Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Akihabara

Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Akihabara

By: John Fragglepuss Evans

I finally made it to Japan! It was even better than I could have imagined. To provide recommendations for those traveling to the Land of the Rising Sun, I present this series of places to visit.

Akihabara, or Akiba as it is locally known

Simply put, Akiba is the anime capital of the world. It has anything you can imagine in terms of anime, manga, and Japanese-geek culture. Full buildings covered in anime advertisements. Songs of popular anime playing in the background of everywhere you go. There’s no way to prepare for the feeling of leaving the Akihabara train station and being immediately surrounded by everything anime!

When you’re shopping in Akiba, be sure to visit all the levels of each building. A lot of the buildings contain a different store on each level, so you never know what you’ll find. It feels like the nerdiest treasure hunt you’ll ever be a part of. It will be tempting to spend your entire trip searching the buildings of Akiba for the best goods, but I remind you there is much to do in Japan. You can’t spend ALL your time in one location.

Gatchapon are capsule machines that cost between 100-400 yen and contain various trinkets. You can find them for almost any fandom; whether you are searching for an anime, an animal, or even underwear for your water bottle. The name Gatchapon comes from the sound made when turning the dial to get your prize.

Crane games are next level in Akiba, with prizes ranging from stuffed toys to a six pack of Red Bull. Some buildings contain levels that are entirely comprised of crane games.

Video games are all over, from a SEGA building full of playable games to a store hidden down an alley dedicated to old video games, which had a copy of Wild Guns for Super Famicom on sale for $800! The arcades are more impressive than anything I have ever seen, with high tech fishing games and technology-infused card gaming. Dancing arcades are peppered throughout the area as well as the classic taiko arcade.

When you need a break from the geek, I recommend visiting the Kanda Shrine, a close by Shinto shrine. It is a beautiful, peaceful area to visit and has several ties to anime culture. Not only is it close to Akiba, but “Love Live!” used it in their anime. The shrine administrators have recognized the anime relevance of the area and adopted the character Nozomi Tojo of “Love Live!” as their official mascot. When you visit take some time to look at the votive tablets at this shrine. You’ll notice many of them contain beautiful artwork.

If you are an otaku, Akiba is a must-see location. Even if you do not enjoy anime, it is worth a visit to experience this large part of Japanese culture. While you’re there, stop by Mister Donut. Any donut will be delicious, especially accompanied by a melon soda.

Posted in Anime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Fragglepuss Anime Review 177: Akiba’s Trip: The Animation

Akiba’s Trip: The Animation

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Action, Supernatural, Game, Ecchi, Akihabara

First Aired: Winter 2017, 13 episodes

Summary: The geek mecca of Akihabara has been invaded by “Bugged Ones” or “Synthisters”, beings that feast on social energy and will to live. These enemies can only be stopped by direct exposure to the air. It’s up to Tamotsu, Matome, Kage-san, Niwaka, and Tasujin to defeat these synthisters by ripping their clothes off exposing their skin.

Akiba’s Trip: The Animation is based on the video game series which includes releases on the PSP, PC, Android, and Playstation. The anime series is unique in how Funimation released an English dub the same day as the Japanese premiere. The description makes it fairly obvious the series contains its fair share of fan service. It’s not the worst I’ve seen, but it is definitely there every episode. The characters are not particularly complex, but they are fun and enjoyable, which is what the series is going for. This even applies to Matome, the bat-wielding, multi-colored hair, Akihabara version of Harley Quinn. The show ends up feeling like a “Monster of the Week” series as our heroes fight of bizarre Bugged Ones, each one stranger than the last.

This series is a lot of fun if you’ve been to Akihabara in Tokyo. A lot of the locations are spot on for accuracy, especially outside scenes of the streets. I watched this shortly after visiting Japan and was reminded of how amazing Tokyo is. It’s impossible to describe the moment when you walk out of the Akihabara train station and are enveloped by anime.

You might enjoy this if: You have a high-energy, geek-filled anime that never slows down to catch its breath.

You might not like it if: You are not a fan of fan service, and I’m not referring to the apparatus with rotating blades that creates a current of air for cooling or ventilation.

Similar Series: Shimoneta, Highschool DxD, Punch Line, Kill la Kill

Note to the Viewer: If you think you’re ready for the most “anime” episode of all time, watch episode five.

AMV – Don’t Let Me Down by Flash AMV

(Fair Warning: This AMV contains a lot of fan service)

Posted in Anime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Anime Happy Hour Podcast – Episode 20 – Madoka Magica

Anime Happy Hour Podcast – Episode 20 – Madoka Magica

Podcasters: John Fragglepuss Evans, Breanne Evans, Brittany Evans, Lindsay Starke

In this episode of Anime Happy Hour we chat Puella Magi Madoka Magica, a magical girl series from 2011. For a quick summary:

Madoka Kaname is an eighth grader at Mitakihara middle school. She has a loving family, best friends, and lives a seemingly normal life. One day, she has an encounter with a magical girl and a witch. Naturally this changes everything. She is sent through a labyrinth that created by the witch. The mysterious magical girl saves her, and then her life never seems to go back to normal.

For a detailed summary, give the podcast a listen!

Check out the Fragglepuss review of Madoka Magica here

Thanks for listening!

Posted in Anime, Anime Happy Hour | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fragglepuss Anime Review 176: Initial D First Stage

Initial D First Stage

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Action, Drama, Sports, Car, Vroom!

First Aired: Spring 1998, 26 episodes

Summary: Takumi Fujiwara is a seemingly normal high school student that helps his father by delivering tofu to the Lake Akina shops at night. On top of that he maintains his job at the local gas station in town. His coworkers are all gearheads, but Takumi could not care less about cars. It’s difficult to pinpoint what he cares about since Takumi is indifferent to most situations. Everything is about to change when Takumi’s talents come to light and he is called upon to shine in the world of street racing.

I had no idea street racing could be so exhilarating! The buildup to the race, the drama unfolding, the thrill of the battle on the asphalt, the strategy of jockeying for position on the road, the naming of specific maneuvers! Everything about it reminds me of a sports anime. Each episode left me wanting to know what Takumi and the street racing team at his job were going to do next. Are they going to practice their four-wheel drift? Are they going to defend their honor against a rival car gang? Anything is possible in Initial D!

If you’re interested, we dedicated an episode of the Anime Happy podcast to Initial D. Find it here!

You might enjoy this if: You’re all about the 90s. Initial D takes you two decades back in a time machine to a simpler time. Everything in this series screams it. The soundtrack is classic, including the crazy ending credits to every episode. What’s that all about? The animation is reminiscent of an earlier age where the eyes are not quite as large and the hairstyles are tamer.

You might not like it if: 1990s computer graphics make you cringe. A lot of Initial D has withstood the test of time, but not the awkward car CG peppered throughout the episodes.

Similar Series: Redline, Kuroko’s Basketball, Bakuman, Over Drive

Note to the Viewer: There are a lot of Initial D seasons. The order to watch them is as follows:

  • First Stage (season one, 1998)
  • Second Stage (season two, 1999)
  • Extra Stage (OVA, 2000)
  • Third Stage (film, 2001)
  • Battle Stage 1 (OVA, 2002)
  • Fourth Stage (season three, 2004)
  • Battle Stage 2 (OVA, 2007)
  • Fifth Stage (season four, 2012)
  • Final Stage (season five, 2014)

BONUS: There’s also the 2005 Hong Kong Initial D live-action film and the three-part film series from 2014-2016, New Initial D.

AMV – Forever Young by Alvin

Posted in Anime, Anime Happy Hour | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fragglepuss Anime Review 175: Ninja Scroll / Juubee Ninpuuchou

Ninja Scroll / Juubee Ninpuuchou

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Historical, Horror, Supernatural, Political Intrigue

First Released: June 1993, 94-minute film

Summary: Jubei Kibagami is a masterless swordman wandering feudal Japan as a mercenary. Betrayal left him without patience for political schemes but it becomes unavoidable when he saves the ninja Kagero from some sort of rock man. Jubei wants nothing to do with Kagero’s mission, but rock man has powerful friends in the “Devils of Kimon” ninja group that are on the hunt for Jubei. If that’s not stressful enough, a government spy is all over Jubei and has a convincing argument for him to uncover the Devil’s true intentions. Jubei thought he had put all this political nonsense behind him, but it looks like the game is on!

Ninja Scroll uses shonen tropes to the max. Every character possesses some sort of supernatural ability which constitutes their one dimension. The males are super hentai. The females are generally damsels in distress, waiting for the strong hero to save them from a nasty fate. The mature themes of the anime, violence and sexual content, lacked a point and felt like they were more for shock value than anything else. Maybe they threw in mature content to make up for their lack of a profound plot. I do appreciate the animation. It’s done in a style reminiscent of feudal Japan, a style that continues to be used for historical anime.

You might enjoy this if: You’re in it for the supernatural action. High energy fight scenes full of powerful moves are what Ninja Scroll is all about.

You might not like it if: You have seen some of the early anime classics such as Ghost in the Shell, Akira, and Perfect Blue. Ninja Scroll does not deliver in the same manner. If you’re easily offended, I wouldn’t recommend this film.

Similar Series: Basilisk, Rurouni Kenshin, Shigurui, Another

Note to the Viewer: A live-action adaptation of Ninja Scroll has been rumored for the better part of a decade. Warner Bros bought the rights in 2008, but nothing has come of it as of yet.

Ninja Scroll Trailer

Posted in Anime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fragglepuss Anime Review 174: Ajin: Demi Human

Ajin: Demi Human

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Action, Mystery, Horror, Supernatural, Demons

First Aired: Winter 2016, 13 episodes

Summary: Ajin appeared 17 years ago in Africa. These mysterious immortal humans have been labeled as a threat to mankind due to their potential to use their powers for destruction. Whenever an Ajin is found within society, they are to be arrested and taken into custody immediately. The tricky part is how Ajin are considered non-human, but appear human from an outsider’s perspective. Society knows little of the creatures besides their immortality. Some Ajin do not even realize they are monsters until they encounter something that would kill a human and they live through it. Such is the case with Kei Negai, a high school student who gives no thought to Ajin until an accident makes him unable to avoid the creatures any longer.

Ajin uses the classic story of society being indoctrinated that a specific type of abnormality is wrong simply because it is different than the accepted norm (Did somebody say X-Men?). Ajin can be violent, but maybe their aggression is a response to humankind’s aggression toward them. Maybe they are mindless killers, who am I to say? Another classic element is how an unlikely individual, Kei, gets thrust into a situation he was unfamiliar with that will change his life and possibly alter the future of the entire world.

You might enjoy this if: You want to watch a series with a dark storyline that doesn’t shy away from the gritty reality of what a human/demon world would be like. If you’re all about Ajin, there’s a film trilogy that was released after the series.

You might not like it if: Computer generated animation makes a show unwatchable. Once I got used to it I was fine, but I have talked to a few people that said that unusual animation was too much.

Similar Series: Tokyo Ghoul, Akame Ga Kill, Terror in Resonance, Parasyte, ERASED, Death Note, Psycho-Pass

Note to the Viewer: The Ajin manga is punlished in “Good! Afternoon” magazine, which features such series as: Junketsu no Maria, Witch Craft Works, and Occultic; Nine.

AMV – Gorgeous Nightmare by GIOXSI DIOXS

(Warning, the AMV contains spoilers. I figure if you haven’t seen the show, you don’t know what’s getting spoiled anyways, right?)

Posted in Anime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fragglepuss Anime Review 173: Yuri!!! on Ice

Yuri!!! on Ice

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans and Breanne Evans

Genre: Comedy, Sports, Figure Skating

First Aired: Fall 2016, 12 episodes

Summary: Yuri Katsuki’s window of opportunity is closing fast. Once upon a time he was Japan’s most promising young figure skater. That all changed with his defeat at the Grand Prix Finale, which caused him to retreat to his family home and the comfort of his favorite food, the pork cutlet. Yuri is thrust back in the spotlight when a video goes viral of him performing the routine of world champion Victor Nikiforov. Victor is so impressed by the routine that he offers to coach Yuri. Problems arise when Russia’s figure skating star, Yuri Plisetsky, is determined to win Victor’s attention. Everything is on the line as figure skating prodigies battle it out in the fanciest of spandex!

Yuri on Ice is easily the best figure skating anime I’ve seen. It’s the only one I’ve seen, but still. The story is solid with attention given to character development. I learned and began to care about figure skating when I had never given it a second thought before watching the series. The skating routines are fun, although I must admit it reminded me of Blades of Glory at times. That’s a positive for me though since I thought Blades of Glory was hilarious.

You might enjoy this if: You want to witness a protagonist overcoming adversity and attempting to beat the odds, while finding romance in the most unlikely place.

You might not like it if: You live for the summer: beaches, sun, volleyball, etc.

Similar Series: Free!, Haikyuu!, Cheer Danshi!, Kuroko’s Basketball

Note to the Viewer: Yuri on ICE has won all sorts of awards, including: “Animation of the Year: Television category” at the Tokyo Anime Award Festival and “Anime of the Year” at the inaugural Crunchyroll Anime Awards, showing a global appreciation of the series.

Yuri!!! on Ice Opening


AMV – Yuri’s Got Stamina by Victoria Putinski

Posted in Anime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Fragglepuss Anime Review 172: The Wind Rises / Kaze Tachinu

The Wind Rises / Kaze Tachinu

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Drama, Historical, Romance, Studio Ghibli, Flight

First Released: July 2013, 126-minute film

Summary: The Wind Rises is based on the true story of Jirou Horikoshi, creator of the Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter, the most famous airplane in Japanese history. Since he was a boy Jirou dreamed of airplanes. The dream follows him through disaster, tragedy, and an overall difficult life in the 1920s through the 1940s.

The Wind Rises is directed by none other than Hayao Miyazaki. As such, you know it’s going to be a quality film. The animation is top-notch, even by Studio Ghibli standards. I appreciate the attention to background detail that I’ve come to expect in Miyazaki films. The characters are also well drawn, based on a realistic appearance rather than something cartoony. The music is composed by Joe Hisaishi and has a fitting feel to the film. The English dub utilized such Hollywood talent as: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Martin Short, William H. Macy, Edie Mirman, and Mae Whitman.

Miyazaki once again uses several themes common to his films. The flight motif is obvious, coupled with pacifism. The protagonist is a male and is based in reality, which are both a break from Miyazaki’s standard female protagonist and somewhat fantasy base. I must say that I just adore Miyazaki films, he does such an amazing job with every film he directs. I’m always intrigued to see the Japanese perspective when I watch an anime based in reality. I’ve grown up learning history from an American perspective and am fascinated to learn how other cultures view historical events. Grave of the Fireflies affected me deeply by witnessing a World War II story told from the perception of a Japanese civilian.

You might enjoy this if: Like myself, you’re thirsty for history knowledge. The Wind Rises does not feel much like an anime, but instead a regular film that happens to be animated.

You might not like it if: You are accustomed to the Studio Ghibli fantasy films and a non-fiction style is too much for you to handle.

Similar Series: Usagi Drop, Grave of the Fireflies, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, When Marnie Was There

Note to the Viewer: The documentary film, “The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness”, uses the making of The Wind Rises to show the routine of Studio Ghibli. It goes into the life of the founding directors, details how films are created, and discusses the future of the company.

AMV – Levity by VermillionAMV

(Warning, the AMV contains minor spoilers)


The Wind Rises Trailer

Posted in Anime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Anime Happy Hour Podcast – Episode 19 – Spring 2017 Anime

Anime Happy Hour Podcast – Episode 19 – Spring 2017 Anime

Podcasters: John Fragglepuss Evans, Breanne Evans, Brittany Evans, Lindsay Starke

In this episode of Anime Happy Hour we look at the Spring 2017 season of anime. We chat about all the series we’ve been into.

Anime mentioned:

Alice & Zouroku

Anonymous Noise

Attack on Titan season two

Berserk season two


Eromanga Sensei

Love Tyrant

Clockwork Planet


We Love Rice!

My Hero Academia season two

Re: Creators

Seven Deadly Sins

What do you do at the end of the world? Are you busy? Will you save us?

World of Yamizukan

Thanks for listening!

Posted in Anime, Anime Happy Hour | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fragglepuss Anime Review 171: Perfect Blue

Perfect Blue

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Dementia, Horror, Psychological, Drama, J-Pop

First Released: February 1998, 80-minute film

Summary: Mima Kirigoe has been a member of the J-Pop idol group CHAM! For two years. She’s decided it’s time to move into an acting career, leaving her former life behind. She is ready to shed her idol image and embrace the life of acting, whatever that may bring. Unfortunately for Mima, some of her fans are not willing to accept that.

Mima’s first acting gig is on a crime drama series that makes her quickly realize being an actress is entirely different than singing. With her managers Rumi and Tadokoro by her side, she must embrace the world of acting to succeed. On top of that, an obsessed fan is unable to accept Mima’s change and begins on a nefarious path to stalk her. In case that wasn’t enough, an anonymous website has begun to impersonate her life in intimate detail. Each development causes Mima to become increasingly unhinged and unable to distinguish reality from fantasy.

Perfect Blue is directed by Satoshi Kon, whose works include such films as Millennium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers, and Paprika. It’s easy to see the similarities in his work, especially between this film and Paprika. The psychological aspect of the film was done well. It leaves you guessing as reality becomes undone at an increasing rate. I like this type of compelling show so I was onboard from the beginning. The dark and sophisticated nature of this psychological thriller was just the right amount of mind bend. The violence is intense but it fits the story.

It is interesting to be taken back to the late 1990s and see the infancy of internet culture. Despite being a pop idol, Mima is unfamiliar with the internet. Looking back, the internet was completely different 20 years ago and this film is a reminder of the sinister activities of the past.

You might enjoy this if: You are into psychological thrillers that leave you with a blurred line between reality and delusion. Imagine putting Requiem for a Dream, Black Swan, Mulholland Drive, and Paprika in a blender to create a Perfect Blue smoothie. Darren Aronofsky, director of both Requiem and Black Swan, has acknowledged similarities between Perfect Blue and his films.

You might not like it if: You want to sit down and have a laugh. Not much of that going on here.

Similar Series: Paprika, Akira, Monster, Ghost in the Shell, Millennium Actress

Note to the Viewer: Satoshi Kon directed several acclaimed films before passing away in 2010 at the age of 46 due to pancreatic cancer. He was working on his fifth feature film, Dreaming Machine, when he died.

Perfect Blue Trailer


AMV – Split Mind by Cyber-EG

(Warning, this AMV contains spoilers. Don’t watch it unless you’ve already seen Perfect Blue… Or ignore my warning and watch it anyway, what do I know)

Posted in Anime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments