Bunch Of Fives: John Dole | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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North-East alt-rapper John Dole is doing alright at the moment with his rave reviews in the national press and BBC Radio 1 airplay. Influenced by the likes of The Streets, Mos Def and Del La Soul, John’s distinctive yet sincere style is filled with frustration, sharp rhymes and a clever use of rhythm. His fresh and vibrant latest single Collective Thoughts is out now and for those who want to find out a little more about him, here are his bunch of fives. 

I thought I’d give a little insight into one of my favourite pastimes, and something anyone could enjoy whilst we’re cooped up… anime. It’s an art form unto itself, and is often overlooked by those uninitiated as “just cartoons”. So here it is, a quick bunch of fives for those wanting to understand why this beautiful medium needs more of a light shone upon it, this is my list of top 5 anime.

Mob Psycho 100.
Mob on the surface is a wacky series, about a boy with psychic abilities, struggling to find his place and trying to keep his emotions in check, lest his powers spill out in the process hurting those around him. The concept of this show drew me in straight away, the nuanced way in which mobs broken personality is portrayed can only be described as a masterstroke. The show is a fantastic blend of comedy and tragedy, as we see how mobs self-made emotional cell, brings him into moments of hilarious collision with those around him, but also heartbreak, as we see his frustrations manifest themselves nigh on constantly. Outside of the emotional range the show possesses, it also boasts some of the most chaotic action sequences ever drawn, with a frenetic art style, imbued with an energy, and pacing akin to bolts of lightning. I dare you to watch this show and not enjoy it.

Berserk (1997)
Berserk is well, berserk, It’s the story of Guts, a one-man killing machine, and his time with the band of the hawk, a group of mercenaries making their way up through the ranks of a kingdom at war.  This show may not be visually all that impressive, considering now that it’s aged a few years and animation technology has moved forward some, but my god, the tale that is spun over the 25 episode span of this anime, is one you’ll likely never forget. If you like the work of George RR Martin, this may well be something you’d enjoy for its swords, setting, slaughter, and secret plots. I don’t want to spoil anything about this show for you, please go watch it and then scream at your TV like I did.

Made In Abyss
This is a show that nearly went straight past me, and I’m so glad I took the time to check it out. Made in Abyss is an absolute gem, packed with amazement, wonder and a visual splendour, the likes of which only comes around once in a blue moon. The story follows the exploits of two young adventurers, as they decide to embark on a once in a lifetime journey, down into a monolithic cavern known as the abyss. In a strange twist to the heroes tale, it is laid out in explicit and clear terms that those that descend far enough into the abyss, will be cursed, unable to make their triumphant return at the end of their journey. This one-way trip and its melancholy nature are backdropped by an awe-inspiring, beautiful and terrifying world. Combine that with a musical score that is rich, powerful and emotive, perfectly pairing with the air of mystery surrounding this anime. On the surface, it may look cute, but this show packs some serious punch. Well worth your time.

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
Bizarre doesn’t even begin to describe the insanity of this next show. Follow the adventures of the Joestar Bloodline, as they face off against vampires, ghosts, and all manner of evil beings. Each arc follows a different generation of the Joestar line, and with every season the story seems to ramp up the levels of its namesake. It might be one of the most over the top, ridiculous shows I’ve ever seen, but as you follow each of these characters on their individual odysseys, and you witness the bonds they develop along the way, you’ll slowly start to see why the show has such a rabid and devoted following. Jojo can be very funny, and it might look ridiculous from the outside, but once you’re in, you may well cry real tears.

Ping Pong The Animation
I never thought I would enjoy a sports anime the way that I enjoyed ping pong the animation. Look I know how it sounds, really I do. On paper, it sounds like something you wouldn’t go for in a thousand years, I was the same, but I need you to hear me out. This show is a masterpiece, and that’s not a word I throw around lightly. The art style is a shifting, asymmetrical and almost grotesque in its nature, giving it a look very much of its own, akin to acid trips plus Microsoft paint, it truly has to be seen to be understood. This very lo-fi art style is then paired up with incredibly grounded and human storytelling. The joy comes in watching these players grow and learn, the subtle shades of expression used to paint the inner workings of their minds, is beautifully interwoven with the catastrophic sequences of the matches, where we see each swing skillfully choreographed, and each characters coming to terms with what it is, both externally, and internally, they need to overcome. I implore you to search this one out and give it a watch.

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