Tag Archives: college

Ai Yori Aoshi Enishi

Type: It means destiny between people

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Summary: Set two years after the events of season 1, Kaoru and his assortment of female friends have seemingly discovered the secret to eternal youth. Despite living through 730 days, not one of them has aged, grown, or even changed their hair style. In fact, the only evidence of this supposed time jump is Kaoru’s status as a “grad student.”  Are these people stuck in some sort of perpetual time lock, forever doomed to 20 something bodies with smooth skin and great health? Or were the character designers just lazy?

Pros: This season of Aoshi is only twelve episodes, and has much less of the melodrama that hooked me the first time. This season is more of a classic harem show. One episode per girl, a beach trip, a spa trip, and even a haunted house trip. A bit more focus in put on Chika, but that’s probably to make for her late entry in the original. A interesting development happens towards the end of the season when Tina’s status as an culturally Japanese American is explored. Tina is native to the US, but spend most of her life in Japan, making her feel out of place in both nations. I kinda wish this had been the through line for the entire season, if just to distinguish more from its predecessor. Also, I might have forgotten this before, but I like the fact that most of the characters here are college age. It makes their occasional beer fest understandable, and it helps move Kaoru and Aoi’s relationship along.

Cons: Since this season was shorter, a lot less attention was given to Kaoru’s relationship with Taeko and the Miyabi. There more or less relegated to background characters in favor of Chika and Tina. And even when they did show up, it was usually as part of the larger group. This season is a lot more haremy than the last one. Some effort is put into trying to make the season about Kaoru worrying about his future, since he is a grad student and all, but nothing really becomes of it. It was also very weird that after two years, not one of the women in the household looked any older. Or any different for that matter. Are you actually trying to tell me that out of about seven people, six of them being young women, two being high school age, not one of them tried a different hair style? Come on.

Watch it?: Totally skippable, except maybe the last three episodes (3/5)

MVP: Tina Foster

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Hey man, culturally Japanese or whatever, you’ll always have a home here in the States.

Best Episode: Ep. 9 White (they totally did it. right?)

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Ai Yori Aoshi

Type: Literally means “Bluer Than Indigo”

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Synopsis: Once upon a type there was a boy named Kaoru, who grew up in wealthy but unloving household. After making the resolve to live by himself, he one day bumped into a young woman. This young woman turned out to be Aoi, his childhood friend and arranged fiancee. Though Kaoru resented every part of his upbriging, he still fell in love with Aoi, who never stopped thinking about him. And they lived happily ever after, proving that obsession and near psychotic devotion is the true path to fufillment.

Pros: This is one of those anime that I started years ago, quit, then rewatched later. In this case, I watched the show in Japanese and did not dig Aoi’s extremely traditional character and the general melancholy of the first four episodes. Little did I know that after rewatching it in English, I would find the drama to be my favorite part of the show. The show is basically a harem anime, but it’s strongest plot element is the relationship between Kaoru and Aoi. There moments alone are very sweet, which was strengthened by the fact that the show got through their romantic hardships early on and focused more on their day to day lives as a couple (secret though they may be).  Fiction in general tends to glamorize the act of falling in love (or out of love), but often times, the strongest couples are those that share the little moments. And although I doubt I’ll ever see an anime couple watching junk TV on the couch together in their pj’s, I still enjoyed Kaoru’s and Aoi’s private moments.

Cons: If you break down the show, its heavy melodrama in the beginning, light on the end, and general harem comedy in the middle. The middle part is what drags the show down. While you may think this show is about two people, it’s actually about a group of girls living in a dorm-esque mansion with a guy. It’s basically a blander version of Love Hina. I did, however, appreciate that most of the characters were of college age, because that made the fan service a lot more understandable (we all do dumb stuff in college). On a personal note, I really disliked Aoi’s character traits. She was very much the traditional, kimono wearing, soft spoken, “ideal woman” type that dreams of nothing more that cooking and cleaning for her man. In theory, there nothing wrong with having marriage as one of your life goals, or wanting to take care of your significant other. But having that be your defining characteristic of your main female protagonist is very sexist. What’s I’m saying is, I wish Aoi had some sort of habit outside the home. Maybe fishing.

Watch it?: Watch the first four episodes, and the last three, your call on the rest. (3/5)

Best Episode: Tina Foster

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Always love an American girl in my anime, especially if she’s immediately ticked off at an English person

Best Episode: Ep. 1-4, “Fate, Supper, Separation, Living Together.” (good stuff)

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Ah! My Goddess

Type: Sometimes pronounced “Oh!”

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Synopsis: Some college shumck strikes the lottery by accidentally calling a “goddess help line.” Surprisingly, this wasn’t a sex thing, because an actual goddess shows up to grant him a wish. He offhandedly wishes that the pretty goddess would stay with him forever, which forces this trans-dimensional being to be shackled to our mortal plain. But she’s cool with it. The duo  live out the rest of their days in psudo-marriged life, complete with in-laws and relatives.

Pros: This was a pretty good love-comedy. The first seven episodes were a solid relationship show, barring the fact that most of the emotional anxiety came from the male side. You care more about Keiichi and Belldandy as a result. They actually had a scene were they just talked to each other all night, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen in an anime. Episodes 8-12 introduce a second goddess named Urd. She plays the sexy one, but the show doesn’t strays into harem territory, which was actually surprising. Episodes 12-26 introduce a third goddess, Skuld, who I could have lived without, expect for the fact that she was really good in one episode. This was overall a pretty tepid show, with not real frills, but you can burn through it pretty fast in a fast food kind a way.

Cons: Nothing good, nothing bad. Average. You can skip a few episodes without missing anything. There were a few characters I disliked. Skuld’s kid act could get annoying. The snobby girl Sayoko was largely pointless. There’s also a demon bottle at one point that was pretty racist. Pretty super racist. As mentioned above, I felt that the added characters diluted the Keiichi and Belldandy story. Maybe if the other goddesses had popped in every once in a while instead of staying permanently, it would have worked better. Still, I liked the show overall.

Watch it: Easy watch (3/5)

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MVP: Keiichi and Belldandy

I hope these crazy kids make it

Best Episode: Ep. 26 “Ah! Being an Adult is Heart-Throbbing?” (The one time Skuld was watchable)

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C: Control – The Money and Soul of Possibility

Type: Confusing Name

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Synopsis: Once again we are shown the folly of our economic structure. For years we all thought that our financial instability was caused by unwise and short-sighted businessmen. Well, it turns out that the actual cause is the mysterious “Financial District” where people fight one another for money using their futures. On second thought, isn’t that exactly how the economy works now?

Pros: The central theme of this anime is the economy. Fights are for monetary gain, attacks are named after financial phenomena, special moves cost money, battles are called “deals,” and participants are called “entrepreneurs.” Hell, the major conflict in the show comes from the fact that people are required to put up their future as collateral in order to enter the fights in the first place. If a person loses too many fights and money, they go “Bankrupt,” and lose their future. Since the future starts in the present, this usually translates as a failed job exam, ruined company, or even a lost child. So the question becomes whether we should risk the future the ensure the present. This is all of course a giant metaphor for the current economic climate, where people in the financial world make decisions that have major ramifications in the real world (something that the show also portrays). There are a lot of other great things I could mention, but I think this should sum it up: Watch It.

Cons: First off, the show sometimes mixes 3-D models with it’s 2-D animations, which I always hate. Second, the main protagonist Kimimaro Yoga becomes less interesting as the show progresses. He is initially introduced as a college kid who could really use more money, a position that most of the audience can relate to. But once his money problems go away due to his success in fights, his major conflict becomes more philosophical, and thus less interesting He’s not totally passive, and he does act as a good medium for the audience, but he portrays a tad too much indecisiveness to be truly admirable. (p.s. The use of English dialogue was a surprising and occasionally hilarious addition).

Watch it!?: A part of me think this should be mandatory viewing for Econ classes (4/5)

MVP: Jennifer Sato

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I hope she gets her own spin-off series

Best Episode: Ep. 1 “Complication” (it’s neat that every episode title starts with the letter “C”)

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Honey and Clover (Season 1 & 2)

Type: The kind with no actual honey or clovers

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Synopsis: The series follows five friends who mask their feelings of dread and sadness over choosing to Major in Art by falling in love with weird partners. Two of the friends love an underdeveloped artistic savant. Then the one with the glasses stokes an older widow instead of going for the totally down girl with legs for miles. Their’s also the old guy, who hangs out with all the young people because he only had one friend his own age, and she’s crazy.

Pros: Honey and Clover is a romance anime with some funny bits here and there. Any fan of romance anime’s will love this series. It had melodramatic self reflecting. It has love triangles. It has somewhat quirky characters that all have depressing inner selves. There were also a few relationships that should have been played with more, like between Morita and his brother, the history of Rika and Shuji Sensei, and the friendship between Hagu and Yuta. I really liked what I saw in each paring, and my desire to see more between them speak to the quality of the show. There are some genuinely romantic moments, and well as some genuinely funny ones. I would go so far as to say that if the ration of melodramatic to funny was tweaked more to the comedic side, this would have been a pretty fun anime. The animation also reminded me of From Me to You, which is never a bad thing.

Cons: Everything I listed above could be considered a negative anyone who doesn’t like romantic anime. Melodrama I can somewhat stand, but the sheer amount of self-reflecting. Sheesh! There are two main love triangles. The one between Hagu, Morita, and Yuta (later to be replace by Shuji) was actually pretty good. The one between Takumi, Yamada, and Rika, however, was not. Despite beings a secondary triangle, the damn thing seem to take up 70% of the story. I just did not care about Takumi’s quest to bag a pretty widow. He just came off as too self-centered, and made Yamada look like a pathetic loser.  In fact, I just did not care for Takumi period. His side story with the architectural firm bored me to tears. I wish Yamada had just had her own side story, sans Takumi. The opening intros also sucked (life action and animation do not mix).

Watch it?: A good romantic anime for those with a heart (3/5)

MVP: Morita

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Maybe he has the clover?

Best Episode: Ep. 25 “I face a legend…” Romaiya-sempai Special” (Sempai!!!)

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Genshiken

Type: Nerds

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Synopsis: Nerds go to college. They start a club. I’m still not sure what the club was actually supposed to do. A girl starts sitting in on club meetings because her boyfriend is a member. She hates everyone involved. Then this other girl with big boobs joins the club because she loves to cosplay. Then nothing happens for a while. Then another girl joins, but she only did it because she secretly draws porn or something. Then they graduate.  So its basically a The Big Bang Theory anime.

Pros: I really give the show props for not dramatizing or mocking otoku life. A lot of anime tend to treat Otokus as comedic foils or psychologically stunted losers. But in Genshiken, Otokus are just people. People with hobbies that don’t have the best reputation. So the shows really just a light comedy about a group of nerds. The show’s not super hilarious, but its good for a chuckle or two. The key element is Saki Kasukabe, the only non-otoku member. Her total rejection of otoku life juxtaposed with the sheer amount of nerdiness surrounding her is very funny.

Cons: Their is no real main character. The whole group is the main character, and not all characters are created equal. I would have liked it if Saki had been more of a focal point, because her unfamiliarity with Otoku culture would have made her perfect for the lead role. I also wasn’t crazy about the episodes where the club goes to conventions. They do this about four times, and it just felt like filler to me.

What it?: Its was surprisingly enjoyable (3/5)

MVP: Saki Kasukabe

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Nerdy’s the new Sexy

Best Episode: S2, Ep.10 “Otaku from the USA” (I love English in Anime)

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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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