El Cazador 21 – You know, they could’ve used more episodes like this one!

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nicely-animated-flowers.jpglilio-is-smarter.jpgOops!

OK, so this show doesn’t have a lot of gun fights despite showing so many of it in the OP and ED sequences. Also, there are a lot of fillers in which the only thing I see are Nadie’s incompetence and some silliness that just seem out of place to me. But remember back a few episodes ago I kind of raised my score for one episode of this show? Well, here’s another episode that will get more praises from me.

Finally, the council gets impatient (about time), and the Chairwoman orders Jody to go on a mission personally. The mission is to snipe Nadie, and then bring Elis back.

Jody smartly assessed the reason why the Chairwoman asks her to go on the mission personally. Off she goes to kill Nadie.

However, here’s where the seemingly pointless-as-usual minor plot comes (this is starting to feel like these side quests in Final Fantasy series).

Nadie and Elis are tricked by this bald old dude who gets them to trying to catch a vulture for him. Once again, they’re idiots. I mean, both of them can just drive away but they don’t. I thought they were trying to catch some food! But wait, there’s a reason for their stupidity this time, playing this “catch the vulture” game.

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ready.jpgchisai-no-fan-service.jpgThe idiot dance

However, what this “game” serves is to tell me that Elis wants to be free, which is not exactly new. What the game ends up doing is inspiring Jody to be free of the organization.

What I don’t quite like about this “game” is that it occupied most of the episode in order to unfold that one revelation.

One thing we learn aside from the game is that LA actually doesn’t kill anybody this time around (gasp)! And he bought flowers from a probably poor young flower girl! What the…?

Well, I guess he’s an Otaku (obsessed with Elis and not Anime) at heart. No Otaku wants to hurt women (see Nadeshico for Otaku’s attitude on women). XD

In any case, Ricardo and Lilio show up (gee, what a shocking surprise). Doug talks about freedom, and Jody makes the important decision about her path.

It all sounds so simple but this episode unfold the drama rather nicely, it’s just it took some time to get there. So,

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84% recommended for your daily anime diet. Even just for one episode.

Mononoke 1-4 – The lovechild of Mushishi and Gankutsuo on acid peddled by an old Japanese medicine vendor.

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Mononoke is a slightly more bizarre version of Mushishi based on traditional Japanese stories and with Gankutsuou-like visuals. We follow a mysterious character known only as the Medicine Seller around as he travels around feudal Japan uncovering tortured ghosts and putting them to rest. Each story plays out very much as a detective mystery, with the Medicine Seller searching for a ghost’s (Ayakashi) “Form, Truth, and Regret” in order to defeat it. Most of each episode is given over to how the ghost died, why it continues to kill, and how to appease it. While the “twist” is slightly obvious from the initial setup of each story, it’s still interesting watching the Medicine Seller work through the riddle and draw out the sad tale within.

Freaky 1

Freaky 2

The visual style is superbly executed, with bright, garish, varied colors everywhere. Seeing as these are traditional Japanese ghost stories, there are some very freaky visuals: faceless geisha, deformed ghost children, or gruesome dead skeleton animals. The character design is a bit odd, eccentric in appearance, and at times I was reminded of Aeon Flux. Scenes look like illustrations from a children’s book or a colorful ukiyo-e print. They may have been going for the latter effect, as all the images have a rough paper texture to them. As much as it’s the same illustration technique from Gankutsuo, it’s thoroughly unique.

CardsKabuki Framing

There are four episodes out to the series so far, two stories altogether. Each story is framed as a Kabuki play. The traditional Okawa drum is heard occasionally, scenes are often opened or ended with a wooden screen displaying the name of the story, and the Medicine Seller’s recaps sound convincingly like something one might hear coming back to their seat at the end of intermission.

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Mononoke combines aspects of two series I love, Mushishi and Gankutsuo, and traditional Japanese folk stories, however it doesn’t quite sit right with me. The horror facet of it is not frightening (certainly nowhere near something like Higurashi no Naku Koro ni or Shigurui) but combined with the riotous colors and the bizarre character designs, the tone of the show is a bit frenetic. With its story I cannot help but compare Mononoke to Mushishi and the seductive quality of its subtle, languorous storytelling that felt like stepping into a heady dream. On the whole Mononoke is a well-made series, one of the better ones out this season, but I’ll follow it casually and see if I warm up to its odd tone.

Ringtone from Mikuru’s song.

Let us say it together Mi…mi…mi…Mikuru beeeeaamu!

Claymore 21 – the true face and the true strength of Evil.

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It is hopeless.

What once was fool’s hope, has now turned into blood pool. The Blood pool of your comrades-in-arms.

There is no kindness left.

What once was kindness has turned to veiled malice toward a fellow human being.

Even after reading the spoilers I was shocked at the intensity of this episode. It was hard to grasp what I wanted to say, especially after seeing Jeane dying going after a demon god. That traumatizing agony of seeing a loyal warrior, a great companion, an honorable soldier perishing so easily at the hands of the top henchman of the Evil in the North.

(Tears and anguish were pretty appropriate.)

Continue reading

The Vault 02: Bubblegum Crisis OAV

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Explanation of the Vault series

Originally published on March 17, 2003. At one point, I sought to review everything I read, watched, and listened to, and did so via short reviews–first paragraph summary, second paragraph analysis/review. This is an example of one of my short reviews.

an Artmic/AIC production (1987-1990), 8 episodes

In post-apocalypse Mega Tokyo (just how many times has Tokyo been demolished and then rebuilt in anime?), the GENOM Corporation manufactures intelligent androids called “Boomers.” They were instrumental in the rebuilding of the city after the earthquake, but sometimes they get a little malicious and destructive . . . and the bumbling AD Police, the force assigned to stop rogue Boomers, usually can’t stop them. But the Knight Sabers–a mercenary group of four young women in advanced hardsuits–can. Led by briliant leader Sylia Stingray, the team battles errant Boomers and unveil some of the more sinister projects and conspiracies going on beneath the giant ediface of GENOM and its imposing tower.

This is the original OAV series, which has inspired several knockoffs (Bubblegum Crash, AD Police Force, and most recently Bubblegum Crisis 2040). On the surface, it doesn’t seem like a terribly original anime–”women in sexy uniforms stop malfunctioning and malicious robots” is what the plotline often boils down to–but there’s some attention to detail and storyline that sets it apart from the crowd. There are, for one, the Blade Runner references and homages–it’s pretty clear from the very first episode that this is really a homage to that great Ridley Scott film by the animators. Second is the animation quality–dated, perhaps, by current standards, but very high quality for its day. The action scenes are still quite well-directed, though so many animes have taken after BGC and stolen designs, concepts, and other aspects enough that watching it now makes it seem very familiar, much like reading quotes from Shakespeare that have now become cliches. As far as story and character go, the notable episodes are 5, 6, and 7, all which deal with some difficult decisions that the characters have to face. There’s some basic emotional resonance there absent from the rest of the series, which are otherwise run-of-the-mill action plots. Characterization-wise, most of the main girls fall into well-known “types” one finds in action films and anime, so there’s nothing to write home about in particular. Now, of course, one can’t talk about BGC without mentioning the music, which is for the most part top-notch, then-state-of-the-art-produced 80s J-pop. The melodies are better developed than most of the dreck that topped the charts in that decade, though age has inevitably made some tunes sound rather “cheesy.” But the music always fits the action on screen, and the DVD set includes some decent music videos for the songs (the non-live action ones, that is. The live concert videos, alas, are incredibly embarassing to watch now). BGC has, ultimately, become a classic and is well worth watching to examine the roots of many current anime tropes. You won’t watch it to be emotionally involved or intellectually provoked, but it’s lost little of its charm and fun over the years.


Michael is on hiatus for the remainder of August. The Vault series resurrects entries from his personal blog about anime, written from 2002-2006. Entries will appear in the series every other day.

Moetan 7 – some plot improvement and more anime reference.

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Anime references in shows that try to be funny aren’t new these days. Still, Moetan makes fun of the maho shojo stereotypes. But you know what? I think its selling points are still the delightful moe moe loli girls, and that awful English. Oh, and don’t forget the little detective Conan work and some love lost.

We see school festival, we see the newest idol sensation Alice-chan, and then we see theBunny Girl Alice. Gee, if the show made fun of the fact that maho shojo don’t really look different from before, then tell me why Ink-chan and Sumi-chan just can’t seem to figure out that Alice-chan is Bunny Maho Shojo Alice?

Ark-kun finally manages to do something truly smart – he figures out Alice’s tricks based on how well he knows Ink (damn, Ink knows he’s ecchi, but she keeps him inside her room anyways, huh).

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Beyond that, the usual stuff are there. Ink’s transformation (covered, damnit!), Sumi plays the friend who pretends to dislike Ink. The two adventures inside the school grounds and solve some puzzles, all of which really has something to do with how Alice feels about Ark-kun when he was a handsome magician, and she was a beautiful female magician – not a loli type. Or at least that’s what it looks like.

For the “awesome” English “lesson” at the end, just see the episode yourself. However, to save yourself sometime rather than watching this show – if that’s what you want, then go get a copy of the Moetan English book. This show is great for what it is – kind of an parody of other anime, and kind of a English based parody making fun of all stereotypes in the anime related world, but for anyone who’s new to anime this may prove to be rather dull and uninspired.

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71% to 86% recommend for your daily anime diet depending on your tastes.

Lucky Star 20 – talking about things I did as an Otaku living in Japan.

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It’s rather difficult for me to review Lucky Star, because unlike Claymore, it’s really talking about nothing, sometimes about Otaku-nothings. But anyway, finally something I can actually post something about.

In Japan, when I buy figurines at that small city (Fukuyama for anyone who cares to know), I used to just stare at them intensely and trust my instincts – which are pretty good, and I used to not get a lot of repeats. But then, I started getting some repeats. So what could I do?

I remember going to a fairly close bigger city (Okayama), and seeing some glass-wearing, greasy guy with a pony tail shaking the boxes, before he finally settling on one box and then it just clicked for me! Shaking the boxes can help determine the content!

When I went to Animate in Akiba, I saw a sign that made me laugh. The sign translates in English roughly said: Do not shake the boxes to determine the contents or we might ask you to leave (at least I know the first part of my translation is correct).

It was fun to see Konata talking about it in this episode. So that’s why when I went to some stores in bigger cities in Japan I see there are boxes taken in random order and not one next to each other. It’s like someone picked and chose.

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It was shocking to hear that she said some people can even do the “shaking” method with collectible cards…O____o that’s scary….

Other parts of the episode have usual banter and fun. There’s a little discussion about how Otaku men often wish to find Otaku women (very true), but it doesn’t seem like Otaku women want to find Otaku men (because women are plain picky and often demands more dream-like qualities XD). I really like the Fist of the North Star reference, because I grow up in the 80′s as a kid. More Japanese specific humor follows.

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A blatant Haruhi promotional fanservice…I mean a Haruhi “commerical” is placed in it, and I was reminded that one of the bloggers on animeblogger.net said that Lucky Star is like an informerical for Haruhi. Sometimes that just seems so true. In the lucky channel of this episode, Koizumi from Haurhi, shows up and plays as himself for a few-second role.

At the end, Hirashi goes crazy again and plays a cheerleader this time with pon-pons. I don’t find him funny anymore; I think he’s rather annoying.

Other things I did as an Otaku in Japan (that Konata talked about) – buying the second book of the stack even though the first one looks perfectly nice and clean. Buying a lot of a certain kind of food products to collect a certain item (I already forgot what it is and I had to throw the stupid things away 2 years ago because I moved to Taiwan), buying a manga/book/magazine just because of the little figuring that it gives (often sucks).

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Anyway, as a comedy, so far I don’t favor this over Azumanga Daioh, and also a lot of references in this show are still beyond my grasp simply because I’m American and not Japanese. However, I love this show fir its specific brand of quirkiness. To try to give this a fair rating, I’d say:

88% recommended for your daily anime diet. I added 6 points for the work of the seiyuus. This show is not medicre, but without these people voice acting and without its Otaku references, I would not find it funny at all.

P.S. Still reading? YOU ARE ALREADY DEAD! XD

P.S. No you’re not. That was the First of North Star reference.

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Potemayo – a cool dad most Japanese boy would kill to have and gay cheerleaders on parade.

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HAHAHAHA!Sunao has a dad who’s childish, funny, and not like that sorry-ass dead seriousness that most Asian fathers have (I’m Asian-American, btw). He’s more like an American dad in many ways. He tries to play with our Boy Serious when he comes back; he gets silly souvenirs like the dead bull’s face as a mask (did he go to El Cazador’s world? Just kidding), he pretend to act just like Potemayo and shakes his ass (ugh. But I found it funny anyways), and he always tries to get his up tight-ass son to relax, even if his son kicks his ass a little (or a lot). Cool dad!

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Another fun thing or gross thing is that Mudo and all these men dress up in cheerleader uniforms and skanking instead of in the traditional Japanese macho men for parade costumes. Mudo’s big friend is totally filming all these and checking him out…friggin’ gay as hell but funny. The big friend says: “Mutan (instead of Mudo), you’re shining. You’re shining brightly, Mutan!” He says this among the midst of horrified crowd. Then he says: “Mutan, I think I really do…(wanna make sweet love to you like what they do in a yaoi manga?)” What’s even funnier is that afterwards, Mikan and Kyo just get so traumatized that they can’t move a muscle. Then the four starts to walk and Kyo says: “That was something I wouldn’t see in my dreams…” Wet dreams? I guess not because Kyo is not a yaoi fan girl. Ooooh…

Then Potemayo gets into trouble for not realizing what’s what. She gets taken by some girl by force and Sunao just says with his super dead pan face: “oh…”

Dude, that yellow bird is scary as hell…Oh, and don’t forget the water yoyo that Potemayo got as a price kicking her ass…

what can I say? Turn your brain off when watching this show with some liquor or beer, or around 3 AM, and chances are, you’ll laugh.

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69% recommended for your daily anime diet. especially for people who kind of understand or realizes the Japanese mindset. After getting this outta way, now I can give that good review when episode 21 of Claymore finally comes out…

The Vault 01: Serial Experiments Lain–The Digital Word Made Flesh

Explanation of the Vault series

The Digital Word Made Flesh

Serial Experiments: Lain
Directed by Ryutaro Nakamura
Character Design by Yoshitoshi ABe
Animated by Triangle Staff
Music by Reiichi “CHABO” Nakaido
13 episodes.
1998

New Aether Chronicle Film/Anime Review #001
June 20, 2002
reviewed by Michael Huang
Rating: 5/5

Plot Summary
Lain Iwakura is an odd 14 year-old girl. She is very quiet, has a seemingly indifferent family, and is unnoticed by the other girls at school. One day, she receives an e-mail from another girl, Chisa Yomoda. The strange thing about it is that Chisa killed herself one week ago– and the e-mail states “I am not dead. I am alive, in the Wired, where there is no need for a body. Here, God exists.”

From this point forward, Lain is drawn into the virtual-reality world of the Wired, a futuristic version of the present-day Internet. As she discovers more about her true identity, numerous existential issues are raised: who is Lain? Why does she seem to have such enormous power in the Wired? Are bodies necessary if we can exist without flesh? How is it that human beings even exist? And, who is God?

Continue reading

A potential bad ending to Claymore?

If you already knew about this and are screaming bloody murder, you’re not the only one. But it seems like from the Newtype magazine Japan, that Madhouse will come up with an ending to Claymore. From what I’ve read on the “Claymore Fans” Live Journal site, I don’t know if this will turn into a bad ending (all the commenters basically said “yes it will”), but again from what I’ve read and “in my worse nightmares” that seems to be a distinctive possibility now. I’ll provide you with the link next but be warned, read from the top very slowly if you don’t want to be spoiled – the author said do not click the cut in capital letters but I didn’t see the cut button anywhere (stupid browser) and I read it. I’m just issuing a warning, that’s all. Anyway read slowly if you don’t want to know what’s coming up in episode 23. Source: http://community.livejournal.com/claymore_fans/37815.html

 

If you want to see the Japanese Newtype page where everything from episode 20 to 23 is listed in Japanese: http://pc.webnt.jp/anime/detail0023100807.html

 

So there’s a reason to read the manga and see the story unfold as the author intended. Strangely, this event kind of reminds me of Lord of the Rings – the books VS the movies.

 

HERE’S a minor SPOILER for Lord of the Rings movie 3 :

 

Gandolf’s staff gets broken by the King of Wraiths.

 

End SPOILER.

 

Let’s hope at least they know how to end the show OK.

We apologize on the behalf of our spam catcher – we have already shove 3 Gigaslaves up its ass.

Hi everyone:

It seems like our faithful spam catcher, Akismet, which is an awesome spam catcher despite its flaws, have made some mistakes and marked some good and great comments from some of our faithful readers as spam. After threatening HAL…I mean Akismet with firing at it with the Buster Rifle, the Spirit Gun, the Pirate Cutlass custom beretta, the anti-Akuma beam gun from Alan’s arm, the Gigaslave, and the Moon Gorgeous meditation (beam…energy…or whatever it is), it finally promised to do better next time.

Seriously. I’m a theta geek and I have no idea why it did that. But we apologize for the mistake. Sorry, Miina-sama!

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