Tag Archives: animation

Clannad: The Wonderful Beginnings of an Anime

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed an anime, and this is the perfect one to come back to. Clannad is the wonderfully touching story of a group of high schoolers and their lives as they grow with one another. Focusing primarily on the central relationship between Tomoya Okazaki and Nagisa Furukawa, these two lead tragic lives that have become better because they found each other. It all started one day at the bottom of the hill to the high school with “anpan”, and blooms into a wonderfully dynamic and free flowing friend group. The main plot behind this first series is that Nagisa wishes to create a drama club at her school. It is used indirectly to raise her self esteem and confidence.

Where should I start when talking about this anime? This has the elements of a slice of life anime, thrown in with a bit of humor and comedy from Fuko Ibuki, the starfish obsessed wonder. The anime flows over a few arcs focusing on secondary characters that attend the high school, ranging from freshmen to seniors. All of the main characters are mostly seniors, and this transitions into their graduation and life around the town. It is good to see that, although this anime has the beginnings of a harem with only one true central male character, but it is happily thwarted by Youhei Sunohara, the blond haired foil

The starfish and the Dangos!

character to Tomoya’s passive aggressive antics. Their dialogue and chemistry onscreen is infectiously hilarious and comes across as amazingly absurd and out there. It’s perfect to offset the harrowing topics of the anime.

Not to ruin anything about the plot, but the characters focused on are all tragically tainted. Tomoya is an out there delinquent bad boy who was maliciously beaten by his drunken dad in a fight one day. He lost his mother and the two had been drifting apart for years. His dad coped with drinking, and Tomoya did with bad behavior. This doesn’t really seem to ruin his reputation at school, but it ruined his arm and his chances at playing basketball. Damn. For Nagisa, her debilitating health has kept her back a year in school, losing friends, yet allowing her to meet Tomoya. And, for the others, it’s about watching the show to discover what’s so sad with each character. If you don’t cry at least once, where’s your soul?

The dynamic duo, Tomoya and Youhei!

It wasn’t really a decision at the beginning on whether to watch subbed or dubbed. As a rule of thumb, if it’s a show with a lot of crying or sadness, it’s better portrayed in Japanese. Tears=subbed, comedy=dubbed. Remember that. I was surprised to find this show was based on an interactive text video game (one of those simulated dating things, but a manga followed the game soon after, giving a structure and not choices to the anime in the direction the plot would take. The voice acting is really well done and will make you laugh and cry (tears of some sort) and it’s worth watching the first half in order to reach the even better Clannad: After Story. In order to love and care about the characters, you watch Clannad, but once you’re established in that love, then comes the After Story tears. They will flow.

Other than that, I don’t have many complaints with a show that has come out in the last ten years. Animation was crisp and clean, the plot moved along at a reasonable pace, and there’s a character for everyone to connect to. It’s the story of growing up, of high school, of conquering your fears and finding love. It’s a true humanistic story of discovery. I think it’s good for people of all interests and (being the secure man I am) found it rather heartwarming. So leave yourself a few weeks to savor the flavor of the Dangos, and enjoy this 7.7 out of 10 anime.

A possible couple? You’ll see…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And this is the song that’ll make you cry.

 

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Tokyo Godfathers

What is there to say about this strange Christmas timey (?) film? This movie reminded me of a combination Eight Crazy Nights with Cromartie High School (check out the review further back). I had no idea what I was in store for and it slightly touched my heart. Although the animation took me slightly aback, I was okay by the end with the characters and the conclusion this animated film comes to.

So Satoshi Kon and Shogo Furuya present a film that tackles some big issues while at the same time speaking to the humanity in all of us that we try to show around the holidays.  Coming from a team that has done such films as Paprika (again, check the

Some strange hobos...

review earlier on in my list) and the animation on Spirited Away, comes something strange and yet strikingly familiar in its theme. Three hobos, one by choice, one by circumstance, and one by bad luck, come together in order to, in the spirit of ole Saint Nick, bring a child left in a dumpster back to its parents. Simple plot aside, a lot of weird, crazy shit goes down in Tokyo town. And I wasn’t ready for a thing.

Such good emotional scenes.

Coming from the same creators of Wolf’s Rain (Strayyyy) and just countless award worthy things, I was hard pressed at first to find the credibility in this film. I found it though. The characters. Every last one of them, despite being given the stigma of homeless loser, is a worthwhile and redeemable person. Proven by their words and actions in the film, Gin finds his home, Hana becomes the “mother” he always wanted to be, and Miyuki can finally go home and not feel scared about her actions. This combined with a twist with the baby’s parents that leaves them out to dry, this film really makes you wonder whether the bums on the street have better hearts than you do.

And I do love the message. Nice things done on Christmas? Always a winner in my book. Christmas coming from a perspective I’ve never seen before in a

Come on, could be cuter...

culture I’ve yet to experience for myself? Eye opening. I really don’t know what more to say about this film. The comedy shines through, there’s quite a few tear jerking scenes, and the baby, although I wish it was cuter, is still okay. The voice acting is good and, as expected from award winning creators, the story is solid and animation is unique in every respect. I give this classic a 6.8 out of 10.


Gnomeo & Juliet

This cute little film filled with British actors takes a new look at the story of Romeo and Juliet and uses a British topic of interest. Garden gnomes. (Not sure if a lo of Brits have these, but it’d be interesting to see some U.K. gardens.) I watched this with my mom (U.K. T.V. analyst and fellow blogger) mostly for James McAvoy’s voice talents. We’re both fans, but for slightly different reasons. (Not really though, he is pretty dreamy.) This tragic William Shakespeare story is turned on its head (as the poster suggests) with a cute plot device using warring gardens who happen to be owned by Miss Montague (Julie Walters, good old Mrs. Weasley) of the “Blue”burys and Mr. Capulet (Richard Wilson) of the “Red”bricks.

Set apart from typical Pixar and Dreamworks films, this film takes its own approach to animation in the 3-D. Although

McEvoy and Blunt as the disguised Gnomeo and Juliet

Touchstone and Miramax do good animated films, this British touch to the way things looked was refreshing, at the same time that it seemed a bit off in its sharpness and cutting edge-i-ness. But it’s all the same to me these days, what with all these mass amounts of animal infested, fantastical adventures films made for kids and adults in 3-D animation. (I would recommend Rio though, it was quite a cast and story.) But the story stands out in comparison to the lack of pizzazz in the animation, and gave it some credibility.

Warring gardens with love in the mix.

So as expected, the story follows quite closely to the original Romeo and Juliet plot line. (Less death unfortunately.) The warring families led by Lord Rebrick (Michael Caine) who’s Juliet’s (Emily Blunt) father and Lady Bluebury (Maggie Smith) who’s Gnomeo’s (James McAvoy) mother despise each other for reasons that seem a bit hazy. The real test between the families is whose garden is superior. One night, in order to impress her father, Juliet sneaks out of the garden in order to retrieve a beautiful flower to spruce up the garden. Surprise, surprise, Gnomeo sneaks out as well for some mischief. The two cross paths, sparks fly, and their love is forever fated.

But oh the problems that ensue. One’s red and the other’s blue! What will they do? Their love is forbidden and they may only meet in secrecy. And there must be some conflict that arises when their love is discovered! And yes, there is. This version doesn’t disappoint and how could it? True British actors are tackling a fellow countryman’s play.

Now let’s talk about the cast. I was quite surprised at the acting chops associated with this film, and every last one a Brit! Of course there’s the two star-crossed

Sorry Jim Cummings you just missed the mark.

lovers, James McAvoy and Emily Blunt as Gnomeo and Juliet. Maggie Smith and Michael Caine lend their voices to their parents as some veterans of the BBC business. Also, and more unexpectedly, Jason Statham is featured in this film as Tybalt the red menace of the Montague house. I was really surprised to discover this after a few Transporter lines were delivered. I just can’t seem to grip the idea that Jason Statham is British! Matt Lucas, the good old Little Britains sketch comedy genius of the hairless kind lends a generically comedic voice to Benny, Gnomeo’s number 2. Even Patrick Stewart (Will Shakes himself) and OZZY OSBOURNE himself lends his voice to this film, as a ceramic fawn!

Thanks to this British cast for the cute film!

The only miss in this film is Jim Cummings as the pink flamingo garden ornament. His annoying attempt at some sort of foreign bird just loses it for me, because, to put it bluntly, didn’t deliver a funny line. This is quite disappointing as Jim Cummings has been in the Disney voice business since the early 90’s.

But all in all, this cute film about what our gardens hold delivers a nice little escape from reality for 75 minutes. With the occasional grown up joke and slapstick comedy, mixed with witty uses of the gnomes and what they’d be like if they could move (Toy Story style), this movie delivers a bit of entertainment worth a watch if you’re into British accents or children’s love/comedy/adventure films. 6 out of 10.

AND DID I MENTION THAT THE FILMED IS FUELED BY A ELTON JOHN SCORE AND SOUNDTRACK?!?!?


Cromartie High School: Not Your Typical High School

So I had watched this anime a while ago in my Anime Club. I instantly fell in love with it. Sadly, after only 6 episodes, our club decided to drop the anime due to its wild and erratic nature. The absurd comedy and spontaneous content appeared to be stupid and pointless to most. But I found the silver lining. More like gold mine. More than a year later, I sat down and watched the 26 episode, ten minutes per episode anime. In one day. And I loved every second of it.

Cromartie High School is the story of a bunch of badasses. These badass delinquents constantly fight for dominance as to who

Check out this group of badasses.

the true boss of all badasses is. And it’s a fight that’s never resolved. You can choose your own champion, but it’ll get you nowhere. These guys are stupid, impulsive, and nonsensical. They have no idea of the concept of normal or logical. And this is quite an endearing quality if I do say so myself. (Not in reality, mind you.) So this show comes down to a bunch of instances in the first year of a group of idiotic boys attending an unsupervised high school.

According to the anime, Takashi Kamiyama is the main character. After transferring to Cromartie, Takashi befriends Shinjiro Hayashida, a purple mohawk wearing badass. With this friendship, Takashi encounters the badasses around his school and embarks on a series of hijinks. And that’s not even the best part! Takashi isn’t even the main character! Some episodes don’t even include him. With a multitude of lowlifes and delinquents, this show has some interesting characters.

Is that? Yep. That's Freddy... Mercury?

Akira Maeda, a fellow member of Cromartie, constantly has his home invaded by his so called friends and other badasses from Cromartie. His hurt feelings and trashed house means nothing to anyone but he and his mother who appears to look exactly like him. Shinichi Mechazawa, a robot appearing robot, known as the biggest badass of Cromartie, refuses to fight and refuses to believe that he is a robot. The entity known as Freddie, is another badass, but more for his mute behaviors and the ability to ride a bucking bronco. With his strange resemblance to Freddie Mercury, this delinquent shouldn’t even be in school. But he makes up for it with his suspenders and bare chest. Gorilla, the gorilla. Anything else I should say about that? Yutaka Takenouchi, the leader of the Cromartie High School badasses, has motion sickness. Despite his attempts to keep his bossish facade in the forefront, his constant use of transportation threatens his credibility. Also making appearances are Takeshi Hokuto and his reluctant lackey known only as Hokuto’s Lackey, due to the fact that no one will allow him the time to tell them his name. Add rival schools with amazingly comedic leaders like Noboru Yamaguchi, the afro haired appreciator of true comedy, and you have one amazing show.

What makes this show even greater? The animation. There is next to none of it. Besides the traditional lip-flaps, characters rarely move. Cromartie High School

What.

Did I mention there was a live action movie?!?!?

consists of head shots mixed with color shooting star background indicating intense emotion and actions. The comedy comes entirely from what the characters say and the tiny absurd actions that occur in the background. It’s almost worth another watch because of all the hilarious things going on in the background.

What more is there to say about Cromartie High School? The content, the dialogue, the characters. It all adds up to comedic genius of the most absurd kind. This show isn’t really meant for everyone, so I wouldn’t highly recommend it. To the few who would appreciate a really weird, yet funny sort of comedy, then watch this for sure. 9.3 out of 10.


Black Blood Brothers: More Vampires

This short little anime is a bit different from what I’ve recently been watching. Black Blood Brothers, better known as, basically, old vampires, is the story of, well, old vampires. Versus basically new vampires. It’s like Blade 2. This is essentially 12 episodes of an instance in the life of Jiro Mochizuki. He’s one of the old blood vampires that quelled the rebellion of the Kowloon Children at Hong Kong. Complicated backstory that is explained throughout the episodes. But this anime is basically about his return to Hong Kong, more specifically, the Special Zone.

Now this Special Zone is “special” because it is a safe haven for vampires. Of all sorts. Well, more vampires that are Kowloon Children. And this anime is about some Kowloon Children getting into the Special Zone. Unfortunately. Jiro is not initially allowed into the Special Zone, but he’s allowed “if” he helps quell a second rebellion. And this time, Jiro has his younger brother in tow. And with the help of a vampire mediator, we’ll

A handful of characters for you.

see what happens.

This vampire anime is a slightly different take on what it means to be a vampire. These vampires hate sun, but don’t necessarily die in it. They don’t like water either, and can die in it. They drink blood to replenish their powers, but won’t kill or turn humans who they suck blood from. Silver kills them for sure. And the humans utilize that to keep them in line. The only way humans (red bloods) can be turned into black bloods (vampires) is if vampires let humans drink a bit of their vampire blood. It doesn’t happen often, but it can happen. (Unfortunately not in this anime.)

J. Michael Tatum as Jiro.

But yes, this is the story of Jiro vs. the Kowloon Children. And Jiro is done by quite the voice actor. J. Michael Tatum, a voice actor I met at Anime Boston, voiced Jiro, the Silver Blade. He does quite the good job at an English accent, and that’s due to his speech therapist, an old English hag (Just kidding). Colleen Clinkenbeard voices Mimiko Katsuragi, the mediator between the humans (The Company) and the vampires of the Special Zone. Colleen does great work and voices good female characters, one of the best female voice actors that Funimation provides. Jerry Jewell provides the voice for Zelman Clock, a rather mischievous old blood vampire with an affinity for fire and a vehement tongue, the perfect combo for Jerry Jewell himself. Brina Palencia

Jerry Jewell. Nice.

lends her voice for a few episodes as Yafuri Chao, a direct descendant of the Kowloon King and quite the formidable opponent of Jiro. And, last but never least, Christopher Sabat lends a Piccolo like voice as Cain Warlock, another gruff supporting character of the many anime that Christopher Sabat performs in. And this is just half of a cast the lends itself to a

Oh. And they can walk on walls.

decent performance in a short vampire anime.

Now the animation/art direction isn’t necessarily my cup of tea (or blood, if you prefer), but it does justice for itself in its own way. It’s not shonen, and yet its not seinen (Check Basilisk for the reference.). This line that Black Blood Brothers blurs is where it loses me. And the way in which the anime isn’t long enough either leaves it something that it’s desperately missing. These characters have done things that we only hear about through recall. Not direct interaction. And this is where it should’ve been a longer anime. But, all the same, it’s decent in its scope and the way it deals with vampires. 6.3 out of 10.