Experiments Lain is weird. Not in the way Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo is weird with random comedy and unfamiliar cultural references. Serial Experiments Lain is weird in the End of Evangelion style of weirdness: abstract symbolism and striking imagery mixed with a story that values theme and atmosphere over a clear narrative. When I say weird, I don’t mean it in a negative way; I’m just using it as a descriptive term. There’s really no other way to describe it in a single word. It’s weird.

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One Piece Film Z Review

Warning: This review contains minor spoilers for post-timeskip One Piece and the movie should not be watched until after the Fishman Island Arc.

Most shonen spinoff movies fall into one of two categories: recaps of previous arcs or moderately entertaining side-stories that aren’t as good as the original. That doesn’t make them bad, but they rarely impress. One Piece Film Z is a rare exception to that rule.

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Fall 2016 Reactions

Now that it’s October, we once again have a new anime season and it’s looking pretty good so far. As usual, I can’t (and really don’t want to) watch everything in a season, but here are my reactions to the shows that caught my eye this season. I won’t be doing any plot summary here, so I included links to Anime News Network that include plot summaries. I’ll be categorizing them by how strongly I would recommend them based on the first episode. Now without further ado, here are my reactions to the new anime season.

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Re:ZERO Review

The isekai (parallel world) subgenre is one of the most common subgenres in anime and light novels now. All that’s really required is for it to have a main character transported into a fantasy world, which is pretty easy to do. The problem is that a lot of isekai anime end up as pretty generic wish fulfillment shows. That’s what Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World,- more commonly known as Re:ZERO, seems like at first, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

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Akame ga Kill Review

In recent years, there always seems to be at least one or two anime every year that suddenly skyrockets in popularity. Sometimes it lasts (Attack on Titan), sometimes it doesn’t (No Game No Life). In mid 2014, this show was Akame ga Kill. A lot of the popularity seemed to come from the manga, but the anime also gathered a pretty big following. Unfortunately, popularity doesn’t always correlate with quality.

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