Wednesday, December 18, 2013

"The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya"

I recently bought the DVD/Blu-ray combo pack for "The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya."  It's getting a bit scarce to buy, so I decided to order it before it's some outrageous price on Amazon.  Kyoto Animation really hits a home run with this feature as part of the continuing story of Haruhi that began in the two television series.  I have not read the novels that the Haruhi television series is based upon.  I can forget the ugliness of watching the "Endless Eight" episodes in the second season after watching this movie.  It's beautifully animated and has a time-twisting plot that manages to make Kyon less of a whiny character.  It's sort of like "It's a Wonderful Life" from the point of view of one of Jimmy Stewart's friends.  The setting is at Christmas time which also fits with the "It's a Wonderful Life" feeling.  In fact, now is the perfect time to watch the movie, since it's set in the 10 days or so before Christmas. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

"Yowapeda" (or Yowamushi Pedal)

This is a refreshing sports series that has you cheering for the whole cycling team at Sohoku High School, especially freshman Onoda Sakamichi (the wide eyed guy above).  Onoda begins high school hoping to join the anime club to get some friends, but ends up joining the cycling team after discovering that after all his biking to Akihibara to buy anime goods, he has a real talent for bike racing.  It's a sports shonen show (i.e., lots of racing), but the real draw is seeing Onoda bloom into a racer and making friends, especially with Imaizumi and Naruko, two other talented freshmen.  Each show has lots of laughs and makes you smile.  Everyone is super earnest and it's fun to watch.  I'm up to episode 10 and each show has been great.  Looking forward to more.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

"Ando Lloyd - A.I. Knows Love?"

While reading Anime News Network, I came across a tidbit about a J-drama featuring Kimura Takuya called "Ando Lloyd - A.I. Knows Love?"  Thoughts of "Absolute Boyfriend" ran through my brain, so I looked into it.  It's currently airing now and I just watched the first episode.  It looks promising.  It's got a likable romantic couple and a science-fiction premise.  A genius scientist (Kimutaku) and his fiance (Shibasaki Ko) is targeted for murder.  He doesn't manage to dodge his murder but somehow, he has arranged for a Kimutaku-lookalike android to be his fiance's bodyguard.  Why they are being targeted and who is behind all these androids from the future is still unclear.  I have to watch the rest to find out.  It's nice to be interested in J-drama again.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

"Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood"

I've tried to watch this show a few times, but never got past a few episodes.  I think the idea of watching a long show like this was a bit daunting.  But I had some time off recently and thus decided to try it again.  I managed to watch the show on Netflix, reaching episode 52, thinking, wow how is this going to end so fast?  Then I realized there was another season of 12 episodes that Netflix doesn't carry.  I tried to watch on Hulu, but alas, I really hate Hulu (all the commercials) and I wasn't going to go the subtitle route (only subs available for last 12 eps) since I had already watched the 52 episodes on Netflix dubbed.  I broke down and got a Funimation elite subscription just to finish the series.  
There are two main plots.  Edward and Al try to bring back their mother from the dead using alchemy.  Of course it's a big fail and Al loses his body and Ed loses an arm and leg in the process.  Al's soul is trapped in suit of armor and Ed has to use prosthetic arm and leg.  They join the military as state alchemists in order to find a philosopher's stone which may help the regain their bodies.  In addition to Edward and Al looking to find the stone, there is also a compelling military and political storyline involving a decades-long plot for world domination.  I really enjoyed watching this complex and complete story.  The multiple characters, each of which has their own back story, are likable, even some of the bad guys. Edward, Al, Winry, Roy, Hawkeye, Alex, Olivier, and the evil crew of almost immortal homunculi were extremely well characterized.  The action scenes were well animated.  The alchemy battles were cool and sometimes even a bit horrifying (especially when Roy used his snap flame alchemy).  I liked how the state alchemists had ethical dilemmas in regards to their roles in the Ishvallan war.  The never-give-up attitude and bonds of friendship and family lay the moral foundation for this complete story.  The end actually has an end, thanks to the fact that it's based on a completed manga.  I also tried watching the first "Fullmetal Alchemist" but never finished that either.  I have read that it is also good and deviates from the manga unlike "Brotherhood" so I will try to watch it again sometime.  Thumbs up for the epic movie-ish background music and catchy opening and ending theme songs.  In conclusion, it's a compelling, entertaining, emotional action anime that I wholeheartedly recommend.  Will we ever see anything as ambitious and successful as this?  I hope so.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

"Shin Sekai Yori"

I had tried to watch the show while it was being simulcast, but never got past episode 3.  I just got bored with it.  After listening to a rather glowing review on an anime podcast, I decided to try it again.  I am glad I did.  I ended up doing a marathon watching of the rest of the 25 episodes.  Watching the show is incredibly suspenseful because the show is one big mystery that keeps you hooked till the end.  Throw in some likeable characters who aren't afraid to actually make decisions, some interesting time-skips, a mysterious world built around a tightly controlled dystopia where everyone is psychokinetic, mutant animals, missing children, acceptance of same sex pairings among adolescents, a true atmosphere of dread and horror, and a satisfactory conclusion, and you have a winner.  I think this type of show benefits from a marathon style watching because each episode usually ends on a cliffhanger and the maintenance of the tension is easier when shows are watched back to back.  This is based on a single novel which helps it avoid the open ended ending trap with a lot of anime.  There is a true feeling of horror sometimes which I rarely feel with anime.  It's a great drama/horror/mystery. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

"Castle in the Sky"

I've been meaning to watch this Miyazaki film for a while and I finally did.  I wasn't really expecting anything and I was pleasantly surprised.  I went on a Miyazaki binge and bought "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind," "My Neighbor Totoro," "Castle in the Sky" and "Whisper of the Heart."  All are new to me except for "Totoro" and I really enjoyed "Nausicaa" as well.  I have to admit I thought "Nausicca" dragged a little bit in the beginning for me, but "Castle in the Sky" kept me interested the entire time.   I think it's because the two main characters Sheeta and Pazu are so darn likable.  Both have a never say die attitude and are so capable they are even able to easily fit in with a pirate crew.  They are constantly on the run so I guess that's why the pace is good.  The art is beautiful and the same glorious semi-European fantasy land setting seemingly in most Ghibli movies is here as well.  The music was also very beautiful.  The ending was a bit predictable, but I guess there was no way around it given the environmental message of the movie.  I was surprised how the character of Dola evolved in the movie and I thought Cloris Leachman did a really good job with her voice acting for that character.  James Van Der Beek ( yes, Dawson) and Anna Paquin (remember the little girl in "The Piano"?) do pretty good jobs as the voice actors for Pazu and Sheeta.  I have only seen the dub version, but plan to watch the Japanese version with subs the next time I pop this into the PS3. 

"Attack on Dust"

Kudos to the maker.  So hilarious.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

"Free! Iwatobi Swim Club"

Detailed background... and more stripping.

(Puts on fujoshi goggles...)

Just realized background dudes are shirtless and wearing gas masks. LOL Kyoani
The notorious "Free!" anime has finally begun airing and... it's not just female fanservice, although it excels at it.  Just finished the second episode.  Best things about "Free!" are 1) Haru stripping constantly every time he sees a body of water 2) fluid animation and detailed backgrounds 3) has interesting story that is not just guys hanging around like "Kimi to Boku" (although I did like that show) 4) Haru stripping constantly every time he sees a body of water....whoops.  Anyway, Kyoani really has hit the mark with "manservice" and likeable characters and the nice, believable chemistry between them.  Looking forward to more.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

"Fate/ Stay Night"

After watching "Fate/Zero" streaming on Crunchyroll, I decided to watch "Fate/ Stay Night" which is the continuation of the story. I enjoyed "Zero" but was dissatisfied with the ending, mostly because I didn't really understand it. I thought watching "Stay Night" would clear some things up. It did a little bit. I bought the complete DVD set of "Stay Night" which consists of 3 discs. To be honest, getting through the first disc was a bit of a slog since it was bogged down in a high school setting and protagonist Shiro was not a compelling character. He just came off as a guy with a "hero complex" which he definitely had, but with no skills to back it up. Fortunately, he gains more abilities to back up his desire to fight the servants in the Holy Grail War. And he gets more personally involved due to his relationship to his servant Saber so I was more invested in the story. The one thing that bothers me is that I'm not why the Grail Wars keep going on after "Zero" since it seems that was and ending type situation. Does this mean there will be another War? I guess I'm just not up on the TYPE-MOON franchise since I have never played the visual novel. Favorite characters for me were Saber and Rin. It was interesting to see the child Rin turn into a strong willed and smart teenaged Rin who teaches Shiro everything about magic. I liked seeing a more emotional Saber. It was also interesting to see most of the servants return, but for a few exceptions. I enjoyed it, but "Zero" had a more complex story that mostly successfully interwove multiple story lines. Also, the animation for "Zero"by UFOTABLE was extremely well done, almost cinematic most of the time. It would be hard to match that. Overall, not as well done as "Zero" but has a simpler storyline that involved mainly Saber and Shiro that was easier to follow than the multiple story lines of "Zero." Grade: B

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Captain Harlock sets a date for his return - JAPANATOR

Captain Harlock sets a date for his return - JAPANATOR
I was pretty stoked to see Shun Oguri and Miura Haruma in these trailers. They just glower at each other but are really hot while doing so.
UPDATE:  Looks like this is an all CG movie which is disappointing.  I'd rather see my two guys in person.

Monday, April 8, 2013

"The Devil is a Part-Timer"

In search of a decent new show for the spring season, I stumbled upon the Funimation simulcast of "The Devil is a Part-Timer" with no expectations.  But it turned out to be one of the most funny episodes I've seen in a long time.  The Devil is big in Ente Isla (the magical place that he comes from), but is big only at his job at a fast food joint in Japan.  Satan and his sidekick Alciel are forced to flee to Earth, where magic is not commonplace and in order to live to fight another day and return to Ente Isla, they have to put food on the table and get a roof over their heads first.  The pair muddle through bureaucracy to get IDs and bank accounts.  The humor is deadpan and witty, even referencing the "Super Size Me" documentary.  The show is sort of like watching Darth Vader trying to eke out a living in Tokyo without the help of the Force.  That should be a show too.  Looking forward to more episodes.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Live-action "Library Wars" mini films

Got this from Anime News Network.  Really cute mini movie that is somehow related to the upcoming "Library Wars" live-action film based on the anime.

Friday, January 11, 2013

"Aim for the Ace!" movie

Hiromi and Ochoufujin...grrrrr.
The "Aim for the Ace!" movie from 1979 is the epitome of early shoujo anime.  Directed by Osamu Dezaki ("Onisama e," "Black Jack" OVAs), it's a sports anime that hits all the right notes for the shoujo genre including the incredibly great best friend, a little bit of romance, and a whole lot of bullying. Hiromi Oka is a 15 year old girl who is picked by the new high school tennis coach to be a regular on the team, even though she is a rank amateur.  She struggles mightily throughout the movie to prove that her coach right.  I have seen the first season of the TV series and enjoyed that as well.  The movie pretty much covers the meat of the series which is Hiromi learning to love tennis and training like hell (which includes getting hit repeatedly by tennis balls and falling on the ground while missing the shot.)  I really like the Dezaki-style of over the top freeze frames of harsh line drawings of people doing an action move while not really moving much at all.  It's all so dramatic.  Hiromi is a likeable heroine who doesn't give up and manages to seem like a normal teenager eating out and playing at the video arcade after school.  The end was actually a surprisingly sentimental twist that left me a bit teary eyed.  Why isn't there more anime like this anymore?  Recommended.