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


Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo

May 3, 2009

makoto

Ahh I love Netflix. Now I can still watch movies and anime in good quality even though my hard drive is so full I’m scared to download more. This movie, Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo was released in the US as The Girl Who Leapt Trough Time. And indeed, she leaps. Literally.

Here is a short summary: Makoto Konno one day discovers, as she flies off her malfunctioning bicycle in front of a speeding train, that she can leap through time. By taking a huge leap, she can fling herself backwards in time and relive and change moments in her life. After getting accustomed to using small time leaps as part of her everyday life; she starts to realize the negative impact they are beginning to take on the people around her and has to figure out a way to make things go back to how they were.

Okay, first off: I really enjoyed this movie. At first I thought it was a bit flawed, but when I kept thinking I decided it was perfect the way it is.

I had thought that it could’ve used some more character development and fleshing out for Chiaki and Kousuke (Makoto’s friends); but in the end I realized that would’ve messed things up. The whole point of this movie is that it’s centered completely around Makoto and what she chooses to do with her ability. At times it’s calm and at times it’s very frantic. The pacing and events of this movie are well thought out. The simple character designs also lend to the impact of the movie.

I really liked how un-dramatic the ending was, too. It was a bit of a twist that I hadn’t quite seen coming. The end made me sad because I’m used to American sappiness, but I really liked it. I watched it right after finishing Manon des Sources because I thought it would cheer me up after all the tragedy; but it kind of didn’t o.O

Overall I liked this movie a lot; I would recommend it and watch it again 😉

mako-to-chiaki


Jean de Florette/Manon des Sources

May 3, 2009

A pair of very tragic, very French movies based on a novel. They’re two seperate movies, but basically it’s just like Part 1 and Part 2.

JEAN DE FLORETTE

jean

Warning: this movie is extremely, extremely bleak. Keep Part 2 on hand as an antidote.

Jean de Florette is a brilliant movie. The title refers to the protagonist, a hunchback named Jean; and his mother Florette, who has recently died and who was once the beauty of the village that her son moves to with his family (his wife and young daughter). The clever part is; even though Jean is the “good guy”, he isn’t the main character. Most of the story is taken from the pont of view of the two antigonists, Papet Soubeyran and his simple nephew Galinette Ugolin. The two hatch a plot to acquire Jean’s land for cheap because they want to use the spring hidden there to build a carnation farm. So before Jean’s family move into the farm that had been left to them by Florette, Papet and Galinette plug up the spring. The land is useless without a water source, so they figure they can step up to buy it when Jean realizes this and then unplug the spring for their benefit (it’s set in the old days before pipes and everything).

Jean is smart and resourceful and has big plans for his new country lifestyle. However, the summer brings the dry season and the family runs out of water, just as Papet and Galinette planned. But instead of moving away, they stay… to face TRAGEDY. AHHHHH IT SUCKS. I can’t do this. This movie is too bleak. Also, be prepared to get really really thirsty. And thankful for the fact that you have pipes. And water.

MANON DES SOURCES

manon

Less bleak, but no less tragic. Very, very French. And subtle. Remember this was written a long time ago.

Manon des Sources, or Manon of the Spring (as in spring of water, not the season) takes place 10 years after the crap, crap ending of Jean de Florette. It brings back Papet and Galinette, and re-introduces the grown Manon, daughter of Jean, the hunchback. Can’t say too much without giving away the plot, but I can say that it’s very good and well-written. And it’s just subtle enough.

What can I say? It’s all just very good.


Yay, Movie Post! Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid; Bourne Trilogy

April 7, 2009

Well, it’s been awhile since I’ve written a movie post, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been watching some pretty frickin awesome movies. Okay, to clear this up – Off the top of my head as in I just thought of this list right now, here are my top 5 ( non-Asian, lol):

-Blade Runner

-The Matrix

-V For Vendetta

-Amelie

-Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

In about 2 seconds, I’ll probably think of a million others I like better, but for now it’s first come first serve.

THE BOURNE TRILOGY

bourne_identity

Okay this was awesome. It took me a long time to watch it, but the wait made it sweeter. Like wine, or whatever. Bottom line: I loved it. Now remember, while I LIKE action, I don’t watch a lot of it since I’m so incredibly picky. When I say I like action, it means I like really really good action. This is really really good action.

The plot is decent, but it’s really the whole experience that makes it good. Basically, Jason Bourne isn’ta hero (god, even that is getting to sound cliche) Okay this is hard. I can’t review action movies. Just go watch it.

bourne

Okay I can’t do this without SPOILERS

Just as good as the first. After careful seconds of consideration, though, I’m gonna say I liked the first better because SOMEONE freaking DIED at the beginning of the stupid movie! I have to say, I kinda foresaw it, though. I mean, how’s he supposed to kick ass if he has to drag Marie around everywhere? And it wouldn’t have worked to just leave the first movie as a stand-alone, it really begs to be a trilogy… So, yeah, you died for a good cause, Marie. Right so I get to find out the plot and see more of Matt Damon being a beast.

I ended up watching the extra features on this one, I was curious about their filming technique. IT’S GOOD. The car chases… (I love car chases). I can’t really say much more other than WATCH IT.

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Well, I have yet to watch the Bourne Ultimatum. You tell me what happens, I kill you. I kid, I kid. Sort of. Seriously, though, I’m pretty excited. It’s been awhile since I’ve been this excited about a movie (I swear to god I’m so behind. These movies came out, when, 2002?) But it’s a lot of fun.

BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID

butch

Ahh, a classic. A good classic. I’m sorry I never write biting, cruel reviews about movies. But it’s no fun. So here goes another rant about how much I liked this~

Well of course I liked it. I was surprised, though. I think I may become a western fan. Never, ever before have I ever been inclined in the slightest to watch westerns. And yet, Robert Redford was calling to me… plus this is a classic, for a good reason (it rocks). Or maybe I’ve just become a Butch &  the Kid fan. Heehee. I really, really enjoyed the end. I was practically about to cry, for gods sakes! Nobody told me they were gonna die! God. But the way they did that last scene was really perfect.  Just the still frame with sound still running. Man, you have to watch it.

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Kay I lied. These weren’t real reviews. I was just excited about these movies and I wanted to put nice pictures of them up here to prove I watched them. 😀


When does it end? NEVER. More things to do:

January 11, 2009

Just when I think I’m about to go on a break from entertainment, it hits me again how many movies, dramas, animes there are to watch. How will I ever watch everything? I like the real world, too, you know…

What brought this on? I bought the $50 Warner Bros. movie book, 2 inches thick, complete with color pictures of all of Warner Bros. best movies and stars. Hollywood crazy, you say? A little bit, I answer modestly. And before you think I’m extravant and waste money on $50 books, I will say that I went to the store to use up my gift cards from last year. And I couldn’t give up this book. So many pictures! I have a weakness for the cinema. As soon as I opened that book, I was never letting go of it. And Warner Bros made a couple of my favorite movies, The Matrix and Blade Runner. And Miss Congeniality is in there, too, which I have a weakness for since its from my childhood days… and it goes back to the Bogart and Bette Davis days. Sigh. Yeah, I’m happy. So now I want to watch every single movie listed in that book. I’ve only seen about 10% of them. Gahh.

And as I was reminiscing about when Miss Congeniality was my favorite movie, I also remembered something else I watched as a kid: Fancy Lala. WHAT? you say. FANCY LALA. Yes, thats right. A mahou-shoujo-ish kid anime! Gosh, this brings back memories.

I remember really liking this, because it was just quirky enough to suit my tastes. No Barney for me, no sir. It’s super random, but the ending is very mature, I recall. It’s not stupid and sappy, like. Even though it is a mahou-transforming-3rd-grader anime, it’s also just about the main character, who is a real (albeit 3rd grader) person too. I think it was quite realistic. *BIAS WARNING* I haven’t actually seen this in about 6 years or more, and what I do remember, I’ll remember fondly because it was form the good old days. Anyway, now I feel like watching it again. If I do, maybe I’ll write a full post about it.

What elseeee. Ah yes, going cautiously back to the TWdrama genre, cautiously because I know from experience what TWdrama is like, aka sappy, melodramatic, predictable and painful, but because I occasionally enjoy that, I’m thinking about watching Mars. Adapted from the manga. Again. I belive I’ve read the first 3 volumes of the manga. Part of the reason I’m considering watching it when I’m a little less tied up is because from what I’ve heard it’s basically the most un-TWdrama TWdrama ever. I’m taking that as a good sign. The downside is (or upside, depending on how much I like it and how draggy it is) that it’s 20 episodes long, which is A LOT.

I’ll keep it in mind.

ALSO:

*Natsuki Takaya’s (Fruits Basket) other manga are so random. I have no idea how she ended up writing Furuba. I read a bit of Tsubasa wo Motsu Mono. Very random.

*IYAAA Skip Beat is being made into a TWDrama, my soul screams in agony. Ariel Lin and Jerry Lan play Kyoko and Ren. Agh. It’s supposed to be called “Excellent Challenge” or something, and it’s on hold. It might be interesting to see them TRY… but no, I can already imagine how awful it’ll be. I won’t rant, in case it’s not awful and because it’s none of my business what they do with the script. I only wish them luck surviving the wrath of fans if they mangle the script like they tend to.

And that concludes this post. Which isn’t really about anything, since I didn’t watch anything today. I am holding off on the HYD movie till I finish HYD Returns, which I’m holding off on because I hate the episode I’m on. It’s the one where Tsukushi completely botches all the time she’s spent getting close to Domyoji and for no reason tearfully leaves him in that rainy goodbye scene. And soon afterwards Domyoji ridiculously loses his memory. Also holding off on SaiMono because I kinda want to wait till all the subs are out, then rewatch the last couple I’ve seen so that I’ll uderstand them better and then marathon until the finale. I’ll probably ending up ditching that plan, since the subs will be up god knows when. And finally, holding off on Ryusei no Kizuna (SARS-fansubs version) and Skip Beat because the subs aren’t out yet, silly! What’s that you say? Kurosagi? Sorry, I didn’t hear *runs away*.


HANADAN FINAL IS OUT

January 6, 2009

All right this is my third post of this ridiculous day, things are more organized this way though. Anyway, this is a short post, just to say

HANA YORI DANGO FINAL IS OUT AND SUBBED!

Thank you so much SARS fansubs, the most beautiful people ever.

I think I’ll just let the beautiful torrent pieces file in, then finish watching Hana Yori Dango Returns (again) so that I will actually remember what happened, then I can watch it~ super exciting.

Next, I will briefly mention that I’ve decided to follow the new-ish Skip Beat anime. I already have to wait for the manga chapters, so why shouldn’t I wait for the anime episodes, too? Skip Beat is another one of those inexplicable joys for me. I have no idea why I like it so much, but it seriously cracks me up.  Can’t find any anime pictures yet.


Stand Up!! Reviews

January 6, 2009

Ahhh what am I going to say about this. I feel as though I should almost be embarrassed to write this, but I really, really enjoyed watching this drama. I have no idea why I started watching it, because if you read the summary it sounds like it’ll just be stupid sex jokes and a lame ending. While there were some stupid sex jokes, overall I think it was really more about friendship and the like… its quite innocent and cute, but at the same time its serious.

I’m really not sure what to write because I’m so biased towards this. Basically it made me laugh way too much. It reminded me of watching Gokusen during the summer, and I was so happy watching this because it made me forget how cold it is outside right now.

This was yet another series I started while waited for Ryusei no Kizuna; Nino actually might have been the reason I started watching it. But gosh, he’s super different! In Stand Up!! he’s pretty much a geeky kid, he looks so different in Ryusei no Kizuna. Actually its because of Nino that I watched Letters From Iwo Jima, you know the Clint Eastwood movie thats in Japanese? Tells the story from Japan’s point of view and its a companion movie to Flags of Our Fathers. I looked at the actors names on the back and I was like …blah de blah, war, Ken Watanabe, Kazunari Ninomiya… wait… NINOMIYA? Why is he in a Hollywood movie?! So I watched it. I rarely watch war movies because unfortunately, they’re hardly original. It had its moments though. I liked the ending the best.

In conclusion (I’m back to Stand Up!! now); while others may ridicule or scoff at this, it will always make me laugh and remind that summer is never TOO far away.