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

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

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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

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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

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First and foremost, let me say that I hate the Persona¬†game series with a passion. I dislike the art style, the music, the protagonists, the mood/tone, and just about everything in general. This is not because I think the Persona¬†games are bad in any way, shape, or form…I simply have a personal disgust for the games, the story behind which is simply too lengthy to go into right now. Thus, I can tell you that I hemmed and hawwed before finally making myself sit down and watch the first two episodes of Persona 4. I did not, not, NOT want to watch them, but I made myself do it anyways. Because I know that this is a series that is quite popular, and I feel that I cannot always avoid previewing certain series just because I dislike them.

Persona 4

During the two episodes I watched, there was a lot that reinforced my dislike of the series…primarily what I already listed. I don’t like the animation style. I don’t care for the music. The protagonist disgusts me. The bear…thing…is annoying. The animation direction gets on my nerves…it feels like I’m watching the game being played, and I simply do not care for that. And the entire dark and angsty tone of the series gets under my skin. Even so…even so…the storyline ended up catching my interest. Because the truth is that Persona 4¬†is built upon quite an intriguing premise full of mystery, suspense, and good old psychological horror. And Persona 4¬†should be given some credit for having some pretty cool battle scenes. They weren’t frequent in these first two episodes, but they kept my attention, dazzling me with fancy lighting, movement, and so on. Thus, in the end, while I’m not so sure I myself will be able to continue watching this show, I can certainly see why other people would really enjoy it.

Final Verdict: Pass

 

 

And now for another show full of mystery, suspense, and psychological horror: Mirai Nikki. I have not followed the manga series, but as a person who likes watching those little yandere girls snap, I had read a little bit about Mirai Nikki¬†due to a certain character in the story. As such, when I heard about the upcoming anime adaptation, I was instantly interested in watching it. I even went and found the first couple of chapters and skimmed them to see if I was really interested in investing time in it, and ended up deciding I was. Thus, I can say that Mirai Nikki¬†is one of this season’s few series that was on my “must watch” list prior to its release.

Mirai Nikki

And, just as I was expecting, Mirai Nikki¬†has got me for the long run. I do have to admit…yandere character is a bit on the extreme side for me…but she still has my favor. Honestly, with how wussy the main protagonist is, it’s nice having the psycho receive equal attention…helps balance out the show a little more. Honestly, considering how much attention she has gotten thus far, it makes me wonder who the main character of the anime adaptation really is. Should certainly be interesting to see what the directors will do with this one. Even without psycho girl, though, Mirai Nikki¬†has a very intriguing story that reminds me a bit of shows like Death Note…another one that I enjoyed immensely, despite how long it took me to get around to watching it. So, in conclusion, I can definitely say that Mirai Nikki¬†will be staying exactly where I put it: my long-term lineup with Chihayafuru. I’ll be looking forward to seeing what other series will be joining them (if any)…

Final Verdict: Pass with Distinction

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When the new season’s anime is revealed, the show usually falls into one of three categories: definitely watching, interested in trying, and not watching. And, unfortunately, due to time constraints, most of the anime series that wind up in the “interested in trying” category never get watched, or at least not for a long time.

Both Chihayafuru and Mashiro-Iro Symphony¬†fell into the “interested in trying” category, but the former¬†was much closer to the “definitely watching” category than¬†the latter. I knew that I wanted to try watching Chihayafuru, but it hadn’t caught my attention enough to become a definite contender on my permanent watchlist. And honestly, it was not first in line in my “interested in trying” list either. Until I saw the reviews. On the various anime review sites I follow, one after the other praised Chihayafuru, giving the series high marks. And the more I read about it, the more I wanted to watch it. Thus, I decided to make this series the first contender in the prelims.

Chihayafuru

Two episodes in, and I am already hooked. This is a fun, intriguing series with characters that actually interest me. I absolutely adore the protagonist, and she will probably keep me watching this show to the very end.

Final Verdict: Pass With Distinction

 

 

There is no point in hiding it: I enjoy a good “harem” style anime. Despite the patterns they all tend to follow, I enjoy the characters and stories they present. And often times, the art style is very appealing to me. I do not like all visual novel-based series though. Ones that focus too much on fan service or are not original enough tend to turn me away. As long as I do not feel like poking my eyes out by the end of the episode and remain interested enough in the characters and story, I am usually willing to tolerate these series. And once in a blue moon, I am fortunate enough to run across one that I absolutely adore (i.e. anything by Key, ef ~a tale~, and so on). Thus, it was perfectly natural for Mashiro-Iro Symphony¬†to wind up on my “interested in trying” list.

Mashiro-Iro Symphony

Easy on the eyes, Mashiro-Iro Symphony¬†presents an interesting premise, a lively cast of characters, and a protagonist who has yet to get on my nerves. Like with most harem anime that I try, a couple of yellow (potentially red) flags have popped up: primarily the potential incest and the fanservice. I honestly do not think the potential incest is going to go anywhere, and the fanservice has not been nearly as bad as what I’ve seen in other anime. I could be completely wrong about this, of course, and may change my mind about the show later. But for now, while Mashiro-Iro Symphony¬†will not be a priority for me to finish, it is one that I will probably continue to watch when I can find time for it.

Final Verdict: Pass

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Alright…here is my first review. To begin, I would like to note that this format…a one-time review of a show upon completion…will probably be what I stick with. I know a lot of people review an anime series episode by episode, but I have neither the time nor the patience for this…at least not right now. Also, I prefer judging a show in its entirety rather than based upon its individual pieces. Some episodes will always be stronger than others…the animation quality will vary…characters will develop (or not)…and so rather than making judgments too soon, I will wait until I have seen the piece in its entirety. Because I will be doing this, you should take heed: These reviews will contain spoilers. So if you have not watched a show and do not wish to have all the surprises ruined, do not read my reviews. Finally…I will review these shows with the assumption that you have at least some knowledge about them. In other words…I’m not giving you any lengthy summaries. I might be willing to give you a few sentences as a memory refresher, but beyond that, you’re going to have to do the research yourself. Harsh, I know. Okay then…so let’s move on to my first review.

This Ugly Yet Beautiful World

This Ugly Yet Beautiful World

First, my brief, spoiler-filled summary: Takeru is your normal high school boy who feels apathetic about his future (and his life in general) and the world around him. One evening, he and his friend, Ryou, see a light falling from the sky that turns out to be an extremely dangerous force in the form of a human girl, named Hikari. As the series progresses, viewers learn that Hikari has come to Earth for a single purpose: to bring about the extinction of all currently-living creatures in order to make way for the next generation of species. As it turns out, the Earth has a natural defense against Hikari: monstrous creatures termed E.D.s (or Extended Definitions). And it just so happens that Takeru is one of these E.D.s. Unfortunately, the poor boy has fallen head over heels for Hikari, and so he must choose between protecting her from his fellow E.D.s and fulfilling his duty of saving the Earth by destroying her.

The first word that comes to mind when I think of this show is “disappointing.” Now…before running off and never giving this show a shot…don’t get me wrong…it’s a pretty decent series that would not be a waste of your time to watch. Easy-on-the-eyes art, an intriguing premise, and a decent music score all combine to make for more than just an adequate anime. The reason I classify this show as disappointing is because of its unfulfilled potential.

In all truth, This Ugly Yet Beautiful World had something really going for it. The plot might not have been all that unique, but it had tons of potential. It could actually be compared to a show like Elfen Lied. Unfortunately, where Elfen Lied went over the top, This Ugly Yet Beautiful World didn’t do enough. It simply did not have the impact that it was more than capable of leaving with viewers. A word that comes to mind is “lackluster.” It needed more…it could have given more…but it didn’t.

For example…I have a weakness for crazy characters. I am just a huge fan of the psychos, especially the ones that seem normal and then surprise you when they snap. Not just the ones who turn violent, though…it is more-so just seeing the mental change that gives the character another layer…another dimension…that makes you realize they weren’t what they seemed. Like Lucy/Nyu from Elfen Lied. Kaede from Shuffle! Kozue from Mahoraba ~Heartful Days~. Kotomi from Clannad. The list goes on. And Hikari can be added to this list. You always know something’s a little strange about her, even from the very beginning. But there a couple of points where the show reallllly teases you. I remember a couple of different times when I became so interested in the show because Hikari had all the signs of becoming another Lucy. I was on the edge of my seat, afraid to see what would happen next, and yet hoping to really see her snap.

It's the crazy eyes...gotta love the crazy eyes...

And then…you know what? Nothing happened. Or…to be more correct…things did happen…but they were sooooo…..not….epic. I was expecting something really bad to happen. And it wasn’t that nothing bad happened…it was just that the way it was portrayed was completely…empty. It was missing impact. I mean…don’t get me wrong…it’s not like I wanted characters to die. It’s not like I enjoy watching shows that are full of blood and gore, because I don’t. But in all honesty, this show needed some more blood…some more violence…some more death. Because, without it, the whole end-of-the-world premise simply wasn’t all that…well…threatening. And the end of the world should be threatening. We’ve got this character who is threatening to wipe all life from the face of the Earth aaaaand…it’s not doing anything for me like it should.

So…overall…I’d probably give this anime a B. It had all the makings of something great, but then it left me hanging. What I would really like to see is for somebody to try this again…to take similar ideas, rework the premise, and get it right. Elfen Lied does too much…This Ugly Yet Beautiful World too little…so if somebody can figure out how to reach that happy medium, I really think they’d have a great show on their hands. Also…it would be nice if they’d leave out all the nudity. I don’t know what it is with these type of shows…but they really like to show the characters naked. A lot. I can handle brief nudity here and there, but it is focused on waaaaay too much in these shows. So there you have it…cut out the nudity…give it the extra “umph” it needs without overstimulating the senses by including too much over-the-top violence…and I think you’d have a great show there.

Final Grade: B

Feel free to disagree with me as you please. I know some of you are probably partial to these shows that I review, but please avoid flaming…I prefer intellectual debates over uninformed arguments. So, comment as you please. Or not. Until next time.

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