Sunday, August 30, 2009

Aoi Hana: Um...

Currently finished: Episode 7

Frankly, I just don't quite understand Japanese society. It just awes me how simple and easily accepted it is to have a sudden change of heart on your sexual orientation. I guess when you live in a culture that has so many bizarre fetishes, nothing is out of ordinary any more...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Princess Lover: Heats Up

Do they really want us to believe neither one of them noticed where his hand is at?!

Currently finished: Episode 7

Asides from the normal harem action, this anime seems to actually have a real plot. In my opinion, this is what separates a good harem anime from a bad harem anime. Although we can't really tell how good this plot actually is, I can at least say from the look of it, they're legimately trying to make a plot to be worthwhile for the audience's time. But whether a good plot actually comes out of a good effort, that's a totally different matter.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

[OVA] [Ended] Dogs: Stray Dogs Howling in the Dark

While this is an interesting short series, it feels somewhat unsatisfying after finishing watching it. Being about 15 minutes a piece, a total running time right around an hour, it barely whets your appetite before abruptly ending with a huge cliffhanger (actually, four huge cliffhangers, since every episode leaves one). I hope they eventually follow up with an TV series rather than just using this to promote the manga.

If unexplained ending drives you nuts, I would recommend you not to watch this, because that's all you'll get. But it that doesn't bother you much, then I'd say this is a pretty interesting short series that you might want to squeeze into your schedules, if it's not too full like mine :-)

Final score: 83

[OVA] [Ended] Higurashi no Naku Koroni Rei

Although it's much more creative an interesting then episode one, this last episode is still just another filler episode for the sake of DVD sales. There are some interesting references drawn from other animes, but that's pretty much it. If you have piles of backlogged animes to watch like me, I'd say just forget about this whole OVA series ever existed. There is really no need to waste your time on this unless you feel like to.

P.S. When I watched the Umineko no Naku Koro ni, I thought Maria's whining voice sounds familiar, but never bothered to check out who that was. In this last episode of Higurashi no Naku Koroni Rei, I heard the exact same whining voice from Hanyuu. So that's where I heard that voice before...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Needless: Subtle Fan Service...Not

Currently finished: Episode 6

Just as I was about to praise how they managed to put in good amount of fan service while still being subtle about it, there comes episode 6. It's like that all the fan service that has been suppressed by the awkward subtleness just suddenly exploded. There are fan service everywhere you turn, and they are as blatant as it could get without becoming a full blown hentai. I guess I should have seen that coming with the ending credit scenes...

Put that aside, I have to say Needless has turned out to be a much better anime than I originally thought, not necessarily because of the story has gotten any better, mostly, due to the comedies. If you don't treat it as an intelligent anime, rather, treat it as a brainless action/comedy, I think you'd be satisfied with it.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Saki: Luck vs. Skill

Currently finished: Episode 20

While there definitely are some interesting games played, I just can't help to notice that they seems to be blurring the line between luck and skill. Many of those games, whose outcomes were heavily dependent on luck, are being presented in a way that the players seemed to be in complete control. Audiences who are not so familiar with the game could easily mistaken that as players' skill, rather than luck are the deciding factors for those games. On top of that, unless there are something supernatural involved, (which I don't believe that's the point this anime is trying to get across), statistically speaking, the game situations in this story are all so extremely unlikely to occur.

I believe this story has the potential to attract new people to the game of Mahjong as Hikaru no Go did for Go. But I'm not sure this is the right message we want to send to the new players of the game.

At any rate, people who knows the game well would understand how far-fetched all thses plays actually are; but if you're new to the game and interested in learning, enjoy the anime, but, don't take everything in this anime at its face value (except the parts about Mahjong rules :-), too many thing are being misrepresented.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya 2009: What?!

I think I'm feeling just as angry as Haruhi does :-)

Currently finished: Episode 19

Seriously?! Eight episodes of agonies just for that?! I hope whoever wrote and produced this series is fired and never allowed to make animes again.

All in all, at least we're done with this ridiculous nonsense for now. Let's hope the rest of the series is as brilliant as the original, not like the garbage we just went through.

Valkyria Chronicles: Oh....

Currently finished: Episode 18

I know lots of people are going to point fingers at me and say that I'm cold-hearted, but I'm still going to say, I am liking what's going on with the story.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a heartless person that cheers when things like this happen. I too feels sad and depressed. I just think having a dose of emotion like this once a while is healthy. If the stories are always flawlessly happy all the time, they'll become boring and predictable. A surprise once a while, pleasant or unpleasant, is necessary to keep any story interesting. It's just that I personally prefer the unpleasant surprises.

At the same time, however, this feels somewhat too...bolted on. Although the best surprise is one that nobody sees it coming, this one just feels somewhat out of place. I think it might be more of a plot device than anything else. That makes me wonder, does the game plays out like this too?

p.s. As usual, please make spoiler free comments if you do feel like commenting.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

[OVA] Isekai no Seikishi Monogatari

Currently finished: Episode 5

This is a very interesting story for a harem anime. One thing I was a bit surprised about is that other than the opening, they haven't been taking advantage the fact being an OVA, they can generally go a lot further on the nudity than normal tv series. Being a big harem anime like this, there has been so many opportunities in the last four episodes to exploit that, but they didn't. That's somewhat respectable.

As far as a harem anime concern, it is quite brilliant. I can honestly say this is probably the best harem anime I've seen since Shuffle!. On the surface, the plot seems pretty simple, but there are many hints that a much more complex plot lies underneath it. Being a 13 40+minutes episode OVA series, this is as long as a long season tv series. I'm very interested to see what it would eventually become.

The English sub's progress is quite slow, the latest English sub I can find is only at 2nd episode. But it's better than nothing:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Geijutsuka Art Design Class: Intriguing

Currently finished: Episode 4

Before I even watched the first episode of GA Design Class, I tagged it with "watch two episodes and drop it" because the art work doesn't look particularly interesting, and the synopsis doesn't sound that interesting either. However, this has turned out to be a very interesting anime in an unusual way.

Just like Lucky Star, it's adapted from four panel manga that discusses random topics. The difference is that instead of focus on Japanese pop culture, GA focus its topics on art design theory.

As for content, Lucky Star has been hit or miss for me in an episode by episode basis because it assumes the audience has prior knowledge about what they were referencing in the Japanese pop culture. GA on the other hand, does a much better job of not referencing topics that are too deep into the subject. Moreover, GA is also made to be somewhat educational.

P.S. I didn't realize that Haruka Tomatsu (戸松遥) was the voice of Kisaragi until I saw the credit. I think this is the first time I didn't recognize her voice.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Yokuwakaru Gendaimahou: The Perfect Duo

Currently finished: Episode 3

Certain actors/actresses work well together, I think the same applies to voice actors/actresses in animes too.

In Yokuwakaru Gendaimahou, Haruka Tomatsu (戸松遥) and Ai Nonaka (野中藍) make such an interesting duo playing the two main characters: Yomiko and Koyomi. Just imagine Corti from Shinkyoku Soukai Polyphonica (or if you are not familiar with Polyphonica, Lala from ToLoveRu although here she sounds more like Corti than Lala) clashes with Fuko from Clannad. Not only they are two of the most characteristic voices in the industry, the personalities in their voices work so well against each other, it makes this anime much more interesting than it would have been without them.

On a separate note, I think they went just a little bit overboard on the fan service. Right now it's still at a acceptable level. I hope they don't go push the limit on that.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Umineko no Naku Koro ni: Recycle?

Currently finished: Episode 6

It seems that 07th Expansion can't stay clear of the same type recursive stories they always make. Though it isn't completely clear what Umineko no Naku Koro ni really is yet, at this point, I just hope it's something new and unique. Granted Higurashi no Naku Koroni is a great anime, but I don't want to see another story from the same author that is a complete rip off of it.

Spice and Wolf II: Heart Breaking

Currently finished: Episode 5

It was quite heartbreaking to watch the story unfold for the last two episodes, more so than the worst part of the last arc from the first series.

Even so, I still can't help to think that everything is going to be ok in the end, because that how stories nowadays are: the main character always gets a way out no matter how bad the situation looks.

These days, no one is willing to write tragedies any more. That makes almost all stories predictable: the plan pan out as predicted, or someone in the opposing party has a change of heart, or the worst of all, deus ex machina.

Anyway, back to the story itself, even though I know it'll end well, at the moment, it's still quite sad to see them in that situation every time it comes up. Hopefully, they would find a good solution to end this arc, not some cheapened way out of the mess.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Umineko no Naku Koro ni: Wha...?!!!!!!!

Currently finished: Episode 5

Wha, wha, wha, what just happened?!! Also, is that supposed to be the grown-up version of Rika?!

p.s. If you feel like discussing it and are going to leave a comment, please do so in a way that you wouldn't spoil the plot. That is one of the fundamental principle of my blog.

Saki: Intense Mahjong Drama

Currently finished: Episode 17

From a technical point of view, this is a quite far-fetched story. But for the sake of entertainment, this is very interesting.

Unlike Akagi which mostly focus on psychological and technical part of the game, Saki is more focused on the drama around the game. Admittedly, this is not nearly as intense as Akagi from a technical perspective. But the added characters and drama make this an equally interesting anime to watch. On top of that, once a while, I'm still catching some interesting facts about the Japanese Mahjong rules that I didn't know.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

[Dropped] Kanamemo: Plain

This is not a bad anime. It is just and ordinary anime. But that is exactly what the problem is. It is so ordinary that there really nothing interesting to watch. With my backlog growing everyday, I have no time for an ordinary anime like this.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Pandora Hearts: Finally Getting Interesting

Currently finished: Episode 17

After a painstakingly slow first half, the story shifted into high gears and started to get a lot more interesting.

While browsing the Internet, I ran across quite a few reviews that considered Pandora Hearts to be disappointing. I can sort of see where they're coming from: it was somewhat frustrating to sit through the first half of the series. Having said that, however, with a set up as complicated as this, I can't really think of another way that is better than what they have done to lay it out.

So if you have gotten past episode 12 and thinking of dropping it (which I did at one point), DON'T. It's going to get a lot more interesting soon.