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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Two More Stars:

It's time to add two more stars to my best seiyuu list.  One of them is an old pro who, against all odds, is still working today, despite being born in 1931.  This heroic old man is the Narrator in Dragonball as well as Kaio-sama, and is still narrating Buu Kai and playing as Kaio-sama as we speak.  Just as incredible is Masako Nozawa, still voicing the lines for Goku, Gohan and Goten even though she was born in 1936.  It's a good thing Dragonball Kai is being done now, because these seiyuu won't be around for much longer.  The name of this 83 year old legend is Jouji Yanami.

Meanwhile, on the girl's side, and on the side of youth (relatively speaking), is Satomi Arai, the voice actress behind the absolutely adorable voice of Kuroko Shirai from Railgun.  Her voice is so distinct and mesmerizing you could pick her out of a crowd from two thousand paces away.  Though her career accomplishments can't measure up to Jouji's, when she does have a chance to perform she always stands out splendiferously.

While we're making updates, I want to commemorate the ending of The World God Only Knows' manga.  It was a great ending, and a great series overall.  I miss it already.  If only the anime had chosen to cover the whole manga instead of just bits and pieces, it could have been even better than it already is rated as well.  Everyone in the world should go read this manga, because it would be a shame to restrict yourself to just the tiny portions covered by the anime in a series this good.

Having just rewatched One Piece from beginning to end, I'd like to reaffirm that it's definitely the best anime of all time.  There are some slow portions and some outright bad portions, like Sky Island, Foxy Pirates, Thriller Bark, Impel Down and Punk Hazard -- but for every below-average episode there's an above average episode that more than makes up the difference.  The best parts of One Piece tend to be the self-contained short story 'back stories' to every arc.  The back story to Shirahoshi's family at Fishmen Island.  The back story of every single member of the Strawhat crew is just marvelous, including Luffy's childhood with Ace and Sabo.  In addition, there are more back stories, like Montblanc Norland's trip to Jaya, Kyros' past in Dressrosa, Vivi's childhood with Kouza, and Ace's life after he went to sea.  This is where Eichiro Oda's genius is most allowed to run free, because it isn't restricted to simple battles like most of Shonen action series are supposed to be, and bad things can actually happen so long as they were in the past.  By default, unless you want the story to come to a sudden and unsatisfying end where the whole crew suddenly dies off, everything set in the present has to be cheerful and successful.  Only in the past, where it focuses on other characters, can things genuinely go wrong.  No matter how many times people are captured or injured in the present, you have a general sense that it will all turn out okay, because the author would never kill off one of his own characters.  This doesn't apply to Oda's back stories, however.  In the past, anyone can die at any moment.  The past is a dangerous place, full of tearjerking, heartbreaking, life-defining moments.  Whenever the story flashes back to the past, you know you're about to get to the good part of this show.

As a contrast, when the show is actually good in the present, that stands out as an especially good moment in One Piece, because that's generally not possible given the constraints the author is put under.  These glorious moments in the present are still quite common however, as expected of the #1 work of art ever.  There's Arlong Park, the rescue of Robin at Eneas Lobby, Usopp's duel/argument with Luffy at Water 7, Luffy scaling the cliff on Drum Island, Vivi's desperate efforts to bring peace to Arabasta, and Luffy's equally desperate fights with Crocodile who just keeps beating him over and over.  The hilarious impersonators at Saboady island on their second trip, and the devastating moment when the entire crew is lost to Luffy right before his eyes on his first trip to Saboady.  Bon Clay fighting off the wolves to protect the poisoned Luffy in the frozen hell of Impel Down, and then Luffy returning the favor by coming to Bon Clay's rescue right before he loses.  Ace getting freed by Luffy during Whitebeard's war, only to die right afterwards anyway.  The sheer manliness of Edward Newgate from the beginning of that battle to the very end.  I've never seen such a living legend before.  Sabo winning the Colosseum and taking the Fire-Fire fruit of his departed brother for himself in Dressrosa.  Vivi saying farewell to her crew when the Strawhats leave Arabasta.  Chopper saying farewell to Doctorine on Drum Island with the snow turned into a giant pink sakura blizzard, just as Doctor Hiluluk promised.  Boa Hancock being ridiculously selfish and getting away with it because she's beautiful.  Shirahoshi becoming braver by the second under Luffy's tutelage.  Luffy punching that despicable Tenryubuuto.  Sanji and Absalom competing for words to describe Nami's beauty in her wedding dress at Thriller Bark.  The more you think about it, the more fond scenes just keep flowing in, like an endless waterfall of beauty.

Nor is there any sign that One Piece is slowing down or degrading.  Unlike Naruto, whose beginning is far better than the rest of the series, One Piece keeps delivering great moments no matter how deep into the series you venture.  Dressrosa is amazing in every possible way.  I have zero complaints with this arc.  I'm just breathlessly anxious to find out what happens next.  Will they reach Zou island?  If so, what awaits them there?  Do they really intend to take on the four emperors?  What about Joyboy and the ship Noah, when will the destined time for that promise to be fulfilled come?  There's so much foreshadowed to be coming up next I'm just chomping at the bit to see more.

The reason Fairy Tail is #2 is because it has so many likable characters.  It can't keep up with One Piece's sweeping epic storyline, but it can make me care about virtually everyone shown in the series.  It's almost a magical ability.  While One Piece's crew is currently 9 strong, one of whom I don't even like (Brook), Fairy Tail's guild has at least 30 important people, all of whom I like.  That's more characters than I like from Pretty Cure!  Even outside of Fairy Tail, there are tons of likable people, like Meredy, Urtear, Lyon, Jura, the Exceed Queen, the girl who likes to run in Edolas, Mermaid Heel's Kagura, and Sabertooth's Yukino, Sting, Lector, Rogue and Frosch.  The friendship in Fairy Tail is the greatest thing I've ever seen.  Boys and girls of all ages and types all getting along together as one giant family -- like the moment when they all held hands to stave off the breath attack of Aknologia.  It was almost like the ideal behind Clannad, that the Dai Dango Kazoku could extend to the inhabitants of everyone on the entire planet.  That's how warm Fairy Tail makes you feel, virtually every episode, like you're in a home away from home full of laughter, smiles, loyalty, trust, security and love.  These coming episodes are going to be amazing, just like the recent manga has been amazing.  With the improved art style and great new content still waiting to be unveiled, the greatness of Fairy Tail's anime has only just begun.

Now we just need a third season of Index and Railgun so they don't fall behind.  There's not enough Misaka Mikoto or Kuroko Shirai in my life.  I don't care how I get to see more of them, whether it's in Index or Railgun, just keep giving me the cameos and I'll be happy.

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