Archive for November, 2007

Nekota Jouji

It is Nakata Jouji.

He is a cat.

Therefore, Nekota Jouji.

Is there any anime that he can’t make about a gazillion times better just by being in it? Dai Mahou Touge’s most brilliant moment was having Saito Chiwa and Nakata Jouji voice the cutesy mascot. You cannot get more diametrically opposed than that.

Having just seen up to episode 5, Sketchbook ~full color’s~ is a very solid show. It’s got the iyashi-kei charm of Aria (justified since both anime share quite a few important staff members in various positions) with an extra dose of comedy. And Nakata Jouji.

I’m not one to compare things very often, so I don’t really think Sketchbook and Hidamari Sketch can be compared without simplifying something along the way. Part of the charm of Hidamari is Shinbo’s wacky budget-saving directorial tricks; if it had been animated by a more conventional studio, it probably wouldn’t have been quite as much fun. As such, it appeals more to people who like and can appreciate such trickery. Sketchbook, on the other hand, is much more conventional is approach, and appeals more to people searching for a light, airy show. The difference can probably be best summed up as it’s moe for two different sets of people–people searching for more conventional sexy-cute moe fare will watch Hidamari; those wanting less visual stimulation and more of a lack of mental stimulation will enjoy Sketchbook.

Granted, the fanbase for both shows probably bleeds into each other quite a lot, but there’s always going to be the few people who call Sketchbook an inferior Hidamari (or Hidamari an inferior Sketchbook) but that’s just because their tastes don’t overlap. The targeted audience is similar, but it’s ever so slightly different.

At any rate, Sketchbook is a fun, clever anime. It’s fun to watch, and doesn’t tax the mind too much. A perfect antidote to upcoming finals.

Obligatory Quarterly “What I’m Looking Forward To” Post

The wonderful time of winter season is almost upon us, and I’d like to take some time to share what I’m baselesly looking forward to.

Okami to Koshinryo (The Wolf and the Spices): I knew next to nothing about this anime, but then I read this and I was like “Whoa, Renaissance? Merchants? Spices? WOLF-GIRLS? RESEARCHED SETTING? GOOD CHARACTERIZATION?” and it pretty much shot up to “must-watch.” I really need to get my Japanese reading skills better than they are, so I can read these things.

Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei: After I finish the first one, of course.

Hatenkou Yuugi: Imagawa Yasuhiro being involved in any project makes it automatically worthwhile (I need to watch Bartender sometime…). The premise sounds interesting, but Imagawa’s involvement makes me even more excited.

True Tears: Another show I’m looking forward to due to a staff member’s involvement, this time Nishimura Junji. He did a lovely job with Simoun that I think he might make this show fun to watch. And, hey, maybe it’s yuri!

Rosario + Vampire: It’s probably going to be a fanservice-fest, which isn’t a bad thing, but I was told this was pretty fun, so I’m going to give it a shot.

Porfy no Nagai Tabi: I can’t even identify what novel this is based on, but it’s being directed by MOCHIZUKI. TOMOMI. Instant must-watch.

This might be updated as more details roll in.

Setsuna F. Seiei is a big ol’ honkin’ idiot

Yeah, just go off and tell Marina that you’re working for Celestial Being. Real smart.

I liked 00 8 for the same reason I liked the previous three episodes–we’re starting to see some personality in the Gundam Meisters. They are not, as some people feared in the early episodes, personality-less killing machines. Of course, the fact that they weren’t going to be such was a given, but, in a post-Destiny world, people believe weird things. The dynamics between the four Meisters will certainly prove to be interesting, especially since Tiera Erde is a gigantic jerk–I blame his looks.

Of course, we had a bit of show-stealing in the form of Sumeragi, Felt, and Christina in swimsuits for no apparent reason (and it was brilliant of the show to draw attention to the fact that there WAS no real reason). The best part was Felt standing passively in the water, disinterestedly flipping water at an overly genki Christina. The second best part was Felt revealing her deep love for Haro.

Although it’s quite obvious that those segements were added in to appease the desire for cute girls, it’s interesting that Sumeragi and co. is so confident in the ability of the Meisters to handle things that they can totally ignore the command structure and spend the day at the beach. It shows that Celestial Being is probably incredibly self-confident, which means one of two things: 1) There’s some kind of less than wholesome purpose behind the whole thing, or 2) They are so deluded with grandeur that they’re going to get taken down a notch by some other group. My guess? It’s both.

ef is Probably Going to Break My Heart

Which is a good thing, because that hasn’t happened in a while. I don’t think it’s properly happened since I read Bokurano.

There are spoilers in the following, so if you’re squeamish around spoilers, watch the episode FIRST.

I certainly didn’t expect Chihiro to lapse past the 13 hour time limit. The question now, as I see is, is if Renji is MAN ENOUGH to stick by a girl who runs a constant risk of lapsing back to the mentality and memories of a twelve-year-old. If he is, that’s for the better–that’s the kind of bittersweet conclusion I love.

I don’t really have any “predictions” or hopes for the Hiro/Miyako relationship, although the fact that they ended on that phone call was probably a sign of terrifying things to come. And Kei was still such a vindictive bitch in that opening scene. The best part of that scene was the water in both scenes–the fountain representing the torrent of emotions that Miyako was currently feeling,  the solitary drip of water representing the complete apathy of Kei. I kind of want Miyako to be happy, as she seems to have absolutely nothing going on (notice how when we’re seeing through her eyes the art is monochrome), so I feel sorry for her. She’ll probably jump off a bridge or something by the end of the series, though, for tragic++. Who knows.

I don’t really foresee a truly happy ending for this show. :)

Why Tsukasa is the Greatest

At the risk of sounding like an incoherent stark raving mad fanboy, I’d like to share something that clicked with me while watching Lucky Star 22 last night. And that is, Tsukasa is awesome.

See? I’m right, aren’t I?

The thing that draws me to Tsukasa, however, is very much the fact that I get the feeling that she’s exactly as bizarre mentally as I am. It dawned on me when she was sleepy while doing homework, and then went to bed and promptly was wide awake that I realized that, no, I’m not the only person in the world who does that.

Another thing are the totally random and out of nowhere questions she pulls. Every time she asks as question that’s obvious to me (and her) but so off the wall that no one else gets it just reminds me of the time I was driving my brother home from the store once. There had been silence, and I came to a complete and full stop at the stop sign right near my house. I turned to my brother, and, with grave and legitimate seriousness, asked him “Why do they call them fingernails? I mean, they aren’t really nails, they’re just…I don’t know. What would you call them?”

That’s so Tsukasa, you might as well pin a sign to me that reads “Warning: Too Moe to Handle”, because that’s certainly what Tsukasa is.

In conclusion: Tsukasa is awesome.

That is all.

Onii-sama e…: Ikeda Ryoko Does Yuri

Yes. You heard right.

Ikeda Ryoko, legendary mangaka of the classic Rose of Versailles, totally does yuri. And it’s totally awesome.

Despite having the same director (Dezaki Osamu, also renowned for directing Ashita no Joe), and despite being yuri, however, it’s a grade or two less awesome than Rose of Versailles. I think, more than anything else, it’s the gap of 12 years between the two–Onii-sama e…, a 1970s manga, was adapted into anime in 1991.

It’s clearly obvious if you’ve seen both the series that the same director is responsible for both–there’s great moments like dramatic chords over completely silly events (in Rose of Versailles, we get a whole EPISODE devoted to ridiculous reasions for dramatic chords early on during the Madam DuBarry/Marie Antoinette not-talking-to-each-other catfight (which was incredible; in Onii-sama e…, we get things like Nanako tripping over a chair that’s been pushed into her path by a vengeful, jealous girl accentuated with the loudest and sharpest dramatic chord EVER), the totally unnecessary triple takes (in episode 6 of Onii-sama e… we get a triple take of a HORSE JUMPING OVER A HEDGE), and ridiculous dramatic posturing. If either of these shows don’t sound unbearably awesome to you after this paragraph, there’s no hope for you. The silly cheesiness of the direction, however, only adds to the value of the show, as every episode is a completely over-the-top one-hundred-miles-an-hour drama bullet train running smack into your face for 24 straight minutes.

Onii-sama e… is about a middle-class girl, Nanako, who attends a private all-girls academy for the upper-class (sound familiar, fans of Maria-sama ga Miteru?). This academy has a prestigious club known only as the Sorority, which only the best-looking, most connected girls are invited to. Through some strange fluke, Nanako is invited to become a member of the Sorority, despite not being a member of the aristocracy. This leads pretty much every girl in the school to hate her guts, except for her two friends (Tomoko and Mariko) and one kind-hearted girl who ranks high in the Sorority, Kaoru, known as Kaoru no Kimi. Everyone else seems to utterly loathe her guts. This, of course, makes for thrilling drama. And there’s THIRTY NINE EPISODES of this!

This is pretty much the anime based on the manga that fixed what the whole yuri subgenre of shoujo would be like. Shows like the aforementioned Maria-sama ga Miteru draw the sharpest inspiration from it, but pretty much any significant yuri work, even some outside shoujo, draws from this manga. It’s a must-watch for any yuri fan (even if the yuri underpinnings are fairly weak by modern standards) or anyone who really loved Rose of Versailles. If you’re both, well, you probably just entered seventh heaven.

There’ll probably be updates to this as I watch more, of course; I’m only on episode 6. I look forward to more dramatic chords, and so should you!

CLANNAD, Kanon, and Key’s Nontraditionalism

Just finished up CLANNAD episode 5–Nonaka Ai is totally awesome–and it got me thinking on how “non-traditional” it is, especially compared to something like Kanon.

Kanon, of course, is a classic of the dating sim/eroge versions of visual novels, but, as far as I’m aware, Kanon was the first game that could be properly called a “visual novel” in the sense that it focused more on story than other, similar games (although Sakura Wars came first, it was more of a tradtional game than a visual novel), and certainly the first to have such a tragic story.

What I find interesting about Kanon (here referring to the 2006 version) over other eroge adaptations is that it doesn’t quite feel like a dating game. I mean, Yuuichi does spend and awful lot of time talking to the various girls, but the impression I got was that he was less trying to get into their pants and more trying to help them. This, of course, leads me to believe that the sex scenes in the original Kanon visual novel were tacked on as a kind of afterthought to better be able to market the game to a more receptive audience; one who wouldn’t buy a game for the PC featuring a lot of pretty girls if they couldn’t have SEX with them. That’s the way Kanon always seemed to me, less an eroge than a visual novel with porn in it.

So fast forward to CLANNAD, which began as an all-ages Key game. The anime (and, I presume, the game) feels as different from Kanon as I imagine Kanon (the game) felt from other games at the time. With the porn removed, Key is left able to tell a story without having to insert romantic undertones to justify the sex (or resort to rape, for that matter). And so, what we get is even less of a “harem”/dating sim story than Kanon was–although we’re only getting started on Fuko’s arc, it honestly feels like Tomoya is helping Fuka because he wants to, not because he’s trying to date her. The only possible romantic storyline I see in CLANNAD is between Tomoya and Nagisa. And this really impresses me–for a genre as cluttered as the visual novel/eroge scene is, for a company like Key, who has success and popularity on their side, to take a bold stand and ditch the porn is an admirable thing. I can only hope companies like TYPE MOON follow suit. Not because I have some kind of moral objection to sex and porn–I most certainly do not–but because it just interests me what kinds of stories could be told in this format could be told if the focus on sex was removed. We see steps toward that in CLANNAD and TYPE MOON’s games, but, honestly, I’d love to see a game come out that actually is a visual novel. I think that’d be a great step to take it–turn what essentially started out as cheap titillation for bored PC owners into a new style of storytelling itself. We’ve gotten mostly there, I think, so it’s probably just a matter of time until we get people taking risks in the industry.

This post turned into less about CLANNAD and more about me blathering on, so I will conclude with cute and very much relieved Fuko:

It’s Futarou, actually, but a.f.k. saves the day again with another brilliant joke-conversion. Would you want to be called Fubob? Thought not.

Oh, and if any of you who know more about visual novels than me (which isn’t a hard feat to accomplish) and bring to my attention just how wrong I am, then I will most certainly give you a high-five, Fuko-style.


NOTICE SHAMELESSLY STOLEN FROM G.K. CHESTERTON

I cannot understand those that take anime seriously, but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this blog.

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