I have returned…with a new domain and a slightly new look!

It’s been a minute since I logged on here. Believe it or not, I’ve been writing a lot – I’ve submitted a few things over at TehBen.com and done a few freelancing joints here and there. But I figured it was about time to start updating this bad boy again.

A flaw with creating an anime blog is that I felt like I could ONLY write about anime. That’s a problem, since my only interest isn’t anime. I’m kinda funny about my watching habits – I’m either watching a million anime or none at all. Which means I either had a lot to write or…nothing at all 😉 To rectify this, I’ve decided to expand from being Anime Hell Zone to being Jenn’s Hell Zone. Hopefully this new domain works out and all the old links don’t become broken…

I have also made a YouTube channel! I decided it might be more engaging if I make videos AND write. I really, really enjoy video editing (I used to do it a lot in college), and I wanted to get back to my roots, so to speak. So subscribe to me over on Jenn’s Hell Zone – there’s nothing there (yet), but I promise there’s good stuff to come 😀

Well, that’s all I have for right now. I hope you all have been doing well – I’ve been reading some of your stuff and lurking, believe it or not. I’m excited to get back into the groove, even if it’s only sporadically. Hopefully the people who used to follow me still use this and I’m not just posting into the void lololol ❤

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TOP 10 ANIME EYEBROWS OF WINTER 2020: Return of The Nubs You Love

Aaaaaaaaaah, yes. It’s that time again. Time for the most important anime coverage of the season. It’s time for me to rank the animated eyebrows that graced your screens this winter…a few weeks late, as always. Believe it or not, I actually watched quite a few of this season’s offerings – for once, I had a decent list of brows at the ready, instead of frantically looking through shows last minute to see if there were any contenders.

Was it a season where scruffy eyebrows reigned? Or a season full of waifish thin brows? Was it one where those thick ‘n short nubs peppered the foreheads of cute anime girls? Or was it full of average arches? Click on to find out whether Winter 2020 made our eyebrow dreams come true…

Continue reading “TOP 10 ANIME EYEBROWS OF WINTER 2020: Return of The Nubs You Love”

Well, it LOOKED cute: A look at art style dissonance in anime

Hey all, this is a repost of a blog entry from 2018. I’m trying to get back into writing stuff like this, so I’m giving it a reblog as inspiration for me! Plus, consider this a placeholder while I try to get back into my groove 🙂

Have you ever been fooled by an anime’s cutesy art style? Were you one of the people who were absolutely floored when episode three of Madoka Magica came around, or someone who wasn’t expecting Made in Abyss to involve so much gore and vomit based on the character designs? Did you think Doki Doki Literature was just an innocent dating sim?

Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. Even Cactus Matt was fooled by a manga’s cover art recently! The poor fella just wanted to see some cute anime girls, but instead he got cute anime girls melting!

This concept of having an art style that doesn’t necessarily match up with the show’s tone is commonly utilized in anime. It’s called art style dissonance. The logic behind it is simple enough – if you see a cute looking character getting absolutely obliterated, you’re (probably) going to be more shocked by what’s happening. That can’t happen to her, she’s got pink hair and big moe eyes!

There are the more well-known examples like Madoka and Made in Abyss that I mentioned above, but those just scratch the surface. There are many, many series that utilize this method. Let’s take a look at some of my favorites.

Content warning: since this post is specifically talking about anime that are secretly fucked up, there’s some mention of some fucked up stuff in here. Some mentions of body horror and sexual assault beyond this point.

Continue reading “Well, it LOOKED cute: A look at art style dissonance in anime”

The Great Ketchup Cake Caper of Magia Record

Part of the appeal of Shaft’s animations is that there is ALWAYS something going on in the background. It makes for great re-watchability. Once you’ve watched a new episode of the studio’s Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story, rewind, turn those subtitles off and look for pendulums swinging symbolically in the background. Check out the hidden details of a Witch’s Labyrinth, or see if any street signs start displaying tidbits about a characters’ emotional state.

Or, go rewind because THIS GIRL JUST PUT KETCHUP ON HER CAKE. Yeah. Are you seeing that screenshot? That’s for sure ketchup, right? And then, to make matters worse, it seems that she’s decorated the ketchup swirls with…candy and a wad of meat? Excuse me?

It can’t be some kind of meat pie, right? Then there would be beef pouring out the sides or something when she cut into it. Another troubling thing is the fact that there doesn’t seem to even be ketchup on the table. Does she have a secret stash of ketchup on her at all times? Lastly, none of the other magical girls seem to react to her decking her cheesecake out in ketchup – no one except for the newbie, Iroha, anyways. This leads me to believe that this is a regular occurrence. She must be dousing things in ketchup so often that her friends don’t even react to it anymore.

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WHERE DID IT COME FROM??

A few others have speculated on this odd phenomenon. Scott posited that maybe she’s eating a potato cake somehow. Remy gives the impression that she might just be a monster, like theYouTube lady who puts ketchup on her French toast. K at the Moviespoints out that she should just cut out the middle man and eat one of those Canadian ketchup cakes.

In all likelihood, it’s just a clever visual gag from the people who brought you similar fast-paced visual comedy in the Monogatari series. I love the idea of a conference room full of creators and animators being like, “yes, as Momoko is detailing the logistics of Witches, have this girl do some goofy shit in the foreground like putting ketchup on a cake.” Once again, Shaft is proving that they’re on another level, because they have the power to make me pause an important scene just to marvel at small details.

This anime is based off a game, too, and I gotta be honest – this mystery is making me want to download the mobile app just to see if this girl does more things like this canonically. Guess that’s just part of Shaft’s genius, too! Get me to download a game off of a freaking ketchup gag!

Great, now I definitely am going to play the game to learn more about this girl…

Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! Helps Us Crusty Adults Tap Into Our Childhood

One of the things I miss the most about being a kid is just…being able to be alone. I miss being able to sit in the quiet darkness of the early-early morning, wrapped in a blanket, watching anime or playing video games. No expectations, no responsibilities awaiting me the next day – just me and whatever new world I’ve chosen to immerse myself in.

When I think of being a little kid, I don’t so much think about friendships or family Christmases. I think about the oasis that was my Mom Mom’s computer room – being able to sneak upstairs late at night to watch Naruto on YouTube and having nothing else but the hum of the air conditioner and my little sister’s light snoring to keep me company. Or, I think about those nights spent watching [adult swim], falling asleep as Detective Conan fades into the early morning shows like Baby Looney Tunes.

I mean, I can still stay up late, I guess – if I want to risk ruining my work day the next morning. It’s not really as fun, because, you know, by one in the morning I’ve realized that I’m about to ruin my sleep schedule for the week. The immersion isn’t quite there anymore – I can’t seem to fully divorce myself from Real World Bullshit anywhere near as easily as I could when I was a kid. Hell, even as well as I could when I was a college student.

There are two reasons I started thinking about the freedom of childhood cartoon-watching and video game playing. One was that my recent winter break from the office allowed me to lose myself in the world of Death Stranding until three in the morning. It’s been a looooong time since I was able to explore a video game world for so long, without having to feel guilty about it. The other reason was the premiere of the new Masaaki Yuasa anime, Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!

Continue reading Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! Helps Us Crusty Adults Tap Into Our Childhood”

Nujabes, [adult swim], and Cowboy Bebop: How anime influenced my music taste as a kid

Have you ever found yourself watching a movie or listening to music and wondering how your tastes got to be what they are today? I enjoy mapping out my own taste-makers in my head: it’s fun to think about how one thing I liked as a kid would kick-start a full investigation into a new genre, a new niche, a new world.

I’ve been listening to a lot more new music lately – well, new to me, anyways. My desk job graciously allows me to listen to music as I work, so I’ve been seeking out more things to fill those eight hours with. I’ve been listening to lots of atmospheric stuff, lots of hip-hop and jazz, and lots of Japanese noise rock and J-pop influenced artists.

One day, I found myself wondering, “what makes me gravitate towards this type of music?” Most of my teenage music taste consisted of emo and scene kid music – stuff that I mostly can’t stand anymore. Where did this blossoming urge to listen to completely different music come from?

And then it hit me. So much of my current music taste has been greatly influenced by the anime I watched as a young kid.

serial experiments lain music yoshitoshi abe
Real picture of me, age 10, discovering the world of anime music. No, it’s not Lain, it’s me

Continue reading “Nujabes, [adult swim], and Cowboy Bebop: How anime influenced my music taste as a kid”

Anime Escapism, or why my depressed ass watched so many Japanese cartoons

It’s been a long time since I’ve actually sat down and watched any anime. My anime-viewing habits are pretty fickle. I either binge watch ten series all the way through in a month, or I don’t watch anything other than snippets of whatever shounen my boyfriend’s watching in the living room.

Maybe it was a bit foolish to start a whole anime blog based on such a spotty interest. It’s not that I like anime any LESS during my dry spells…it’s just that I really only gravitate towards anime when I’m in need for some hardcore escapism.

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That’s me, escaping my problems

Continue reading “Anime Escapism, or why my depressed ass watched so many Japanese cartoons”

Top 10 Anime Eyebrows of Summer 2019: Return Of The Brow Inspector

I’ve really fumbled the eyebrow bag this season…well, the past few seasons, really. I gotta be honest with you, I have not watched shit lately. I’ve caught some Dr. Stone and Fire Force in passing via my boyfriend watching it in the living room, but that’s about it.

HOWEVER. Dr. Stone characters ALONE have some truly inspirational eyebrows. Taiju has the kind of thick fuzzy peaks that would make Groucho Marx jealous, and Senku’s lightening accents above his eyes electrified me. Those beautiful silken strands pushed me to put my Female Eyebrow Inspector glasses back on and give the people another definitive Top Anime Eyebrow list.

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“Hey Jenn, what have you been up to?” “Not much, just watching short films about talking penises and vaginas.”

penis animated lol sawako kabuki

Whoa! Long time, no post! I’ve been slacking in the anime-watching department – in fact, I don’t think I’ve actually finished an anime series or even watched an anime movie in MONTHS. It makes it pretty hard to upkeep an anime blog when you’re either watching a million anime at once or abstaining from it completely. I’ve been reading about anime, sure – I haven’t logged on here in a bit, but I’ve been lurking what you all have been sharing on Twitter and popping on to check out your opinions on the seasonals and whatnot. But I just haven’t been in the mood to actually watch or talk about any anime stuff myself.

But you know what I have been in the mood for, apparently? Watching animated short films about dicks and vaginas!!! I started using Letterboxd recently, and I keep stumbling upon movies that I had never even heard of before. I’ve fallen down a hole full of obscure animated features and shorts, and somehow stumbled upon a glorious grouping of experimental animated shorts featuring singing, purring, sprouting, and dancing private parts. Please, let me regale you with my finds!

NSFW from here on out, obviously.

Continue reading ““Hey Jenn, what have you been up to?” “Not much, just watching short films about talking penises and vaginas.””

My Favorite English-Language Anime Rock Songs

serial experiments lain music yoshitoshi abe

There was something badass going on in the world of late 90’s/early 2000’s anime soundtracks. A decent amount of anime had these anthemic, sweeping rock songs in their soundtracks. Often, these songs were sung in English and performed by non-Japanese singers. I don’t know if this was because Yoko Kanno was out in full-force during this time period and giving us Steve Conte-fronted goodness, or if more anime studios were going for crossover appeal with Western audiences.

Whatever the case, these songs are all awesome, and the story of how some of these English language songs and collaborations came to be are actually very interesting. Originally, I was just going to do a quick listicle, but I got carried away reading about these various performers. It seemed like a disservice not to share all the fruits of my research, so here is part one of my surprisingly long list of favorite English language anime rock performances.

Continue reading “My Favorite English-Language Anime Rock Songs”