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To: Fans of Supernatural Anime

Wednesday, August 4, 2021 / No Comments

If you find yourself often buried in books or binging documentaries about alien conspiracies, then I have something in store for you. Well, not exactly the same thing, but close enough. Here are some anime with elements of the supernatural that hopefully catches your eye.

  1. Natsume Yuujinchou

The first anime I’d like to introduce is Natsume Yuujinchou, also known as Natsume’s Book of Friends. Undeniably one of my favourites. This slice-of-life series follows a boy who can see yokai (Japanese folk creatures) and his adventures with them through his grandmother, Reiko. 

Though passed, Reiko’s name was famous among the yokai as an extremely powerful, beautiful girl who would have duels with the Yokai. If they lost, she would write their names in the Book of Friends and thus obtain the power to command them whenever. 

Upon inheriting her book, kind-hearted Natsume’s goal is to return the yokai their own names, but it isn’t an easy task due to the temptations of the power the book possesses. Luckily for him, Natsume has an unusual partner to aid him in his journey 一 

一 Nyanko-sensei! Don’t be fooled by this seemingly innocent cat-like creature, for you are looking at one of the most powerful beast yokai with a condescending personality. Bound by a contract, Nyanko-sensei has to protect Natsume in order to obtain the Book of Friends after the latter passes. Although often exchanging snarky remarks with each other, the two soon form a connection no other can break.

If you ask me, their relationship is one of the best things in this show. What’s a better pairing than a soft boy and his tsundere yokai? 

Natsume Yuujinchou is all about relationships and connections. In the episodes, we see Natsume’s encounters with different yokai and the people around him. From reuniting yokai to meeting exorcists, we see how his impression of each of them changes over every experience. From accepting your own differences to knowing when to let go, we learn a meaningful lesson with him every single time. 

If you’re down for a heartwarming and wholesome anime, Natsume Yuujinchou is your pick. In fact, you have six seasons and one movie to binge through. 

  1. Fukigen na Mononokean  

To me, this anime is a hidden gem and a great choice for those who enjoy dashes of comedic moments and running gags. Fukigen na Mononokean, also known as The Morose Mononokean, is similar to Natsume Yuujinchou and revolves around a boy named Hanae who has the ability to see yokai. As a matter of fact, he actually collapsed on the first few days of school because of a yokai that was clinging to his back. 

Wanting to get rid of the yokai, Hanae seeks the help of Haruituski, the owner of a traditional Japanese tea room called The Mononokean - which is in fact, an extremely huge yokai that communicates via a wall scroll. After granting him the favour, Haruitsuki swiftly uses the debt that Hanae owes him to rope the latter into helping him escort yokai into The Underworld (aka exorcise). 

With every episode, watch as Hanae comes to terms with his ability and bonds with the stern Haruitsuki, and try not to squeal over the cuteness portrayed in this show. If you’re someone who can’t resist cuteness, then you definitely can’t resist watching this anime. Reason being?

Fuzzy! Yes, that’s the name Hanae gifted his newly-found friend. Doesn’t it live up to its name? 

That aside, this anime has incredibly interesting and fresh visuals. It comes with a myriad of colours that are a delight to see. Especially with scenes in The Underworld, you’ll get to view a colourful and saturated world with unusual creatures. 

With two seasons, this anime is an easy and pleasing watch 一 I hope you enjoy your time there! 

  1. Kemono Jihen 

We are taking a sharp turn here, but it may be right up your alley. That is, you’re into criminal cases and some splashes of gore (and bonus: Jujutsu Kaisen). Kemono Jihen introduces a world where demons, each with their own special ability, secretly coexist with humans. The show revolves around a somewhat emotionless but extremely powerful boy named Kabane, who gets taken in by a detective running an agency that specializes in kemono-related cases. 

Kabane is an odd character, to say the least. He is almost like an empty shell, but as the story progresses, you get glimpses of the little changes in his character. His blunt remarks and the way he takes words at face value really chalk up to the show’s humour, especially with the other characters in the agency. 

There are many unusual characters in this anime, ranging from a tsundere fox spy to a vampire gamer. There is not a dull moment in their interactions and each character has their own story and intentions - you can never really guess the true colours of one. 

Paired with the gritty cases Kabane encounters, you’re in for a ride. Explore what makes someone good and someone evil, and watch the main character learn to trust and depend on his friends and comrades in times of need. 

Watching this anime is like going on a rollercoaster. Your heart can be beating frantically in one second and melt in the next, at the most unexpected times. Although of a dark nature, underneath all that, Kemono Jihen is about connections between people and character growth. You learn to care for the characters as you watch them struggle to overcome obstacles, never giving up, and admire their determination to battle their inner demons. 

If you’re giving this series a try, then be ready 一 or not. It’ll be a wild one. 

P.S. Here’s a bonus anime: Hotarubi no Mori e 

A 45-min movie about a human girl, an enchanted forest, and a gentle, masked yokai. The human girl and the yokai grow a close bond but have never been able to physically touch one another, as the yokai would disappear upon a human's touch. This dream-like, magical adaptation will play with your emotions, make you wish for the impossible, and leave you with bittersweet memories.  

But it’s worth every second. Just a warning, though 一 try not to get too attached. 

Written by Potato.

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Anime at the Olympics

Tuesday, August 3, 2021 / No Comments


The past two weeks have definitely been an exciting time for everyone around the world as they watch the olympics from the comfort of their own homes. There's something about cheering for the athletes representing your country, or even discovering new athletes to idolise from other countries. It's definitely fun to see so them in action too, after one year of uncertainty due to the pandemic. But alas, here we are! 

As we watch our favourite sports, I can't help but think that these were also presented in anime I have seen before. Volleyball? Haikyuu. Swimming? Free! Boxing.... Megalo box! Well, these are just the fan-favourites. However, there are also a lot of other sports anime out there that can probably make you think of the sports in olympics as well, and I would love to share them with you all.

Starting from...

Hanebado - Badminton

I remember picking up this gem back then because of the first anime trailer that was shown. The details in the animation are so immaculate, and it is something I believe should be emphasised in a sports anime. Strong girls and badminton? Sign me up!

Just look at the smooth animation~

Besides badminton being the main drive of the anime, there's a lot of surprises in the main character, Ayano's backstory that will simply surprise you. The badminton matches are really intense, and it makes you feel the same tension when you watch a badminton match at the olympics. Above all that, it's also nice to see slight hints of slice-of-life elements as it is also after all, set in a high school setting we are all familiar with. 

Harukana Receive - Beach Volleyball

Haikyuu has volleyball, and Harukana Receive is the go-to for beach volleyball! This show is a wholesome take on the sports genre, as it features Haruka, the genki main character of the series who actually knew nothing about beach volleyball, until being coerced to join the sport by her cousin. This underdog story is definitely a fun one, as they make their way up in competitive beach volleyball, while also maintaining the overflowing moe-ness. 

While this anime delves on beach volleyball on a more lighthearted context, it is also nice to see real volleyball matches like the hand signals player would put behind their back before a serve. As every point counts in volleyball, you want to gain an advantage over your opponent. The subtle hand signal is usually initiated by the 'Setter' and may, for example, inform the left and right Spikers who she will pass the ball to so that Spiker will be ready when the ball is served to her. 

In real life

In the anime

All in all, Harukana Receive is a light-hearted sports anime that livens up the world of beach volleyball. 

Ping Pong the Animation - Table Tennis

Ah, Ping Pong (or also known as table-tennis)... The sport of chops, flicks, smashs, spins and counter spins that reigns a great deal of skill in Singapore. Our country has won a silver medal and a few bronze medal in earlier olympics, and continue to still do well this year, despite not having any medals. Always proud of our players!

Well in anime, one that I remember fondly is Ping Pong the Animation. It is a very stylised sports anime that might only cater to a few who will be interested to watch it. Do you know that different type of rubber produces different type of spins and speed. The softer rubber will cause the ping pong ball to spin at a crazy rate, often sending the block shots outside of the table. The harder type of rubber enables one to flick and smash at a phenomenon speed that are harder for the opponent to react.

I'll vouch for it as it is a really good take on the highly fast-paced ping pong sport. And don't you like to hear the sweet sound of the ping pong ball smashing against the table?

Here's a clip just to get you accustomed to the style and flow of the anime:

Free! - Swimming

And of course... Another sport us Singaporeans are most familiar with. We even have our first gold medal in that sport back in 2016! That brings us to the anime, Free! 

Free! has a total of 3 seasons, as well as a few movies that were made. They were produced by the amazing Kyoto Animation, who never disappoints with their beautiful art style. Free! is a very popular anime, and it is indeed a great watch. While following the budding relationship between the boys in the Iwatobi Swim Club, the anime also delves on rivalries and backstories that makes the show more than just about swimming competitions. Also, it is always fun to watch the relay portions in the show as they follow the similar structure of 4x100m relay in the olympics. Have you observed that for the male swimmers specialising in different styles, their body tends to be:

Back stroke - long and V-shaped
Butterfly stroke - muscular shoulders and chest
Breast stroke - broad shoulders and long body
Free style - broad shoulders and V-shaped

So if you prefer your body to look like any of these, train and swim with the corresponding style.

And of course, wonderful animation to top it all off.

Kuroko no Basuke - Basketball

And we can't speak of Free! without mentioning Kuroko no Basuke, which is almost always mentioned closely to Free! without fail.

Kuroke no Basuke follows a high school basketball team as they go on to win championships and showcase the different players in the team. Basketball is a very popular sport in the media too with so many tall men and women in a group. I am so amazed how basketball players in NBA can take off, do a 360 or between the legs and slam dunk with such athleticism and the incredible accuracy of Stephen Curry shooting from downtown. 

What's interesting in the anime Kuroke no Basuke is that some of the members in the basketball team have names that correspond to the colour of their hair. For example...
1. Aomine's hair is blue, and Ao in Aomine translates directly to blue from Japanese.
2. Akashi - Red 
3. Midorima - Green
4. Murasakibara - Purple

Amusing isn't it? 

If that interests you, dabble in some basketball action in Kuroke no Basuke! 

Megalo box - Boxing

Ahh, Megalo Box... One of the coolest anime I have seen. Certainly matches to the coolness of boxing as a sport. It's exciting, it can be dangerous, but it is very much a sport that captures the audience's attention. Megalo Box follows Joe, a character that might seem to harbour a different ethnicity but that's what makes it refreshing to see in an anime. The world of boxing is then taken underground, but beneath the surface of the obscure community, exciting events await. It's also interesting to note that the boxing here establishes the use of mechanical limbs, which is something we don't actually see in the real olympics. Yet, it doesn't deny the awesomeness of the sport. 

Hajime no Ippo - Boxing

And of course, how can we talk about a boxing anime without mentioning the pioneer, Hajime no Ippo? 

Hajime no Ippo first aired 2000, almost 20 years ago! It's amazing that such a wonderful sports anime still remains relevant even till today. The art style is nostalgic, and the endearing story of how Ippo rises to the challenge of being a boxer is one that can be seen in the anime. The way they animate the punches in the anime is one that really makes you go "ooof!" and that is the beauty of the anime that was made 20 years ago. 

Ace of Diamond - Baseball 

Another iconic sports anime to note is Ace of Diamond, which features the sport, baseball. Baseball is a sport that features quite a number of players in a team, so it's definitely fun to see the different roles in the team. 

Ace of Diamond is an anime that has a really fun group of members in a team. Everyone has great personality, along with such wonderful skills considering the power of the Seidou baseball team. The show also teaches real-life baseball techniques that connects the viewers to the sport. Now I'm wondering how many people are inspired to pick up baseball after watching this... 

Princess Nine - Baseball 

And then there's one for the girls too. 

As you can tell from the cover image, Princess Nine is an older anime, much older than all of the other anime that have been listed so far. But it's always amazing to see girls playing sports together, and Princess Nine is one that gives off "A League of Our Own" vibes. Depicting girls in a male-dominated sport is definitely not an easy feat, especially at the time this anime was made so there may be a few hiccups here and there throughout the watch. Nevertheless, it is nice to see a female rendition of a baseball anime. 

Iwa Kakeru!: Sport Climbing Girls - Sports Climbing

Just like sports climbing being a new sport featured in the Tokyo Olympics, Iwa Kakeru is also a one of the newer sports anime that was released. 

While I haven't got the chance to actually watch the anime yet, I have seen an episode and was amazed that a relatively new and niche sport has found its place in animation. It seems like an anime that balances slice-of-life and sports at the same time, so if you're in the mood for something that is slightly more relaxed while also appreciating the craft in sports climbing, give it a try! I've heard in Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the top climber can scale the 15m wall under 6 seconds. That's about the speed you take to finish reading this sentence.

Yowamushi Pedal - Cycling

Cycling is another sport in the olympics that sees itself branching into other types of cycling, such as the adrenaline-pumping track cycling and the newly introduced BMX racing. In Yowamushi Pedal, cycling is the main drive of the anime. 

A largely popular sports anime, Yowamushi Pedal follows an otaku Onoda who just wants to join the anime club, only to realise that it has been disbanded. This then diverts his attention to cycling, especially since the bike is his mode of transport. With 38 episodes, there's bound to be a good fun in picking up this series, especially if you're a bike lover.

Run with the Wind - Running 

Bikes are now removed and the best way to gain speed on a track is to run! Running a is largely popular sport in the athletics portion of the olympics, and they too, break into different types of runs that can be as short as a 50m sprint, or as long as a 5000m run. It is also wonderful to note that running has found its place in anime as well. 

If you look hard enough, don't you think the characters here are drawn similarly to the characters in Haikyuu? That's because they are from the same production studio, Production I.G. Run with the Wind isn't as popular as compared to the likes of Haikyuu, but I believe it deserves the same amount of attention. Every character looks so different from each other, which makes the cast so diverse and compelling. Also, it's fun because this track team takes place in a University, unlike the typical high-school setting. It's inspiring and the palette of the anime is beautiful. Truly a hidden gem for such a wonderful sport. 

Tennis no Ouji-sama - Tennis

Also translated to Prince of Tennis, this anime is probably one of the pioneers of tennis anime. 

Despite the intensity of the various tournaments in Tennis no Ouji-sama, the show doesn't take itself too seriously, using comical and exaggerated means in the boys' actions during the game to amp up the tennis antics. It's fun to watch and definitely a nice look into tennis. 

Days - Soccer 

Soccer anime is one that is scarce in the world of sports anime. Days is one of the few of them. 

Unlike most sports anime where the sports action drive the series, Days focuses more on the characters and their lives, with soccer as a medium to drive the relationships together. It is a nice watch, with elements of friendship and a right amount of action. Soccer has a large team, so do expect the large cast here entertain you with the variety of personalities that can be shown in the anime! 

All Out!! - Rugby

While I haven't actually seen this anime, I managed to hear about it and it's nice that there's an anime for rugby as well! 

It's nice that there are different body shapes presented among the cast of characters in this anime, so that's something worth looking out for. 

And lastly... 

Haikyuu!! - Volleyball

The one anime that was actually talked about a lot during the olympics, when the Japanese team were largely compared to the boys from the Karasuno High volleyball team. Many have even heard the Haikyuu theme song play during the match at the olympics. Amazing how much impact an anime can make.

It's worth all the hype though, because the anime is impeccable for a sports anime. Besides the members of the volleyball team who have come to be fan-favourites among Haikyuu lovers, it is also worth noting that the anime pays a lot of attention to the sport in real life, mimicking tactics and making sure that the technical display is done accurately. The anime brings such a closely-knitted team into the heartstrings of viewers, leaving a mirthful feeling once they reach the finale of the show. 

Honourable Mentions:

Here are some sports anime that are worth watching but aren't actually sports that would be seen at the olympics. 

How Heavy are the Dumbbells you Lift

You would expect this anime to reflect the olympics sport, weightlifting judging by the title. However, there isn't actually any lifting in the show itself. This anime shows more of exercising and getting fit. It's a really good anime however, and you should give it a try if Mr Macho over there intrigues you. I have done an anime review on this series before, so do check it out too if you'd like! 

Uma Musume: Pretty Derby

Horse girls... Close enough to the equestrian sport in the olympics, yet not quite there. Nevertheless, Uma Musume Pretty Derby is a really fun show about horse girls racing each other. It is a work from PA Works, so do expect top-notch cute-girls-doing-cute-things moments mixed in with sports action in this anime. 

With that, I have come to the end of the anime at the olympics! I hope that was a fun read to accompany the olympics season. There are still a few more days left to the end of the olympics, but I'm sure these few days have been fun :)

Written by: kimizomi

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