Archive for April 13th, 2008

kure-nai: A Murasaki To Call My Very Own

Fatherly instincts on the rise. How dare you, Murasaki. I thought I had surpassed the need for offspring. How dare you.

The second episode of kure-nai was even better than the first. The adorable lovableness of Murasaki shines through, because she’s probably the most realistic seven-year-old in anime ever. This ties into what I said last time about the term “loli” being inapplicable to her: despite the somewhat compromising situations she may get into (such as dressing), she’s not portrayed in an erotic fashion that the term would seem to imply. She’s portrayed instead as an actual seven-year-old, with her sense of wonder, her childish sense of pride, and infinite curiosity intact. Even her character design reflects this realism: she’s got the whole baby fat thing going on, she’s short, she’s stubby, she’s very child-like. Compare this to more conventional loli-type characters, such as Louise, where the character is essentially portrayed with adult qualities, except she’s short and has a flat chest. The only way you could possibly find Mursaki erotic would probably be if you were actually attracted to actual seven-year-olds, and that’s up to you to decide whether or not that’s a problem.

She’s probably the star of the series, regardless of how you view her: the series seems to be about her growth as a person under the tutelage of Shinkurou, who at this point is now the father figure she never had. Witness: fretting over whether or not she’s being taken care of, where she has gotten off to when she isn’t answering her phone, telling her that she needs to say thank you to the bath owner when she gives her a free glass of milk after the bath. The latter was especially fun to watch; it was essentially like any parent/child dispute. Could this possibly be the Dr. Spock of anime? Only time will tell.

There’s an interesting dichotomy to Shinkurou, though. By day, he frets and worries about Murasaki; by night, he violently beats up a group of thugs extorting money out of a bar owner. The juxtaposition of the fathery care and the violent defender is also interesting, from a storytelling position. Shinkurou almost looks sad carrying out his duties as a dispute mediator, a job which seems to involve a disproportionately large amount of violence that isn’t necessarily suggested by the title. The fact that he has both these faces to him, a fact he refers to in a conversation with Murasaki, is highlighted at this early phase. The logical progression from here, of course, wuuld be Shinkurou defending Murasaki from whoever it is that’s after her, which leads to Character Development and a revelation to Murasaki that, yes, Shinkurou is much deeper of a person than he looks. I don’t think he likes his job very much, or at all. He never talks about it with Yuuno, opting instead to talk about mundane things, and he certainly didn’t seem too terribly thrilled about beating up the thugs either.

Side note: In her approximately 3 minutes of screentime in two episodes, Yuuno is adorable in a decidedly differnent way than Murasaki is, if you catch my drift. Let’s just say I’d go with her to the movies.

On the technical front, the cleverness of the first episode remains. Animation is still solid, and so is the direction. The tiny touches fostered on Murasaki were clever, such as her trying (and largely failing) to open a tin can. They build her childish innocence effectively and make for “awww!” inducing moments, at the same time. This is certainly a series to watch out for in an incredibly good spring season, for all the elements listed above. This could easily build into a massive juggernaut of a series that steamrolls over everything else in its season, like true tears did for winter. And that is fearful indeed.

Soul Eater: Shounen With a Female Lead? What Is Going On?

And a cute one at that!

Before I even begin, I’m going to make it clear: I’m not really one for shounen action series, and I really can’t tell you why this is. I’ve certainly liked quite a few well enough, but they just don’t stick with me as series that really impressed me. It probably stems from my dislike of pure action movies, which is another thing in addition to shounen that everyone else likes except me. It’s the case for many, but not all, shounen series that they eschew the brand of complexity I enjoy in favor of pure outrageous over-the-top style. So, with that in mind, I’ll just make the point clear: Soul Eater is good, even great, shounen, based on this first episode, but whether or not it’ll be something I will enjoy isn’t fully determined yet.

The whole stylistic flair the series has going for it is clearly evident. Soul Eater almost smacks the viewer upside the head with how cool and stylish it is. I mean, the moon literally has a face, and blood is dripping from its teeth. Why, I don’t know, but it’s there. The concept of weapons also able to assume a human form, and the resulting visuals, were also a joy to behold. I can’t fault the series for much of anything at this point, really–this episode starts off strong and charges forward, propelled in part by its own style.

And the humor was quite well-done as well; Maka’s father is a laugh riot (the scene with him in the hostess parlour with his hostesses talking gossip about him while he’s sitting in frtont of them was my favorite moment in episode 1. Well, that, and him telling Soul Eater to fondle his daughter. The humor is, of course, part of the overall style of the series, and my only complaint is that the series started out “serious” and then became light and goofy. It’s kind of uneven, but if the series sticks with a mostly light mood, even in the midst of the undoubtedly coming drama (the series is, after all, 51 episodes long), or, at least, handles the delicate balancing act between serious and silly well (The director is Igarashi Takaya, who did Ouran, so I think we’ll be perfectly fine in that regard, excepting writer wonkiness on the part of Yamatoya Amatsuki, who did same for Gintama, so at least he can be funny and be good at it), then this series will be perfectly fine.

There isn’t really much else for me to say about the series at the moment–sometimes shounen shows take several episodes for me to become acclimated to their style (as was the case for Gurren-Lagann, another shounen first episode I didn’t care that much for, and I ended up loving the series, so…) so I don’t plan on dropping this series after one episode with a dismissive sniff, but neither am I terribly jonesing for the next episode. I’ll stick with it for at least three and probably closer to ten episodes, though, and if it turns out that I end up liking it more than I am now, you’ll hear from me again on the matter. I can most assuredly say, though, that my lack of enthuasiam for the series rests entirely on my shoulders, and is not a fault with the series, as it is as good an example of shounen as I’ve seen. Usually, once I get into the groove of a shounen series, I end up really liking it in the end. I hope that this is the case for Soul Eater, but I’ll have to wait and see.

Itazura na Kiss: Male Tsundere Before There Was Tsundere

Irie is such a delightful bastard. And Kotoko is still the cutest thing ever. Well, not ever, but you know. Hyperbole. There’s going to be a lot of it in this post, as I feel especially hyperbolic at the moment.

So, over the course of the last, what, two days now?, I’ve gone from thinking Itazura na Kiss is a fun retro-romp to thinking it is pure awesome broken up into 26 24-minute chunks for my viewing pleasure. Part of this has been exposing someone else to the glory that is Itazura na Kiss, and part of this is the fact that, after this happened, I spent the endire day jonesing for episode 2. Which I have just watched. And yes, it was Pure Awesome.

Other people have expressed their love and joy for Peach-Pit’s Shugo Chara! adaptation, and, while I watched two episodes and enjoyed them, I’m not much of a mahou shoujo person, so, for me, Itazura na Kiss is hitting that shoujo sweet spot that’s gone unhit for far too long, and it’s hitting it with pure, unadulterated, weapons-grade shoujo. In my face. And I, for one, welcome it. This is shoujo meant for actual shoujo, ladies and gentlemen (I expect, for this post, rather more of the former than the latter, but everyone here from the latter category, well, you’ve got the right mindset, probably) and it’s bowling me over. If the first episode left me with any minor doubts, they have been cast away in the forty-eight hours between episode 1 and 2.

But why do I like it? A good question indeed. The comedic timing of the series is spot-on, as expected from the talented Yamazaki Osamu. The lead female is appropriately adorable and lovable, and is a perfect example of a character you want to root on over the course of the series, and esecpially when she’s bullied by the dastardly Irie. The fun thing about the series is of course the tantalizing bits of shoujo-service scattered throughout. In the second episode, Kotoko blackmails Irie into tutoring her in her studies through the use of a photo of him as a toddler in a dress (Irie’s mother is hilariously awesome like this), and throughout the episode you get the feeling that they’re getting oh so closer and you’re getting all fired up in the way that only shoujo can make you fired up and then

And then it ends up all for naught, as Irie maybe hasn’t changed that much after all, but you don’t care because it’s shoujo. The original manga ran for 23 volumes (tragically cut short due to the abrupt death of the mangaka, Tada Kaoru), for one, and for two, Itazura na Kiss is probably the grandmother of this brand of shoujo wherin the relationship develops a bit, then goes backwards, then goes forwards, then goes backwards, etc. I was never really put off by that plot mechanism, really–it’s perhaps a tad on the unrealistic side, but then, this is manga and anime we’re talking about, so who gives a darn about realism? That’s why we watch anime, right? We’re tired of this realistic garbage! Or something.

There’s no way 26 episodes can cover 23 volumes of plot, so I’m assuming that Itazura na Kiss will be a much abbreviated version, albeit this time with an actual ending (at episode 2 I’m already getting upset over the remote future of the series ending; to console me I must remind myself that Gundam 00 will start around that dreadful time. But it still won’t be the same). I’m quite glad I’ve caught the stride of this series, and I will continue to follow it. I might not have something important or valuable to say every episode, but that’s probably more due to the seeming insanity of this season in terms of sheer volume of good series, rather than any fault with the series in general.

If there was some way to inject Itazura na Kiss intraveneously, I would totally do it. Next week can’t come fast enough.


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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April 2008