“Hello, and welcome to Anime For Dummies, where we look at good anime, bad anime, little-known anime, and anime so popular; you just want to see it die.”

It’s been nearly five years since I first uttered those words. Five years of looking at the best and worst that anime has to offer. It’s been a long journey, filled with insightful looks at some of the most unique and unusual shows from the land of the rising sun, as well as interviews, con reports, good friends and partners, and just some random nonsense. I’ve had a lot of fun, had a lot of laughs, and enjoyed the company of my fellow reviewers, as well as my fans, whom I’ve loved and cherished over the years. It’s been a good run . . . and I’m sad to see it end.

So, why am I ending the show? Well, I had be contemplating ending Anime For Dummies since my 100th episode. It had been a lot of fun, and a great way to practice my writing skills through college, but I’m not in college anymore. I’m a 26 year old teacher who really shouldn’t be spending his free time on the internet talking about all the reasons Bandai screwed up the anime industry.

Even though I have a lot to say on the matter.

Also, and I guess you probably might have noticed this, I was starting to, well, run out of steam. After working so long, reviewing so many different series, there comes a time when you just run out of things to talk about. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are new and amazing shows coming from Japan every season, and I am in no way saying that the anime industry is on some sort of downturn. I’m just saying that my passion was to educate fans about the anime of my generation: the Cowboy Bebops, the Big Os, the Gurren Laganns, the Tenchi Muyos and, of course, the Mobile Suit Gundams, and I think I’ve accomplished that. As for what’s ahead, well, I think you can handle things from here.

I remember when I first started my own little journey with all of you. I never really thought it would go this far. I honestly thought I would get bored with it by episode ten, but then I met some good friends who supported me, and urged me to keep going. It was their creative and drive which inspired me to keep working at this, to put out more episodes, to go to cons, interview people, and try and make myself look a bit more professional. There was also the fans who kept writing and e-mailing me. Telling me how much they loved my show, asking for me to review their favorites. I even had one fan who wrote a high school paper about me. That was . . . that was pretty cool.

Without any embellishment, it has been an absolute honor to have your attention these last few years. I will miss each and every one of you. Thank you for watching Anime For Dummies.



Well folks, the con season is well underway, and this year, I decided to check out AnimeNext in Somerset, New Jersey. I had an amazing time viewing panels, meeting with fans, admiring cosplay and just walking around the show floor. Here are just a few highlights from my time at the convention.


The Golden Age of Weekly Shonen Jump: A Visual History

“From roughly 1983 – 1996 there was one manga magazine that ruled over others: Weekly Shonen Jump. At it’s peak it hit 6.5 million copies sold a year, and no other manga magazine could even hope to equal it, let alone surpass it. Join George from Land of Obscusion for a look at the titles that defined this “Golden Age” of Jump, both visually and contextually, and see what remnants of this era remain strong to this day.”

The early time slot seemed to hinder this panel. While dozens of attendees were still lined up around the Garden State Convention Center waiting for tickets, a small trickle of around four to six people strolled in to check out this look at one of the manga industry’s most successful brand.

George began with a review of the early Jump titles of the 1970’s, such as Kochikame, one of longest running manga in history as well as Space Adventure Cobra, now available on DVD, Kinnikuman, whose sequel, Ultimate Muscle, was brought to America in the early 2000’s, and, of course, Akira Toriyama’s Dr. Slump, an anime so popular, it insured Jump Manga’s place in popular Japanese culture.

However, it was in 1983 that Jump Manga really took off with the mega-success of their action series Fist of the North Star. On the other side of thing, titles like Kimagure Orange Road proved that non-action series can be big hits in Shonen Jump. Of course, hyper-violent titles were par-for-the course with the release Baoh from Hirohiko Araki, the creator of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.

Then Akira Toriyama created DragonBall . . . and the “Golden Age” was really under way!

Shonen Jump Magazine would continue their popularity with Saint Seiya and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, underrated classics here in America, while titles like Bastard!!! pushed the boundaries of what was considered appropriate in a Jump Manga. Delinquent manga such as Rokudenashi BLUES became popular as well, despite never receiving an TV anime of its own. Jump would continue throughout the 90’s with Slam Dunk, the manga that made basketball popular in Japan and challenged DragonBall for the number one slot, Yu-Yu Hakusho, which was immensely popular in the US, and Hareluya II BOY, the first Jump anime to run late night. The “Golden Age” would come to a close with titles like the popular Rurouni Kenshin, the constantly-trolling Level E, and the modern gag manga Sexy Commando Gaiden Sugoi yo!! Masaru-san (I don’t know what that means either!!!).

Of course, after 1996, with the end of DragonBall and Slam Dunk, readership dropped dramatically, as Shonen Jump entered a dark age. Titles such as Yu-Gi-Oh, One Piece and Hunter X Hunter helped keep Jump thriving, and with the introduction of Naruto and Bleach in the early 2000’s, Shonen Jump entered a new “Modern” Age, which continues to this day.

With an encyclopedic look at the history manga’s most popular magazine, this panel carefully took a look back at the various titles which made Shonen Jump great, interspersed with clips from the various anime series with spawned from them. Informative and entertaining, the attendance picked up as the panel moved along. The panel was filled with things even I didn’t know about. For example, I never knew there was a Dragon Quest anime, or that, before DeathNote, Tsufumi Ohba made a superhero comedy series called Tottemo! LuckyMan . . . maybe.


Tokyo S.O.S. 60 Years of Godzilla

“From Tokyo in 1954 to the mega city of 2014. Godzilla has reigned as King of the Monster for 60 years leaving monster and city in his wake. Presented by the Tokyo S.O.S. Podcast, we will show clip from Godzilla greatest hits and discuss the best and worst of his reign. So join us as we celebrate Godzilla 60th Birthday and pay tribute to the KING OF THE MONSTERS! Presented by the Tokyo S.O.S. Podcast in conjunction with the Absolution Network.”

With a collection of clips from TNT’s MonsterVision, Thomas Matis began his nostalgia-filled look back at the Big-G’s best (and worst) moments. Examining Godzilla’s iconic beginnings as an unstoppable force of nature in 1954, Thomas looks at the symbolism behind Godzilla, relating it to that of our own human nature and desires and the dangers that come when one tries to go against it. Godzilla was a walking, nuclear blasting metaphor, not only for the atomic bomb, but also the fire-bombings of Tokyo and the horrors of war itself. He was symbol of the trauma that Japan went through in WWII. The American version on the other hand . . . not as much.

The panel then fast-forwarded through the Showa era to Godzilla’s flashy, all-too-80’s return in Godzilla 1985 as well as it’s creative sequel, Godzilla VS Biollante.

We then moved on to 1998 . . .


Next came the Millennium series, with Godzilla 2000 and ending with Godzilla: Final Wars, which Thomas believes is one of the worst Godzilla films ever made, comparing it to giving Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Michael Bay.

Skip ahead ten years, and we come to the recent Godzilla reboot, which did a lot to make up for the train wreck that was Godzilla 1998, despite its slow pace.

Covering over 30 films worth of content within a single hour timeslot is a tough job, and Thomas did a good job covering as much as he could before turning the mic over and giving the fans a chance to talk about their favorite Godzilla moments. Fans gushed over their favorite scenes, from Godzilla’s battles with the likes of King-Ghidorah and MechaGodzilla to the more ridiculous scenes, such as Godzilla’s flying drop kick from Godzilla vs Megalon. Of course, there are some things that just could not be covered in such a small amount of time. Still, the panelist kept the audience entertained and informed with plenty of little-known facts about Japan’s favorite Mon-star. Plus, he gave out candy!!! :)


Spirits, Wheels and Borrowed Gods

“Forest spirits, enlightened ones, and powers from beyond the seas all call Japan home. This panel explores the often complex and rich world of Japanese belief and sacred practice- from Kami to Buddhas and everything else that lives on in Japan’s history”

The amount of energy that speaker Charles Dunbar brought to this panel was enough for me to forgo any other event and sit down for this incredible hour long look at the history of Japan’s religious and spiritual deities. Dunbar would go on to explain, in great detail, the unique differences between Japan’s take on religion and the religions of western cultures. While Christianity, Judaism and Islam, all fundamentally alike in several ways, tend to clash over their small differences, Japan is all-inclusive, absorbing several different religions that honestly have nothing to do with one another. In Japan, you are born Shinto, marry Christian, and die a Buddhist, and Dunbar related these ideas in a way any otaku can relate to: Anime. Dunbar explained how religion influenced anime with examples from Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke, to modern anime like Kill la Kill, and games like Persona 3, Persona 4, Persona . . . look there’s a LOT of Persona references, OKAY!

The panel focused mainly on the oldest Japanese religion still in practice today, Shinto. In Shinto, nature is scared, and the various Shinto deities represent the religion of Japan’s sacred ancestors. Dunbar took great care in relating the mythology of Shinto, not just to anime, but to the various myths and legends of western mythology. It is not difficult to compare the Shinto tale of Izanagi and Izanami (Both characters in the Persona franchise, BTW) with the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. The inclusion of Buddhist, Taoist and Confucius teaching only widened the Japanese belief structure. That is, until the 1860’s, when the idea of “State Shinto” began to take hold. The Japanese Emperor was held as the direct dependent of the Sun God Amaterasu, and, in order to be taken seriously by the western powers, all other belief systems, be it Buddhist, Taoist or even Christian, were driven out of Japan. This removal of foreign cultural influences would have dramatic effects for the Japanese, especially during and after World War II.

I emphatically urge anyone who attends an anime convention featuring Charles Dunbar to attend one of his panels. Also, check out his website


Kill La Kill: Spot the References, Beginner’s Edition

“The makers of Gurren Lagann went and did it again, producing a hit modern series that, while reverential to the past, wasn’t bound to it. Once again there are plenty of “Easter egg” references to classic Japanese animation and pop culture that, while unnecessary to understanding what you’re seeing, can enhance your viewing or lead you to discover new favorites. Daryl Surat of Otaku USA Magazine and the Anime World Order podcast ( won’t have time to point out everything, but he’ll do his best regardless. NOTE: minor spoilers.”

Who would have thought that, in the course of a single Saturday, I would learn more about a single anime series than I have ever learned about anything in my life? That was my thoughts after enjoying not one, but THREE Kill La Kill panels in a single day. I think it is safe to say that I will never look at this series the same way again, which is very ironic, because the first thing I want to do is re-watch this entire series from start to finish, just to see what I, apparently, have missed!

For my first Kill La Kill Panel, Daryl Surat of the Anime World Order podcast took a look at all the hidden jokes and references buried deep within what has obviously become one of the most popular anime to hit US shores in quite some time, and believe me, there were a lot of them! From Mako’s spastic screen transitions to every show opening and closing, Kill La Kill is packed with nods to several bits of Japanese pop culture, from classic live-action shows like Sukeban Deka to anime such as Armored Trooper Votoms, Fist of the North Star, Devilman and so much more. There are even homages to ecchi anime like Kekko Kamen . . . actually, that’s not too surprising.

What is surprising is the subtle nods to American movies. Eagle-eyed viewers may have noticed the cast of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction hidden in the crowd in one episode, or the Terminator’s hand giving a thumb’s up from a pit of lava in another. These little “Easter Eggs,” and many more like them, were not the result of subtle planning, but of bored animators who just felt like “dicking around.”

Of course, I immediately want to go back and check out these references and “Easter Eggs,” and try and find more of my own. Be sure to check out Daryl Surat and the Anime World Order podcast at


Kill La Kill with Studio Trigger

And so, the hits just keep on coming as AnimeNext was treated to Jiromi Wakabayashi and Shigeto Koyama from Studio Trigger. The room was packed to capacity, bodies jammed together, sweltering in their own body heat, just to catch a glimpse of the men who helped create this ridiculously fantastic series. Both men seemed delighted with the response to their studio’s first big hit, and came bearing gifts; original artwork and storyboards from the series (Sorry, no photo’s allowed). With artwork came several revealing secrets to how Kill La Kill came to be, as well as several more hidden “Easter Eggs” which were even stranger than the ones previously mentioned.

For example, did you know that the original art style for Kill La Kill would have looked more like Panty & Stockings? It’s true! I’ve seen the sketches for myself, OR that the Elite Four were all meant to be women (Yes, even Gamagoori) Did you catch the VERY subtle references to Marvel Comics? Apparently, the creators were big fans of the series World War Hulk and the recent Agent Venom series, and yes, for all those who have speculated, the word “Kill” in Kill La Kill IS meant as a word pun! The English word “Kill” sounds almost exactly like “Kiru,” the Japanese phrase meaning “to dress,” meaning the title can also be read as “Dressed to Kill.” Giving how the series focuses mainly on using clothing as weapons, this title fits perfectly.


Kill La Kill and the Transformation of Japan

“On the surface, Trigger’s latest anime explosion seems to be more about boobs and butts than anything else. But dig a little deeper, and themes of state-sponsored fascism, elevated gods, the perils of war, and the construction of identity all shine through. This panel looks at the series as an extended analogy for Meiji Japan, the reconstruction of Shinto, and the quest for a unified Japan . . . cloaked in enough fan service to make anyone blush.”

So, apparently Satsuki Kiryuin is the Shinto Goddess Amaterasu, Ryuko is an Oni and Ragyo is the demonic goddess Izanami . . . or Christianity . . . or maybe the United States. That’s the jist of what I got from Charles Dunbar’s exquisite panel on the hidden symbolism behind the most recent success from Studio Trigger.

According to Dunbar, he got the idea for this panel after watching the first episode of the series while at a Starbucks. While studying anthropology, Dunbar was immersed in the mythology of Japanese culture, and how it would eventually effect their imperial ambitions. All of a sudden, a shot introducing Kiryuin appeared, the young woman bathed in the light of the sun, standing up high, above a loyal and adoring public. She was the living embodiment of the Sun, a perfect stand-in for the Japanese emperor, and all of a sudden, an entire Starbucks was wondering why some guy was hysterically laughing at his laptop.

This panel is as close to perfect as one could get. It’s informative. It’s insightful. It’s entertaining. It gives the topic the kind of research and devotion it deserves, and the presenter expresses his findings in a logical and scientific manner. To think, all this time, I thought this show was just about girls in skimpy sailor fuku beating the crap out of each other!!!


A Few AnimeNEXT2014 Cosplay Photos



I would recommend any anime fan in the tri-state area to attend next year’s AnimeNext. I had an amazing time. To the staff and volunteers of the convention, I just want to say thank you, and I can’t wait to see you again next year!

-Michael “The Navigator” Arroyo

Justin Carmical

I’ve been sitting here for hours just trying to sort things out in my head. I’ve never been very good at coping with death. Maybe I’m just too immature, but I do know what it feels to lose someone close to me; painfully, suddenly and without warning. The feeling of loss, the questions left unanswered and the words left unspoken can tear at the heart, and leave wounds that never truly heal. I only spoke to Justin Carmical a few times, but he was someone I respected and admired. He was someone who inspired me to make reviews and videos, and he will be missed.

New York Comic Con 2013: Day Two

Well, it’s official! New York Comic-Con is under way! Here is the con report for Friday, October 11th, 2013:

Vertical Inc.

Celebrating their 10th Anniversary and doing better than ever, Vertical Inc.’s Ed Chavez listed the newest licenses from one of the best manga and Japanese novel publishers in America. The list included Tropic of the Sun, a modern day sci-fi tale of politics verses traditional folklore from critically acclaimed film director Satoshi Kon, as well as hit Vertical titles like Knights of Sidonia (vol. 5 out now), Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin (vol. 3 now available) and The Flowers of Evil (vol. 7 available). All of these series have anime in the making or available now.

The Flowers of Evil, by Shuzo Oshimi, is often described as a demented rom-com featuring a group of deviant teens trying and failing to find love in the most horrific ways possible. Needless to say, you will be shocked by this controversial and mature series!

Wolfmsund is a re-imagining of the legend of William Tell, and the violence is . . . beautiful! From Mitsuhisa Kuji, a former assistant on Berserk andEMMA (it shows!), the violence and insanity builds. This series is visually shocking, and will appall you over and over again!

Sickness unto Death is a great complement to The Flowers of Evil. A dark psychological thriller set in modern day Japan, this drama, wrapped in despair and confusion reveals the darkness of the human heart.

Did you know that Hideaki Anno, creator of Neon Genesis Evangelion, was married? Did you know that his wife is an acclaimed manga creator? Written by moyoco anno, Insufficient Direction tells the story of moyoco’s marriage to Hideaki, with as many anime, manga and tokusatsu references thrown in as possible! This ridiculous comedy shows us a side of Anno we never really see, and allows us to get to know some of the big shots in the industry in a casual way.

Two NEW LICENCES were announced during the panel. First off is In Clothes Named Fat, a new manga from moyoco anno which address anorexia and bulimia, and does not hold back! The other was Attack on Titan: Before the Fall, a three volume light novel series set before the events of the hit manga/ anime franchise.


Sunrise Industry Panel

This year at New York Comic Con, the guys and gals at Sunrise gave us the scoop on all the latest news from your favorite series, including Tiger & Bunny, Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere, Valvrave: The Liberator and Code Geass: Akito the Exiled . . . but that’s not what I was there for!

No, what I was there to see was plain and simple: GUNDAM! After a video presentation titled The World of Gundam, Sunrise announced that Episode 7 of UC Gundam, entitled Over the Rainbow, will be released worldwide in the Spring of 2014. As for the mysterious G-Reko series and Gundam: The Origin, they should see a release sometime around the Summer of 2014, in time for Gundam’s 35th Anniversery.

Be sure to check out for episodes of UC Gundam, Z Gundam, Gundam ZZ, Mobile Suit Gundam Seed and Valvrave: The Liberator!

New York Comic Con 2013: Day One

While normally reserved for industry and educational panels, and rarely open to the general public, Thursdays at NYCC are not exactly the most exciting of the four days. Still, if it’s an excuse to sell more tickets and get on the show floor earlier, then why not? Here are some of the events from the day:

Fandoms in the Library

The first thing I did at New York Comic Con was listen as a school librarian explained the finer points of shipping . . .

I’ve wanted to say that all day.

For those who don’t know, a fandom is a subculture composed of fans, often characterized by feelings of sympathy and comradeory around a common interest. Basically, if you know what the phrases “don’t blink,” “Hideki, do your best!” and “Sher-locked” mean – then you’re a member of a fandom. These fandoms range in age, content and membership, but have one thing in common: passion. Lately, librarians have used that passion in their own libraries in order to enhance their programming and instruction.

So, why host fandom programs? Well, according to speakers Kate Kosturski and Samantha Marker, fandoms offer stories in a wide variety of formats, help to validate the interests of the fans, and engages students, helping them gain focus and interest.

But what about shipping?

Shipping is when you favor the idea of two particular characters getting into some kind of a relationship.  It doesn’t have to be a sexual relationship . . . but who are we kidding? Often, fans become divided over their “OTP,” or one true paring. Apparently, you can insult a fan’s pride, but don’t you their make fun of their love of Johnlock, Thorki or, god forbid, Darry. Throughout the panel, these librarians took us through the confusing world of fandom, from OTPs to slash fiction to furries, but even they didn’t know what Homestuck was!

Here are some ways to incorporate fandom into your library or classroom:

Fandom Showdown

What began as a fan fiction club quickly became a safe place to talk a debate about one’s fandom . . .  since no one was really in the mood to write anything! Ice breakers are key, and shipping is not only allowed, but encouraged. Dating and newlywed games involving various characters across many fandoms are a great way to break the ice and encourage creativity. If, during a newlywed game involving Moriarty and Hannibal Lector, Hannibal explains that he does all the cooking in the house, well, that’s just icing on the cake!

Dungeons & Fandoms

A take on Dungeons & Dragons with characters taken from various fandoms, like Star Wars and Game of Thrones, this is a fun way to explore one’s fandom in the most creative and insane way possible. Oddly enough, my girlfriend seems to do a pirate-themed online version of this all the time with several of her friends.

From Jane Austen to Walking Dead, Welcome to NightVale, Downton Abbey or Doctor Who, fandoms are a joy to explore with others. Just remember to respect the fandoms of others as you would want them to respect yours.

Rewriting the Classics: Modern Sci-Fi in Comics!

For over 20 years, Dark Horse has published some of the most well-known franchises in the history of modern science fiction. From Star Wars to Aliens, the publisher is home to some of the most celebrated characters and storylines in the genre, and has consistently expanded the experience far beyond the screen. Today, Dark Horse publicist Aub Driver, Editor in Chief, Scott Allie, Mac Walters (Mass Effect), Tommy Lee Edwards (Vandroid), as well a cast of surprise guests took a look at the past, present and beyond with news on upcoming storylines in Prometheus, Aliens, Predator, as well as Star Wars, Mass Effect, EVE Online, HALO and the greatest 80’s film that never was, Vandroid! They also explored the good and bad with science fiction today.

So, what’s right with sci-fi today?

Sci-fi is a mirror for our time. It gives us perspective our lives, especially when it comes to world politics. Not to mention, it’s fun to see how sci-fi has stacked up with modern day: remember, we’re only two years away from hoverboards!

What’s wrong with sci-fi today?

Basically, it’s boring when sci-fi simply rehashes what has already been done. The world has changed since the 60s, 70s and 80s, and sci-fi must change with it. There is too much homage. We all love Star Wars, but there are other things to draw from!

Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle

A PBS documentary 4 years in the making! This series looks into the history of superheroes and asks “who are these guys who created these characters that have become so dear to us?” This insightful, entertaining documentary includes new interviews with the legends such as Stan Lee, Neal Adams, Jim Steranko, Michael Chabon, Jules Feiffer, Grant Morrison and the late greats Jerry Robinson and Joe Simon among many more, along with rare footage. As the early footage was first shown at the 2011 NYCC, it’s only fitting that preview segments from this landmark series will debut at NYCC ’13.

The fact is this documentary is fantastic! After only seeing a few scenes, I’m completely hooked! I cannot wait to watch this series on Tuesday, October 15 at 8pm on PBS, and you should too!

Well, that’s it for day one at New York Comic Con!