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

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.


Monday, August 1, 2016

Gate: Jieitai Kano Chi ni te, Kaku Tatakaeri



I wanted to watch this series since I saw some vines about it, and with a short glimpse starting at episode 12, I got hooked immediately. It seems to have all the elements that I am so wild about; wizards, warriors, dragons, inter dimensional travel, cute moe girls, cute tsundere girls, demigods, military stuff, tanks, jet fighters, explosions, guns, military deployments, sieges... this whole series essentially is a big nosebleed fest for me.

"Gate" is about a portal that opened in modern day Ginza, where an army of knights, ogres, monsters and dragons went through and waged war on the humans. After the initial onslaught on the civilians, the military was able to fight back. Caught in the middle of saving the civilians is a self-confessed otaku and JGSDF office Itami. Although with the help of their modern equipment, the JGSDF was able to fight back and occupy the gate on the other side, Itami became a central figure of peace negotiations as he uses his knowledge of fantasy games to maneuver himself around the new surroundings.

As good as an otaku geekout series this was, there were a lot of things bothering me as the series progressed.

One is the obvious similarity of the situation of the occupational forces in Afghanistan and the JGSDF as they occupy a stronghold of the holy mountain where the gate portal is located. The villages around it also developed in the same way as other communities that surround a US base in modern times.

And much of the progress and display of might portrayed by the military is by the sheer advancement of their weapons over the primitive clans and races. The only redeeming fact is that Itami has a moral obligation to be valiant, pure and true to the spirit of inter-gate peace and interactions. Without him, the series would just be a big show of modern age man bullying a more primitive race.

I was also dumbfounded at the scene where the JSDF Special Forces, cut down the CIA-backed Special Forces/ Operators into shreds... along with other Russian and Chinese Special Forces that infiltrated Japan because of the magic word... "oil". Well, I have no proof to disprove that premise... after all, not all Specials Forces capabilities of nations are known. But, man.., talk about floating your own boat.

But all in all, the series is a good watch for its balance of action, slice of life play, comedy, and other fun stuff... after you get past the grim realities of all that diplomatic backstabbing, family back stabbing and a destructive spiral into despair caused by feelings of anger and vengeance.