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Nepenthe

Thunderbolt Fantasy | Treat Yo Self

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Look at this. This is your new savior of anime.

"Oh God, what in the world is Japan doing now?"

This my friends is the wonderful collaboration between Gen Urobuchi (Madoka Magica, Fate/Zero, Psycho-Pass) and PILI, a Taiwanese company that specializes in the art of glove puppetry. It's not stop-motion like Nightmare Before Christmas; the puppets and most of the effects you see are actually being performed and filmed live, like a really bad-ass Jim Henson spectacle.

"I'm a busy person. Why should I spend my valuable time watching this?"

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"Holy shit. Okay, what is it actually about?"

A traveling swordsman gets swept up in a conflict between a magical paladin woman and a tyrannical sword collector who has half of her clan's demon-slaying sword. Other specialized characters of various personalities, backgrounds, and motivations join the fray as they journey towards the collector's palace. It's basically a wuxia RPG....with puppets.

"Where can I watch this amazing mix of culture and swag?"

It's legally available to watch on Crunchyroll, although without a premium membership you'll be one episode behind everyone else.

"I'm sorry but the puppets just creep me out."

Well that's a shame.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ For everyone else, go forth and be amazed. Watch and support new and quality things happening in the medium. I guarantee you won't be disappointed!

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I only got to see first episode of this a while ago (courtesy of Nep's suggestion), but it was the shit. It really impresses me that not only did somebody have the idea to make this, but that the fight sequences are as well-animated and engaging as they are. Kept meaning to check out more episodes. Anime is saved: watch Thunderbolt Fantasy.

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I must agree with this - Thunderbolt Fantasy is excellent.  ...I just wish I could remember all the characters' names; Crunchyroll is apparently taking some odd practice with the names in the subs, which clearly differ from those both spoken and those subbed in the opening.  But hey, "the Enigmatic Wind" and "the Frozen Wonder of the Spear" are good enough, right?

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Yeah, it's a bit of a jumble. I think they're using the Chinese given names of the characters in the subs, while in Japanese they're being spoken in however the names would be translated in Japanese. Why Crunchyroll didn't just keep the Japanese pronunciation, I don't know. I just call them by whichever name or phrase is easiest to remember too. The white haired dude is "Gui" to me, the guy he suckered into the whole thing is "Shang," the girl is "Fei," the young pretty boy is "Idiot," etc. xP

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