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Posts Tagged ‘Sailor Moon’

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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So…let’s talk Mawaru¬†a little bit.

When I first began seeing news about Kunihiko Ikahara’s latest brainchild, I had mixed feelings. The plot summaries that were initially released were extremely brief and vague, leaving me with the impression that this show was going to be about cute little penguins. As in…along the same lines as Chi’s Sweet Home¬†is about a cute little cat. So, despite my familiarity with and devoted love for this director’s previous series, I honestly was not sure if this was a show that I was going to want to watch. Penguins are cute, but I just did not see myself enjoying an anime dedicated to the lives of these animals. This all changed, however, once promotional pictures finally began to be released.

The picture that changed my mind...

One look at the characters and I did a complete 180¬į. All of the misconceptions caused by the vague and uninformative plot summaries immediately disappeared and I found myself intensely anticipating what the director of Revolutionary Girl Utena¬†had cooked up. Now, in all honesty, I did try my best to…and actually did a pretty good job of…keeping my expectations reasonable prior to the airing of the first episode. Yes, the twisted, disturbing, and powerful¬†Revolutionary Girl Utena¬†was what I most associated with this director, but I knew that this same person had also been in charge of my equally beloved and much more light-hearted Sailor Moon. Not only that, but it’s been more than a decade since Ikahura has directed a major project like this, and a decade is more than enough time for any person to undergo some pretty extraordinary changes. Keeping all of these things in mind, I was able to prevent myself from formulating too many ideas about the show before it began.

Now…9 episodes in…Mawaru Penguindrum¬†has had more than enough time to make me establish some thoughts and opinions. And I can tell you…from episode one…I have absolutely LOVED this show. Clearly, Ikahura has not lost his touch, and a decade has proven to be more than enough time for him to come up with a comfortingly familiar, and yet refreshingly original concept. Where do I even begin?!

Oh the details! Ah the symbolism! The complex intertextuality! The literature lover in me is SMITTEN! We have here a series that is, thus far, proving to be very successful at weaving a complex and intriguing plot with depth, developing well-rounded characters, and maintaining a strong, high speed pace that has yet to falter. And then there’s the layered tone. Sometimes sweet, other times bitter, and always chaotic, Mawaru Penguindrum¬†is an emotional roller coaster. By the end of a single twenty-five minute episode, I have found myself laughing, worrying for the characters, and…best of all…left not only wondering, but also thinking. To leave an audience wondering is not always the easiest task, but a strong cliff hanger usually does the trick. To leave an audience thinking, on the other hand…that, my friends, is an accomplishment on a whole different level. Society may define an author’s success by their paycheck, but literary scholars base at least part of their judgments of accomplishment more on the writer’s capability to imprint their words upon readers’ souls. In less fancy language…it really just means that…when a person comes away from a book with more than that with which they approached it, the writer has achieved at least some true success, be it great or small. And while Mawaru Penguindrum¬†still has plenty of time to screw up royally, I am seeing signs that this show¬†has the potential to join ranks with series like¬†Utena.

And just what are these signs I speak of? To be as clear as I possibly can with such vague feelings…the clearest sign that Mawaru Penguindrum¬†truly has something going for it…is the fact that it is bothering me on a deep and very dark level. More simply,¬†there is something about this show that I find deeply disturbing. And the best thing is…I have yet to figure out just what that something is. It’s not like Mawaru Penguindrum¬†has been hiding it’s true nature. The show has been dropping some pretty big hints that this brightly-colored, cutesy anime has something much more serious going on deep down inside. But I have watched and read plenty of serious stories…some quite dark…without feeling disturbed by them. And the fact that I am already beginning to feel hints of these disturbing emotions before it has even dropped it’s cutesy facade says to me that there is some pretty serious psychological stuff going on. Stuff that’s getting to me on a subconscious level. Exactly the sort of stuff that I love.

Oh, and I have to say…this show has GUTS. I have said it before…I am not a fan of vulgar language or behaviora line that Mawaru Penguindrum¬†continuously crosses. But there is just something about it that is genuinely appealing. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I really love watching Himari when she takes on this crass, vulgar, and unladylike personality that seems to be as far from her true, innocent self as it can be. My ears burn every time, but the boldness of it is simply FABULOUS MAX!!!

Is she possessed? Or is this the true, repressed Himari?

Alright…I guess that’s all I’ll say about it for now. I’m probably raving on too much about this anyways…it’s still fairly early on after all. Still plenty of time to disappoint. Anyways…guess I’ll call it quits for now. I may or may not post more about this AMAZING show again later. ūüôā

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The next bit of news of which many of you are probably already aware: Sailor Moon returns this summer! In what really comes as no surprise, Kodansha’s U.S.A. branch will be celebrating Sailor Moon‘s 20th birthday by re-releasing the manga. Not only are they re-releasing the manga, though, they are releasing it in its updated form with new translations. AND, yes and, they will also be releasing Takeuchi-sama’s original work that spawned the famous series: Codename wa Sailor V. (To read the news release, go here.) So celebrate my fellow fans! I know we haven’t gotten the anime back yet (nor has there been any mention of whether anybody has obtained it yet), but we are one GIANT step closer to having the series make a full return in America. I can’t believe I’m saying this….but I’m so excited about how poor I will be next year.

Sailor Moon (Revamped) Vol. 1

Codename wa Sailor V Vol. 1

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I hate top ten lists. Not because I don’t think they’re fun to read, create, and what not…but because I have so much trouble choosing only ten favorites, whether it’s for books, movies, anime, and so on. Even when I can figure out which ten to squeeze into that list, I have to place them in order from favorite to least favorite, and that’s just a whole ‘nother bear to wrestle with. So, rather than creating a top ten list, I’m simply going to talk about several of my favorite anime and manga series. They will be in no particular order, though I will indicate if I have a particular interest in a series or author. So here we go…

To give you an idea of what this will probably look like, I’m a big fan of the shoujo genre. Yes, all of those sparkly, colorful comics full of ridiculously¬†disproportioned¬†eyes, sickly sweet romance, and heart-withering happily ever afters found in places like Ribon magazine tend to find my favor. Before you say “shoot, not another one of these,” though, I want to reassure you that this list will not consist entirely of these blindingly-bright manga and anime. While it may show some leanings towards that genre, I can reassure you that after a lifetime of watching anime and reading manga, I have acquired a taste for a wide variety of series. In fact, my interest in such a wide variety is one of the few things I pride myself a tiny bit on, though I realize I probably shouldn’t. In the end, I suppose you’ll just have to see for yourself now, won’t you?

1. My introduction to anime…Sailor Moon

Sailor Moon

Technically I’d been watching anime long before I was introduced to this show, but Sailor Moon is what I have always considered to be the series that really got me seriously interested in Japanese entertainment. Though I do not consider it a must-see or a favorite because of its incredible literary qualities, it is certainly (to me) a classic, and so it will always hold a special place in my heart.

2. CLAMP

Cardcaptor Sakura, Magic Knight Rayearth, and Chobits

Following on the heels of Sailor Moon came Cardcaptor Sakura, a series that would introduce me to the famous manga group known as CLAMP. They would become one of my favorite authors and artists of all time. One of the great things about CLAMP is the diversity of their titles. Though most of them fall into the fantasy category, CLAMP has created such a wide variety of series, that just about any audience would probably find at least one title that appeals to them.

3. The Sci-Fi Era: Phase 1

Neon Genesis Evangelion, Martian Successor Nadesico, Trigun, and Cowboy Bebop

After enjoying several more of my narrow shoujo slices of anime pie, a friend was kind enough to open my eyes to the much bigger anime world that I was missing. And thus, I would become interested in what would be my first phase of sci-fi anime. Starting with the classic Neon Genesis Evangelion, I would work my way through pretty much every non-Gundam/Macross/Robotech type sci-fi anime that America had to offer.

4. Hayao Miyazaki

 

Princess Mononoke, Castle in the Sky, Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, and My Neighbor Totoro

Once I realized just how big the world of anime really was, nothing could stop me from exploring it from one end to the next. On my journey, Japan’s Walt Disney, Hayao Miyazaki, would be one of the greatest directors I would ever find. Starting with the famed Princess Mononoke, I would continue watching his films as I found them over the years. And though there are many more I have yet to see, I am far from over Miyazaki and so will continue watching his films.

5. The Slayers

 

The Slayers

Slayers is the anime I consider my first risk. Looking back, it wasn’t a big risk…but at the time for me, it really was. All of the anime I had watched up to this point were, except for Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura, recommended to me by friends. Slayers would be the first anime I would purchase without knowing anything about it, besides the few, brief reviews I read online. Keep in mind, this was still during the time when the average cost of an anime boxset was around $100. And for a ninth grader to spend $100 on one thing that they’re not even sure if they’ll like is a pretty big deal. Fortunately, I didn’t just like The Slayers…I loved it. I would go on to collect the next two seasons of this wonderful and hilarious fantasy series that served as proof to me that risks are sometimes worth taking.

6. Revolutionary Girl Utena

 

Revolutionary Girl Utena

Revolutionary Girl Utena is a shoujo with some very typical shoujo elements (i.e. sparkles, magical transformations, boys that look like girls, etc.), but it is not your typical shoujo. Though there are many series with female protagonists taking on the warrior role,¬†Utena takes it to another level. Here we have a female protagonist who rejects social norms, wearing the boy’s school uniform and dreaming of one day becoming a prince. (Yes, prince, not princess.) Utena was the tomboy I used to fancy myself being, and yet she never completely abandons her feminine side. She was a strong female, one that I could look up to. In addition to a wonderful protagonist, Utena is a series that has many things going for it. An incredible artistic series, Utena is one of the first shows I watched that actually employed suggestion, symbolism, and other very literary techniques. I remember being impressed because, despite the very dark and mature nature of Utena‘s content, the audience is never explicitly shown much of what is going on. They see enough snippets of what is happening in order to piece it together by themselves, but the full image is never directly presented. And as somebody who does not enjoy anime that is full of nudity and sexual content, this was ideal. I got the point, and I got it better through these puzzle pieces than I ever would have if they’d blatantly shown me what occurred. One of the downsides to Utena (for me) were its tendencies towards shoujo-ai. I am not a fan of shoujo- or shonen-ai, much less their more explicit counterparts. However, after seeing Utena and a few series, I find that I can stomach it as long as it is not a focal point in the story. The main tv series of Utena only suggested such things and so it was bearable. Its manga adaptation suggested even less. The movie, on the other hand, indulged in the forbidden romantic relationship between the female protagonists and so I have never been able to truly enjoy the theatrical film (though it is incredibly beautiful and worth watching simply for the artistic quality):

 

One of the most beautiful scenes from the Utena movie

Admittedly, Utena is now over a decade old and, thus, a bit dated. Newcomers to anime would probably find it a difficult show to watch. However, this truly is one of the greats, and most certainly a favorite of mine.

7. Yoshitoshi ABe and the Weird

 

Serial Experiments Lain and Haibane Renmei

Around the same time that I was watching shows like Neon Genesis Evangelion, the friend who introduced me to sci-fi anime also got me into a series that is infamous for its weirdness: Serial Experiments Lain. I remember when we first started watching it, I was warned to take my time. Trying to watch it all in one sitting was apparently a bad idea. After watching it, I could understand why. Lain is an incredibly unique anime that is abstract, confusing, and…well…weird. It is, however, an excellent anime that, if you can get past the fact that it doesn’t always make sense, is worth watching. This would be an anime that also got me into such shows as Boogiepop Phantom and Paranoia Agent (neither pictured above), more series that would fall into the “excellently strange” category.

To be honest, Haibane Renmei, the next Yoshitoshi ABe series I watched, deserves a category of its own. It is neither confusing nor weird in the same sense as Lain (not by a long shot), but it has all of the qualities that one comes to expect in an ABe series. To be blunt, Haibane Renmei is simply beautiful. It is a wonderful series that truly taps into the potential of what anime can be, and it does it well. Though I said I wouldn’t be able to put together a top ten list,¬†I can tell you without a doubt that Haibane Renmei would be on it. And it would be on it towards the top.

8. Arina Tanemura

 

Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne, Full Moon wo Sagashite, Time Stranger Kyoko, and The Gentlemen's Alliance Cross

Today, I will end part one of my favorites list with my all-time favorite manga artist, Arina Tanemura. As you can see from the pictures, Tanemura is one of the most famous artists (if not the most famous artist)¬†of the infamous shoujo genre, complete with sparkles, giant eyes, and all of the other fixings. I could rant and rave to you all day long about why I love Tanemura and all (yes all) of her many works, but to be truthful, it would not give you an accurate depiction of her as an artist or author. For, though I do recognize that some of her series are better than others, as one of her fans (a term I do not use lightly), my opinion is biased to the point that I love every single work she has ever created. If I were to choose a favorite of her series, I would not hesitate to pick Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne. Not only was it the first series of hers I ever read, but it is also one of her best (though I’m sure some of you would disagree with me). I love her art style, characters, stories, and so on, and have yet to tire of it.

 

Alright, that’s it for today. I will continue the other half of the list on another day. Until then!

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