Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Resolutions: Anime and Blogging

Hatsune Miku Kimono New Year's
Support the Artist!

Hello everyone! It's that time of year again, or should I say, the end of the year. 2015 came very quickly, but went by in a flash. I remember just typing my old New Year's Resolution post at the end of 2014, and now I'm doing it again!

Like 2014, 2015 was a very interesting year. Unfortunately with this year, there were quite a few things I was unsatisfied with, in regards to my blog and myself. I feel that Shooting Star Dreamer didn't reach its full potential this time around, although that's mostly my fault. In fact, I would like to think that 2015 was a year focusing on faults. A lot of things were made more clear to me throughout this time.

Despite this, it'd be silly to give up, considering how far Shooting Star Dreamer has come. Also, I believe it's good to maintain a level of hope for the future. Which is the basis of this post; the New Year is also a new start.  So there are a few things I'd like to work on this year. Most of them deal with self improvement, but these also affect my writing and my blog.

On a positive note there were quite a few good anime this year! Although I ran out of time for the challenge and was only able to complete it on easy difficulty, I exposed myself to quite a few series I wouldn't have normally watched. So I'd like to take a few moments to share a few of them to you all! Feel free to click their respective titles for more info!

Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai

Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai

Renkin San-kyuu Magical? Pokaan

Renkin San-kyuu Magical? Pokaan

Shokugeki no Souma

Shokugeki no Souma

Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid

Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid

Yamada-Kun and the Seven Witches

Yamada-Kun and the Seven Witches

With the anime out of the way, that leaves just my blog, my readers, and myself! One of the top things I want to take from this year is a single lesson: it's best to be authentic

Although my blog is a great expression of myself and my interests, the otaku spirit was somewhat lost over time. I want to keep that spirit alive and well here at Shooting Star Dreamer, because the reason this blog exists in the first place is to break the otaku stereotype, and to bring anime and Japanese culture to people all over the world. I want to continue to seek a positive message from anime and showcase the inspirational parts. So from here on out, I'm going to be more authentic in my posts.

For Shooting Star Dreamer, I would love to again work out the different hiccups that the website suffers from. I released a form for "concerns" earlier this year, which I hope to use more. I also want to spread my outreach so Shooting Star Dreamer becomes even more well-known and less like your every day anime blog.

Also, I would like to take in a larger amount of guest posts this year. I have been doing majority of the writing, but I believe other inputs, views, and opinions are good for my readers to hear. I would also like to use this as an opportunity to spotlight writers who are under appreciated or unknown.

For my readers, I want you to feel at home on Shooting Star Dreamer. I also would like to create a better blog that can inspire you all to do great things and anime of course. As I constantly say, thank you for sticking with me through thick and thin. You are ultimately my strongest motivation and I wouldn't be writing today without you all!

That pretty much wraps up this post. I hope that 2016 goes well for everyone and I truly believe it'll be a great year. Let's all keep working hard and doing our best, to make that bright future a reality!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Twelve Days of Anime: Music

Miki Vocaloid Christmas
Support the Artist!
On the fourth day of Xmas, anime gave to me, a  sweet sweet melody! Welcome to the fourth day of Xmas, continuing the special event "The Twelve Days of Anime." If this is the first post you're seeing, please take the time to read the introduction, so you know what's going on.

Today's post is going to be short and sweet so don't expect a long read! Basically, today I want to share a on a few holiday-themed songs with you all that originate from one of my favorite anime outlets; Vocaloid!

Please feel free to check out the playlist below (click the link if it doesn't show), and if you wish, share your own in the comments.

Merry Xmas and stay tuned for the next post friends~

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Twelve Days of Anime: Inspiration

Anime Santa Girl
Support the Artist!

On the third day of Xmas, anime gave to me, a whole lot of inspiration! Welcome to the third day of Xmas, continuing the special event "The Twelve Days of Anime." If this is the first post you're seeing, please take the time to read the introduction, so you know what's going on.

With that being said, the theme for today is inspiration! Although sometimes looked down upon, pure inspiration is one of the most fundamental factors in success. Without inspiration, Shooting Star Dreamer wouldn't be here. Without inspiration, our world wouldn't be as vast and creative as it is today. Most importantly, without inspiration, there wouldn't be anime.

Inspiration is the driving factor behind a large amount of successful projects. So the fact that we can pick this up from anime is truly amazing. Who would expect that a simple 2D medium would be able to invoke a plethora of feelings in it's viewers?

There's numerous types of anime and numerous ways to invoke this feeling. For one, characters who fill the majestic worlds are able to serve as role-models for us. Even more-so, there are many female characters who are quite amazing to see in action; they aren't wimpy, they aren't weak, and they aren't afraid to take a stand. I believe that anime has a large amount of these characters, while still avoiding
masculine stereotypes.

In fact, I've touched upon this in another post of mine, by the name of Three Inspirational Females in Anime, where I looked at a few good examples of this case. The characters in this post get things done and are successful in their fields of choice, without becoming hardened, manly, or muscular.

Aside from the characters, the compelling story  or concepts can lead to inspired fans. For instance, in yesterday's post I touched on some of the inventions that were created by a few passionate fans. Without inspiration there would be little to no possibility of them accomplishing such feats. One could even say that anime is inspiration in visual form.

With those thoughts in mind, I'd like to direct this post towards my readers as well. What inspires you in regards to anime? If you work with any medium or creative outlet, how has anime contributed to your work?

Please leave a comment below and stay-tuned to the next post that will focus more-so on the fan base. As always, thank you for reading!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Twelve Days of Anime: Technology

Anime Christmas Neptunia
Support the artist!

On the second day of Xmas, anime gave to me, technology! Welcome to the second day of Xmas, continuing the special event "The Twelve Days of Anime." If this is the first post you're seeing, please take the time to read the introduction, so you know what's going on.

The theme for today is technology! While a lot of technology in anime is directly inspired by the gadgets and gizmos in our world, anime has provided us with things we would have never thought possible. Through anime we have experienced giant robots, space exploration, time-travel, androids, and more. Although all of these impressive inventions aren't present in the real-world, we've been blessed with similar counterparts, using anime as inspiration.

With this post I'd like to take a more in-depth look at the inventions we have in the real world, that use anime as a building block. These inventions may be directly taken from a series, or may be a means to make the animation more real.

So what are these counterparts you may ask? Well, there are quite a few of them. In order to keep this post from being too long, I'd like to take a little bit of time to showcase ones that I find really interesting or unique.

Live 2D Modules + Face Rig

Live 2D Example

With the motto of bringing 2D to life, what more could you want? Live 2D is a special kind of technology separating itself greatly from commonly used 3D models. Instead of creating a whole new model to animate, all the animation is done using a the drawing. The difference between this an anime is that it cuts out the whole tedious steps of frame-by-frame drawing. A more appropriate name for Live 2D would be animation of the future. 

In combination with this, another interesting mechanic popped up called Face Rig. Now although Face Rig isn't specifically used for anime purposes, it can work hand-in-hand with 2D modules. One can import one of these pre-drawn characters and take hold of a webcam or other recording device. The camera instantly projects the users body movements onto the module, allowing normal people to take the role of anime characters, animals, and more. 

The point or use behind these is definitely up to the user. Although Live 2D is being used in more professional outlets, it has it's use in casual settings as well. The main goal of Live 2D is to provide an easier, more fluid animation. The same goes for Face Rig.

Androids and Robots

Megabots Robot

Ever see anime such as Gundam or Evangelion and wonder how cool it'd be to pilot your very own mech? What about Chobits and their Persocoms? It's all becoming possible with modern-day technology. 

Although not as real and interesting as the ones present in anime, similar creations are starting to pop into existence. For instance, United States company Megabots, and Japanese company Suidobashi Heavy Industry have proposed a giant robot battle that will take place in 2016. A quick google search can give you a glimpse of what each side is packing. 

On the other hand, Japan is featuring life-like androids, one specifically by the name of Asuna. Although still far from anime, Asuna is very life-like and definitely an interesting invention. One can learn more about Asuna, the human-like android, at the previous link.



Last, but not least, Vocaloid. Although Vocaloid is commonly known, it is a great example of anime-based technology that has become well-known in society. Specifically, Hatsune Miku has become a common icon when it comes to Vocaloid and anime.

Popular enough to appear on The Late Show, and to be picked up and used by multiple companies, it is difficult to imagine a world without our singing friends. Almost anyone who is an anime fan is used to the existence of Vocaloid and it's free companion UTAU, and would feel odd without it.

With that being said, this wraps up the second day of Xmas! Hopefully, you all enjoyed this post and perhaps learned something new. Look forward tomorrow to the next post!

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Twelve Days of Anime: Introduction

Xmas Anime Girl
As always, support the artist!

Hello again everyone, and happy holidays! With the holiday cheer in the air, we're entering the last few days of 2015. As a shout out to the holiday season, for the next twelve days, I am going to put out posts in a similar fashion to the well-known song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas." The only catch, is that they will all be anime-focused, with a little holiday cheer mixed within.

For those who aren't too familiar with the song, I can give a brief explanation on how things will work. Since today is December 14th, this marks the first day of Xmas according to the song. Each day, Shooting Star Dreamer will feature a new post focusing on a different aspect anime has given to us. All posts regarding this theme will feature the Twelve Days of Anime tag and title, along with the topic of the day.

Sounds simple enough right? I thought this event would be a perfect way to end off the year, since there was a considerable amount of time where my blog went unattended for a while. Instead of ending things on a sour note, I'd like to leave a better impression and give back to my wonderful readers who take time out of their busy schedules just to read my words. So again, thank you!

To fully kick off this event, please check out one of my favorite Vocaloid covers, "The Twelve Days of Christmas." I have attached the video below, but for some reason if it's not showing please follow this link.

Once again, have a happy holiday season and please continue to visit Shooting Star Dreamer. Thank you for supporting me this far!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Happy Birthday Yukiko-chan!

Yukiko Amagi

Hello again everyone! Today marks the birthday of another of my favorite characters, Yukiko Amagi from Persona 4. It just so happens that two of my favorite characters in the world share birthdays that are only a day apart. What's even more ironic is that they represent two opposite elements, fire and ice.

So while we focused on the icy side yesterday, we'll be focusing on the firey Yukiko today! Now, this isn't the first time celebrating Yukiko's birthday on Shooting Star Dreamer. So if you get the chance please check out my previous post, "Happy Birthday Yukiko Amagi!"

Yukiko Amagi is a very interesting character. Despite being a fire-based character, she isn't extremely hot-headed or aggressive. On top of that, her name can mean Snow Child or Snow Girl, which is ironic in comparison with her battle style. Being born on December 8th makes her a Sagittarius, in regards to zodiac.

One of the reasons why I greatly adore Yukiko is because she breaks stereotypes. She doesn't follow the traditional character scheme when it comes to her element, and her character isn't build solely on this trait. She's also a reminder of the direction I wish Shooting Star Dreamer to head towards in the future. I want Shooting Star Dreamer to break the otaku stereotype, and turn the word into a more positive symbol.

With that being said, Happy Birthday again to you Yukiko! Thank you for being the wonderful and inspirational character that you are!

Hopefully you all enjoyed this quick birthday shout out, and if there's a character you wish to see on Shooting Star Dreamer, please leave me a comment and let me know!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Happy Birthday Mizore-Chan!

Mizore Shirayuki

Today, December 7th, marks the birthday of one of my all time favorite characters, Mizore Shirayuki from the anime Rosario + Vampire! This is the second time celebrating her birthday on Shooting Star Dreamer. so please check out my previous post, "Happy Birthday Mizore-san."

Mizore Shirayuki is born on December 7th, and is a high school student at Yokai Academy. Being born on this date makes her zodiac sign, Sagittarius. She is a yuki-onna, which can translate to snow woman. This gives her a high level of control over ice which allows her to engage in combat. She is most known for her signature traits, being her lollipop she always has around and her high level of stealth.

Instead of focusing solely on Mizore, I'd like to take something from her as a character. Mizore is an interesting person, while being somewhat misunderstood, she is also wise beyond her years. Although there are many moments that I remember fondly, there is one quote that always stands out in my mind. Mizore states "Whether you're a monster or a human, there's no difference in the value of someone's life."

I really love this quote, because not only does it resonate with me, it reminds me of well...anime. We have so many series containing odd and unusual characters, but somehow we tend to fall in love with them despite all of this. The same can be said with the people in the 3D world, despite their appearances and personalities, they're all valuable, they're precious, and we need them on this planet.

At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter what race, sexual orientation, or gender a person may be. All that matters is that they are a part of this world. We should value them for this reason alone. I think if we apply this way of thinking to those around us in real life, the world can become a much better place.

So once again, Happy Birthday Mizore! Although your anime ages as time goes on, you will still be remembered and cherished. Hopefully you all enjoyed this quick birthday shout out, and if there's a character you wish to see on Shooting Star Dreamer, please leave me a comment and let me know!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Anime Winter Wallpaper Pack

Anime Winter
Support the Artist!

Hello everyone, and long time no see. It's nice to be able to write for you all again! Although Shooting Star Dreamer went on hiatus for a brief period of time, this website is still very much alive. Before jumping into some new topics and discussions, I'd like to keep this post pretty light with a focus on giving; especially since we're in the holiday season.

Due to the high popularity of previous image packs and wallpaper showcases I have decided make another. This time, it's specifically themed around winter icons: snow, warm clothes, and the night-time sky!

As always, the images included in the wallpaper pack are completely safe for work and can be used without worry. If you have questions about the artists please make use of a wonderful tool by the name of SauceNao. This image searcher is very useful for finding sources.

Please enjoy the images everyone! 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Presence of Red & Blue Oni in Anime

Red & Blue Oni
Support the Artist!

Since anime is influenced by Japanese culture, it is almost no doubt that we can find cultural concepts hidden within the vibrant series. To top that off, in many series featuring human characters, we have a pretty high chance of seeing a dynamic duo in the cast of characters. Sometimes these characters are represented by two colors; the most common being red and blue.

Although red and blue can mean many different things when it comes to anime or life, a lot of the color combinations and pigments of character's appearance aren't just for show. They have deeper meanings, and relate to their personality and role within the story.

To make this more understandable, we can examine the cast of various anime and find some similarities. Even though anime feature different stories, it's very intriguing to know that some of the same cultural traits linger beneath each of them.

Oremonogatari Red Oni Blue Oni
Sunakawa on left, Takeo on the right.

It wasn't until I started watching an anime by the name Oremonogatari that I started to notice a trend when it comes to certain characters. For those who haven't heard of the anime, Oremonogatari or Oremon, is a pretty unique shoujo featuring a male as the main character. Although my thoughts on the story are pretty mixed, I would say that it is an anime worth watching.

Moving on to the main character of the anime, Takeo, is pretty interesting. He's big, brawny, and somewhat intimidating. Despite this, he's one of the nicest guys you can find. His best friend, Sunakawa, is quite the opposite. He fits the stereotype of the anime pretty boy with good looks, brains, and a cool personality. Similarly to Takeo, he has a silly side that isn't always seen.

From the ground up these characters embody the ones in a certain story, The Red Oni Who Cried. In summary, the story features two oni, which are mythological creatures in Japanese traditional stories. One of the oni, the red, is sad and wishes to have friends. The blue oni, decides to help his friend by pretending to terrorize the villagers, laying out the road for the red oni to not only make friends, but to be seen as a hero.

Similar to how cultural elements make their way into our cartoons, it's interesting to find many Japanese traditional values being the basis of many plots, character designs, and other such things, in anime. In fact, a red oni and blue oni pattern is so common in anime and media, that places such as TV Tropes has started creating a list of characters who fall into this category.

Red Oni Blue Oni Pairings in Anime
In clockwise order, starting from the top right: Nagisa and Honoka ~ Pretty Cure, Soul and Maka ~ Soul Eater, Moka and Tsukune ~ Rosario + Vampire, Natsu and Gray ~ Fairy Tail

With that being said, is building characters on such values a bad thing, and are humans able to be split into such categories? For the first topic, I believe that using certain tropes or traits for characters isn't always a bad thing. I believe creators should try to avoid making characters that are near carbon copies of their stereotypes, (such as the every-so-common tsundere.) and instead use those roles and break stereotypes to flesh out the characters more.

For instance, Dog Days, while coming off as an adorable moe based anime, had quite a bit of character development and is now showcasing an even deeper plot. A character by the name of Eclair was a stereotypical tsundere at the start of the series. She had many of the generic traits and honestly didn't feel that interesting as a character.

However the key trait that separated her from others is that she was subject to "change." Change allowed her to become more flexible. Change allowed her to become less prone to irrational outbursts and more level-headed with her decisions. In my opinion, this is more realistic than a character who embodies a single characteristic without any progress.

The same goes into play for the Red Oni and Blue Oni character types. Anime can implement these types for sure, but they then need to chose whether to keep these sides separate and make them static characters, or to play around with these roles and allow for a dynamic role.

Dog Days Eclair
Eclair from Dog Days

In regards to humans, I believe that we as people cannot necessarily be split into categories. Despite this, I don't think we should cast away and completely ignore such things. Instead we should try to learn from it or take it as something for fun. Although I relate more to the Red Oni, the Blue Oni has traits that speak to me as well. Similarly to Yin and Yang, Order and Chaos, and other similar pairings, we should remember that life isn't all white and black. It's okay to identify with a certain side more than the other, but it's best to remember that both are necessary to make a whole.

So now, I would like to hear from you. If you have time, take a look at TV Tropes page on Red Oni, Blue Oni, and let me know what you think. Which character type do you identify with more and why? Do you enjoy stories where the roles overlap, or ones where the characters stay fixed in these roles throughout the entire series? Please comment below and share your thoughts!

As always, thank you for reading.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Blog Update: October 2015 + Happy Halloween

Kancolle Halloween
Support the Artist!

Hey everyone! I know it's been a long time since my last post. It's basically due to the fact that I've been extremely busy. Among all the chaos, I felt like I've forgotten something important; my blog. Without posting and interacting with my readers, my life feels like it's missing something very important. So, I would like to take the time to make a short update post today just to give you all a little thank you for not abandoning Shooting Star Dreamer.

Luckily, after coming back from that hiatus, my blog template seems to be doing better than usual. A lot of the old mishaps have been fixed, which I hope helps my readers. If you have any concerns, please comment or contact me, and I will do my best to resolve your issue.

With enough about that, what's going on recently? Halloween is just right around the corner and unfortunately I may not be able to make a Halloween-themed post for now. However, I have a nice topic that fits into the monster and ghoulish theme. I also have a good amount of Halloween content from last year, so hopefully it is of use. I will attach the links to the posts in the space below.

So with that, that's really all there is to this update. Running a blog is hard at times, but I don't regret it at all. With a lighter schedule now, I have even more motivation to post and spread my cause; the drive to break the negative otaku stereotype.

Also, I have a little bit of advice for other bloggers or anyone working on a project. If you hit a tough spot, a stagnant point in life, or some difficulties, don't give up. If it is something really important to you, as well as being near and dear to your heart, I believe you should keep on pushing forward. I feel that moving forward isn't too hard, but determining what's important and what's not is. So take some time to think it over before making hasty decisions!

Thank you for reading my post and hopefully the little bit of advice I provide is helpful. Have a happy and safe Halloween, and feel free to check out the nice Halloween goodies below!

Anime Girl Halloween
Happy Halloween~

Friday, September 25, 2015

A Guide to Anime Images

Anime Images

Whether you are a fan or a blogger, or somewhere in between, anime images tend to fascinate a good amount of the population. However, unless someone is extremely computer savvy or knowledgeable about search engines, many anime-image websites may be hard to find. Even if you can find them, their reason for existence may not be clear.

So if you're having trouble finding the images you need, please take a look at this post. As a Graphic Designer and Blogger, I can definitely provide you with some of the best resources. There's more to images than a pretty picture, and there's a lot to look out for when it comes to using and finding anime imagery.

Brief Explanation

Anime Teaching

If you already know about the basics of image types, searching, and other tools, feel free to skip over this brief explanation. If not please read this section!

When it comes to searching for anime-related images, the most important thing is to understand what your goal is. If you're just an anime fan that's searching for images for a collection, then you can basically just go wild. If you're looking for an avatar or a wallpaper, it may be a good idea to look for those specifics pre-made, or find the necessary images to make them yourself. The list goes on. 

Basically the more specific your task the more limited your search will be. With that being said, regardless of your goal, everyone who is finding and using images in anyway should know the difference between the most common file types. Let's keep this simple using Yui from K-On!

K-On Yui PNG
This Yui looks pretty much normal, but the area surrounding her is transparent!

PNG - Used for transparent images and is common for Anime Renders. Renders involve taking an image and removing its background, like removing the surrounding color from an anime character. This allows graphic designers and artists to create custom avatars, wallpapers, and signatures.

K-On Yui JPG
Similar to the previous picture, but contains the background that goes with Yui.

JPEG/JPG - Is another common image type. Basically used to for most images, it's good to make use of these on your blog because of low file size and compression. Make sure to use lossless compression before using them, since it's basically a free file size reduction. Ex: JPEGmini

K-On Yui GIF
Finally, this Yui is alive and fully animated!

GIF - Usually used for moving images such as GIF. When creating layouts or others images, you can add GIFs to create animations or such to make images jump out at viewers. Usually too many of these in one area can be off putting however. GIFs are also good choices for avatars as GIFs can be mixed with static text.

(Extras) - PSD and XCF (Technically not image formats, but they are used for pre-made layouts and templates that can be edited in programs such as Photoshop or GIMP.) Vectors also fall into this extra category, and are basically images taken from anime scenes and the like. They are simplified and are excellent for use in design projects. They can be re-sized with minimal quality loss.

Hatsune Miku Car Design

So now that we've summed up the basic image types, what now? You might ask, what type is most suited to the task at hand?

Well on a general basis, it goes something like this:

PNG is best for: Images with Added Text, Renders, and Extremely-High Quality Images. (Therefore good for wallpapers.)

JPG is best for: Anime Blogging, Images with Size Limits, and Photographs. (Best to keep in mind if you're taking cosplay photos and such.)

GIF is best for: Mostly Animated Images. (Such as anime scenes and the like.)

Finding Images

Now that you've learned about images and what they're used for, it's time to finally start searching! There's many ways to go about this, but the most common is finding a good website. Since the internet is such a vast and wide place, there's naturally a lot of them out there.

Thus, I have created a list of some of the best places to go for finding anime images, renders, wallpapers, and more.

If there are other anime-related websites that you feel should be included in this list, please let me know and I'll update it!

Anime Images

Danbooru/Safebooru - Probably one of the most common places for anime images. Has a vast range for almost any anime. Danbooru has a wider selection, but you can browse Safebooru without worry.

E-shuushuu - An image based website similar to Safebooru that has quality, safe images. I used to upload images here myself, and the community is very active and friendly. Definitely recommend this one.

Zerochan - Another website that focuses on providing images, however Zerochan uses a different system in contrast to the others. You can find quite a lot of fan art here.

Avatars and Icons

Live Journal - Great outlet for many smaller anime icons. Although not as popular anymore, you can still find a lot of anime icons in archives.

Tumblr  - You can find many icons and avatar packs just by doing a quick search. Many of the creators also take requests and can easily make icons/avatars for your favorite anime.


Giphy - Website solely dedicated to GIFs, contains quite a few anime ones.

Reddit - Consists of a subreddit dedicated so solely posting anime GIFs. 

Tumblr - Again, Tumblr gets a special mention for GIFs, majority of the website consists of these.


Baka Renders - Well known for having quality, anime renders. Check them out!

Deviant Art/Google - These two are also good for renders. Just doing a quick search for "anime renders" will get you quite a bit. 

Screenshots and Screencaps

Anime Screencaps on Live Journal - A website I use a lot, it's great for high quality/high definition screencaps.

Sad Eeyore - Somewhat of an odd website, but a great place for finding shots of your favorite anime scenes.

Wallpapers and Large Images

Konachan - Specializes in mostly anime wallpapers and other large images. 

Minitokyo - Full of many fan-made wallpapers and scans from art books and the like. Great for extremely huge images.

The Anime Gallery - Similar to the previous, but featuring a different selection.

Misc. Tools and Resources

GIMP/Pixlr/Photoshop - These three are image editors, useful if you want to take anime images to the next level. GIMP and Pixlr are free to use, the only difference is that Pixlr is usable through an online client. Photoshop is one of the more powerful and easier to use, but most of its functions can be done in the other two.

Grabber - Used to view images from many sites at the same time, thus saving time and making searching and saving a breeze. Talked about more in my other post!

Pixiv - Contains a lot of different anime images, but can be a bit timely to navigate due to it's layout. Best used when searching for images of less-known anime. 

That's all for now! I will try to update this post with oncoming comments and resources. So please check back here!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Anime and Life: Old and New

Anime Girl Writing

Hello, and apologies for the lack of blog posts again. Before I begin this post, I would like to give a shout-out to Albert at his blog A Sound Upgrade, for providing me with this post idea through Shooting Star Dreamer's suggestion box. If you want to see something else on my blog or want to spotlight a certain anime or individual, please take advantage of this new feature! It can be located under Suggestions in my blog header.

Moving on, let us begin! Before I began writing and creating Shooting Star Dreamer, anime used to not matter much to me. When I got into anime for the first time, which was around middle school, I mostly relied on others thoughts and opinions. One of the first anime I watched was Vampire Knight, which is a shoujo series. I mainly got into this anime because my friends were always talking about it, which led to my curiosity.

 Anime and Life: The Old

Plusle and Minun
Anime just felt like a party to me, that I could attend whenever I wanted. However, I only saw the surface.

Given that this was my first taste of anime, outside of things such as Naruto, Pokemon, and the rest, I just viewed anime as a thing that was interesting and most importantly fun. I didn't really look for any undertones beneath the plot and characters; I just took the characters and the series at their face value. I believe that there was nothing wrong with this, just a way of thinking given my age.

Later on as I began to enter high school, I was introduced to other anime that consisted of harems, shonen, and other series. One of my favorite anime and manga from this bunch was Negima. I really loved the colorful cast of characters and I liked how Negi Springfield was a character that was young, but doing something I enjoyed as well, teaching. I was able to connect with Negi, and that was enough for me to keep watching and reading. Another thing that was really interesting about him as a character was that he was intelligent, something that is usually forgotten. I believe high school was the time when my views began to shift.

Anime and Life: The New

This looks a lot less fun, but understanding the traits and culture beneath anime make it much immersive and fun!

As of now, I have the ability to examine anime and look deeper, and see that there are messages and symbols hidden beneath a world of amazing stories. Characters are representations of their writers and creators, others are made for the purpose of teaching a moral or a lesson. One of the most important things I've realized about anime, is that even though there are many series of the same genre and type, there is almost no anime that has the exact same character types or plot line. In a way, this makes things interesting because anime will not always be predictable. This was one of the few things I began to realize about anime, and wanting to undercover the mysteries that lurked was what lit the fire of passion for me.

If anything, growing older and experiencing more anime hasn't really altered my base view on the media; I believe anime is fun and should be enjoyed, the same goes for life. For me now, anime is a teacher, as well as a friend. I've connected to many characters in anime and they've helped me grow into the person I am today. Through anime I've experienced many different areas of life that have affected who I am. I believe that both anime and life are connected, one influences the other constantly.

Anime and Life: Summary

Hatsune Miku
Basically how I think at this current time!

In a simple way to summarize, my change in views regarding anime and life are pretty simple. In the past I viewed the two as being separate, while now I see that both are connected and influenced by each other. In the past, I saw anime as just a hobby. Now, I see that anime and other forms of media are so much more. In a way, it took me until now to learn how to connect the dots and identify the treasures hidden underneath the episodes.

So my views from my beginnings of anime and now aren't too much different, instead they've just been built upon. I never thought of anime as an "escape." I enjoyed my real life, but loved the fictional world as well. Both were considered part of my "life" so both were important and meaningful. This still holds true for today.

So with that being said, there's a few lessons I've learned over the years from my shift in viewpoints. One of the main ones is definitely that, there's more to something than it's appearance. There's quite a few people who see anime as a childish cartoon or something that isn't to be taken seriously, and something that is completely outlandish from real life. At one point, I began to wonder if these judgments were true, but its hard to believe that when there's so much evidence that states otherwise. I think anime is something that can be for all ages. By more than it's appearance, I don't believe it needs to contain hardcore violence, profanity, or other "adult" traits, but more like mature concepts, lessons, or something that's enjoyable.

Which brings me to the next lesson, there's nothing wrong with celebrating and enjoying anime. Back in the day, anime was somewhat looked down upon. Now, it pretty much seems like something of the norm. Mention anime and usually someone knows about it. There's less of a need to hide your interests like before.

Finally, the last lesson that has stuck with me is that, sometimes you've gotta do what you love, and not give up on it. If I had listened to what other people told me and acted out on it, my blog wouldn't exist. I wouldn't believe anime is anything more than simple fiction, and I probably wouldn't have met the wonderful people who are connected to anime. While its a pretty bad idea to ignore all advice, it's sometimes a good idea to listen to yourself when it comes to things dear to you. I believe a lot of anime showcase this as well.

So as you can see, these are my views on anime and life, which I basically believe are connected. My views didn't really drastically change, but instead they adapted based on what I learned and experienced. In no way do I believe that this is the only way to view anime, but it is the way I feel is best.

If you have any questions, comments, or want to share your views of your own I'd love to hear from you. As always, thank you for reading!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Unique and Unusual: Anime Openings and Endings

Contrary to yesterday's post, today's will be a more lighter topic. The subject of focus is anime openings and endings that stand out from the rest, or are just exceptionally good. I think an opening is very important for an anime, and can either put off the audience or attract them.

Many people do end up skipping both the opening and endings, but likewise, many of those people will watch them at least once. From the view of the producer, creating an opening that has good music and animations is hard. What's even harder is creating one that is good enough to snag viewers upon their first hearing, while not becoming dull upon further replays.

So with all that in mind its pretty easy to see that anime openings and endings take a lot of work. How about we move on to a few that, in my opinion, stand out from a few of the rest?

For those who can't see the posted videos, I have include the song name and anime in hopes that you can find them at your own leisure!

Shokugeki no Souma OP 1 ~ "Kibou no Uta" by ULTRATOWER

Shokugeki no Souma is a shonen anime that is still airing, featuring an unusual subject, cooking. Although the second opening may be seen as more popular and more fitting, the first one feels just right for me.

I feel like this opening paints a picture of an anime that isn't your typical shonen. We don't have fast paced fighting action, we don't have your generic shonen music, we have a laid-back and calmer song that conveys the feeling of cooking food leisurely, while pumping you up for the anime. This opening is an example of a time where fast-paced does not equal better. 

In regards to the animation, I believe the opening does a good job at portraying the premise of the anime and funnily enough, I feel like we're supposed to view this opening from the perspective of Yukihira Souma, the main character. My basis for this is his reflection in the knife at the beginning. 
We're also shown a passage of time or a reflection of what Souma wishes to accomplish. Towards the beginning Souma is shown facing a group of characters that are positioned higher than him, and later we see him in a shining shot holding his knife up high almost as in victory. This could be interpreted either as his vision or foreshadowing the anime's plot itself.

People have also recently stated that the ending is the respective song for Tadokoro Megumi, another major character, then it is possible that this opening is meant to be for Souma. Overall, I believe this opening is very good and different from many other's that are present in shonen.

Ano Natsu de Matteru ED ~ "Vidro Moyō" by Yanagi Nagi

Ano Natsu de Matteru is a wonderful anime, but commonly overshadowed by it's predecessor, Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai, or more commonly, Anohana. While the opening is pretty great itself, the ending always had me in awe. I felt the animation and the song were amazing. I can't give much analysis on this ending without spoiling the anime, so instead I will try to keep this one brief.

There are two main subjects of this ending, one being space or an out of this world feeling. The second are the colors that are used to represent the character. Ichika, the girl who is shown first in this animation, is given the color red. Now red can be used for many things, but in certain areas, red can mean alarm or alert to something different to the norm. I believe this color fits Ichika well, not because of her red hair, but the mere fact that she is exceptionally different from the rest of the cast.

Moving onto the song, each line represents a character. Ichika has the beginning portion of the song, while the other characters share lines, and Remon, has no line at all. I believe that these lines represent their personalities and actions throughout the anime. For the pairs, they also note the similarities they possess although their goals are aimed elsewhere. 

Upon watching more and more of the anime, this ending began to make more sense. Although we may see a casual group of friends involved with each other, we see the hidden regrets, desires, and actions that take place between them all. After all, this anime has heavy romantic traits.
If the ending interests you I recommend checking out this anime a bit more!

Renkin San-kyuu Magical? Pokaan OP/ED ~ "Senketsu no Chikai" by Yōsei Teikoku and "Shichaimashou Sensuous"

These last two are a bit weird. They come from an anime called Renkin San-kyuu Magical Pokaan. The anime features four main characters, consisting of a werewolf, witch, cyborg, and vampire. By its description it doesn't sound like a light-hearted anime, and the opening paints a very serious picture. However, the reality is very far from that painting.

I decided to spotlight these two because of how unusual they are. Sure, the opening isn't really weird, but it is very misleading. The anime regarding these four girls revolves around comedy and showcases their everyday lives, which doesn't involve any sort of solemn environment or action of any kind.

So I believe unlike the previous two mentions, this opening doesn't add to the series or summarize the plot. It instead, draws away from the series and can potentially attract the wrong audience. Meanwhile, the ending draws into the anime's true nature and has that comedic feel to it. 
Regardless, I feel that both are very nice and the ending is especially a treat since the seiyuu sing the lines. It adds a little bit of flare to the endings as well as giving the fans something that's nice to listen to. 

With that being said, these were the three I specifically want to showcase, but there are many others that exist and are notable. For these, I will include them in a list below, with respective links for those who are curious. Please take the time to view them, you might potentially find an anime you want to watch!

Before I go, I would also like to say that I have received my first suggestion via Shooting Star Dreamer's Dropbox! I will be working on the post soon, so please be patient! For anyone else who is interested in suggestion a post or needs assistance of any kind, please fill out the form that can be found here.

Thank you for reading!

Notable Mentions

Sega Girls OP
Negima!? OP
Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches OP

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Power of Body Swapping in Anime

Yamada-Kun and the Seven Witches

Although not always brought into the spotlight, the term body swap, (along with gender-bender and gender swap) has been present in anime for the longest time. Body swap involves an exchange between two people, typically a male and a female, in which they inhabit the other's body for a period of time. These anime may be seen as weird and unusual, but are there hidden meanings behind these series?

In a way, body swap can be seen as a curse or a power. There are instances of it appearing as both, but for the sake of this post we will only be examining the positive. For one, body swap does something that's usually not seen in a real life situation, at least in the same shape or form. Swapping with someone allows you to experience their version of the world, contrary to experiencing your own most of the time. Of course, such an experience opens many opportunities for both sides.

Unfortunately, I do not have much experience with anime that feature these activities, so I won't be able to provide a large amount of knowledge of this subject. Despite this, I have finished watching a new series that puts this trope into frequent use, an anime by the name of Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches.

At first the anime may be somewhat misleading. The title speaks about witches which may give off the impression of a more action-based anime. While this anime does have action, it is not the main focus at all. The focus is that it goes into the supernatural, but in a different way than usual. There's no demon lord or demonic background behind the main characters, and there's nothing going on with ghosts of any sorts, but there are tons of unusual events taking place, specifically in this sense, body swapping.

This post may contain minor spoilers, so please beware.

Yamada Swapped with Shiraishi

To summarize the anime, Yamada (blue hair) is a delinquent who attends a high school. He goes about his days normally and alone, but bumps into a girl by the name of Shiraishi Urara (blonde hair), who is prestigious, intelligent, and a successful student. The two come from completely different worlds, but after accidentally falling down the stairs together, they kiss and find themselves in each other's bodies.

As the plot goes on, Yamada finds out he has the ability to swap bodies with other people and by doing so, he begins to learn more about them and his school. By seeing what they have to deal with and their ways of living, he begins to understand others more, and is no longer forced to spend his school days alone.

While this is true for majority of the characters that take part in the body swap, Shiraishi is the focal character. Yamada and Shiraishi at a glance, come from two completely different worlds. One is a delinquent who doesn't follow the rules and ignores what he is told. He is also prone to using force to solve his problems rather than careful thinking, but has a "never give up attitude." Meanwhile Shiraishi can be seen as his complete opposite. She is the perfect student, a quick thinker, calm and collected, and popular with both the male and female student body. Many people would think that a union between these two, whether it be friendship or romance, is a recipe for disaster.

However, the reality is that, these characters aren't that different at all.

Bullies Ruin Shiraishi's Notes
Yamada finds this in Shiraishi's notes.

In the anime, specifically episode one, Yamada swaps bodies with Shiraishi and goes out of his way to cause her a problem. He doesn't think much of the girl, while Shiraishi doesn't think that much of Yamada at the time either. Upon going through the school day his attitude changes as he finds out that Shiraishi is subject to bullying from her peers. He finds pretty of mean things, her locker is vandalized, her notes are scribbled over and ruined, and other passive forms of bullying are present.

I believe that this is the point where Yamada realizes that Shiraishi isn't living a perfect life and that there are multiple layers to a person. To add to this, he finds out that just like him, Shiraishi has been going about her days alone without any sort of friends to call her own. With that Yamada finds his similarity with the girl.

Later, Yamada confronts her bullies in Shiraishi's body and is promptly stopped before he can do any harm. The situation was then solved without any violence, with Shiraishi feeling thankful to Yamada for his help. Similarly to before, it was at this moment that she sees Yamada for more than the picture he is painted on the outside or by others, but as the real him that is willing to help those in need without any reward.

Yamada sees Shiraishi alone

Once they realize these things, I think they both understand that they are actually pretty similar people despite their varying background. This would have been possible without the use of body swap, but I believe this example shows how helpful the ability can be.

So in a way, such a thing could be related to empathy or role-playing, allowing one to see life through another person's perspective. So although we may not be able to swap bodies in our world, we still have the power to accomplish the same through use of empathy and compassion, and encompassing the desire to understand other people. I believe this anime also highlights the fact that society's views or the opinions of the majority are not always correct.

I also believe that the same thing can go back to other mediums such as video games. Although many people stick to the traditional roles of playing as a character of their own gender, playing one of the opposite gives you a chance to experience something new. I feel there are too many negative connotations for this type of behavior, when it offers players a chance to live a different life, which is the premise of many role-playing video games. Although this is a topic for another day, I think it fits in very well here.

Shiraishi Urara Smile

For my readers, how do you feel about body swapping/gender-bender in anime? Do you enjoy the genre? What have you learned from it?

Also if you haven't already, please check out the anime, Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches. While it features romance and comedy, the story has a extreme level of depth, and each character has many layers to unravel.

Thank you for reading!