When the Soul Eater manga came to an end in 2013, it took a bold stance and chose to have a win for peace, with no fists or weapons pointed at the enemy. Instead, weapon Meister Maka, the transforming human-scythe Soul and friends lay down arms to impede an unceasing wave of madness in their world, which threatens to corrupt their fellow students at the Death Weapon Meister Academy. Fans of the manga and the anime, which had ended some four years before, were disappointed in the loose ends left by author Atsushi Okubo. Certain plot threads were dropped to…


For decades in Japan, people have been disappearing. Coming home one evening, they have drawn the curtains or gone to their bedrooms and stayed there ever since, as though they have ceased to exist. It’s a societal phenomenon known as ‘hikikomori’, defining over one million nationals who have chosen a lifestyle of extreme withdrawal from society. The term is recognisable to many an otaku, who are used to seeing it applied to a pale, thin, agoraphobic and sometimes comedic creature who comes out of hiding only when the plot deems it necessary.

Often just as visible as their anime counterparts’…


The magical school in anime reflects a long-standing tradition of Japan plucking hidden (or not so hidden) gems from children’s literature. Harry Potter would come to visibly influence Little Witch Academia right from its original 2013 short film, with its quirky students, eccentric teachers and hidden secrets blending so well with the anime gospel of the power of love, friendship and loyalty. Akko Kagiri believes she is heading to Luna Nova Magical Academy to follow in the footsteps of her idol, the megastar witch Shiny Chariot. …


In anime, disability is often either something to be overcome, or something which makes a character stronger. It extends the character’s bodily limits along with the reaches of their compassion or fury, giving them far deeper reserves for their personal battles.

For Edward Elric, the driving force is far deeper than the loss of his arm and leg in an alchemical ritual gone wrong. His little brother Alphonse lost his entire physical form, still alive by the grace of the hulking suit of armour his soul is tethered to. Though Edward has lost much, his brother has lost part of…


The world’s water is the mother of all. It is where all life originated from, and where, with global warming, it seems fated to return. Anime acknowledges the many moods of water and how it can drag a body into dark emotional depths, mirroring as metaphor mental illness and social struggles. But in the same breath, it encourages its characters and the viewer to look to the same source for healing and strength.

Any character in Free! could attest to these polar opposites of power in water, but out of the whole of Iwatobi High School swim club, Makoto Tachibana…


Visions of heaven, hell and the realms between have been cropping up in our stories since stories have been recorded, and almost definitely before that. We are cursed with being the one species on Earth most aware and afraid of our own mortality, stemming from the fact that we have the most to lose in a material sense. So it makes sense that humanity hopes for something to exist beyond the grave and expresses that in art.

The original Japanese word for the land of the dead is ‘Yomi’, or ‘Yomi-no-kuni’. In mythology, Yomi bears little differentiation from the mortal…


Imagine you’re circling thirty in a job that leaves you so busy, luxuries like a love life and free time become increasingly rare until years have passed without so much as a date in almost a decade. Then imagine you’re Japanese, a nation where being reserved is the norm for so many young men, where the rates of births and marriage are dropping, and loneliness is becoming an epidemic. It’s easy to imagine and empathise with these lonely young men who feel powerless in society and their own lives. …


A childhood of summers blend and blur together, casting adolescence in the golden light of magic hour. As we get older, that summer becomes more like a fantasy of half-forgotten memories, distant and unreachable. Like a flower that blooms and then withers, the summer of our youth burns bright but must ultimately end. For the five living characters at the heart of Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day, that summer never ended. It became a fixed point, stranding them to an island none could escape or outgrow without a little help from a long-lost friend.

Jintan, Menma, Anaru, Yukiatsu…


Whether western or anime, animation is one of our earliest exposures not only to moving images, but to music. Often this music is either classical or jazz, a tradition which dates back to the earliest genesis of animation as an artform.

As with motion pictures and the entire movie industry itself, the origin of animation is an international affair, though its early roots run deep in the US. The very earliest forms of animation date back to the 1880s, with the first example ever printed on standard motion picture film following in 1906. Yet the first feature length animation —…


The history of motor racing is itself a history of the automobile industry. The dawn of the gasoline-powered internal combustion engine in the late 1800s fired the starting pistol on competitive driving, and motor racing sprang up all over the globe. Yet there is a tendency — perhaps even an assumption — to equate motor racing with America and, in particular, Europe. But Japan is possessing of a rich history in motor racing, and its own unique car culture. …

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