Not so Casual Friday: The Last of Us Part II Debacle

Hello all,
it’s been a while since I’ve been able to really type something out like this so excuse me from renting a bit. Well unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months you have noticed that Sony has released its long-awaited Last of Us Part II to a lot of fan backlash. For those of you who are unaware, the game features a very heavy focus on LGBT themes throughout. While from the outset, this is fine the character of Abby is one that has stirred up the hornets nest of the gaming community so to speak. Sadly, some fans of even taking the low road and attempted to threaten the lives of many people associated with the product most famously voice actress Laura Bailey.

No stranger to the anime community, Mrs. Bailey is a very well-known voice actors boasting such roles as Toru Handa from the latest incarnation of Fruit Basket to her role as Nagisa from Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion Mrs. Bailey specializes in bringing characters to life across many mediums and with her signature unique voice. She has even appeared in the hit weekly Dungeons & Dragons tabletop podcast Critical Role wherein she and other voice actors play the tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. But this latest controversy stems from her portrayal of Abby as a somewhat manly stereotype lesbian.

Fans complain that Bailey’s character is far to Butch and unappealing to audiences. While this could be a product of the male gaze being subverted in this particular entry into the series Sony goes further in the game by making it more sexually themed peace. At one point in the game, Naughty Dog inserted a bowling motion captured, and fully acted sex scene between two characters. Sony who has taken a more family-friendly stance defendants this as an artistic choice. However, fans are outraged that such a thing is allowed to exist in this game. So much so that they would threaten not only the livelihoods of the game’s creators as well as Ms. Bailey but would reach into the forbidden territory of attacking family and friends.
I cannot stress enough how this sort of reaction by fans makes everyone in the gaming community look bad.. Much like the anime community and boy sector dichotomy the gaming community has taken it upon themselves to interfere in the creative process to a degree that they really should be able to. In fact I would say that the community centered around The Last of Us has taken their outrage into the same kind of insane reaction felt by voice actors, Korean and Japanese popular musicians, and anime creators experience with their rabbit and toxic fan bases.
This has become a very serious issue, we have reached a point with technology that we can interact with those who were previously untouchable and new and exciting way, but we misuse this power. We as fans owe it to ourselves to be more respectful of the creative process. Though we have our gripes, numerous as they may be, we have to endeavor to treats these activities and game designers or animators, and even creators with the same degree of humanity we expect of ourselves.

At the end of the day it’s just a job. Having worked in the media as both a screenwriter and an editor I can speak from experience as to the rigor of that job.

That is why I find the Last of Us backlash to be so irritating and honestly insane. Laura Bailey took on our role to bring a character to life and had no say in the gender politics or visual portrayal of that character. Therefore, I feel that it is criminally wrong to crucify her over social media and threaten her life over something so innocuous. If it is profane or degenerate content that you are outraged by simply take it up with Sony computer entertainment America or Naughty Dog as they act as distributor and publisher to the series respectively. And if we must threaten these people let us do so peacefully so as to not implode upon ourselves and stop the very mediums we enjoy from being as well acted, or well-made as we know they should be.
While Sony’s commitment to family friendliness in the subject for another day I hope they have learned from this and are better able to form a picture of what the fans are expecting. I honestly feel that the portrayal of LGBT characters especially in a story driven mediums such as video games needs fleshing out if it’s going to be used as a story element. Given the current climate lifestyle choices and the revocations of them deserve to be more respected by creators and fans alike.
I’m not just some keyboard warrior whose on a crusade for social justice. To be honest I have a heavy disrespect for that type of proud because in the end there just screaming at the top of their lungs while not really fighting for what they want. I’m simply someone who sees innocent people being picked on and abused by a community that doesn’t understand why they’re abusing. We as people should try the better. We owe it to ourselves at least that much.

I’m sorry for my first post a long time to be much more serious, but this one couldn’t be helped. Mrs. Bailey, I appreciate what you’ve done for the anime, American animation, and videogame communities and I just want to say I stand with you on this. While I doubt that someone is important to the voice acting community as you would read this I want you to know that we are not all that. If there’s anyone who still reads my blog I encourage you to give Mrs. Bailey a shout out on twitter and give her positive thoughts and reactions. This is Phoenix signing off.

An update on my life and my thoughts on depression

Hey guys,
it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to post like this so I hope everything’s good on your end. Last post, I mentioned a bit about depression. The simple reason behind that is because I have been rests. For the last two years I’ve been set to work on a Masters degree that, while enjoyable, was fairly destructive to my health. Throughout I learned a lot about the field of public relations and communication. Overall, it’s one of those things that I feel as though I’d be incomplete without but I guess the same can be said for any type of education.
But the constant grind mixed with the overwhelming amount of research and conception of new projects that I’ve had to go through in the interim had me at a mental loss. I tried doing everything that I would normally do to calm down and get my head under me but I just couldn’t do it. At first I thought the everything was beyond me. But, it will serve me to be a better person. The work has a way of molding it will help you become a better person.
I had several guiding forces in my life at the time the most potent of which is my father. For an old grease monkey, the old man know what he needed to give me to get me back out there and it turns out it was a good kick in the pants. He helped me to become better and more focused person. Then circumstances in life kinda called me to improve more. My girlfriend, known on this platform as sekaifan was and still is in need of medical insurance due to the fact the she is in need of medical care for a moderate disability. This brought me back to the state university it used to be my stomping ground.
So I spent the next two years researching communications in the field of disability. I ended up doing some work in criticism (ironic huh) regarding disability and the media. I even ended up writing a sixty-seven page thesis on the subject. Teachers all the while I felt like I was losing a part of myself. I throw myself more mourned my work and I started to collect bonds that I’d made over my life. You might think that the power of friendship would’ve help me out here in a way it did the all in all I found myself just going deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole of endless gray that is workaholism.
So I made a few new friends and brought back a couple of old ones from way back when. They helped me to figure out some things. Ironically, at this stage in my life they started inviting me over for the most wholesome of things. When we started having our weekly anime nights. We saw at least six of the twelve series in the time that we’ve done things and in that time we selected each one with us in mind. It was during a showing o fAnohana that I actually realized something. For the first time in a year and 1/2 I was actually enjoying watching a piece. Not only that I was actually emotionally invested again. Ironically, it seems that this lighthearted series was just what I needed to perk up my spirits and get through the hard moments in life at the time. That along with a trip to what I would like to call “my student psychiatrists” lifted me up to where I could have a much more positive attitude. This ended up getting me a job teaching public speaking and a few other minor classes, department.
Oddly enough, I found that I had a rather intense love of teaching. I love to watch students grow and understand the things that they didn’t. It led to a rather enjoyable class and one that I would still enjoy teaching to this day. In this moment everything started looking up I became better for.
The one thing I can say I really learned from the experience of falling down that rabbit hole and coming back again is you can’t give up halfway through. Here I sit typing away in a new post, a Phoenix risen from his own ashes. The way I see it we are all protagonists in our own stories and it’s up to us how that story continues. We see it all the time in our chosen medium, heroes fight against evil and this is no different. You have depression the fight is against yourself and it can hold no power over you unless you give it power. So after going through any type of depression or just generally a bad time in your life stand strong is your story is not over yet.So as cheesy as that sounds the best thing I can say for anyone going through that is rise and be your own hero

Possible future

Hello again Everyone,

Well I’m happy to say that everything’s working out For my master’s .Which leaves me with the new question in mind. Do I leave this blog the way it is or do I reopen it Reviewing a few  series while I’m out hunting for a job? Iwouldn’t be on here if I wasn’t seriously considering continuing , however I won’t be able to commit fully to anything until after the end of summer. But the factory mans I still love you guys an apology.I closed up shop summarily because I was overwhelmed by the work that I had on the table. I realize now that that was wrong. 
Ask few numbers that might be I’m afraid I owed you guys an apology. I know I haven’t really been dedicated to doing what I originally wanted to with this  but you guys stuck by me. For that I am profoundly grateful. So I’m not asking you to look out for what’s coming Or to expect a new review. Instead I want to ask you to let me make this place fun again. 

For a while now it’s not like a job whenever I Have actually had time to do it. To be honest I haven’t had time to sit down and watch any new stuff since 2018. On the rare occasion that I did I could never find myself enjoying anything. He would too often be worried about criticizing the next big thing and trying to pull everything apart.Even when I started watching anime with friends it wasn’t as nice as I used to be very good

So between work and more depression than I could really Deal with I’ve had a lot of time to think . It’s been a long time since reviewing a piece been fun for me. With that and the fact that the community has ran more more toxic over the years I’ve never really found myself enjoying the fandom as much as I did when I 1st started here.Will I ever recapture then again? Probably not, but I still want to be part of this community. I wanna have sensible conversations with fans that I actually enjoy what they’re doing.So, with that in mind I’m willing to try to open this place back up a bit. 

So I guess thank you guys for listening to this Article and hopefully There’s still some life in this site yet. But we shall see

Closing up shop

Announcment

Hello ladies and gentlemen,

I know it’s been quite a few months since I last published but my Masters degree is kicking in the high gear and I honestly need more time to work on that. So in the spirit of keeping things manageable in my life and in the real world I think it’s time to admit that this blog has run its course. I haven’t written a review and some time and even though I’d like to continue criticizing anime until the end of my days I’m afraid that my time working as a anime critic is being eaten by my desire to further my education. Therefore I am sad to say that I will be discontinuing this website until further notice. Thank you all for your patronage and your continued support.

Sincerely,

Joshua

the Phoenixotaku1990

Casual Fridays: Crohns and Colitis Awareness

crohs purpleHi guys, its that time of the week where I shed the mantle of the phoenix and take a minute to share the minutia of everyday life with my reader. Today instead of focusing on anime and anime-related content I would like to call you guys to arms so to speak and request that you rais awareness for a cause near and dear to my heart. As many of you know I am disabled by way of Cerebral Palsy (CP) and while it does hinder my day-to day life in terms of mobility dealing with it has taught me a great deal of patience in dealing with others whose particular maladies are not externally noticeable. After all just because an illness, direct effects cannot be seen does not mean those afflicted do not suffer. Our own site moderator, sekaifan1991, is so afflicted. Like so many she suffers from a rather burdensome illness that a few in her life refuse to recognize.

The bane of her existence is called Crohns Disease. For the uninitiated, Crohns is a lifelong condition that causes inflammation in the gastrointestinal track. As you might expect, this can cause anything from simple cramping to constipation and even intestinal blockages. Make no mistake, while they sound like simple symptoms in tandem they can be severe enough to leave a person bedridden for months at a time and suffering from indescribable pain. In the 13 years I have been with sekaifan1991, who is said to have to have a minor case, she has been hospitalized than 5 times for more severe symptoms. This literally places her life on hold and keeps her from seeking a lot of opportunities. While conventional biologic therapy helps to keep it at bay fo the short term a cure is surely needed.

This brings me to my reason for today’s post. Sadly, research into the cause, treatment, and prevention of Crohns is slow going and with many severe cases turning to chemotherapy to reverse their symptoms things look grim. But that is where you come in. Be you blogger or longtime reader I implore you please click here to donate to a reputable charity that raises funds to research Crohns and its sister-disease Colitis. Even if it’s just the $ 1.00 USD you are helping others and aiding in the cure effort. Together lets see this accursed malefaction banished from existence!

The Nostalgia Factor: Are the Rose-Tinted Glasses Blinding Us

Normally I would save a topic like this for an in-depth review, but a recent conversation with a fellow connoisseur of anime brought me around to to questioning the effect of nostalgia on the our perception of a given anime as good or bad. Humans are, for the most part, creatures of habit for the most part, and we tend to like revisit those things we most enjoy. Some may like the long-fused romance of CLAMP’s Clannad while others might better enjoy making a run through the shounen juggernaut Naruto No matter your choice of anime there is always that one show that a fan returns to over the years to recapture and relive one’s favorite moment. To many of us those anime are sacred in a sense and we often neglect to find faults in a given show.

This brings me to the titular question of rather nostalgia blinds us to the shortcomings of a show. During the conversation, as is common for us, we discussed our thoughts on certain anime with the catalyst of this discussion being his recent binge of the English dubbed version of Angel Beats. Speaking as a fan, I cited its reputation as a legendary feels anime and to my absolute shock he was not sold. While he did say that the emotional aspects of the anime were well-done he noted that the show seemed to lack a notion of what it wanted to be. According to him it jumped between comedy, action, and slice of life. While a busy plot is nothing new in terms of anime the way in which the three elements were coordinated to created to construct the viewing experience. Between, the convoluted aspects of the plot which I wont reveal given its potential for a review and the hidden elements that felt needed explanation he decried Angel Beats legendary status.

So, in order to prove him wrong I chose to dust off my reviewer’s trilby and gave it the critical treatment. Lo and behold he was right. The flaws I saw stuck out like a sore thumb. With the veil of my biases lifted I saw the show for what it was. Were the rose-colored glasses all that mad it great? Not entirely as I hold my belief that the anime is exceptional despite its flaws. Indeed, the rose-colored glasses of youth needs a great aspect to latch on to. In the case of Angel Beats I found that it was the characters and their interactions that drew me back. I found myself drawn to the very thing that makes it such a successful feels anime. In effect nostalgia is powerful but there has to be an ancor point there.

So, are the rose-tinted Glasses blinding us? Like many questions regarding taste in anime it’s subjective. Nostalgia has a stronger for some than it is for others. In the end, you like what you like and if you love a series enough recognizing its flaws should not change the experience. If it does maybe you are more attached to an anime’s reputation. Ergo, the answer to the titular question is both yes and no. What are your thoughts.

New Tumblr

Announcment

I have been experimenting with different oulets for social media forms lately and I had a dedicated Tumblr for the site. Sadly, I had ben hacked and have since been locked out of the original. Fear not I have created a new one. If you want to join in on the fun click here . Enjoy the new contact point and unique content. A new review is coming ad I thank you for your parience.

FLCL Alternative

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I don’t normally post something off the cuff like this but I have been so into FLCL’s new series since the premiere last saturday that I can’t help  it. Ladies and gentlemen it oes my heart good to tell you all that Fooly Cooly, better known as FLCL, has returned in the most spectacular way possible. The new series FLCL Alternative premiered on Adult Swim’s Toonami a little over a decade after the original series and the time put into the series reaslly shows in the new animation. While it is as yet unclear what connection FLCLA has to the orignal OVAs we can only hope that this brings som much-needed detail to the world of FLCL. Either way I’m psyched to see what Haruko has in-store for the four new protagonists.

Sadly, I cannot expand on my excitement due to work but rest assured there will be more to come.

New Staff Member

Announcment

Hello anime fans,

As most of my long-time readers can attest, I have been running the site solo for the past few  years. While that has been fun, I feel as though  it is time to add a new member to the site’s staff so that the site’s content and comment boxes  can be given the proper attention  they deserve. Following last year’s attempted DDoS attack and the subsequent  deletion of several reviews it dawned on me that no man can run a site like this by himself. With that sai, I have asked for someone dear to me to assist in the running of the Animeverse. Please welcome @sekaifan1991.

A Little Background on sekaifan1991

Sekai is a modest and all-around lovable woman whose history dates back to my high-school days. She’s a lover of popular culture who specializes in Korean, Taiwanese, and Japanese pop music and dramas.She has become  an integral part of my life and is key to the adoption of new policies that will be implemented here very soon. She is my partner in both love and encourages me to keep this site running. To my beloved, I bid you wecome. Readers, please bear in mind she is new to anime as a whole and will likely be shy posting. Otherwise please treat her as you would me.

Anime Review: Heaven’s Lost Property

Series: Sora no Otoshimono

Heavens Lost Property

Other Titles: Heaven’s Lost Property

Genre: Sci-Fi, Harem, Comedy, Supernatural, Romance, Ecchi, Shounen

Series Run: 13 Episodes (Approx 24 min per)

Distributor: Funimation

MAL Score: 7.62 (Rank #:1267)

Requested By: Andrew Ragsdale


If you are put off in any way by the lack of visual media within this review I am currently being forced to post on mobile and will return to the format I usually use shortly.

Introduction

It is TIME for this review folks. I have finally found time to sit down and truly this love-letter to fan service anime. I’ve had about a month to decompress after working on some, let’s say surly, research projects and I needed to relax. So, I did what any other respectable anime critic would. I binged the series in two days and I am ready to put my thoughts to paper. This is going to be fun. Let’s begin.

Storyline

Heaven’s Lost Property centers around Tomoki Sakurai, a perverted yet kind-hearted boy plagued by mysterious dreams foretelling the coming of an angel. His life is turned upside down by the sudden introduction of a wish granting angeloid by the name of Ikaros. A pink-haired, querky robot, starts off innocently enough doing things like granting Tomoki’s whims and associting herself with his neighbor and childhood friend Mitsuki Sohara, and going to a human middle school. This is a wonderful slice of life with a minor supernatural flvoring…until it goes off the rails.

This anime suffers from a lot of harem cliches that only serve to really weigh its characters down. Tomoki is your cookie-cutter lovable horndog protagonist with a heart of gold set apart from the mold by an unhealth panty obsession. Other than that the cast is essentially the RPG character-classes of harem anime. Sohara is the caring yet inhumanly strong girl next door, the class president, Mikako Satsukitane, is a kudare with a yakuza background, and even the angeloid Ikaros is just there to push the plot forward most of the time. Even characters like class eccentric Eishirou Sugataand the second angeloid Nymph, while a bit interesting, boil down to nothing save for the brotherly male and the lolita sundare stereotypes

Despite, the stereotypical cast, there is a decent story here. The only issue here is that it is covered up by every single possible inuendo and cliché it can pack into its runtime. The anime spends so much time on panty shots and Tomo’s pervesion that it is a slog to get any deeper significance from early episodes. As it is only 13 episodes, to have so much time devoted to fanservice really detracts from the depth that adds weight toward the end.

Once we get a bit of Icarus’s backstory and find out why she’s so limited in function compared to her blunette counterpart Nymph Heaven’s Lost Property gains a bit more clarity. Sadly, her past is barely touched on in this season with a sparse scenes dedicated to Ikaros past and leaving the viewer questioning who and what she might be. This forces the viewer to speculate on her or seek answers in the second season. While it is fortunate to have a secondary season and an OVA the lack of depth portrayed in the opening episodes may discourage viewrs who seek a good story-driven piece, but it is stylistically unique and fun.

Style

At first glance, Heaven’s Lost Property looks like any piece created in the 2010s with slightly moe inspired character designs. But when we look deeper there is a whimsical side to this anime where in chibi animation is implemented. I’ve never been a big fan of the Chibi art style, but the method by which is implemented here adds a rather unique bit of flare to a normally banal animation style. But, I will will say that it is a bit overused on some tense moments. However, as they’re are few and far between I can say it’s over all worth your time from a stylistics standpoint.

Sound Deaign

The sound design of Heaven’s Lost Property is actually what kept me hooked throughout the series. Composer Motoyoshi Iwasaki provide the stellar original soundtrack primarily composed of synth music but with a little bit of orchestral instruments here and there. The voice acting on the dub is made up of a veritable who’s who of the FUNimation stable. Greg Ayres, despite the lack of leading roles, does an admirable job as Tomo and Brittney Karbowski shows off a more robotic vocal quality as Ikaros which when combined make a rather likable pair. Wild things to do a great job the supporting is where the talent pool really shines. Will veterans like Eric Vale playing more eccentric roles like Sugata and the ever so lovely Jamie Marchi lending her sultry voice to the class president you are in for a treat. Of all of these, I feel Kara Edwards deserves praise for her performance of the lovable Lolita tsundare Nymph as I seriously think she got into it. Overall I found the dub more than palatable, though FUNimation should change up its voice cast.

Final Thoughts

Let’s get right down to it. Is Heaven’s Lost Property a great series worthy of any anime fans bucket list? No, but at the end of the day it’s not trying to be. It is aware that it is a perverted romantic comedy and it wears that badge proudly. Regardless of its faults I actually enjoyed this series and while it won’t be making my top five any time soon it’s definitely a guilty pleasure. But why take my word for it?

As always feel free to watch it yourself on Netflix and Funimation. If you feel inclined to own the series rather than stream it it’s available through RightStuf. It’s not a waste of a few hours and it gives you a few laughs. As always enjoy your day and keep watching. Thanks for your patronage.