Kimi ni Todoke: Episode 2

October 23, 2009

Slow and steady wins the race, right? Hrm… I’m getting to the fall shows, I promise. I’m getting to them. But hey, on to Kimi ni Todoke.

Kimi2

As I’d hoped, I think I’m going to be liking this more as it goes on. And you KNOW that about 75% of the reason I’m watching it is because PRODUCTION IG is so awesome. I can’t say it enough. They are in a completely different league. I love them.

This episode was centered around “Changing Seats” and how Kazehaya is super nice and all that. I like how this isn’t just a “high school anime”, it’s actually an anime about high school. It seems like each episode will have a theme of a different part of Japanese high school. I think that helps freshen this slightly dead-end seeming plot a little bit.

There were still a few cringe-worthy moments in this episode, but I can get over that. The classic finding-an-abandoned-puppy part… god… And it still doesn’t seem too realistic to me; but anime isn’t usually. We should be used to that by now.

I’m liking the little friends group that’s forming right now. I think the two Bando-esque girls are a lovely addition (excuse the Nobuta wo Produce reference there).

So yeah, I’m feeling more positive about this now. Or I might just be in a good mood. I’ll be putting up my episode 3 post soon, too; but I’m really not sure if there’s enough substance to actually keep blogging every episode. Of course, I will write a review.

On a side note,

DARKER THAN BLACK! Only 3 episodes left ~ I’m excited for the new season, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to watch it weekl by week without biting my fingernails off.


Natsu no Arashi: Episode 2

October 19, 2009

Man, this is turning out to be too much like Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. I mean SZS is good. But if you’re Shinbo you can’t just make everything SZS. Plus in my opinion it’s already getting old. The first season was amazing. But you can only take it so far, you know? So if they continue to go down this path, I will be most disappointed.

Another thing is the fanservice. Is it me or has it gotten worse this season? I’m worried that the same thing is going to happen to Natsu no Arashi that happened to Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei – it’ll just become to repetitive. And I really hope they avoid that since the first season was so enjoyable. And the music was better… everything was better… but I’m just complaining here.

In this episode Arashi, Hajime and everyone are still at the beach but now it’s nighttime and they’ve gone to the onsen. Not much happens. It’s not like I completely hated this episode, I’m just waiting for the good stuff. I wonder if they’re gonna introduce more characters from World War II? I did catch the School Rumble reference, that was amusing.

Honestly, unless they start up the plot again there’s not much to say about this. Sigh. Of course I’ll keep watching though.


Kobato: Episode 1

October 18, 2009

Alright, alright. So I suck at this whole one post per episode thing. Well at least I got off to a good start. I WILL get around to writing posts for second episodes, and etc. I’m disappointed that there aren’t any subs for Aoi Bungaku or Kuchu Buranko yet. I know it’s only been like a week, but I want to at least hear about a group PLANNING to pick those two up.

Gahhhh I have to write a Phantom post too! Ahem. On to Kobato.

kobato

Wow this really reminds me of Cardcaptor Sakura. I DO like CLAMP, don’t I? I definitely want to get around to watching xxxHolic too.

First Impression:

8/10

I know, I know. How can I give this such I high rating?! But to be honest this has been my favorite first episode of the fall season so far. Maybe I’ve just been cute-deprived. And I really enjoyed watching it. It was relaxing. I mean it’s definitely no Natsume Yuujinchou replacement, but I think I’m going to like watching this weekly.

The premise is a little weird. This girl Kobato, who presumably isn’t human (?) has a wish, and to have that wish granted she has to go around helping people. And of course she has a plushy side kick who has to pretend to be a stuffed animal whenever there are people nearby. Sound familiar?

I’m not planning to watch this for plot, or for quality, or action. I just think it’s going to be pleasant.


Kimi ni Todoke: Episode 1

October 8, 2009

First impression:

7.5/10

Well, I did know this was going to be shoujo. Heh.

Kimi ni todoke

NOW I remember why I got sick of shoujo. Kimi ni Todoko suffers from classic Shoujo Syndrome, symptoms of which include a) shy main character b) popular guy character c) “she’s a girl, you know” complex d) a school setting with classic school events, for this first episode, a kimodameshi (fear trial).

I’d heard that Sawako was a good main character, but she doesn’t leave such a great impression on me. Plus everyone’s personalities seem so impossible. Like what high school class would apologize with candy without being forced to by a teacher? It would be different if Kazehaya turned out to be the world’s biggest asshole, but somehow I don’t see that.

This is kind of turning into an anti-shoujo rant here, which I didn’t mean to do. I’m going to keep watching this because it’s been awhile since I saw this type of show. But I don’t think I’ll keep blogging after the first 3 episodes, because each post will probably just turn into a rant about all the stupid things about shoujo. Actually THINKING about shoujo justs makes it that much more difficult to enjoy it. So I’m not going to think about it.

But still, APPLAUSE for Production IG for adapting a shoujo manga into an anime that DOESN’T look like shit. Really lovely animation, as expected. The art is a bit strange, it kind of reminds me of the art in the Lovely Complex anime. But yeah, we love Production IG.

Another thing that I noticed was that it seemed to go through like 10 chapters in one episode. I don’t know it that’s accurate, but there was a lot of zooming out onto a wide view of the town, sunset, sunrise, zooming back in on a new day and that type of stuff. They do only have one season to do this. I’m not sure how many volumes of the manga there are out, but it’s been running since 2006 and according to MAL it’s still ongoing.

Anyway I think I’ll definitely start to enjoy this more as we get into the story and characters. I remember I thought the first episode of It Started With A Kiss was the most horrid thing I’d seen in a  while, but I kept watching and I’m so glad I did. Becuse what girl doesn’t love ISWAK? So I’m hoping that 7.5/10 rating will go up. Next week better be good!


The Third: REVIEW

October 8, 2009

Ahhh I just finished watching The Third – Aoi Hitomi no Shoujo (The Girl With the Blue Eye). I’m kind of angry though, because I watched this on DVD from Netflix, and the stupid disc was scratched right where the end was. I was like, aw, it’s ending… and then at literally 22:30 out of 24:00 minutes, it started being all jerky. God. But it didn’t really ruin the ending since it wasn’t really a breathtaking one anyways.

The Third

PLOT

One of my major problems with The Third was the lack of a strong story to link all the episodes together. This show was based on a series of novels and short stories, and it really showed. It’s kind of like when you write an essay and you have all these amazing paragraphs but then when you try to transition from one to the next you end up scratching your head and then procrastinating. The Twelve Kingdoms was also like this a little bit, but it worked better for me since the setting was so amazingly detailed and thought-out. Also, each new arc would have a little bit of a different point of view. This changed things up a bit. But then, the Twelve Kingdoms also had 45 episodes in which to develop plots and characters (And it deserves more. Hint, hint.)

Individually, most of the arcs were quite interesting. However, I usually ended up wanting a more full understanding of what was going on, with more detail and such. Perhaps this is what happens when you try to be episodic and plot driven at the same time?

  • Setting: I’m repeating myself if you’ve read some of my other posts, but just for the record: I love post-apocolyptic type settings. So no problems here. While the setting was intriguing, it was maybe TOO intriguing. I wanted to know more! I was expecting to have a more developed and detailed setting by the end of the show. But I guess they decided to pull the “throw you into another world and expect you to cope” stunt. Which can be fun too.
  • The Third: I want to know more about them, too… are they a race that developed on earth, or are they descended from aliens…?

CHARACTERS

Honoka was a good main character. She was too strong… also, she kind of had a “Jack of all Characters” syndrome. Ha. Okay, that was really stupid. But her character was just way too “amazing” at times. I actually thought Iks was a bit of a weak character, especially opposite Honoka. He’s not even in a lot of the episodes, and yet he seems like he should be all important. I think I’m just griping here, though. I liked Paife, she was a solid enough side character. So was Millie. Overall, a step up from your stereotypical characters but I don’t feel any particular affinity for them.

SOUND

Heh, I liked the OP and the first ED. The second ED was quite unremarkable. I liked most of the voices, but the thing that bothered me in this department was the stupid narrator. He made me so angry! I don’t think I’ve ever heard a narrator in an anime before. His stupid voice would come on and I’d be like SHUT UP. It really seemed to distance you more from the whole show. Maybe they were trying to keep in touch with some of the original novels, but if I want a third person view of things I’ll go read the books (as soon as I learn kanji, which I must do).

Another thing that got on my nerves a bit was the overly dramatic background music. I know a lot of anime has this problem, actually ALL types of film are at risk for this. I mean Rose of Versailles? There were some ridiculous dramatic BGM moments there. But that was the 70’s.

ART AND ANIMATION

REALLY, REALLY DODGY. Episode 13 in particular. Oof. That was actually painful to watch. But it did make episodes 19-22 stand out as well-animated. I don’t understand why you would animate the second to last arc well, and then go back to slightly crappy for the finale. Que? But yeah, from distorted faces to distorted faces… to coloring and shadows being different for each episode… the CG was very obvious, too. Instead of pissing me off though, it just makes me feel bad for them. Poor things… if only they had a bigger budget…

OVERALL

This probably sounds backwards after all the griping above, but I actually quite enjoyed The Third. Maybe it was the element of not knowing what to expect? It was like Roulette! It was fun. But maybe it would’ve left a better impression on me overall if I’d been able to do more of a marathon with it. Or maybe not. Who knows?

I feel like I really want to compare this to Jyu Ou Sei, but I don’t know where to start. I did enjoy Jyu Ou Sei more, but honestly, I really can’t decide which one was better. I know Jyu Ou Sei had a LOT of faults, but at least it has consistant (and lovely) animation going for it. Hmm. Perhaps something to contemplate on a rainy day after some rewatching?

Bottom line: Is The Third right for YOU? Are you tolerant of varying animation quality? If you can be a bit of a snob, like me, you might not want to watch this unless you’re feeling particularly nice and open-minded. If you’ve been watching too much shoujo and you’re sick of it but don’t want something with a SUPER intense plot, this might be good. And of course, if the summary (sorry I’m too lazy to copy-paste from ANN) interests you, than by all means watch it. It’s definitely given me some stuff to think about. I wasn’t really “into it” but maybe you will be?!


Natsu no Arashi Akinai-chuu!: Episode 1

October 6, 2009

I’m losing my momentum here… but I will faithfully complete my task! Which is to blog the first 3 episodes of 10 fall series. I haven’t even watched Letter Bee yet. When I saw the special from last year, I wasn’t too excited. But we shall see. Anyway, onto the post!

NatsuArashi

I wasn’t very good keeping up posts during the spring and summer, but I did mention here and there how much I was enjoying Natsu no Arashi and how underrated I thought it was. Definitely underrated. I enjoyed every minute of it, even the stupid first episode. Though yes, Shinbo + SHAFT can equal REPETITIVE. God. Watching Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei is like a chore now. But I liked their style for this one, and the music was so distinct and catchy. I really ended up missing Natsu no Arashi during the summer. Which meant I was really happy to find out it would be continued! This was originally the only show I was looking forward to this Season.

On the actual episode: It’s the same old Natsu no Arashi! I feel like there was a bit more fanservice though. Hopefully they’ll tone it down, since I’m not one of the fans that particular service is directed at… This wasn’t actually that bad. Hoping the same pattern will follow; you know, crappy first and last episode but lots of good stuff in the middle?

On the series potential: I feel like this’ll just continue to get better like the first season; and it seems to be keeping the same atmosphere – which to me is a good thing. But goddd, make me miss summer even more, will ya?

I don’t think I’ll get tired of this even if they decide to be really uber-SZS-repetitive, since I already like it. Of course that would be disappointing though. Let’s hope there’s more from Akanishi Jin where the first season came from and that Shinbo sticks to the good stuff and doesn’t try to OVER-over-embellish. A little over-embellishment is only to be expected =)

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On a side note, Darker than BLACK! No one told me I would like it so much!?!?! I don’t think I’ll finish the first season in time to post the episode one of the new season right away, but as soon as I finish I’ll definitely do it. It’s a given that I’m DLing season 2. If Crunchyroll steals it, I’ll fucking hack them. Not that I’m enough of a computer nerd to do that.


Otogizoushi REVIEW + Dragon Sword and Wind Child

October 4, 2009

So I know I’m supposed to be all “YAY FALL 2009 SEASON” , but I really miss Otogizoushi. Which is why I’m writing a review of it!

Let me first say that I love historical fiction and historical anime, ahem Saiunkoku and Twelve Kingdoms? Seirei no Moribito? Ring any bells…? One of my favorite books in elementary school was Dragon Sword and Wind Child, by Noriko Ogiwara, which I found COMPLETELY randomly one day. I was like, oh, might as well read this. It’s about dragons. Imagine my surprise when I found it was a novel translated from Japanese and set in a Japan-like country in really ancient times. Like pre-Inuyasha times. And it was also an amazing book. So that’s basically what got me into historical ASIAN fiction. Historical American fiction? Pshhhh, give me more Noriko Ogiwara any day!

It wasn’t until later that I found out that book was the first in a trilogy, each book a different story about the magatama… of course, America is stupid and only licensed the one book, so now I’ll never find out what happens unless I learn kanji.

So when I was looking for more stuff like Saiunkoku and Twelve Kingdoms, I stumbled upon this show called Otogizoushi. About the five magatama. Dot dot dot… wasn’t magatama what they were always going on about in Dragon Sword and Wind Child, the best kids book ever? And that is how I ended up downloading Otogizoushi (I got it from Anime-Kraze, they’re cool. The video quality [of Otogizoushi, their other shows are amazing] isn’t the best though).

Otogi

Plot

HEIAN~ My favorite! I was so happy when I figured out it was set in essentially the same time period as Dragon Sword and Wind Child! We need more Heian period anime! Ahem. The plot of Otogizoushi is divided in two arcs, the Heian arc makes up the first 13 episodes and the Tokyo arc makes up episodes 14-2… wait I forgot about the extra episode… hold on right there, I’m confused… Well suffice to say half the show is in 900 CE and half is in 200o CE – which is now.

I’ve seen mixed reviews on this division; it swings both ways: some people love the Heian and hate the Tokyo arc, for others it’s switched. Me, I liked both of them! However, I do think that the Heian arc could’ve been more fleshed out and done with a few more episodes. Although I enjoyed the atmosphere, I don’t think this arc was perfectly executed. But it was definitely interesting.

As for the Tokyo arc, at first I was like, ‘wait, did they ACTUALLY just do that?’ because the whole reincarnation thing can get a little old. But in the end it was kind of cool. The drastic change in storytelling style was also interesting. “Otogizoushi” actually refers to a collection of myths, and in each episode of the Tokyo arc the group encounters a new modern Tokyo myth which ties into one of the magatama. It was actually quite cool to watch it play out, and see how it all connected to the previous Heian arc.

Art and Animation

I could never make up my mind about this. Otogizoushi definitely has a unique style, with more realistic looking characters and most noticeably, non-anime eyes. Yes, the eyes are still big, but they actually look like eyes. The Heian arc had a sort of ink/watercolor looking background. It may have just been the video quality, but the colors always looked a little TOO washed out. I mean you don’t want insane, bright, shonen colors in a Heian period anime, but you don’t want it to look dull either, right? So I want to see what it looks like in HQ. And HD for that matter. Hah.

So in the end I liked the art style, but I think they couldv’e honed that style so it looked better. As for the animation, I feel like it was decent, but it doesn’t stand out in memory. *IT’S STILL PRODUCTION IG THOUGH <3*

Music

The BGM was lovely, as expected for historical anime; for the modern arc, I’m sure it was nice, but not memorable. The Heian OP kinda killed the historical atmosphere but I ended up missing it when the show was over. The first ED was nothing special. I liked the melody of the second OP a lot, and it definitely fit the Tokyo arc atmosphere. The second ED: OH MY GOD. Haruhi totally sang this in Ouran HSHC when she was kidnapped by Lobelia and they made her be in their play! Or she at least lipsynced to it. Thank you, I HAVE got wonderful listening skills and memory.

Characters

I can’t remember if I thought they were well defined or not, but I did like them. They were a good group. And yes, they basically fulfilled all the stereotypes in a traveling/adventuring group; you know, the naive but willful leader, the stoic guy who defends said leader, the guy who’s never serious and likes women but is still a good fighter, the little kid… wait is this Inuyash- ..nnno. But even so, they weren’t BLATANT stereotypes. I like to think they were ACCIDENTAL stereotypes. Hikaru was a good main character, because she was naive but she certainly wasn’t stupid. Plus she could shoot arrows, so she wasn’t completely defenseless either. Mansairaku was also a good character. Even though you actually don’t see much of him, he’s still cool.

Overall

I feel like this has been kind of biased… but I’m gonna wrap it up by saying: this is NOT for everyone. I wouldn’t watch this for action, and I don’t even know if I would watch this for plot… actually I don’t know why anyone should watch this. But if you like Dragon Sword and Wind Child… step right up! You might also want to keep an open mind and try to be laid back when you watch this. Or who knows, you might love every minute of it. I honestly couldn’t say in the slightest. It’s just that kind of show.

EDIT: Holy crap. You can get this from Netflix. I didn’t even know it was licensed. Now I know where to go if I want to see this in quality. Who knows what the subs’ll be like, though. HOLY CRAP. I’m keeping my DLed version, but when I feel like rewatching this I’m definitely gonna go for the Netflix DVDs. I’m very, very surprised that they have it.

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Back to Dragon Sword and Wind Child, I can’t help wanting to write a little more about it now.

It was written in the 80’s by Noriko Ogiwara in Japanese. And it was actually originally released as a stand alone novel in the US very shortly errr somewhat shortly afterwards. This is the cover it had when I read it in like 2000.

dragon_sword

Pretty, right? Wahaha. Even though it has that cheesy title that sounds awkward when you say it, it’s not because it’s a translation… no, it was the silly Americans who decided they had to rename it. The original title was Sora-iro Magatama, which means Sky-colored magatama. Granted, that too sounds a bit awkward in English. So the American name stuck when VIZ decided to retranslated and republish it with a shiny new cover in 2007.

Dragon Sword

And you know what gives me a sliver of hope? 1) The VIZ version was only released about 2 years ago 2) The words “Tales of Magatama” at the top. Doesn’t that smell like a sequel to you?!?! Plus, VIZ followed up their release of The Twelve Kingdoms novel with the sequels to THAT. Maybe if I send them enough letters/hack their website they’ll release Hakuchou Iden and Usubeni Tennyo.

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EDIT

Not to make this long post even longer, but I just really have to add that the Heian arc of Otogizoushi was constantly reminding me of this old 60’s samurai movie by Akira Kurosawa called Rashomon. This may not ring any bells, so I’ll explain: Rashomon is an actual place in the old Heian capital, it’s a gate (mon = gate) at one end of the city for demons or something along those lines. Anyway this old black and white movie is all about Rashomon. So whenever the people in Otogizoushi hung out at Rashomon I was all happy since I totally knew what Rashomon was.

By the way, if you’re into film that’s black and white or you’re completely sick of mainstream, I really recommend Akira Kurosawa. Especially the ones with Toshiro Mifune. My favorite is Sanjuro.

Sanjuro