Monthly Archives: November 2012

Samurai Harem: Asu no Yoichi

Type: A Samurai that has a Harem

Synopsis: One day this samurai gets a harem and then hijincks. O.k, O.k., ah, Yoichi is a samurai in training who is sent into the modern world to gain real life experience. His “host family” is the Ikaruga family, comprised of four pretty girls, and thus, hijinks.

Pros: Its a lighthearted show.  Some jokes, some gags, some fan service, rinse and repeat. But the best parts of the show are Ayame Ikaruga and Ryo Washizu. Ayame is your basic tsundere character, but her inferiority complex towards her older sister gives her depth. And Ryo’s delinquent character in love (who turns out to be a pretty good guy) is always a welcome addition to any show.

Cons: This show didn’t do anything that other shows haven’t done before. A variety of girls, a love triangle within the harem, beach, hot springs, festival, first date, kidnapping, moment of doubt, etc. Yoichi was an alright protagonist, but he got a but preachy at times. And he and the oldest Ikaruga sister’s, Ibuki’s, relationship was pushed on the audience way too fast (they literally have a time stops moment when they first see each other).

Watch it?: If you’ve never seen a harem, this is as good a place to start as any (2/5)

MVP: Ayame Ikaruga

Number One in Our Hearts

Best Episode: Ep. 9 “A Summer Festival: Plunging Into the Fire” (two of my favorite characters)

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The Hill Dyed Rose Madder

Type: Gross

Synopsis: On day an ex-punk runs into this pretty girl and saves her from being assaulted. Then he accidentally kisses some other girl in class. Then it turns out that both girls are the same person, which was in fact not a surprise, nor was it meant to be. The girl moves into his house because according to anime law, a kiss is indicative of a marriage proposal. But after all these trials and tribulations the guy finally gets a happy ending…with his sister.

Pros: This show has a layer of crazy just beneath its surface that pops up from time to time. Moments like the main heroine being chased by a tentacle monster, or an alien girl stalking that main cast, or everyone pretending the protagonist is gay. This humor saves the show from mediocrity.

Cons: This show has three big flaws going against it. First, it screams generic. You won’t see anything here that you haven’t seen in other love comedies/harems. Second, a lot of the girls act…girly. By this I mean that they act too much like stereotypical girls and less like individuals. Once you hear the group say that the choice between good food or a good body is a girl’s eternal dilemma, you kinda lose hope. Finally, this show employs the sibling love interest. Worse yet, the sibling is the ultimate winner. I try not to judge certain aspects of anime culture, but dude, what the f@#$.

Watch it?: No. Ew. (1/5)

MVP: Nagomi Shiraishi

Why couldn’t she be the love interest?

Best Episode: Ep. 6 “A Golden Yellow Montage” (hot springs bear attack)

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Welcome to the NHK

Type: The kind that hits a little too close to home

Synopsis: This joyful little yarn follows Satou Tatsuhiro, the sorriest loser this side of Stanford University. He’s got not job, not education, and no personal hygiene (A NEET). His best friend is a gigantic geek. His first love is a pill popping nutbag. And his current love interest is a traumatized high school drop-out…Tra- la-la-la.

Pros: NHK is the type of show that appeals to certain kinds of people. People who like non-fiction, who think Batman is the best superhero, who generally enjoy the darker aspects of life. Aficionados of the dark comedy. Its been compared to works like Catcher in the Rye, so if you like Japan’s exploration of the human condition, this one is for you.

Cons: As much as I would like to say that I hated NHK, I can’t. Nothing is technically “wrong” with it. Many of the character’s hand ups are pretty understandable. Issues like childhood abuse, stress, trouble with women, lack of self confidence, all these manifest themselves in adult hood depression. The show does go a bit slow and I felt that Satou didn’t grow as much as he should have.  But again, its a pretty solid show.

Watch it?: Honestly, Its a bit of a downer. (2/5)

MVP: Satou Tatsuhiro

He may be a loser, but dammit, he’s our loser.

Best Episode: Ep. 5 “Welcome to Counselling!” (things start to turn around a little)

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A Certain Magical Index I & II

Type: Religion vs. Science

Synopsis: Touma lives in a world where things like Magicians and Espers (psychics with superpowers) really exist. Both sides seem to really hate each other, so its sorta like the anime version of the Scopes Trial. Unfortunately for Touma, his ability to cancel any power plus his friendship with a cute magic library, a cute electric girl, her clones, and frankly a whole bunch of people, puts him smack dab in the middle of it.

Pros: The show’s real strength is its effective use of its huge cast. It does that thing that action anime does in introducing new characters regularly. But these characters reappear later on in a manner that feels organic.Even the protagonist is likable. Touma isn’t all powerful, but his analytic and deductive reasoning makes him a surprisingly competent hero. The fight scenes are also fun to watch, a crucial element in action anime. The show is organized by story arcs, some exploring different aspects of the world, or building on previous arcs. It manages to pull you into its world of magic and superpowers rather effectively.

Cons: Even though the arcs vary in story elements, they usually boil down to Touma punching the bad guy. Speaking of Touma, his fights tend to get repetitive. All his power is in his right hand, so he logically favors his right hand, but he does it to such an extreme that it makes his fighting style seem awkward. He also tends to make speeches during his fights, which can best be summarized as “Screw you, you’re Outlook on Life sucks!” There’s also that bit about him losing his memories that didn’t really seem all that necessary. Also, while neither the science or religious side are idealized, the Catholic Church is the most common antagonist, so….yeah.

Watch it?: Yeah. Its fun and should keep you entertained for a while. (3/5)

MVP: Misaka Sisters

“I know right?” He said with some surprise.

Best Episode: Ep. 17-18 “Penalty Game” & “Serial Number” (very fun)

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Maria Holic

Type: All girls school

Synopsis: Kanako is a pervert and a lesbian, so her acceptance into the all girls school of Ame No Kisaki is a dream come true, right? Wrong. Because on her first day, her very first day, Kanako accidentally discovered that the school’s idol, Mariya, was actually a dude in drag. Her life is then hijacked by the guy in order to protect his secret. Ironically, as the story progresses, it seems that what he really does is protect the school from Kanako’s prevertiness.

Pros: Man is this show funny. It has a style that’s strangely familiar. The real draw is Kanako herself. She plays your classic anime pervert. She has nosebleeds. She daydreams about naughty stuff. She has a crush on every girl she meets. Shes not particularly intelligent. For some reason, having a woman portray all these traits is ridiculously funny. Its also a breath of fresh air to have a female protagonist that’s not perfect, super kind, wise, or used for fan service. I also really liked the opening for season one. It has become one of my all time favorites.

Cons: I don’t know why, but something kept this show just shy of awesome status. Maybe it was the private school setting. Or the semi-weak supporting characters. Outside of Kanako, Mariya, and Matsurika, the characters don’t really add much to the show. The second season also has two episodes that are weirdly generic, one involving a little kid, and the other a birthday. But, otherwise, its still a fun show.

Watch it?: I recommend it. (4/5)

MVP: Kanako Miyamae

Why can’t more characters be like her?

Best Episode: S2, Ep.5 “Defiled Sisters/Fingertip of Mischief” (I wish she had kept her long hair!)

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Eureka Seven

Type: The Story of a Boy and a Girl

Synopsis: A boy named Renton Thurston joins a half hippy / half skater / half military mercenary group called Gekkostate in order to get closer to this girl named Eureka (pronounced E-U-RE-KA for some stupid reason). Now, most of the crew of Gekkostate are tools at best, and a-holes at worst. But given that most of his world seems to be populated with tools and a-holes, they can be somewhat forgiven…Oh! there’s also a bunch of stuff involving giant robots and floaty alien sea creatures.

Pros: The best reason to watch this show is Renton and Eureka’s relationship. They go from strangers to lovers.They mature together. The show’s exploration of young love is its strongest aspect. The second strongest aspect is probably the  consequences of war, and it’s affect people’s lives, as the Gekkostate itself is a mercenary group, and its leaders are ex-military. In this aspect, it has a weird Third World vibe to it.

Cons: Some aspects of this show are either too depressing or too uncomfortable. In the show people get depressed, they get angry, they get abusive, they don’t make the best decisions. It’s strangely realistic in displaying peoples emotions, as most emotions are admittedly erratic. One example is who often Renton gets slapped around. It happens quite a bit (which is probably what would happen if a 14 year old joined a mercenary group). The plots also not the easiest to understand (what the hell is with mecha anime and sociapolitical/theological plots?).

Watch it?: Yeah, but don’t do it at 4:30 a.m. like I did (4/5)

MVP: Eureka

Don’t know why…maybe its the blue hair

Best Episode: Ep. 26 “Morning Glory” (their finally back together again)

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Samurai Champloo

Type: Hip-Hop Samurai fights

Synopsis: Ditzy waitress Fuu is looking for her father, “a Samurai that smells of Sunflower.” As luck would have it, she manages to get two wandering swordsmen into her debt. Mugen is a slob with an unorthodox break-dancing fighting style, Jin is a prim and proper rounin well versed in the traditional samurai sword style. Its the original odd-couple! You know…if it was set in Edo Japan…and had a recurring female lead…and was about rap.

Pros: The entire show is very well done. It mixes historical events, anime fights, and rap culture all into one very fun show. Fuu’s seach gives the show a reason for exploring 19th century Japan. Much of the show is essentially about rebellion and change, which is amplified by the use the hip-hip soundtrack. Each fight is also well handled. Mugen and Jin are fun to watch, but their not super human. Its nice to see an anime where the good guys can’t decimate a group of opponents with one move. Overall, an excellent show.

Cons: Nothing really….Nope, still nothing. Some episodes tend to veer off course a little, like the one involving a ninja. I also think that Jin isn’t given as much attention as Mugen. But that’s about it.

Watch it?: F@#$ Yeah! (5/5)

MVP?: Mugen

Baddest Man on the Planet

Best Episode: Ep. 18 “War of the Words” (the kids call it art, I call the cops)

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Cowboy Bebop

Type: The one everyone loves

Synopsis: Group of wayward travelers end up traveling together, trying to makes ends meets on space bounties. Along the way, they each try to resolve issues from their past. This crew of misfits comprises of an uptight ex-cop, a slacker hit-man, a pretty con artist, a hyperactive hacker, and a computer dog.

Pros: Let’s all be upfront about it. If you ask anyone with some anime experience about Cowboy Bebop, they’ll tell you its the best thing since sliced bread. Cowboy Bebop is one of those shows that manages to successfully mix different types of genres effectively, while also throwing in some homages. Other shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Community do the same with similar critical acclaim. Bebop mixes Western and Noir motifs, and sets it behind a sci-fi backdrop. One of the more original elements of Bebop is that each episode is mostly a stand alone story. Their isn’t an over aching story, but each character’s individual story is addressed at some point.

Cons: I was’t able to get blown away by it. Maybe it was all the hype surrounding it. I wasn’t a big fan of each of the character’s individual back stories either. The thing is, each character is very individualistic, so much so, that I never bought them as a cohesive group. The were just four people that were together for a while, not a team. Maybe that’s what the show was going for, who knows?

Watch it?: At least to see what all the fuss is about (5/5)

MVP: Faye Valentine

Do I even need to explain why?

Best Episode: Ep. 24 “Hard Luck Woman” (Spike gets owned so hard)

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RahXephon

Type: Robots who change the World with the Power of Song

Synopsis: O.k. um. This…is…about….robots? It stars Ayato Kamina, who lives in “Neo Tokyo” where time goes…slower?…than everywhere else. He escapes and is drafter by this older lady into fighting in the army. Then a bunch of stuff happens…I think.

Pros: Even if you don’t understand what’s going on all the time, you’ll still find yourself liking this anime. Theirs a lot going on, but you manage to absorb the more important bits. Ayato escapes his brain washing home, he struggles to remember things from his past, he’s distrusted due to his alien heritage, and he feels some weird over fighting his people. That part is pretty clear. You may not understand what all the alien stuff does, but you buy into the fact that its trippy and weird.

Cons: I feel that if I was smarter, I would be able to enjoy it better. Their are a lot of themes in this outside of the obvious war and political themes. The designs borrow from Mayan and ancient native art, songs and sound play a role, along with color, art, and probably a bunch of other stuff that I missed. So you’ll like it, but you may find yourself scratching your head a few times.

Watch it?: Yeah, but maybe wait till you’ve had some years at University to do so (4/5)

MVP: Jin Kunugi

Went out like a Boss

Best Episode: Ep. 23 “Far Beyond Eternity” (made a lot of stuff click)

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Nadia- The Secret of the Blue Water

Type: Space Atlantis

Synopsis: This little four eyes named Jean decides to swing way out of his league by hitting on this circus chick named Nadia. She won’t give him the time of day, causing him to stalk follow her halfway around the world. They’re chased by jewel thieves, forced to serve on a submarine, stranded on an island, and launched into space. All because the guy couldn’t take a simple No.

Pros: The show does a really good job making you hate the bad guys. Because these guys, the Neo-Atlanteans, they were evil. They killed entire villages, women and children. It does’t help that they all wear masks and dress like a certain American racist group. It definitely prevents you from emphasizing with any of them. I also liked the very end where you get to see how all the characters ended up. I wish more anime did that.

Cons: I’m not ganna lie, I’m not the biggest fan of old school anime. To me it all seems too slow and too cliche (though logically, most troupes were less cliche in the past). So most of my criticisms come from that. I found it too cartoony, too slow, too by the book. It had more in common with western cartoons like G.I. Joe or Thundercats than with modern anime. I also didn’t empathize with any of the characters. Jean was annoying. Nadia was crabby. The Jewel Thieves were unbalance. Captain Nemo was a tool. etc.

Watch it?: If your a fan of old adventure cartoons, then this one is for you (2/5)

MVP: Grandis Granva

The only character to actually Mature

Best Episode: The Island Arc (Its pretty good)

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