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Anime Review: No Game, No Life
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No Game, No Life
Directed by Atsuko Ishizuka
Based on the Light Novel Series by Yuu Kamiya
Produced by Madhouse, Media Factory
Voice cast: Ai Kayano, Yoshitsugu Matsuoka, Mamiko Noto, Mugihito, Naomi Shindo, Rie Kugimiya, Risa Taneda, Yoko Hikasa, Yuka Iguchi, Yukari Tamura.
Air dates: Streaming Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. CDT on Crunchyroll

Slacker. Ne’er-do-well. Non-conformist. Hippie. Hermit. Otaku. NEET. Hikikomori. Societies all around the world have come up with a wide range of names to describe people who have decided, for whatever reason, to drop out of the mainstream of society. Usually, there’s a lot of social stigma attached to the label, and the people who have to endure these labels seldom feel welcome in their respective cultures. Sometimes, the desire to get away from everyone and everything can be a very powerful thing. And that’s partly the motivation for a pair of gamer siblings in No Game, No Life, a series directed by Atsuko Ishizuka that is now streaming Wednesday mornings on Crunchyroll.

No Game, No Life tells the story of a brother-and-sister duo of gamers who have devoted so much of their lives to gaming together that they have become an urban legend, known only as [ ] (literally “kuhaku,” or “blank space”) with a reputation of never having lost a single game out of thousands of sessions across 280 or more different games. The pair is actually siblings Sora, 18, and his 11-year-old sister, Shiro, who are both NEETS (short for Not in Education, Employment, or Training) and are also Hikikomoris, or shut-ins.

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Anime Review: Pupa
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Pupa
Directed by Tomomi Mochizuki
Voice cast: Ibuki Kido, Nobunaga Shimazaki, Koji Yusa, Kyoko Narumi, Kenjiro Tsuda, Mamiko Noto, Mariya Ise, Shiori Mikami, Yurika Kurosawa
Studio DEEN, Earth Star Entertainment
Air dates: Streaming Thursdays at 2:30 PM CST on Crunchyroll

Japanese horror is a unique genre that touches on themes of possession, haunting, and psychological terror. Another recent phenomenon I’ve seen, particularly in the ONA, or Original Net Animation genre, is the under-five-minute format. The best series that are in this format have the ability to tell a compelling story in less time than it takes for the first act of a 24-minute show.

The series Pupa, now streaming on Crunchyroll as part of its new winter lineup, takes the horror/gore genre and combines it with the under-five-minute format, creating one hell of a mash-up.

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Anime Review: Student Council’s Discretion (Seitokai no Ichizon)
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Student Council’s Discretion (Seitokai no Ichizon)
Series directed by: Takuya Sato (1st series), Ken’ichi Imaizumi (2nd series)
Written by: Aoi Sekina, Jukki Hanada, Reiko Yoshida
Cast: Mariko Honda, Takashi Kondo, Misuzu Togashi, Yuka Saitou, Yuki Horinaka, Ai Shimizu, Haruka Tomatsu, Kazutomi Yamamoto, Mami Kosuge, Mamiko Noto, Ryoko Shintani, Takahiro Sakurai
Production: Kadokawa Pictures
Broadcast: Currently Streaming on Crunchyroll

Based on a light novel series written by Aoi Sekina, Student Council’s Discretion, or Seitokai no Ichizon, is a funny romp through the idiosyncrasies of anime and manga fandom, as well as the foibles of its own sometimes deeply flawed characters.

A prestigious private school named Hekiyou Academy is the setting for this self-effacing high school comedy, where members of the Student Council are elected by means of popularity contests. Kurimu Sakurano is the current President of the Student Council, along with Chizuru Akaba, the Council’s Secretary, Vice-President Minatsu Shiina, and her sister and Council Treasurer, Mafuyu Shiina. Rounding out this stellar cast is one male member, however: Ken Sugisaki, who acquired the coveted Student Council “Blue Chip” seat for Vice-President by being the top academic scorer on campus.

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TV Review: ‘The Eccentric Family’: Tanuki, Tengu, and Hotpots, Oh My!
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The Eccentric Family
Directed by: Masayuki Yoshihara
Written by: Ryou Higaki and Shotaro Suga
Voice cast: Takahiro Sakurai, Atsushi Ono, Ayane Sakura, Bon Ishihara, Hideyuki Umezu, Hiroyuki Yoshino, Junichi Suwabe, Kikuko Inoue, Kosuke Hatakeyama, Mai Nakahara, Mamiko Noto, Mutomu Kiyokawa, Nobuo Tobita, Ryoukichi Takahashi, Takehiko Higuchi.
Yomiuri Telecasting Corporation (YTV)
Air Dates: July 7, 2013 to September 29, 2013
Streaming Free on Crunchyroll

This summer, I had the distinct joy of discovering one of this year’s true gems of anime, The Eccentric Family. The production, directed by Masayuki Yoshihara, whose resume includes Angelic Layer, Dragonball-Z, and Ghost In the Shell-Stand Alone Complex among many others, ran live from July through September on Yomiuri Telecasting Corporation and was simulcast on Crunchyroll, where it now streams free for all users.

The Eccentric Family, or Uchoten Kazoku as it’s known by its Japanese title, takes place in modern day Kyoto and revolves around the trials and tribulations of the Shimogamo family, who are all tanuki, or raccoon dogs. Anyone who has seen Isao Takahata‘s film Tanuki War Pon-Poko knows that tanuki are shape-shifters and tricksters who have learned, somewhat reluctantly, to live among humankind. In this production, however, the tanuki are more than willing participants in society, although still somewhat cautious, and with good reason.

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