Saturday, September 25, 2010

The good, the average and the atrocious, August 2010

So, when the month of september is almost coming to an end, let me present to you the first post of the month, the all-known good-average-and-atrocious ^_^. A lot of things and activities happened in august. I’ve been on musical summer camps for about 2 weeks, Omurqi and I got together for an afternoon of jamming (when we recorded our Eden of the East and Lain covers :-P) and we had a 2-days anime marathon at his house. We watched Cowboy Bebop, Cowboy Bebop the Movie, Akira, Natsume Yuujinchou and Honey and Clover in this marathon. In short, it was a great month :-P. My watching average in august was 5.6, pretty good considering I was gone for 2 weeks to a place without internet xD. Now, without boring you any further I’ll move on to my watching activities:

Black Rock Shooter, 3/5 stars. Mato Kuroi just got into junior high school, and on the first day someone catches her eye, her classmate, Yomi Takanashi. The two meet. The innocent and naïve Mato. The mature Yomi. Seeming opposites, but the time they spend together only strengthens a growing friendship. But as they go into their second year at the school, they get placed in separate classes, and they begin to grow apart.But somewhere simultaneously... In another world, a young girl, blue fire residing in her eyes, Black Star Rock Shooter faces another young girl, this one holding a jet-black scythe, Dead Master, and a battle to the death begins to unfold... (synopsis taken from

There isn’t really a lot to be said about this one. It was visually imaginative but storywise clichéd, superficial and too slow-paced and the only reason for its passable charm may be due to the short durage of the OVA. It was ok for the time being, but nothing even remotely special.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, 3½/5 stars. The eccentric Suzumiya Haruhi wants nothing more than to meet aliens, time travelers and espers… but she’ll have to settle for the everyday Kyon instead! Along with the mysterious Itsuki and the vacant Mikuru, the duo forms the SOS Brigade – a club whose mission is to discover the mysteries of the world. Armed with a razor sharp wit and a skill for manipulation, Haruhi will stop at nothing to have fun at all costs, even at the expense of Mikuru’s dignity! (Anime Planet)

It’s funny how high your expectations of an anime will get when you’ve been stalked by rabid fanboys and girls about how amazing a show is. And true: it does present some really interesting ideas. Moreover, the cynical comments of the male lead are funny – even priceless at times. I had a good time watching the series and I thoroughly enjoyed it for most of the time. But that’s where my objections to the sacred state of this work start. Firstly, only the core five or six episodes of the series are interesting, the rest is filler-like material. These episodes are merely superficially enjoyable (but entertaining nonetheless). Also, although the ideas about the creator of the world and the implications of this existance were refreshing and probably new to the anime world, it’s not an original or even a special idea in various fields of philosophy. It’s interesting, but not groundbreaking or revolutionary. The melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is a series that cleverly took some appealing, intriguing ideas from philosophy and played with them in a setting with much comedy and quirky characters. The result is a truly fun series with a twist that makes it different from other high school comedies. It’s just that, nothing more and nothing less.

Honey and Clover 1, 4½/5 stars. Art college: cradle of romance, home of bittersweet moments. Takemoto is struggling to find his direction in life, while his roommates Morita and Mayama are moving confidently - or recklessly - towards their goals. Enter Hagu-chan, the childlike and beautiful prodigy whom everyone admires; and thus the love triangles begin. Together, the trio explore the pain of first love, the trials of romantic conflict, and our loyalty to those annoying people who happen to be our closest friends. (Anime Planet).

Oh how I loved this series. I had already been pumped up by all the people who told me that ‘Honey and Clover is just as amazing as Nodame Cantabile’, so I was kinda anticipating awesomeness. And that’s exactly what I got. H&C’s focus lies more around the relational developments of the five main characters and less around their academic progress, but both H&C and Nodame Cantabile are about personal growth and the struggles one faces when growing into adulthood. It’s fascinating to see the characters of Honey and Clover trying to deal with the same problems of adolescence you yourself once dealt with or a still struggling with. It’s bittersweet, painfully recognizable, and incredibly funny. The series has some characters to die for (Morita Shinobu, for example ^_^). My only possible complaint with the series lies in the fact that although it’s so much about relationships, the actual romantical development is not very realistic for 18-24 year old college students in real life. Still, I think it’s a series no adolescent should miss: it’s incredible and one of the best josei titles I saw lately.

Honey and Clover 2, 4½/5 stars. While Takemoto uncovers a path for himself, his love for Hagu is forcing him to lead a difficult college life. Takemoto, Hagu, and Morita are still trying to deal with their love triangle, and each of them must make a decision. Furthermore, Mayama must decide how to proceed with Rika, as she is leaving for Spain. The pain of love will continue to hurt many and even cause them to separate. Now, each of them must take on their chosen paths and walk towards the future. (Anime Planet).

Honey and Clover 2 is no different from season 1: it’s a continuation of the story of 5 college friends, their struggles with identity and their relations with other people. The second season seems to have lost some comedic aspects to be able to get more serious, but this doesn’t make it inferior to season one in any way. In fact, it’s just as awesome as season one and it was truly a pity that there were only twelve episodes. The only thing I can say is watch it, for you won’t be disappointed by this story. I completely loved it.

Cowboy Bebop, 3½/5 stars. Follow interstellar bounty hunters Spike Spiegel and Jet Black as they scour the galaxy for criminals with prices on their heads. Hoping to escape their past, they live on the spaceship Bebop, but it's a dangerous business and old enemies don't forget easily. Allies come from unlikely sources, however, as they find comrades in the beautiful swindler Faye Valentine, the genius child hacker Ed and the genetically engineered 'data dog' Ein. Will they be able to help each other though their respective struggles, or is their fate really inevitable? (Anime Planet).

Cowboy Bebop, a classic that I never got around watching and now finally did see. What I liked most about the series was the character chemistry and the independence of the main characters (although they clearly see themselves as part of the group at a certain point, they wont hesitate to separate for good if the right time comes). All characters had some kind of intriguing back story and dark secret, especially Spike. The bounty hunter in space setting worked well with the personalities of the main characters, and the last few episodes were truly impressive. Due to its episodic nature there may not have been as much coherence and linear progression as I would’ve liked it to have. It gave the series a varying quality as I found some episodes to be of a notably lower level than others. I really liked it, though, as it was pretty entertaining. It had a great opening theme as well :-P!

Cowboy Bebop the movie, 3½/5 stars. While on the hunt for an underage hacker, Faye is the sole witness to identifying a man who causes a tanker explosion that leaves people up to three miles away in comas. The bounty that ensues is the largest the galaxy has EVER seen, 300,000,000 wulongs. It's up to Spike and the gang to solve the mystery of this strange disease, and to stop the assailant at large, for failure would result in all life on earth being eliminated on Halloween night. (Anime Planet).

It’s well-paced, thrilling, the character chemistry is good and the story is compelling. It is, in every way, just like its mother series and I really enjoyed it.

Akira, 3½/5 stars. Following the disaster wrought upon the world by a mysterious being called ‘Akira’, Neo Tokyo is now in social and economic turmoil. In such a decaying city, feisty Kaneda and his shy friend Tetsuo survive by running around in a biker gang, chasing local rivals and generally evading the police. Everything changes, however, when Tetsuo crashes into a strange-looking boy during a bike chase and the military ends up taking him away. When he eventually returns to his friends, he’s no longer the same weak little boy they always knew – in fact, a military experiment has turned him into something beyond human imagination. While the military is intent on reclaiming its specimen at any cost, Tetsuo is sick of being bullied around and is about to show everyone, including his friend Kaneda, exactly who is boss. (Anime Planet).

Akira is a classic that I had been wanting to see since the beginning of my anime career. I didn’t get around to watching it until more than two years later, in the middle of last august. I think Akira was a visually impressive and reasonably intriguing work, although it was also pretty confusing at times. I guess it’s due to the inhuman compression of all its manga volumes into one ‘coherent’ movie: I’ve heard that the manga version is much more refined and detailed than the anime adaptation, so I might want to read it once I finally find the time for it. Who knows, who knows :-P…

Natsume Yuujinchou, 3/5 stars. Natsume is lonely; he has an ability that separates him from others: he can see and interact with spirits. Soon, however, Natsume discovers that he’s not alone: his grandmother Reiko also had the gift. But things get hectic and possibly dangerous for Natsume when he finds out that he also inherited the 'Book of Friends', a book that contains the names of all the spirits Reiko defeated and subjugated. He finds himself hounded by his grandmother's underlings and, with the help of a 'cat' charm spirit, decides to free them from the Book's shackles, as well as protect the book from those who seek to misuse its power... (Anime Planet).

This series was ok. I don’t really understand where it got its passionate fanbase, for there isn’t really any aspect of the series I’d consider extraordinary or fundamentally different from existing anime-clichés. It’s enjoyable in the same way the lesser episodes of Inuyasha (± 105-135) were enjoyable, namely saving and fighting against demons with a cliched compelling background story. It was fun to watch for as long as it took, but I’m happy it wasn’t any longer than thirteen episodes. I find parallels with Mushishi (the reason I actually wanted to watch Natsume Yuujinchou) a bit of an insult to this great spiritual work and greatly unjustified. Maybe I’m a bit to harsh on this show, but I was expecting something great and got something averagely enjoyable in return…

Brotherhood 1-25, 4/5 stars. The foundation of alchemy is based on the law of equivalent exchange; you cannot produce something from nothing. As such, alchemy is bound by one taboo - human transmutation. Four years ago two young brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, broke this taboo when they tried to resurrect their dead mother. During the process Al's body disintegrated and Ed lost his leg. In a desperate attempt to prevent his brother from disappearing completely, Ed sacrificed one of his arms so he could affix Al's soul to a suit of armor. When his missing limbs are replaced by auto mail parts, Ed bears the name of the Fullmetal Alchemist - the youngest ever State Alchemist and dog of the military. Now, alongside his brother, Ed uses his status within the military to attempt to find any way that he can return their bodies back to their original state. (Anime Planet).

To the rabid Brotherhood fanbase: Don’t. Be. Angry. With. Me. This 4/5 star rating is merely a temporary one. I can feel how greatly the story is developing, building further and further towards a state of holy, sparkling, kickass awesomeness. It’s the omg-it’s-already-fantastic-and-it-will-soon-get-even-greater-feeling. In other words, joyful anticipation. I like Brotherhood’s relatively fast pacing and the whole world and culture in which the series is situated. The characters are great to watch, political and ethical themes are intriguing and the never ending search for the philosopher’s stone is absolutely thrilling. I’m highly looking forward to seeing the rest of this great work.

Minami-ke 1-3, 3½ stars. Meet the Minami sisters, three girls living on their own and doing their best to make it through life's little snags and adventures. Kana, the middle sister, has far more energy than common sense; Chiaki, the youngest, is more reserved, but her sharp tongue and devious mind often cause trouble for others; and Haruka, the eldest, acts like a mother to the other two, is beautiful and kind, but has a fearsome stern streak. Together, no obstacle can stand in their way, be it school, romance, or even cooking. (Anime Planet).

Actually, I was holding my breath for this one. I know a lot of people compare Minami-ke with Azumanga, a series that I barely managed to finish due to boredom and a kind of humor that just didn’t click with mine. Minami-ke, though, is actually pretty hilarious. Its pace is slightly faster and it’s just a bit more structured than Azumanga: this may have done the trick for me by raising my personal enjoy-o-meter above the level of ordinariness, to the point of me actually looking forward to seeing the next episode. Minami-ke is a nonsensical series about the trivial things that happen in the lives of the Minami sisters, but it’s great at what it does. The characters of the 3 sisters, though pretty onedimensional, work incredibly well together and make for a hilarious watch. For all other people who didn’t like Azumanga: this is the right moment to give the slice of life / comedy genre another chance! You won’t be disappointed.

So, about the reason the first post of the month is this late… Firstly, I’m in my 3rd year now of Clinical Psychology and as expected, it’s tougher and busier than the first two years. I don’t have much time anymore for lazing around and consequently my anime watching activities have kinda fallen down to a low level xD. Secondly, I’ve finally given up on my lazy lifestyle and I actually started to work (giving extra lessons in various subjects -french and mathematics, currently- to high school students). The third reason is a bit more personal in nature: I got a boyfriend recently, and if you’re asking yourself what this information is doing in an anime blog, well, he’s known to all of you as the co-owner and author of this very blog :-P.

Still, I’m determined to keep posting at least 4 pieces a month :-D. As Omurqi so accurately stated: ‘Our readers are more interested in our opinions on anime than our love life, so let’s keep watching enough anime to keep the blog rolling :-P’. True, true ^_^.

So, that was all for now :-P. Keep looking forward to the next post, for it will be up very soon.

Greetings, Suna.


  1. I think Haruhi Suzumiya was best experienced as it first came out back in 2006 when it took the whole anime community by storm and KyoAni screwed with everyone's heads. Don't know if that makes the series groundbreaking, per se, but it definitely made it more fun to watch at the time.

    Cowboy Bebop and Honey and Clover are among my all-time favorites. The former is what made me fall in love with anime forever (as it did for many other American fans, of course); I never really minded the episodic nature of the show, because I love most of the episodes (though not all of them). The latter is just a great drama.

    I enjoyed Natsume Yuujinchou, but I haven't seen Mushishi yet, so any comparisons to that series were meaningless to me. (Side note: I have a friend who argued rather passionately against that comparison, and she is a fan of both shows.) Agreed that most of the stories involving the spirits are somewhat cliched, but I did like the development of Natsume's character throughout the first and second seasons, growing from a lonely boy who pushes people away because of his power to someone who is better able to balance a normal life and his life among the spirits. I'd gladly watch more Natsume Yuujinchou.

    FMA: Brotherhood just gets better as it goes along, save for a slight lull at the beginning of an arc you'll be coming to in a few episodes. But, yeah, it's just about a perfect shonen series.

    First season of Minami-ke is a great slice-of-life comedy. Next two seasons aren't quite as good, but I still think they're funny.

  2. i wish i orgasmed about Honey and Clover with you guys more. it was such a great show :D

    sad to see the Cowboy Bebop rating at 3.5 :P tis a movie in my top 5 of all time and you guys know what an anime movie freak i am!