Category Archives: Anime & Manga

Best of Food Anime

Part 1

With the holiday season in full swing, one of the highlights is definitely family and friends gathering over copious amounts of food! We here at Black Nerd Squad are all about the food, so we thought it was only appropriate to highlight some of the best food Animes and their most delicious episodes. The spotlight for the first feature in this series goes to an absolute BNS favorite (Shokugeki No Soma) Food Wars!

Food Wars centers around Soma Yukihira wants nothing more in life than to beat his father in head to head cooking competition in their family diner and one day to take it over. Recognizing the potential in his son, Joichiro, decides to send Soma to the prestigious Totsuki Culinary Academy. The competition in this most elite academy is beyond fierce, and the battles heat things up even further in their exciting Iron Chef style battles know as Shokugeki! This article will reflect one of my favorite section of season 1, The Autumn Elections. I’m highlighting this section for few reasons, to list just a few, you truly begin the see the growth and development of the characters, their motivation for wanting to be the best in the academy and last but certainly not least, the food sequences are amazeballs!!!
So please sit down and dig into this deliciousness that is Shogugeki No Soma.

P.s. I hope it doesn’t make you too hungry!

 

Favorite Episode number 20: “The Dragon Lies Down and Ascends the Skies”
This episode, while not being food heavy is one of my favorites because it sets the stage for the first round of the Autumn Election, while also giving some background on our characters. It’s our first introduction of Akira Hayama. Hayama is known for his mastery usage of spices to not only gather the attention of the diner by smell first but to further complete the whole experience of captivating and enthralling the judges. In this episode, you also get a bit of background on the somewhat timid but lovable Megumi Tadokoro. In previous episodes we’ve seen her begin to slowly grow more confident with the help of Soma; she takes that confidence to the next level by butchering an entire hanging monkfish that completely impresses the judges.

Episode 22: “The One of Surpasses Ordinary”

This episode offers up 3 amazing dishes from Hojo Miyoko, Takumi Aldini, and Megumi Tadokoro. Starting with Hojo Miyoko’s Boluo Gali Chaofan which was commented as being like sweet and sour pork but with the addition of fried rice and curry spices. It is a gorgeous golden curry rice molded to look like a pineapple to emphasize the fact that not only does it have fresh sweet juicy pineapple in the dish, it was finished by being baked inside the pineapple. If anime smell-a-vision was a real thing, this is definitely the episode I would have wanted it for.  The golden color of the rice peppered with colors of various vegetables, and chunks of pineapple are nothing short of drool-worthy.

Takumi Aldini’s curry pasta looked absolutely innocent and unassuming until you actually got to the break down the genius ingenuity of that dish. Starting with the pasta; traditional fettuccine seasoned with turmeric, but then stuffed(that’s right STUFFED) with a layer of parmesan cheese. Takumi further emphasizes Asian flavors by the use of tamari soy sauce, fennel, green cardamom, with the addition of peppers, bacon, and mushrooms. I can only imagine just how magical the combination of all those flavors is. This is for sure on Black Nerd Squad’s must make list.

Last and certainly not least is Megumi Tadokoro’s Monkfish hot pot. This is definitely a personal favorite of mine, not only because I love seafood and hot pots, but also it’s just a beautifully human moment for Megumi; she completely came into her own in this episode and I lived. But, back to the food. Let’s be honest, monkfish is hideous. It’s one of those things that when you see your mind automatically thinks “nope, I’m not eating that” but strip away the ugly exterior and you’ve got beautiful thick white meat fish, which many call the “poor man’s lobster”; from a food perspective it’s a great fish to use for a hot pot, but the fact that it’s so personal to Megumi’s backstory made it that must more incredible. Megumi effectively utilized all parts of the fish; using the liver sautéed and slowly dissolved with miso, sake, and spices, she created the curry paste for the base of the dish.  She continued with the home theme by using seasonal vegetables of her small hometown further making this the perfect comfort food dish and completely surprising the judges with its delicious simplicity.

Rock on, Megumi!

Check back with us next time as we delve into more of the tastiest Food Wars episode!

How to Spot Fan Service in Anime

In my journey into the glorious world of anime, I have come across shows that I just could not enjoy. Beyond the sappy high school stories and the excessively mundane slice of life shows, there has always been a corner of the anime spectrum that I could not get behind. They were usually overly sexualized to the point of being uncomfortable to watch.

Ever encountered one of these examples in a show?:

  • Those obligatory bikini shots of the busty heroine.
  • The protagonist is ripping his shirt off for no apparent reason.
  • The schoolgirl in her uniform tripping randomly, landing on all fours exposing her panties.
  • Random characters in sexy maids uniforms
  • Unjustified upskirt shots from all possible angles

Sound familiar? Congratulations, you have witnessed fan service.

Personally, I never knew there was a term for this type of show element. I would always see it as a category on Funimation but never knew what it was. Yaoi I get. Mecha, Supernatural, Reverse Harem, Shonen; I know what those are. So I just passed the category by without checking it out. Sadly, I learned more earlier this year when I ran across a random discussion on Twitter. Just to give a generalized definition of sorts, fan service is elements added to a show to make it more titillating for the audience. It can focus on both men and women. Like the examples provided above, characters are made to be more sexualized and appealing regardless of its effect on the storyline. It may be thrown in randomly just for the fun of it. It could even be the driving force of the entire show. Believe me, you know it when you see it.

Now, I am not saying fan service isn’t appealing to an audience. Who wouldn’t want to see an extremely fit, handsome, shirtless lead male character or a beautiful, busty female character in a skimpy bikini? My issue with fan service, however, is that it can be a distraction. Such a distraction, in fact, that it can be detrimental to the overall storyline. It can even turn off viewers that want to make it through the show me included. The fan service is so heavy in Prison School and Rosario+Vampire that I never tried to watch them again. I made it through 2 episodes of each and I was done.

I almost missed out on some great shows due to fan service. I remember the first time I tried to watch Food Wars and couldn’t make it past the first three episodes. The characters were popping out of their clothes and orgasming over great food. Really? Really?? It took some convincing from my friend to try again. Now, once I tried watching the second time and just accepted this aspect of the show as (somewhat) necessary, I truly enjoy the show.  The fan service is used mainly for emphasis on how outstanding the food dishes are. There are other elements of the fan service throughout the show but they are not quite as bad.

There are also the situations where a show I have started watching has been tainted by my newfound awareness of fan service. Despite the saccharine sentiment of friendship being shoved down your throat every 10 minutes, I watched Fairy Tail. Now, however, when I try to watch it, all I see is the fan service dripping off every other scene. It’s deterred me from watching Fairy Tail as actively as I used to. Well, that and the fact that I got bored with the storylines. But there are shows that I still watch even though the fan service is blatant. Yuri!!! on Ice and One Piece are both shows that I enjoy, but they are notorious for their fan service.

Was the purpose of this article to ruin all future anime for you? Not by any means. It was just to inform about an underlining, recurring theme found in some of the most popular anime. Fan service will always be in play in anime as a means to either attract an audience, maintain an audience’s attention or as a last ditch effort to improve ratings. Do I suggest avoiding any fan service heavy shows? Not at all. You never know what gem of a show you may find among the upskirt shirts shots and jiggly breasts. Just based on the pictures, Kill La Kill looks like it is going to be a large dose of fan service, but I still want to give it a try. I’m in the middle of The Seven Deadly Sins, and each episode has a helping of fan service, but I press on because I like the show.

 

How do you feel about fan service? It is necessary or just a nuisance?

Leave your comments below.

BNS TOP 5: Horror Animes

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It’s no secret that we at Black Nerd Squad love both horror and animes and the combination of the two are simple all the “yas” emojis ever. So just in time for Halloween here’s a Black Nerd Squad Top  Horror Anime list.

1) Elfen Lied: Elfen Lied stands out as one of the first horror animes I ever watched and I remember feeling shocked, disturbed and bit sad at the end of it. When a pair of cousin Yuka and Kouta find a girl, Lucy, injured, suffering from memory loss and difficulty speaking; they had no idea that she had recently escaped from a government medical facility, leaving a trail of bodies in her wake. As Yuka and Kouta try their best to take care of Lucy and help her understand who she is, they have no idea the potential danger they are in both from Lucy and the government trying to reclaim her.

 

2) Tokyo Ghoul: Easily one of the best new animes in the past 5 years, Tokyo Ghoul centers around modern day Japan where the human race is infiltrated by creatures who’s hunger can only be satiated by human flesh and blood, to further complicate matters, these ghouls look like average humans. When a human teenager, Ken Kaneki, starts exhibiting strange behaviors following an accident and extensive stay in hospital; could it be possible that he is a ghoul? Straddling the line of human and ghoul Ken struggles to maintain his previous life and understand the ghouls, who they are, and the people who hunt them and why.

 

3) Parasyte: Parasyte channels classic invasion of the body snatchers type horror and it takes you on the full gallant of #TheFeels.  In order to survive the alien presence has to take over a human body, the ultimate goal is to reach the brain once inside the human body, but sometimes they lose their way and settle on taking over whatever body part they descended upon. For student Shinichi Izumi, his alien invader got stuck in his hand. Thought of as weak by other invaders, Izumi is in a constant battle for his life, luckily the hand, Migi, is skilled in the art of protecting his cohabitant. Can the two of them successfully work together in order to quell the threat that affects not humans and the planet but other Parasytes that coexist with humans?

 

4) Deadman Wonderland:  Deadman Wonderland  is dysotopian Japan in the most twisted ways imaginable. Deadman Wonderland is actually a prison/amusement park where people can watch inhumane contests between the prisoners which often end in death. When  average school kid Ganta Iragashi finds himself a prisoner of this nightmare he struggles to not only endure the harshness of the environment but to also prove his innocents for the crimes in which he’s imprisoned for. Being aided by the mysterious Shiro who seems very familiar with Ganta they eventually team up with other members of  Deadman Wonderland in an epic prison revolt. Will Ganta and Shiro survive? Will he be able to prove his innocents, and just who is Shiro?

 

5) Speed Grapher:  Speed Grapher is honestly one of my favorite underrated animes. Its one of those first full series that I purchased and watched all the way through, the story absolutely drew me in from the very first disturbing imagery of a young girl being suspended in what can only be described as a bdsm harness down to a withering festering pool of older men for a slobbery kiss. It has been years since I first watched that scene and it has stuck with me in an alarming fashion. The young girl, Kagura, has a virus that unleashes abilities in people related to their deepest desires when they make contact with her bodily fluids. The club where she is isolated is frequented by top names who run the business world of Tokyo; sensing a story, famed war photographer turned private investigator Tatsumi Saiga gains access to the club to get a glimpse of the seedy deeds that fuels the deals of Tokyo when he spots a ceremony featuring Kagura. All of his instincts go in to overdrive as he attempts to rescue Kagura without being found out, while further investigating the Roppongi Club and all of their dealings.

Self Discovery Through Anime, Part 1

 

First, I’d like to start off by saying thank you to all of you of who participated in our #31DaysofAniMay event we did throughout the entire month of May. I personally had a blast and I hope yall did too! During this time, I learned a bit about myself in the process as well. If you were to ask me up front what type of anime I was really into I would most likely have said, Shoujo, action adventure, slice of life, nothing over the top to too overtly extreme as far as the genre of Anime as a whole is concerned; but then I thought to myself “Why”? This simple question had me wondering what it was about these particular types of anime that I’m so drawn to, so I used, this time, to watch more and delve into my own psyche and see what I would learn about me. I started my journey off with Black Prince and Wolf Girl. The first couple of eps of this series bothered me a little, not as much as Diabolik Lovers but still, there is a heavy masochistic tone throughout the entire show. In order for the prince to go along with pretending to be her boyfriend, the female lead agrees to essential be treated like a dog. She’s petted, scolded, commanded to fetch and even in not so dramatic a fashion collared. Underneath all of that is actually a good story with a teenager coming to terms with childhood abandonment issues, learning to trust and open up to people, and yes even love. A smidgen dark but with a really good message okay.

Next up Inu X Boku Secret Service.  This one is a bit harder to describe, long story short version, there are individuals believed to be reincarnations of Gods and Goddess of great power which leads to the success of their family. These individuals have their own secret service to protect them from evil of various states. Our heroine, Ririchiyo, has always been seen as different by everyone around and treated like an outcast because she’s the heir who possess the traits of the family’s non-human ancestors. When she attempts to communicate with others it comes off as arrogant, unbothered, and elitist; when in all actuality because of her isolation she’s socially awkward, shy and unsure of how to act around other people. Ririchiyo is simply an insecure teen girl who wants the normality of teen life. She decides to move into an apartment building with other incarnates such as herself and their bodyguards, including her own Soushi Miketsukami. Being in a new environment, new school, and making new friends, Ririchiyo gains confidence in herself, develops faith in friendships/relationships, and slowly begins to enjoy the normal life she’s been craving. This is one of those obvious messages for me, relax a little, things aren’t always what they appear to be, and don’t be afraid to reach out to be people.

A little later I started watching Broken Blade. Broken Blade is action packed from the opening scene battle that leaves you wondering how did you get here?! In a world where everything works off of magic, what would it be like to be the one person who couldn’t use it and an eminent war is pending? Would you run and seek shelter and safety or would you find a way to rise to the call when your friends who happen to be the king and queen of a nation calls for your help? If you’re Rygart Arrow the answer is simple, you rise to the challenge and figure out how to fight, despite your better instincts to run. Broken Blade is that classic anime of a squad that’s broken down and is now sparring with each other. Piloting machines known as golems to do battle in, Rygart becomes the pilot of an ancient golem known as Delphine that doesn’t rely on magic to pilot. With specialized armor and sheer determination is it enough to defend his home and possibly talk some sense into his best friend Zess who’s fighting on the other side?  This type of anime is all about believing in yourself, topping adversity and not giving up on the people that matter. We all need this type of encouragement in our lives.

This block of anime was all about being human, recognizing that we are fallible, we will falter and stumble but there exist ample compassion and love in the world if we are only strong enough to accept it. Check back with Black Nerd Squad for part two of my self discovery through Anime! Happy Nerding!

AniMAY: Fullmetal Alchemist

Original Airdate: Fullmetal Alchemist, October 4, 2003

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, April 5, 2005

Anime Genre: Shounen, Action/Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Military, Magic

Total Episodes:

Fullmetal Alchemist, 51

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, 64

Movies: 2, Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa

Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos

Based on the Manga: Fullmetal Alchemist, published July 2001

Written by Hiromu Arakawa