When animators go to tell a story, they have various options about how to set up the problems the characters must solve. They can build romantic drama about two characters, or create a “harem” situation in which a character must choose from a number of potential suitors (necessarily denying love to the ones who aren’t chosen), or present a dramatic event that must be averted by a convenient plot device such as time travel (BokuMachi, Steins;Gate) or messages from the future (Orange, Mirai Nikii). One vehicle I enjoy a lot are mystery stories which are slowly revealed as the story unfolds. There are plenty of good examples of this, including NakaImo: My Sister is Among Them or Please Twins!, in which one character is the sister of the main character, and romance can’t proceed until he discovers which girl it is, or Another, the show that makes you afraid of umbrellas.
One show I found myself enjoying quite a bit is the surprise hit Kemono Friends, a low-budget CGI series about anthropomorphic animal “friends” living in a futuristic animal park that’s been abandoned for many years. The first mystery to solve is, what kind of animal Kaban (“Bag,” who gets her name from the bag she carries) is, since she can’t swim like an otter or climb trees like Serval. We find out eventually that she’s a strange animal called a “person,” but they’re all supposed to have gone extinct. In each episode of Kemono Friends, more details of the strange mutation that made all the animals sentient are revealed, as the characters make their way to their final destination, the Library, where all questions will be answered. What I love is how Kemono Friends fandom has exploded, generating more fanart than exists for Steins;Gate after only a few months. Give Kemono Friends a try!
You never know what randomness you’ll find in Japanese stores. One day I was happy to find taco shells in an import food shop, and picked up everything needed to make tacos for the family…though I saw later that the taco shells were imported from Australia, and the cheese from Norway, which was not something an American from California expects to see. The other day my wife brought tortilla chips and salsa for an evening snack, and I was surprised to see they were made in Belgium, not a place you generally associate with fine Mexican food. Back in the early 90s, Japan was a much more closed place, and the idea of finding imported Doritos for sale was exotic. Happily now all kinds of interesting products are available in Japan, from Green Tea Kit Kat to Monster Energy Drinks are available here.
We love seeing shows we love get lots of merchandise, which allows studios to make a profit and gives us fun things to sell to you. We’ve been happy with KonoSuba, which has been generating lots of new merch, from figures to card sleeves to other kinds of sleeves. Browse it all now!