Reviews and random thoughts brought about by various movies, series, music, books, travels, social behavior and what not...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tantei Gakuen Q

I previously had a "Shida Mirai" festival of my own courtesy of guitarist and friend, Justin. I had seen Shida Mirai before in "Juuyon Sai no Haha" (14 Yr. Old Mother) and had hoped to see her in a more comedic role...or a more lighter character, cause thats what I think fits her projected personality.

First up is the live drama adaptation of the anime "Tantei Gakuen Q". And as the anime goes, its the story of 5 students who strive to be the successor of the famous Detective Dan and the Q Academy. The students that form the team is a mish mash of talents and personalities that augment each other's talents when they go solve a crime together. There is the overly optimistic, intelligent and naive Kyuu. The hyperactive, cosplaying Megu, with her photographic memory. The enigmatic and highly intelligent Ryuu. The group's tech and computer expert, Kazuma. And the eldest in the group (and the strongest when it comes to fights) is the sarcastic Kintaro. Each of them have their own reasons for joining the class, which was divulged later in the series as each character was put on the spotlight. Although I can say that Kyuu, Ryuu and Kintaro's stories are the most relevant to the flow and outcome of the story.


They also face Dan's arch nemesis, the "Meiosei", an organization that acts as a 'planner' for criminal acts, mostly murder. They utilize hypnosis and the weakness of human hearts in a two-fold effect; to make their 'clients' carry out the murder plan (even though they changed their minds of not going through with it) and as a safety plan, that activates when the perpetrator of the crime is caught by the Q Academy (it ends up with either the client's memory being erased when certain keywords or actions are made, instant insanity, or suicide).

In watching the series, I marvel at Kyuu's deductive reasoning as he figures out the 'alibi play' that most of the criminals used. But I do hate the cheesy, chummy chummy parts that usually occurs around Kyuu or Ryuu or Megu. And though Kintaro seems unreliable, he has the deepest human interest story in the series.

Although some of the mysteries seems obvious its still a fun series to watch. And you have to give it up to these young actors for their portrayal of the characters which, I heard, stayed true to the anime character's personalities and attributes.


Kannagi (Crazy Shrine Maiden)

Am watching the anime Kannagi for the nth time...but this time I had more time to ponder the things pointed out in the series...or how I perceived the contents of the anime.

Kannagi is the story of Jun, a freshman from the provincial city of Kannagi who has a knack for art and a strong spiritual sense. Spending an all nighter to carve out a spirit he once saw as a child out of a holy tree, the statue rooted itself to the ground and blew up. From where the statue once stood now stands the girl Nagi, who is the personification of the land deity who once protected the land.


Because of the holy tree being uprooted, there is nothing left to purify the land. Since Nagi is a god, she cannot come in contact with these 'impurities' with the fear of her pure essence to be tainted by manevolent spirits. With the help of Jun, who seems to be able to hold these impurities without being tainted, they revelled across the city of Kannagi, purging impurities...taking on other deities, all while trying to cope with the trials and problems of being a teenager. Together their lives turn upside down with various adventures into the divine, the supernatural and mundane.

An underlying theme in the story is that Nagi, the land deity, has began to doubt her divine nature as she fails to remember her true identity. Only in her lapses of unconsciousness does the real deity, a separate entity or personality within her, shows up. And disappears as Nagi reverts to herself.

It s bit of a notion... of a god or a deity to doubt themselves. Only after her exposure to the material world, where all is substantiated by evidence...where nothing is taken in according to faith, does she start to manifest this condition. Her corporeal state in the world of the living has begun to influence her judgement and beliefs. A sad notion at that, trying to bunch in together omnipotence with the frailties of human nature.

A bit of a nice watch due to the animation, hilarious content and catchy theme song. Some might not be suitable for the young ones as you have to explain things like 'yaoi' (boy on boy love), homosexuality (both male and female), fetishes, and a bit of 'whip-action-while-boy-is-dressed-in-a-dog-costume-eating-from-a-dog-plate'. I think it would appeal to mature audiences (or young adults).

(p.s.: As of press time, I have yet to watch the rumored special episode)

The Big Bang Theory


The Big Bang Theory is a live comedy series about 4 scientists/ college researchers/ nerds and 1 beautiful blonde. The group consists of the quantum physicist who tries to be normal Leonard, the O.C. socially clueless theoretical physicist Sheldon, the womanizing Jewish engineer Walowisk and the Raj, the astrophysicist who can't speak with women unless he's tanked.

A common arc within the series is the stuff that happens as Leonard pursues Penny, the blonde across the hall who works as a waitress as she tries to be an actress. Another reoccuring theme is the inability of Penny to comprehend or join in the discussion of the four scientitsts, or other people as wel as they venture into various social interacions outside their circle. Further along the second season, Penny begins to manifest the same speech patterns of Leonard and Sheldon...to her chagrin.

I have not encountered a comedy with such a play on scietific terminologies and social idiocricies which tickles the mind and the 'funny bone'. Not only do you laugh from their encounters but you learn a little something every episode.

There are a lot of references to American 'geek' culture consisting of in-depth knowledge of comic book characters, Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Terminator, and other sci-fi movies and popular PC and X-Box games. Being having the same experiences in highschool and college, I find the characters lovable and extremely witty.

Every season ender has a cliff hanger about a development between Penny and Leonard that makes you look forward to the next one.


(as of press time I am watching the 3rd season of Big Bang Theory. The same antics never gets old with me...)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

GhostBusters DVD Box Set

I happen to come across a DVD box set of one of my childhood favorite movie franchise. 'The Ghostbusters' movie box set includes the DVD of the 1st and second movie.



It was fun to see them again in action, and the antics of Harold Ramis, Dan Akroyd, Bill Murray and Ernie Hudson still is funny to me even until now. Its one of the few film franchise that I believe would still appeal to the newer generation of viewers. As proof, my son named these films as one of his favorites (alongside Garfield, Avatar and Alvin and the Chimpmunks).

I had to admit that my preference in characters had changed. During my childhood, I looked up to Peter Venkman... now, I prefer Ray and Winston. Their one liners gave the story some enjoyable punchlines.

As the film is not much of a laugh-fest...it is still enjoyable to watch because of the story, the dynamics of the characters, and the situation they all get themselves into.



As much as the film brought a lot of laughs, viewing enjoyment, and a bit of nostalgia, the special features left a lot to desire for. The featurette about the special effects used was a total bummer, it made me fall asleep at least three times. I was expecting the same featurette I saw back in the 80's. It was more of a documentary back then...now its like a long commentary with the effects supervisors chat it up.

Koisuru Nichiyoubi

starring:
Takami Mizuhashi (as Akira)
Ryuya Wakaba (as Nao)
Yuria Haga (as Tamaki)
Kazunori Sasaki (as Gaku)

Koisuru Nichiyoubi (Love on a Sunday) chronicles the love story of Akira and Nao that happened within the a period of 24 hours. On the last term of her junior year in highschool, Akira is slated to follow her father to Tokyo, leaving her childhood friend Nao. She is pondering if she would confess her love for him on their last day together. She even went far as to orchestrate a fake farewell party so she could be alone with him the whole day. Telling Nao that everyone else cancelled.

However, at the "party", Tamaki, the most popular girl in their class, showed up at Nao's invitation, obviously flirting with him. When the girls were alone together, Tamaki told Akira that this is her way of getting back at her since she and her boyfriend, Gaku, broke up so he could have a chance to go out with Akira. Earlier that day, Gaku already confessed his intentions with Akira.

The rest of the movie became a competition for the 2 girls to get back the boys that they love, who is in love with the other. It came to the point where Akira challenges Gaku to an archery match to iron things out. If he looses, he will make-up with Tamaki, giving her the time she desperately needs to be alone with Nao. If Gaku wins, Akira will instantly become Gaku's girlfriend.

The theme of the movie is derived from the TV drama series of the same title; chronicles of different love stories that happened within the span of 24 hours. The movie takes a 'third-person' reality TV approach as the pivotal scenes go by without any pause, and the camera following their moves like another person tagging along, following them.

Overall, this heartwarming tale of young love will surely appeal to viewers of all ages. It even made me intrested in the TV series which this movie is based on.

On a different note, this series also spawned a second movie "Koisuru Nichiyoubi: Watakushi Koishita" (Love on a Sunday: I Fell in Love) with one of my fave actress, Horikita Maki-san, as the lead role.

Fried Pride


Have you ever wondered what your favorite oldies might sound like as a jazz-lounge or bebop reincarnation? The Fried Pride duo of Shiho (vocals) and Akio Yokota (guitars) rejuvinates the songs with their own version of various covers applied with their own vocal flair and fine guitar playing.

You'll be amazed with their jazz-bebop rendidtion of 'Smoke on the Water' and 'Come Together', reminiscent of Yoko Kanno's 'Cowboy Bebop' fame.

For the easy-listening affectionados, there's the loungy 'My Romance', 'Hush-A-Bye', 'My Cherie Amour' and 'Yesterday'.

There's also the slow paced jazz ballad 'The Second Star to the Right', 'Free', 'Alfie' and Yokota's original 'Your Love'.

Some songs like 'Now and Forever' and 'Fantasy' we're not changed that much but still shows that Fried Pride identity.

You'll love the way Shiho's vocal prowess and Yokota's guitar playing complement each other, like a synergy of music that leaves a sweet taste in the ears.

Tenkousei: Sayonara, Anata


starring:

Misako Renbutsu (Kazumi)
Naoyuki Morita (Kazuo)

After the divorce of his parents, Kazuo returns with his mother to the town where he spent his childhood in. In his first day as a transfer student, his childhood friend Kazumi, coincidentally becomes his classmate. She began spurting embarassing stories of them as children, how they took naps together, how he wet his pants and promising to be married to each other when they grow up. Kazuo tries to avoid her but Kazumi keeps on clinging and hanging around him, eventhough she already has a boyfriend.

While visiting Kazumi's house, her parents told her to bring Kazuo to the spring to refresh his childhood memories because he seems to have forgotten everything about them.Messing around beside the spring, both of them fell into it and as they came out, their bodies have switched. After that, everything goes crazy as they tried to live each other's lives since they cannot fully explain to their families what happened.

Although the movie is a funny comedy in the first half, it becomes a melancholic drama on the second half as Kazuo, in Kazumi's body, started to manifest symptoms of a serious illness that threatens his life...in her body...coz you see..the switching...oh, you get the picture. In the end, Kazumi professes her love for Kazuo and is happy to die for him. In fact, they are both willing to accept the same fate for each other.

The movie ends with a note "...human life is short, but the stories they leave behind lasts forever. To the youth of today, what stories are you going to leave behind?"

The english title of the dvd is "Switching: Goodbye Me". But the direct translation of the title is "Transfer Student: Goodbye You". It seems they took some artistic liberties in titling the movie. The 'Goodbye Me' part came from the night they were alone together, saying farewell to their bodies, seeing their bodies for the last time. Saying "Goodbye, me".

The cinematography and sound mixing of the movie is very good. The angles and transitions makes for a smooth flow of the story as the insight on the different characters are developing.

I was also impressed with how well and cute Misako and Naoyuki played out each other's personality in their own persona. I was especially amused on how Misako acted out Kazuo's character, the way she walks, her speech pattern, her personality were totally different in her 'Kazumi' role. Naoyuki also did good but did not potrayed Kazumi's energetic personality and overactive imagination that well. Based on their overall performance, these two are actors to watch out for in the future.

Here are some links about them:

Tenkousei's official site
Misako's Dramawiki profile
Misako's yahoo blog

Shakugan no Shana Second

After a short wait, my officemate gives me the second season to last time's Shakugan no Shana.

I must say there are a less battle episodes here than in the first season. Although the season started with a battle, after that the following episodes divulges more in the development of Yuji and Shana's relationship.

But still, the battle in the final 3 episodes are intensde, with a startling finish.

I give it a 3 star rating...but I think the first season was better.

Seto no Hanayome

Back from my anime marathon weekend, my head is ready to burst with all this cuteness and battles. It's all my officemate's fault, he's got all this neat series that he lent me.

First up the list is the anime 'Seto no Hanayome'. Its about a middle school boy named Nagasumi who, while on a vacation in his grandmother's mountain resort, fell into the sea and was rescued by a mermaid. At his granma's house, he and his family was taken to the mermaid's lair only to find out that they are yakuza mermaids (and mermen). And because of a mermaid law saying that any mermaid that reveals their identity to a human shall be executed, the leader suggested to kill the boy instead of his daughter, San, who saved him. San then suggested it would be considered ok if they were a married couple. Eventhough the father reluctanly agreed, he still goes around wrecking havoc in Nagasumi's life by sending assassins after him and being his homeroom teacher. Although their marriage was under false pretenses, they eventually developed feelings for each other with an amazing series ender.

The series is a fast paced love-comedy reminiscent of 'Sugoi yo Masaharu: Sexy Commando'. There are also a lot of referenced to western pop culture that made the series even more funny. My favorite is ep.10 where one of the mermaid's father appears with a huge reference to all terminator movies. San's yakuza lingo was so cutely potrayed, think a cute Yankumi who is also a mermaid.

I recommend this series to all love-comedy lovers out there. This is definitely a good anime to watch.

Shakugan no Shana

The power of existence, an underlying force which controls reality. It is powerful enough to change all aspects of time pertaining to the existence of a single person. Everyone has it. Its so powerful, there are beings out there that feed on it in order to live forever and gain powers. And to lose it is to be erased from existence...past, present and whatever your future may be, all will be gone. And it will shift the course of existence for everyone, like a ripple effect from the disturbance of the time-space continuum.

This is the theme behind the anime 'Shakugan no Shana'.

One of the main characters, Yuji Sakai, is an ordinary teenager who expects that his ordinary life will last forever. All that changes when walking home one day, he is trapped within a 'fuzetsu' (a wall that temporarily detaches the area it covers from the normal realm of time and existence, therefore people within it is frozen in time) and witnesses a battle between 'Rinnies', that eats the power of existence from people and give it to their 'Tomogara' masters, and a girl 'Flame Haze', the ones who track down these Rinnies and Tomogaras to restore balance. He was later informed that the real Yuji Sakai was already dead and that he himself was a 'Torch', a shell with a temporary power of existence (resembling a lit torch) within them and they would eventually fade away from existence (as the flame runs out). Yuji eventually names the girl Shana (after her sword 'Ninetono no Shana') and does his best to live not as a 'torch' but as Yuji Sakai. Because of a treasure inside him that has the ability to regenerate the power of existence lost within the day, a lot of Tomogaras came after him battle after battle. Yuji and Shana eventually form an ambiguous relationship that, in the end, Shana declares as her love for Yuji.

My impression of his anime is like a combination of 'Bleach' and 'Kono Minikukumo Utsukushii Sekai'. It has a lot of swordfights, reference to a supernatural spiritual energy and an impressive heirarchy of masters and minions...like in 'Bleach', without all that gore and blood. Also, Shana and Yuji's love story evolves within the story the same way it does with '...Utsukushii Sekai'.

Its a good series to watch. I wasn't that intrested in the beginning, but I was absorbed into it as the series progressed. Can't wait to get a copy of the movie and the second series.

Kanokon

My arms still tired from killing all that fish (If you can understand Japanese, read the 'Ore wa hitogoroshi da!!' post in headtrip trauma), I couldn't go to work the next day, I ended up watching the latest series sent by my officemate.

This time is the love-comedy anime 'Kanokon'. Its about the everyday life and relationship of the fox spirit Chizuru and the mortal Kouta. They are both students of a middle school where humans and spirits interact normally as classmates under the strict rule that the spirits don't expose themselves to what they're really are to the humans.

The story becomes more complicated with the arrival of the stoic, clueless wolf spirit Nozomu who also fell in love with Kouta.

There are a lot of spirits that doesn't approve of their relationship and regarded it as pointless. But because of the power that comes out of their special bond, the other spirits were proven otherwise.

But don't be fooled by the series' appearance. Although the characters are cutely drawn, there a lot of lewd and topless scenes, mostly derived from Chizuru's lust and wanting for Kouta's body. One of the teachers who is also a spirit, regard this as her being in 'mating season' mode all the time. In one episode, Chizuru says she likes Kouta because for humans, its mating season all year long.

There are a lot of strange but funny things also. A spirit guardian who loves instant noodles, a bear spirit who's into internet and stocks, a weasel spirit in love with a frog spirit. And when the school was attacked by a snow spirit, all frog, bear and turtle spirits began to hibernate.

This is a funny and intresting series so I recommend this to the same people who enjoyed Kannagi. I don't recommend it for the youngins though...

Toki wo Kakeru no Shojo

What will you do if you suddenly have the ability to leap through certain points in your past? Will you correct certain decisions you made, reverse turning points in your life?

After a mishap in a school labortory, highschool student Makoto suddenly leaps through a certain time in her past then ejected back to her previous state, inadvertly saving her life. Shaken up, she then visits her aunt which explains she might have experienced a time leap. After a lot of thinking, she realizes that strong emotions (incorporated with jumping or leaping through something) triggers these time leaps. She uses this power for fun and change certain turning points in her life. But as she uses this gift to alter destiny, it ends up hurting someone else. Then things turns serious as her 2 friends also ends up suffering due to her insensitive judgement and time leaps. She then realizes that she had to grow up from her boyish, childish ways and set things straight for her life, in order to live with no regrets and remorse.

The beginning of this anime movie is one fast paced comedy scene after the other, which makes for one entertaining watch. Various situations and mishaps that entertains while giving the background of the characters.

The animation is also very good. The motion of the characters are like a certain episode of 'Samurai 7', Well defined backdrops and good definition of facial expressions that instill a sense of realism. The style of illustration doesn't deviate even when the theme shifts from comedy to dramatic.

I can say that this anime movie is a good watch, both in its subplots and the general story as a whole.

Kamisama Kazoku



Kamisama Kazoku is about the family of a god whose brood are god and goddesses in training.

The story revolves around Sematarou, who is the only son, and his platonic relationship with his guardian angel Tenko. Despite their rowdy treatment of each other, and exchange of wise cracks, they are percieved as a couple since they are together all the time.



As part of his god training, he lives the life of an ordinary human along with his family of god and goddesses, which creates a big mess for Samatarou and Tenko. Also, the mother and father has a habit of spoiling Samatarou, much to his chagrin as he wants to get things by his own strength. As a god who grants wishes from the heart, he only wants his son to be the best god there is.

Things gets messy when Samatarou falls in love with a human girl, who is a transfer student in their class. Jealousy flares as Samatarou learns the ways of human emotions. But, while living a carefree life, evil works in the background...slowly making itself known as various incidents starts to make sense. Will Samatarou and Tenko's feelings for each other be enough to pull them out of this test?

The artwork and storyline are not that intresting, normal to say the least, but the situations they get themselves into are. You'll stay glued to find out how things will turn out.

True Tears



"...I will take your tears with me to heaven so you won't cry anymore..."

This is the premise behind the friendship between the wierd, enigmatic Noe and the stoic and indecisive Shinichiro. Having met by accident beside the school chicken coop, they developed a bond as they go on with their highschool life, supporting each other as they aim to move on from their past and their corporeal restrictions.

Eventhough the series is well drawn and well animated, the first few episodes are a drag as they focus more on being 'emo' and enigmatic. Things pick up as various characters are developed into the story.

Complicating Shinichiro's life is his infatuation with his childhood friend Hiromi, who also lives with them after her parents passed away. The misunderstanding about the relationship between his father and her mother also sets a foul mood with Shinichiro's mother.

But as Shinichiro and Noe live on with their 'emo' partnership, Hiromi and Ai (Shinichiro's other childhood friend) harbors platonic feelings for Shinichiro. Both are indecisive because Hiromi thinks she is Shinichiro's half-sister and Ai is Shinichiro's bestfriend's girlfriend.

Things get weirder as Shinichiro declares he plans to date Noe. This turning point forces Hiromi and Ai to act on their feelings. In the end...who will be the last girl standing?



While watching the first few episodes, I was complaining to the culprit, my officemate Vince, about how very dragging the series was. A lot of misunderstandings coupled with 'emo' highschoolers blessed with a lot of free time so all they think about are 'emo' thoughts. And did I mention the characters are so 'emo'. (word of the day...'emo').

The series slowly progressed into intresting as complicated human relations spice up the story.

I recommend this series to love sick 'emo' kids out there.

Basilisk



Like any other anime fans out there, I enjoy the ongoing series about a demon possesed ninja boy called Naruto,going so far as to do a cosplay with my then officemates.

But the sheer length of the series, along with dozens of unrelated side-arc stories were enough to make me lose intrest in the series. I still love the characters though.

A few years later, I was again drawn in to the ninja face-off genre with the anime series 'Basilisk'.

It is about the continuation of hostilities between the 2 warring ninja clans after their peace accord was terminated. Along with exciting battle scenes are a lot of scheming, conspiracy and treason as each clans try to outsmart and outflank the other.

You will marvel at the intense fight scenes where ninjas with various special ninpo skills duke it out, with the successor of the next Tokugawa shogunate at stake.



But behind the scenes lies the 'Romeo and Juliet' like romance of the heirs from both sides, Gennosuke of the Kouga clan and Oboro of the Iga clan. Their ninpo skills are regarded by their respective clans as more of supernatural in nature than ninja techniques.

Each 'death duels' are unique as their respective skills which leaves you in awe and make you look forward for the ending of the match.

Just a thought...if ever the Gennosuke-Oboro match did take on earlier in the series what will happen? Gennosuke, whose power is using the killing intent of his opponent against themselves, will not work on Oboro since she does not have any intent to harm her beloved. Since Gennosuke's power cannot be activated, there is nothing Oboro's power, which is to negate any ninpo skill applied against her, will nullify.

In terms of sword skills, Gennosuke has the upperhand since Oboro has no offensive ninja skills at all. And both of them would rather die than to take the life of the other.

Kinda hard to think of an outcome.

Ergo Proxy


The distant future. Earth became a barren place. Land, water and air is infected with lethal particulates. The environment is so damaged that humans live in domes cities as they wait for the Earth to heal itself. Eventhough they live in a consumerist society, maintaining the lifestyle they once had and used to, the city's council control every aspect of the citizen's lives...under close survailance and stringent information control. With the help of humanoid robots called 'autorave', the council keeps close watch over the citizens and the goverment employees. A model of socialist/ totalitarian rule...and the people are somewhat used to it. Never questioning...always obeying.

Welcome to the world of Ergo Proxy.

The story is about the exploits of Autorave Control specialist Real Mayer and immigrant Vincent Law, as they sought the reason behind the recent infection of autoraves, civilian killings and the emergence of powerful and mysterious beings referred to as 'proxies'. Their actions not only create a conflict of ideals between Real, Vincent and the controlling council, it also made them into outcasts and outlaws as they search for the truth about what is happening to the world.

A few episodes past halfway of the series, the theme of the story becomes a set of mind games. Psychological to say the least. It seems to connote the toll their journey takes on the psyche. Being alone, traveling amidst the desolate landscape, without any other human contact except amongst themselves.

There is also a sort of love-hate tension between the main characters, Real and Vincent, which was explained at the closing episodes of the series. All the things they have done and felt is deeply rooted in their past, as their existense, it seems, are just shadows of proxies and people who are responsible for the creation of their society.

As an anime, Ergo Proxy presents itself well with thought provoking lines and seemless animation. The overall theme is like a clash of scientific, psychological and theological ideals presented with dark overtones of a future filled with deception, despair and hope.

K-ON



When my officemate and fellow anime otaku ,Vince, told me he has an anime about a highschool band, I told him I want to borrow. But since it wasn't finished back then, I told him I'll wait for it to finish. Little did I know that the anime he told me about was K-ON, the series I read about in Hanner's anime blog (I read that blog to know about animes that I didn't get to hear about, I'm quite out of the loop recently because of work).

K-ON (derived from 'kei ongaku bu' which means light music club) is about the air headed and indesicive high school student Yui Hirasawa as she struggles to find anything to do worthwhile in school. Eventhough she doesn't know anything about instruments and music, she enters the club under the impression that they are going to use light instruments (like castanets or recorders).

In there she is accepted by the current members; the boyish and hyper drummer Ritsu Tainaka, the cute but serious bassist Mio Akiyama and the gentle and mellow keyboardist Tsumugi Kotobuki. And in order to be officially recognized, they blackmailed their music teacher, Sawako, a former guitarist of a heavy metal band, to be their advisor.

The stories centers around the friendship and their adventure as members of the 'kei on bu' more than their musical exploits. Enjoying their after school tea time and goofing around more than practicing, to the dismay of Mio.

The anime is quite entertaining. You won't find love stories here or plot twists. Its straight up story about friendship and trying thieir best to attain their goals.

What I like about this anime is their accurate animation of instruments playing. And the hardships of setting up a band, like what I went through in highschool. Although I identify more with Yui because back in highschool, me and my cousin decided to form a band because we wanted to make music but don't know how to play instruments.

This anime is very good watch for a light viewing pick and has a very catchy ending theme.

Black Lagoon



Black Lagoon is a fast paced action anime about the lives of the mixed race pirate crew that operates in the Southern Seas of Asia. Their adventures stretch from Thailand, to Malaysia, to Indonesia, to the ports of Basilan and Zamboanga.

They consist of the cool and tough Black guy called Dutch, the IT and equipment specialist from California called Benny, the hot-headed, gun totting Chinese-American female assasin, Levy and the Japanese salayman, Rock (derived from his real name Okajima Rokuro), who was initially a hostage, before his supervisors decided to sacrifice him in order to protect some company secret. Aside from their delivery service company, they also do some shady business on the side which gets them in trouble with the law.

They operate in the fictitious city of Roanapur, a city where evil prey upon the evil, a place for the villains among villains, and any goody two shoed person will immediately become a victim upon landing on its shores. The city is shared by the Russian Hotel Moscow, the Chinese Triads and other South American cartels doing business in the area. Although a fictional city, most of the writings are obviously Thai...or Cambodian.

Things start to change as Rock introduce and live out various codes of duty, honor, responsibility and trust. Things that earned the respect of the tough Dutch and Valalaika of Hotel Moscow.

There are a few things worth pointing out. At the first episode, why are they afraid of the Philippine Coast Guard, while they are using a Torpedo PT boat, complemented with anti-tank rifles. Theres also a story arc about a Japanese terrorist teaming up with Muslim extremists in Basilan. The character I liked the most is the Taiwanese female assasin called Shenhua. She's fierce and skilled with bladed weapons, but her Japanese and English never fails to amuse me. I find it very cute. There's also this adrogenous, love-hate tension between Rock and Levy that escalated at the 7th episode.

This anime is not recommended for the youngins as they display graphic violence and bloodshed, as well as dark, twisted humor about kiling. A prominent feature of the series is decifering the real right from wrong. Where being 'right' depend on the social status, upbringing and the harsh reality they were brought up with.

There are rumors in the vine that a third season is in the works. I do look forward in seeing the new adventures Rock and Levy would get themselves into this time.

School Days

School Days is a short anime series based on the adult PC girl-game of the same title.

Itou Makoto is a quiet first year highschool student who is infatuated with a girl who he always ride the same train to school with. He is always looking at her from afar and keeps his feelings to himself. He has a stolen shot of her in his cellphone and set it as his wallpaper under the premise of a legend that if you keep it as your cellphone wall paper for a week and no one finds out, your unrequited love will come to fruition.



Katsura Kotonoha is a quiet girl who rides a train with a guy who she feels is always watching her. Over time, she starts to be fond of him but, because of her shyness, keeps watching from afar and refrains from approaching him.

Saionji Sekai is Makoto's seatmate and the person who happens to see his cellphone's wallpaper. With that, she does her best to make Katsura and Makoto get together.AFter a lot of pushing and support, she finally got the two to confess to each other.

Makoto was very grateful to Sekai for all the things she had done for them and tells her that he will pay her back someday. As Sekai's train comes she steals a kiss on the lips from the startled Makoto and runs. As it turns out, while helping him get together with Katsura, she develops feelings for MAkoto.

As time goes on, Makoto decides to take his relationship with Katsura to the next level. But the bashful Katsura always rejects his advances. Being clueless to the ways of women, Sekai offers herself as a training partner to make him a better lover for Katsura. Because of this, things also becomes serious between them, mostly having them ending up spending the night together in bed...almost everyday.

Things get worse for the three starting from the school festival as a lot of other girls started to show interest in Makoto. With his new found confidence in dealing with women, he starts having sex with all the girls that shows interest in him, lying to them that they are the only one for him. Slowly, he's turning into a player...a beast...preying on the emotional weakness of his targets.

All things that he has done finally catches up with him at the final 2 episodes, taking on a more darker tone.

Although the animation is well drawn, I can't seem to take interest in the story. It looks like a story of a whiny guy who cries about getting laid since he can't hold it in. He feigns sincerity to the girls to make them give themselves up to him. Only the last 3 episodes got me interested because you would want to see how things will turn out for the player Makoto.

I think this anime is made for the fans of the game or for those who actually played it. But for the ones who didn't get to play that particular game, it would seem like a dragging emo kid that wanna get laid story.

Tonagura


Tonagura is a comedy anime about the the reunion of childhood friends Kazuki and Yuuji after being seperated for about 10 years. Kazuki was hoping for her 'first crush' to grow up to be a fine young man, but unfortunately, Yuuji grew up to be abnoxious and lecherous guy. And because she built up his reputation to her friend Chihaya and the others in his absence, she tries her best to hide Yuuji's negative, perverted side.


Although their encounters at home, at school and outside always end in fights and disaster, Kazuki and Yuuji display a sort of platonic relationship where everything is clear and vague at the same time. But they both display a soft demeanor to each other and at times jealousy.

Kazuki goes about telling Yuuji how negatively he's changed, to the confusion of Yuuji, his younger sister Marie and Kazuki's older sister Hatsune. As it turns out Yuuji was always like that from the start, and that he's the only one that goes along with Kazuki's pushy behavior. As Hatsune once said; people only remember the good things as they live life longing for that person.

The series rakes in points for animation and non-over the top voice actors, but the cliched storyline and outcome leaves it at a decent 5 out of 10. The instances within the story are a bit Ken Akamatsu-ish at best. A nice touch for the gun crazy, silent and shy little sister Marie though. And I can't get enough of Chihaya's 'Kansai-ben' (or is it Kyuushu-ben). I always find that dialect cute.

Still, this 13-episode series is good as a light viewing material.

Ikkitousen

If scantily clad pubescent school girl cat fights are your thing, then the series 'Ikkitousen' may be the anime for you.



The series revolves around a group of fighters representing various schools in the Kantou area of modern day Japan. The winner of the major tournament gets the seal of the first true emperor (as the story goes) and controls the Kantou area.

The fight scenes are not that intense and doesn't drag on to more than two episodes but the intresting aspect of the series is the Megatama. They are one piece earings in the shape of the number 9 with something sealed inside which are somewhat attached to some historical figure (or so the series narrates). The owner of that Megatama not only posses the strenght and power of the previous owner but also their destiny. The story proves itself more better than the fight scenes as it unravels the past of the previous owners and how it affects the relationships of the current owner. The main character is a buxom girl named Hakufu who posseses the most unstable fighter who, in an uncontrollable rage, also destroyed himself.

Other Megatamas also contains various historical generals. My favorite is Ryoufu Housen. His Megatama is under the ownership of a 'kogaryu' who is a heterosexual (she plays with both girls and boys) who packs a mysterious almost invisible punch.

The series offers a lot of 'fan service', giving the viewers a lot of 'upskirt' shots, panty shots and boobie shots. There's also a lot of 'sexual encounters (hetero and lesbian alike) although not shown graphically so I don't recommend this for the youngins.

Overall I liked it for the story and historical reference since I like history. It teaches that if you enslave yourself to the strings of destiny, you will find yourself entrapped in its eternal vortex.

Sekirei


Gaudily dressed buxom beauties with various elemntal powers and a knack for mixed combat capabilities. Welcome to the world of Sekirei. In the near future, the new Japanese capital of Shintou is threatened to be bought out by the gigantic MBI company, whose goals are larger than simply setting itself as a financial power.

at the same time, Sahashi Minato is a 19 yr old rounin who fails to enter his desired college twice. On his way home, a girl literally fell from the sky fighting two lighting weilders and accidentally gets mixed with these people. Minato ends up taking the girl home gets thrown out of their apartment (because its only a single's apartment).

The girl, Musubi (number 88), turns out to be a 'Sekirei'. They are powered beings discovered from an island that rose up from the sea with containment units that suggests a race more advanced that humans. Sekirei's are search and fight for their 'Ashikabi's who are said to able help them ascend to heaven. When a special bond with their Ashikabi's come to fruition, they are capable of unleashing a great power within them. Their 'prayer' can only be activated when the Ashikabi 'wings' their Sekirei's (usually with a passionate kiss). If an 'Ashikabi' wings a 'Sekirei', they are to stay together forever...like being married.



The more Sekirei's they 'wing', the more powerful an Ashikabi becomes, which complicates Minato's life as it turns out he was destined to become the Ashikabi of 3 more Sekirei's. With this he ends up 'wing'-ing the shy but impulsive child called Kuu (number 108), with the power to control trees and plants, Matsu (number 02) the computer geek with the power of technology at her side, and the violent, stubborn and possesive Tsukiumi (number 09) with the power of water (she is adamant in declaring that she is the legal wife, despite living a life of hatred towards Ashikabi's).

As majority of Sekirei's are winged, the MBI corporation reveals its plan to pit Sekirei's against each other until only one is left. It is said that the remaining Sekirei will ascend along with their Ashikabi. The losing Sekirei wouldn't be able to be with their Ashikabi again and collected by MBI. As this plan comes out, Minato is determined to protect Musubi, the Sekirei who he develops strong feelings for.

Along with having an averagely good animation and upbeat overtones with an underlying love story, Sekirei has a interesting storyline and concept. The only thing that looks out of place is the Sekirei's center of gravity jacked up way high (a minimum of HH cups I think). Although Sekirei was included with a lot of 'fan service' to make it more popular, I feel that it can do without too much of it. The fight scenes are not that cool, except for some 'single number' Sekirei's.

This anime plays around the 'harem' genre as Minato is coupled with almost every 'girl flag' in anime. The air-headed, kind and bubbly girl in Musubi, the quiet and scheming geek in Matsu, the strong willed but mushy type in Tsukiumi, and Kuu for the 'Lolli' fans.



And the funky ending theme is very catchy. There were also a lot of cliffhangers and unclosed issues that suggests a second season.

Dance in the Vampire Bund

I found an interesting anime in the web the other day. Its entitled "Dance in the Vampire Bund". Unlike most of the animes based on the vampire lore, it has a single twist of its own; Mina Tepes, the decendant of Vlad II (therefore the princess of all vampires) decided to expose their kind to the world and plans to create a country for vampires off the coast of Tokyo Bay called 'The Bund". She wants the vampires to coexist with the humans, to the dismay of other groups, human and non-human alike.



Accompanying her is Akira, an amnesiac-student-by-day werewolf who swore to protect Mina forever.



The first episode was a doozy, I didn't like it that much but the story left me in anticipation for the next episodes. Although a serious romance-action anime, it has its share of goofy parts. Also, it has a lot of 'lolita' aspect woven into it as Akira has grown from boyhood while Mina stayed almost the same (I was a bit surprised about the 'puting the lotion on a nude adolescent vampire princess' portion in the second episode.


Its still a good anime to watch, as it is still an ongoing series.


Kyou no Go no Ni (Today in Class 5-2)

While looking for updated comic files of Mahou Sensei Negima, The site I frequent has an interesting post. It said "okay you phedos, I finished subbing the anime 'Kyou no Go no Ni'...blah blah blah". The opening statement attracted my attention. Phedos? 'nanya nanya...'? So I decided to take a peek into its 4-episodes.

This anime series is about a group of elementary friends and classmates in section 2 (therefore the 'Class 5-2'), and their various misadventures revolving around their everyday school activities. Interestingly enough, the episodes are further divided into chapters as 'periods' (ex.: '1st hour period: Gura!Gura!' is the first chapter of the first episode).

The closest main character I can figure out is the loudmouthed Satou Routa, since each chapter deals with a certain set of characters. A common topic in the series is the seemingly platonic relationship of Ryouta with his close neighborhood friend Koizumi Chika.

But thats not the only reoccuring topic in the series. A lot of them deals with situations the kids get into that seems...well...'ecchi' (Japanese slang for sexual perversion...milder than the term 'hentai'). Its like a coming of age series where in they discover things which are perverted (like upskirts, staring at their classmate's pre-forming cleavage, semi-naked pubescent girls) but have different reactions, either they are amazed by what they see or seem to not mind at all since some are really innocent and don't care.

And the 'phedo' part that thread was referring to? One is the way the camera focuses on certain things, like zooming on their crotch and butts on upskirts, focusing on the cleavage and bottom of the girls' bossoms, slowing down when showing the girls with almost naked bodies, the girls groping each other, boys' faces landing on girls' crotches, etc.

Another is arranging scenes which could be interpreted differently. Like a scared girl clinging on to Ryouta's shorts (appeared to the teacher that Routa is forcing the girl to give him head), Chika and Aihara tickling each other (ochestrated to look like a girl-on-girl action), Milk splashed on the Megu's face and chest (looks like a cum shot on the face to me, while the dazzled Ryouta stares at the wet cleavage).

Although with such reoccuring, almost adult content, the animation is still well done. The drawing is good and it has a catchy soundtrack ('Baby Love' written by Toubayashi Seiko, the lyrics cashing in on the apparent Ryouta-Chika relationship).

Watching this series will bring about kicks and giggles, but I wouldn't recommend it for the youngins.