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Autumn Watchlist Update

Wow it’s been a long time since I last updated. With school, Christmas Break at home, and a bout of laziness, I honestly just haven’t felt like writing anything for quite some time. So I’m just going to put up this very brief post, to grade some of the anime I’ve been watching lately (with no commentary). Maybe, someday, I’ll feel like posting more stuff lol. So here we go:

1. Kami-sama no Memo-chou

Kami-sama no Memo-chou

Grade: B+

2. Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha

Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha

Grade: B+

3. No. 6

No. 6

Grade: B

4. Mahou Shoujo Tai Arusu

Mahou Shoujo Tai Arusu

Grade: A

5. Elf Princess Rane

Elf Princess Rane

Grade: B-

6. Bakemonogatari

Bakemonogatari

Grade: A-

7. Coyote Ragtime Show

Coyote Ragtime Show

Grade: B+

8. Hanasaku Iroha

Hanasaku Iroha

Grade: A

9. Night Raid 1931

Night Raid 1931

Grade: B-

10. Aria the Animation

Aria the Animation

Grade: A+

11. Le Chevalier d’Eon

Le Chevalier D'Eon

Grade: A

12. Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei

Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei

Grade: A-

13. Un-Go

Un-Go

Grade: B

14. Mawaru Penguindrum

Mawaru Penguindrum

Grade: A+

15. The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya

The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya

Grade: A

16. Le Portrait de Petit Cossette

Le Portrait de Petit Cossette

Grade: C+

17. Redline

Redline

Grade: A

So there you have it. I have no clue when I’ll post again. Eventually. Maybe. So until then. Or not.

I’m feeling a little bit lazy this week, so I’m just going to cut straight to the chase. Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai ended up being a pleasant surprise.

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai

I went into this show really thinking I wouldn’t like it at all. I’ll be the first one to admit that I’m extremely biased against most anime that promote themselves with fanservice. Many anime have gotten the axe from me before I even bothered watching a single episode because the posters showed a bunch of girls with oversized boobs. And while Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai had a semi-interesting premise, I was having difficult time getting past some of those pictures. Turns out I can be wrong from time to time. While this show does not shy away from fanservice, it’s actually got an interesting plot and cast of characters to balance it out. Even though I didn’t really care for all the suggestive shots in the opening sequence, nor the argument about whose boobs were better, this show made me grin and laugh quite a bit. And while there was, indeed, some fanservice, there was not nearly as much as I was expecting. The majority of it was in that opening sequence, and then the commercial break card. Of course…this is just the first two episodes, so that leaves this show plenty of time to turn into what I was initially expecting…but since it hasn’t yet been as bad as I was prepared for, there’s a decent chance it won’t stray so far that I’ll feel the need to stop watching this. It’s not going to get the “Best Show of the Season” award by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s entertaining enough to make me want to keep watching it (and its less formulaic then Mashi-iro Symphony, which gives it an extra gold star).

Final Verdict: Pass

 

 

And now for a show that  did live up to my expectations…Kimi to Boku:

Kimi to Boku

The best way to sum up how I feel about this show is: UGH. It’s so obvious that this show was written by a woman. And not just a woman…but a woman who clearly has zero understanding of how friendships between males work. This series is pretty much a shonen-ai-wannabe. The only thing stopping it from being that is the fact that, unless I missed something, none of the characters are gay. It feels like they should be though. ’cause these characters aren’t boys. They’re girls trapped in male bodies. I’m serious. I know I’m probably being really terrible by saying something like this…and if I offend you, I apologize…but it’s true. NO GUYS PLAY WITH OTHER GUYS’ HAIR. Girls will do that. But not guys. And NO guys are THIS touchy feely with other guys. Girls are. But not guys. I realize there are exceptions to the rule…really, I do…but stereotypes exist for a reason. And it’s usually because a certain pattern of behavior is so common with a specific group of people that it becomes very easy to generalize those actions in such a way that you assume it’s one of those across-the-board sort of things. Of course this is not entirely true for everybody…but it probably is mostly true for the average person. Now to get off my little soapbox…and to stop saying controversial things before I get myself into trouble…I can’t watch this show. I just can’t. It’s like watching another one of those slice-of-life comedies with cute girls in it. Just with boys. Except the author forgot to make the characters stop like cute girls and start acting like real boys. So it might as well be another slice-of-life comedy with cute girls in it. And what’s up with the cats? A couple of the random cats are kind of cute, but a lot of them look really creepy, if not downright scary. Whoever was drawing the cats is making the feline species look bad.

Final Verdict: Fail

Whoa-ho-hoooooo!!!! A book review on an anime review site? Is that even allowed? Apparently so, ’cause here it is.😛

Robin McKinley's Pegasus

I just finished reading this absolutely beautiful novel. Literally. As in, about five minutes ago. And I just got done bawling my eyes out. This is such a wonderful novel!!!! I absolutely loved it! And if you are a teenage girl who loves reading fantasy novels (or an adult woman that has retained her young heart, like me), then you need to go and pick this book up. Right now. (If you haven’t already.) Now…don’t get me wrong…I’m not saying guys shouldn’t read this novel…I just think it is far less likely that they will get quite as much enjoyment from this book as girls.

Anyways…moving on. To give you a little information about this book…this is the latest novel by Robin McKinley, Newbery Medal and Honor winning fantasy author of such books as The Hero and the Crown, The Blue Sword, Beauty, Sunshine, and Deerskin, among several others. In this newest of her books, released just last year, McKinley tells a beautifully crafted story about the friendship between Princess Sylviianel and Ebon, the pegasus with whom she is bonded. What girl WOULDN’T want a pegasus for a friend? Or a unicorn, for that matter? Or a horse, if you’re not into the whole fantasy stuff? This book is seriously like every young girl’s fantasy come true. A girl and her horse. But better. ’cause he can talk. And fly.

While I would love, love, love to go on, telling you every little detail about this book, I cannot…just really cannot…bring myself to do it. It would not take much for me to give away too much of this beautiful book’s story…and this is too good of a book for me to do that to it. And I know…saying it’s a book about a princess’ friendship with her pegasus is really lame sounding, and it doesn’t tell you hardly anything. And that’s exactly what I thought when I read the little summary of the book on its cover…but now I actually understand why there was so little information given. It’s simply that impossible to describe in a few words. Not because the story is particularly complex…but because there is so much GOOD in this novel that can and should only be understood by reading it.

A couple more notes…in case parents are reading this…I believe this book is targeted mostly at girls in grades 7-9. Kind of like I said before about how I think this book is more for girls than guys, it’s not that younger or older readers wouldn’t enjoy this…it’s just that the target audience is the one most likely to get the most out of it. As for objectionable content…there was very little. I don’t remember there being more than one or two curse words, which were very mild when used. Also…there was one point in the book where Sylviianel is taught about the differences between how humans and pegasi live, which included a brief, non-detailed description of how they mate. The only other thing I can think to mention is that this book does have a lot of political intrigue and does begin to delve into the subject of warfare and the corruption of power. So, do be advised that the topics brought up in this novel are more mature (even if they are not necessarily offensive).

One final note. I will go ahead and warn you…as I have warned you before…I do not like to cry. And this book made me cry. I believe I would still think this is a good book, but I’m not sure I would praise it so highly, if I did not know that a sequel is on its way. And I am going to be so so so looking forward to this sequel!!!! I need it. Now. But I have to wait a couple more years. So there you have it…my lame-ish book review. Hopefully you can hear my excitement over the book in my words, though, and it will convince you to give McKinley’s newest novel a try.

Grade: A

And now, because this IS after all an anime site, a picture of another beautiful friendship between a girl and her Pegasus:

Sailor Moon's very own Chibiusa and Helios

Ok…maybe not really that near you, depending where you live…but seriously! Madoka’s going to the big screen! And not just once…not twice…but THREE times. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, Gen Urobochi has agreed to bless his fans with a whole trilogy of feature-length Madoka Magica films!

Now….before you get too excited…according to the official announcement, two of these films will indeed be compilations of the original story. Personally…I don’t mind…the thought of getting to see the original story redone in good ol’ movie-quality style interests me greatly. And considering the fact that these two movies only have to cover what occurred in a 13-episode series, I don’t think there’s any reason to be concerned about them leaving too much of the important stuff out. In fact, I’m kind of hoping, despite the fact that these will be compilation films, that the directors will choose to add some more details here and there. I’m not expecting much…nothing that would revolutionize the story…but just little things here and there that would make the movies stand slightly apart from the tv series.

That’s only the first two films though! We have one whole film left…and it’s going to be all new material. We don’t know what it’ll be about…I’m inclined to agree with Kurogane in hoping that it will be an extension of the 10th episode…but I also really wouldn’t mind seeing something completely new. And since the director is quoted in the article as jokingly saying he wanted to make the new movie’s subtitle “Incubator no Gyakushū” (“Incubator Strikes Back”), I’m honestly expecting an actual sequel to the story.

So there you have it, folks…I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely looking forward to this!

See you soon!

I said I was going to write this post quite awhile ago and now, weeks later, I’m finally getting around to it…big surprise there, I’m sure.

About a month or two ago, I took the time to watch through all of Bakemonogatari. I remember seeing the promotional pictures of it when it first came out…and while it did catch my eye, I’m pretty sure that it was going up against Gonzo’s Shangri-La in the fight for my attention at the time. And…being a lover of Last Exile…the character designs by Range Murata won hands down. It was a fantastic anime, by the ways…slow, but unique, and totally worth my time. I’m still hoping they’ll localize it in America eventually, but not really expecting it, considering how political the show was. Anyways…to get back on track…

Bakemonogatari

One review I read about Bakemonogatari that did NOT rave about how wonderful it was really caught my interest. While the writer made a point of saying that they did not hate the show, they did make what I thought was a valid criticism of the art style. For those of you who have yet to watch this show, Bakemonogatari spends a lot of screen time focusing on characters’ faces while they talk, if not still shots. It also has a habit of spending a lot of time on screens filled with words and no images. Also, if I remember right, there were quite a few scenic shots, all of which were extremely simplistic. So really…when you add it all up…except for a few fight scenes (which were far and few between)…the amount of animation in this show is minimal.

Close-ups, text-filled screens, and simple backgrounds

Not only is the animation simple, but this is also a very “talky” show. And by “talky,” I mean exactly what that sounds like. The show does have a little bit action, but it is mostly comprised of scenes full of the characters’ talking to each other.  While this may be considered by some to be Bakemonogatari‘s weak point, it is also very much its strong point. This is an extremely clever show, full of wordplay and witty humor. The only problem with this is that most of the humor is, as can only be expected, very Japanese. Being able to “get” all of the wordplay requires an extensive knowledge of kanji, and much of the wittier humor is steeped in Japanese culture. In other words…unless you are Japanese, have lived in Japan long enough to be fully integrated into the country and culture, or are otherwise able to be equally familiar with the Japanese way of life…most of the humor in this show is going to go over your head. I know it did it for me. (On a side note, I do have to say that the translators of this show deserve some serious applause for their attempts to get the humor across. Even if I still didn’t get all of the humor, the effort they put into this series was superb.)

Now…to get to the heart of my argument…I pose to you this question: Is this animation style artistic? Or a sign of laziness on the part of the directors and animators? Personally, I don’t think there’s a wrong or right answer to this question (unless, of course, you can hear the answers from the horse’s mouth). I think it comes down more to personal taste. To some the blank canvas looks like a blank canvas, and they wonder why on earth somebody hung it up in a museum. To others, though, it is genuinely a work of art. As one of the people who only sees a blank canvas, I can’t understand why they think it’s a work of art, but I can respect the fact that the piece is speaking to them in some way, even if it does not do the same for me. And while Bakemonogatari is no blank canvas, I think the same ideas can be applied here. On the one hand, some people are going to see this as how far an animation company is willing to go in order to make as much money as possible with the lowest budget. Others, on the other hand, will consider Bakemonogatari to be an incredibly clever work of art that knows how to really think outside of the box.

As for my opinion on what does or does not constitute as artistic by my own standards, I don’t really have a god way of explaining it. There’s no real words that can be used to define what I mean. I can tell you that I tend to like pieces that stand out in my mind as “beautiful.” They can be strange, like M.C. Escher-strange, or even in some cases Salvador Dali-strange, but there must always be some sense of what I call “beauty” about the picture. For example…I would consider the ef ~a tale~ series to be a work of art. There were countless jaw-dropping scenes that just completely wowed me. I’d never seen anything like it before in anime, and, honestly, I don’t ever expect to see anything like it again:

The Art of Ef

Where ef is what I would consider a work of art as a whole, though, there are plenty of series I can think of that have “artistic moments.” Elfen Lied, for example, has an extremely artistic opening sequence that draws inspiration from a real artist, Gustav Klimt:

Gustav Klimt (left) Elfen Lied (right)

Another series I could say has artistic elements would be Revolutionary Girl Utena. This series relies a lot on symbolism and suggestion to get certain themes across to its audience, and it uses the art to do this. One show that I have yet to see (but eventually plan to) is Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo, another anime that has a very distinctive art style.

For Bakemonogatari specifically, I guess you could say I think that there’s more to the show than just laziness, but I also think the company utilized the artistic style to save themselves some time and money. I think this was more evident in some episodes than others. There were times where the tendency to focus on the characters’ faces really grated on my nerves…other times, though, I was perfectly fine with it. And I guess the reason I feel that it wasn’t all just the corporate desire to save some money is because when Bakemonogatari broke away from its usual simplicity, it really went all out. There were some incredible scenes in this show that really glued all of the visuals together and made the show stand out. The ending of the main part of the show (prior to the OAVS) especially shows that there was some serious talent behind the art of Bakemonogatari:

Simply stunning...

So, while Bakemonogatari is no ef (though, really, what show is?), it is, in my opinion, an artistic series. Even if it did overdo things sometimes, it did what it did very well. It’s a very memorable show to say the least…one of those that, once you’ve watched it, you can’t entirely forget about it.

Well…that’s all I have to say for today. Please feel free to give me some feedback…I’d love to hear your thoughts if you have any. Otherwise…until next time!🙂

I have to say that this week’s prelims round has been quite disappointing for me. Maybe it’s ’cause I’ve not been feeling so well the past couple of days…can’t tell if I’m coming down with something or not…or maybe it’s just ’cause this week’s anime is disappointing. Whatever the reason, my feelings are what they are, so moving on now.

I’ve never been one who watches all the mainstream “collectors” shows like Yu-gi-oh or Digimon. I did watch a little bit of Pokemon, but not more than a handful of episodes. And while Phi Brain: Kami no Puzzle is not a “collector” anime, it certainly feels like one. Part of this is due to the animation style, and then of course there’s the formula that it follows. I suppose I can’t really criticize it for following a formula…after all, I’ve watched plenty of anime that go by the “monster of the day” pattern…but for some reason, I’ve never been able to get into this type of show.

Phi Brain: Kami no Puzzle

I’ll be honest…when I began watching this show, I did not have my hopes up very high. It only took a glance at the promotional pictures to give me the impression that this would be one of those anime that, while not bad, would not be for me. I did hold out a tiny smidgen of hope, though, for its premise. I am a huge lover of puzzles. Be it jigsaws, crosswords, sudoku, or something else, I could spend hours upon hours on puzzles. And the first episode of Phi Brain did make me think my hopes would not be dashed to the ground…momentarily. It was fun following the characters as they worked their way through the puzzles…I enjoyed feeling like I could solve the puzzles right along with them. And then episode 2 happened. All of a sudden, Daimon Kaito (what a name!) has his little Orpheus thingy that allows him to “tap into” his full potential and he effortlessly solves the puzzles. Effortlessly in the sense of…”I KNOW THE ANSWER, SCREW THE AUDIENCE, MOVING ON.” Now…sometimes this works…a lot of detective shows will present a mystery and then solve it without giving viewers a chance to participate. They make you wonder, and then they hand you the answer. Like Gosick. Gosick does this with almost every single mystery it presents. Where Gosick and Phi Brain differ, though, is that the mystery…the puzzle…is not the central focus of the story. Gosick is more about the development of the characters’ relationships…the mystery premise just gives it a certain atmosphere that helps move the story along. Phi Brain, on the other hand, is all about solving the puzzles. Kind of like all those “collector” series are about capturing whatever monster or item the characters’ have made it their goal to obtain. And while Phi Brain has plenty of time to change…it has given me little reason to continue watching it. Perhaps if I hear lots of rave reviews, I’ll give it a second chance…but for now, not so much.

Final Verdict: Fail

 

 

And now for a show about cutesy girls that like to show their panties, make fun of each others’ chests, and battle each other…

C3: Cube x Cursed x Curious

I like this art style. I really do. There’s something about this cutesy design that really attracts my attention. I do not, however, enjoy a lot of fan service, especially when all the characters look like they should be in elementary school. I know “moe” is all the rage in Japan, but…at least, for the most part…I’m not on board that train. And what really makes me sad is when the fan service is done so tastelessly. Fan service has the ability to be humorous…it really does…and I still don’t like it, but at least if it makes me laugh, I’m usually willing to tolerate it to a very limited extent. C3‘s fan service did not make me laugh, unfortunately. It just made me roll my eyes, if not avert them from the screen, every time nudity, skimpy clothes, or random panty shots flooded the screen. Disturbing and pointless fan service aside, C3 was tempting me to give up on it before ten minutes had passed. I can’t stand it when a story just throws a ton of information at you, expecting you to simply accept it…and that’s what C3 spends the first ten minutes doing. A mysterious box shows up in the mail. The protagonist puts the box away. Later that night, a strange naked girl is stealing food from his kitchen, and he automatically knows she’s the box and seems perfectly ok with this fact. Nobody throws a fit. They just kind of seem to treat this like this is how things normally go. Of course…this really is how a lot of these type of anime go…the premise of a mysterious girl suddenly having to live with the protagonist is nothing new. And so…if that’s taken into consideration…maybe C3 was really doing us a favor…kind of throwing us a bone by saying “We know you’ve seen it all before…let’s skip this and get straight to the good stuff.” Which it actually does. After that first ten minutes, the show does start picking back up. I really liked the local residents…they made me smile. And then by the second episode, we’re already seeing the true nature of certain characters revealed…something that usually takes half a series to get to. So…really…it feels like C3 just fastforwarded through all the typical stuff in order to hurry up and get to what it really wants to show. And I do have to admit that…while I’m still not willing to pass this series…the end of the second episode really had me wavering. It was suddenly interesting. Really interesting. I think I’ve said it before…crazy characters really interest me…and all of a sudden, we wind up with a whole handful of them! So…while C3 hasn’t really made a good impression on me so far…it’s piqued my interest enough to make me consider giving it one more episode to change my mind…

Final Verdict: Recommended for Resubmission

Chibi Devi was not originally on my list of anime to try this season. However, after seeing the cute promotional pictures, reading a couple of positive reviews, and learning that the episodes were only five minutes long, I decided to give it a shot.

Chibi Devi

And let me tell you, this show is absolutely adorable! With only five minutes per episode, there’s not much plot or character development. Animation quality is also lacking. But it’s just so cute and it makes me chuckle! Now…I do have to say…my love for Ribon-style shoujo certainly has an effect on my opinion. But if you just need a quick pick-me-up that will give you a momentary break from your day, Chibi Devi does the job. It’s extremely light-hearted and succeeds at its one simple goal: being cute. So, while those who want something with substance should probably avoid this show, if you’re bored and have five minutes to spare, Chibi Devi might be worth your time.

Final Verdict: Pass

 

 

Awkward, antisocial teenage boy meets hot way-out-of-his-league girl and acquires superhuman powers. Sounds like just about any other anime story designed for geeky, hormone-driven, high-school-aged boys right? Right. Well, ladies and gents, let me introduce you to the latest addition to this genre: Guilty Crown.

Guilty Crown

Protagonist with whom the average anime geek can identify? Check. Super powers? Check. Cool weaponry (i.e. mecha)? Check (and check). Hot love interest? Check. Skimpy clothes? Check. Cute cat girl? Check. Fanservice shots? Check. Sweet action sequences? Check. Check, check, check, check-check-check. Guilty Crown appears to be pretty much an amalgamation of everything that the average teenage male otaku wants in an anime. Which really doesn’t make it much different than a lot of the other anime shows we see released one year after the next. What Guilty Crown has, though, that the average anime series does not is: top-of-the-line graphics, an excellent soundtrack, and what appears to be a substantial budget. And, in addition to all of this, Guilty Crown does have its own little unique quirks. Not only has Guilty Crown introduced a non-white character, it also includes a paraplegic as a member of the main cast. Also, despite the fact that Guilty Crown is aimed at the male side of otakudom, the series has introduced some characters that have clearly been designed for female fans. *coughGaicough* So…my point is…Guilty Crown is attempting to reach out to a fairly broad audience and is, thus far, (at least by my standards) succeeding. The story does not feel particularly original at this point in time, but it has another twenty episodes to work with…plenty of time to fix that little issue. And even if it does stick with its safe little mainstream storyline,  the path it has chosen seems to be a decent enough one to keep me watching. The potential is there…it’s just a matter of whether or not Guilty Crown will choose to utilize it.

Final Verdict: Pass