Your Friday Fix 2/27/09: Maria Holic

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Maria Holic

Genres: Comedy, Harem, Romance

Ratings R3 Ratings

Maria Holic Image 1Kanako holds an idealized vision of her future at Ame no Kisaki Girls School.  Her mother and father met there (her mother as a student and father as a teacher) and eventually fell in love.  She wants to have the same experience in this “magical” place; however, she reveals that she isn’t looking for a man… she wants a woman.  As you will find out, she breaks into hives when touched by a man.

She has yet to learn that her fate is going to take a turn for the worse.  Upon entering the school grounds, she wanders on to an attached private property.  The first person she meets is the maid, Matsurika, who works for the Shido family.  After being whittled down to an emotional shell by her insults, Kanako is “saved” by the very lovely Maria Shido.  Maria mentions that her grand father was the previous head master of the school.  Kanako begins the first in a looooooong series of nosebleeds.

Maria Holic Image 3Kanako makes her way to her room, meeting more beautiful women around the school (nosebleeding all the way).  A wrong turn seeking out Maria at the archery club leads her to uncovering the dark secret that Maria doesn’t seem all that concerned with hiding.  Maria is a man.  He also is a cunning, devious, and purely evil person.  He puts Kanako through hell forcing his secret to be hidden, lest he cause her even more untold evils.  Then, he drops a bomb by moving in to her room!

The following day Maria puts the pressure on Kanako by sitting and waiting for her to change.  He would only leave the room is she bowed and begged him to do so.  Maria commits to haunting Kanako to ensure the secret is kept.

Maria Holic Image 2This series delivers laughs, groans and non stop fun.  Hooked!

Overall Hook Rating:  A


Your Friday Fix 2/20/09: Skip Beat

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Skip Beat

Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Ratings R3 Ratings

Skip Beat Image 1Kyoko is a girl that would do anything for the man she loves. Sho is a rising pop star who left his home town and family business to make it big. Kyoko has loved Sho since they were both little (she lived with Sho’s family growing up). Sho has asked Kyoko to come with him to Tokyo to help him pursue his dream.

In reality,  Kyoko works two jobs and does countless chores for her beloved Sho. She runs herself ragged to keep a nice apartment which she cannot easily afford. She prepares him snacks and meals when he stops by home. She even does the laundry he drops off for her to do!  Kyoko obsesses over Sho every waking moment and would stand up for him in any circumstance.

Skip Beat Image 2Things begin to fall apart when Sho returns from a long trip to pick up clothes, and immediately leaves again.  Kyoko decides to try to see him at this studio and runs into a rather frank and upsetting “discussion” between him and his manager.

Her only recourse? Besides throwing a takeout meal at him… she must defeat him at his own game, Show Business!!  She gets a VERY expensive makeover and hits up the talent agencies.  No… really… that’s what she decides to do.

Now, at first glance, I was prepared to hate this series.  I’m not big on sappy romance, the entertainment industry in general, and especially not interested in melodramatic conflict.  This series, however, pulled me in with its lighter moments and an over the top lead character.

How will all this end?  Why is she holding that daikon?  Watch this series~

Skip Beat Image 3

Overall Hook Rating: A

Your Friday Fix 2/13/09: Chrome Shelled Regios

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Chrome Shelled Regios

Genres: Action, Adventure, Science Fiction, Supernatural

Ratings L4 Ratings

Chrome Shelled Regios Image 01This story takes place in a barren inhospitable world.  To make matters worse, giant “filth-monsters” called the Limbeekoon roam the wastes targeting the last bastions of humanity, the Regios.  A Regios is an epic wandering city, each named for their particular focus.  There is a brief flash-forward/backward to a battle between the, yet to be introduced, “Heaven Blades” and the Limbeekoon.  Details about the incident are scarce, but work well with a driving soundtrack to pull viewers into the action.

The introductory action sequence aside, the beginning of the series takes place in the Academic City of Zuellni.  Students are enrolling in the city’s Academy and beginning their semester with an entrance ceremony.  The Academy’s pride is the Military Arts program, and those in the Military Arts program are preparing for the Inter-Colony Matches.  This is, however, only a polite term for a life or death war-games.  While the goal isn’t actually to kill the opposition, it’s not avoided.  The losing city gives up some of its stake in the valued Selenium mines, the apparent basis of their world’s economy.

Chrome Shelled Regios Image02The primary character, Layfon Alseif, is pulled into the Military Arts program due to circumstances set in motion by Karyan Ross, the student council president (students run the Academy, so he in the boss).  Layfon, together with the 17th Platoon he is assigned to, train their kei (psychic/psychokinetic) powers to participate in the Inter-Platoon Matches.  These matches are to prepare each platoon for the upcoming Inter-Colony Matches, and place each according to their ability.

Much is left unsaid in the first few episodes and many more plot points await their due time.  I will be watching this series until it ends, or gets boring… either way, I would like to hear your opinions if you decide to watch along too.

Overall Hook Rating: B (the beginning starts strong, let’s see if it can hold on!)

The Story of a Tattoo, 15 Years in the Making

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This story starts with a 15 year old idea by a man named Joe (the) Peacock…

What was that?  Yes, his name is Joe Peacock.  No, not the plumber.  No, he’s not in the mafia.  Yes, he has a really nice tattoo.  No, he didn’t get it when he was 15… jeeze, can I continue now?

Now Joe is a true jack of all trades; programmer, writer… snazzy dresser.  He is also an idea man.  If you haven’t guessed by now, the idea I’m going to share with you was his grand tattoo.

Joe’s tattoo is an homage to Akira, the 1988 anime film by Katsuhiro Otomo.  Completed in sections, the tattoo tells the story presented in the movie.  It also covers events in the manga works that the movie was based on.

Here is a composite of the sleeve he had done (some distortion due to unwrapping the arm based on his photos):

The Tattoo

The tattoo breaks down as follows:

Tattoo Part 1 Tattoo Part 2 Tattoo Part 3

The large glass shard with the Japanese script is the name of the anime “Akira”.  Surrounding that is the ruins of Neo-Toyko, the setting for the story, which Akira destroyed.  Above the shard are the pipes leading from the cryo-chamber that housed Akira (Akira is pictured on the lower shard of this image).  Below that second shard are the remnants of military tanks.

Around to the front of his arm exists another shard, this one featuring Kaneda.  Below him are the remnants of his bike, scattered around a tagged pillar with additional scenes of a destroyed Neo-Tokyo.

On the back side of Joe’s arm is a shard dedicated to Tetsuo, tying back around to Kaneda’s bike and the military forces present in the tattoo.   Scenes of the surviving city stand behind him.

You can view more of Joe’s Progress shots and additional details at his website.

This tattoo is a great example of how an image can be crafted to show both interesting imagery, and preserve qualities of the story, mood and style.

Comments Off on Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke

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Mononoke Hime

Oh how I am spoiled by the big studios’ animation departments – television just doesn’t look the same anymore. I must amend this with the movements might be more jerky, but the design of Princess Mononoke is still up there with the big boys – this is one pretty film!

Those unfamiliar with Japanese animation, aka Japanimation aka anime, should check out Princess Mononoke. The title makes it sound like Mulan, and the general green, eco-friendly theme makes it sound like the Lion King, but it should not be a turnoff. It’s an action/adventure, it’s a big mythological epic, and it’s very long (don’t get a soda!) and involved. Do pay attention to the names of the gods as well as the humans. The design of everything is beautiful – the curse is represented visually which is very cool and quite scary (I should also mention this movie is not for kids – some serious R-rated violence in here!), the glade where the spirit of the forest lives (sounds hokey but it is soooo cool!), everything is awesome looking! I have to revert to high school language to get it across – it’s the simple childish joy of seeing nicely rendered color convey dampness or danger or magic or death or – I can’t explain it! It’s very interesting, it is a *little* long, but as long as you go in with an open mind and heart (and don’t roll your post-modern eyes at the mythological aspects of these people and their attempt at living harmoniously with the forest) I think you will enjoy it.

In short, a young man is infected with a demon’s curse and travels to jump in the middle of an earth-shattering humans/gods war. The gods are amazing, the scenery is gorgeous, and the only thing weird is hearing Billy Bob Thornton and Jada Pinkett Smith’s voices coming out of these people’s elfin faces! Don’t do what I did and labor trying to figure the other voices are – hit the IMDB before you go to get yourself prepped. And yes, that’s Gillian Anderson as a giant white wolf. It works, actually!

Being unfamiliar with director Hayao Miyazaki’s other work, as well as anime in general, I ran to the IMDB to check it out, and against my normal habit, read a viewer review. Apparently, this movie is top of the line anime (like I say, I am spoiled by Disney and Dreamworks and Fox and now WB) and the viewer saw it in Japanese with no subtitles or knowledge of Japanese and still loved it. I enjoyed it greatly (but it sure is weird seeing such pretty, delicate people be decapitated and whatnot in battle!) but I am far from an expert in the genre. I am pleased that I have had such a good introduction (besides the 1970’s Our Star Blazers or was it G-Force?) now – it is a very different animation form, with fewer frames of artwork (thereby jerkier) but with much more delicately rendered colors and figures. Very nice.

MPAA Rating PG-13 for images of violence and gore
Release date 10/29/99
Time in minutes 165
Director Hayao Miyazaki
Studio Miramax