Tag Archives: Tokyo

Another: Ball Jointed Anime? Creepy…

Here’s another (different use) anime that I watched extremely quickly! (I have some free time on my hands and this is how I spend it. Time well spent.) Another is an anime based on a novel of the same title written by Yukito Ayatsuji. It’s a creepy story about ghosts and, what’s worse, ball jointed dolls. A popular thing in Japan and popular among people who like Japanese culture here, it is the freakiest thing to come out of Japan. Those things bleed evil and look like the devil himself. And that’s why this anime scared me, because they kept doing flash images of those creepy dolls…

So that’s where this story/anime is coming from. Another is the story of a death that happened wayyyy back in 1972. A high school kid died in some strange way and it was tragic. But as life moved on, people in the class said that they could see the student was still there. Even the teacher went along with it. They took the desk to

Those creepy dolls… Ugh.

graduation, and the student even showed up in the final class picture. Creepy, right? It’s another year and it’s been 26 to be exact. With a new transfer student coming in to Yomiyama North from Toyko, Koichi Sakakibara is about to discover what true horror is. In true Final Destination fashion people start dropping like flies from what appears to be the Class 3 curse.

The freaky students of Class 3.

When a show/anime/movie is based on a book, you hope it can be just as good as the original. Never having seen an anime based on anything other than a manga, I don’t have any basis for grading this anime. But I thought it was rather well done. Based around a small town with a secret, the whole story is about finding skeletons in the closet. There are a few twists and a supernatural element that isn’t too over the top as to believe in a situation like this. The animation style is creepy enough with all the characters drawn like human ball jointed dolls. It has plenty of shocking deaths and blood, and everything in the show (probably due to the dolls) has a frail quality feeling to it.

The Eye, anyone?

This anime deals a lot with conversations that happen between characters, and what is said is what matters. There isn’t a whole lot of action until the end, but that was okay with me. It seemed like a new change of pace to watch a show that didn’t focus all around motion, but took it slower and dealt more with the dialogue than what people actually did. It has its creepy elements and would do just fine if it was adapted into a horror movie. But that is what’s surprising seeing this as an anime. It takes a cartoon medium and turns it into something more adult, more Victorian (it’s the only word coming to mind). If you wanna watch an anime without all the bells and whistles, this is probably the show for you. A creepy look into dolls and the dead, this show gets a 6.5 out of 10.

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Darker Than Black: Badder Than Badass

Thinking back to the days in which I spent less than a week watching Darker than Black, I only have fond memories. As it was with Basilisk (another anime I’ve reviewed about individuals with unique powers) so it was with Darker than Black. The idea of the Contractors and their Payments is really what sold me on the show. In a “post-apocalyptic world” in which the stars have forsaken us in place of demigods on Earth, a world of humans and the mythic becomes meshed into one. With its ridiculous beginning with two normal humans chasing down a Contractor. In an instant, with the breaking of some fingers, the Contractor goes flying off into the sky with his ability to defy gravity and control it to his will. Tell me that isn’t something badass-worthy.

Basic plot of the show: So this mysterious gate appears in Tokyo that appears to hold some mystical powers that alters the face of the earth. In South America, a team of changed human beings prepare to take out what is known as Heaven’s Gate, its twin in Tokyo known as Hell’s Gate. In a gigantic explosion with no known explanation, Heaven’s Gate is destroyed and the pasts of those involved become altered. It is up to Hei (Jason Liebrecht) to discover his past in

Hie and his ladies.

connection to the other Contractors around him.

It is these other Contractors that hold the key to exactly what it means to live in this new world of powers and new discoveries. The art of astrology has become relevant again as the Japanese government uses it in order to keep tabs on the Contractors of Japan. With the denotations of mere letters and numbers, the true names of the Contractors are not known, leaving the government at the mercy of the superhuman beings. Hie and his team consisting of Yin (Brina Palencia) a lifeless doll and tracking system, Huang (John Swasey) the team organizer, and Mao (Kent Williams) a former Contractor, now cat, travel the streets of Tokyo, performing missions given by The Syndicate. Through these missions, Hie and the others begin to discover their role in the Gates and what has been going on the last 10 years.

Yin, one of the more interesting characters.

The structure of the show is quite interesting. Although a continuous plot for Hie is not really put into effect until the last 10 episodes or so, the suggestion of a tying plot is frequently referenced to. Most of the beginning of the show flows between the Japanese government and its agents and a private investigator, intermingling Hie and his teams story. On the government side, Misaki Kirihara (Kate Oxley) is the head of an investigation team within the Public Security Bureau. Although she holds importance over the others, her subordinates Yusuke Saito (Chris Sabat) and Yukata Kano (Todd Haberkorn) provide support and comic relief in their roles. But the true comedy of the show comes from Gai Kurasawa (Brandon Potter) and Kiko Kayanuma (Brittney Karbowski). These two own their own private detective agency that comically coincides with just exactly what’s happening with Hie and the Contractors. Whether it’s looking for a cat or collecting stories on the true stars, Brandon Potter relentlessly blunders through as Gai and leaves a hilarious path of turmoil in his path.

And credit needs to be given to the Contractors of the show. November 11 (Troy Baker) is a ridiculously cool Contractor in league with MI6 and the British Intelligence Agency. With his ability to create ice from water spontaneously, November 11 comes across as a suave Bond character with the help from Troy

What a Bond you are, Nov. 11.

Baker. Maki (Maxey Whitehead) is a troubled little boy in league with, well, I’d rather you watch and find out (the plot comes in at this point), with the ability to create explosions with his hands, not unlike Kimblee of Fullmetal Alchemist (my favorite character, mind you and something I am currently re-watching). His troubled past leaves him struggling to be somebody among the wrong people. And a bit of an unspoken badass in the show, Wei Zhijun (Robert McCollum) pays with his own blood in order to lay waste to whatever it touches.

Ahhh, the power of blood.

Now these are only a few in a long string of Contractors that all have great backstories and well developed episodes. With about 2-3 episodes per character interaction, this eats up a good majority of a show. I had wished for a bit more of a straight-ahead plot the whole way through, but it didn’t detract from how good the show is. The voice acting is decent to good and really carries a lot of the show with the emotional scenes that creep up. What really captures me in this show is the excitement of a new Contractor and discovering their power and Payment. (I only capitalize because of those words’ importance.) The show, I guess, is really character driven and that’s the true charm of the show. The dark (hint hint) elements of the show don’t overburden the show or push it into the overdramatic, which really balances out the quality and amount of material the show covers. I really enjoyed myself while watching this and would suggest this to anyone who likes a good crime thriller action anime/film. Enjoy! 8.8 out of 10!

What's hidden behind that mask?


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.


Kaze No Stigma: Avatar’s Estranged Cousin

Let me first start off by saying that the wikipedia description of this show really doesn’t describe what I actually witnessed in this show about wind and fire and earth powers (water was sadly left out). I must say that for an anime, straight out of Japan to pale in comparison to the Nickelodeon version of a similar show, is sad. But this show has achieved the impossible. And yet, this gives a lot of props to Avatar: The Last Airbender and the amazing creators behind it. It was a worthwhile show. But that’s not the point.

Let me kick something at you. “Kazuma Kannagi was considered useless within his family because he could not use “Enjutsu” (Blaze Technique), the power to control flames. When he was defeated by Ayano Kannagi, one of his very distant relatives, in a bout to decide

If only it were truly like this...

who would wield “Enraiha” (Blaze Lightning Supremacy), a sword that was wielded by the family heir, he was banished from the family. Four years later, he returns as a master of “Fūjutsu” (Wind Technique), the power to control wind, and with a new name: Kazuma Yagami. Soon after his return, he is reunited with Ayano and his younger brother, Ren, who is also gifted in Enjutsu. Soon, however, Kannagi family members are killed and the murder weapon is revealed to be Fūjutsu. Now Kazuma has to fight his family to prove that he is not the murderer and follow a series of adventures with Ayano.”

Okay, that is the bare bones plot… of the first 6 episodes. This show may start here, but it ends in a different dimension entirely. Thanks for not ruining the plot in your summary, Wikipedia, but you sure as Hell didn’t clue me in as to where this show was headed.

Stranger things have happened in this show.

And from that description alone, I got a different vision of what I thought this show would be. I was envisioning samurai fire sword wielders. Dynasty warriors shit. Real harcore fights. The reality? Modern day Tokyo with some decent fight scenes and not a whole lot about really redeeming himself with that murder on his hands. Nice.

That’s not to say that Kazuma Yagami (Robert McCollum) wasn’t a compelling character. He is by far one of the most compelling characters I’ve encountered in anime. Cast out by his family because of his differences at a young age, Kazuma must make his way in the real world with no real support. And he doesn’t just lay down and die. Oh no. He gets up, makes a pact with the Wind Gods, and comes back to lay waste to his family. Not actually kill them, but bleed them dry of their money by becoming hired help. And at every turn, Kazuma consistently tells the entire Konnagi family to go shove it. He truly doesn’t care if they live or die. Pretty much up until the last episode. You can’t deny that a character with those emotions shouldn’t be messed up. Well he isn’t, and he gets the job done when, with most other characters, he would sit down and cry about his dilemma. Job well done, Kazuma.

But back to the plot. After this little 6 or 7 episode arc of catching his framed killers, Kazuma and Ayano Kannagi (Cherami Leigh) go on random adventures that don’t come together into a coherent end that begins to form in episode 17 of 24. Yes, as small sections the first season and beginning of the second season seem

I bet you anything he's about to cry.

interesting. But when you see the leapfrog style of the entire anime, it almost seems senseless.

Other than that glaring problem, most of the voice acting in the english dub just doesn’t hold up. I know I really should’ve just watched this dubbed, but I wanted to give what I thought was going to be a decent anime a try. This anime that was neither here nor there in genre really took me for a loop. Wow. Cherami Leigh became an annoying time bomb, who, as in most shounen, couldn’t do a damn thing for herself. Ren (Josh Grelle) became a provincial crybaby over his big bro Kazuma, and most other voice actors fell by the wayside with their sub par performances.

I think that reason I’m tied up about this show is that it was so weak in plot, characters, and direction. It wasn’t what I expected and it showed. There’s a whole episode about perverts and panty shots for god sakes. I didn’t mind it for the comic relief, but a lot of this show, even in its most serious moments, came of as just plain comic and sad. I sadly give what I thought was going to be The Last Airbender, 4.1 out of 10.

I think this sums up everything about this show… And it’s not even good subbed…