My Hero Academia: Season Two, Part One

11702453-8944561249026207In the near future, 80% of the population is born with super human abilities. In a world like this, becoming a superhero is more than just a fever dream. Superheroes are everywhere. Working everyday to keep the world safe. They are respected, and idolised, and none is more well-known than All-Might! The symbol of peace. Students all over Japan dream of getting into U.A. Academy, the number one high school for superheroes in training, none more so then Izuku “Deku” Midoriya. Unfortunately for him, despite spending his entire life studying and trying to understand what it truly means to be a hero, Midoriya is one of the 20% born without abilities. Constantly ridiculed by his classmates and those around him for ever thinking he could be a hero, Midoriya still studies hard in hopes of being the first U.A. Academy student without abilities. It’s during a fateful encounter with his idol All-Might, and his own heroism trying to save a classmate, that Midoriya’s life is changed forever.

The first season of My Hero Academia took the anime community by storm on it’s release in 2016. Based on the manga by Kohei Horikoshi and published in the renowned Weekly Shonen Jump. The same magazine that gave us Dragon Ball, Death Note, Naruto and Haikyuu!!. My Hero Academia found it’s audience almost immediately, to the point that an anime adaptation was practically inevitable. It’s 13-episode first season exploded in popularity both in its native Japan and oversees thanks to Funimation’s simulcast. Now, Funimation is back with a physical release of Season two, Part One!

The first half of season two gives us something all Shonen fans know all too well. A tournament arc! And while tournament arcs can be fun, a lot of the time they end up being set ups to larger story points and major shifts. Such as the Chunin exams arc in Naruto leading to the one-tale encounter and Orochimaru. However, My Hero Academia embraces the fun and excitement that a tournament arc can be and uses it to flesh out not only main characters and side characters, but the world itself.


After the events of season one, our main characters gear up for the U.A. Sports festival. A chance to show off their skills in a televised event. Go up against other class’s such as the previously unseen Class 1-B, the Support classes, Business course and General Studies. As well as try and get the attention of potential recruiters. Going through an obstacle course designed to test their skills, a cavalry battle that sees different combinations of strengths and skills, all leading up to a round robin style battle till only one stands. While there is no big stake on the line, the students will get to take part in these events two more times before they graduate. The 13-episode arc explores the characters in a wonderful way. Character motives and abilities are explored to a phenomenal degree, with the clear stand outs being both Uraraka and Todoroki. A girl who wants to make it big and earn a lot of money for the simple reason of helping out her parents, and a young man torn between his sense of self-worth, his family life, and the pressures put upon him by his father. My Hero Academia does so much justice to it’s characters in this 13-episode arc, that it works almost as a blue print to how to do tournament arcs as stories in themselves, and not just a means to an end.

While the animation in season one was already impressive, season two steps it up beautifully. Adding not only an extra punch to action scenes but in characterisation too. Small and subtle details are added to each of the characters movements that work well to give another dimension to them. Bakugo’s egotistical personality has a whole other level of flair to it with his casual movements. But no character benefits more from this than Iida. The slightly high strung and nervous class representative shows so much more personality in just his hand gestures. It’s a small thing but speaks volumes about the characters.

Both the English dub and the Japanese audio are incredibly impressive. All the actors give it there all throughout in both languages. However, if an all-star had to be chosen, it’s Ayane Sakura as Uraraka in the Japanese dub. Her phone call to her father mid-way through the tournament is sure to bring a tear to your eye.

Screenshot (168)

The show’s opening, ‘Peace Sign’ by Kenshi Yonezu is delightfully infectious and gets you excited for the episode to come. Partnered well with an opening animation of our heroes stretching in preparation, before exploding in a flurry of action as the tempo in the music picks up and explodes. The show’s ending theme, ‘Dakara, Hitori ja nai’ by Little Glee Monster, is rather poppy, and is a take it or leave it song that you’ll either love or tolerate, but it’s paired with a rather lovely sequence following the shows lead girls, highlighting just how well My Hero Academia characterises its female cast especially.

The Blu-ray release of My Hero Academia Season two, Part one also contains episode 13.5. A fantastic 23 minute summery of season one, that works very well for those wanting a bit of a reminder of the previous 13 episodes, or those just wanting to relive it one more time before diving into season 2. Also included are textless versions of the opening and ending credits. A set of 13 shorts presented by the American voice actors talking about their favourite charities in the ‘Be a Hero’ initiative, as well as a fantastic interview with Yoshihiko Umakoshi, the shows character designer and chief animation director for season two.

The first half of My Hero Academia’s second season is a wild ride of fun and excitement that leave you hungry for even more. A fantastic character exploration and intense action pact experience. My Hero Academia Season two, Part one is available for pre-order and due for release April 2nd on Blu-ray and DVD.




The Character of Trunks – Nature Vs. Nurture

Dragon Ball Z was a stable of after school TV in my house. Part of the family routine and something we all enjoyed during dinner. I vividly remember dropping my fork the moment the terrifying villain Freiza was sawn in half by his own attack. When Goku attained a level of power that no one thought possible. Super Saiyan. How far we have come from that Wednesday afternoon so many years ago. I remember commenting to my sister that I didn’t think the show could get any better. That it had hit it’s peak. A few weeks later, a now partly robotic Frieza lands on Earth. Prepared to destroy the planet and prove that he was indeed the strongest in the universe. Problem is, Goku hadn’t yet made it back to Earth. With the exception of the other Fighters, who had either fallen to Frieza or knew they stood no chance, Earth was defenceless. And then a stranger arrived.

A purple haired teenager, complete with a denim jacket sporting the Capsule Corp logo on his sleeve, and a sword equipped to his back. So far, every new character that showed up was either a one off or a villain. But this kid didn’t look like a villain, and he was too well designed to be a one off. So, who was he?

And then he went Super Saiyan. Another Saiyan had arrived, one that could slice Frieza and King Cold in half without breaking a sweat. The other fighters are noticeably on edge, as is the audience, when he powers down and just walks casually towards them. This mysterious stranger tells the group that Goku will land nearby shortly and that they should wait with him.

As the story carries on, we learn that this mysterious stranger is actually the future son of lead character Bulma, and once villain and Prince of the Saiyan’s Vegeta. The half-Saiyan Trunks. That already seemed insane. Why would Bulma and Vegeta ever have a kid together!?

Over time, we learned that Trunks had come back in time because a greater evil was coming. One that dwarfed even the power of Frieza and was set to turn the world into a post-apocalyptic nightmare. One that Trunks had grown up in largely alone. Raised by just his mother and the watchful eye of an older Gohan. As a young man, Trunks had watched the world fall apart. His father had fallen, as had the rest of the main series fighters and Earth was practically defenceless against the force of the Androids. Trunks had come back in time to warn them and to save Goku’s life. In Trunks’ timeline, Goku had died before the Androids awoke from a remarkably normal cause. Heart failure.

Trunks’ warning gave the cast of characters two years to prepare for the fight of their lives.

The History of Trunks (1993)

Despite being strong and fast, Trunks was well spoken and respectful. Overly cautious and frequently on edge. Trunks’ personality and mannerisms are heavily reminiscent of that of an older Gohan. Strong but very aware of what he could do. Walking on egg-shells. Not to mention the world he grew up in. This is a young man who has gone through hell, seen people he cares for die, and lived to tell the tale. One who feels the weight of everything that has happened and knows the value of life. This is even explored well in the film, The History of Trunks (1993), in which we see his world up close and personal.

When the time comes for the Androids to arrive, leading into the greatly celebrated Cell arc, Trunks comes back in time again, to fight by the hero’s side in order to ensure a better future. When he comes back, he is met by a very strange sight. Himself. He arrives back in the present timeline to find Bulma holding a baby, one that will someday grow into the young man from the future.

Skip forward past the Cell Games arc, and that baby is now a young boy. Brash and arrogant. Overly confident and convinced that with the exception of his father, no one could beat him. This is Kid Trunks.

Kid Trunks

Despite being the same person, Future Trunks is the kind of person Kid Trunks would look down upon, despite the age gap. With Future Trunks’ kinder demeanour, and cautiousness, Kid Trunks would consider him weak. The same way he looks down largely on a now teenage Gohan. That in an error of peace, the fighters have gone soft in the eyes of this young kid, especially one that idolises his warrior prince father.

Trunks works as an example of nature vs. nurture. While both are strong and capable fighters, even with Kid Trunks being significantly younger than his future counterpart. But with the difference in personality, had their designs differed you would be forgiven for thinking they were two different people. While the state of the time they grew up in is a major factor in both of their identities. It’s their relationship with their father or father figure that perhaps defined them the most. As stated before, Future Trunks grew up in a wasteland. A world that lived in fear of the Androids. Specifically, Androids 17 and 18. He was raised by his mother, with an older Gohan keeping an eye on them both. In a world were the Z-Fighters no longer stand, Trunks grew up asking his mother what his father was like. Why would you ever tell a child that their father was at one point a monster? The malevolent prince of a warrior race that once tried to destroy them all. Future Trunks would hear stories of his father, the noble prince as he stood against the Androids along side the other fighters. With Gohan as his trainer and mentor, Future Trunks holds respect for the father he never knew, but largely takes on the mannerisms of Gohan. On edge and nervous, but very respectful.

Kid Trunks on the other hand, grew up in a time of peace. The Androids and Cell defeated, and the world at ease even after the death of Goku. Kid Trunks was raised by his father and mother. Vegeta training the young boy to be a proud warrior, but still giving him the freedom to be a kid since there was little to no danger threatening the planet. His arrogance and lack of respect for Goku is heavily influenced by Vegeta’s own views. Telling the boy that since he is of royal blood, that he should look down at a commoner like Kakkarot (Goku’s birth name) and his family. Being the son of the prince, Trunks thinks himself better than most, even attaining the level of Super Saiyan at a young age. Even his friendship with the young Goten, the youngest son of Goku, is phrased as a competition.

Trunks is an interesting and unique character within the Dragon Ball mythos. Both versions of him. Both versions have an interesting amount of depth to them. While they have met in none-canon video games, it will be more than interesting to see the pair united in the current Dragon Ball Super.

Depression, Isolation, Loneliness and Digimon

At it’s core, the children’s anime Digimon Tamers is primarily about isolation, loneliness, abuse, escapism and depression.

That probably sounds a little heavy for a show that most would just claim as a Pokémon rip off.

Digimon Tamers (2001 – 2002) was the third entry in the Digimon franchise, following on from Digimon Adventure (1999 – 2000) and its sequel season, Digimon Adventure 02 (2000 – 2001). Season one of Digimon followed a group of 7 kids as they are trapped in the digital world. Later adding an 8th. Being told they are the destined ones to save both this world and ours and learning to grow along the way. Season two is set 2 to 4 years later, depending on which language version you’re watching. Following two of the 8 children as they meet 3 new, then a 4th, digidestined while the older kids struggle with the fact that they now have real world responsibilities, and that they can’t keep being kids the rest of their lives.

Season three was set in our world. Not the real world of the first two seasons. Our world where Digimon is a tv show, and the events of the first two seasons are just that. Two seasons of a tv show. In this season, the digital world and Digimon were created by a group of hackers who in the 80s wanted to know more about artificial intelligence and digital life. The digital world is created through an evolution on this new plain. This becomes the inspiration for the TV series and card game that sweeps across the world. However, the barrier between these worlds are slowly decaying. Glitches and creatures from the digital world are trying to cross into our world. Of course, there is a shadowy organisation that goes about making sure these incursions are never known to the public, but it’s when the kids Takato, Henry and Rika learn the truth, all separately of course. They learn that the franchise they love is in fact real, and they become partners to their own Digimon. They find themselves battling to save the people they care about from invading monsters while going about their daily lives. For the most part the first half of the season is fairly light. Your standard kids fair. But it’s what it leads into and what it builds up to that make the show so important.

Strangely, Digimon Tamers was written by Chiaki J. Konaka, the writer of Serial Experiments Lain. And was heavily inspired by the show Neon Genesis Evangelion. Truth be told, Konaka did write an episode in the second season. He tried to incorporate the Cthulhu mythology of H.P. Lovecraft into the show by creating a dark void dimension, ruled by a monstrous aquatic creature, that could only be reached by those who knew the meaning of darkness, isolation and loneliness. The things the episode introduced were largely swept under the rug after, kids show of course. But canonically the two characters in the show that have the biggest connection to the void are Ken and Kari. Ken previously being the shows villain until he was snapped out of it and made to face the truth of his brother’s death. And Kari who had been showing signs of being a little out of it ever since her introduction in season one, as well as the loses she had faced at a young age. Including the traumatic death of Wizardmon as he tries to save her life during the first season. This traumatic moment in her life is even a point brought up in a later episode as a major plot element.

It’s a little strange that Konaka would only be brought on for one episode in season two, only to become show runner for Season three. Especially given the shows aim towards children and his more adult themes. But this means that season three heavily dives into his own interests. While all the main cast members have their own problems and burdens to bare, it’s the character of Jeri that suffers the most throughout.

While at first Jeri comes off as a goofy side character that has a bit of a crush on Takato. Very energetic, overly happy at times, and always carrying around a puppet. Slowly through the season, you learn that she is deeply lonely, constantly feeling left out, and when she learns that Digimon are in fact real, she wants one for her own. Not in a malicious or spoiled manner. She sees how much fun Takato and Henry have with their partners, how important they both are and the fact that they have a purpose and wants to be like them. To feel that she is good for something. That she has meaning. During an incursion, a Leomon appears in the park before Jeri, and she is convinced that he is there for her. He’s not, in fact he doesn’t know why he’s there, but she keeps childishly chasing him, until they both find themselves in a situation out of there control. Through a series of events, Jeri is granted a digivice. The device that all chosen ones receive, and the pair are now partners. It’s a sweet moment, as Jeri is given some hope that her life will get better, that she does have a purpose. Now, while watching the show and getting to that point, it may not seem like it’s that big of a deal, it’s in retrospect that you come to understand why she is the way she is. It’s heavily hinted through the middle to end of the show that Jeri comes from an abusive household. That her parents make a very unorthodox living, though the English dub changes a fair amount of this.

Later in the show, our cast of characters journey into the digital world in order to rescue a friend that has been kidnapped and held hostage. They travel, are separated, go on crazy adventures, etc. Even come across another digidestined, one that ties it back to the first two seasons in a way, Ryo. But as they go through their journey, another character is having his own adventure. Since the start of the show, a weird creature known as Impmon has been popping in and out of the story and constantly proclaiming to be the real villain. Problem is that he’s small and is more of a nuisance that anything. He often proclaims that for a Digimon to partner with a human, it shows how weak they are. That it’s an abomination. At one point he’s even called out on this, asking why he cares so damn much. At the point of the main characters travelling into the digital world, Impmon makes his own journey. Making a deal with the villains to grant him the power he so desperately wants. Impmon becomes Beelzemon. A gun welding psychopath that now finally has the power he craved.

When the two stories converge, the team argue with Beelzemon about the nature of power and what he’s done to himself. Leomon stands to try and defend the team, only to be brutally murdered in front of their eyes. Jeri is heartbroken. Her mind slowly begins to unravel from this point onwards. In a fit of rage, Takato even begins to abuse his connection with his partner Guilmon, ordering him to transform to his mega form, and kill Beelzemon. Guilmon begins to transform but is corrupted as Takato’s digivice disintegrates. The entire moment is fuelled by rage, sorrow, and corruption. The effect it has on Jeri is devastating. She begins to withdraw herself from everyone, barely speaking until their journey through the digital world is at an end. During their time in the digital world, they learn of the entity known as the D-Reaper. At its simplest, a being of pure destruction. As the group travels back to the real world, the D-Reaper begins to follow them, even taking Jeri and replacing her without the others noticing. She has become so withdrawn within herself that a puppet can easily pass for her in the eyes of her friends.

By the series finale, the D-Reaper begins to take over the real world, the hackers who created the digital world are revealed. One of which they had already met in the digital world, while another is revealed to be Henry’s father. And the plan is enacted to save the real world. However, at the core of the ever-growing D-Reaper, in a small sphere is Jeri. The D-Reaper is feeding on her sorrow. Letting her feel as useless and empty as she always feared. Even when the heroes manage to break through and almost reach her, she tells them their better off without her and pushes them away. Jeri is severely depressed. Everything in the show has lead up to this. All 51 episodes. She is at her lowest point and is giving up on life and a future. In doing so, she is allowing the world to be swallowed whole and devoured.

Of course, given that this is a kids show, she is rescued and the world is saved. But her depression is not ignored. It’s acknowledged though never directly named. The show takes a stand and acknowledges the weight that lose, abuse, emotional pain and physical trauma can have on a person as well as how it affects those around you. The show physically manifests her pain in the form of a destructive being that knows no boundaries. This is something Digimon Tamers managed to accomplish better than many adult or teen driven shows managed at the time.

When a lot of kid’s television focuses heavily on obvious morals such as ‘don’t steal’ or ‘play nice with others’. Having media that does tackle such heavy material but breaks it down to a level that a child can understand, maybe one of the best ways to aid in emotional growth and understanding of such a heavy subject.

The uncomfortable subjects that can destroy a person’s life are the ones we should feel the most comfortable discussing. Ignorance and an inability to understand a subject such as depression, anxiety or other mental illnesses, only make it harder for those affected to open up. While not all children’s media should include such heavy subjects, we should have the ability to talk and to educate. While the major themes of loss, abuse, depression and loneliness are not the first thing that might pop into a child’s mind when watching the show. It can provide them with a frame of reference. Educating without them knowing.



Time and Deconstruction

Deconstruction in media is something I find intensely fascinating. And while this video by Under the Scope is a great exploration of deconstruction in anime, particularly in the ‘magical girl’ (Puella Magi Madoka Magica) and ‘giant mech’ (Neon Genesis Evangelion) genres (though it was strange to hear someone refer to the show School Days as a deconstruction of the ‘harem’ genre). What I find puzzling about the evidence he uses, is possibly my own experience with discussing deconstruction. Particularly, calling Neon Genesis Evangelion a deconstruction of the ‘mech’ genre.

A few months ago, I wrote an article discussing how the deconstruction aspect of a piece of work is waisted, when that piece of work is recommended or introduced above and before the thing being deconstructed. A deconstruction without reference. The two examples I used were Watchmen, which is often praised as one of the greatest comics ever written (personally, I think it’s just ok, but I didn’t read it at the time of creation), and often on the top of ‘comic you should read for beginners list. And I paired that with Neon Genesis Evangelion for an example in another medium that is also highly praised, and first to be recommended to newbies.

The two most common responses I got to the piece had nothing to do with the content, but argued that Neon Genesis Evangelion isn’t a deconstruction, and no one reads Watchmen first. And that I’m an idiot for thinking so. I did a little research into the profiles of the people who commented, and concluded that a lot of them were either relatively new to anime, had read Watchmen recently, or were jumping on the band wagon of the first few commentator’s due to other posts they had made being contradictory to what they had later said.

This makes me wonder something else about the nature of deconstruction. With both works being creations of (arguably) a different generation. The mid 80s for Watchmen, and mid 90s for Evangelion. Has the passage of time, and the effect these works had, changed how we view the media enough for them to no longer be considered deconstructions?

In the case of anime, Evangelion’s release spear headed a dramatic shift in the medium. Particularly in the production of original television properties. This change also allowed writers such as Chiaki J. Konaka to bring works such as Serial Experiments Lain to the screen. The Youtuber Digibro describes this shift well in his video How Evangelion Altered Anime Eternally. Concluding Evangelion’s full effect kicking in, with the series Now and Then, Here and There. Taking on the familiar trope of a young boy being transported to a magical new world. Something usually seen in a show aimed at young children. Only to be met with a dark dystopia, full of twisted characters, and plot devices including murder and rape.

In the realm of comics, Watchmen was part of a one-two punch, along with Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Eventually culminating in advertisements for comics presenting them as “Grime, Gritty, Grown up”. These kinds of stories lead to darker storytelling, particularly in the worlds of superhero comics. A genre created for a primary audience of children, and grew in the wake of the second world war, as a means of hopeful escapism. This darker tone has continued to reverberate through modern comics, particularly in DC. With the ‘Rebirth’ relaunch acting as a course correction, and the storyline ‘The Button’, and the current ‘Doomsday Clock’ actively blaming the darker tone on the Watchmen characters. Particularly Dr Manhattan.


But this all leads back to my initial question. Is something still a deconstruction, if the deconstruction has become part of the norm?

  • Digibro (2017) How Evangelion Altered Anime Eternally. [Online] YouTube. August 3rd. Available from: [Last Accessed: 01.01.2018]
  • Johns, G. & Frank, G. (2017 – 2018) Doomsday Clock. DC Comics: Burbank.
  • Miller, F. (1986) The Dark Knight Returns. DC Comics: Burbank.
  • Moore, A. & Gibbons, D. (1986 – 1987) DC Comics: Burbank.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995 – 1996) TV. Directed by Hideaki Anno. [DVD] Studio Gainax: Japan.
  • Now and Then, Here and There. (1999 – 2000) TV. Directed by Akitaro Daichi. Studio AIC: Japan.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica (2011) TV. Directed by Akiyuki Shinbo. [DVD] Studio Shaft: Japan.
  • School Days (2007) TV. Directed by Keitaro Motonaga. [DVD] Studio TNK: Japan.
  • Serial Experiments Lain (1998) TV. Directed by Ryutaro Nakamura. Studio Triangle Staff & Studio Pioneer LDC: Japan.
  • Under The Scope (2016) What Actually is A Deconstruction? [Online] YouTube. July 5th. Available from: [Last Accessed: 01.01.2018]
  • Williamson, J., King, T., Fabok, J. & Porter, H. (2017) The Button. DC Comics: Burbank.





Why was Yuri!!! On Ice so ubiquitous?

[This is neither an analysis, review, or critic of Yuri!! On Ice. This is simply a passing thought as to why was the show popular with a none anime watching audience when compared to the standard attention grabbing shows. None of this should be taken as researched analysis. This is a casual post.]


Occasionally I dip my toes back into the world of anime. My hay-day in the fandom was more than 4 years ago but I still try and look around at what is coming out every now and then. Last year, particularly on Twitter, I kept hearing so much about this random anime focused on ice skating of all things. What I found strange was not that a show about ice skating was popular, but that I was hearing about it from people I never usually hear talking about anime. And it was for a show about ice skating!?


I understand that there is certainly a market for sports anime, I myself particularly loved the first season of Haikyuu when it came out and I’m not even interested in volleyball. So the idea of a sports anime getting a lot of attention was certainly not out of my range of comprehension. But then I sat and compared the idea of it to other shows I had heard a similar amount of buzz about from the same audience. Attack on Titan, Sword Art Online, One Punch Man. Mostly shonen action orientated shows with well animated moments, at least one or two strong characters, and maybe some humour mixed in. At the time I was too busy to take the time to stop and watch something subtitled. Meaning I knew that the few screenshots I saw and the occasional mention I heard was going to be the extent of my experience. By the time this winter break rolled around the show had been dubbed by Funimation, and I could easily have the show playing on a second screen while working, taking breaks to watch the more action orientated and heavily animated scenes. I have no real preference for dubbed or subbed, it more depends on how busy I am at the time, how old the show is, and how desperate I am to see it.

In the end I watched all 12 episodes in a single day and I still can’t answer why it was so popular with a typically none anime viewing public.

My suspicions were confirmed by the fact that it was indeed beautifully animated in sequences. Particularly in how fluid and detailed the characters skating routines were. Though at times their sense of proportion compared to their surroundings was a little questionable to say the least. Characters were well defined to the point that I can still remember their names (helped by the fact that two characters share a name) and with elements of comedy thrown in frequently. On the surface it fit everything I expected from a ‘breaking mainstream’ show. But even having seen it I can’t figure out why it was so popular. Many may jump to the fact that I did finish the show in a single day as proof that the show was compelling and highly entertaining. In reality, I kept it on due to the fact that I needed something to accompany me while I worked, and I immediately put something else on as soon as it ended.

The show revolves around a 23-year-old Japanese ice skater, Yuri Katsuki, returns home after a defeat in the Grand Prix Final. Conflicted over weather or not he should continue skating, he goes to his childhood skating rink and preforms a routine by his idol for his childhood friend. The routine is secretly recorded by his friend’s children and becomes viral online, catching the attention of Yuri’s idol, the Russian skater Victor Nikiforov. Yuri suddenly finds Victor moving in with him and becoming his coach. Re-inspiring Yuri’s drive to win the Grand Prix and in competition with other skaters like Yuri Plisetsky.

Admittedly, the opening 3 episodes are incredibly strong and compelling. Standing strong enough to be a self-contained short series about a down on his luck skater finding his inspiration again. But in the long run, the show becomes predictable in its plot points as it takes on the standard tournament style narrative from about episode 5 onwards. While tournament arcs in shows can be fun and exciting for the viewer, see how My Hero Academia handled it in it’s second season, being a shows entire main plot can become tedious and heavily predictable. With the exception of the amazing animation, and the admittedly addictive opening theme, History Maker. The shows primary appeal seems to hinge entirely on the relationship between Yuri and Viktor, and how the show handles a same-sex relationship.


Overly homo-erotic in tone at times, Yuri and Viktor’s relationship is heavily sexualised in nature given their profession. Viktor’s introduction to Yuri in itself is heavily explicit, given they meet in Yuri’s family spa while Viktor is completely naked baring no shame in his body. The music and routine Viktor gives Yuri is explicit in nature being designed to bring out Yuri’s sexual nature, and put it on full display on the ice. Even beyond that the pair embrace each other in triumphant moments as though they were lovers, even to the point of the infamous ‘kiss’ in episode 7. The pair promise each other that they work together for as long as they can, with the scene playing out as though it was an engagement complete with matching rings. Leading to an admittedly funny and open scene where Yuri’s friend congratulates them both on their engagement.

While the idea that Yuri!!! On Ice managed to break into the none anime consuming mainstream still baffles me. The show stands relatively strong on the strength of it’s animation, characters and relationships above it’s story. An enjoyable though not especially deep show, that works well for binge watching.


What I learnt about film from Pokémon: The First Movie (Yes, Seriously)

As a child of the 90s, there are several things I can’t deny. I watched SM:TV Live on Saturday mornings. Frequently forgot to feed a Tamagachi. Begged to stay up a little longer just to watch shows like Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, and the latest episode of Stargate: SG1. And the subject of today, I loved Pokémon. Granted, I was a bigger fan of Digimon, but I still loved Pokémon, alongside many of my classmates, and almost every other 90s kid. I remember being more than a little jealous of my Game Boy wielding classmates, rushing home to catch the new episodes, and occasionally being gifted a pack of the cards. The often celebrated and sought after, Basic Set 1 card deck.

Cue early 2000. The announcement of Pokémon hitting theatres. My 6-year-old mind went insane. Cinema trips were rare due to the expense, but this was something I so desperately wanted to see. No internet to hunt for plot points and images, no money to buy, or knowledge of, film magazines to get the latest scoop. All I had were the trailers on tv, and the rumours and mutters on the playground. I remember begging my mother to take me. Promising to be good. And then, May 2nd, 2000, my mother told me to get my coat. We were going to the movies. 6:30 in the evening, screen 2, of my local, now none existent, Warner Village Cinema.

That joy and excitement of seeing a much-anticipated film, is one that’s stuck with me. And my childish excitement for, what even I’ll admit is, a cheesy film, is something I still foolishly look back on and smile. I was getting to see one of my favourite series on the big screen. And given how long it did take for films to come to VHS, and the price of them. This was the only time I would be able to see it, for maybe over a year.

When it did finally hit VHS, I was graciously brought a copy of my very own. Along with just a few other tapes, such as The Fox and the Hound, Independence Day, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and The Matrix. This yellow brick, that mesmerised me so, was watched, and loved. Repeatedly.

(Yes, the first run of Pokemon: The First Movie VHS tapes were yellow.)

Looking back at that film now, almost 17 years after that first viewing. I can see the beginning of my film education. I can see the little strands of curiosity that the film sparked. The childhood questions I had, and the journey it took me on.

Stereo, Mono and Audio Mixing:

Something about the film constantly bothered me as a kid. The sound. The films main villain, Mewtwo, was a genetically created Pokémon, able to use psychic abilities, and was able to speak English directly to the main characters. In the cinema, it’s amazing. His voice reverberates around you. To a 6-year-old, it’s intimidating. Yet, re-watching this, on a child’s mono TV, at a low volume, I had to try and remember what Mewtwo was saying. The only line I could ever clearly hear from him was, “Fool. Trying to stop our battle”. For years, I thought this was a fault with my copy of the film, or maybe even my TV.

With the passage of time, and how technology advances, I learnt my tape and TV was fine, and that it had everything to do with film production, audio mixing, and mono vs stereo sound. With the audio mixed as stereo, this allowed for tracks to be played as if coming from multiple directions. Mewtwo’s audio is set to play through the back speakers of a full set up, as if surrounding the viewing. Impressive in surround sound, but hard to hear on a mono set. The DVD commentary by the producers, spoke briefly about the effect they wanted to create, and how they used the audio mixing to impose Mewtwo’s immense power to the viewer.

Cell Painted Animation:

There’s a moment when multiple trainers are attempting to get through a storm, using their various skills and Pokémon to get to New Island as quickly as they can. One trainer, one that does make it through the storm, is seen riding a Gyarados, a large blue water dragon, through the storm easily. The problem being is that the lower lip of Gyarados is miss-coloured the entire time, but the next time we see it, it’s completely normal. This is something that really bothered me, as it was incredibly obvious, and I didn’t get why it wasn’t fixed. I know this bothered others, as it was one of the few things I did talk about with others when the film came up.

Answer. Cell painted animation. Classic animation is painted on cells, one frame at a time, and done in layers. While this mistake is obvious, the number of frames it took up, and the fact that it would probably be on one of the first colour layer. Meaning the entire frame, for all those effected would need to be repainted. Something that is not cheap. It was easier and cheaper to leave a few seconds of miss-coloured Pokémon, than to redo the entire section of the film.

CGI and Traditional Animation:

There was something very strange about the castle, doors and stadium lights. As a kid, I could never figure out why they seemed so different to the rest of the film. Even when the characters were stood right in front of them, they looked off. Turns out, it’s because they ARE different. While the rest of the film is traditional cell painted animation, little touches like the castle (in certain shots), the doors when moving, and the stadium lights, are all CGI models imposed over the film. Interestingly, during the film’s original run in Japan, these were all done with cell animation like the rest of the film. But when the film got the go ahead to be released in America, and the rest of the world, they were able to go back and improve parts of the animation, for a little more polish.

And yet that Gyarados still has a miss-coloured jaw….


During the three on three battle in the middle of the film. Ash’s Charzard goes up against a clone Charzard (trying to explain scenes sometimes gets surreal when you realise how crazy some of this sounds to people unfamiliar with the film). As the two dragons are crashing back to the ground, the camera holds on a shot of Ash, Misty, Brock, and the other ‘good’ characters. On the VHS tape, there is an odd editing jump, where the camera cuts from one side of Ash while Brock speaks, only to jump to the other side of him when Misty speaks. As a kid, this was a little jarring. I used to wonder why they weren’t both on screen at the same time. Why did they have to jump from either side, when they could have just had all three characters on screen? Why do I remember seeing this cut a different way?

Well, I had. The original cinema cut of the film had all three characters on screen, taking full advantage of the widescreen format. Emphasis on widescreen format. While not talking about this film, Bordwell and Thompson’s book, Film Art: An Introduction talks at length about framing, and screen resolution. To put it simply. VHS and televisions at the time, had a different frame size, closer to a square than the rectangle we are more familiar with now. Had the VHS release kept the scene the same, then both Brock and Misty would have been out of frame, and the voices would have seemed like they were coming out of nowhere. Thankfully, newer releases, such as the current Blu-Ray, return it to the original aspect ratio.

VHS Tapes can wear:

Film can wear. The more film is used, the more the image can fade, and become crackled and fuzzy. As a kid, it’s hard to understand why is it that your film looks different the hundred and fiftieth time, then on first viewing. Sadly, despite my love of my childhood VHS tapes, watching them so often taught me why the then upcoming DVD format was a good move. DVDs can scratch. They can break. But they are also fairly easy to copy. Later Blu-Ray’s are even harder to scratch. But the footage on those discs will never fade.


There are plenty of moral lessons the film taught me, and ones I can still recite from memory. Take Meowth’s realisation that “we do have a lot in common, huh? The same Earth, the same air, the same sky. Maybe if we focus on the same, instead of always on what’s different, well, who knows”. But it’s those curiosities it sparked in me then, that still bring me back to it every few years.

The first three Pokemon films are available on Blu-ray here: Pokemon Movie 1-3 Collection [Blu-ray]


First Impressions: New Game! Ep 1: “It Actually Feels Like I Started My Job”

‘Slice of life’ anime can be very hit or miss for me. Some just don’t resonate with me at all, where the characters feel so boring that I don’t care what problems they are having. So, when I do choose something ‘Slice of Life’ to watch, I tend to pick it more on premise. With Bakuman being one of my all-time favourite manga series, it felt like a show based on people working to create something, may well be a good fit for me to try. Hearing about New Game! my interest was piqued, and I decided to load up the first episode. Seeing that the show had a dub, this is ultimately the version I am watching.

Episode 1 usually only works for me as an excuse to set up the situation and a few of the main characters. It’s rare I decided whether to drop a show from here. That usually happens by episode 2. While this first episode hasn’t fully convinced me whether or not the show is good, I am curious.

The plot follows Aoba Suzukaze, a recent high school graduate, as she joins a video game company known as Eagle Jump. A seemingly small company based on this first episode, that has at least put out a few well received games in their life time, including ‘Fairies Story’, a game that inspired Aoba to become a games artist.

Having studied alongside games art students, and maintained long conversations on the subject with them. Seeing a slice of life that focuses on the game industry is certainly appealing. Based on the work we see being done in the office, it’s easy to recognise many of the animator and modelers habits. Especially striking poses themselves, just to get a feel of what they should be animating. The excessive use of sweets and caffeine, while a little stereotypical, is certainly something I can relate with. Watching Aoba learn and come to grips with the shows version of Autodesk Maya was incredibly relatable, though I did joyfully wait for her to suddenly exclaim frustration at the program. The groups lead character designer spending nights sleeping under her desk at work, is a very real reality. Though the show also uses it for what feels like an unnecessary use of fan service, with the obligatory panty shot. But the characters habits and work mannerisms do feel genuine. However, the characters as a whole, are a little hard to tell apart or name, aside from identifying them by habits.

While well animated, I do take fault with the character design the show chose. Aoba is frequently made fun of for looking like a kid, being mistaken as one several times. The problem with this being is that all the characters look the same age. The only noticeable difference is clothing changes, and height. A scene in which our lead is being questioned for how old she thinks a few of the women are, is honestly hard to watch without groaning.

Episode 1 certainly just focuses on establishing the company and the series goal, creating ‘Fairies Story 3’. This is done relatively well, if a little slow paced, but sets up for what could very well be, an interesting if passive watch.


(Above is the opinion of the writer solely. Everyone is entitle to their own opinion, this is just mine.)