Tag Archives: shojo

Sailor Moon Crystal (Season 1 & 2)

Type: Dark Kingdom and Black Moon

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Synopsis: Once upon a time, in a land of Beastmasters and Fresh Princes, there lived 5 Sailor Guardians who fought for love and justice. Together with their English cat, best friends from Brooklyn, and Surfer boyfriends, the Guardians thought a generation of boys and girls the importance of friendship, believing in yourself, and sometimes remembering to eat a balanced breakfast under the mantra “Sailor Moon says, tee-hee.” 20 years later, the legend of brought back to life, and its a hell of a lot more melodramatic than I remember.

Pros: So for various reasons, mostly the podcast “Sailor Business,” I have been slowly getting into the whole Sailor Moon franchise thingy. I watched the first season of the 90’s anime a while back, and now I caught up to the reboot. In all honesty, I liked the campy fun of the original, but this has some strong points. The best thing it does is emphasize the fairy tale aspect of the story, which works really well considering the nostalgia value this show has. Just look at the opening: five figures standing tall underneath the full moon. That shit is mythical imagery man. It also has gorgeous interstitials. Simply amazing. Crystal is suppose to be the show that follows the original manga, the Brotherhood treatment as it were. I can’t speak for the manga, but the anime is much more melodramatic than the 90’s show, making me think that the manga was meant for young teenage girls, not children. That’s not to say that it’s a bad thing. I loved the story of the tragic fall of the Moon Kingdom, which again, felt like it was straight out of a fairy tale. I mean, come one! The Princess of the Moon and the Prince of Earth fall in love, only to die in each other’s arms as their Kingdoms go to war? (I also had not idea that Usagi killed herself in that story. Way more hardcore than I thought would happen in a show were character yell “Make-Up!” to transform). I also really liked Sailor Pluto, which is interesting, because I didn’t think I would actually like any of the outer senshi. But her story’s so sad, and she has time travel and I’m a sucker for sad time travelers.

Cons: A common complaint that Crystal’s often given is that it doesn’t have the same charm as the 90’s anime, and isn’t quiet as engrossing as the manga. I myself found the show a bit dull at times. It’s definitely more subdued that the original show. The characters also looked weird to me, but you get use to it. Something you also have to understand is that this is Sailor Moon’s story. So while the other Sailor Scouts get intro episodes, there characters do not get explored much. They’re mostly Usagi’s support system. Literally, being her royal guard and all. I watched this in English, and let me tell you something, those voice actresses shreiked to high heaven during their transformation sequences. Which really takes out of some of the more dramatic scenes. Speaking of transformation, these iconic scenes are now in 3D, which I was not a fan of. Now…lets get to the elephant in the room: Chibi Moon. This was my first exposure to Chibi Moon. I was, ah, not prepared for what I got. I’m not going to waste your time talking about annoying child characters, or the holes in time travel stories–all I’m going to point out is that Chibi Moon is legitimately in romantic love with her father, is 900 years old, and threatened to shoot her mother in the face to steal her power. But she liked Sailor Pluto, and she automatically ran to her Earth grandparents when she saw them, so she gets a pass.

Watch it?: I prefer the silly original, but this is an interesting interpretation. (4/5)

MVP: Sailor Pluto

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I am the watcher on the wall.

Best Episode: Ep.10 “Moon” (They were like Romeo and Juliet, but ended up in tragedy)

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Snow White with Red Hair

Type: Snow White and Rose Red it is not

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Synopsis: No 7 dwarves. No evil step-mother. No hunstmen. No glass coffin. No magic mirror. Just a girl with red hair that, for some reason, drives all the boys wild. She gets harassed by some rich dude, a handsome(?) prince saves her, and she become his personal pharmacist.

Pros: To be fair, there is a poison apple in the first episode. The anime doesn’t really follow the Snow White legend, or even the Snow White and Rose Red legend. I’m thinking that the title “Snow White” was used more for name recognition. That’s not a negative, because hey, it’s in public domain. But don’t waste your time trying to draw parallels to the Fairy Tale. The anime itself is a medieval slice-of-life romance anime. The main conflict comes from people having problems with Shirayuki being at court, because she’s a commoner.

Cons: Nothing about this anime will wow you. Outside of the “Snow White” name gimmick, it’s kinda on the bland side. Shirayuki is predictably kind, loyal to the prince and dedicated to her craft. The Prince is equally nice, as are his retainers. I didn’t really buy some of the plots involving someone trying to get rid of Shirayuki, mostly because they happened too much. One story would have been enough. The more it happened, the more I asked, “Why are so many people trying to contradict the Prince’s commands?” It seems like the prince didn’t have much respect from anyone outside his close circle. Not a great sign for his leadership potential. The show occasionally goes into the social troubles on the Kingdom, but these aren’t the focus. The focus is Shirayuki and her life in the castle.

Watch it?: Romancy, but forgettable (3/5)

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MVP: Shirayuki

She’s nice, I guess

Best Episode: Ep.1 “Encounter… Changing the Color of Fate” (most interesting than the show)

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Kamisama Kiss

Type: God kisses

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Synopsis: Nanami was a high school student in Japan, till her father left her family in horrible debt, in one of those crushing scenes. What was she to do, where was she to go, she was out on her fanny. So she she crashed on the park but a stranger saw more. She had style, she had flair, the was there, that’s how she became the Land God!

Pros: It’s so shojo. I love it. The hero has those big ol’ eyes and colorful bubbles that show up when she feels happy. Or sad. Or slightly hungry. And the boys are all cute. Every single one of them. Even the hobo that turns Nanami into the Land God in the first place. As you can imagine, the story eventually evolves into a love story, where the hero pines for the fox spirit, which surprisingly happens halfway through.

Cons: It’s so shojo, I hate it. The colorful bubbles in particular were out of control. The hero felt the warm fuzzy socks every five seconds. It was one of those “oh, he said bless you after I sneezed, he must be the kindest man in existence.” I liked this anime, but I liked it when it focused on the funny. But instead, I’d say this is 75% romance, 15% comedy. I prefer when those numbers are reversed.

Watch it?: This Shojo had mojo (3/5) 

MPV: The Land God
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Why did he do this anyway?

Best episode: Ep.1  “Nanami becomes a Land God” (yep, lets just let all strangers kiss our foreheads)
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Say “I Love You”

Type: Make me a Sandwich first

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Synopsis: In a tales as old as time, but song not as old as rhyme (because that’s logically impossible), a unpopular girl grabs the attention of the most popular boy in school. Now get THIS, not only is the boy tall and handsome, he’s caring, affectionate, and knows when to get aggressive if you know what I mean *wink* He also has a trouble past…oh, if only someone would understand him!

Pros: Sexist jokes aside, Say “I Love You” is pretty good. Not the best shojo show I’ve ever seen, but still enjoyable. It follows the same basic shojo formula of shy girl meets pretty boy who fall in love with her realness and helps her get more friends. To the show’s credit, Mei and Yamato start dating by the third episode, so the show is mainly about them being in a relationship and falling in love (like in real life, not anime life). The first four episodes are them getting together, then a filler episode, then seven episodes with love rival Megumi. What makes this anime a little different from its brethren is the amount of physical affection depicted in the show. Now, “physical affection” isn’t the same as “sexual affections,” and that’s key here. The characters in this show (mainly Mei and Yamato) tend to hug each other in a manner that comes off as very intimate. Even I had to turn on the fan a few times. There’s also a fair amount of kissing, which I appreciated in the context of a high school romance anime.

Cons: So while the show has a fair amount of good characters and scenes, it is very by the numbers structure wise, almost to a surprising degree. Apart from the above mentioned premise, the classic cliche’s all show up. A love rival shows up to steal Yamato, a love rival shows up to steal Mei, it turns out Yamato has a clingy younger sister, it turns out Mei was taking care of a stray cat in a cardboard box, etc. The show is also notable in its neglect of its supporting characters. Most shojo stories tend to explore the love lives of multiple couples, but in Say “I Love You,” couples are established and then put off to the side (ex: Asami and Kenji). Of course, if the show had 24 episodes instead of 12, this may have not been the case. Finally, I found Mei a bit too shy. I feel she should have shed some of that as the show went on, and I found Yamato a little bland. He was a bit too ideal and the only real character trait of note was his occasional selfishness, or maybe coldness? apathy? distance? A tendency to help others but sometimes overlook the feelings of those closest to him. God, if he would just let me in…

Watch it: “I fell in love with that roundhouse kick” (4/5)

MVP: Kei Takemura

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Man, I want that mohawk

Best Episode: Ep. 2 “Fried Chicken Flavored” (not ganna lie, that last scenes gave me the vapors)

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Sailor Moon (Season One)

Type: O.G. Pretty Soldiers

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Synopsis: I normally don’t do super popular anime, but dammit, I finally know what Sailor Moon is about! A long time ago, the Moon Princess and her friends are sent to Earth after her Kingdom is destroyed by the evil Queen Beryl. Years later, the Moon Princess is reincarnated as a young girl named Serena and given the ability to turn into “Sailor Moon” by a talking cat named Luna. Together, they reassemble the “Sailor Scouts” and fight Queen Beryl and her evil henchmen.

Pros: Although I’m the right age, I missed Sailor Moon the first time around because I didn’t have cable. But I did watch the Power Rangers, and this is basically the same thing. Just look at the story structure: One or more of the Scouts are doing something, the bad guys crash their activity, then someone throws a tiara and the day is saved. This would have made for great after school TV (though I wouldn’t recommend binge watching). It’s funny, in that early 90’s English dubbed anime way. I mean, why does Serena’s school friend have a Brooklyn accent? Better question, why weren’t their more random accents! I also liked that Serana was kinda a clutz and not a natural at the who hero thing. It made her relatable.

Cons: The show is repetitive, though I can’t say whether that’s due to North American editing or not. That’s right, I watched the old-school English version of Sailor Moon, end credit PSA’s and everything. I can tell you this much, Goku never told me that jealousy made people act differently. The more you know, I guess. I should add that this show is pretty girly. I mean, it was made specifically for girls, so that’s not really a negative. But I was confused over the common plot of these–middle school girls? high school?–dating clearly adult men. Maybe that’s a girl thing.

Watch it?: You really need to know what your missing (4/5) 

MVP: Serena

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I refuse to call her Usagi.

Best Episode: Ep. 31 “A Reluctant Princess” (Serena got real for a minute there)

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My Little Monster

Type: Humans are the only animal that go to war, whose the real monster?

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Synopsis: A girl with dreams and ambition meets a boy with slight manic tendencies, and the two fall in love. Sort of. I mean, he likes her, then she likes him, then he’s not sure if he likes or loves her, then she rejects him, then he says he loves her, then she loves him, then a rooster gets involved, its a whole thing.

Pros: Right off the bat, its really funny, especially for a Shojo show. There are some funny gags, my favorite being the small ones where male protagonist Haru gets happy or excited over the prospect of having friends. In fact, Haru and supporting character Natsume’s comedic desperation for friendship was my favorite part of the series. At these moments, the show felt like a cross between From Me to You and Haganai. I also liked the the protagonist Shizuku’s blunt and rational attitude, and the fact that her story line involves balancing her goals with her love life, instead of having to choose one or the other (I mean, she tried that, but it didn’t go well). And it may not be very gallant of me, but I laughed out loud whenever Shizuku was accidentally hit by Haru.

Cons: Personally, I disliked the more shojo-esque elements of the show. I won’t say that I disliked the moments involving character emotion or psychology, because that would make me sound like an unfeeling robot, but I do feel that these moments are a bit troupy. There are love triangles, personal anxieties, fowl, the works. Haru was also a problematic. On one hand, he’s a handsome loner with a heart of gold. On the other, he has substantial anger issues that he can’t control. At one point, it’s implied he was going to murder a rival for Shizuku’s affections. I feel that the title My Little Monster is implying that Haru may have legitimate psychological problems. It’s also pretty obvious that we’re not getting the complete story, which is a shame, because I’m interested in what happens next.

Watch it?: Possibly the funniest Shojo-Anime I’ve ever seen. (4/5)

MVP: Asako Natsume

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I love that she calls Shizuku “Mitty”

Best Episode: Ep. 1 “Sitting Next to Yoshida-Kun” (this was a  surprisingly hard decision)

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Special A

Type: Not to be confused with Abnormal B or Strange C

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Synopsis: Hikari Hanazono is the 2nd Best in the World in the PHA, which I assume stands for the Pacific Headlock-Wrestling Association. Her only real competition is Kei “Nature Boy” Takishima, whom she has never beaten in a big match situation. She had thus become obsessed with gaining what I again assume is a pin-fall or submission victory over him. Before we get to that, however, we have to contend with the other top 5 contenders, or “Special A,” consisting of Psycho Jun, Miss Megumi, Tornado Tadashi, Akira “The Snake” Toudou, and Sin Ryu.

Pros: This show has some pretty solid gags. I especially liked Hikari’s reactions whenever she loses to Takishima and Takishima’s own jealousy/annoyance towards Hikari’s denseness. I’d say the show is at it’s best when it’s trying to be funny with each of the character’s unique foibles. I could have done with way more “Inner Jun” stories. I also liked the pairings that each character eventually get into, and wish they had been introduced way earlier in the series. The comedic potential of these people trying to figure out how to date each other is staggering. In fact, any anime about two people trying to figure out the mechanics of dating sounds enticing.

Cons: Nothing this show does will surprise you. It’s fairly generic and in-line with most romantic high school comedies targeted at girls. Some of the boys are even prettier than the girls. You can gloss over most of the anime without missing much. The show doesn’t distribute it’s attention evenly, putting a disproportionate amount of time on Akira. Just because she’s the only other girl that can talk is not an excuse. I had a bit of a hard time sympathizing with the “Special A” rich people classroom, though to the show’s credit, it does address this fact in the very first episode. As I said above, I would much rather watch a show about 7 weirdo’s love lives rather than a show about rich people having tea in a green house.

Watch it?: If you’ve never watched a High School Love-Comedy aimed at Girls, this is a good place to start. (3/5)

MVP: Hikari Hanazono

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Hakari-Mania is Running Wild!

Best Episode: Ep. 11 “Boyfriend-Girlfriend” and Ep. 19 “Singing Voice-Bad Guy” (It should have been just this)

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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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Maid Sama!

Type: Class President by day, Maid by night

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Synopsis: This girl that kinda looks like Rukia from Bleach is the class president of a school that is transitioning from an all-boy school to co-ed. She works part time as a waitress at a Maid Cafe. One day, she is accidentally discovered by this guy that kinda looks like Ichigo from Bleach. She peaks his curiosity and he starts hanging around her/flirting/romantically cornering her. So its basically Bleach fan fiction.

Pros: This show was very enjoyable to watch. The premise is relatively simple. Girl meets Boy and they spend the next 26 episodes dancing around each other. The show’s target audience is female. The protagonist, Misaki, is a strong willed and hard working individual, pretty without trying, but still shy when it comes to romantic stuff. Her main love interest, Usui, is a tall, handsome, strong, smart, romantic, and rich boy from school. Hell, he even made me swoon a couple of times. The show’s also legitimately funny with a good supporting cast (my favorite being the Moronic Trio).

Cons:  This may be because I’m a man, but I found that show’s message a bit, well, condescending. I mean, you could say that the show is about Masaki learning to rely on other people. But I felt that a lot of the episodes revolved around Usui reminding Masaki that she’s a girl and needs a man in her life. Then again, 90% of romantic comedy movies revolved around that same premise. Overworked female, charming man, overtures of romantic gestures. You could have replaced Masaki with Jennifer Aniston and gotten the same result.

Watch it?: If you’re in touch with your feminine side, you’ll like it. (4/5)

MVP: Naoya Shirakawa, Ikuto Sarashina, and Ryuunosuke Kurosaki

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The Idiot Trio

Best Episode: Ep.9 “A Maid, as Far as Momotarō Goes” (Momotaro!)

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Hatsukoi Limited

Type: First Loves

Synopsis: There’s this group of teenage girls walking down the street. Being teenage girls in an anime, they talk about their love lives. One has to deal with two brothers, another with an ugly person, another with incest, and the last with, well, nothing really. The last one doesn’t really have any hang ups. Now the other three, man, do they have problems. Scary problems.

Pros: Its funnier than it should be. This show is basically a love comedy in the truest sense. It stars teenage girls dealing with relationship issues. Each one has to do with getting a boy to like you. So your enjoyment goes by the couple. I personally liked Ayumi’s dealings with Misao Zaitsu, a giant delinquent whose really just a big softy. I also really enjoyed Kei and Kasuda’s evolution, and felt it was the strongest story overall.

Cons: Like I said, this is a pretty pure love comedy. No action. Lots of melodrama. Your enjoyment goes by the couple. One deals with crushes on an older girl, self-consciousness over your body, intimacy issues, and incest (everybody’s favorite!). I found that unless it dealt with Misao Zaitsu or Kei/Kasuada, I just skipped the episode entirely. Their your meat. Everything else is just filler.

Watch it?: If you like lovey-dovey stuff, than yeah. (3/5)

MVP: Misao Zaitsu

Whenever you need me, I’ll be their

Best Episode: Ep.1 “Beauty A and Monster Z” (its like Beauty and the Beat, but in anime world)

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