Magical Girl Madoka 6 and 7 make me want my Sailor Moon back

Oh wow…

I mean, I’ve waited long enough for the show to grab me, to bite me, or to tell me “you don’t like me? Bite me.” Finally, the emotional intricacy is played out. The bitter consequences, which may remind some people about a certain mecha show and the bitter consequences of being a pilot in that show (No, I’m definitely NOT talking about Eva), really hit where it hurts. Though, I still have some reservations. For me, the childish drawings of the characters really detracts from the experience, when in fact, it’s suppose to add to it.

That said, man, these two episodes really packed an one-two punch. Anyone else out there think Qubei is THE DEVIL? To all of us, it’s now obvious Qubei is NOT even remotely the good guy here. Shimuzu Ai’s Qubei is innocent, cute, deceitfully harmless, but its apparent lack of any sympathy for the human condition really sends awful chills up my spine.

Once again, I totally missed what the beautiful images of this show conveys. It’s my loss. But for me, the acting and the trickery plus the hubris (ha ha, misusing a big word) make up for the experience.

But you know, the little girl inside me screams: “Mommy! Mommy! I want Sailor Moon back!”

Where is the pure belief in love and justice? Where have all the Sailor Soliders gone?

I mean, the zeigeist indicates bitterness, distrust and misplaced loyalties, as well as deceit and lies. But man, even the purest of the pure genres has now fallen under this negativity and distrust. It does make a great show, but it makes an old guy from the 80’s and 90’s sad.

The show did pick up for me, and that’s all that matters. The soundtrack remains perfect. My bottomline? Only now, it’s starting to be a worthy watch.

Dengeki Daisy: trust and temptation of an unlikely relationship.

Dengeki Daisy
Story and Art by Kyousuke Motomi
Published by Viz Media. 192 pages. 2010. $9.99

There must be a low tolerance level to reading about the actions of a puny A-cup High School Girl and a lolicon delinquent custodian in this Daddy Longlegs-esque story. There is certainly chemistry in this highly unlikely pairing. Really, I honestly swear. I definitely want to read more, beyond the three volumes I just recently consumed. There are five more volumes available so far in Japanese.

Teru is a scholarship high school that is left alone with her brother’s death. Sure there’s a unique gang of friends who looks out for her, but she relies more on the attentions of a secret person known to her as Daisy. What is unknown to her is that Daisy is in fact very close to her. Daisy is in the form of a Kurosaki, who is determined to overwork Teru, on the basics of treating her like a servant. If you think that tsundere was a anime female characterstic, how about try it for a male character, what do they call those types anyway?

I was mostly cracking up to the insane expressions that Teru or Kurosaki gets when things don’t go their way. In spite of how much I don’t mind the funny moments of this story, sometimes the actions of Kurosaki does make me want to strangle him if he was alive. He won’t reveal his identity to Teru, and in these emo moments he reflects on an unspoken and not revealed yet reason as why he doesn’t openly confess his feelings.  Yet with all these emotional tormented scenes, (sighs) the parts when Kurosaki rescues Teru, or reveals a part of himself to her, my heart goes pitter patter.

For probably reading similarities, for a type of servant commanding apect, Zombie Loan is a good fit. For the protector and unspoken role, Wild Ones would be a similar read. For the dead brother, and age gap aspect, Loveless is also another similar read.

Poor Teru!

Happy Cafe: Light hearted story about yet another dense lead

Happy Cafe
Story and Art by Kou Matsuzuki
Published by Tokyopop. 192 pages. 2009. $10.99

Easily one of the things I notice about this series is the covers for each of the volumes, and then when you look at the page under the cover, you’ll probably laugh as I did. Because for every serious pose there is on the cover. There’s always a funny NG or parody of the main cover image on the insert page. I noticed the same exact treatment within the pages of Wild Ones. Another similar point  to make about the cover page is the fact that there is always three characters.

Happy Cafe is another shoujo title that I have been reading. It looks to be finished at 15 volumes, so English once again has some catch up to do. I have only read up to volume six so far. Now Uru is a high school student who gets mistaken to be a child a lot, because of her short statue. She is also very very strong, and very determined to not be in the way of her mother’s happiness. She gets hired to work at the Cafe Bonheur, where at the first volume, she meets two guys Shindo who is the unsmiling patisserie chef, and Ichiro, her co-worker who falls asleep when he’s hungry.

Despite her appearance and personality, she attracts nearly every single guy around her. I am pretty interested in seeing who Uru ends up with. Somehow the main pairing seems to be Shindo and Uru, since they won’t talk about their feelings for one another, but somehow into the mix gets thrown in Ichiro and a lot of other shoujo type-supporting characters.

If you want to read any other similar titles, for the dense and unassuming female lead check out Haruhana by by Yuana Kazumi. For the bakery setting read Antique Bakery by Fumi Yoshinaga. Working as an anime series, should be the most similar pair for this type of book title.

Cacophony To Valentine’s Day

Continue reading Cacophony To Valentine’s Day

Asides: Valentines Day & Otaku – Some Tips On What NOT To Do

SERIOUSLY

Initially, I was planning on posting a new edition of my long neglected Otaple Talk column, when I realized, that I hadn’t really shared anything regarding the dating game outside of what commercial interests would rather have us buy into. With that notion implated deep, perhaps it’s time to go ahead and share some ideas with those of you interested in a certain someone, and looking to make the weekend special. This applies to already established others, as well as those new to our lives. Many of us have had that moment where it feels like a good possibility to take the risk and just go for it. There already seems to be attraction in the air, and perhaps dating doesn’t seem like too much of an impossibility. It happens to anime/manga fans as much as anyone else, so here is a chance to share some tips on the subject for those looking for a little help.

So..in the name of discretion, here is a list of things that should NEVER happen. (unless they’re into that sort of thing..)

Many of these may seem obvious, yet over time, it has occurred to me that a little restating never hurts. So here goes!

5. Boring Dates.

Seriously, folks. This is among the most rudimentary things those setting out to date, even folks of a similar ilk. Whether your other is a fun-loving fujyoshi, or an AKB48 fan, you would do well to be inventive with where you go. There is simply no excuse to take your date out to yet another Taco Bell adventure. And it doesn’t have to be Japan pop culture centric either. There are plenty of things two can do that don’t involve exorbitant amounts of money, and travel. Growing up in a semi-rural area has given this writer a need to be a little more vigilant in looking for dating activities, and among the more fun ones I can share is to create projects to work on, or even investigating local libraries for cool stuff to do. Whether it be a museum trip, zoo trip, or even a trip to investigate local lore, there is always something to help one better enjoy their time, and in turn learn more about the other party. The point here is that you are here for THEM, and not merely your mutual hobby/ies. There’ll always be time for this, and one needs to truly test the waters without too much familiarity to bog things down. Again, this is about people, and not types. So get out, and get to know each other already!

4. No eCards, or Pre-Made Valentine Cards

Don’t trap yourself with this one. No matter how much grade school made it sound fun, this never was that fun to begin with. If you have sometime to say to your intended, please do so with something you made yourself, or by way of inviting them to something they never may have expected. All that comes to mind regarding this is the uneaten candy, and space-hogging amounts of cardboard and paper material taking up closet space. It is simply wasteful, and borderline callous in times like this. Besides, as a piece of commercialized material, it simply won’t do for those of us who were attracted to our hobby for it’s occasional breaks from the norm. There is no substitute for a creation of your own, or a gesture that last longer than a vase of flowers. And for crap’s sake, avoid the balloons.

3. Invite your friends over, or along with you.

Seriously. No. Do not ever allow this to become an option. As much as we love to have additional company around from time to time, the simple fact remains that this is about the two of you. Seriously. Dates, or dating activity are defined by actually spending time with the other which is the very simple definition of a DATE. A cordoned section of time dedicated to two individuals in the hopes of getting to know one another. And NO, this does not exclude dates involving walking a pet. If two are animal lovers, this may very well be a great opportunity. But to have any of your other pals around as “confidence”…Not a good sign in any respect. There may be time for pals at another juncture, but in the name of potentially advancing your relationships, DO NOT EVEN CONSIDER.

2.Get him/her another anime title as a V-Day gift.

For pete’s sake, I cannot stress this more. Especially when one can find out about these things with a minimum of effort. Subcultures can be a hotbed of easy buttons to push, and with anime this is no exception. Whether it be via a manga, or a DVD, activity like this can happen just about any day of the year, and with no real trial. So in the name of making your feelings stand out, please refrain from facile, uncreative solutions such as these. After all, isn’t the point of all this about how one singles out another from the entire pack?Man/Woman up, and make the time you have count by doing your homework! They deserve it, right?

Which leads me to the last tip, and main point of this entire post:

1. Allow Yourselves To Be Defined By Your Mutual Hobby

This is the core of it all folks. There is a great deal more going on between each of us that somehow gets marginalized when talking about the things we like, or the things that inspire us. And there are frankly so many other things out there that grant us the spark to seek out good company with others. And one of the great assets to meeting a fellow mind/heart is that they have ideas and loves that may be new to you. There is as much to be learned about yourself, as well as them through good dating discourse. But it all depends on where one is willing to go with all of it. Which is why it is so important to open one’s mind beyond the obvious to make a date or dating work out. Hobbies such as anime and manga are merely a touch point, an entry drug by which we find mutual means of connection. But there’s only so much this particular well can support what happens from that point on. Personalities are such the complex thing, and having a battery of new ideas and experiences can help bring this out of both parties. And a wheel like a relationship between two people can stop if noone chooses to take action. So make your meetings count, by taking that best leap forward with your best true self. Because in the grander scheme of things, this is all about you and the other, much less what you physically collect.

There is a great amount one can learn just by experiencing alongside someone else, so take advantage of this, and step outside the comfort zone with this person. Now that’s a true test of compatibility right there!

Try it. You might like it!

Dragon Crisis 5 moves me

OK. I’m a sucker for stories about saving Christians and facing trials. I’m particularly weak against a show having Kugyu and a man who complains “why God, must I face such trial?”

That hits close to home, except the “having Kugyu” part, unforunately. I mean, if Kugimiya Rie is close to MY HOME, damn I’d be happy! XD

It’s Rose’s (played by Rie) performance that balances it all out. Without having her as the heroine, the aforementioned confession would seem rather bland and uninteresting. Rie can really play innocent and emotional. She’s got a great range.

The series really started out OK. Like I said, I had to constantly remind myself that my favorite voice actress is in it, otherwise, I’d just yawn and shut it off. In this story arc, they even have Hoc-chan (Horie Yui) playing the Princess of the White Dragons. That’s two expert female voice actresses holding the show up. Honestly, and I know a certain staff member (who will remain anonymous) will hate me, but I’ve never found Yui all that interesting as a voice actress. I remember her most from Love Hina, which is an oooooooooold show. I dunno, her style and voice just don’t move me. But Rie really does her best and saves the show for me.

Rose is the only “person” in the story arc that figured out the real issue, or non-issue behind it all, and she is not afraid to confront George, the priest, about it. That’s why it moves me.

Bottomline: It’s Rie’s acting skills that makes the show fun. Of course, twintails and Kugyu voice kick everything up a few notches for fans of her.

Freezing 05 makes me go woohoo!

You know, there are moments where I wish I could do more than one pistol salute per 15 minutes in real life… Wha, didn’t you know I’m super stud in 2 1/2 D world? XD But good night, this show delivers the boobs goods every time! XD And the best part is…it’s Hanazawa Kana-chan as Rana! Woo~hoo~!

(Whoa. Watch that leak there, buddy.)

Sorry about that…XD In any event, sex and violence continues in this episode where the 2nd grade losers decide to have their revenge on the friends of Sawako from Kimi no Todoke Satellizer. And boy do they go at it! XD

(Stop grinning…it’s disgusting)

Oh, sorry again. But man, you know, I’m like an old fart and stuff, so squeaky clean campus love drama don’t really interest me any more…

(is that why you yelled in frustration watching Kimi no Todoke season 2 episode 2?)

Uh…Anyway, So I didn’t know that girls from Tibet can be that cute in anime. And the best thing is that they speak Japanese, wrap their loins in cloths, and kicks some serious ass!

(Oh, I remember what you said to Kazehaya ON SCREEN: “Shut up! Turn around! Think again! And then speak what you really think…”)

O K, now you have to die.

In any event, now I’ve played out the Golum/ADD/ADHD joke, let’s get to the bottomline.

Bottomline: it’s fun, sexy, violence, with plenty of ultra fan service only topped by QB and Kanokon, but also loses to Seikon no Qwaser uncensored version (milky bath has never been so up close and personal before – NOT a good thing). It’s my cup of tea.

Time to go back to warming up that pistol…XD

Ultimo: crossovers should or shouldn’t be this extreme?

Karakuri Doji ULTIMO
Written by Hiroyuki Takei & Stan Lee and drawn by Hiroyuki Takei
Published by Viz Media. 216 pages. 2010. $9.99.

I read this series, not just because it is a crossover between comic legend Stan Lee, and Hiroyuki Take (mangaka of Shamen King). I read this to just experience if English comic/collaboration crosses over well into manga. Reading this type of manga is just as what Ray is doing with watching the Japanese adaptations of Iron Man and Wolverine. Difference is that, Ultimo is a new and original collaboration. There is currently five volumes in Japanese for this ongoing series, and three volumes with fourth book coming out March in English.

The plot premises of Ultimo is on the question of which is more stronger, good or evil? Dunstan, a scientist/doctor creates two powerful dolls (Ultimo/Vice) that personifies good and evil. They are to be locked in an eternal battle that can annihilate worlds around them. They listen and bond with one human master, and from there learn what makes the world tick for better or worse. (Warning for lots of rather obvious shota moments.) Ultimo bonds with Yamato, a reincarnated bandit who for better or worse is the main human character in this one. Talk about a dense male lead.

My opinion, from the three volumes I have read, is being provided with a quick superficial entertainment for the most part. I am reminded of flipping through Chinese wuxia manga. Especially during the action battle scenes, scenes are depicted with extreme/epic graphic/text. Also do check out images of Dunstan, who is obviously modeled after Stan Lee.  Then again there are photo of Mr. Lee himself wearing a white spider print yukata.

This series I definitely wouldn’t want to have on my bookshelf, but for a one time read then it is good. If the franchise is successful enough, then I definitely wouldn’t be surprise if they adapt this into an animation series. This type of story has enough action scenes that would entertain fans of Bleach, Yugioh, or even  Gurren Laggen.

What happens when a doll goes near the deep end.

Durarara!! A DVD Review!

In a city where everything and everyone appears to be linked by an odd series of seemingly “unconnected” circumstances, Mikado Ryugamine is the new kid on the block.  Having just moved to Ikebukuro, Tokyo, at the invitation of his best friend Masaomi Kida, Mikado observes things he never imagined in his wildest dreams.  He learns first hand that life in the big city is as exciting as it is treacherous, whether it be learning the origins of the mysterious gang known only as “The Dollars,” or trying to stay out of the way of some of Ikebukuro’s more undesirable characters, such as the sinister information broker Izaya Orihara.   And to top it all off, on his first night in the city he catches glimpse of the “urban legend” known as the Headless Rider, a supposedly headless driver of a black motorcycle that zooms around the streets of the Ikebukuro.

Now I know that doesn’t really sound like much of a conventional plot summary, and that is intentional because Durarara!! is probably one of the most unconventional anime I have ever seen.  It’s an anime that focuses more (at least in the beginning) on its characters than it does on an overarching plot.  It relies completely on these unique characters to hook the audience, draw them in, and make them stick around long enough for the plot to get moving, which in all honesty takes a bit longer than it probably should.  As an example, the screener disc I received contained the first five episodes and barely touched on what exactly was going on with the story.  Luckily, the aforementioned characters do their job very well.  In fact there are a few of which that are so completely enchanting that they successfully carry this show by themselves till the plot gets cranking.  Not the least of which is The Headless Rider herself, Celty Sturluson, whose story is easily the most interesting of all the characters.

Because this show lives and dies on whether or not you like the cast of characters, it’s a good thing the design and style of the show are also way above par.  The character designs and the animation are simple, sharp, yet fluid and fit the tone of the show perfectly.  Additionally, the city of Ikebukuro itself feels like an active, living breathing entity through the fantastic animation.   This is absolutely necessary as the city connects all the characters together through a series of chance encounters and shared acquaintances.

Durarara!! also has one of the strongest dub casts I have seen in a long time.  Nearly every big name English anime voice actor has a part in this show.  Johnny Yong Bosch ( Trigun, Bleach), Steven Blum (Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Shamploo) Kari Walhgren (FLCL, Lucky Star), Yuri Lowenthal (Afro Samurai, Gurren Lagann), Michelle Ruff (Gurren Lagann, Ai Yori Aoshi) and Crispin Freeman  (Hellsing, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya) just to name a few.   Every single one of these performances is fantastic.  They bring so much life and personality to their rolls, you might just forget that this show was originally in Japanese.  The show also has probably some of most unique and interesting music any anime has had in quite a long time.  The opening and closing songs alone would be worth buying the soundtrack for.

That’s not to say that Durarara!! is without flaw.  It does start slow, and of all the characters in the show, the main character Mikado is probably the LEAST interesting.   His story doesn’t really get going until the end of the first story arc which is about 10 episodes in.   Also, the show has a bit of ADD and throws a lot at you in the first few episodes introducing the huge cast of characters.  But these are minor quibbles as you will eventually become too engrossed with what is happening to notice.

Simply put, Durarara!! is a ton of fun and infinitely re-watchable.  There really is so much going on in this show and it all ties together in a neat little knot.  On multiple viewings you will catch things you didn’t notice the first time through and then you will rewind it to check and see what else you missed.   Throw in a stellar cast and you have one of the first truly great anime releases to come out in a very long time.

Story – 5  Visual/Anime Quality – 5 Audio/Subs – 5   Extras/Packaging – Not Reviewed

OVERALL – 5 stars out of 5

Durarara Review — English Dub
First 5 episodes
Aniplex
Released January 25th 2011
http://www.durararausa.com