Archive for the ‘Seinen’ Category

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Big Windup! Review

September 26, 2010

Sports anime has always been a hard sell in the United States. You can blame it on nerds not liking sports and jocks being “way too cool” to watch those silly Japanese cartoons. Either way, FUNImation took a huge risk when it decided to release 2007’s A-1 Pictures’ baseball anime, Big Windup! Sadly, that risk didn’t pay off to the point that FUNImation will not even attempt to release Big Windup! on DVD, therefore this review is only for the first season.

Big Windup! is one of the uneven sports shows out there. The story revolves around Ren Mihashi, the ace pitcher at his old middle school. It was rumored around the team that the only reason Mihashi attained the position was due to favoritism because his grandfather owned the school. Because of this, the allegedly better pitcher, Kanou was benched and Mihashi’s entire team despised him and refused to work with him to the point that they lost all their games in middle school. Due to this, Mihashi had low self-esteem and decided to not pick up baseball in high school. Despite trying to avoid baseball, he is recruited by the baseball team’s coach, the voluptuous coach Momoe and with the help of his catcher, Abe they plan to take the baseball team as far as they can.

Most of the show revolves not on baseball, but rather the character interactions. It’s quite heartwarming to see everyone on the team (in an extremely romanticized manner) cheer on Mihashi as he tries to gain confidence as a pitcher. The reason why I called this show uneven is the fact that the show takes place throughout two games (one of which is a scrimmage). The show starts off quite strong and ends up becoming dull after the first game. This can seriously irk some, especially because the setting can become very trite after two or three episodes. A lot of the series takes place inside of Abe and Mihashi’s head and if you do not like Mihashi’s timid personality and Abe’s tolerance for it you will not like this show, at all.

Another reason one might not like the show is for its subtle but yet obvious yaoi tones. The relationship between Abe and Mihashi is very seme-uke and can irritate the plethora of its male audience. An example of this would be Mihashi’s constant inner monologues of how he can not pitch without Abe and he wouldn’t be anything without him. Despite these small preferences, the show is an extremely cute romanticized version of what being in a sports team. Despite there being little to no plot, the character interaction between the characters’ and Mihashi’s slow but progressing self-esteem make this show worth it.

The artwork in this show is very clean and refined. Although the color in the show is a bit dull, the animation is very fluid and everyone moves in a realistic manner. The character designs are from Takahiko Yoshida who draws his characters reminiscent of his prior work on Honey and Clover, pink blush and all. The score for this anime is not very prominent and doesn’t add much. However, both opening and ending songs are perfect for the anime and the endings specifically add a sense of relief after watching an episode.  The English dub is quite good, but I however stuck with the subs based on preference. The dub is perfectly serviceable, but it suffers from actors I’m used to hearing every other dub.

Big Windup! is a show that deserves more credit. If you can get over the whiny character and the slight yaoi tones, this show makes a great anime to watch when you have some spare time. It isn’t a must watch show of the decade, but it is an anime that keeps you entertained even if it gets a bit dull in the later half, and that’s something you just can’t say about much anime nowadays. You can probably find cheap copies of Big Windup!  on Amazon and it comes with the awesome OVA Basic of Basics that’s almost better than the entire show.

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The Most Beautiful Animaton in the World

May 21, 2010

Kamichu! Review

 

 

It’s a sad thing when series that are so good just get lost in so much garbage that gets released in the American anime market. Here we have a show with so little flaws, with its only flaw is of no fault of its own: it’s not an anime for everybody. It’s a short, slice-of-life, light romance anime that is just as beautiful to look at as it is to listen to.

Based on the opening paragraph you would assume this is a show along the same veins as Golgo 13 or someother bizarre, male power fantasy show that you would see in this blog. That isn’t the case today though. An anime like Kamichu comes along ever so rarely where it blends the common traits of a moe show and slice-of-life and blends them perfectly together as I’ve never seen it before. The show’s premise is as generic as one would assume a show about a girl who wakes up and realizes she’s become a god. She gets all the perks of being a god, like seeing other ghosts and gods and being able to grant wishes. However, this show isn’t about a girl trying to hide her identity, as a matter of fact the whole world knows she’s a god. The best part is everyone is nonchalant about her new powers. Although people try to get her to grant wishes for her, no one sees her as a creep with supernatural powers like most anime shows do.

            There are several episodes of Kamichu where the main protagonist, Yurie simply hangs out with her friends and tries to get the attention of a boy she likes named Kenji. I think it’s simply amazing how the subtle touch of a god being able to grant wishes isn’t able to grant her own of trying to get the boy to like her. Although Kamichu does not have a linear plot, it has a subtle layer of romance and certain tone to the entire series. There is one episode that completely comes out of nowhere that just disturbs the feeling of the entire show. Episode four (“Earth’s Crisis”) deals with the Prime Minister of Japan hiring Yurie to communicate with an alien from outer space. There are several scenes of people in this episode just being completely despicable and trying to get innocent Yurie involved in this severe torture of a harmless alien trying to get back home, just so that the Prime Minister would have value to the President of the United States. After this episode, the rarities return once more in episode eight (Wild Times), but they don’t ruin the feeling the show had until that point.

            When it comes to characters and character development, this show just shines. Yurie is a simple minded girl who still has that air of an innocent child about her. She has little to no moral flaws, but I believe that to be her one flaw. She’s too perfect. I believe that in a world full of panty shots and maids, it’s actually quite nice to have a character that goes back to the days of slow moving anime like To Heart. Yurie’s love interest, Kenji is your typical oblivious love interest, much like Karasuma from School Rumble. He’s quite an interesting character in the form that he’s just a quiet painter who is not bothered by big things like his club only having one member. The other cast of characters just make the show much more loveable. The Yurie entourage is content and always cheering their friend on when she’s getting down. It’s just a heartwarming series that perfectly balances out all of the Golgo 13’s in my life.

One of the main reasons I picked up this show was because of the rumored “amazing animation and artwork”. It’s quite possible one of the best animated TV series of the decade. I’ve heard people call it “Studio Ghibli makes a moe show” and that’s just about right. Throughout the entire production, there are very few scenes where the quality drops, but the animation remains consistent. The backgrounds make it appear as if everything is moving at one time, and the world is constantly moving, not just with what’s going on screen. As far as artwork goes, the character designs are extremely cute. The music for this series is just beautiful. There slow moving classical music just adds a sense of relaxation to the series that was just meant to relax you and take you to a simpler time when eating an ice cream was a past time. I’m a proud owner of the OST and with 22 songs from the series to listen to, I’m never bored. The dub to Kamichu! is amazing as well. It’s one of those instances where the squeakyish little girl voice doesn’t sound fake. The Japanese track is good as well, it just so happens that if there is a good dub and a good Japanese track, I tend to go for the English dub.

Overall, this series is beautiful. It is a must see show, and it’s only real flaw is that it’s not for everybody. If you’re the type of person that didn’t enjoy shows like Aria, this show probably wouldn’t be for you. Regardless on your stance on moe (and believe me, this show is moe), this is just a must see. Despite all of the action, you will have the same effect of guns being shot during love confessions that you saw coming a mile away. Even the rewatchability factor in this series is high. It’s tender, relaxing shows like this that make anime what it is as a medium. We could all yell we watch anime because it’s mature storytelling until you’re blue in the face, but we all see that you’re talking about shows like Naruto or Bleach. It’s shows like this that take a certain type of sophistication and maturity to enjoy.

Just watch the opening and tell me it doesn’t make you wanna watch it:

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Anime For Your Mom.

April 6, 2010

Human Crossing Review

 

Here’s a riddle. What’s an anime without fan service, chibis, colored hair, comedy, mystical weapons and cat girls? Not Human Crossing. What is an anime with stern old Japanese society with people having midlife crisis? Human Crossing.

There isn’t a plot line to Human Crossing (Human Scramble). It’s a series of short stories of normal people living, Japan. These stories vary from a boxer trying to fix his strained relationship with his mom to a woman being reunited with her deadbeat father, to the girl in a juvie camp who’s trying to change her ways. Most of these vignettes deal mainly with issues you would find in any society, but mainly Japan. These stories, are often mature, and dwell on the fact that this could be happening to anyone in real life. The problem is the stories are too real. There’s no sense of comedy or climactic drama to these episodes. In reality, the only unreal thing that happens in Human Crossing is the fact that everything goes well for the protagonists in the end. In reality, things would not go right for a person trying to get their child back from their deceased boyfriend’s parents.  If you’re a person who prefers a comedic storyline or a sturdy plot, this is not for you. There are several bad and good episodes to this show. You could pretty much skip most of the episodes and watch episodes 1, 5, and 13 and not missed anything in the other episodes. These are the episodes that really brought in emotion and ended on a realistic note.

  The art really is sub par. None of the animation stands out at all. At certain points the art looks the same. I swear some of the characters are reused. I could spot some characters being in other stories because of their character designs. Everyone looks like someone that you could see walking down the street, and while that adds a certain charm to the series, in reality it gets repetitive. You could blame this on the budget. More mature series like this tend to get a smaller budget due to its smaller audience.

 The sound isn’t terrible, but there is hardly any BGM at all. During the low points I would have expected maybe something more…sad? During the high points maybe something….at all?! It seems like the studio really cheaped out with this anime and didn’t even bother to license or make music for the show. The ending and opening intros are great and managed to capture my attention. The very moving song by Nana Katase along with a backdrop of Tokyo really got to me and really made me feel for a minute. I read the back of the DVD’s and Ocean Studios made the dubbing. I swear I heard Vegeta somewhere in this anime. The dubs aren’t terrible, but nothing special that stands out to me which is just as bad. This is an anime you should really just turn on the subs and watch it. I really wonder what went through Geneon’s mind when they decided to dub a show with almost no appeal.

 The characters are where it largely varies. Some characters are completely forced, while some characters come off as completely natural. If it’s something like “The Watershed” then we’re talking about massive character emotions where you get a chance to feel for the characters, rather than just watching them. If we’re talking “City” it’s a yawn and a pass for the characters. The show heavily relies on the fact that you can feel empathy for people without knowing their complete back story. You have 25 minutes for character development, and not much else. You get to see characters deal with their problems in a sound way without the use of violence and such. Some would argue that this is considered boring, but this is the very definition of “totally not kids’ stuff” as Monica Rial would say. Whenever you ask your average anime fan why they watch anime they will typically respond with “anime has mature storylines that American cartoons don’t have”. Those same people will turn around and watch anime like Bleach and Kampfer and call that “mature”. Well I say fuck that, if you’re going to use that as a reason why Japanese cartoons are superior, you might as well watch a show like Human Crossing. It’s a show with a meaning and a moral behind it, and should really be more valued as a series.

            Despite all of the negative points that I made about this series, this is a series you should definitely watch. If this show would have had more seasoned directors instead of directors who had never worked on anything before (and didn’t work on anything ever again). I actually showed this to my mom and she actually enjoyed it. I think you should really wait on this show if you’re still young (like I am) or are still enjoying series like Code Geass and Naruto as quality entertainment.

 This show is hard to find but you can still buy the entire brick from righstuf. It is worth exactly 20 dollars and no more (including shipping).

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Girls Should Never Ride Mecha

January 9, 2010

Rideback Review

 

One of the things that really hurts anime today is the lack of planning, patience, and care. Rideback is no exception. It’s a show that starts so godly amazing that it just plummets in quality, and no Gonzo did not create this. Madhouse did so there really is no excuse.

The premise behind Rideback is an ex-ballet dancer, Rin Ogata who injured her leg during a ballet performance. She eventually runs into a club called “The Rideback Club” and rides a sort of mecha-motorcycle hybrid vehicle to kill

A rideback. Megazone 23 did this before Rideback and it was called a GARland. Because a man rode it and women shouldn't ride mecha.

some time while it rains outside. She discovers that it reminds her of the thrill she got when she would dance. She discovers the name of the mechaish thing is called Fuego. She eventually joins a race and once that’s over the show turns a complete 360. I want to point out that the show gets completely self important and throws in corruption and mysterious militaries out of nowhere in later episodes (around episode 6+). The show has a pretty bland premise, but it delivers in the first few episodes and really gives off a serene feeling that comes from a blend between the music and the animation. The last six episodes are complete throwaway.

I think the biggest issue about this series is it turned into a political drama completely out of nowhere. All of a sudden you are faced with an organization called the GGP that wants to start a war. Where did all of this come from?! Why do I care? . The series comes off as dare I say “overly pretentious”. It thinks it’s a big deal when it really isn’t. All the characters don’t do anything other than to comment about Rin even when she isn’t around. I think Rin suffers from Naoki Urasawa character syndrome where all the characters are so perfect and their only flaws are that they’re too nice or naïve making her so unrelateable. Around episode 10 – 11 roughly translated as It Occasionally Gets Cloudy After It Rains, a character dies. I’m not going to say who, but I assume that during this show someone planned so that it would come as some big shock to the audience. Truth is, I didn’t care. It was so out of nowhere that I just took a glance at it and didn’t think anything of it. I’m the type of person that gets shocked easily when someone dies, and that says something about this show. I think the lack of fleshing out of the characters and so few episodes is to blame for this. The only character that gets any back-story of relevance is Rin and that’s just about it.

The music for the anime itself is actually pretty good. Not just because the opening is by MELL who’s music is completely incomprehensible engrish (which I grew to love after watching Black Lagoon), but it has a really good soundtrack. There are scenes where Rin is just dancing with Fuego, and while I hate 3D it’s very well animated, but what made them so was the music. I really don’t like to comment on Japanese voice actors because I simply can’t tell the difference when people are talking. It’s pretty average, I mean no one stuck out to me or anything.

The only picture I could find online that DIDN'T involve Rin.

In reality, this is a show that I recommend you don’t watch even though I ignored people’s advice to not watch it. There really isn’t anything here other than the first half of the show. Sad part is this was Madhouse’s anime for winter and it flat out blew. It’s a show full of angst, weak plot twists and boatload of character development. It’s not that this is a bad show, it’s just a mediocre show. There’s nothing awesome about it, but nothing bad enough to call it a bad show. Simply ignore it. This is one of those shows that makes good fan sub arguments. It’s a show that if you bought as it was coming out (I’m sure this is going to get licensed sooner or later) it would just piss you off if you realized what you bought at the end of it. A series that definitely passes the three episode test, but fails the rest of the semester.

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Hire, Kill, Masterbate and Repeat.

January 4, 2010

Ichi the Killer Review

 

A garbage manga does not exactly mean it cannot be great. Ichi the Killer is exactly that. To enjoy and comprehend a series like Ichi the Killer, you must realize it is utter and complete garbage, but it is the greatest piece of garbage you will ever read. It has no literary value, but it does have some reread value for analytical purposes.

Ichi the Killer follows a very commonly used premise for movies, but that is rarely used in manga, Yakuza. After a big boss in Tokyo is murdered, a group of thugs clean up the mess and take money that he had in his safe. One of his henchmen, Kakihara, a sadistic, BDSM loving creepy son of a bitch decides to discover who murdered him. Kakihara goes out of his way to find someone that he suspects by the name of Suzuki, who might have murdered Anjo and brutally tortures him. He stabs him with these skewers and throws this boiling hot stew substance on him. It turns out that all of this was a plan started by an old man named Jiji as a way to pit all of the Yakuza in Japan against each other. Jiji hires a guy named Ichi, the titular character, to kill people in very brutal manners. Ichi is a very

*This is not Chun-Li, it's Ichi.

disturbed individual who was bullied in school and witnessed a rape in which he didn’t do anything to stop. Eventually, Kakihara catches on to Jiji and the plot starts to develop quite quickly. This is sadly as far as I can go without spoiling it.

One of the reasons this manga is garbage primarily rests on the plotline. It is completely absurd, and uses any excuse to treat people in heinous conditions and torture them. However, you must realize that some of these things DO happen in certain crime syndicates. I’m not going to say that the plot is interesting, it is one of the most interesting page turners I have ever read. I finished off the whole manga in about two days. One of the most interesting aspects of the story is why Ichi is the way he is. They slowly start to reveal whether he is simply mentally retarded or mentally scarred. Ichi is a person who’s mind reverted back to a child after he killed his parents and saw a girl get raped. Yeah, this story has a lot of rape for apparently no reason. I want to point out that this manga isn’t for the faint of heart. If a show like Higurashi managed to terrify you, do not in any way read this. The whole story defies logic and reasoning beyond belief. One of Kakihara’s thugs manages to break a man’s arm with his bare hands. Bare, fucking hands. Ichi the Killer is full of men with penis envy “I bet I can make him scream harder”. Not to mention the amount of homoeroticism, “Rape that dead guy”. You really can’t think too hard about this manga. If you do, you’ll end up thinking this is the stupidest manga ever. For anyone who enjoyed manga like Crying Freeman or Riki-Oh this is a must read.

I haven’t really gone into detail about the characters. The characters are all love and hate characters. You

Nipples.

will probably not care for about one or two characters, but you will have strong emotion about all the others. All the characters are one-sided sadistic bastards who only like to kill and torture. Everyone is over the top and retarded in their own way. There is one person in particular that I despised like no other, Jiji. Jiji turns out to be one of the most brilliant, terrifying characters in this manga. Throughout the whole manga, he seems to not be around and weaker than all of the other thugs. It turns out that he is indeed the most vile of all the characters and is the master mind behind everything. There are no heroes in this series, there are just antagonists and protagonists. Although Ichi is the protagonist, he is in no way a hero. It could be said that it is antihero versus antihero. All the characters in Ichi are portrayed in a very misogynistic form. All the girls in this are either whores or prostitutes. Not to mention the fact that they get raped almost every two panels. I’m going to go ahead and say it, ICHI IS MOE♥.

You really want to root for the guy after all he’s been through, but I simply couldn’t. The guy bitches all the time, cries, jacks off and kills. Did I mention he jacks off A LOT mingled in with the rape in this manga? Seriously, you could see any chapter in this manga and find a rape scene or someone jacking off. I simply don’t like any of the characters. How can you root for people who’s faces have been cut off with a shoe.

The main attraction to Ichi the Killer is the gore and violence. It seems like Hideo Yamamoto really knows how to draw cut off faces and corpses. It is said that for his other manga, Homunculus he passed himself off as a homeless person to see what it is like to be a homeless person. I wonder if he became an assassin to learn how to draw dead

Seriously, the scariest fucking picture I've ever seen.

people. Hideo also managed to do something no other manga has done: scare the shit out of me. There’s this scene where Jiji is in bed with some woman and the girl asks him if he’ll kill her. He simply says “Maybe” and has this weird fucking look on his face. I’ll make sure to put that picture in the sidebar. Hideo has this really distinct art style that could be considered the polar opposite of Naoki Urasawa. No two characters look alike, and almost everyone has oversized, big muscled bodies that would make Arnold Schwarzenegger look like Nicole Richie. In short, amazing artwork when someone is getting killed. I’m in no way saying he is not a good artist, I’m just saying he does best when people are getting killed.

This manga is great. For all the nonsense and ridiculousness this manga brings, it triples the enjoyment factor. It is a manga that all lovers of Koike or Saruwatari would love. It’s full of brazen confidence, huge guys, and quick arcs that wrap up quickly. Sadly, Ichi has not been and probably will never be released here in America. It’s much to violent and would probably not be stocked in bookstores. Luckily, there are scanlations of all 101 chapters. You’ll have to take a shower after you read this series, but it’s as fun and amazing as any manga deserves to be.  By the way, make sure to read this with the Death Note soundtracks. Almost any song fits the mood of any chapter.

She sucks the poison out of his penis and what does she get? VOMIT!

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Wannabe Gangstas in Tokyo

July 6, 2009

Tokyo Tribe 2 Review

Tokyo Tribe

Method Watched: Fansubs

Genre: Drama

This anime’s story starts off about four episodes in, so the first few episodes are passable but it’s still great to watch03 them. The story begins where the boss of Buppa’s , the big gang boss above all of Tokyo’s Tribes, son dies during a betrayal by Mera. The story originally revolves around Kai, the somewhat-not-really leader of the Saru’s when his friend Tera is decapitated by Mera, another old friend of Kai’s. The story from here sets off into the deepness of Tokyo’s underground. From here on it turns into a somewhat WW2-esque story, I’d tell

The art for this anime is quite great, including great tones and shades. Madhouse did a great job of capturing Santa’s artwork on the pages. The backgrounds seem like an urban wall and tend to stick out quite well. The big problem is they captured Santa’s art TOO well. The lips tend to look awkward and the faces tend to look smashed at times. Still, this is a passable offense and doesn’t interfere with the enjoyment. It’s amazing how well they designed the clothes and how well they kept up with the trends…even if everyone wore the same clothes for the whole series.

The sound is EPIC. The hip hop in this anime05 is amazing, including songs by the Illmatic Buddha MC’s. I seriously was digging the music and finding an OST for this anime is well worth it. There is a bad part. They recycle the music too much. It seems that I heard some of the songs more than 20 times throughout this anime. Not that recycling is bad, it’s just that variety could have been better.

I really enjoyed this anime and marathoned the last 5 episodes today and this has officially gone into “MY Favorites”.  This anime is not for kids since it contains a few sex scenes and alot of violence. Of course that won’t stop you from watching it, so go watch it you little rascal!