I’m a huge sucker for anime that involves martial arts. Heck, for anything that involves martial arts. I dream about one day becoming a disciple of a certain martial arts form, but that day may be behind me (my only training was trying lethal moves out on my sister, in a joking manner of course). But the adrenaline and inspiration that martial arts injects into me makes me feel like I can do anything. And a character like Kenichi: History’s Mightiest Disciple proves it.
Although this anime boasts 50 episodes (and OVA’s to come), it is rather simple and extols the teachings and techniques of martial arts. Kenichi “Weak Knees” Shirahama (Josh Grelle) is just what his nickname suggests. Picked on all the time at school and always outcasted, Kenichi joins the school’s Karate Club in order to become stronger. After being
Kenichi and the masters of Ryozanpaku!
threatened by the biggest kid in the club, Kenichi is worried for his life. And his alien looking friend Haruo Niijima (Todd Haberkorn) confirms this.
Until one day when Kenichi’s entire life changes. Rescued by a new transfer student to the school, Miu Furinji (Carrie Savage), Kenichi discovers a way to fight back against all those bullies. Joining the Ryozanpaku dojo, Kenichi becomes the sole disciple and strongest hero by story’s end.
Miu, the boob action in the show. Pretty ridonk fighter though.
What I liked most about this show, other than the martial arts, is the sensei’s of the dojo. There’s Hayato Furinji (R. Bruce Elliott), the wizened leader of the gym who is basically unstoppable. Although he’s not around, he supports Kenichi and his granddaughter Miu. There’s Shio Sakaki (Christopher Sabat) the drunken comedy and Karate master. His punches are fierce and so is his standoffish personality. He likes Kenichi like a father (although he already has one) and pushes him to do better. Apachai Hopachai (Sonny Strait) is the dumb guy in the group. He’s lovable and friendly, but he doesn’t know his own strength. Always kicking Kenichi into the atmosphere, he loves calling out his name when he performs Muay Thai (my favorite. Period.) Shigure Kosaka (Trina Nishimura) is the weapons expert of the group. She doesn’t talk much, but makes up for it with quick sharp wit with her blade. Kensei Ma (Vic Mignogna) is an interesting old man. Bald and brazen, he brings the pervert aspect into the anime. Always taking pictures, he still finds time to teach Kenichi Chinese Kenpo (softer martial arts). And last but not least, Kenichi’s main teacher, Akisame Koetsuji (Kent Williams). His intelligence and artful technique pervade every aspect of his life. He can usually be seen forcing Kenichi to tow him around on a tire attached to a string through the city streets.
The Shinpaku alliance!
And there are far more characters than that that add spice to this show. As I mentioned before, Niijima is a wonderfully slithery character. His art of running away never fails, and his PDA never fails on recon. Todd Haberkorn brings a wildly raucous character to life with his evil alien features. And then there’s Ragnarok. Considered all to be Kenichi’s arch rivals, Kenichi must defeat them in order to keep from dying (or anything else terrible). One of my personal favorites is Hermit (Eric Vale) this solemn and quiet character has a masterful technique and an iron will. Eric Vale does a wonderful job as usual as a character who never gives up with a great dramatic voice. Jerry Jewell plays a ferociously sinister character I can’t really talk about, but he’s worth waiting for. And J. Michael Tatum does a voice I didn’t recognize at first with Ikki Takeda, the boxing beauty with shiny blue hair.
With all of these wonderful Funimation voice actors and so many characters, nothing could be better. And then you get down to all the fighting. Although some of it may be unrealistic and come with explosions of light and unheard of power with your fists, the technique is there. I’ve learned more from watching Kenichi than I have from anything else. I know moves, fluid techniques, and trick moves too. I know their names and why they’re significant, I might as well have just
Niijima and his wonderfully alien good looks.
watched a Discovery Channel show on it. And from so many different countries! China, Japan, Thailand, and any other Asian country that may have been mentioned. This show displays a sort of U.N. like congregation of the wonders and majesty of martial arts and brings them together in one wonderful show.
This show may floor you.
The plot is simple and straightforward, pulling no punches (pun-ch intended). Kenichi must systematically defeat and conquer enemies and his fears in order to become the best. What more of an archetypal story do you need? Throw in a whole lot of comedy, boobs, and amazing fighting technique, Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple is one of the best shounen out there. Get some of that kick ass. 8.3 out of 10.
Naruto. What is there to say about Naruto? What is there to truly say about one of the most ballin’ animes currently running? Well there’s a lot more to say than that it’s just balling. This show fulfills every young boys’ dream of becoming a ninja. And not just any ordinary ninja, but a true Shinobi with Ninjutsu and Thaijustsu for days. You got the Kunai and Shuriken, and the classic substitution technique. These young children Shinobi put legitimate ninjas to shame. They are unstoppable. And this show is infectious.
But there’s just one debate we have to deal with before we move on to the plot of Naruto. And that is: Naruto Dubbed vs
Naruto and the power of his Nine-Tailed Fox.
Naruto Subbed? There are those younger kids who would argue dubbed, due to an ability to watch a show (not read, though not a valid argument) and a lot of younger kids watched this on Cartoon Network. There are a handful of good voice actors in the show that make it worth watching it. But there’s the flipside of the coin. The subbed version, when it comes down to it, is better done. There’s swearing, and Rock Lee’s secret technique isn’t called Loopy Fist. That was a bit of a disappointment. For a more serious tone for the older fans of Naruto should watch the subbed version. But it all comes down to a preference of English vs Japanese. It’s the same show, just a different feel. It’s all up to you.
The starring team: Sakura, Sasuke, and Naruto!
So, Naruto is a show about Naruto Uzumaki (Maile Flanagan). He is a ninja in training and hoping to become the leader of the village he lives in one day, known as The Village Hidden in the Leaves. The Third Hokage, leader of the village, sees much promise in Naruto and hopes that his sensei’s, Iruka Umino (Quinton Flynn) and Kakashi Hatake (Dave Wittenberg). With his teammates Sasuke Uchiha (Yuri Lowenthal), the cool calm-headed prodigy out to prove himself, and Sakura Haruno (Kate Higgins), the hot-headed and pretty much useless book smart girl, Naruto can’t fail in his mission to become the best. Believe it!
So many great characters in the world of Naruto!
There’s a lot of arcs and sections in this show. There’s the introduction of all the characters, the Chunin exams (the test that sees if you’re ready to become the next level ninja), and the battles between Orochimaru (Steven Blum) and his henchmen. With each trial for Naruto comes more responsibility and more powers. The show culminates in a huge twist and leaves more than 60 episodes of fillers that have nothing to do with the main plot. That’s not to say that there aren’t fillers throughout that aren’t cool and entertaining, I personally found a lot of the fillers to be funny and not so much a detraction from the show as an enhancer of the lesser characters. And how many cool characters there are.
There’s the 12 Ganin, 3 of which I’ve already mentioned. There’s Kiba Inuzuka (Kyle Hebert), the dog master of Akamaru and a master of, well, I’ll let you check everyone’s powers out. Shino Aburame (Derek Stephen Prince) is the master of bugs, and one of my favorite Shinobi in the show. Filling out Team 8 is Hinata Hyuga (Stephanie Sheh), the master of soft palm. She has a huge crush on Naruto but never
Team 10, led by the great Shikamaru.
reveals it in the original Naruto, an unfortunate thing.
Team 10 is made up of some real destructive masters as well. Choji Akimichi (Robbie Rist), the expanding fat kid with a penchant for lots and lots of niblets and chips. Shikamaru Nara (Tom Gibis) one of my favorite characters in the show and one of the only truly gifted in the series. His ability with shadows will leave you… breathless. And then there’s Ino Yamanaka (Colleen O’Shaughnessey), the useless girl who is more useless than Professor X. (You’ll see why.)
Look at Shino back there, bein’ all wiznerd and whatnot.
And then there’s Team Guy, the most masterful of all the masters. Led by Might Guy (Skip Stellrecht), his mastering of the physical Thaijustsu is just too legit to quit. Under Guy’s tutelage is Rock Lee (Brian Donovan), the only kid who will never quit and always fights to the end with his Flying Leaf Hurricane. Tenten (Danielle Judovits) is a weapons master and is always twirling and releasing weapons on everyone’s asses. And the semi-leader of the team is Neji Hyuga (Steve Staley) master of his cousin’s soft fist and intelligent as Hell.
All of these awesome characters flesh out a show about honor and friendship, being the best and doing everything in your power to prove your self worth. There’s self discipline, training montages, and
And Team Guy, they pack a whallup of a punch.
everything you wanna see in a shounen of this magnitude that needs to be seen by all young men out there that need a great role model in their lives, or just a great action cartoon/anime. Oh, and don’t forget the villains! I already mentioned Orochimaru, but there’s the best character and best voice actor that needs to be mentioned, nay, worshipped. Gaara (Liam O’Brien) is a disciple of the Village Hidden in the Sand, and a true beast of a fighter. With a gourd full of sand that does his every bidding, there’s more than meets the eye to this character. And he will completely slaughter you. Two words: SAND COFFIN.
And don’t ever forget Gaara. SAND COFFIN.
So watch this show for sure. The production value gets better as the show goes along, and for those that like dubbed anime, it’s not the worst in the world. And that brings up an issue. Maile Flanagan ruins this show. She may have a similar voice that can mirror the tone that Naruto Japanese version can do, but that’s just a bit of a stretch. Maile Flanagan’s whiney voice and childish lines leave a lot to be desired from a leading role. Oh, and, well, it’s just gross. Sorry there, Flannie old pal, but it’s probably for the best the dubbed version was cut off in the middle of Naruto Shippuden. But, for overall story and deliverance, Naruto as a whole, for all it’s worth, deserves a 8.8 out of 10. Definitely top 10 anime of all time to watch before you die. (You can skip the fillers.)
Ever since my girlfriend and her sister cosplayed the Thompson twins from Soul Eater, I had developed a growing
Liz and Patty. Yes.
interest in watching Soul Eater. I didn’t realize at the time what this show would hold in store for me. (Added bonus if Christopher Sabat does any voice in an anime.) As I began watching this 51 episode anime, I found myself falling in love with the characters and caring for what would happen to them (although I had the ending ruined for me by complete accident.) It didn’t detract from the pulse-pounding episodes of battle after battle that ensued, and I found a new love in this Halloween-type anime that sent chills down my spine and laughs throughout my body as I spent a week watching this amazing anime. I was enraptured.
This anime follows the story of three “Meisters” and their “Weapons.” These duos of weapon and wielder take on what are known as Kishins, the tainted souls of creatures that have become monsters and feed on other people’s souls. Once 99 Kishin souls are collected, and one witch’s soul, then the weapon is deemed worthy of being used by Lord Death. This grim reaper is the essential Headmaster of the DWMA, also known as the Death Weapon Meister Academy. He installed this school to battle Kishins, and it has done a good job up to this point.
The doom and gloom of Death City.
It is at this point that things begin to go downhill. The evil witch Medusa (Luci Christian) and others have made plans to bring down the DWMA, and it is up to three brave Meisters, Maka Albarn (Laura Bailey), Black Star (Brittney Karbowski), and Death the Kid (Todd Haberkorn) to defeat the evil plot of the witches and Kishins. Teamed up with their weapons, Soul Eater (Micah Solusod), Tsubaki (Monica Rial), and the Thompson twins Liz (Jamie Marchi) and Patty (Cherami Leigh).
So it may seem weird that Meisters, who are people, are fighting using weapons who are also people. But these people are born with the ability to change into weapons at will. These weapons are special as well. A Meister and its Weapon have a special bond known as Soul Resonance. This bond allows Meister and Weapon to combine into one soul and creates a higher power in which to defeat enemies. But these three are not on the level of the Professors or Lord Death himself at the DWMA. And it is the school’s purpose to train these Meisters and Weapons in order to make them formidable opponents against Kishins.
The one thing that stands out about this anime, to me, is the style in which the plot is set. The doom and gloom of death and souls is combined with the comedic
Soul Eater. With some pizazz.
drawings of the artists. This gives it an anime meets Nightmare Before Christmas feel to it. The grinning Sun and Moon with blood dripping from their teeth give it that comedic element, mixed with the morbid. The grim reapers and monster encountered, drawn in what appears to be Jack the Ripper Whitechapel area sets up one of the best environments I’ve ever encountered in an anime.
Black Star. Badass.
And there are some great english voice actors that are in this anime. It would take too long to give a whole list, so I’ll just highlight a few. I thought Micah Solusod gave a great performance as Soul Eater, Maka’s weapon scythe. His grave voice and determined attitude comes across great through Micah, although I’ve never heard of him before. Brittney Karbowski was amazing as the cocky Black Star, my all time favorite ninja child and all around badass. John Swasey was great as Lord Death. His goofy voice gave the anime a Jack Skellington element with his personality and outlook. Vic Mignogna was hilarious as Maka’s father and Death Scythe Spirit. His obsession with seeking his daughter’s approval was always worth a laugh. Chuck Huber was fantastic as the madness induced Professor Doctor Franken Stein. His tormented character fought back and forth, and this was amazingly done by Huber. Maxey Whitehead was great as the insecure, gender-bender Crona. The duo of Crona and Ragnarok against the world and the lack of acceptance was heart wrenching to say the least. And yes, Troy Baker was amazing as Excalibur, the useless, fool dueling weapon of legend and lore.
And that’s about it. To get too much into the story might ruin the anime with spoilers, so I’ll leave you with this. If you’re looking for a light-hearted shonen with gore, guts (courage/bravery), and glorious fighting, this anime is for you. I give Soul Eater a 9 out of 10.
And here’s a taste of the show with a tribute to Death the Kid and the sexy Thompson Twins. Hooray.
This short little anime is a bit different from what I’ve recently been watching. Black Blood Brothers, better known as, basically, old vampires, is the story of, well, old vampires. Versus basically new vampires. It’s like Blade 2. This is essentially 12 episodes of an instance in the life of Jiro Mochizuki. He’s one of the old blood vampires that quelled the rebellion of the Kowloon Children at Hong Kong. Complicated backstory that is explained throughout the episodes. But this anime is basically about his return to Hong Kong, more specifically, the Special Zone.
Now this Special Zone is “special” because it is a safe haven for vampires. Of all sorts. Well, more vampires that are Kowloon Children. And this anime is about some Kowloon Children getting into the Special Zone. Unfortunately. Jiro is not initially allowed into the Special Zone, but he’s allowed “if” he helps quell a second rebellion. And this time, Jiro has his younger brother in tow. And with the help of a vampire mediator, we’ll
A handful of characters for you.
see what happens.
This vampire anime is a slightly different take on what it means to be a vampire. These vampires hate sun, but don’t necessarily die in it. They don’t like water either, and can die in it. They drink blood to replenish their powers, but won’t kill or turn humans who they suck blood from. Silver kills them for sure. And the humans utilize that to keep them in line. The only way humans (red bloods) can be turned into black bloods (vampires) is if vampires let humans drink a bit of their vampire blood. It doesn’t happen often, but it can happen. (Unfortunately not in this anime.)
J. Michael Tatum as Jiro.
But yes, this is the story of Jiro vs. the Kowloon Children. And Jiro is done by quite the voice actor. J. Michael Tatum, a voice actor I met at Anime Boston, voiced Jiro, the Silver Blade. He does quite the good job at an English accent, and that’s due to his speech therapist, an old English hag (Just kidding). Colleen Clinkenbeard voices Mimiko Katsuragi, the mediator between the humans (The Company) and the vampires of the Special Zone. Colleen does great work and voices good female characters, one of the best female voice actors that Funimation provides. Jerry Jewell provides the voice for Zelman Clock, a rather mischievous old blood vampire with an affinity for fire and a vehement tongue, the perfect combo for Jerry Jewell himself. Brina Palencia
Jerry Jewell. Nice.
lends her voice for a few episodes as Yafuri Chao, a direct descendant of the Kowloon King and quite the formidable opponent of Jiro. And, last but never least, Christopher Sabat lends a Piccolo like voice as Cain Warlock, another gruff supporting character of the many anime that Christopher Sabat performs in. And this is just half of a cast the lends itself to a
Oh. And they can walk on walls.
decent performance in a short vampire anime.
Now the animation/art direction isn’t necessarily my cup of tea (or blood, if you prefer), but it does justice for itself in its own way. It’s not shonen, and yet its not seinen (Check Basilisk for the reference.). This line that Black Blood Brothers blurs is where it loses me. And the way in which the anime isn’t long enough either leaves it something that it’s desperately missing. These characters have done things that we only hear about through recall. Not direct interaction. And this is where it should’ve been a longer anime. But, all the same, it’s decent in its scope and the way it deals with vampires. 6.3 out of 10.
So I’ve been watching through every single anime Christopher Sabat has ever done and I found this anime first. Basilisk. The intro explains it, but yes, it involves a bird and a snake. I was surprised and blown away by the basic premise of this anime. The Iga and Kouga clans for centuries now have been subjected to a no fighting pact. And then suddenly, to determine the next shogun, the pact has been dissolved and the two clans slowly relinquish the hate they had for one another. But at the heart of this feud at the two leaders of the clans, Gennosuke Kouga (Troy Baker) and Oboro Ige (Laura Bailey). These two are set to wed and the warring of their clans sets them at odds as the anime progresses.
And that’s not all. It’s a 10 vs 10, winner takes all match, and these highly skilled ninjas have powers. Powers beyond belief. And the that’s where the shows bread and butter comes from. Each of the ten ninjas on both sides have amazing individual powers that’re revealed as the show goes on. (Usually every other episode.) And these are the scenes that make my jaw drop. Whether they be stealth related or upfront attacks, the Kouga and Ige are well matched. And it’s always sad to see one of the ninjas die. But that’s the brilliant thing about the show. You choose which side you’ll side with. And then let them duke it out in an amazing 24 episodes.
For a sort of grown-up shonen (anime geared towards 15 and under boys), this show is known as a seinen (18-30 year old men). It’s got the gratuitous violence and graphic nudity, but besides that, it has animation/art that looks like it could be from the 1600’s shogunate era. Period piece anime like this are what gets my vote for good anime. Historical fiction with a bit of fantasy violence. Thanks. I’ll have some more.
AND THE VOICE ACTORS. Well obviously Christopher Sabat. He plays Kasumi Gyoubu, a big bald-headed master with… well… a power I’d rather have you
Kouga. True champions.
discover. (All the powers in the show are worth watching for. Troy Baker truly is amazing as Gennosuke, and I’ve always though he’s done great, military voices that stand out in anime. Look at him in the video game Darksiders or simply watch the end of Fullmetal Alchemist. (Frank Archer is one of my favorite anime characters.) He mixes his valiant warriors with his sinister villains in a way that you can really see his versatility in delivery. There’s Stephanie Young as the sexy Kagerou. As a purely sexual entity in a mostly manly anime, it makes sense. Jeremy Inman plays a hilarious character in this, Udono Jousuke, the fate, balloon-like (hint hint) member of the Kouga. He’s quite funny, yet dumb and sexist. I love his power and find that he should’ve laster longer than he did. His voice sounds like a
lot of Dragonball Z characters do. Eric Vale plays the sneaky Jimushi Jubei. Although he’s only on the show for a bit, I love Eric Vale’s characters for their wide-ranging types and voices. Also notable are Mark Stoddard as Yakushiji Tenzen and Justin Cook as Yashamaru. They contradict each other as evil and just, and that’s why I hate one and not the other. I’m biased towards the Kouga and really dispise the Ige, but that was my personal choice from the beginning.
This anime’s worth the watch. It’s find dubbed and probably just as good subbed (seeing as its a period piece). The fights are great (DBZ quality) and the ending is quite good, probably one of the only slightly weak spots in the anime. If you enjoy Naruto or DBZ or any other shonen, why don’t you man up and watch a really good seinen with great characters and powers you won’t wanna miss? Cause Basilisk is what you need if you wanna feel like destroying people after a couples episodes of watching. That, or become a ninja. 9.6 out of 10.
Christopher Sabat. I love you, for you are a badass.