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

Friday, December 30, 2016

Inu to Hasami wa Tsukaiyou


One boring evening, I happened to cross path with this anime that suddenly took my attention because of the cute puppy, but also because of the premise of the series.

"Inu to Hasami wa Tsukaiyou" is a series about Kazuhito, an avid book reader and one of the fans of the famous and mysterious writer known as Akiyama Shinobu. Because of an incident in a cafe, he was shot and killed while protecting a stranger. With his intense will to live (he doesn't want to die before reading the last book of his favorite series by Akiyama) he came back as a cute little Dachshund. He was later taken in by the stranger, Natsuno, who, can not only hear his thoughts, but also the author known as Akiyama. Together they went through strange and hilarious adventures, while Natsuno is recovering from a slight writer's slump.

The animation style is quite average, along with the voice acting, for a series of such production. But what draws me in is the development of the characters and the story as the lives of the two progresses. The first 2 to 6 episodes, although filled with some comedic moments plus a dash of mystery (almost like a detective drama), expresses deep emotions about loss, self-doubt, and search for atonement and salvation. All rooted from the untimely death of Kazuhito.

I do like the love-hate relationship the two have. Its a sense of hating their guts, at the same time feeling they cannot live without the other. There are a lot of times that Natsuno displays jealousy when girl fawn over Kazuhito (being a cute fluffy dog).

A scene which disturbs me, though, is where Kazuhito declares that his book collection are his 'children'. Natsuno, being the author of those very books, also considers herself the mother of those books. She then blushes and thinks of ways how they could have children, with Kazuhito being a dog and all. She then blabbers on about different ways they could conceive given their physical differences. Oh well, a small price to pay for such an enjoyable series.

This would definitely keep you craving to see the next episode. Whether it be the next chapter of an adventure they are having, or a new on they are opening up.



Monday, December 19, 2016

Nisekoi Doumei

偽コイ同盟
(Nisekoi Doumei)
"Fake Love Alliance"

writer: Sasaki Aoi
art: Ayano

Mayuri Asana is a normal, cheerful highschool girl who made a "pact" with her class seatmate and friend, Youji Aizawa, to have an affair together, after witnessing her boyfriend cheating on her with Aizawa's girlfriend. After that, her quiet life became a hailstorm of drama as her world is turned upside down with the mess she had entered with Aizawa.

The story is a mixed approach on what "young love" is, combining aspects of romance at that age, with some heavy mature issues. This creates a huge moral and emotional struggle within the main female protagonist as she goes on this ruse with a close friend.

In some degree, it is almost like a reverse harem. With the main female lead getting swamped with affection from different male characters. But not done in the exaggerated manner as a normal harem genre would, and the lead is not confused in who to pick from the bunch.

The series is not all drama. There are a lot of light moments, balancing out the crescendo which is pivotal to the direction of the story. But I do like the way the art and the writing style draws you in to the internal struggle of the characters. Not too melancholic, just enough to let you enjoy the pains or falling in love.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Sansha Sanyou


I've been watching a lot of "slice of life" anime recently, and frankly, I am getting bored with them. I came across a lot with a lot of cuteness but no substance. Nothing seemed interesting after "Aiura".

Then I came across "Sansha Sanyou". Its wasn't that great that it would make me wanna jump into a river, but it did perked my interest. Long enough to make me enjoy the whole series.

"Sansha Sanyou" is a slice-of-life anime about three totally different girls, who accidentally got together for lunch, and became friends ever since.

The group is made of the former rich girl, Nishikawa, the clueless and gluttonous Odagiri, and the bipolar-ish sweet but also harsh girl Hayama. The yearning for their peers lead them to form a friendship that lets them enjoy their high school life in each others company.

A running gag, or trait, with the three includes Nishikawa learning to cope from the sudden decline of her social and financial status, Odagiri thinking about nothing but food, and Hayama being soft spoken and sweet while emitting a demon-like aura making her true intent obvious. Their different acquaintances interacting with each other makes up for a lot of funny events to transpire.


It has a very cute character design, and character development paced in an easy-to-understand way which makes you enjoy the moment without the need for further examination into the characters. And it does have a very catchy opening theme.

I recommend this series for light viewing.



Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Koe de Oshigoto

Kanna Aoyagi is a first year high school student, who just turned sixteen, and was asked to help in her older sister's work in the company by being a voice actor (seiyuu). But her older sister, Yayoi, works in a company that develops "eroge" (erotic games). Kanna ends up embarrassed almost all of the time due to the racy and intense nature of the lines she had to read, and the sounds she had to make in order to make the character believable. She then finds it hard because she had to "be" the character, although she has no experience in love nor sex.

Her innocence is slightly stripped away as co-workers explained certain aspects of the game, involving intimacy and sexual relations... while others still did their best to expound on the subject without getting too graphic or vulgar (like trying to explain to a child), to get her into the right "groove" of voice acting. But it got hilarious when her "sanitized" older sister gets into explaining, making Kanna flustered at every moment.

Its a very funny ecchi-comedy anime, making you giggle most of the time because of the situations Kanna goes through in getting the job done for her sister. But there are the WTF moments where Kanna gets "too much" into the groove... entering a trance like state where she gets a blank look in her eyes while doing erotic voices and moans, licking and slurping, and climaxing... literally.

You also get to familiarize yourself with the underlying aims and hardships of voice acting, whatever the genre (I should know... I tried out once to dub for a major network and failed miserably).

The character design and animation production is average... very nicely done, but suits the theme of the anime very well. The two-episode OAV handles the pacing of the story very well, leaving no dull moment, without sacrificing the flow of the story, and not spreading the plot out too thin.

I would recommend this one for light viewing, but due to some hentai scenes imagined by Kanna (although censored), a bit of restraint is advised.



teeheeeee




Saturday, September 24, 2016

Mondaiji-tachi ga Isekai kara Kuru Sou Desu yo






In the "Mondaiji" universe, 3 troubled teens from various parallel planes of time and existence are summoned into the world of the "Garden" to join in various "Gift Games" being held. But beneath this story that the trio was told to believe is a defeated community that needs their help to reestablish themselves again as a relevant part of their society, and reclaim their honor and dignity.

Making the character development within the series interesting is the different "abilities" each teen possessed that sets them apart from the other. Asuka is an aristocratic beauty that has the gift of "Authority", which gives her reign over the mind of those of weaker persuasion than her. Yoh is a quiet, yet very strong girl, that can talk to animals and use their abilities in her attacks and defenses. Izayoi is a smart guy but easily resorts to violence, has immense attack strength, and has an unknown ability that seems to nullify other gifts.

Seeing this anime much later this year, it seems to posses many fantasy anime tropes within itself. It has the "summoned into the fantasy world" premise like "KonoSuba" and "Re:Zero", the eclectic mix of of folklore and mythology like "Danmachi", with the same mind game attitude displayed in "No Game No Life".

It doesn't mean this title derived its plot from them (evident in earlier release date of this light novel than the others). The story of the series does makes it stand on its own. And their interactions either in light moments and the tense moments does balance out the situation, making the whole series amusing. There's not much twists in the plot, but it does give interesting points throughout the series making it a good selection for casual viewers and anime fans alike.

Production-wise, nothing is ground breaking, average at best, but it does serve the theme and the mood of the story well.  I am not too fond of the opening and ending theme, though.











Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Kimi no Na wa



"Kimi no Na wa", the latest opus by Makoto Shikai, is a story of two strangers whose lives were intertwined, through some mysterious circumstance, and made such an imprint on each other which left them with a sense of longing for the other... whose name they cannot remember.

I've been a fan of a few of Makoto Shinkai's works which moved me in a lot of ways. His art and production style were simple back then, but the emotion of the voices and the depth of the story did more than enough to make up for it... it gave the movie a "soul".

This time, the production style is more extravagant, but everything gave the story more depth. From the background, to the mood set by the lights. And even the songs by "Radwimps" included in the movie added more emotion and set a crescendo leading up to the twist in the story.

The premise of the story was a bit humorous and amusing at the beginning. The lives that they changed both in their own selves and in their immediate surroundings. But the development of the story about a third into the movie left me in awe.

I am used to seeing some form of a twist in the story in Makoto Shinkai's previous works, but this movie gave the most interesting plot yet.

I hope the would release a DVD with English subtitles soon.



Friday, August 26, 2016

Aiura



A senseless barrage of one-liners, no consistent plot and looks like it was only done as a filler.... but I just can't get enough of this series... (hahahahaha...my soul is still laughing). Too bad each episode is only 4 minutes long (with 1 minute for the opening theme and 15 seconds for the closing theme).

Aiura chronicles the mad ramblings and funny circumstances the high school trio of Kanaka, Saki and Ayuko get themselves into. With cute character design and a modern timing applied in its comedy routines, its really a roller coaster of laughs as you wait for the next punchline of the next silly outburst the three would get themselves into.

They also get the people around them into their shenanigans, sometimes to the dismay of the only serious teacher in the bunch, Matsuno. Oh, and you got to see their teacher who's like an airhead teenager (although she is said to be past 30 yrs old), Her lines are dynamite... also to the dismay of Matsuno.

I highly recommend this for its cuteness and hilariousness (this made me and my son burst out laughing in most parts).


Hanayamata


A beautiful fairie, graceful and kind... take me away with you, to another world...

Or so thought Naru as she first saw Hana, dancing alone at the temple, basking in the full moon's light. The pair would soon bond and form their middle school's Yosakoi dance troupe / club. Hana, an energetic American with a case of being a Japanophile (or Japanese culture otaku), teams up with the shy and reserved Naru as they drum up support and interest about Yosakoi in their school. Along with their common friend, Yaya, and the student council pair of Tami and Machi, they went through several trials and struggles to enable themselves to perform the traditional dance in events, and ultimately, to join a local Yosakoi Festival.

The series has a very light tone when it comes to its plot, there are the usual side stories about family issues, but generally a fun thing to watch, more so for casual viewers. The design of the characters were comparable to K-On, visually at par, but the way they did the eyelids do bother me, especially Naru.

Its fairly good in terms of story, character design and development, but it did took some time for me to warm up to the series. Although watching it end is no biggie. Its not open ended so this series having a second season or not is not really an issue.





Thursday, August 25, 2016

Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru




This series revolves around the activities and members of the "Service Club", a school organization dedicated in assisting the students towards the fruition of their wishes. The Club is composed the pragmatic pair of Hachiman, Yukino and the cheerful Yuigahama. Eventhough majority of the members are somewhat pessimistic on their views on human relations, they work together with their "client" in order to get things done and fulfill the request behest upon them.

They lend a hand to students of their school with different problems, be it family related, in student relations, or in romance, he trio are exposed to a wide range of personalities and circumstances that they believe, in some ways, they should have not meddled in the first place. This resulted in a lot of misunderstandings, rumors, and a lot of cases where they think they solved the problem, only to find out that no real change had occurred in the life of their client. Making things complicated is the eventual feelings developed by Yukino and Yuigahama towards Hachiman, which he casually brushes off.

Among the characters, Hachiman is a peculiar one. With his bad experiences with people while in middle school, he developed a pessimistic (often referring to it as being a realist) outlook on human relations and thinking of the status quo, and forms a barrier around himself, living the life of a high school loner. He constantly reads between the lines when talking to people, and sees through screens held by others to appear different as they seem to be. Thinking that way makes him difficult to trust and accept people at face value. Just the same, he still hopes for a "genuine" relationship and continues to have a normal thought process and aspiration of a high school boy in the background.

The series goes on about the true nature of human behavior, "genuine" relations, being true to ones self, self awareness and self development, but with all those episodes, nothing seems to be resolved, The main premise of the plot seems to be stretched to fill the episodes of both seasons of this anime, but when you get down to it... all those face-offs and discussions about their real feelings and intentions were not resolved. It was kinda closed in the first season, but not met by the end of the seocnd season. Did they intentionally do that in the hopes of going on for a third season? But an OAV is in the works, set to be released on November 2016, so we have to wait for that to see what all this infighting drama is all about... what is the root of all this tensions in relationships.

But...

Their discussion and misadventures were enough to keep me interested in the next development of the characters and their relations. And the hints of romance between the characters, sometimes intensified with a tinge of tension, kept in glued and awaiting the next episode.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Inari, Kon Kon, Koi Iroha


Inari Fushimi is a sweet, positive, energetic young middle school student who would do anything she can to help her friends. One day, by saving a young pup from drowning, she fell into the good graces of the goddess of the local shrine, Uka-No-Mitama-No-Kami. She gave Inari a part of her divine powers, making her shape-shift into anyone as she want to be. She uses this power to help her friends and those around her, but everything seems to backfire. To make matters worse, every time she uses the divine power, the divinity is siphoned off from Uka to Inari, endangering her life, and her relations.

A fairly short series, this offering from Kodansha presents itself as a light story. The main body of the plot concentrates around the friendship between Inari and Uka, but there are side stories woven in, being hinted throughout the series, without deviating from the main subject.

The steady stream of triggers, such as girl meets boy, girl falls for guy, girl falls for girl, guy falls for goddess, goddess shows interest to guy, makes the series interesting.

But there is an underlying melancholy to the issue that always comes up every time Inari uses the divine power, that "magic alone cannot solve anything". Resulting in awkward situations or sometimes creating a worse condition than the one before. Some may work out by chance, some creates emotional distress, if not immediately felt, affects the characters in the long run. It just shows how Inari decides recklessly in her use of the power.

Well, its still averagely good for a short series for light viewing.



Sunday, August 21, 2016

Musaigen no Phantom World


In the anime series, a viral outbreak caused the people's brains to perceive "Extra Dimensional" beings called "Phantoms". Most are harmless, but some cause nuisance and poses a threat to humans. Children born after the viral outbreak began to manifest certain abilities that can be used to battle the Phantoms, thus they are grouped into school organizations to develop them.



This is the world where Ichijo, Mai, Reina and Koito found each other to form a group to help in problems regarding Phantoms. Each with their own unique abilities, they face not only the enemy (or prankster) but also their fears, insecurities and doubts, which help them gel together as a team and as a stronger fighter.

The animation and story is cool, and all... including their "slice of life" stories which are funny and amusing, but when it comes down to explanations and discussions about the basis for reality, phantoms, brain waves and stuff like that, my brain comes to a twirl (And I think my brain was also having a nosebleed at that time). Its like a lighter version of "Serial Experiments: Lain", both in terms of melancholy, darkness and techno-spiritual-intellectual theory mash-ups that hammers the brains for a few minutes, then your get your dose of hilarity and action.

And oh, lets not forget the tons of boobie bumping fan service... especially when it comes to Mai (I think she developed a habit of fondling her own breasts during battles)... but she is a sexy tsundere.

Sadly, there is no romance here (it would have been cool to have a Ichijo x Koito thing going on...) but if you are looking for a harem anime, this is not it. Ichijo might be surrounded all the time by girls, but he is not the main character. They do care a lot for each other as friends and colleagues.

Each character are developed with their own story arc/ episode, which makes you care for the characters even until the main battle at the end.

And Ruru is cute as F&#%...



Tuesday, August 16, 2016

ReLife



If someone offers you a "one year, limited edition of youth", would you take it?

In a "Morpheus meets Neo" like moment... he offers you a pill. And if you take it, you get to go back to highschool, redo things and live with no regrets.

This is what is offered to Arata Kaizaki, a 27 year-old, out of work "freeter" who is also a partial "shut-in" (hikikomori). Due to a string of back luck, Arata is offered to be a test subject of the ReLife experience, a new program in cooperation with a research laboratory to curb he growing number of "shut-ins" in society.  He will be given the looks of a high school student through an experimental medicine, be paid to live as high school student, move forward from the cause of their social awkwardness, and land a steady job either within or by recommendation of the laboratory.

But with the combination of Arata's social stature, past experiences and the fact that him being in an experiment that cannot be foreclosed to anyone, living the life as a high school student again can be quite a chore. He acts with more social and emotional maturity than his classmates, and often ends up giving "old man" like advice to those around him... even though he fails in a lot of tests and exams at school... and confused with the new ways of the youth than he was used to. In the end, all those around him start to change, gain a mature outlook, and better themselves so they may move forward without regrets.

I like the way this anime tackled the concerns and social topics which affects both teens and young adults alike. Underneath all that funny and light moments, is a lingering hint of melancholy, about fading away, being not needed, and being forgotten. For someone already saturated (and bored) with all that romanticized view on Japanese high school life, this series tackles the issue on point without being too serious or too cliche. A balanced portrayal which makes the series enjoyable and interesting.

Animation production wise, there was also a  balance of the designs to meld well with either the serious or comedic tones of the story as needed. The character development was also well paced, so you den't need to be a fan, or knowledgeable, of the web manga series to enjoy the story. Actually, you might get your interest roused because of this (which I surely am, now...).

" A way to fix your past..."

Its like a dream for anyone with some sort of regret from their past. Through this anime (and hopefully the manga as well), you get to see it unfold.. in an experiment situation, to think, is it really worth it... or are you glad you went through that experience in the first place.










Thursday, August 4, 2016

Ore no Nounai Sentakushi ga, Gakuen Love Comedy wo Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru

 


Everywhere in the world, everyone is hounded by decisions they need to make. And those decisions can affect them either in the near present, or for their whole lives. This is the premise of the story of "Ore no Nounai Sentakushi ga, Gakuen Love Comedy wo Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru" (I swear, there anime titles gets more outrageous from time to time) , or  "My Mental Choices are Completely Interfering with my School Romantic Comedy".

In the series, a not so normal high school student by the name of Kanade Amakusa is inflicted with a rare disorder called the "Absolute Choice" syndrome. Its where extreme choices are set in his head and he has no choice but to choose or else he experiences an  excruciating migraine or headache. The choices are between "licking a porn magazine" or "sniffing a porn magazine"... or ... "stripping upper garments" or "Stripping his lower garments". Either way, He embarrasses himself and causes a lot of misunderstandings ever to those close to him. One day, after deciding that a girl should fall from the sky, a sort of airhead angel falls on him and proclaims herself as a helper to Kanade so he can get rid of his curse.
Each episode focuses on a choice or mission a certain "god" instructs Kanade to do so he can be free from the curse. And like a peek into the parallel universe... within the multiverse theory, there is a cute epilogue of what could have been... if the choice was different than the one chosen for the episode. A laughable bit but a cool "Inception" like outcome in the end.

A short series close to a harem love comedy, this is good also for casual viewers and moe character specific lovers alike. It has an average style of animation and character design, with a complete range of anime girl stereotypes represented in the group. Tsunderes, airheads, energetic ones, weird ones, shy ones, academic types. All of them developed feelings for Kanade because of his curse, which is cute in some ways, in terms of character development. But be prepared for some twist in at least one of the characters, as she is not as she appears to be. She seems to hide her true self, and has an interest in Kanade for some hidden agenda.

I definitely recommend this series as a light viewing anime... there's not much twist plot-wise but it is open ended, with no definite conclusion but that doesn't affect the story in general.