anime

Your Friday Fix 05/07/10: Arakawa Under the Bridge

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Your Friday Fix 05/07/10: Arakawa Under the Bridge

Genres: Comedy, Romance

Ratings Ratings
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Ichinomiya Kou, sole heir to the Ichinomiya Corporation, has lived his life without debts. His father commanded that only man who can support himself, alone, can lead this company. To take this to the extreme, when Kou was three years old his father took on the role of a helpless child so that Kou could pay back those first three years of debt. Now 22, Kou suffers from severe asthma whenever he finds himself in debt and goes to great lengths to be self sufficient. This all works out well until a gang of kids steal his pants and hoist them to the top of a bridge.

Kou scales one of the bridge supports to recover his pants, shrugging off the help a young girl fishing off the bridge offers. Now debt free and pants in hand… disaster strikes. The bridge support collapses into the water and Kou nearly drowns. The girl, named Nino, has rescued him from certain death. However, he is now in debt way over his head. As Kou tries to think his way out of his predicament, he learns that Nino lives under the bridge in a make-shift room of cardboard, street signs and a big curtain. Thinking himself lucky, he offers to buy her a proper house to clear his debt. She says she doesn’t need one, and his asthma comes back.

She wants him to fall in love with her instead. While he initially takes this as a joke, his sense of duty forces him to go through with it. Nino lets Kou know that her behavior may be odd because she is from Venus. His first night under the bridge, as Nino wants his to live with her now, nearly kills him due to the cold and precarious living space. Kou constructs himself a rather sizable apartment up under the bridge to fulfill his agreement.

He spends his time in this under-bridge village, called Arakawa by its inhabitants, attempting to stay sane. From the Village Chief who dresses as a kappa; the town’s religious leader named Sister who is a gun toting, cross dressing man; Shirai Tooru who can only walk on white lines; and the multitude of young, masked men who despise Kou for being with Nino… he is having a tough time adjusting.

This series flows pretty well from joke to joke and situation to hilarious situation. The central premise of Kou needing to clear his debts only serves to ensure he stays and racks up more debts. As the only thread to hold this chaotic mess of insane individuals together, it pulls its weight. I am excited to see how things get moving, as we are only just in character introductions by this stage of the show.

Overall Hook Rating: A

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Your Friday Fix 04/30/10: Working!!

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Your Friday Fix 04/30/10: Working!!

Genres: Comedy

Ratings Ratings
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A little family restaurant named Wagnaria, located in Hokkaido, is the scene of Karino Takatsu’s Working!! Working!! is the story of a young man, named Takanashi Souta, who begins working at Wagnaria. As he soon finds out Wagnaria is staffed by some of the most unique and painfully bizarre people he has ever met. Taneshima Poplar recruits him on the street to fill their staffing gap, her small size initially confusing Souta, due to his infatuation with small, cute, defenseless things (in a non perverted way).

As noted above, Poplar’s defining trait is her size. At age 17, one year older than Souta by the way, she appears to be around a middle school age. The manager of the restaurant is Shirafuji Kyouko. Her general lax attitude, phobia of doing actual work and surprisingly violent outbursts keep Souta on his toes. Her second in command is the floor supervisor Todoroki Yachiyo, who carries a katana about the place, completely oblivious to the intimidation others feel around her.

The kitchen team is comprised of Satou Jun, a friendly yet stoic individual who delivers praise and threats in the same deadpan manner, and Souma Hiroomi, a manipulating guy with a knack for finding everyone’s dark secrets. Souta has yet to meet on of the regular staff due to shift scheduling, and is curious as to who she is. It turns out that they were scheduled opposite of each other for a reason.

Inami Mahiru has androphobia, a fear of men. While she has somewhat made herself resistant to outbursts on the existing male staff, Souta learns the hard way when he meets her in the back off the restaurant one shift. Her reaction to men is usually to pummel them until she can escape. She fears that they are too rough, yet men are the only one that leave with bruises when she is involved. Kyouko gives Souta the task of helping Mahiru overcome her problems so she can keep working there, as he complained that her fear would make her ineffective.

Ahh Souta, when will you learn. This series keeps the comedy rolling and the characters are pretty fun to watch. Slowly details of their backgrounds start filtering through, and if this continues on its course (hopefully finding the over-story on its way), this series will be a hit.

Overall Hook Rating: A

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Your Friday Fix 04/23/10: Angel Beats!

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Your Friday Fix 04/23/10: Angel Beats!

Genres: Action, Comedy, Fantasy, Mystery

Ratings Ratings
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A young man wakes in an unfamiliar school. Suffering from amnesia, his only self-knowledge is that his surname is Otonashi. Nearby, a young girl aims a sniper rifle toward the sports field. The girl, named Yuri, informs him that he had died… this is the afterlife. He cannot “die” again now that he is here, but he will disappear if he goes along with the scenario placed before them. Yuri says that any people who go along and play student at the school eventually disappear. She cannot allow that to happen until she completes her goals.

Otonashi, deterred somewhat by her mannerisms, decides to converse with the “angel,” named Tenshi, whom Yuri was trying to snipe. While asking Tenshi if it actually possible that he cannot die, she stabs Otonashi through the heart with a manifested blade. He wakes up in the school infirmary, bloodied but recovered from the seemingly mortal wound. One of Yuri’s allies, Noda, kills Otonashi again for disrespecting Yuri earlier. Again, Otonashi wakes in a pool of blood, yet his wounds are gone. He staggers off to find an adult to tell him what is going on.

It is here he runs in to the remainder of the rebel group Shinda Sekai Sensen (SSS). Yuri is their leader, and while young and impulsive, holds herself like a true leader. She convinces Otonashi to join their cause against Tenshi and whomever is running this place. Otonashi, in truth, only joins to be safe until his memories come back. With the SSS, safe is the last thing he will ever be. During a battle with Tenshi, the group expends most of its ammunition. They are forced to see out their underground compatriots, the Guild.

Continued with video after the break…
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Your Friday Fix 04/16/10: Chu-Bra!!

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Your Friday Fix 04/16/10: Chu-Bra!!

Genres: Comedy, Ecchi

Ratings Ratings
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This series followed a rather simple premise. A junior high schooler named Nayu Hayama has been rumored to have clandestine affairs with men for money. She wears provocative underwear all the time, seems to attract the attention of men three times her age and is obsessed with these scantily undergarments.

The reality is that she is a freelance underwear tester for her step brother, Keigo Hayama. He has been both taking care of her since her parent’s death and subjecting her to his creations, as he is an underwear designer. Yes, really. Nayu then makes it her goal to make sure her two new friends, Yako Jinguuji and Haruka Shiraishi, are well fitted in the under garment department. That is … about it … ok, so:

The rant…

This series rated max for perverseness, not out of the level of nudity, abuse, etc that others have. It rated maximum because these girls are like 12 damn years old. A series focused entirely on the coming-of-age period in a girl’s life is one thing, having it focus nearly entirely on their over or under sized breasts is another. This anime may be a little too niche for even the fringe perverts, and if not … I may be losing faith in anime.

This past season of anime really sucked overall (I spared you from most of it). Over the top perverse series with lame plots and crap fan service. The upcoming season seems to be boding better; we shall see. Time to put this one to rest.

Overall Hook Rating: F

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Your Friday Fix 04/09/10: Omamori Himari

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Your Friday Fix 04/09/10: Omamori Himari

Genres: Action, Comedy, Ecchi, Romance

Ratings Ratings
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It’s funny that in comedies, “simple” lives rarely stay that way past the first episode. As if some galactic punch line finally struck home, Yuto Amakawa’s life is about to get a touch complicated. Having pulled himself together after the loss of his parents 8 years prior to the series, Yuto and his childhood friend Rinko Kuzaki are living happily together. Rinko has feeling for Yuto, yet he seems somewhat oblivious to them. He is allergic to cats, which Rinko uses to punish him when he is being a pain.

On their way in to school, Yuto and Rinko are stopped by a young woman who clings to Yuto, asking if he remembers her. Rinko goes off into a jealous rage and drags Yuto free of this intruder to their happy little life. It is not until later when a classmate, Taizo Masaki, becomes possessed by a demon that the real story line takes off. The strange girl from before, Himari Noihara, steps forward to fight the spider-like demon and protect Yuto. She wields a sword and easily dispatches the demon without killing its host. Her alternate form is that of a cat, which sets off Yuto’s allergies if she transforms.

Himari joins the school as a transfer student the next day and sets about explaining herself to Yuto and Rinko. Himari is one of a line of demons who are repaying an eternal debt to a demon hunter who spared their ancestor’s life. The last remaining descendant of that demon hunter’s family line is Yuto. While his own powers as a hunter have not awakened, the protective charm placed on him by his grandmother has weakened to the point that demons can attack him openly.
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Your Friday Fix 04/02/10: Katanagatari

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Your Friday Fix 04/02/10: Katanagatari

Genres: Action, Historical, Martial Arts

Ratings Ratings
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This historical anime is roughly based on Japan’s Edo era and centers on a legend of a swordsmith named Shikizaki Kiki. Shikizaki’s final 12 swords were said to be perfect, yet perversely poisonous to their owner. Anyone owning all 12 swords could easily rule the world. Counterpoint to this over-story, a young man named Shichika Yasuri, in exile for his entire life, has become a master of Kyotouryuu. Kyotouryuu is a style of swordsmanship that in fact, uses no sword at all. His father, the original exile, taught him this before his death (one year before the series starts).

Shichika and his sister Nanami live alone, in peace on their little island. A young woman named Togame, strategist to the Shogun, comes to the island in search of his father. Finding only Shichika, she decides that he will be the one to help her obtain the 12 swords of legend. In truth, she has sought out the son of the man who killed her father. She wants to use him to obtain the tools to take back her rightful place. However, it appears she may be developing feelings for Shichika.

The first sword wielder, a creepy ninja named Komori Maniwa, accidently engages Shichika in combat. Learning the hard way that trickery and conniving lies cannot affect someone who has been detached from humanity for so long, Komori is beaten to pieces. With the first sword in hand, Shichika and Togame leave for the mainland. Seeking out the next wielder, they find him in a deserted castle. This castle is the last remnant of a long dead empire. Ginkaku Uneri, a lightning fast swordsman, falls to Shichika creativity. The second sword is carefully wrapped for transit, and our pair continue onward.

This series differs from most other anime in that it runs once a month for about 50 minutes. Its art style is a bit different from the norm in that the character style is unique, but I found that this quickly became less noticeable to me. I also was not aware initially that the episode was 50 minutes each; I was thoroughly entertained and had no idea where the time went. That alone gives this series a really high mark. The release schedule is a bit slow, but the quality seems worth it.

Overall Hook Rating: A

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Pixar to Bring Studio Ghibli into 3D [April Fools!]

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Pixar to Bring Studio Ghibli into 3D [April Fools!]

UPDATE: This is an April Fools Joke. Sorry! =D

Update: You need to hit “read more” for the photo now, trying to keep it up as long as I can before getting a notice to take it down :(

With Pixar‘s increased dominance in all things 3D, it’s no wonder that Hayao Miyazaki would turn to them, and his good friend John Lasseter, to bring one of Studio Ghibli‘s classics into 3D. Laputa: Castle in the Sky is the story of a once sky-faring human race who have been forced to the ground when their floating cities crashed. Once city is rumored to still exist above the clouds, named Laputa.

The name Laputa stems from Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels where in Laputa is a floating island made of magnetically levitating rock. In Miyazaki’s version, however, Laputa is an abandoned paradise. Many people, including sky pirates, are desperate to reclaim it.

Here is a video clip (in Japanese) featuring some of the relationships forged between these two respective giants in the past:

Now, all of the blubbering and fan-boyisim aside… I friend of mine got a chance to tour the Pixar studio this week and in a move speaking LARGELY to the size on his huevos, snapped a picture of an un-named project he saw on someone’s system. When I saw this I nearly freaked out… Laputa!

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Your Friday Flashback 03/26/10: Golden Boy

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Your Friday Flashback 03/26/10: Golden Boy

Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Ecchi

Ratings Ratings
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Every year around my birthday I take a Friday to cover a series from anime-past. This year I selected (read coerced by friends) Golden Boy from around 1995-1996, back in MY high school days. Golden boy is a six episode OVA (or OAV depending on your personal preference) based on Tatsuya Egawa’s manga of the same name.

The story’s protagonist, Kintaro Oe, is a jack-of-all-trades out seeking knowledge in the world. He takes on freelance jobs to make his way and continues traveling on his bicycle. He takes studious notes in a journal regarding all the wondrous things he comes across in his voyage. Oh yea, and he is a completely deranged pervert. The series is packed with perverse references, fetishes and all manner of bouncing anatomy. However, where many of the recent series I have reviewed failed, this classic succeeded. While the perverse nature of some series feels artificial, extra, or just uncalled for… Golden Boy embraced the genre, using it to great comedic effect.

Kintaro’s first position is with an all female office developing software, his second is tutoring an over-sexed daughter of a local mayoral candidate. His third lands him in an udon shop, on to the fourth as a swimming coach (even though he does not yet know how to swim). He works as a servant to a rich family in the fifth and as an errand boy for an animation studio in the climactic conclusion of the sixth.

Due to the short length of this series, I REALLY don’t want to discuss any of the plot points as I normally do in my reviews. Get out there and watch it already!

Overall Series Rating: A

You can see part of episode one (and beyond) after the break, I should probably note that it is not always safe for work …

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Your Friday Fix 03/19/10: Ookami Kakushi

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Your Friday Fix 03/19/10: Ookami Kakushi

Genres: Horror, Occult, Mystery

Ratings Ratings
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A remote town called Jouga is home to a pervasive myth about ancient, humongous wolves that once roamed the area. These wolves are still spoken of in local religious ceremonies and even revered as gods. A river divides the town between the old and new districts. It is to be noted that the people of the old district do not think kindly of those who have embraced the more modern culture. The story takes place as two siblings, Hiroshi Kuzumi and Mana Kuzumi, move to the town with their father, Masaaki Kuzumi, to seek inspiration for his occult novels.

Before Hiroshi can even settle in a neighbor girl, Isuzu Tsumuhana, latches on to him, confesses her love, and tells him that they will be together. Mana, who is in a wheelchair, dislikes the situation from the start. Mana does not seem to want to get along with anyone. When Issei Tsumuhana, Isuzu’s older brother, shows up Mana’s attitude changes. Issei also gets along well with their father, Masaaki, whose books he professes to enjoy. In fact, everyone at school and in town are so damn happy to see new people. Everyone wants to know more about Hiroshi, continually pestering him all throughout class.

One student, Ogasawara, tries to drag Hiroshi off to join his activity club, but is scolded by the class president Nemuru Kushinada. For the rest of the day Ogasawara seems jumpy and scared of everyone. Later that night we see Ogasawara running the streets of the town, his eyes glowing red. A group of masked figures stalk him in the shadows cast by a red moon. The leader, a young girl with a giant scythe, strikes him down. Elsewhere, a mysterious man reacts to the death he somehow feels.

The next day everyone seems to react like nothing happened. Nemuru says that Ogasawara “moved away” suddenly. Hiroshi and another newcomer to the town, Kaname Asagiri, discuss the strange disappearance. Both feel uneasy, especially when Nemuru requests a private audience with Isuzu. We see the two girls exchange heated, yet muted words. The only words we are left to hear are Isuzu saying that she will protect Hiroshi.

This series keeps a great deal of its cards hidden at the start of this series, yet shows just enough to get you to play the hand. The mystery of the town and the wolves, demons, and the warnings to keep off the streets at night set a great mood. While the horror aspect of the series is still mild, it is mounting.

Overall Hook Rating: B

Watch part of episode one after the break…

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MegaCon 2010 (Warning: lots of pics!)

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MegaCon 2010 (Warning: lots of pics!)

Ok, let me first introduce you to what MegaCon is: Mega Convention (read: giant nerd fest). It’s held every year in the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. They have something there for just about everyone: comics, manga, anime, movies, artists, collector’s items (action figures, figurines, etc…), video games, swords, dice, clothing, and plenty of miscellaneous stuff. One of the things you’ll also notice before you even get in is that there is a lot of cosplay; there’s even a contest for it! Now that you’re aware of the awesomeness of this convention, I took plenty of pics below for you to see what it’s like.

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