Tag Archives: Anime

The Great Happiness Space

In this documentary by Jake Clennell (a UK documentarian), the world of Ouran High School Host Club comes to life. In Osaka, Japan, the Cafe Rakkyo is a place for tired and worn down women to come and feel healed, emotionally and probably physically, by the male hosts. With lots of drinking and fake flirting, Clennell dives into the secrets and tips of being a Japanese male host.

For Jake Clennell’s first time doing a documentary, he does a great job. In a mere hour and fifteen minutes, he captures the host life through a

Not your average Ouran boys…

handful of interviews and first hand events. Centered around the owner of Cafe Rakkyo, Issei, who every girl loves and wants to be with. His animal magnetism comes from the way in which he tailors himself to what a girl wants. And what’s the endgame? Money.

This entire interview/documentary is about a human’s instability. Growing up into such a business mogul the way in which Issei did has sacrificed something. Even those who have come in fresh to the game (as one host did) notice something different about themselves. The hosts can’t escape the attraction to the girls (some say love, others say connection) but in the end there is a lot of focus on materialism. Fashion designer clothes, accessories, hairstyles, it’s all about selling themselves to entice women to come to their host club. They lose the excitement of falling in love with someone and lose senses of trust, commitment, and honesty.

Some cute Asian cuddling?

From someone who doesn’t know a thing about host clubs or anything other than from anime, it comes as a culture shock. To see men in a power and control of sexuality and a socialite position in quite in contrast to America. Here, women hold all the power when it comes to sex. We pay for their drinks, we are the ones that instinctively flock towards them in clubs and bars. Men actively seek women in this country. It is up to the women to say yes or no.

But, in the world of Japan, men are the ones in these types of clubs that dictate the tempo. Women pay for privacy and one on one time with them. Women buy the men drinks in order to loosen them up and make them more friendly towards them. These women spend

Just your average host selection bar…

thousands of dollars a visit in order to woo these men. A male host starting off can make $10,000 American dollars a month. How insane!

And then comes the issue of who comes to these host clubs. More often than not, they’re call girls/prostitutes who have just gotten off work. They come to relax and enjoy time away where they’re the ones being catered to. The Osaka district in Japan is drenched in sex. Male businessmen, young impressionable females, host club employees, it’s everywhere. And to see a place that encourages social interaction other than sex is something interesting and new.

The real message to take away.

In the end, as these boys emerge from their cavernous man-den, the come out drunkenly into the sunlight, falling over, hair a bit askew, wanting a good night’s rest. And they’ll be back in a few hours to do it all over again. Issei heads back to his apartment, speculating about his future life and if he’ll ever marry. But what this documentary has delved into is that this may not be the case for this host culture. A bunch of boys jaded by love and what it means to be faithful, who knows if they’ll ever find love. All I know is that this documentary was entertaining and complex, insightful and opened a whole new culture aspect to me (being interested in Japanese culture and all). If you like pretty Asian boys or just something that will make you more aware and intelligent on Japan, you need to check this out. It’s pretty deep. 7.2 out of 10.


Naruto: The Realest

Cover of the first manga.

Naruto. What is there to say about Naruto? What is there to truly say about one of the most ballin’ animes currently running? Well there’s a lot more to say than that it’s just balling. This show fulfills every young boys’ dream of becoming a ninja. And not just any ordinary ninja, but a true Shinobi with Ninjutsu and Thaijustsu for days. You got the Kunai and Shuriken, and the classic substitution technique. These young children Shinobi put legitimate ninjas to shame. They are unstoppable. And this show is infectious.

But there’s just one debate we have to deal with before we move on to the plot of Naruto. And that is: Naruto Dubbed vs

Naruto and the power of his Nine-Tailed Fox.

Naruto Subbed? There are those younger kids who would argue dubbed, due to an ability to watch a show (not read, though not a valid argument) and a lot of younger kids watched this on Cartoon Network. There are a handful of good voice actors in the show that make it worth watching it. But there’s the flipside of the coin. The subbed version, when it comes down to it, is better done. There’s swearing, and Rock Lee’s secret technique isn’t called Loopy Fist. That was a bit of a disappointment. For a more serious tone for the older fans of Naruto should watch the subbed version. But it all comes down to a preference of English vs Japanese. It’s the same show, just a different feel. It’s all up to you.

The starring team: Sakura, Sasuke, and Naruto!

So, Naruto is a show about Naruto Uzumaki (Maile Flanagan). He is a ninja in training and hoping to become the leader of the village he lives in one day, known as The Village Hidden in the Leaves. The Third Hokage, leader of the village, sees much promise in Naruto and hopes that his sensei’s, Iruka Umino (Quinton Flynn) and Kakashi Hatake (Dave Wittenberg). With his teammates Sasuke Uchiha (Yuri Lowenthal), the cool calm-headed prodigy out to prove himself, and Sakura Haruno (Kate Higgins), the hot-headed and pretty much useless book smart girl,  Naruto can’t fail in his mission to become the best. Believe it!

So many great characters in the world of Naruto!

There’s a lot of arcs and sections in this show. There’s the introduction of all the characters, the Chunin exams (the test that sees if you’re ready to become the next level ninja), and the battles between Orochimaru (Steven Blum) and his henchmen. With each trial for Naruto comes more responsibility and more powers. The show culminates in a huge twist and leaves more than 60 episodes of fillers that have nothing to do with the main plot. That’s not to say that there aren’t fillers throughout that aren’t cool and entertaining, I personally found a lot of the fillers to be funny and not so much a detraction from the show as an enhancer of the lesser characters. And how many cool characters there are.

There’s the 12 Ganin, 3 of which I’ve already mentioned. There’s Kiba Inuzuka (Kyle Hebert), the dog master of Akamaru and a master of, well, I’ll let you check everyone’s powers out. Shino Aburame (Derek Stephen Prince) is the master of bugs, and one of my favorite Shinobi in the show. Filling out Team 8 is Hinata Hyuga (Stephanie Sheh), the master of soft palm. She has a huge crush on Naruto but never

Team 10, led by the great Shikamaru.

reveals it in the original Naruto, an unfortunate thing.

Team 10 is made up of some real destructive masters as well. Choji Akimichi (Robbie Rist), the expanding fat kid with a penchant for lots and lots of niblets and chips. Shikamaru Nara (Tom Gibis) one of my favorite characters in the show and one of the only truly gifted in the series. His ability with shadows will leave you… breathless. And then there’s Ino Yamanaka (Colleen O’Shaughnessey), the useless girl who is more useless than Professor X. (You’ll see why.)

Look at Shino back there, bein’ all wiznerd and whatnot.

And then there’s Team Guy, the most masterful of all the masters. Led by Might Guy (Skip Stellrecht), his mastering of the physical Thaijustsu is just too legit to quit. Under Guy’s tutelage is Rock Lee (Brian Donovan), the only kid who will never quit and always fights to the end with his Flying Leaf Hurricane. Tenten (Danielle Judovits) is a weapons master and is always twirling and releasing weapons on everyone’s asses. And the semi-leader of the team is Neji Hyuga (Steve Staley) master of his cousin’s soft fist and intelligent as Hell.

All of these awesome characters flesh out a show about honor and friendship, being the best and doing everything in your power to prove your self worth. There’s self discipline, training montages, and

And Team Guy, they pack a whallup of a punch.

everything you wanna see in a shounen of this magnitude that needs to be seen by all young men out there that need a great role model in their lives, or just a great action cartoon/anime. Oh, and don’t forget the villains! I already mentioned Orochimaru, but there’s the best character and best voice actor that needs to be mentioned, nay, worshipped. Gaara (Liam O’Brien) is a disciple of the Village Hidden in the Sand, and a true beast of a fighter. With a gourd full of sand that does his every bidding, there’s more than meets the eye to this character. And he will completely slaughter you. Two words: SAND COFFIN.

And don’t ever forget Gaara. SAND COFFIN.

So watch this show for sure. The production value gets better as the show goes along, and for those that like dubbed anime, it’s not the worst in the world. And that brings up an issue. Maile Flanagan ruins this show. She may have a similar voice that can mirror the tone that Naruto Japanese version can do, but that’s just a bit of a stretch. Maile Flanagan’s whiney voice and childish lines leave a lot to be desired from a leading role. Oh, and, well, it’s just gross. Sorry there, Flannie old pal, but it’s probably for the best the dubbed version was cut off in the middle of Naruto Shippuden. But, for overall story and deliverance, Naruto as a whole, for all it’s worth, deserves a 8.8 out of 10. Definitely top 10 anime of all time to watch before you die. (You can skip the fillers.)


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.

 


Nana: Two Girls Named 7

Going into this I expected slice of life, girl power anime. Coming out, I cursed the Demon Lord himself for not allowing Ai Yazawa to continue the manga that has for so long been on hiatus. Without the manga continuing, there can be no anime of epic downfall and emotional turmoil. And no happy ending for Nobu and Hachiko either… Oh well, they worked with what they had.

And boy, did they have a lot. Nana is the story of, well, two girls with the same name, Nana. Normally when I see the word Nana, I think old lady. But, in the Blast! + Hachi in cool mode.realm of Japanese anime, Nana means 7 (please stop me if I’m being redundant). And these two girls come from separate worlds. Nana Komatsu (Hachiko, her pet name meaning 8), comes from a well to do, middle class family with nothing but dreams of a happy family life with her boyfriend, Shoji. Nana Osaki is a punk rocker with no family past to speak of and a whole lot of rage and cigarettes to sing about. One day they meet on a train and their lives are changed… forever?

People do some great artwork for this show.

A lot of stuff happens in the span of this 47 episode anime. Relationships are founded and lost, friends are made and lost, basically, a lot of stuff is found and subsequently lost. There’s pain and anguish, scenes of sexy times, and a lot of cigarette smoke. But hidden behind that cigarette smoke is one thing. The love of ambition and love itself. Nana Osaki won’t let anything get her down and plans on beating the rivalry that is created between her band Blast! and her boyfriend’s band, Trapnest. This dynamic in itself creates problems between the bands as both sides become intertwined in a web of secrecy, seduction, and snarky conversations.

What I found great about this show was the even distribution given between the two Nana’s. Hachiko is given equal time at the beginning with her relationships and problems of fidelity and then Nana Osaki is given her time to shine as her

Ren and Nana, two loves from opposing bands.

band becomes popular in Tokyo. The chance happening of meeting each other on the train and the separate lives that come together under one apartment roof is an interesting premise that is buffered with good turns and emotional climaxes. The characters are diverse and strong in their certain flaws which gives an element of a darker relationship based “slice of life” anime that is where it really hits hardest.

But there are flaws. And it’s not that flaws are bad. But all of these characters are passive. They allow everything to happen to them by key characters. Not to divulge too much, but Takumi Ichinose of Trapnest controls the last 20

The most smoking ever. This show is adverts for smoking.

episodes of this anime. And the decisions you’d like to see happen for that happy ending don’t happen, but you are sort of okay with it at the end (other than the hiatus placed on this manga…). But the ineptitude and inability of certain main characters to function is just staggering. It makes you hate them and wish for them to move at the same time. Heartbreaking.

Just a taste of the manga that needs to be brougt back.

Other than that, work on your shipping skills and hope for the best for the Nana’s. The voice acting is fantastic and there’s a character for everyone to love in this show. It’s simple charm about people attempting to achieve their biggest dreams, however big or small makes for a great anime. ‘Cause, come on, who wouldn’t want to follow a band around as they become famous, being their friends and just having the ride of your life! Enjoy the amazing music by Olivia and the quirky animation and raw human emotions and talent portrayed by the voice actors (subbed for this one). I give Nana more than just a 7, I give it an 8.1 out of 10. Recommended for anyone interested in life and love.

 

And here’s a little taste of the music of Nana in this first opener.


Jyu-Oh-Sei

Manga cover fo Jyu Oh Sei.

This 11 episode anime was a little break from the monotony of the longer, 26 episode anime I’ve recently been watching. Found on Hulu (and thank you Hulu for providing anime to a small portion of your viewing audience) I watched this one rather quickly, quite obviously. But I watched it quickly due more to the fact that it was so damn fascinating. I read that this was a highly overlooked anime due to its unconventional length and plot. I don’t know necessarily how to classify the genre of this anime, but I would consider it of a sort of sci-fi doomsday with a sort of revelation coming of age story. Classy.

This story centers around two twins, Thor and Rai (both voiced by Alison Viktorin). Having been born on the Balkan galaxy system (150 light years from Earth), the lead a more secluded life on a outlying planet meant only to be an

Key anime art of Jyu Oh Sei. Different, right?

imitation terraform of Earth. It’s been 250 years since humans left the planet and life has unusually declined in this new living environment. Odd, but at the same time an amazing twist for this anime. Thor and Rai are two young boys who, as is now the fashion, won’t see much past 40 or 50. Not fully knowing this, the two boys plan on separate futures, both leading them back to Earth.

Key characters of the show.

And then disaster strikes. Thor and Rai’s parents are brutally murdered in their science lab for what appears to be no good reason. Upon finding them, Thor and Rai are kidnapped and trasported to the prison planet Chimaera. Meant for the wicked and despicable of the Balkan system, these two must survive a bevvy of human killing plants and wildlife that threatens to consume them at any point.

And wouldn’t you know it! Rai is taken into the belly of a Belasoma and killed within the first 10 minutes of the show. Now that’s something to admire. An anime that’s not afraid to kill of an important character in the first episode. Although there are constant flashbacks to this loss, Thor (now as a slightly older boy, voiced by Sean Michael Teague) must fight to become the Beast King and escape Chimaera in order to find his parent’s killers.

Third, what a B.A.

With this interesting plot in place, a slow, yet steady forward progression was created all leading up to a climax that was reached effectively and not clicheingly at all in 11 episodes. With a great twist on the flora of Chimaera being more powerful than the humans who inhabit it, a sort of Jumanji situation is created for Thor and the other prisoners of a planet with no guards and cells, only the threat of death. Despite this threat of death, the humans of Chimaera don’t band together to stay alive. They separate into four clans who, for the most part, kill among themselves and each other. These clans are only separated by skin color (what a commentary!) and hold women in high esteem due to their being only 20% of the population. With an emphasis on the survival of the species with sex and violence, it’s quite the show to watch.

Chen kinda dropped the ball on the strong character list...

Although there are some setbacks. With this survival of the species, there comes this inner turmoil in all characters to hold onto their humanity. And, as the show progresses, it never seems that any of the main characters are in any danger. Yes, they’ve mastered a way of living on a death bound planet, but their lifestyles in a brutal world seem somewhat sercure and safe. Also, this is a prison planet. Why is there no mention of any crimes? Yes, Thor and Rai are completely innocent, but what about all the other characters? Are they there for the same reason? It may have been explained quite quickly at the end, but I’m not all too sure.

Tiz (Trina Nishimura). Sexual tension at its finest.

There was some fine voice acting in this anime as well. For the most part… Sorta. Sean Michael Teague seemed to be a bit too old and young at the same time for Thor as a 15 year old versus an 11 year old. His soft spoken words didn’t necessarily speak to a death hardened child, but he made up for it in the end. Tiz (Trina Nishimura) was fine, and she even reminded me of a younger Yuffie type character. She certainly looked and sounded it. Eric Vale performed wonderfully as the ambiguous character Zagi, leader of the misfit boys. And Third (Duncan Brannan) you’ll just have to watch the character he becomes. It’s quite a stirring ending of the show. And sadly, as usual, Chris Sabat’s character performed for one episode of awesomeness, and then died. So is life.

With a decent fluidity in the animation when it came to the fighting scenes (that’s a big key for me that makes or breaks my viewing experience) and great opening and closing songs, I really rathered enjoyed this anime about life in the dismal future, and find it gave me a glimmer of hope there at the end for humanity. So definitely check this out for a watch. A solid 7.4 out of 10.


Baldr Force EXE Resolution (Not the Video Game)

In this quick little 4 episode OVA, I was blown away by the breadth of this show that took a mere 2 hours to explore. And this is coming from an OVA that was based on a video game! With a beginning, middle, and complete end, this show summarizes (or does it?) or gives a complete new angle to a game I’d really like to play now.

So, Baldr Force EXE Resolution. It’s the story of Toru Soma, an ex-hacker turned good guy cop. He does this for his own motivations in order to catch his protege’s killer, located inside the police force. What he encounters is more than he could have possibly imagined. With

Pretty dec, right?

a past unfolding and new friends becoming enemies, Toru is forced to redefine what he considers real.

Despite the brevity of this show, I still consider it worth watching. It may move much quicker than most anime, but it performs well as a mecha/psychological thriller. Some characters perform well as side characters and need not be fleshed out, but others shine in their key roles that unfurl the story of the internet servers and what’s been menacingly destroying them.

Relying too much on that Fbook, right?

What I find most interesting about this show is its commentary on the interdependency of actual life events with what happens online. The two become so intertwined that it does sort of beg the quesiton, what is reality? Hate to say it, but in an almost Inception-esque way, this OVA suggests that people these days may rely too heavily on technology to get through life. (Hence, I should shut down my internet use and no longer give you my baller ideas on all things entertainment.)  Pretty smart thinking from a Windows/Dreamcast game made way back in 2003.

But I digress. I rather enjoyed the 3-D animation of the Simulacrums that people used to maneuver around the internet, and it really spoke to a mecha audience instead of a fake reality spin in which we as humans walk around on the internet. I like the consequence that was created, like in the Matrix (if you die in here, you die for real shizz) and it was a perfect balance of plot and action sequences.

What madness is going on here?

All-in-all, just check this little mecha OVA out and see if it stacks up against the computer game. If it does, let me know, I’d love to check it out for myself. I’ll give this Matrix/Inception/thriller mecha a 7.9 out of 10.


Casshern Sins: Robotic Humans, or Human Robots?

Hey all you readers out there! It’s been too long, so now I’ve returned in full force! Expect over the next few days to be reading over 10 new posts! I’m pumped and I hope you all are too. So let’s get down to this.

A little while ago, I watched Casshern Sins, the story of a mecha dramatic tragedy in which the world is ending and there’s no glimmer of hope in sight. And who is this tragedy all due to? Casshern. The misunderstood tragic hero of this tale is said to be invincible. By destroying the Sun Called Moon, Luna, Casshern has gained invincibility and is now sought by all robots to be consumed. Why he is sought to be cannibalized, you may ask? Casshern, with his everlasting life, appears to be the only cure in a world that now is overrun with the Ruin. The Ruin is a disease of sorts that begins to slowly errode the machines. With their metallic bodies rusting, it seemed as if the immortality that had been achieved by humans and robots alike. With the meshing of these two races into one race against time, Casshern must rediscover his murder of Luna and the world in which he has destroyed.

Now, to tell the truth, this anime threw me for a loop. I had caught the first 4 episodes at Anime Boston and I found it to be dark and interesting. With a sort of

The interesting art of Casshern.

animation and drawing style I’d never seen before, the first 4 episodes seemed to flow with a slow undercurrent slowly building. Never having seen what Masaki Takei has done before (it seems as if he’s written/created smaller works dealing with sci-fi/fantasy) I was intrigued with the way in which this anime looked. With swooping hairstyles and slender, fluid characters up against the blocky, brutal masses, this sci-fi drama blends the worlds of what’s real and what is seen as the apocalyptic future into one.

Eric Vale gives a stirring performance as Casshern.

What really caught my eye about this anime was some of the voice acting. Not knowing which characters would remain constant after the first 4 episodes, I found Eric Vale, the voice of Casshern, to be a compelling and distant character. His innocent voice withholding power to end lives creates a construct in a character often show in control, but that’s the last thing that Casshern is. Lyuze (Brina Palencia) gave another angle to Casshern Sins with a character with a soft side and revengeful edge. Another few actors that round out the top actors of this anime are Jerry Jewell, Shelley Calene-Black, and Jason Douglas, characters that’re introduced later in the anime.

And now I come to the bad point about this anime. The cyclical nature of this anime is its downfall. Despite the draw of the first four episodes, the following 20 episodes follow in the same fashion. Casshern, on his journey of discovery, comes across characters with tragic and emotional pasts. And what happens? He passes on past them and continues on his way. Either through destruction or heartbreak, Casshern can’t seem to come to terms with those around him and his uncontrollable power. But this anime, if you can get past its monotonous pace, really makes up for this in its art style and fluid animation in a rigidly dying world. So I encourage you to check it out. I give Casshern Sins a 5.8 out of 10. The Abyss is back in full force!

If anything, the fluidity may blow you away.