Occult Academy 13 drives the Captain Obviouses away?

…You wanna know why a lot of popular movies are ripped to shreds (including the original Star Wars)? Because critics are cynics.

Yes, Ray declares another defeat. He ripped Occult Academy to pieces and then watched the last episode. No, the last episode isn’t super great. But at least, it kind of redeems itself.

Even if it’s just a little.

Continue reading Occult Academy 13 drives the Captain Obviouses away?

Monkey High – Opposites attract in an interesting way.

No one would really want to be in the shoes of Haruna Aizawa, not after her politician father gets booted out of office for corruption charges. So with a “bright future” obviously out the window, Haruna transfers to a  nameless local high school. First day there, she mentally labels the description of monkey for a majority of the students there. So what happens if she begins to like Macharu (Masaru), a goofball classmate – who is around her height and definitely opposite in personality to Haruna. Everyone else thought that Haruna would end up with Atsu, who is the class’s reigning cutie. So Haruna falling for Macharu is definitely something unique.

We Go Together... ^_ ^

Reasons why you would want to check out this title:

  • Medium length series – there’s only eight volumes to read through. All published in English by Shoujo Beat
  • Funny.. I am quite tickled and definitely enjoying parts where people realize that there is a relationship between the two leads..
  • It is sweet/fluffy enough so that readers can say awwww..
  • Read alike is probably – based on the height and comedy aspects – Love.com aka Lovely Complex, that I wrote a movie review for a while ago.

BREAKING NEWS: SPJA CEO Michael Lattanzio Resigns

From the SPJA’s official announcement:

The SPJA has announced that Michael Lattanzio, CEO of the organization for the past year, is leaving on good terms to pursue other projects. SPJA Chairman of the Board Marc Perez has assumed Lattanzio’s responsibilities on an interim basis.

The SPJA thanks Lattanzio for his service and the growth Anime Expo enjoyed under Lattanzio’s stewardship.

Mike’s Notes: those who have been following the anime news are probably aware that Michael Lattanzio’s tenure as head of the SPJA, the parent organization that runs Anime Expo, has been met with considerable controversy. We can confirm that our experience at this year’s Anime Expo was measurably different than in previous years under the new management, in ways both good (great press treatment, an enviable guest of honor list) and not-so-good (high fees on main events, multiple staff resignations), and no matter what one thinks of his year-long tenure, this news once again raises questions about the future direction of AX and how it will be run next year. Will many of the resigned staff return, for instance? Will prices be lowered or not? There was a point early this year when it seemed the future of Anime Expo was in doubt, but an impressive turnaround happened.

Whatever happened, the drama is likely not over, and at Anime Diet we are dedicated to convention coverage. We’ll be on top of it as it continues to unfold.

More background is available at ANN.

Revenge or Love – Record of a Fallen Vampire

Sexy commander.

Buy The Record of a Fallen Vampire, Vol. 1
by Kyo Shirodaira. Published by Viz Media. 182 pages. 2008. $9.99.

If you note the popularity of Dracula, or in pop culture of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or even the recent Twilight series. Then what is the mystique about vampires.

Other than being quite mysterious, and romantic images- take a look at Shirodaira Kyo and Kimura Yuri’s interpretation. The writer definitely states that she knows of the countless adaptation out there, but what else is there to do, but write of a new adaptation.

Strauss is off looking for his queen who was sealed away. He faces humans, dhampires (half humans/half vampire), and the Black Swan (the only human with the ability to kill him, and have these cool tattoos on her arms.) Eventually aliens get thrown into the picture, so what to do? I am still reading the series of nine books. I can only write of what interests me about this series, and might interest you.

  • The suspense is quite good.
  • This is actually not a shoujo manga for once, so don’t ask me to recommend this alongside Vampire Knight.
  • The art is pretty good, and there’s also some humor in it.
  • If you already read vampire stories, there is a thing of never having enough vampire stories out there.
  • The twist that comes out in the middle of the story is just surprising. Unlikely but surprising.
  • A possible read alike is Castlevania. Castlvania is on my reading list of things to review for Anime.com.
That's gotta be shocking and painful!

What Con? Nan Desu Kan!

Recently I attended a gem of a convention tucked just beyond the Rocky Mountains in Denver, CO.  Nan Desu Kan has been in operation for about 14 years now and has progressively grown in attendance every year.  (So much so that I foresee them moving to a larger venue before too long.) Currently Nan Desu Kan is hosted at the Marriot Denver Technology Center, which suits their needs nicely at their current size.  However, a rather crowded Saturday showed signs that this convention will eventually need a bigger home if this growth keeps going.

Nan Desu Kan maintains much of the charm and intimacy of smaller con, but includes elements that are generally only gleaned from the clout of big conventions. Staple events here include all the basic necessities: anime viewings, AMV contests, panels, games, and industry guest appearances. Among other very respectable guests and events this year, the cream of the line-up in my opinion was an appearance by famed mecha anime director Yasuhiro Imagawa and the bands Kazha and Echostream.

All around I found Nan Desu Kan to be a very entertaining and enjoyable convention. Video showings were smaller but pleasantly intimate. Hordes of dedicated cosplayers from almost every genre and series imaginable were present, and scores participated in a fairly professional contest with a fantastic halftime show by Echostream. Panels were informative, fun and generally well executed.  This was all topped off with rooms for table top gaming, video games, a nicely set-up artist hall and a sizable merchant exhibit space to shop for the anime goodies you just can’t do without.

Unbeknownst to many of us here west of the Rockies, anime fans may well now have a reason to travel to just the other side of those mountains to participate some anime-related fun as well as take in some nice scenery while there.

Be sure to check out more video and pictures from this convention as they will be posted in the near future.

Niche audience for Path of Assassins!

Path Of the Assassin Volume 1: Serving In The Dark (v. 1)
By Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima.
Published by Dark Horse 320 pages. 2006. $9.95

Certainly I complain about my lack of time, and how often it gets devoured by certain activities, but I do enjoy my most . All right I might be a fiend on some things, but reading across the board is definitely an activity I use to develop my skills. So with the over saturation of the market in terms of any product released, it is definitely more important to find and locate a genre as one would appreciate it.

I read Path of Assassins vol 1 recently, and definitely this is going to be one for a niche within a niche.  I spoke with the librarian, and she mentioned that she consistently never sees this type of manga getting taken out, so I borrowed it out of curiosity.

Path of the Assassin is about Hattori Hanzo who is a young ninja charged with protecting Tokugawa Ieyasu. Historically these are two key figures in Japanese history, but also please wipe from your mind the bishonen look to them from video games. (My personal experience, you might have seen another version of these two characters.)

So why would you want to maybe check out this book?

  • Support the comic/graphic novel industry. It is published by Dark Horse, so appreciate that a comic book publisher can actually be also supporting the manga fan groups as well.
  • Is a samurai/historical fan already, and want to see another perspective of these historical figures.
  • Want to experience reading a different type of genre from the regular ones that you would read.
  • Not sure why, but reading this book reminds me of Takehiko Inoue works, so if you like the artwork of Vagabond then this is an earlier publication type. It is all about the bushido code.
  • I love how small this book was, definitely the size of normal Japanese publication, so it would fit any of Japanese book covers, and is a pocket book.
Killing under command!

So I am going to stop off this post, and ask again are there any fans other than Japanese men for this type of genre? Not every thing is moe or cute girls, so why not get into the gritty days of yore with samurai and code of honors then.

Entertainment Isn’t Always Pretty (Hetalia & Shiki!)

Guys,…I really tried.

Okay, so I decided to step a little outside of my usual milieu to see what was out there in the streaming ether, and chose two recent shows to see how things were going in regards to some highly spoken up shows licensed by Funimation. And this time, they seem to be more aimed at the ladies with one comedy hit that has engendered several spinoffs, sequels, and even a movie, as well as a supposedly edgy new addition to the noitaminA lineup. Figuring I had little to lose, I dove into them in earnest. How little was I to know that this would lead to one of the more challenging pieces I’ve yet to write on the Diet pages. Because as shows, the diet seems more than a little imbalanced. While many may not agree, a part of me now feels a need to stop by the dentist.(and not for reasons one may expect)


Upon my first notice of American fandom’s response to the web-comic sensation, turned anime hit, Hetalia Axis Powers with masses of cosplay groups  devoted fans, already I was under the impression that this was a series that spoke to a very specific contingent of fandom. Sadly so, I was right. The animated version of Hidekaz Himaruya‘s megapopular WWII-era allegorical comedy speaks less like a pointed satire of world affairs, and more of an aimless fluff piece for the fujoshi-esque. Helmed by Bob Shirohata of Gravitation fame, I suppose this should’ve been a no-brainer, but even if Himaruya’s knowledge of the events leading to the second World War are sound, there plain just isn’t enough here to substantiate a TV series.

In a grandiosely broad universe of anthropomorphic representations of the world’s nations, we bear witness to the days in which peaks of civilization borne from the leaps of Roman innovation, leading to the fateful meeting between ever burly/ramrod straight, Germany..& hopelessly aloof childman, Italy. No sooner does this happen, that petty fights have been overflowing on both sides of the globe, including the quiet, industrious little giant, Japan, and later America, have been reaching a boiling point. Now if only Italy could grow past innocent flirting with whoever crosses his path, with dreams of cuteness & pasta. It is in this chance encounter that the madness of Hetalia makes itself something of a minor phenomenon in it’s native country. With tall, blonde rulemonger strongman, Germany constantly in the role of would be great leader reduced often to babysitter, and Japan as the unwilling, stoic accomplice, are among the larger running gags that fuels much of the series.

Now while a part of me had a feeling that this was indeed a fan contingent that I had little in common with, I found it important to see exactly what it was that made the comedy work so well with Western viewers. And to be honest, after several episodes, I still am at a loss to understand it. There’s no pretending here of what this show is aimed for, and perhaps it comes required to come in with a certain attitude. From my view it’s like this; if you enjoy a growing bevy of attractive young men of varying archetypical dispositions & grossly generalized stereotypes in under five minute bursts of one-joke humor, then this show may be just what you’re looking for. And upon closer inspection, this series is another attempt to cash in on the success of a 4-koma style project. Problem is, that taken in the five minute format, the humor is so slight, and the animation so predictably in line with so many other bishi comedies over the last decade, that in the end, the series offers even less value in animated form than it perhaps does in panel form. Point being, for the near hours worth of programming I sacrificed to this show, I could count the number of times I actually laughed….on one hand. Not a good sign for what is obviously meant to be comedy.

It’s a shame, since a lot of potential feels wasted by this, the beginning of what many already know has become a multi-season affair. And again, this could very well be that my own take on World History runs counter to much of what many books often fog up rather than clarify. And bringing such events into such a format begs for something more akin to an actual sprawling narrative, something a 4-koma has little room for. And as a result, the shortened format works against much of the comedic possibilities, as well as my own patience. Oh, sure, we’ve had a fair share of these shows before, but many came in with a full understanding of the format. And unfortunately for Hetalia, it is a case of biting of more than the provided maw can chew.

And then on the other side of the pretty people river, comes Studio Daume’s TV version of Fuyumi Ono‘s vampire mystery, SHIKI that while on paper seems intriguing, but in belated (the original novel is well over a decade old) anime form, suffers from a myriad of stumbling blocks, again namely in execution.

The largely unseen village of Sotoba, a town more famous for the creation of burial stones & farmland than anything else becomes a surreal, isolated setting for some old school gothic horror when a bizarre family moves up the hill. Starting off the mysteries include the strange chain deaths of locals in neighboring towns, leading to the tale of young dreamer Megumi, who’s distaste of her quiet cow town leads her toward the exotic new folks moving into the european-style castle up the hill. Never one to listen to her elders, or ignore her wishes for a life more dreamlike & fulfilling, Megumi’s life soon spirals into the ever deepening conundrums regarding these newcomers who roam nocturnally, and remain eternally youthful. Caught in the maelstrom of questions regarding the strange crimes include newly transplanted recluse, Yuki Katsuno, as well as local doctor, Ozaki & inquisitive priest Muroi, as they are slowly enveloped by a creeping dread that these deaths aren’t the work of some airborne infection.

No mystery here, and yet the atmosphere comes at you from frame one. The disconnect between these polar opposite feelings is at the heart of the problems that burden this vision of Ono’s popular book. For as at times beautiful as the imagery can be (from lush valleys of green, surrounded by seemingly endless arrays of mountains, to some truly chilling animated bursts), there are far too many elements of the absurd that punctuate matters with a lack of subtlety more fitting of a campy live-action art film. Somehow, when one mixes would-be EGL cuties lacking the wit to avoid the creepy castle up the hill, one becomes cloudy as to whether we are to buy into the horror, or just laugh at its absurdity. The central characters, for all of their posturing seem to lack any common sense, which does little to help matters as the body count begins mounting. And it is here, where perhaps this again reaches into realms of taste in regards to horror execution. When dealing with a mystery involving a body count, it is vital to ground us with those looking to solve the mystery. But when the show attempts to dazzle, and ignore the characters beyond mere type, the package becomes a blurry bore.

If the rest of the series’ world had embraced itself as fundamentally not ours, and perhaps had some fun with the proceedings, then maybe excitement could have have been mined from this project, but as it stands, the disconnect is huge as we are expected to take the village’s illogically slow comprehension of events as reasonable. It isn’t, and as such, the series seems to want the cake of kitsch, as well as the bloody cherry cheesecake for dinner. It’s this greedy angle that in many ways hurts the show beyond a cult audience.

While it must be looking to satisfy fringe fans of gothic horror, SHIKI does little to ingratiate itself beyond mere aesthetics (the hairdos & the stunt casting of pop conundrum, Gackt should be enough of a clue), which is a mild tragedy since it seems to have all the literary cards necessary to create a work that functions beyond mere novelty. I’d totally be down for some truly serious anime horror these days, so I guess it’s time to keep shopping the old school.

Moments after finishing the last few sentences, I come to realize that the anime is largely based on the 2007 manga adaptation by Ryu Fujisaki of Hoshin Engi fame. (well..that explains that…)

Both Hetalia: Axis Powers & Shiki can be seen on Hulu courtesy of Funimation!

Goddamned weak sauce season summer 2010

Why oh why am I writing like this again? Because my life sucks right now! XD Why is it when I know some smartass kid out there is going to use some internet term and patronize me and tell me that get the fuck over it? Because writing rant is fun and this century has managed to suck hairy balls EVERY SINGLE MOTHERFUCKING YEAR. Not anime-wise, thank ye gods, but life-wise and worldwise…

Ya, ya, back to summer 2010 season it is. All right, with a claymore in one hand and a can of Kirin in another, here we go.

Continue reading Goddamned weak sauce season summer 2010

The Gentlemen’s Alliance Cross – Tanemura ai!

Buy Gentlemen’s Alliance +, Vol. 1
by Arina Tanemura Published by Viz Media. 208 pages 2007. $8.99

Since I started to frequent a library in one of New York’s three library systems – my reading of Shoujo manga has increased. It is not to say that I don’t sample any type of manga – but there are more and more English translated graphic novels to tackle, and the library has more shoujo that catches my eye.

The plot in The Gentleman’s Alliance Cross, is quite interesting. Yanki girl who was sold off to repay a family’s loan, eventually catches the eye of the richest guy in her school. From there, she has to win the approval, win her love, and gain happiness. Does that catch you or what? It caught me.

The mangaka for The Gentleman’s Alliance Cross is Arina Tanemura, who’s has some previous works already released in English and released by Shoujo Beat. Time Strange Kyoko, Full Moon, ION.

Her dreams realized?

This gem of an image is from Volume 11, the final volume in the series,  and it reminds me so much of Tanemura’s earlier work of Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne, which is released in English, and currently out of print with the defunct CMX Press.

Within the series of The Gentleman’s Cross, Tanemura has some fantastic artist comments on the side. These are points that she made that I definitely found to be of interest.

  • She has an Japanese active blog.
  • This the first series, where she has drawn and interacted the most varied character in the cast, and trying to catch up with it, is a bit confusing – since some authors do draw character so similar to the point where you’re like “huh”…but it is fantastic shoujo representation. At least though, differentiating between characters is not as bad as trying to differentiate in Korean manhwa. The mangaka mentions that she gave a majority of the character the same surname, so that it won’t be so confusing to name.
  • She also made some of her viewpoints. Other than finding out that she is a pretty big gamer, I found out that this series is her response to the popular bl-fandom pairings – and she is not a bl-fan. So this series introduces her opinion as to what is the solution of bl-pairing. Cross-dress anyone?

So before I write way too much than readers can go on reading, and since my heart is positively giddy with the feelings of her work. Reasons why you would enjoy reading this series.

  • There’s an element of action drama, not just romance drama that saturates a lot of other shoujo manga.(*cough* I am not naming names… and no I did not review any of those mangaka – not on this blog yet…) This series also has angst. I was mentally bouncing up and down, as I saw Haine in yanki garb.
  • Want to see lots of lovely shoujo images, cute girls. Fashion fashion fashion!
  • Read a-likes for this series obviously are Baka To Test for the matter that there are specific hierarchy mentioned, and cross dressing characters. SA – for the fact that this is the student council, and everyone’s pretty filthy rich. I won’t really say that Ouran High School Host Club is also a read alike – but if you count the element of dark pasts, then yes.. that is also a read alike.  Shugo Chara is also a read alike – based on the fact that there is the mysterious element of characters in this series.
  • Love triangles fits for many shoujo series, so this one is not any other difference.
  • Want read a long yet not so long series. This series is done with 11 volumes.
Isn't she cute?

Any other points I missed? Read this title, if you definitely feel like reading a shoujo, and know that one is not is as frilly as everything else.