Anime Recommendation: High School of the Dead


Doing a 180 from the happy world of Digimon, my second anime recommendation for the day would definitely have to be High School of the Dead.

The premise? Worldwide zombification pandemic. You’re in High School when the poop hits the air conditioning device, and the outbreak reaches your school from the front gate. How do you survive?

Well, if you’re a team comprised of a well-meaning high school kid with a baseball bat, a girl who’s good with spear martial arts, the class genius, a gun nut, the captain of the kendo club and the school nurse, you’re bound to find a way out of your zombie-infested school.It’s everything that comes after getting out of school that’s the problem.

Now, High School of the Dead is pretty depressing fare. People will die, and some of the living will turn on their friends just to try and survive, but will die anyway. Thing is, it’s compelling because the zombie outbreak scenario hasn’t been done from a school angle, as far as I know, and the high production values of this anime make it a must-see if you like horror, action, and  nail guns being turned into submachine pistols.

They’ve currently got three episodes aired so far, and it’s been quite intriguing to see what’s been happening to the people in the show. I won’t spoil anything else, but suffice it to say that zombies are only one pesky problem in the show.

Feel free to watch the opening sequence above, and then look for the anime online. Cheers!

Anime Recommendation: Digimon Xros Wars


It’s been a while since I did an anime recommendation, and with a new season of Japanese anime upon us, it seemed like a good time to focus on some pretty interesting series.

My first recommendation from my current viewing roster is Digimon Xros Wars, which is a new anime set in yet another alternate Digimon universe. It began on July 6, 2010, and currently has three episodes so far, with all of them being quite good, production value wise.

The story follows the adventures of a new child, Kudo Taiki, chosen by some mysterious force to carry the power of a new Digimon evolution device, called a XrosLoader (said as Cross Loader). With the XrosLoader, Taiki can evolve his stable of digimon by combining them into stronger forms. These DigiXros combinations give the fused digimon amazing power, and allow them to defeat the current baddie of the series, the Bagura Army.

Together with friends, rivals and his partner digimon Shoutmon, Taiki resolves to grow an army of digimon with which to fight the Bagura Army, ultimately allowing him and his friends to find a way home.

The premise is fun to imagine, since Xros Combinations would be very cool if you had an ever-increasing stable of digimon to help you out in battle. Like a little kid, I look forward to Taiki shouting, “DigiXros!” and seeing his digimon combine into awesome forms. It’s not a very deep series, but if you’re looking for something light-hearted and action-packed, it’s not a bad way to spend 23 minutes of your life.

Stillwater Recommends: Pepito Manaloto

This probably isn’t going to be a very popular post, since it’s Philippine-specific and all, but I thought to write about it because it’s just a really nice, friendly show to watch as opposed to what I normally see from American television.

The show I’m talking about, Pepito Manaloto,  is being touted as a “reality sitcom” hybrid, with the character story getting interspersed with videotaped survey questions from actual individuals on the street.

The story follows the life of the Pepito Manaloto and his family, a humble sort as most stories of this type start out.  Pepito is primarily concerned with trying to provide for his wife and son, and an unexpected victory for him follows. He picks the winning numbers for the national lottery, and becomes the sole winner of 700 million pesos (a little under $15, 750,000).

In a sort of deus ex machina situation to make Pepito’s life more complicated and easier at the same time, Pepito, by virtue of being the world’s nicest guy, also saves a semi-conscious woman from a car crash and takes her to the hospital (I believe he did it on foot, too).  The woman, whose name is Maricar,  is actually a financial advisor for the Philippines’ rich folk. She finds Pepito after his anonymous rescue of her and pledges to be his financial advisor. Along the way, Maricar tries to introduce Pepito and his family to the world of the rich as well as the concept of elevators and escalators.

I watched this evening’s episode along with the family, and found myself intrigued at the cultural nuances involved in this. For the most part, the episode today tried to answer the question, How would a poor person use his riches to clothe himself? Maricar took them to an upscale shopping mall to introduce them to the world of the rich, and Pepito and his family met the culture of the rich head on, with their elevators and escalators.

In an exaggerated parody of the poor man, Pepito apparently has never heard of escalators or elevators, and that they’re free transportation to higher floors. Personally it seems preposterous to me that he never would have rode on one in his life, but it still seems possible for such to happen in the Philippines, so I accepted it as such.

Moving on, Pepito and his family, now going it alone in the mall, get acquainted with the buying and selling of high priced goods. By the end of it, they find out the following:

1. Haggling of any sort does not work in malls.

2. Upscale malls are hella expensive if you’re coming from a spendthrift background.

3. Some Americans can speak the local language too, so don’t talk as if they don’t know you’re talking about them.

In the end, the Manaloto family decides to spend their money the only way they know how: by heading to the tiangge (bazaar) and buying clothes of all sorts  for under $ 4. With a giant wad of cash in Pepito’s pocket (he doesn’t have a wallet, mind you), they manage to come out with tons of clothes, all the while conserving money and probably spending less than the actual amount it would have cost to buy a dress in an upscale store. In fact, it’s highly possible that the most expensive single item they purchased was a pair of sandals for Pepito, who left his slippers outside the elevator as he didn’t want to get the elevator dirty.

If you’re bilingual and know Tagalog and English, you may want to check out Pepito Manaloto. It’s a funny, wholesome tv show that I hope will stay for quite a while on the airwaves.

FYI: Manaloto is a portmanteau of Manalo (to win) and Lotto (lottery). How apt! 😀

Anime Recommendation: Summer Wars

Summer Wars

by Victor Stillwater

It’s been a while since I last made an anime recommendation post, and that’s for good reason. While I do watch quite a bit of anime in my spare time, rare are the instances when any piece of media makes you want to watch it more than once. Luckily for me, I found Summer Wars to be an enjoyable film that I’ve already seen thrice.

The story of Summer Wars can be summed up as a boy-helps-girl, boy-accused-of-crime, boy-fights-giant-evil-Artificial-Intelligence-with-math. Of course, that’s an exaggeration, so let me give you a more extensive overview of Summer Wars.

The story begins innocently enough: We are introduced to the virtual world known as OZ, which is essentially the equivalent of internet on crack. People can do everything on OZ, from play games, buy commodities, create custom avatars, and even access individual special areas, such as the accounts of public officials that manage water and power, etcetera.

We move onto the people of the story.[The main protagonist, Kenji, volunteers to help out the school idol, Natsuki, during her trip back to the countryside to attend her grandmother’s 90th birthday. Without his approval though, Natsuki announces him as her fiance to her grandmother, who figures out that something is fishy.

The juxtaposition of OZ and the family story occurs when a rogue AI called Love Machine (yes, I laughed when I first saw it too), wreaks havoc on OZ by stealing the accounts of users, creating havoc almost on a worldwide scale not only through the acquisition of the accounts, but also by manipulating important accounts to cause trouble for everyone: from faking fires to stopping traffic, Love Machine did it all.

As it happens, Kenji and Natsuki’s family try to stop Love Machine from escalating his attacks to include large-scale casualties, and that’s where all the action happens.

From CG fighting to amazing flying scenes, this movie delivers amazing animated CG and hand-drawn work. Of course, without a story, it means nothing. Summer Wars is a treat to watch, mostly because of the struggle of the family to find a way to work together to save the world, even while dealing with problems of their own.

Out of everything I said, you’d expect that I’ve already spoiled the movie for you. That, however, is not the case: the good parts are still well-hidden, and you’ll be surprised at how Love Machine looks, as well as how the rogue AI escalates his “games” with the rest of the world, leading to a climactic showdown between the family and Kenji versus Love Machine.

As for how to get a copy of Summer Wars, it should be out on Blu-ray now depending on where you live. Barring that, of course, there are “other means” available, if you wish to watch it.

Anime Recommendation: Tokyo Magnitude 8.0

From the Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 Credits
From the Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 Credits

These past few weeks, I’ve been following a very different sort of anime series from what I’m used to. It wasn’t action-packed, it wasn’t all hopped up on giant robots or pint-sized alchemists. Instead, it was 11 episodes of three people trying to get back home after an earthquake of historic proportions hits Tokyo.

The recently concluded Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 follows the story of siblings Mirai and Yuuki as they try to make their way to Setagaya with the help of Mari, a courier who was also at Odaiba at the start of the tale. As it happens, they encounter the fallout of a Magnitude 8.0 earthquake hitting Tokyo, and face both emotional trauma and physical peril as they make their way back to their respective homes together.

It’s definitely a drama series, and you definitely have to watch the entire series without blinking to get the most out of it. I won’t spoil anything here, but I will say this: the ending made me cry, and if you remotely feel love for any of the characters in this series, you’ll end up bawling before reaching episode 11.

As for finding it, you should be able to get episodes on YouTube, or you could pick it up through various subbing sites. My personal recommendation would be to try because of their speedy work in handling the series. Enjoy!