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Current Anime
> Tsubasa Chronicle
> Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-chan
> Yakitate!! Japan
> Love Hina
> Gundam SEED Destiny
> Starship Operators
> Cosprayers
> Ah! My Goddess TV
> Gallery Fake

Waiting for subs
> Jinki: Extend
> Sunabouzu
> RE: Cutie Honey
> Initial D: Fourth Stage
> Elfen Lied
> To Heart - Remember my Memories
> Gankutsuou
> Smash Hit!
> Love Love
> Bleach
> Air TV

Recently Finished
> Sentou Yousei Tasukete! Mave-chan
> Mai-HiME (aka My HiME)
> Kannaduki No Miko
> Uta~Kata (Uta Kata)
> Genshiken
> Kurau Phantom Memory
> R.O.D the TV
> Kiddy Grade
> Final Approach
> Soukyuu no Fafner
> Mahou Tsukai Tai! (TV)
> Gundam SEED
> Macross Zero
> Rurouni Kenshin - Reminiscence
> Soukyuu no Fafner

Friday April 29, 2005

Eureka 7 - Episodes 1 and 2

Eureka 7 features skateboarding... in the sky. Here's our hero Renton doing just that.
This is Renton's hero Holland, of whom he has a poster of in his room Apperently Renton is also on magazines
The thing is, he's also an outlaw... how does he get on the cover of magazines? Renton's grandfather
Eureka, the mysterious girl with pale skin and blue hair... although she doesn't talk exactly like Rei Ayanami On the left is a military officer guy, I think he'll be the 'Christopher Armalite'-type character of this show (Chris from Scrapped Princess fame that is)
The designs in this show rock The mecha were designed by Shoji Kawamori of Macross fame
The flying trails remind me of Kurau: Phantom Memory This show features purple explosions much like the much-maligned explosions from Gundam SEED
More awesome design The mecha in this show can transform into cool cars

Perhaps one of the most awaited shows of the season, the planned 52-episode Eureka 7 is the newest offering by studio BONES which is always known for excellent shows, and some of my all time favorites including Kurau: Phantom Memory and Scrapped Princess. Unfortunately BONES is also known for the very well-executed but ultimately crappy clone of Evangelion called RahXephon, and of course Wolf's Rain which started off amazing only to have four recap episodes in a row and end with a huge letdown of an ending. Still, the studio which created the wildly successful Full Metal Alchemist (I haven't seen it yet) as it's last 51 episode show can't be all that bad.

Definately aimed at the teenager and younger crowd (the show airs at 7:00 in the morning), Eureka 7 brings us Renton, an idealistic 14-year old boy whose father was killed as the war hero that saved the world when he was still young. Renton graces us with such anime quotables as 'I'll protect you' to the first girl he meets, 'I want to prove I exist', and 'nothing's happened to me yet [in my 14 years of life'. Basically he's the sterotypical 14-year old anime character that we've all seen many times before. Renton's older sister went in search of her dream when he was young, leaving him to be raised by his grumpy grandfather, still dissapointed at his son for going off on his wild adventures and not being a good mechanic like himself. Renton lives in a futuristic world where it is possible to board (skate or snow you pick) through the sky if only you believe that you can. In fact in this futuristic world, everything from airplanes to mecha (called LFOs in the show) use this phenomenen to soar through the sky. The LFOs actually ride on a much larger board instead of flying own their own power, which adds a different dimension to the show.

One of the greatest boarders around is the infamous outlaw Holland. A cross between Che Guevara and Tony Hawk, Holland graces the covers of magazines and posters while under pursuit from the military and is also the hero of Renton who wants greatly to emulate his hero. At an age of only 14, Holland was said to have mastered the 'Cut-back Drop-turn', basically a loop de loop in mid-air, this show's version of the Immelman Turn which was mentioned extensively in Last Exile. Other characters include Eureka, a mysterious and quiet blue-haired pale-skinned girl who pilots the original prototype 'type 0' LFO (Rei Ayanami anyone?). Interestingly enough Eurka is voiced by Kaori Nazuka who also voiced Lala-Ru from Now and Then, Here and There who was also a blue-haired pale-skinned girl who didn't talk much. She's part of Holland's group and Renton becomes involved with them as she seeks a mysterious part for her LFO which is under safe keeping by Renton's grandfather, a device created by Renton's father which unleashes the 'true power of the LFO'. Interestingly enough with this part, it is only under the control of Renton does this awesome power manifest itself as Renton destorys the military squad pursuing Eureka and Holland's group using Eureka's LFO powered by the special device. Meanwhile as far as the military is concerned, we're introduced to an information officer who seems to know a lot about the special powers which Renton has now acquired in Eureka's LFO. I suspect he will carry the same role as Christopher Armalite from Scrapped Princess... a military pursuer who turns friendly as he finds out more and more about the 'truth' whatever that ends up being. Episode 2 ends with Renton realizing that much like his father and his sister, he too will find his dream and purpose in life, and will join Holland, Eureka and their gang to whereever their adventures take them.

Unlike every single BONES series that I have ever seen aside from Full Metal Alchemist, Eureka 7 has a pretty bland first episode (I only saw the first episode of FMA and it seemed uninteresting to me). In some ways the first episode to Eureka 7 is quite confusing. As to why this is, whether because of bad writing or because it is intentionally confusing is hard to say. Still the show does pick up after episode 2 and it seems like the the story is pretty set out after that point. I hope that is because this show is 52 episodes long so the opening is really two episodes instead of one. The story so far, while set in a pretty original and interesting universe as all BONES anime seem to do, also carries along with it a ton of anime cliches which is regrettable. Renton is the same 'I'll protect you!' & 'I need to find out why I exist' type teenager character that we've seen countless times in anime before. I don't know what the fascination with protecting some girl you've just met, or 'proving that you exist' is in Japanese youth but I've personally grown pretty tired of this trait in main characters. Still if the rest of the story ends up being good, this show still has a good shot (Kira was pretty annoying like that in Gundam SEED, but the show was ultimately quite good in my opinion). Still the plot does have one really good point in that instead of taking time to explain every little detail, it thrusts you into the world leaving the viewer to just understand things as they go along. Surely there is a lot going on even in the background of each scene which I assume on a second viewing after the series is over will be extremely interesting to watch.

The music in this show isn't anything special as I have no particular attachment to the OP and ED which I envision myself to be skipping quite often if I do continue with this show. Finally I've left the best for last. The animation in this show is easily the best part of the entire series. With mecha designed by famed designer/director/writer Shoji Kawamori (of Macross fame) and animation by BONES I knew that this would be something special, and the show definately does not dissapoint. Every battle is fully animated in spectacular full animation which is extremely smooth. It makes all the stock footage battles of Gundam SEED look like it was from the 90s. As always with BONES productions, the designs of absolutely everything is top notch. The world which Renton resides in has just enough of our world to be real, but contains strange landscapes, wonderful cities and amazing mecha. Finally as an extra touch, when Renton and the LFOs are boarding through the sky, the trails that they leave remind me greatly of the Rynax trails in Kurau: Phantom Memory. Perhaps some of the same animators worked in both.

Overall Eureka 7 looks to be quite a promising show. While I am not a big fan of the main character Renton, and while Eureka seems to be a Rei Ayanami clone, the overall plot looks interesting, and the animation is the best I've seen in a long while. While it's hard to say whether I'll definately stick with this show or not, it seems like I will for now and see where Eureka 7 takes me.

Zipang - Episode 3

So the crew save this 1940s officer in a sinking Zero fighter I like how the military stuff is drawn in very high detail
American sub, dead ahead! American captain!

After a very long wait, another group (dp) has picked up the subbing for Zipang... which means I can finally get to watch this show. I last saw an episode of this show months ago, but lucky it was just at the beginning so there wasn't much to forget. Just to recap, Zipang is one of the most contraversial shows of last season because of it's political bent. Basically the story involves the crew of a modern Japanese AEGIS crusier making it's maiden voyage which falls into a time warp and gets transported back into the Battle of Midway. Think, The Philedelpha Experiement but with Japanese instead of Americans. It's contraversial because the series makes Japanese aggression in World War II look at least somewhat heroic and perhaps even justified. Then again, the show is about the crew of a Japanese naval ship, so it's hard to make them anti-military and still have the show be somewhat realistic.

Of course this show isn't all bad, as it does a very good job in depicting military hardware. Military otakus must be having a field day with this one, because every ship, every missle, every room of these ships are drawn to exacting detail as if you were watching a movie instead of an anime. This show also features a sort of paradox. While it would have been easy for the show to be completely pro-Japanese aggression and have the ship start out fighting Americans in World War II, the crew visibly struggles to stay out of the way as not to alter history despite some misgivings. Still as the end of episode 3 shows us, the crew is inevitably drawn into the conflict. I wonder what will happen. I hope that this show keeps getting subbed and that eventually I'll get to see it all.

Speed Grapher - Episode 3

This show can get kind of bloody sometimes Not really fan service, but then yes at the same time... Kagura dressed up as the 'Goddess'
This picture is a recurring theme... what is happiness? What is freedom? Saiga with the crazed out Eye of Doom (TM)
Yeah so they have crazy fetish sex, complete with gun and camera Kagura's mom is a regular Djibril

Episode 3 of Speed Grapher finally introduced us to what this show is really about. No it's not about crazy sex fetishes (although it has a small role as a recurring theme in the series), no it's not about buying people with money (okay well somewhat), and no it's not about Mr. Fantastic from episode 1 (well he does make a 2-second cameo in this episode). What this show is all about is simply 'what Bakuretsu Tenshi would have been if it actually had a plot and a lot less CG'. Yes, I admit that the similarities between the two shows is merely superficial, but it's just gut feeling that I have inside of me. Still, contrary to my opinion in the previous episode, after seeing what the whole goddess thing and the whole 'euphoria factor' thing was actually all about, makes things make a lot more sense in this show and also shows a direction as to where the show is going. Eventually I assume Saiga and Kagura will be fugitives from the Suitengu and his rich and powerful club as they try and destory the club and go up against 'Mr. Fantastic' (the stretchy dancer guy). Interestingly enough, I was reading an interview with the director of this show Kunihisa Sugishima (who incidentally also directed Yu-Gi-Oh! and Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam) who mentioned that he wanted to do a more mature show which focused more on plot, and as such used very little CG or special effects. I guess that answers the question about why the cars in this show move so weirdly and why considering it's animated by Gonzo does it not have CG cars.

Today's link of the day:
Animenewsnetwork interview with Kunihisa Sugishima, director of Speed Grapher

Wednesday April 27, 2005

Gundam SEED: Destiny - Phase 27

Gilbert Dullindal you are so evil! The chess pieces are back in play
It's the Destroy! Djibril is so evil!
Captain Todaka is one of my favorite characters in the entire show Finally, someone figures out a way to actually damage the Minerva without Kira's help
Kira you dog you, having Milly in your cockpit! I never knew Freedom's cockpit was so big Everyone's glad that Milly's back!
Milly is back in her old position in SEED... communications officer Here she is looking every so kawaii

Episode 27 of Gundam SEED: Destiny was a plot episode that tried to cover too much ground in too short a time. Because it tried to switch between too many competing story lines, the episode itself remained too scattered to be memorable. Still, some important plot events were covered and some loose ends were tied up. We're still unsure whether the chairman of PLANT is actually evil or not, but we now know that he knows about the next new gundam in the series, the Destroy and that he also knows about Kira's existance. As well we also find out that Djibril also knows about Destroy (I'm not quite sure if Destroy is a ZAFT or EA mobile suit) and that Talia was the one that ordered Lunamaria to spy on Athrun in the previous episodes. The episode ends with a battle about to start between Orb and the Minerva and the Freedom and Cagali going to the rescue... very reminesant of GSD episode 23. The only difference being this time, the Orb forces actually smarten up and use artillery shells filled with shrapnel to attack the Minerva, resulting in damange to the Minerva possibly for the first ever time that any EA force has really damanged it since it landed on Earth.

Perhaps the most important event of this episode though was the return of Miriallia Haw. Contrary to my previous morbid prediction, it seems like she's actually back for good and is returning as the communications officer of the Archangel! I'm very happy that the ever-so-kawaii Milly is back in the show and I'm super happy that we'll be sure to see more of her in future episodes. We also learn that in fact she and Dearka actually did have a relationship and that she dumped him. Why the writers thought it necessary to mention this at all I am at a loss. I think it would have been better if they just left her relationship with Dearka as just a friendship of comrades in arms instead of making them a couple. Still I feel sorry for good old mulletman (Dearka) that he got dumped by Milly. After looking up Milly's seiyuu I realized that it was done by Megumi Toyoguchi, who also voiced Meg in Bakuretsu Tenshi, Ayaka in Stellvia and Parfait in Vandread. I've liked the voices of all of those characters so I'm happy that they all actually coalesce onto one seiyuu.

He is My Master (Kore ga Watashi no Goshujin-sama) - Episode 1

The master - Yoshitaka Nakabayshi... he's such an ass Misuki (left) and Izumi (right) in their Mahoro-maid uniforms
Pochi 'tasting' Yoshitaka's head... The alligator and hamster represent the manga's creators Mattsuu and Tsukbaki Asu
Izumi Mitsuki... notice the weird eyes
Izumi is impossibly large breasted for a 14-year old... oh Gainax That's Yoshitaka's property... his house is somewhere near the lake in the middle of the greenary

He is My Master (Kore Ga Watashi no Goshujin-sama) is the newest offering by studio Gainax, by the same crew that created Mahoromatic and Kono Minikuku mo Utsukushii Sekai (aka Konomimi aka This Strange and Beautiful World). Unlike the previous two animes created by this crew Ayako Kawasumi was not involved, but Ai Shimizu is back supplying the voice of Mitsuki in this anime. For those who watched Mahoro and Konomimi they might have noticed some important things. First of all, both shows had excellent animation in the form of very well drawn and brightly coloured backgrounds and smooth animation. Second of all, both shows supplied us with two 'sisters', one younger and one older. Third of all, both shows featured similar stereotypical schoolkids anime episodes including 'visit to the onsen', 'walk in the woods' and so on. One thing that was different that most viewers probably realized was that while Konomimi was a rough copy of Mahoromatic in many ways the story and execution were vastly inferior. Simply put, while Mahoro is beloved by many for it's eechi yet ultimately touching story, Konomimi was just crap after the first episode and inferior to Mahoro in every way as it tried it's hardest to emulate it's predecessor. How did He is My Master turn out then? The answer is multifaceted.

He is My Master is the story of two sisters, the impossibly big breasted 14 year old Izumi and her sister Mitsuki aged 13 who run away from home and try and search for jobs in the greater world. As they are about to give up, they stumble on a gigantic mansion which is hiring two live in maids. Apperently the gigantic house is populated by just one person, a high school kid by the name of Yoshitaka Nakabayshi, an orphan who has been left with vast sums of money and a huge mansion by his late parents. While his story may sound tragic, he's actually quite enjoying his situation and ability to live on his own with vast sums of money. Being the rich bastard that he is, he's also an arrogant prick. As the sisters go to ask for a job, he starts trying to convert the girls into his personal sexy maid slaves. Meanwhile Izumi the older sister will have none of that as she continously tries and rebuff his hentai-ness with physical violence. Along the way we also meet Pochi, the alligator pet of Mitsuki who lives in her bag and seems to like 'tasting' new things that it meets by clenching it's jaws completely around it.

All in all He is My Master features perhaps exactly what Gainax has been degenerating to for a while now. Not only is there no longer a pretext for having maids around, they're just going straight to the point and just trying to make this as maid-ful and eechi-ful as possible. I'm not sure if this combination works exactly, but I hear the manga that this is based on is quite popular at least. I'm not really a big fan of the character designs in this show as well. While they look pretty much like the characters from Mahoro and Konomimi, they have weird eyes in this show and the girls also seem to have blush as a permament feature on their faces as part of the character design. As well I never really liked the 'cute' characters that Ai Shimizu played in the previous Gainax shows and this is of no exception - she was much better as Mikoto in Mai-HiME. Finally there's the fact that this show isn't even trying for a plot anymore. I figure we'll have 12 episodes of eechi fun and your standard Gainax anime plots peppered with absolutely no attempt to make the story anything more than it seems to be. But how about the ending? For that I can only quote someone else who has also seen this show: "the main girl makes the guy realize that there's more to life than money... and [then] she dies... or the world will blow up".

I'll give this show an episode or two more before I decide whether to drop it or not, but as things stand it's not very promising right now.

Monday April 25, 2005

Ah! My Goddess - Episode 14

Skuld's kitchen robot I like this picture
Megumi's cheering (and volunteer worker) squad Skuld's cheering squad

The 14th episode of Ah! My Goddess featured a robot wars style battle between Megumi and Skuld, pitting younger sister versus younger sister. Each a mechanical genious in their own right, this was mostly an episode about building character, and about showing up how much of a kid Skuld really is (even as she keeps telling those around her to stop treating her as such). The episode was somewhat entertaining and firmly establishes the character of Skuld. We also got a sense of just how great an older sister Belldandy actually is, and are yet again baffled at how Keichii can be annoyed at seeing his sister at the beginning of the episode when she unexpectedly turns up at his house. How can he possibly hate seeing a sister who genuinely loves him, always bring stuff for him, isn't annoying, bratty or unnecessarily needy and seems quite cheerful to be around? The only other issue is that Aya Hisakawa sometimes sounds just too old as Skuld. While Skuld's normal talking voice is as good as ever, there are parts of the episode when she sounds decidedly funny, and possibly much too old for her character (especially when she's laughing near the beginning of the episode).

Halo 2

Alright, this isn't anime at all but I thought I'd give a review of the game for fun. I recently spent about 18 hours playing Halo 2 over two days where I finished it on 'heroic' difficulty. My eyes took a day or two to recover and as such I haven't seen any anime for a few days now. Halo 2 is one of the best selling console games of all time breaking all records for the X-Box and probably selling as many X-Boxes as the original Halo did many years ago when it was originally launched. While the hype for this game was immense, many of you might have wondered, is this as good as it was advertised?

I've heard a lot of people proudly talk about how Halo 2 is quite possibly the greatest game of all time, and how they spent weeks and months enjoying it. After playing this game I am somewhat baffled. Although I have not tried it in multiplayer (where I believe many of the improvements exist), I can comment quite extensively on the single-player experience. First of all are the gameplay changes. There are a few new and interesting weapons in the new game, and most important of all is the ability to carry two guns at once, one on each hand. This allows for some interesting John Woo/Chow Yeung Fat action blasting away at aliens. As far as difficulty is concerned, Halo 2 is one tough game, and unlike the original I wasn't running through levels on legendary. The levels on the whole are better designed, although they mostly follow the designs from the first game but are just more detailed. Similarily, the graphics while slightly improved are quite similar to the original which was released many years ago. Even the sound effects and music have not changed much, although there is now more use of non-symphonic tracks, which I felt took away from the epic feel of the original. The game is quite similar to the original and as such, playing Halo 2 almost feels as if one is just playing a really long expansion pack to the original game, but with longer cutscene movies. Actually it feels like playing a crappier version of Halo with new weapons and longer levels. Why is it crappier? I'll try and explain.

First of all is the story. While Halo was never praised for it's depth of storytelling, it did well enough to spawn a few novels based on the Halo universe. While I never read these novels, I sorely wished a real writer would have written the plot for the 2nd game. It honestly feels as if I took one hour after a few drinks one night to scribble down some really bad sci-fi on a cocktail napkin I could have written something better. That is about the depth of storytelling we have here which is pretty pathetic. The only high point is that we get to play as a Convent soldier, so we get different weapons to play with and different allies once in a while. Secondly there's the lack of epic battle scenes from the past game. I remember in the first Halo there was an excellent level (level 4 I believe) where you land on the shore and attack a Covent stronghold with your fellow marines. Everyone is running towards the base, there's frantic radio chatter. Marines are getting cut down left and right and behind you is wonderful cinematic music blaring away. It made me feel as though the best battle scenes from 'The Thin Red Line' (a WWII movie about the battle for Iwo Jima) were being replayed in game format in what was certainly one of the highest points of computer game interactivity ever achieved. Halo 2 unfortunately covers no such ground. It doesn't even tie it's predecessor in this regard, as most of the levels are pretty standard fare compared to the original even if they are more detailed.

Finally, there's the ending. If you've ever played the original Halo you would probably remember the end of the last level as quite possibly one of the greatest five minutes of your first person shooter gaming life. I cannot give enough praise to that last level and how absolutely down to the wire it was in every way and how it kept Halo as one of my all time favorites. It was simply unsurpassed. Halo 2 proved that the original's ending is still unsurpassed by it's surprizingly boring final battle. The final battle is basically against an enemy that takes a lot of hits but only whacks you and doensn't have a gun. It takes 5 minutes, but you eventually fire enough bullets to kill him and that's about it. The biggest letdown of all time.

Overall Halo 2 is a mixed bag. The dual-guns, new weapons, more detailed levels and ability to comandeer any vehicle really do add a new dimension to the game. But then the loss of the cinematic epic feeling of the original, the loss of the great interactive battle scenes from the original, and the addition of one of the crappiest stories of all time (crappy for a plot that actually made it into a decent enough game) really takes away from the game. Then of course there's the reality that Halo 2 really is just the original Halo with slightly better graphics and some minor changes. Basically more of the same. The final verdict is, if you liked the original, you'll probably enjoy this game. If you were expecting something better than the original, then you will most likely be dissapointed, but then I guess there's always X-Box live which I hear is pretty fun for Halo 2 in multiplayer mode.

Today's link of the day:
If you haven't already seen it... 'so you want to marry an otaku?'.

Friday April 22, 2005

Speed Grapher - Episode 2

Kagura and messed up piano teacher Suitengu and his boss/lover, Kagura's mother
Here's a new hench(wo)man You can buy anyone with money

Speed Grapher episode 2 focuses on the life of the 'goddess' figure from the end of the previous episode. Apperently the girl who descended from the ceiling and kissed Saiga is just a normal girl. Well sort of. Her mother is actually the CEO of the company which Saiga was investigating and is in fact Suitengu's boss. The thing is, they secretly use her at the goddess, and the girl whose name is Kagura only has a vague recollection of the events the next morning as perhaps some hideous dream. The purpose of this episode is three-fold. First of all, it's to establish that Kagura is a girl who's being manipulated by her mother and has no freedom of her own. Second of all it's the lesson that you can buy anyone with money. And finally it's to show that this series will go to great lengths to make itself 'adult'. No I don't mean the standard eechiness that you may see in an anime, this is definately going all out into the 'weirdoa European movie' end of sexual escapades.

As for the show itself, it appears as if the animation budget was severly cut back for the second episode. After an excellent Gonzo-worthy first episode, this one is decidedly plain. The cars in this show still move quite weirdly and the animation is not smooth at all. The designs remind me greatly of Bakuretsu Tenshi, although the story is somewhat different (although the theme of a futuristic and corrupt Tokyo is here as well), but the animation is nowhere near the quality from that show. While I thought that the first episode was quite good, this episode wasn't as much. The show's definately established itself as weird and it seems to actually have a long-term plot (rare for a Gonzo series). Because of the possible existance of a real plot I'll keep watching for a bit and see if this show gets any better. Apperently it's quite popular in Japan, at least in the more mature otaku circles.

MAR (Marchen awakens romance) - Episode 1

Ginta a nerd with DBZ hair But he has a cute girl who likes him
No telephone poles to sit on here, so a large rock outcropping will do for the obligatory 'mysterious person who sits on top of high places' character They like making silly faces on this show

MAR is a new series about the adventures of a DBZ-haired character named Ginta. Ginta is a junior high school student who lately has been having fantastic dreams of being the hero in a RPG type world full of monsters in the faraway and magical land of Marchen. Unfortunately for him, he's also been havig these dreams while in class, and he has a terrible habit of 'sleep-acting' which gets him into trouble and turns him into a laughingstock at school. Still it's not all bad, as there's a cute girl (who looks a bit like Shinobu from Love Hina) who likes him and listens to his stories.

One day while in class, a portal appears. Apperently Ginta's dreams are actually real, and the land of Marchen actually exists. Leaving his friends behind, Ginta fulfills his dream and enters the strange world. As he soon discovers, in this world he doens't need to wear his glasses anymore, can run without getting tired (unlike his unathletic real life self) and he also has superhuman strength. Soon he meets up with a sorceress who explains to him the concept of an ARM. Basically a ring, bracelet or amulet that one owns that has the power to summon magical guardians or weapons for the wearer to use. With his new travelling companion Ginta sets out into this RPG world, ready to explore and have fun.

Personally I found almost every moment of watching this show painful. I guess when the main character has Goku-like hair it says a lot about what's going to happen in the show. I'm definately not the target audience for this show as I have a feeling it's really dedicated to younger teen viewers. While the whole 'boy goes into RPG world' thing has already been done to death by .hack and it's numerous incarnations, this just takes that basic premise and dumbs it down a lot of notches, reduces the animation quality by quite a bit, uses crappy character designs and uninspiring sound to create a show. I don't think I'll be watching this show again as it was pretty much a waste of my time.

Today's link of the day:
I haven't talked about how much I like the new Gundam SEED: Destiny ED (3rd ED of the show). It's probably my favorite song since 'Find the Way' from Gundam SEED, and the ending animation is awesome too. Basically it features a lot of our favorite characters dead or alive from both SEED shows in a montage of pictures. Of particular note is Gilbert and Talia sitting romantically under a tree, and of course Muu being Muu with his arms around a surprized Natarlie and Murrue in a silly group photo. Here's a link to some screenshots of the 3rd ED.

Wednesday April 20, 2005

Yakitate!! Japan - Episode 21

Finally we find out what that board is for... Azuma's fighting spirit finally manifests itself
Death isn't so bad if... This is heaven!
Dave seems to be enjoying himself We're down to the end here folks

Episode 21 of Yakitate!! Japan marked the first time that Azuma has ever been serious. We finally find out what the board that his grandfather made for him that Tsukino's been keeping for 10 episodes now is actually for. I was hoping that he wouldn't use that until the final battle of the newcomer's battle, so I hope he has more tricks up his sleeve or else the finally bread battle is just going to be a repeat of this episode. Not that I mind of course. While this episode started off pretty slow with possibly the longest bread reaction yet it ended off quite funny. The best part of course was when we find out the fate of Azuma's grandfather which had me rolling on the floor. Overall the episode wasn't the greatest though as it was very average for the show overall. I hope it gets better now that we're nearing magical episode 26, although I hear that this show may be 47 episodes long.

Tuesday April 19, 2005

Gundam SEED: Destiny - Phase 26

Stellar's blood test values Stellar's blood pressure and heart rate
Stellar's bloody hand gripping madness reminded me of that episode when Worf has sex on Star Trek TNG Yeah she's crazy
You know it's bad when you start missing Haro (Pink-chan, the real Lacus' Haro) Meer perplexed

I've noticed that I've done too many positive reviews lately. I'm starting to sound like Newtype Magazine. Well I guess I can start off by saying that episode 26 of GSD was very average. The first half was actually a bit boring. They just told us what we already knew, and did it while reusing the same piece of footage from episode 21 so many times that it made me mad. The second half was a bit better.

(Spoilers from now on!)

We got the return of Haro (oh I can't believe I missed the little guy), Lunamaria agonizing over her spying and of course the best scene in the episode... Lacus pretending to be Meer who pretends to be Lacus. Has Meer so ruined Lacus' reputation that in order to be 'herself', she has to talk all bimbo-ey? And then there was Meer's reaction to seeing the real Lacus... apperently she's starting to think that she is the real deal (delusional), or of course her secret underground, backhanded and manipulative ways are finally starting to show. This manifests when her manager exclaims 'that's the real one' at which point Meer makes a noise and gives his manager a glare so he'd say 'that's a fake'! So either she's so delusional that she thinks she's actually the real one (remember, she did try and sleep with Athrun), or she's so diabolical she's making sure the real Lacus will get wiped out by the base defenses. Only time will tell.

Finally in case you were wondering, here's my interpretation about Stellar's blood test information which I am somewhat qualified to comment on thanks to school:

Click to see info about Stellar's lab tests:
(note that the normal values quoted on Stellar's chart actually do correlate with real life, although every lab will have slightly different normals)

She has a blood pressure (while sleeping) of 184/115 from a heart rate of 80. That's quite dangerous. It's the kind of blood pressure you'd only see from someone who had severe atherosclerosis and severe heart disease usually, especially with a heart rate of 80. 80 is a tad over 60 which is normal, but obviously means her blood pressure is high independent of her heart rate (she's not exerting herself).

Meanwhile her hemoglobin is 49 (high - normal on that chart is 13.5-17.0), her creatine kinase levels are 3600 (super high - normal is 45-100), albumin is at 8.3 (high - normal 3.5-5.2), and her total protein is at 12.8 (high - 6.5-8.3).

What does this mean?

With a much higher hemoglobin she is able to deliver more oxygen to her tissues at any one time. Some have hinted that perhaps this would leave her more suceptible to getting clots in her veins and arteries. Keep in mind that hemoglobin is stored inside red blood cells, and a higher level doesn't necessarily mean more red blood cells, thus the blood isn't necessarily thicker and more prone to clots. People who live at high altitudes also have high hemoglobins. Basically this means that Stellar is better able to extract more oxygen from the air she breathes, akin to say a very high performance athelete with altitude training.

Meanwhile her creatine kinase levels are ridiculously high. This can only be one thing, this is heavy muscle breakdown. There's something wrong with her muscles, as they keep breaking down for some reason. Maybe it's from all her angst... it's giving her a heart attack!

Finally we have her serum protein levels. Her total protein is probably high due to her albumin being high. Albumin regulates the amount of body water that is in the blood (instead of being in the cells) by raising oncotic pressure. Basically you want it to be high, although higher than the normal range is usually bad. If it's too high it's usually a sign of dehydration or shock. I'm not sure if Stellar qualifies for this, but hey she hasn't been drinking any since she got to the Minerva right?

The test also shows a number of chemicals in her body. I can't read it on the sub, so I won't bother guessing as to what those mean. Basically she has an abnormally high blood pressure, lots of hemoglobin and abnormally high muscle break down (possibly from trauma from crashing? or her 'extended' treatments) along with some dehydration issues.

Of course any time we see medical-type information on a TV show or in a movie we have to keep in mind that people who do TV shows or movies have no idea what's normal for medical values. So basically the take home message is, Stellar is one fucked up lil' girl!

Today's link of the day:
Ratings info about the last episode of GSD.

Sunday April 17, 2005

Samurai Champloo - Episode 23

Oh you silly Americans! Mugen with his double bat baseball swing
Fuu rocks!
Too bad that's strike three...

I was misled. After the end of episode 22, I seriously thought that episode 23 of Samurai Champloo would be a continuation of what happened. Apperently it's not. For future reference, most issues of continuity in Samurai Champloo can simply be ignored. Various posters from around the internet have tried to date this show with no success. Early on, the show suggests that it takes place 100 years before Van Gogh (late 1700s). Later on it's revealed that perhaps the show takes place during the time of Miyamoto Musashi (early 1600s), but then this episode includes Americans and baseball but pre-Commadore Perry which dates it at the very least in the early 1800s. The fact is, this show makes absolutely no attempt of being grounded in any reality whatsoever, and any attempts to rationalize this show are pointless.

That said, episode 23 was absolutely brilliant as a piece of pure comic theatre. Although you'd expect by this point so late into the 26-episode show that the true plot would finally reveal itself (the finding of the Samurai who smells like Sunflowers), the producers instead decided it was time to poke fun of Americans in general. This episode isn't the first time that we see foreigners speaking bad Japanese (those foreigner speaking Japanese impersonations would have been really funny except what really steals the show every time, and in every anime that bad foreigner accents pop up is that when these people turn and start speaking their native language (in this case English) they are so absolutely horrible at it, that you start laughing at that instead), except this is the first time that Americans are directly implicated. The show follows Jin, Mugen and Fuu as they take a crash course to learn how to play baseball for an important game to drive away the Americans. Needless to say the game doesn't go as planned and various hijinks ensue.

This was an awesome episode as far as comedy goes. The direction was spot on, the sight gags were hilarious, and the little touches (which I don't spoil) really added to the overall effect. Still I'd like to see some actual story, but I guess Samurai Champloo can offically be classified as 'what Bakuretsu Tenshi should have been but wasn't because that show sucked aside from its spectacular animation'.

Today's link of the day:
Some pictures from the Tokyo International Anime Fair 2005 (Japanese)

Saturday April 16, 2005

Gundam SEED: Destiny - Phase 25

Stellar ready to kill Arthur's comic relief is always welcome
Poor trees! Stellar is chopping them up with Gaia like no one's business Episode 25 featured an awesome fight

Click to see spoiler screenshots and commentary for the new GSD OP:
I've been told that apperently every single Gundam OP and ED have some kind of special meaning to it back to the very first Mobile Suit Gundam. Well if that has any truth to it and even if it didn't, the third opening sequence for GSD has been quite spoilerific indeed. It begins with a montage of various head & shoulders of people in the show. Shinn, Athrun, Murrue... and then... MUU! That's right, Muu La Flagga makes a stunning return, now complete with long hair and a gash across his face. I guess it's pretty much confirmed then that Muu is Neo, a guy with long blonde hair, the same seiyuu (voice actor) and a gash across his face (reason for wearing a mask). I wonder how things will turn out now. Interestingly the show with Murrue crying and holding a gun up to a demasked Neo from the second OP is still here, maybe she'll eventually be forced into a fight with him?

Yup, it's Muu
Makes sense after you see the beginning of this episode, and oh Cagalli how you've grown up

Gundam SEED: Destiny Phase 25 was quite a spectacular episode. The episode began with some OP bombshell relavations (revealed in the spoiler box above), and went full speed from there. The long conversation at sunset from the previous episode continued here, bringing that conversation's length to a good 10 minutes. This lenghty conversation is quite important in that it probably sets the stage for the plot in the next quarter of this series. It seems like Athrun's going to stay in ZAFT, Cagalli be damned. Meanwhile the scary screaming Rey from the previous episode remembers a bit more about his past including a cameo by father-figure Gil (I guess they aren't Yaoi lovers after all) and some guy who definately looks like La Crueset from the original SEED. The facility and Shinn and Rey searched last episode appears to be where the druggies from GS and GSD were produced from. The rest of the episode definately puts a human face to the new druggies as they react in various ways to revelations that they accidentily find out about. The episode ends with an amazing battle (one of the best battles we've seen in a long time aside from Kira's 'iddqd, idqkfa, idspispopd' (it's from DOOM... if you don't know, don't ask!) rampage from episode 23) and of coure the confrontation we've all been waiting for ever since the first episode when Shinn first laid his hands (quite literally!) on Stellar.

This show is really starting to pick up now after a very lacklustre second quarter. But then again Gundam SEED's second quarter was kind of boring too, so perhaps Destiny might actually end quite well.

Yakitate!! Japan - Episode 20

So evil! Okay this may be a spoiler but I can't resist... this show is hilarious to the last!
Fighting spirit materializes in a blue flame form in Suwabara Kawachi's fighting spirit meanwhile is at it's end
Soon we'll find out what's in the pack Tsukino's been carrying for Azuma for almost 10 episodes now

Yakitate!! Japan episode 20 wasn't the best episode, in fact after a large number of interesting episodes this was probably near the bottom. The bread battle was pretty boring overall with Kawachi's dough being sabotaged so that he couldn't even bake his bread. Koruyanagi's 'bread reaction' wasn't even that great until the very end which was the first 'bread reaction' that required paying attention to what was said in a previous episode. The episode picked up in the end of course, when we see Tsukino's true love for Azuma and her love for Kawachi as well. The next episde promises to be quite the bread battle as Azuma faces off against Surabawa himself, but this time he's serious. Hopefully things will pick up again after dragging around for the last three episodes or so even if those episodes had some good moments.

Tsubasa Chronicle - Episode 1

Tsubasa Chronicle's main character, Syaoran
And the other main character Sakura
Syaoran picks up Sakura and takes off running He's running so fast she's actually parallel to the ground, flying in the air!
Princess Sakura and her brother, the prince of the kingdom Chii makes an appearance
Sakura's tsubasa (wings) manifest

There's a lot I can say about Tsubasa Chronicle that I won't say here. Others out there know much more than I do about the history of this show based on a popular manga by veteran all-female manga-ka group CLAMP. In fact there's a fabulous and informative article over at which talks about CLAMP's 15th anniversary and also mentions this show. Famous for such manga-anime conversions as Cardcaptor Sakura and Chobits, CLAMP is one of the most beloved manga-ka (manga writers) out there.

Needless to say, I'll run a brief introduction about what this highly anticipated show is all about. Syaoran is a young archieologist working at an important dig which his late father also worked on. Although they are not originally from the kingdom where Syaoran is digging, he's been there for half his life, and during that time became good childhood friends with that kingdom's princess, Sakura. It is during one short visit back to the city while Syaoran is buying supplies that Sakura greets him, happy to see her best friend. Sakura's subsequent attempt to profess her love to Syaoran is cut by the town's bells which ring and spoil the moment. Later that day, as Sakura is looking from her castle towards the dig site, she suddenly hears some sounds eminating from the site. As Syaoran is working a glowing Sakura suddenly manifests herself in front of him, and wings spread out from her body. He reaches for her, and the feathers quickly dissapear off into the sky. It is explained to Syaoran by the kingdom's high priest that those feathers represented Sakura's heart and soul, and that now her body was just a shell with no memories of the past. He sends Syaoran off to another dimension using his magic to seek the help of one powerful witch who will listen to Syaoran and Sakura's plight and guide them to their destiny. Meanwhile, two others have also materialized in front of the witch at the same time as Syaoran and Sakura, a magic user from one dimension who willingly came, and a ninja from another who was banished from his kingdom. It is with this that Tsubasa Chronicle begins.

The art for this show is quite beautiful and quite imaginative. In fact for some reason the style reminds me greatly of Escaflowne. Either way this is a style which we do not see much in anime these days, and it's a refreshing look for a new show. The animation also flows quite well and is very solid in that respect. The music has been quite beautiful so far and reminded me of Noir and My-HiME. After a bit of searching, Yuki Kajiura apperently composed the music for all three shows. Finally we get to the characters. CLAMP seems to have a passion for cameos, and Tsubasa Chronicle has perhaps the strangest twist of cameos that I've ever seen. The main characters Syaoran and Sakura are actually directly lifted from Cardcaptor Sakura, although different Seiyuus are doing the voices. Meanwhile Chii from Chobits makes a short cameo as well appearing as a companion of the fleeing mage who ends up materializing by Sakura and Syaoran at the end of the episode. Finally it must be mentioned that the strange land which everyone materializes at in the end is actually modern day Tokyo. How's that for a twist? Overall I'm looking forward to the rest of this show as it seems to show great promise.

Today's link of the day:
Tsubasa Chronicle official webpage (Japanese)

Wednesday April 13, 2005

Yakitate!! Japan - Episodes 18 & 19

Koru-yan you silly silly man Tsukino gets into a 'paper ball' fight
This is only funny if you've seen the episode, but it won't really spoil anything if you see this Kanmuri, Kawachi's next opponent. He looks quite femanine, ambigious breast-bulges and all on his shirt
Apperently Tsukino's mom looks exactly like her (meanwhile little Tsukino-chan is in the bottom of the photo)

Episodes 18 and 19 of Yakitate!! Japan were simply brillant. You'd think that after seeing enough Koruyanagi 'food-induced hallucination' reactions you'd get bored of it. But somehow they keep doing it with just difference that it remains fresh each time. These episodes also featured a number of gags involving Tsukino and the Manager. Finally there's the little gag with the black-haired lady in front of a tree in the screenshots above that I just won't spoil if you haven't seen it yet. Needless to say if you HAVE seen it, I could hardly breathe from laughing so far. I actually had to rewind the show a bit because I missed a bit of the next few lines as I was laughing so hard!

Unfortunately these episodes haven't had a lot of interesting baking going on. One of my favorite things about this show is when they show Azuma making (different and better versions of) actual bread that you could buy at a store. It always makes me hungry after watching the show, and in fact I sometimes wonder if I've missed my calling as a baker. Now THAT'S entertainment folks. I was also doing a bit of research the other day, and judging from ratings, apperently this show is the 10th highest rated anime in Japan right now, playing at 7:30 on Tuesdays on TV-Tokyo. Apperently I'm not the only one getting a kick out of it.

Ah! My Goddess - Episode 13

I didn't know she could fly on a broom! Awesome, brings back good Mahou Tsukai Tai! memories Skuld makes her first full appearance in this episode, as the girls pose for a promotional poster for Charlie's Angels 3
Take that... bugs!

Skuld, Belldandy's little sister finally makes a full appearance in episode. Aya Hisakawa is back in full force as Skuld and doing an awesome job sounding and acting like a 12-year old. The events in this episode was a bit different from how I remember it back in the original OAV, as Skuld seems a lot less bratty and a lot more likable. Now with all of the principle characters formally introduced I wonder when they will start the first major plot arch of the show... that is if there is a plot.

Today's link of the day:
Here's a very well thought out essay on Uta~Kata written by Paul of Satoshi's Corner which highlighted a lot of points I agree on.

Tuesday April 12, 2005

Speed Grapher - Episode 1

Our main character, the photographer Saiga The crazy dancer dude - Shirogane
Those guards are about to have their heads ripped off! It's the party from Eyes Wide Shut!
Uh-oh, bad time to take pictures The obligatory Gonzo 'REALLY big breasted' woman (this one's a corrupt cop)

Speed Grapher is the newest offering for Gonzo, famous for bringing out some of the most well animated anime series of all time including Full Metal Panic, Kiddy Grade and Last EXILE. In that regard they definately do not fail. While these screenshots don't look all that impressive, actually watching the episode with it's fluid animation and perfectly created scenes was a sight to behold (although for some reason cars in this show move VERY strangely... as if their budget ran out when animating cars). The episode is definately different from most anime, and that's evident right from the opening. The show opens on 'Girls on Film' by Duran Duran as the OP, and successively follows up with Ravel's 'Bolero' and Beethoven's 'Moonlight Sonata'. Similarily the way the show is set, the camera angles used and the lighting of the scenes add a truely cinematic feel. It certainly feels more like watching some sort of film noir rather than watching an anime.

The story is set in the future, 10 years after a huge world war which changed the face of the Earth. Our protagonist is a photographer named Saiga who works for a local news organization, and who during the war was deep in the jungle covering the fighting. Always the kind of photographer looking for the 'high' from taking really crazy pictures (he actually gets an erection from taking photos) he's deathly bored in the futuristic and mundane Tokyo, stuck there as his passport is confiscated. He's called by an officer in the police force (that big breasted woman I have up in the screenshots) to go cover a breaking story. Meanwhile on the other side of town, a classical dancer named Shirogane is also called to do a 'job'. Apperently he has the ability to bend and flex in any way he wants (much like Mr. Fantastic, the leader of the Fantastic Four), and he uses this to kill off people for his enjoyment.

Our reporter ends up getting called to the dancer's latest crime and sees the bloody aftermath of what happened. Soon his boss (a newspaper editor perhaps?) is ordering him to follow up on the killing, which is linked to a series of killings of various National Diet (Japanese parliment) members who are opposing a new bill in government. As our hero delves deeper into the truth, he uncovers a secret society of the rich and powerful, much like the weird sex party from the Stanley Kubrick movie 'Eyes Wide Shut' which promises to fulfill every wish and desire of these powerful people. Their ceremony centers on a girl, simply called the 'goddess' who lowers from the sky to give one volunteer either the greatest joy they've ever had or death. At this point, our hero declares that he's finally found his 'subject' and takes a picture of the 'goddess' and the ceremonies stop as the episode ends shortly after.

Speed Grapher, while named like some sort of racing car anime, is definately something different. Ever since last year's Bakeretsu Tenshi I was losing a bit of hope in Gonzo, but this seems to have definately turned things around. The animation looks to be just as nice as Bakuten, but with much more depth, and this time around it seems like we might even have a story. From the looks of things so far, it seems to be a cross between a superhero film (the news people, the Mr. Fantasic clone) and a dark cop movie. I'm looking foward to this show, and I hope it stays just as good for the rest of the run.

Full Metal Panic 2: The Second Raid - Preview

That's right, it's a second season of Full Metal Panic (and no I don't mean Fumoffu)!
Why not Fumoffu? Well look... there's Arm Slaves! And fighting!
Of course Chidori is back in full form... ...along with Tessa...
...Kurtz... ...Melissa Mao...
...and of course Sagara. Even the Arbalest is back too!

Released back in 2002, Full Metal Panic! was definately one of the shining anime gems of the year. Based on a series of books by the same name, the anime was set in an alternate world which was very much like our Earth with a few differences. In this world, the USSR still existed, and thanks to mysterious people called the 'Whispered' who somehow possessed knowledge of ridiculously advanced 'black knowledge' in their minds, mankind managed to evolve their weapons technology to being able to actually create full sized armoured robots called Arm Slaves. In this world existed a secret organization called Mithril was dedicated to stopping terrorism and interational crime around the world using the most advanced military force on the planet. The who focused on one Sousuke Sagara, an elite teenage soldier who was part of Mithril and the 'whispered' schoolgirl that he was protecting named Chidori Kaname.

The show managed to intersperse brilliant high school hijinks and comedy with beautifully animated battle scenes to create a truly spectacular cross-genre anime which was loved by many. A year later in 2003, a sequel to this show was produced. But instead of a real sequel, Full Metal Panic: Fumoffu focused solely on the high school comedic antics of the first series and included none of the action. Even though it featured no fighting, Fumoffu was even more widely loved by otaku everywhere and was probably one of the most brilliant anime sequels to have ever been made. Still Fumoffu was episodic and didn't contribute anything at all of the overall plot of the story. Some people like myself longed for a true sequel, when we'd finally get to see what happens with the characters, and of course to see more battle scenes. It seems like my prayers have been answered.

This new FMP should be airing this summer from the looks of various press releases around the internet. From the preview which briefly flashed the name Kyoto Animation it appears that the studio that animated 'Air' is creating FMP2. While I haven't seen anything more than the first episode of Air yet, from what I did see it was extremely beautifully animated which raises my hopes that even though Gonzo isn't going to do this show that it will turn out alright. This is definately a show I'm looking forward to watching and I can't wait for it to finally air.

Today's link of the day:
Kyoto Animation... unfortunately I can't find anything about FMP2 there yet

Sunday April 10, 2005

Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-chan

Our main character Sakura Kusakabe (yeah Sakura's a guy) with Sabato-chan Dokuro-chan casting her spell
Shizuki-chan, our main character's best friend The world of the future... all women look like they're 12

Click to see spoiler screenshots and commentary:
OUCH, Dokuro takes a swing at Sakura with Excaliborg! This show is so ridiculously violent. This is from the DVD version, the TV version censored this out apperently
And that too...

Okay this show is absolutely nuts. First of all the title, Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-chan means 'beat to death angel Dokuro-chan' and in fact that's exactly the point of the show. Dokuro is an angel sent back from the future to kill our main character Sakura (yeah he's a guy named Sakura) because of what Sakura will do when he grows up. Apperently one day in the near future Sakura, trying to fulfill his loli-fantasies accidentally invents something which allows women to stop aging. The catch is that they stay looking like they're 12 forever. But back to the killing... you see, kawaii and genki little Dokuro doesn't just kill Sakura... she BEATS HIM TO DEATH with a giant black spiked club named 'Excaliborg'. But here's the catch. While she's been sent back to kill him, she secretly has a soft side for him and wants him to live, so she's trying to find out a way to save him without having to kill him. Of course once a 'beat-to-death' angel always a 'beat-to-death' angel right? Following that Dokuro keeps 'accidentally' killing our hero Sakura at which point she has to resurrect him using a special spell that goes "Pipiru piru piru pipiru pi!"

To describe this show in words is almost impossible. The most I can say is that this crazy and violent comedy is a cross between 'Jungle Wa Itsumo Hale Nochi Guu' (they have the same director!), 'Excel Saga', the bloody parts of 'Elfen Lied' and the off-the-wallness of 'Puni Puni Poemy'. It's truely a site to behold.

Sentou Yousei Tasukete! Mave-chan (OAV)

Here's our hero Rei, riding Mave-chan
The best part about this OAV is that it has Stratos 4 in it... look at the poster in the middle
And if you still don't believe me, look at the circled portion
Here's another show that I saw yesterday, but instead of being a TV series, this one is just apperently only an episode long OAV. It's a comedy too, but no where on the crazyness and wackyness of Dokuro-chan. Still Mave-chan has it's moments. The best way to describe it would be a serious-styled parody, loosely parodying a number of high school animes and loosely parodying a Yukikaze (a mecha anime OAV by Gonzo released last year). Instead of being all out silly (although flying airplane girls is pretty silly), it actually pretends to be absolutely serious. That's where the parody works the best actually. It's hard to put into words without completely spoiling it, but imagine a parody of the good old anime theme of 'when I was young I withdrew from the world, but then one day I decided to pick myself up and try my best' where 'try my best' was replaced with 'be a really big otaku'. Now this OAV wasn't all great. The major theme of the episode ran pretty thin even if it was only about 20 minutes long, and at some parts it just got a bit boring, but still it was fun to watch. The animation was pretty good too, so I can't complain. The best part of the whole thing of course was the fact that 'Stratos 4' was shown over and over during the course of the episode. How's that for product placement?

Love Hina Again (OAV)

Finally, I managed to finish Love Hina again, yet again for the third time. Unlike the glory that was the Love Hina Christmas Special and the 'meh' that was the Love Hina Spring Special, Love Hina Again just plain sucked on the third viewing. The first time I saw it, it was only vaguely interesting because you finally get to find out more about the relationship between Naru and Keitaro. But after reading the manga (Love Hina Again is based on the events of volumes 7-8 in the manga), you realize how they just completely botched this OVA.

First of all, there was just way too much fan service, and for no reason either. Love Hina was always about the idea that perhaps you'd see fan service. Sometimes, and I mean SOMETIMES you might catch a glimpse or two, but the fact was, most of the time, characters stayed fully clothed. This isn't the case with Love Hina Again. What else has changed though? Well suddenly in Love Hina again, Keitaro has suddenly become calm and collected, almost like your average anime male non-loser character, and suddenly it's Naru that's more or less become 'Keitaro'. This is somewhat unsettling as it takes away from the major dynamic that was what made Love Hina so great to begin with (a fact the manga never screws around with). Finally the third episode of this three-part OAV is just painful to watch. It was bad the first time I saw it, but on the third viewing, I might as well have just skipped right to the very end and watched the last two minutes.

Still it wasn't all bad. The animation in this OAV is definately closer to the manga, as the characters really do look straight out from the manga as opposed to a bit different in the original series. The downside to this is the Kentaro and Mei look severely out of place as they were add-on characters during the TV series and were never in the original manga. Still Love Hina is the only series that I've watched three times through, and I still managed to find some fun in a lot of it so it wasn't all bad.

Today's link of the day:
Some crazy online game with fighting mecha

Friday April 8, 2005

Mai-HiME - Episode 26 (Final Episode)

The star is finally here! Mashiro power!
Katgustchi go! Mikoto tries to kill Mai

Click to see major spoiler screenshots and commentary:
So all the HiMEs come back (some are resurrected) and they also have their childs too... Alyssa represents HiME #12 but I guess seeing her ride Miyu into battle would have just been... weird so only 9 + Mai + Mikoto are shown Tate being a former Kendo champ actually does know how to handle a sword
Mikoto burying herself in Mai's... well you know So after the show Midori is now... Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Sister Miyu? Sister Nao? What the heck?
Wait... but now Nao is back in schoolgirl clothing? Huh? Was the nun thing a prank? Shizuru is ALL over Natsuki

And so ends Mai-HiME. It's been a long and wild ride. Frankly much like the rest of the otaku world, I never thought that they'd be able to pull it off. A magical girl/monsters/fighting/high school/love story/comedy/drama/science fiction/fantasy/epic/shoujo anime crossing all genre boundaries with a cast of over 20 that somehow manages to stay (somewhat) coherent and very entertaining throughout. Who would have thought?

I'll save writing a full review for a few days as I'm very busy right now, but it's enough to say that I really did enjoy this show. The animation though was a bit too "bright" for me, the colours they used were so shocking and "genki" but it was pulled off quite well. The show had somewhat of a dark side too, although never quite so dark in the way that you sort of always knew that 'things would just work out in the end'. Still even if it wasn't so deep, there were enough ingenious plot twists that kept me guessing every week. Even after numerous reverse psychology and reverse reverse psychology thinking sessions about what would happen next it seemed like I was wrong much of the time. Unfortunately while all these curveballs are fun if you watch it week by week as it comes out, I have a feeling the story would feel quite disjointed if you were to do a few-day marathon on all the episodes.

Either way I'm glad I saw this series, and I'm looking forward to... season 2. What's that you say? Season 2? Yes... check today's link of the day.

Samurai Champloo - Episode 22

This episode was scary! So scary I had to watch something else before going to bed because it was giving me the jitters. No really I'm not joking... well maybe it's not all THAT scary, but it was scary enough. So scary that I'm not going to post any screenshots. Just a few more episodes to go before I finish this show too.

Today's links of the day:
Mai-HiME seasion 2 announced! (in Japanese)
More information (in English)

Apperently season 2 will be called "Mai-HiME Next Stage", and no details about how long the series is or when it will air have been given. The show will focus on a new heroine named 'Arirk' who was seen for a few brief moments in the final episode of Mai-HiME. Personally I hope that this will be a Mai-HiME "Fumoffu" type show (like the Full Metal Panic! Fumoffu sequel). The comedic and high school elements of Mai-HiME were good enough to be a show by it's own, and since the overall story is over, it would be tedious to just invent another similar type story. I'm still wondering how the show can still be called Mai-HiME if the main character is no longer Mai, but Arika.

Wednesday April 6, 2005

Love Hina Spring Special

Haruka, S&M style Akamatsu-sensei makes another appearance... this time spoofing Titanic
Nyamo, the mysterious singing island girl Looks exactly like Shinobu, who incidentally is wearing a winter jacket in the jungle
Naru and Nyamo in LeafWear (tm)

Directly following the events of the Love Hina Christmas Special, the Spring Special starts off Keitaro and Naru taking the entrance exams for Tokyo U yet again (Keitaro's 4th time). After falling asleep during his exam, Keitaro decides to leave home as he's too afraid to face Naru and the girls at Hinata Sou. He signs up for a job digging in an island in the south Pacific and heads off to the great unknown. On the island he meets a strange girl who seems to be very connected with the native turtles of the island. By using the power of her song, the girl of the jungle of the island is able to calm the turtles which run rampant on the island. Actually watching this made me think that this was some sort of Love Hina preview to the later released Macross: Zero which also features a strange girl on a jungle island in the Pacific who uses the power of song to do wonderful things.

The Love Hina Spring Special is nowhere as good as it's predecessor the Christmas Special. While the Christmas Special is good enough to almost be enjoyable for people who've never even see Love Hina, the Spring Special is definately something just for the fans. Still it was somewhat enjoyable, and a good continuation to the story.

Tuesday April 5, 2005

Gundam SEED: Destiny - Phase 24

Silly Lacus! At first I thought she cut her hair, but she just put it up for the bath Cags gets sprayed by Lacus
This is the best look by Andy... ever Luna the spy

Click to see the two most spoilerific screenshots I did today:
Miriallia finally meets back up with Kira and Cagalli Rey with his Creuset-like scary screaming face (the one that Creuset had when he didn't take enough pills in GS) after seeing a cloning lab with vats of bodies

Gundam SEED: Destiny episode 24 was quite good. It finally brought together our estranged heroes Kira and Athrun allowing them both to finally catch up. Poor Cagalli gets laid on the wayside by a raging Athrun this episode though, while Lunamaria in all her wackyness becomes a superspy. We also finally get to find out a bit more about Rey who actually had more than one line this episode. One thing about Rey is that he was saluting everyone so much in this episode, he's almost become a caricature of himself. This episode does get a bit wacky though, from putting an onsen (hot springs) directly inside the Archangel to Luna's crazy antics, but the best part of the episode has to be Milly getting a ton of lines! I'm just worried now that she's done a big part in an episode that we might never see her again. The face that she made when Athrun mentioned Dearka is just... priceless. Of course there's just two questions I have for this episode...

Click to see my spoilerific question:
1) Just exactly how did Athrun expect to find the Archangel? He only found it because he randomly (and very luckily) ran into Milly... if he didn't run into her, how the heck would he have found it?

2) Where are Haro and Tori? I haven't seen them in over 10 episodes!

Monday April 4, 2005

Love Hina Christmas Special - Silent Eve

Isn't Keitaro using his crutch on the wrong side? Ken Akamatsu, creator of Love Hina makes an appearance
It's Santa and he's drinking a can of beer (I hope it's pop!) Naru appears in Shibuya
Naru looking Christmasy Naru ready to punch Keitaro!

The Love Hina Christmas Special OAV is perhaps one of my favorite bits of anime in existence. Directly following the events of the original series (and amazingly completely original as it's not featured in the manga) it picks up right where Love Hina left off, but adds so much more. It's a few days before Christmas 2000 and Naru, Keitaro and Mitsune are studying for their Tokyo U practice exams which are to be held on Christmas Eve. Meanwhile there's a rumour going around that whomever confesses to their loved one on Christmas Eve will have their wish come true. Naturally Keitaro is secretly hoping that this would be the time to finally get Naru's true feelings, but unfortunately Naru has been very cold to Keitaro lately. Still he doesn't give up hope, as he wonders what Naru's true feelings are.

Without giving away the plot, all I can say is that what follows is absolutely heartwrenching but beautiful. This special is definately much more serious than the series, with a lot less of the slapstick comedy we're used to but it's a welcome change. The animation is beautiful and includes many famous landmarks around Tokyo. There is plenty of new music as well with the OAV ending on my favorite Love Hina song of all, "Winter Wish" by Yonekura Chihiro which accompanies what is definately the most heartfelt and resounding speech in the entire series. The Christmas Special has always been one of my favorite pieces of anime ever since I've seen it, and even after my third time watching the Love Hina series when I realized it was no longer so special, this special is still heartwrenchingly enjoyable and I'm glad I saw it again.

Today's link of the day:
A fun website describing why anime characters have such wacky hair colours.

Saturday April 2, 2005

Yakitate!! Japan - Episodes 16 & 17

Azuma goes shopping with Tsukino, and Tsukino ends up carrying everything for him... what a guy
This was brought to my attention. In episode 1 Azuma gains his bread-making ability from a man working at a local bread store... Look at the name of the store! That's Pantasia's arch-rival chain St. Pierre!

Episode 16 and 17 of Yakitate!! Japan were awesome. I can't get over how great Koruyanagi's expressions are everytime he tastes a bread. I know you're supposed to expect it by now, but still... it's gold! In these episodes we also find out the true identity of Koala-chan. It seems like Azuma's next bread battle is with Suwabara, meanwhile Kawachi is probably up against the pig-guy, or will that be in the semi-finals? I can't wait for the next episode.

Starship Operators - Episode 8

This week's battle
was pretty cool

I decided to actually look up the mechanical designer for Starship Operators and I realized that it was none other than Kimitoshi Yamane, the mechanical designer for Gundam SEED! Even though the mechanics are completely different for both shows, I've always appreciated the designs in SEED for being quite detailed and nice, and I'm not just talking about the various new Gundams introduced, but everything from capital ships to computer terminals in SEED are well done just like in Starship Operators. But this of course explains why the interior corridors of the Amatersu is very similar to the corridors of the Archangel even if they are a different colour.

Either way, episode 8 was a good episode. The battle was really well animated and quite realistic as far as space battles go. The only thing which I didn't like so much as the direction. It seems like the director of this show just isn't so good, because while this episode could have been spectacular and emotional it really wasn't. I found it really hard to 'get into' this episode even with all the pretty effects. I guess it just wasn't 'epic' or emotional enough for me when it easily could have been with a slight change in how things were presented.

Starship Operators - Episode 8

So Sara is actually an arab. Who knew? As part of her New York tour she visits the Empire State Building, Times Square, and of course the World Trade Center ruins
Yup that's the World Trade Center ruins alright

I still don't know what to make of this show. On the one hand, they seem to be quite realistic in portraying geography. New York City was certainly very well animated, and the landmarks were accurately drawn and current. As well the paintings themselves look like they were well researched and certainly do look like the real thing (as real as an anime can get of course). The thing is, an anime character that acts exactly like every other anime girl out there but is somehow an Arab (Sara) takes away from the realism of the show. Of course not to mention that having a show about art just isn't the most exciting. Still it looks interesting and I wonder if I'll finish this series if it ever finishes getting subbed. On a side note, Satsuki Yukino is doing an awesome job as Mitamura, I can't even tell it's her doing the voice.

Today's link of the day:
WOWOW's new shows for the summer... including Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid! I love the picture they have for it too, good old Tessa

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