Kill La Kill

Don’t lose your way ladies and gentlemen! Kay here and lets get down to it! The anime that I choose to review is Kill La Kill! Cue the nostalgia! This anime is a well done shounen anime that features a female protagonist. It is an action packed well animated show that features a great combat scenes, vivid imagery, and quality character development for across the board.

With that being said, FAN SERVICE is accompanied with the anime. Fan Service is materials included in the works, whether it is manga or anime, intended to please the audience. This can range from Easter eggs and small allusions to previous works or content, all the way to just half naked T&A service.  I personally don’t take an issue with it because I don’t feel like the show overdoes it like plenty of other anime that I have viewed. But, I do not recommend this show for young children due to the partial nudity and sexual references!

Still, the anime is very cohesive with all the elements that it incorporates and warrants a quality review! So, lets get started!

The show starts off by introducing a young woman whose father was murdered and she is left with very few clues to solve the mystery surrounding her father’s death and avenge him. After the murder of her father, Ryuko has been wandering the land in search of an information regarding the murderer. During her journey, she comes across half of the Scissor Blade, her father’s invention, and unearths a single clue about her father’s murder and the person responsible for it.

Ryuko ends up at Honnouji Academy! The academy is ruled by the cold-hearted Satsuki Kiryuuin, the student council president, and her underlings the Elite Four. An institution where the adults do nothing and constantly live in fear because of the power and authority of the student council president and her parents. A society in which social status and rank is determined by how well the students performs in school. Everything down to the school uniform called the Goku outfits are indicators of status and power.  The outfits allow the wearer to gain superhuman powers and range from One Star to Three Star. Will Ryuko be able to overcome the obstacles all by herself or will she make some friends along the way?

The show was created by the dynamic duo of Hiroyuki Imaishi & Kazuki Nakashima. These two were responsible for the hit show “Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann” before working for Studio Trigger. Studio Trigger is also responsible for “Little Witch Academia” and animated short series “Space Patrol Luluco”. Kill La Kill just so happens to be Studio Trigger’s first original animation series! Talk about starting off on the right foot!

The show premiered in Fall 2013 and aired from October 4, 2013 through March 28, 2014.  Toonami also hosted the show up until April 2016! The series is 24 episodes long and is subbed and dubbed for your viewing pleasure!

Ryuko Matoi is the protagonist if you have figured it out by now! She is a passionate heroine who’s drive to uncover the truth behind her father’s death is unmatched.

Satsuki Kiryiun is the student’ council president and rivals Ryuko in the show. She leads by striking fear into the hearts of the educators and students and with the help of Elite Four members maintaining order in the school.

Mako Manshoukou is Ryuko’s closest friend and first friend at Honnouji. She is lighthearted and a goof ball who keeps the mood of the show funny and light: serves as comic relief.

Aikuro Mikisugi is Mako and Ryuko’s homeroom teacher. He appears to know something about Ryuko from the beginning of the show but remains a mystery until the climax of the show. He is another character who serves as comic relief in the show.

The Elite Four are the top four members of the Student Council and Satsuki’s personal bodyguards/ generals. All of the Elite Four members have a three star Goku Uniform and serve as an interval part of the school’s activities.

Ira Gamagori- Disciplinary Committee Chair

Uzu Sanageyama- Athletic Committee Chair

Nonon Jakuzure- Non-Athletic Committee Chair

Hoka Inumata- Information and Strategy Committee Chair

Continue reading

Kay’s Korner : Mob Psycho 100

Sorry for the hiatus guys! Kay here and ready to get you guys and gals pumped up about a personal favorite. I am patiently waiting on the return of this anime but until then, why not write about it and inspire people to hop on the bandwagon. This time around, I want to focus on Mob Psycho 100! This show is different from the other anime I reviewed because it is centered around the supernatural and espers. An esper is an individual who is capable of harnessing telepathy and other paranormal activities at the user’s expense. As a kid, stuff like that used to freak me out! However, I can honestly say I love these types of phenomena! Not to mention it’s a dope anime that includes all of this, a decent plot, a lovable protagonist, and epic ass fight scenes. WHAT MORE COULD YOU ASK FOR?! Let’s just jump right in!

EPIC OPENING FOR AN EPIC SHOW! The series follows an individual by the name of Shigeo Kageyama (Mob) on his quest to navigate middle school. Mob appears to be an average middle school kid who lacks appropriate social skills and emotions by your first impression. Hell even his name (Mob) literally translates to background character but as the show progresses, his presence is well known. Mob is an extremely powerful esper and is well aware of that his psychic powers are volatile. He actively seeks guidance and checks his powers by trying to remain inure to his emotions throughout the show.  By suppressing his powers, Mob constantly lives a life without emotions which contradicts his ultimate goal in life: to be normal.  In his quest for normality, trouble is looming and forces are acting against him. Will he be able to face this adversity and how long will he be able to check his emotions before Mob becomes overwhelmed? You have to find out for yourself!

Slider_uno

The original manga (comic) was written by ONE and was adapted into animation form by Studio Bones. Studio Bones is well known for producing other shows such as Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, My Hero Academia, One-Punch Man, Bungo Stray Dogs, Eureka Seven, Noragami and Soul Eater just to name a few. In my opinion all quality anime so why not check out another one of their shows. The anime aired between July – September 2016 so season two should be on its way soon. The show has garnered so much attention that Funimation decided to pick up the show and released the English dub December 11, 2016.  SO OPEN YOUR MIND TO IT!

Mob-Psycho-100-01-24-1280x720                            CUE THE DR.STRANGE MUSIC. Sorry for being cheesy.

The anime is very brief and only one season in at the moment. The show is 12 episodes long.

The music does an amazing job complementing the show’s transitions and fight scenes especially. The upbeat rhythm keeps you on your toes and takes you on an adrenaline ride like no other. Like I stated earlier, even the opening theme song gets you excited for the show and its content.

Visually, the anime is breathtaking. BONES is well known for their amazing animation abilities. The fight scenes are very well done. The colors and art style are very vivid and colorful. Its very appealing to the audience in my opinion and depicts the fun nature of the show.

There are a plethora of characters in this show but I am going to focus on the Big Five as I call them. I have already introduced Mob in the paragraphs above but lets cover his supporting cast.

Arataka Reigen is Mob’s master and life advisor. He is the one that Mob runs into when he is beginning his quest to control his powers and live a normal life.

Mob-Psycho-100-Arakata-Reigen-e1465531501853-225x350

Dimple is one of the paranormal entities that Mob encounters early on in the show. His role steadily evolves as the show progresses and he becomes fond of Mob’s powers and his company.

Dimple_anime

Ritsu Kageyama is the younger brother of Mob. He is the complete opposite of Mob in every sense. He is popular, intelligent and loved by all of his peers.  Mob looks up and is inspired to have the life of his brother. However, as the show progress, the audience discovers a secret that Ritsu carries and changes the dynamic of the show.

Mob-Psycho-100-Ritsu-Kageyama-e1465531563215-225x350

Teruki “Teru” Hanazawa is another fellow esper. He is rivaled only by Mob in the beginning of the show but the rivalry grows into something more. His perception on life and his powers can be questionable and considered dark. Can Mob help him see the light?

Mob-Psycho-100-Teruki-Hanazawa-e1465531579178-225x350

Overall, this show is one of the best and I am patiently waiting on the second season to come out already! The plot is simple but rather enjoyable. The visuals especially the combat scenes are captivating and I find myself constantly re-watching the epicness. The character development is something I am fond of with this show. For the show to be only 12 episodes so far, it does an excellent job with pacing and skillfully allows the audience to view the growth of the characters with ease. The opening is epic. Enough said. The show is very fun and shout-out to Studio BONES for all the great anime! Y’all do some amazing work!

79183l

Kay’s Korner : Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma!

Hey guys! I am back at it again trying to shed some light on newer or underappreciated anime. I decided that this time I wanted to discuss an anime that is on the rise in popularity but is still relatively new. So, you can quickly binge watch the first season and be on track with the second season. Food Wars! : Shokugeki no Soma is the name and food is the game. Please be advised this show is not for everyone; it has been dubbed “food porn” because of the partially nude and major fan service with the female characters (ridiculous body types). However it is a fun, interesting show that will make you want to hop in the kitchen and throw down! Or you will becoming super hungry; Eat before watching!

food-wars-shokugeki-no-soma-season-2-release-date

Food Wars! is an adaptation that tells the tale of a young protagonist by the name of Yukihira Soma. Yukihira Soma is a cooking genius and is only recently exiting junior high at the beginning of the show. He dreams of becoming a full-time chef in his family’s diner and surpassing his father in cooking skills. However his dreams of running his family diner are almost instantly put on hold as his father abruptly closes up the shop and travels abroad. As the first episode progresses, Soma stumbles upon Totsuki Culinary Academy, an elite school where only 10% of the student population actually graduates. He finds himself immersed in the gourmet world and instantly sets his eyes on a new goal; getting into the academy and becoming the best!

The manga started of as a one shot in Weekly Shounen Jump in April 2012. As of November 2012, the manga had began as a series. As of July 2016, the series has published 19 volumes. It was written by Yūto Tsukuda and illustrated by Shun Saeki.

The show debuted on April 3, 2015 and the first season wrapped on September 25, 2015. Do not cry though! The second season is currently running so you can jump right back into the show. The show is licensed by Sentai Filmwork for digital and home video release in North America. The licensing company is also responsible for licensing the show Angel Beats and Akame ga Kill! The adaptation is simulcasted with English subtitles by CrunchyRoll! (usually how I watch all my anime by the way).

The show is very fast paced and keeps you on your toes. However, they still seem to find a way to properly and effectively develop characters which adds to the depth of the story. The show is only 24 episodes and runs through three main arcs: The Introduction to Totsuki, The Freshmen Training Camp, and the start of the Autumn Elections.

In the first arc, the audience is introduced to new budding rivals, a few support characters and Shokugekis. A Shokugeki is a battle or a cook off between two or more individuals usually with some high stake on the line. This could be anything from class rank, school expulsion, honor, etc. Remember this term! It is mentioned a lot from time to time. Here is an example!

The second arc is focused on the Freshmen Training Camp at Totsuki Resort. This is the first major event for the freshmen class or 92nd Totsuki Generation as they are referred to in the show. The camp is notorious for its challenges and obstacles and the group must overcome the odds in order to survive expulsion! That’s right, the first event is a major weed camp to ensure the Totsuki academy name isn’t tainted or tarnished.

The final arc is the start of the Autumn Elections which is the second major event in the show. This tournament is compromised of 60 contestants voted in by the Totsiki Elite Ten Council. This council is made up of the best ten students in the academy. They handle a lot of internal affairs for the academy such organizing events and evaluating student performances. Once the 60 candidates with the most potential are selected, they are split into Group A or Group B. The top four of each group will move on to the actual tourney!( Yes the first tourney is a preliminary). Will Soma make it to the actual exam?! Watch and find out!

food-wars_1

(Left to Right: Takumi Aldini, Ikumi Mito, Isami Aldini, Alice Nakiri, Erina Nakiri, Megumi Tadokoro, Soma Yukihira)

What’s a good anime without some interesting characters and rivals along the way?!

Soma Yukihira, the red haired boy, is very laid back, impulsive individual who is determined to the very best. He never backs down from a challenge  and his cooking style is very unorthodox for the academy standards.

Megumi Tadokoro, the blue haired girl, is Soma’s first friend and a sweetheart. She seems to be a pushover and always doubts herself until she becomes friends with Soma. Her cooking style ties in heavily with her hometown and based usually with vegetables, herbs, and fish.

Ikumi Mito is the golden haired girl and is one of Soma’s rival. Her cooking style is a reflection of her personality, tough and precise. She incorporates the finest meats in all her dishes! She is a meat fanatic!

Takumi Aldini is the yellow haired boy on the left in the photo. Isami Aldini is the drooling guy in the photo.The two brothers are twins and both specialize in authentic Italian cuisine. Takumi is more driven and prodigious than his brother Isami, however both are excellent cookers and challengers throughout the show.

Lastly, the Nakiri relatives! Erina Nakiri, yellow haired girl to the right, is one of the Elite Ten at the institution and is for having the “God Tongue”. Her “God Tongue” only appreciates the finest of food and makes her a really difficult individual to please. Alice Nakiri, the white haired girl, is Erina’s cousin. She specializes in Molecular Gastronomy cooking techniques

The visuals of the show is breathtaking. The show is filled with vivid imagery and descriptive words that makes the food come to life in my opinion. With the usage of random cutaways, the artists try their best to colorfully and playfully allow the audience to visualize tasting experiences throughout the show. This is also usually when all the fan service and sexual references comes into play.

The music of the show helps create the fun and exciting environment for Food Wars. I love both the opening and ending songs; I never skipped past them unless the previous episode left me on a cliff hanger. The music played during competitions or during Shokugekis add another dimension to the appeal of the show and helps develop the serious nature of the battles.

In summary, the words boring, dull, lame are not words associated with this anime. It is very fast paced but leaves plenty of time to develop the characters and a good plot. The show currently is airing a second season which further proves my point about it being a great upcoming anime to begin watching. The characters are very likable and the show is easily in my top 15 for anime. The show is subbed but don’t let that stop you from missing out on some good eats! Bon Appetite!

Kay’s Korner: School-Live! Review

Hello, my name is Kayvious Campbell and I love video games and anime! After consulting with my good friend Dennis, I decided to write material to add to his awesome blog’s arsenal! I am a recent college graduate and currently just passing the time as I attempt to apply to graduate school. I hope to shed some light on some mainstream anime as well as some underappreciated anime. Feel free to leave comments and feedback to assist me in this new process or if you just want to generate conversation! Let’s get the show on the road!

School-Live girls

School-Live! is a relatively new anime that has a special place in my heart. I decided to make this my first review because it was a show that I just randomly scrolled onto it while on my CrunchyRoll account this past summer. From the first episode, I was hooked and it has made its way onto my list of all-time favorite anime.

The show revolves the main character, Yuki Takeya, who is a third year high school girl who is in love with going to school. So much that Yuki and a couple of her friends have created a club titled “The School Living Club” in which the members virtually live at school and enjoy each other’s passions and school.

The president of the club is Yuuri Wakasa. She is the leader of the group and the brains of the club who assists the club supervisor.

That club supervisor is Megumi Sakura, who is the one of the girls’ teachers. She is a lighthearted, caring person who is adjusting to her new profession.

The other three members are Kurumi Ebisuzawa, the athlete of the group, Miki Naoki, the club’s newest member who respects Yuki as her mentor or senpai, and the lovable club mascot and dog Taroumaru.

The School Living Club

Clockwise: Kurumi (Purple Hair), Yuuri, Yuki, Miki, Taroumaru

The manga series began serialization with the July 2012 issue of Houbunsha’ Manga Time Kirara Forward Magazine. The manga was written by Nitroplus Co. Ltd., a Japanese visual novel computer software company. The company’s other claim to fame or major associations is with the Fate/Zero series and Assassination Classroom series. They tend to focus on material with darker themes such as reanimation of the dead and murder (Spoiler).

The anime adaptation aired between July and September 2015. It was created by Lerche Studio, and thank goodness they decided to fund it. After the first episode was broadcasted, it sparked a dramatic increase in the manga sales; a ten-fold increase. The first episode has been viewed on Nico Nico Douga over 2.5 million times as of October 2015.

The manga steadily continue to thrive, however the sales for DVD are rather low, so the likelihood for a second season is slim. If you find yourself loving the series after you complete the anime adaptation, I definitely recommend that you continue with the manga series since it seems like it will be around for a while.

The School Living Club

The show is comprised of 12 episodes, 22 minutes in length. It began streaming stateside this past summer via CrunchyRoll and was constantly praised as one of the top anime of Summer 2015. At first glance, the show’s presentation conveys itself as a happy-cute-girls-doing-cute-things anime.

Yuki Takeya, as previously stated, is the central protagonist. The show constantly focuses on her relationships with the characters and her perspective of her life. She is airheaded and simpleminded, but her personality and actions help complement the group’s seriousness. All was going well until one unfortunate day and Yuki’s life and relationship with her friends would be changed forever.

As the show progresses and develops, it does a complete 180 and constructs serious reoccurring themes such as betrayal, despair, and even death evident by the end of episode one.  The phrase “Everything is not as is seems” rings true with this anime. The show contains several major plot twists that keep the audience captivated. The show leaves the audience in awe and scrambling to understand what has transpired or what may happen next. This thriller is filled with multiple elements and components that elevates its quality in my eyes, and I believe it deserves more attention throughout the anime community.

The art style is modern looking, and the show was done well overall. The one thing I noticed is that the main characters are very detailed while all the other characters throughout the show aren’t as detailed or look incomplete. I feel the artists and directors did this to put the focus on the girls rather than the background people.

The opening is very enjoyable as well! It is constantly changing and adapting to the follow alongside any major events. And the lighthearted J-Pop song will be forever etched into my brain. I will admit it was a tad bit annoying at first, but then it started to grow on me. Now, whenever I hear the opening, I can’t help but bounce along to the catchy tune.

Need more reason to watch this show? The show deserves attention because it is still an underappreciated and relatively unknown anime. The anime is subtitled and not available dubbed with English voices. I mention this because I have noticed a lot of people new to anime dislike having to read subtitles. But I firmly think this show is relatively easy to follow and the plot will keep you on your toes and wanting more.

~Kayvious

The problem with swords in children’s animation

Children’s animated programs, particularly action shows, often feature characters with swords. However, due to the inherently violent nature of swords, creators are hamstrung in portraying the accurate use of weaponry.

Fantasy action shows like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, and ThunderCats feature a lot of fighting, but the violence is often sanitized since these shows are technically for children. In this post, I want to explore the use of swords in children’s animation. Many action heroes carry swords, as they seem—on the surface—less violent than guns. But any kid knows that swords are instruments of death.

Which is why creators of animated programs need to abstract how swords work, creating fantasy worlds were swords do not operate the way they should, or characters don’t use them the way they are intended. While these sanitations might fool some, I never bought them as a kid. I didn’t have the vocabulary at the time, but I always felt that these shows were lying to me in how they depicted the use of swords.

I’ll show you why.

Using swords in combat

Swords are meant for cutting, slicing, and chopping, yet cartoon characters cannot hit each other with swords, as anybody knows that a sword will leave a mark. Ranged weapons are easily sanitized. Children’s shows typically use lasers in place of guns with bullets. A character can shoot a glowing pink or green projectile at another character, and the impact is usually shown. Laser guns don’t exist in real life, so there’s no harm in showing kids this form of violence.

Melee weapons are meant to hit a person, and in some ways, the close-quarter combat of melee weapons is a more primal, visceral experience than shooting guns.

The challenge for animators is: how to depict these weapons in shows targeted to kids?

Some shows, like Dungeons & Dragons (1983), limit the use of swords all together. The Barbarian, or fighter character, carries a club instead of a sword.

Barbarian in Dungeons & Dragons

The Cavalier, a Paladin scrubbed of religious overtones, carries a shield.

Cavalier in Dungeons & Dragons

And Diana, the Acrobat, carries a staff.

Acrobat in Dungeons & Dragons

These weapons are fine, of course (except for the shield. No kid role-plays as the guy with the shield), but swords are so much cooler!

Think of the Sword of Omens in ThunderCats (1985). It’s such a powerful weapon. Lion-O, however, chained by the constraints of 80s moral television, doesn’t use his sword to hit people.

In the following example, the Thunder Tank is stolen by Mumm-Ra’s henchmen. Lion-O attacks, not by cutting his enemies, but by slicing the barrels off the tank’s guns.

Lion-O attacks

Guns on Thunder Tank sliced off

He stands over his enemies, and instead of attacking them, let’s them run away.

Lion-O stands over henchmen

ThunderCats

How many of the ThunderCats’ problems would’ve been solved if Lion-O actually used his sword on his enemies? If he wants to live a life of peace and refrain from killing, then carry a stick, not a sword.

Cartoon characters often find ways of using swords in ways that defy logic, even to children.

The sword as a defensive weapon

Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005) is my favorite animated show of all time. The show has been praised for its accurate depiction of war, genocide, and child abuse. The show is meant for kids, and the creators are usually successful in not talking down to children, but in adapting these serious issues in ways that make sense to them.

However, even Avatar pulls its punches.

One of the main characters, Sokka, isn’t a bender. He cannot manipulate the elements of fire and earth and water like his friends. Instead, he uses melee weapons, like a sword and boomerang, in combat. However, he frequently uses these weapons for defense, rather than offense.

In one episode, he helps rescue his sister and the earthbenders from a Fire Nation prison. The guards attack the kids with spears, and Sokka uses his sharpened boomerang not to attack the soldiers, but to break their weapons. As he slices the heads off spears, he tosses them up to Aang’s flying lemur Momo.

Sokka slicing spear

Sokka slicing spear

Momo catches spear heads

In Season 3, Sokka is feeling sorry for himself because he can’t do cool things like all his bending friends. His friends suggest that he needs a master to teach him how to fight. He becomes the pupil of a Fire Nation sword master, and later crafts his own sword out of a meteorite. As I watched that episode for the first time, I got really excited. Sokka finally has an awesome sword! And he’s trained in using it!

Sokka's master

Unfortunately, the space sword merely becomes a stylized version of his boomerang. He uses it not for offense, but for defense. On the Day of Black Sun, when the resistance fighters invaded the Fire Nation, Sokka led the charge, once again resorting to disabling weapons.

Sokka on the Day of Black Sun

Sokka on the Day of Black Sun

What’s strange about swords in animation is that they are often shown to be more powerful than swords in real life. In many shows, they are simply lightsabers made metal, able to cut through anything. For example, in Samurai Jack (2001) Jack uses his sword to cut through robot after robot as if they were butter.

Samurai Jack

Samurai Jack

In the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) Leonardo slices through the Kraang in much the same way. The Kraang are brain-like aliens that control powerful robots by residing in their stomach cavities. Leo has a remarkable ability to slice exactly through the center of the robot without somehow cutting the brain, as seen in the opening.

Leo fights Kraang

Leo fights Kraang

Holding back

Even though swords can’t really cut through metal, having the good guys cut through robots, cannons, and weapons with their swords is okay from time to time. Just because a hero uses violence to solve problems doesn’t mean they always have to kill.

That said, in some cases, it would make much more sense for the character to use the sword to at least injure or incapacitate their enemy.

Let me give you a couple more examples from TMNT.

The Kraang control these deadly robots, and while disabling the robots is sometimes part of Turtles’ mission, it doesn’t really solve their problem. The Kraang, the brains, are the problem. Destroying the robot only makes the problem go away temporarily.

In one of the early episodes of the 2012 series, the Turtles infiltrate a Kraang base. Leo slices through a Kraang droid, leaving the brain exposed.

Leo fights Kraang

Leo fights Kraang

Leo fights Kraang

The Kraang tries to run away, presumably to alert the other Kraang in the base that the Turtles are here. Even though Leo would be perfectly justified in killing the little brain (after all, the Kraang are trying to terraform planet Earth into a replacement Dimension X, a move that would likely kill all life on earth), Leo steps aside so Mikey can clobber the Kraang with his nunchuk.

Mikey hits a Kraang

Mikey hits a Kraang

Given the cartoony stars floating around the Kraang’s head, I’m guessing he won’t be out for very long.

In another episode, Donatello invents a robotic turtle, Metalhead, to do his fighting for him. Metalhead is a little slow and clunky, but has incredibly high-powered weapons. While initially devastating a squad of Kraang droids, one brave Kraang plugs himself into Metalhead, takes control, and starts attacking the Turtles!

Kraang on Metalhead

The Turtles expend a lot of effort attacking Metalhead the robot, even though their weapons are useless against him. Leo in particular swings his swords not at the Kraang placed conveniently on top of Metalhead like a cherry, but at Metalhead’s face.

Leo attacks Metalhead

Leo attacks Metalhead

Why, though? The problem is not with Metalhead, but with the Kraang on top of Metalhead!

One of the worst examples of holding back comes from Avatar, season 3. Sokka and Zuko break into a Fire Nation prison, the Boiling Rock, to save Sokka’s dad. As Team Avatar is escaping, Azula, the baddest princess around, confronts Sokka and Zuko atop a cable car.

Azula attacks Zuko and Sokka

Azula shoots fire at Zuko, which he blocks. Sokka, hiding in the wing, rushes ahead, sword pointed at Azula’s face.

Zuko blocks fire

Sokka attacks Azula

Azula

For a split second, Azula is actually terrified. Sokka points the sword inches from her face, and then mysteriously, pulls back so Zuko can attack Azula again!

Sokka attacks Azula

Zuko attacks Azula

Zuko attacks Azula

Sokka had the perfect opening: Azula so rarely lets her guard down. Every time I watch this scene, I cringe. What’s the point of Sokka having this awesome space sword if he can’t even use it?

Predictably, Azula flies away, escaping harm yet again.

Azula escapes

The loopholes

Children’s animators clearly feel pressure to restrict the use of swords, especially when it comes to harming other human characters. However, animators are clever at bending the unspoken rules of television to include more palatable forms of violence.

Samurai Jack, for example, predominantly fights robots. He frequently dismembers robots, and sometimes oil and sparks exit the robot’s wounds as if they were blood.

Samurai Jack attacks robot

Samurai Jack attacks robot

Attacking robots is fine, though it should be noted that children’s shows like Samurai Jack and TMNT often feature very lifelike and humanoid robots: it’s a way of having graphic violence without technically hurting anybody.

What bothers me most about swords in children’s animation is that they are frequently used to cut or kill other living, non-human creatures—monsters and fantasy beasts.

In one episode of the 2011 ThunderCats, an ocean’s water is stolen by a giant plant monster, turning the ocean into a desert. Lion-O gets sucked inside this monster, then slices it open from the inside, restoring the water.

Lion-O cuts plant monster

Lion-O comes out of plant monster along with water

Plant monster returns water to ocean

TMNT uses this same cop-out. The Turtles fought a giant plant creature with tentacles and claws called Snakeweed. Leo slices through one of the tentacles, spewing purple guts everywhere.

It’s okay to show this kind of violence, apparently, because Snakeweed is “not real” and it’s not really “blood” coming out of it.

Turtles fight creature

Leo cuts tentacles

I guess in the minds of the creators? the censors? the television execs? parents? violence against monsters is okay because MONSTERS ARE BAD and MONSTERS ARE NOT REAL and MONSTERS ARE NOT PEOPLE.

As a kid, though, I never made those distinctions. To me,monsters and mutants were just as human as the human characters. Mutants and monsters are living creatures with their own goals, intelligence, and spirit. Harming a mutant should be no different, in these fictional universes, than harming a human.

What’s interesting is that TMNT, in particular, often goes out of its way to show that the mutant enemies were in fact humans at one time. Snakeweed, moments before the fight with the Turtles, was a misguided gangbanger named Snake who teamed up with the Kraang. In the midst of the battle, a ton of mutagen, the substance that creates mutants, spilled on Snake the human. Look at the pure terror on his face as he transforms into a vile mutant.

Snake transforms into Snakeweed

Yes he’s a bad guy, but does that mean his humanity is stripped away simply because he becomes a mutant?

At the end of the episode, Leonardo burns Snakeweed up with a power core, leaving him for dead.

But remember, by the standards of children’s television, this is okay because Snakeweed is NOT A HUMAN.

Overcoming the problems of swords in children’s animation

One children’s show that pushed the graphic use of swords pretty far was ThunderCats 2011. From time to time, they actually showed Lion-O hitting enemies with his sword. True, he never sliced through the more human-like enemies, and there was never any blood, but at least there was an impact.

Lion-O attacks Lizards

Lion-O attacks Lizards

Lion-O attacks Lizards

While this is uncommon, it’s apparently okay by the censor’s standards as the lizards aren’t human. The world of the ThunderCats is populated entirely by anthropomorphized animals who are quite human in their emotions, rationality, and goals.

So how should swords be depicted in children’s animation?

One possibility is to get rid of them entirely, the same way realistic guns are largely absent from children’s animation. I’m not sure, though, that this solves anything. No matter what method of violence a character uses—lasers, fists, magic, throwing rocks—some amount of sanitation is usually applied.

If swords are left in, then they should be depicted somewhat realistically. If a character is going to flash a sword against another living creature, then they should use that sword on the creature. The gore can be sanitized a bit—I’m not advocating for Kill Bill levels of blood in children’s shows.

But children’s animation should show the consequences of violence, and show that swords and other weapons really do hurt people. I think kids can accept this even at an early age. Avatar: The Last Airbender is the gold standard when it comes to showing the consequences of war: if only they’d pushed the realism of violence a bit farther when it came to swords.

After the closing credits roll, kids will go into the backyard to reenact the shows they just saw. My brother, cousins, and friends did this all the time. We role-played as Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, soldiers, professional wrestlers, even Freddy and Jason from horror movie fame. We used sticks for swords and bananas for guns.

And we learned early on that if we got too rough, and somebody got hurt, then we needed to pull back.

Using swords to slice through robots and mutants and monsters is a distraction. These sanitations might make the violence acceptable to network execs, parents, and censors, but kids can see right through it.

Give kids more credit: they understand what swords are meant to do.

~Dennis