Monthly Archives: February 2011

Pandora Hearts

 

Quick & Dirty

Language: Japanese

Initial Interest: High

Favorite Character:

Opinion: Interesting

 

 

Synopsis

Oz Bezarius, heir to one of the duke houses, has just turned fifteen. His life is rich and carefree, darkened only by the constant absence of his father. At his coming-of-age ceremony, however, everything changes. For no reason that he can discern, he’s cast into the prison known as the “Abyss”, only to be saved by a “chain” known as Alice, the bloodstained black rabbit. It is unknown why was he cast into Abyss, how does Alice factor into it all, and what does the organization known as “Pandora” want with him.

(Source: AnimeNewsNetwork)

 

Pre-Viewing Thoughts

I don’t remember when I first ran across Pandora Hearts, I think it was when I was idly looking around for manga I might enjoy. At any rate when I did run into it I thought it sounded pretty interesting and I considered at various points reading the manga or watching the anime. I still haven’t done either so it seems like it’s about time. Also the artwork reminds me of something that I can’t quite put my finger on… it’s bugging me.

 

Favorite Character

I was totally going to say Gilbert on this one but…well he’s not technically a character. He has a name but it doesn’t seem likely he’ll ever come back again so… I guess he can’t be my favorite. I’m not even sure why exactly I liked him, I just did. After that I just don’t know who to choose. I like the other characters just fine, but I’m not more attached to one over another. It’s a neutral kind of feeling.

Overall Opinion

Interestingly, this is the first series where I thought that doing an episode by episode review might be fun. Most shows just don’t have enough content in each episode the triggers a real response, this one had a lot of that in the first 4 episodes.

What they did well: The story is fascinating. The characters are complicated. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to trust Break or not, he could be a good guy still, or he could just be a different kind of bad guy. This series also seems pretty good with atmosphere. It’s a series with a bit of a dark streak and they seem to keep pretty true to that feeling.

What they didn’t do well: I feel like several of the characters are a little all over the place personality-wise. Oz is a brat…wait no, a smart friendly kid…always hungry…insightfull…. Alice is evil…no, good…misunderstood…good but with a vicious personality…no she’s actually really caring… wait, is she blushing? Raven is the tall quiet…no wait he’s just like Alice…what is Alice like again? It started getting obnoxious when some of the characters switched back and forth. Also I feel like there’s a large amount of predictability in this show. I could be wrong, so far we’ve gotten around to confirming or denying only one of my predictions. I’ll set them forth right now and we’ll see if I’m right when I finish the series. The prediction I got right was spotting who was the Chain/Contractor in episode 5, if you watch this and can’t guess I think you must be new to this anime thing. I also predict that the Shinigami that Oz tried to kill in episode 2 and that Gilbert cried “No wait he’s…” is going to be Oz’s dad. I also predict that Alice was an illegal contractor at some point who became a Chain and lost her memories when her clock ran out. I’m still waffling on what Oz’s connection and cliché will be but give me a few episodes…right now my best guess is reincarnated or he is/contains one of Alice’s memories…the reincarnated doesn’t feel quite right though so we’ll see.

 

Overall I’m curious to see where this series goes. It’s carrying my interest on plot alone and I want to know how it ends. I’ll be disappointed if Oz gets sucked into the Abyss at the end…but I’m not really getting that vibe from this series so far. I’d give it a shot if you haven’t and I particularly need to mention it to my good friend Stuperface…he’d really like the Chains I think.

 

Next Official Review: Kenichi the Mightiest Disciple

 

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Jyu Oh Sei

Quick & Dirty

Language: Japanese

Initial Interest: Moderate

Favorite Character: Third

Opinion: Good

Synopsis

Thor and his twin brother, Rai, are cast off to a forsaken planet by unknown masked men after witnessing the suspicious death of their parents. Given only a beam knife and a smelly satchel, they wander together in search of civilization on the primarily plant based world. They soon discover the plants have the advantage. Only the strong survive; the ones who throw away their humanity and become the beasts humans once were.

(Source: AnimeNewsNetwork)

Pre-Viewing Thoughts

I’d never heard of this before but Kaze got Vandread for Christmas and it was one of the previews on the first disc. He said he wanted to check it out. He showed me the preview so we could figure out the name and it did look kind of interesting, and the synopsis looks kind of interesting. The art kind of reminds me of Escaflowne. Here we go.

Favorite Character

I picked Third as my favorite character because while I like Thor, I like Third just a little more. This is another series where the choices are somewhat limited on characters. Third comes off as a total badass to me. He seems like he could probably take control if he wanted, but he doesn’t want. He also seems really perceptive. I like perceptive characters because it’s always fun to see where and how they strike. Third didn’t let me down either, he struck brilliantly in episode 4.

Overall Opinion

What they did well: The plot seems really interesting and the characters are likeable. I like the pacing so far as well.

What they didn’t do well: There’s an underlying power struggle in this plot that I don’t really understand very well which kind of detracts, but minimally. Supposedly everyone is exiled to this planet for crimes or whatnot but they still seem to have a lot of good resources. In the first five episodes we see the use of a wine glass (which is immediately shattered), two hover-bike things, lots of transparent wire, plenty of swords, plenty of clothes, enough food to mostly support 5-6 different towns, and a fair amount of jewelry. But they haven’t made any mention of receiving supplies from off-planet and there don’t seem to be any animals other than humans here. I’m also having trouble keeping track of how many clans there are, especially since Chen is supposedly one of them but Top is at one point said to be the weakest and then described as stronger than Chen…so…consistency? Or were they not counting the women?

I definitely want to finish this series, and since it clocks in at 11 episodes that will only take a couple hours another day. If the synopsis sounds interesting to you I’d recommend giving this one a shot.

Next Official Review: Undecided.

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Comments

So Akismet, the spam filter on WordPress, keeps telling me it has blocked more and more spam. We’re up to 8 now and I’ve been shown 2 of them. So I went and looked around the settings to see how I might remedy this. I think I’ve made it stop deleting posts without my approval. If you’ve made a legitimate comment on any post I’ve made and it didn’t show up, I appologize. I’m still new to blogging in general and to this site specifically so there are little bumps I still need to iron out. Hopefully the changes I made in the commenting options will allow comments to slip through Akismet from now on, or at least let me see them first. As far as I can tell it thinks all comments are spam so the less it does the better.

Again, sorry if your comment didn’t go through, I swear I didn’t get to have any input on that decision.

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Full Review: Sukisho

First of all apologies for being late this week. Second, this is another full review without a 5 episode preceding it. Lastly, fair warning for all you fine folks out there, Sukisho is a shounen-ai/yoai/boy’s love anime. If you dislike this sort of thing, do not feel obligated to read the review or watch the series.

Quick & Dirty

Language: Japanese

Initial Interest: High

Favorite Character: Sora/Yoru

Opinion: Awesome

Synopsis

After falling out of a 4th story window, Hashiba Sora has lost his memory. He returns to his school to find a new roommate in his dormitory. Sora gradually begins to fall in love with his new male roommate, while trying to put together pieces of his past.

(Source: AnimeNewsNetwork)

Pre-Viewing Thoughts

There’s a story that goes along with my introduction to Sukisho and I’m going to tell it regardless of relevance, feel free to skip to the next paragraph. There is a store near-ish my house that buys/sells/trades music, movies, games, and electronics. They have a section reserved for box sets that I scan whenever I visit to look for cheap anime. One day while doing this very thing I ran across Sukisho. The cover art caught my attention and I read the back of the box and it sounded interesting. The price tag said $4.99. I bought it. I’ve bought series I liked less for a lot more so to me a $5 series that sounded interesting was worth the risk. I watched it, it was awesome.

I watched this anime when I bought it which may have been more than a year ago now, hard to say. Then around the end of December I showed it to one of my good friends who I felt  could appreciate it as much as I did. She was the one who said that I should review it for Valentine’s Day, which I had to agree was a stroke of genius. Sadly it is now the day after Valentine’s Day, but close enough to still be fun.

Favorite Character

I say Sora/Yoru is my favorite character. For those of you who have never seen thing, and I’m willing to bet that’s most of you, Sora and Yoru have a Yugi/Yami thing going on. They inhabit the same body but have completely different personalities. Sora is kind of fluffy and cute (though not nearly as squishy as Yugi overall) and Yoru seems a little devious and dangerous. I do know what the deal is with the pair but I’m not going to spoil it. Yoru’s not a thousand year old pharaoh possessing  Sora thought, if you were wondering.

Overall Opinion

I once read a statement in which someone claimed that Char (from Mobile Suit Gundam) was “the gayest gay that ever gayed”. I hate Amuro and therefore find Mobile Suit Gundam fairly unwatchable, so I can’t speak to the gayness Char may or may not posess… What I can say without a doubt is that the person saying that never say Sukisho. This series is, without question, the gayest gay that ever gayed. Just so we’re clear, this statement is not meant to be offensive, if you watch the series you’ll have to agree, trust me. Or just let me explain a little.

Sukisho is actually the abridged title. The full title is Suki na mono ga suki dakara, shouganai yo. Which roughly translates to “I like what I like, so there” according to the series subtitles and “I like what I like, so there’s nothing I can do” according to me. In this series everyone is gay. You think that’s an exaggeration, and you’re right, but only just. Sora, Sunao, Ichikawa, Minato, and Nanami are all gay and Kai Nagase is in the last episode. There are like 15 characters total in this series, 5-6 of which are gay. Now, that’s not a majority by a longshot but most of the others are kids, barely in it, or the series just doesn’t explore their sexuality. Of the gay characters, one is not really main cast and of the not necessarily gay characters one is really main cast. And there are no straight relationships anywhere…except their one friend’s dad is apparently getting remarried and I think they imply it’s a woman, but these people do not appear onscreen. Are you convinced yet? Let’s move on to the review.

What they did well: There’s actually a really interesting plot mixed in with the insanity that is Sukisho and it’s interesting getting it all worked out. The characters are fun to watch as well. Some of this series was ridiculously over the top but it was still fun anyway. Also, I’ve heard some people complain that while there are countless stories/series/media where everyone is straight (which isn’t realistic even if some of you may want it to be) there isn’t really any where everyone is gay, so this one’s for them.

What they didn’t do well: This series has some glaring why the face moments* that cannot be overcome by a rational mind. First of all, Sora starts out in what I termed “The Gay Academy for Mascular** Males”. There are gay people left and right, including the two people who raised him, but he seems genuinely shocked anytime anybody talks about being gay (like in the first episode Ichikawa announces “I like Kai senpai!” and Sora spends around three episodes trying to ask him what he means by “like”). He reacts to his feelings for Sunao as you might expect a normal teenage boy to react except that saying things like “even though we’re both guys” and “is it okay” seems ridiculous in a world where the only relationships we see are homosexual. Then we have the end stuff where we find out what happened with Sora and Sunao as kids, while running away from the evil laboratory Sunao trips and twists his ankle, Minato and Nanami scoop up Sora but Sunao is left behind. We get three versions of this with varying levels of horrible mind screw but in all of them one thing is consistent, they had plenty of time to pick up both kids, why the hell didn’t they? And where are the cops? Really where are any emergency services? The basis for the actual plot part of this series is horribly illegal on every level but the characters who are being impacted by it don’t ever say anything about ‘we talked to the cops but…’, they just do it themselves. Near the end we light a building on fire but there’s no indication anybody is going to come to put it out. Also, not everyone likes the gay.

Overall I love this series. It’s priceless really and I picked it up for 5 bucks on a whim. If you don’t mind the gay, and you like some silly, I would recommend this series wholeheartedly.

Next Official Review: Undetermined.

*Why the face – it’s a joke I picked up from the series Modern Family, the dad thinks he’s hip to the texting lingo and says “WTF – why the face”. I’m willing to swear on here from time to time, but the f-word seems a bit much for an uncontrolled and anonymous audience so there it is.

**Mascular – a homosexual male. One of my friends and I were discussing something at some point and we hit upon the fact that while the word lesbian means a homosexual female, there isn’t actually a word in our language for a homosexual male. Gay is used most often but it actually applies to both male and female homosexuals. Therefore we came up with the word ‘mascular’. The specific reasons for that particular word aren’t really important, but I’m still trying to get other people to use it. Spread the word internet people, spread the word.

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Full Review: Marginal Prince

Today’s review is a little unorthodox as far as the format I’ve established thus far. I watched Marginal Prince this week purely for leisure, and while I though before I started that I ought to stop after episode 5 and do a 5 episode review, I really just wanted to go through it. I had initially intended, therefore, to watch 5 episodes of something else…but I’m not going to. Instead you get a full review of Marginal Prince without having a 5 episode review, but I’m not sure anyone reading will really mind.

Quick & Dirty

Language: Japanese

Initial Interest: High

Favorite Character: Joshua

Opinion: Mediocre at best

Synopsis

“Marginal Prince” based off of the hit love simulation game series for girls! Yuta studies abroad in a tiny, far away island in the pacific ocean name Alphonso where he enters the all-dorm, all-male Alphonso Gakuen. However, the school is really a place for the children of the famous . . . and the school specializes in classes on empires and alchemy! And one day, after studying enough at the school, the students become known as “Marginal Princes”! Learn about the stories of fate and trial as each of the students studies to become kings! (Source: MyAnimeList)

Pre-Viewing Thoughts

I mentioned in my Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood review that I adore Okiayuu Ryoutaro’s voice. This started when I heard him singing on the Gundam Wing soundtrack (Operation 4) as Treize and developed further when I heard him as the voice of Tezuka in Prince of Tennis. There is a lot of music for Prince of Tennis, which means a lot of Okiayuu Ryoutaro singing. I have a lot of this music on my computer and on CD, but I recently discovered that one of those songs that I thought was from Prince of Tennis was actually just Okiayuu Ryoutaro singing for the series Marginal Prince. That, I’m afraid, was enough to thoroughly pique my interest. So, knowing nothing about the series other than at some point Okiayuu Ryoutaro sang in it, I endeavored to watch it.

Favorite Character

My favorite character was Joshua. I’m not going to lie; most of the characters in this were pretty flat and not particularly interesting. And I know that probably a large portion of why I liked Joshua best was because he was voiced by my favorite voice actor. He was probably the most interesting character in the series, but that’s not particularly saying much.

Overall Opinion

I want to get a few things clear before I start breaking this series down. I literally knew nothing about this series when I started it. I came for the singing I was promised without any idea what the plot may have been. The synopsis up there is crap; it makes it sound a lot more interesting than the series is and has flat out lies. It reminds me of a comic I once read and a character called Bandai Guy. The subtitles on this were pretty bad. They came and went too fast often, they were grammatically incorrect, they were (I noticed a few times) just plain wrong, and when there was singing they were not clearly separated into ‘song lyrics’ and ‘dialogue’ or the song lyrics weren’t subtitled at all. I know bad subtitles will affect the viewing and enjoyment, so keep that in mind. Lastly, this series is based on a cell phone dating game. I have not played this game and cannot answer any questions about it.

What they did well: Some of the music was good, perhaps all of it but for reasons I will get to in a minute, it’s kind of hard to say. They also did a pretty good job of making character names clear.

What they didn’t do well: Let’s start with the most glaring issue here; being based on a dating sim, you would expect this anime to be a slice-of-life reverse harem anime. Think Ouran High School Host Club, if you’ve seen it. But it isn’t. It is slice-of-life or school-life, however you prefer to categorize, to an extent, but the reverse harem part is lacking a key ingredient – the girl. In this series Yuuta has just started at Alphonso Academy and he has left his sister behind. At the beginning of almost every episode he has a cell phone video chat with her where one or more of the other characters are brought in. Yuuta’s sister is, therefore, meant to be the girl. But she doesn’t have a name and you only sort of see her for the span of two seconds in one episode…toward the end. But I say it’s a slice-of-life to an extent and the curious reader will wonder what that means. Well, as it turns out Joshua is a prince. So after we’ve spent one episode with each character we begin this plotline about Joshua where he is meant to be king, feels obligated to do so, but doesn’t want to. Also, in episode 5 or 6 Sylvan starts doing something shifty and spy-like in the background. It kind of takes it out of the slice-of-life category. Also there is one more glaring issue with this series that makes me think it was meant to be another category altogether…

The music. Every episode contains a song, and I’m not exaggerating. So it starts to feel like maybe the creator really wanted to do a band anime but couldn’t get approval. Now, to be fair, apparently in the game you attempt to woo the boys to be rewarded with a love song. That’s probably the reason, but even if you give it the benefit of playing to the game fans there’s a glaring issue with the music. A lot of the songs are sung by characters in the middle of action. Or rather they are half sung by characters in the middle of action. The best example of this is Sylvan. Sylvan has parent issues, he misses his mommy who he hasn’t seen in a long time. So in his character episode he meets a woman who is about to see her son for the first time in years and feels a connection to her (as they often do in anime). Turns out her son used to be in with a bad crowd and they come to collect a debt, which here means beat up the pair. Sylvan, who is an otaku and interested in kendo, grabs a lead pipe and wields it like a katana, beating down the thugs with ease. But throughout the whole exchange Sylvan is singing. This would be okay if it was an inner monologue playing over the sequence kind of song. But in parts, between beating down individual thugs, Sylvan’s lips sync up to the song. So that the songs sort of take on a half in half out feeling and get awkwardly displaced (in my mind anyway). And they do this constantly. And it seems to get worse as the series continues, to the point where Joshua begins singing at some point and we get a full music video sequence complete with changing outfits and locations.

Next we have the issue of too many characters and too little run-time. In a 13 episode series there are 6 main characters (Yuuta, Joshua, Haruya, Sylvan, Henri, Red), one important-ish side character (Enju), and three throw-away extras (Michael, Yuuta’s sister, Butler).  So we don’t really have enough time to get to know any of them well. Each character gets one episode and then we focus on Joshua.

Lastly there is no real resolution. I’m not really gonna say much more about it than that, but unless I really didn’t understand what was going on, they absolutely refused to give a concrete end.

So overall, I really wouldn’t suggest it. Well, no, if you like to watch anime MST3K style, this would make an excellent choice. If you like to watch good anime for the sake of pleasure, I recommend looking elsewhere.

Next Official Review: Sukisho.

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