Saturday, January 3, 2009


Looking back at the previous year, let me give you a rundown of the 5 most memorable anime titles for me.

5. Kara no Kyoukai
Although this series is not yet officially finished by any means, the stuff I saw in the first four movies cemented its spot in my favorites list. I couldn't ask for anything more in this series. Kara no Kyoukai has mind-blowing detail when it comes to animation and they did not cheat in the fight scenes. Every knifing Shiki performs is drawn in such detail you'll go WOW, especially when watched in an wide LCD screen in the dark.

4. Kure-nai
What can I say? Kure-nai was one of the series' that successfully conveyed the feel of companionship minus the melodrama. I mean, yeah, this guy's got friends, but instead of fawning over them like Clannad does, Kure-nai seemed to focus on the easygoing and humurous nature of friendship. Furthermore, Kure-nai had some female empowerment undertones, and basically the series is about a little girl's stubborn struggle against family tradition. That's a major plus for me.

3. Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na koto: Natsu no Sora
Accusations of plaigarism (look it up) aside, I liked this series when it ran. I used to call Sora a "hick" because of her innocent, rural ways. Although covertly praising the rural farmland lifestyle by comparing it favorably with the stressful city life, I kinda let it go, as I, as a city-boy know that city life IS stressful. But this is where I grew up so I don't have any idea about farms, nor do I want to have anything to do with it. Places aside, I didn't really agree with the altruist themes of the series, mainly helping others without compensation. So when Sora, the beloved Hick learned that she's gonna die from this disease, I was quite happy, unlike you suckas.

2. Muryou no Hako
Simply the best series 2008 year had to offer, (however I had to put this in second place because while technically finished, subs aren't done for all eps yet) Muryou no Hako combines the hard-boiled, no-nonsense attitude of a detective crime fiction story with the softer details of a girl-to-girl relationship. So far, so good. Technically, it's quite original as there is this occasional rainbow-like hue coming from the left-hand corner of the screen, which makes the frames look gentler and dreamier IMO. Another thing to be mentioned are the two girls' eyes which look quite haunting. However, this is not really my focus as I am engrossed with the story (above all else).... if only the fansubbers picked up the pace.

Two series' are Tied for #1

1a. XXXholic Kei
I love this shit. As if I am not sadistic enough to laugh when Watanuki is forced to do the most ridiculous of all things, only to get shrugged off by Domeki's wry wit and lulled by Himawari's naive encouragement. Well, the reasons why this series is very strong to me is first, it does not deal with morality in a black or white matter. Yes, there may be ghosts, and they are part of the problem, but they weren't entirely bad. Secondly, the series wouldn't be strong without the witch, Yuko, by far the most famous personality with a paradoxical concoction of childish immaturity and old-age wisdom... and she's Hawt :o Daym!

1b. Real Drive
Yep. Quite a predictable choice by me. Real drive was the complete package. It had depth and silliness and while staying committed to the main story, it never neglects the periphery. I wrote an entry about this so just read it. It will just be redundant if I still explain here.

Special Mention

Xam'd: the lost memories
More like Xamd: The Bio Machine as the "lost memories" arc lasted for a mere 3 episodes. Just watch it. I think this series is especially catered for a worldwide audience, so that's why I was able to easily understand it. The entire floating fortress thingy? It's a western fiction thing, isn't it? North and South, Korean peninsula comparisons, anyone? Most evident of all, english OP and ED... and playstation 3 release. Internationally intended, like Afro Samurai.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Series Review: Shigurui

Rating: A (one of my all time favorites)

Plot review: Set in seventeenth century Japan, Shigurui is about the ruthless world of the swordsman. A struggle for power in a dojo triggers vicious banishment and gruesome revenge killings. Early on, the moods of bleakness and lawlessness are established, as the series portrays the idea that safety is in strength. Shigurui pulls no punches in realistically depicting the idea of survival of the strongest. There is no such things as morals in Shigurui, and for a good reason. Morals don't matter when life or death depends on the edge of the sword. It is much more important to be strong than kind.

Shigurui pits the epitome of hard work, obedience and discipline, Gennosuke Fujiki against the maverick-like natural talent of Irako Seigen. The clash between the two personalities are noticeable as you get to see the rise and fall of both characters and because they symbolize the two main paths towards power. One could attain success through sheer determination, while another could simply have a natural ability towards something and learn faster than anyone else. But most importantly, shigurui also pits the idea of self-interest against the traditional samurai virtue of standing by one's lord. Irako was the symbol of self-interest. He did swordsmanship because he wanted to raise his social status. On the other hand, Gennosuke is the heir of the dojo and acts because of duty. Although Shigurui pits two polarizing figures, it does not give a clear conclusion. Nobody is presented as a clear winner between the two and we are left in the dark as the series ended before we saw the two fight.

Technical: Shigurui is a classic example of the paradoxical term "motionless motion". Its storytelling is conveyed through long, deliberate periods of tense silence, stillness and detail on the most minute and everyday things. However, within this silence, there is a message more powerful than the most boisterous of blabber. This is not the silence of idleness, but the silence of anticipation. Imagine two swordsmen ready to stab each other given any moment one loses his concentration, and the silence and stillness of that situation is similar to that of the series. It is as if the characters talk with their actions and by their deeds, they do not even need to talk. The deliberate stillness of the frames also emphasize anticipation. The viewer is complled to imagine movement rather than be spoon fed with events. In short, every sound uttered and every movement done is deliberate. Shigurui is like an animated play.

Colors are mostly based on black, grey and white, which gives the series a tone of seriousness and a little sadness. Facial expressions give a sick and twisted impression on the characters. Most important of all, the gore was shown in its full glory. If limbs (or nipples) were to be dismembered, they were done so in detail. There is no sugarcoating, just pure insane violence.

Final Remarks: Because this may offset those who aren't accustomed to violence, I would suggest you to prepare yourself for this one. Furthermore, bear in mind that because of the depravity of the situation presented in the series. Don't be shocked to see extreme acts of torture on women and the wanton destruction of lives. It's a normal thing in their context. I also assure those who watch this that you guys will be rewarded by something that pushes traditional storytelling conventions to its limits.

Recommended for dystopia fans.


Enjoy the new year!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Aria Series Review

This review will cover season one up to three of Aria. Since I marathon it, it would be proper to post a review that covers every season. It would be difficult to review this one because this series is more about mood and feelings. I’m a person who finds it difficult to express what I feel into words so I hope you can bear with me.

Aria is set in Neo-Venezia, a city that resembles Venice. It is located in the planet of Aqua which is formerly known as Mars but during the 23rd century it was terra-formed and became a planet capable of supporting life. Aqua became a planet engulfed by vast oceans stretching miles from one land to another so in Neo-Venezia, the main transportation is through the use of gondola. In that very city we follow the lives of apprentice undines (gondoliers) as they encounter different events and people.

The colors and hues throughout the series retained its pastel-like tone and it touches the anime’s soft theme. The character design is also well done because it compliments their personality. What really overwhelms me was the very setting which is Neo-Venezia. The absolutely crisp details are breath taking and the architectural designs are really detailed. If ever Neo-Venezia existed, I would love to live there because it has the most glorious architectural design, people there are nice and the undines are so hot so what more could you ask for? The animation is not really important in this kind of show but I was amazed because even if the animation was not that good in the first season, they made sure that Neo-Venezia will still look awesome. In the second season, the animation was a little better but in the final season the animation really kicked off. For a slice of life show, the animation in the third season is top notch. My only rant was the side shots of the characters in season two because that drawing looks kind of awkward but you’ll forgive it mainly because it’s just a minor quirk.

There’s no real plot in this series, it’s just all about the adventures, experiences and hardships of our undines. Throughout the previous series, it’s easy to believe one is watching a series of disconnected, episodic slice-of-life adventures, but in this series it becomes clear that everything in Aria connects to an overarching story about the lives of its characters. To tell you the truth, I’m not that fond of watching slice-of-life anime but after I’ve watched this I was blown away by the disarming messages that could make you appreciate little things in life, try to be a nicer person and to always look on the positive side of life. This anime is like a medicine because before I first watched this I was very stressed about what I’m doing with my life but when I watched this it, I felt better. This is the most influential series that I’ve watched so it was able to reach my top 5 favorite anime show of all time.

All the opening of this series was sung by Yui Makino and her songs was able to compliment the calm pacing of the series. I’m impressed, mainly because as the series progressing, all her songs just kept getting better and better. Even though the songs are slow it is really catchy and very calming. I even find myself humming her songs whenever I space out. In the first two season of Aria, Round Table sung the ending song and it kind of sends a message ‘see you next time’. I also love their song because after watching the anime, I don’t know it left me grinning and feeling light hearted. By the way in season two Round Table has sung two ending songs entitled “Natsumachi” and “Smile Again”. I also like those songs but I liked Rainbow better. There are also several insert songs and bgm and the scene where it was inserted are very fitting. An example of that was during the last episode of ‘the origination’, I think I cried 3 times in that episode because the bgm was very fitting especially in the scene where Akari thought that Alicia already left (that was a tear jerker scene). I would also like to add the insert song during the retirement ceremony was also fitting and that was also a tear jerker scene. I’m trying so hard not to cry but in the end I cried. It’s the first time I cried this much while watching an anime series because usually I could hold back my tears (that’s my talent, keeping my emotions to myself). Unfortunately, the third ending song was not sung by Round Table instead Akino Arai sung the song Kin no Nami Sen no Nami. I don’t hate that song it’s just that I find it a bit inferior to other ED of this anime. Nevertheless, I still like it after listening to it a couple of times.

This series has been awesome mainly because the characterization was superb. I was able to relate to the characters especially Aika. I think you could also relate to them because they are just like any human beings living their lives and having some flaws. It’s very rare to find an anime that has good characterization that’s why I’ve gotta praise Aria for being able to accomplish that. My favorite character would be Akari because she is very optimistic and she sees everything positively. I also admire her honesty because she could easily open up to others and due to her positive attitude she could attract other persons to her side. My second favorite would be Alice because at first she is afraid of opening up to others but because of Akari, she was able to become a bit more friendly. Even though she is a genius she has a cute side like doing some ridiculous challenges. Sigh, to tell you the truth I like all the characters of Aria but those two are my favorite.

The voice actors of the series really suited each of the characters. They did a good job but I noticed that most of the main voice actors of this series have only starred in few series. Even though they are not famous they were able to bring to life the characters with their skills. I like the voice actor of Alicia and her memorable “ara, ara *giggle*” and also Aika’s “Hazukashii serifu Kinshi!.

I really enjoyed this show because every episode was able to make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. It even made me appreciate little things in life and to have a optimistic world view. If I could compile each and every one of the quotes in this series I would because I was able to relate to it. At first I thought the lessons in this series are for kids but as you ponder about it, it is really directed at older audience. Who says anime is only entertainment? Anime could teach you lessons that you can’t learn in real life and this series proved that. I think everyone could enjoy Aria for a price of opening their hearts. Most people doesn’t like this kind of show but I tell you, even if you find some lines in this series cheesy, you’ll be disarmed because of the show’s honesty. I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone because not all people like this kind of show, all I could say is if you feel stressed watch an episode or two and you’ll feel light hearted. I think this type of series should not be marathoned because you’ll end up sleeping because of its calming mood. How can I describe it? Arghhhh!!! Just watch it…..it’s really difficult to convey it into words. Overall, I love Aria and I’m sad that it ended already. Thank You Aria…..

the animation – 7/10
the natural – 8/10
the origination- 9/10

Pacing – 8/10
Sounds/Music – 9/10
Character – 10/10
Voice Acting – 9/10
Enjoyment – 9/10

(Ugh...I heven't finished my homework in Filipino thanks to this very long review)

Until then…


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Monday, December 29, 2008

Bungaku Shoujo

This light novel series has recently been given a manga adaptation. I don't have much to say ATM aside from the girl is the model for this blog's banner... and she likes eating paper and comparing literature to food.

Here is a download link of the first chapter courtesy of Lupus from THAT anime blog:

Download Me

Post Season Review 1: Kurozuka


Final rating: B (downgraded after the last episode)
- Plot: The last episode did not really conclude the story. Yea, we may have seen Kuro beating the shit out of the goonies and finally seeing Kuromitsu, the ending raised more questions than answers. Even if we know that Kuro's body isn't perfect yet (hence, the beheadings), we still don't know why kuromitsu thinks that her little "search-me" game is a way for her to live eternally. Furthermore, that little rerun of the past events suggested that Kuro may have gone back to his age, and back again to what it is in episode 2. I mean, did the events of episode 3-11 really happen?, or was it just a dream. If it did, then how come he went back to the exact same time he started from, and is it destined for him to do the exact same thing and fight the exact same enemies? Well, all this proves is that Kuromitsu is one Bad, manipulative vamp chick... and an unfuckable one too (how can Kuro fuck her if he has no body?).

- Technical: Graphic details weren't as sharp as series' like Eve no Jikan because it doesn't use CGI that much. Color wise, there's nothing noticeable nor praiseworthy, kinda like something coming from Bee Train rather than Madhouse. The palette is mostly muted for the entire duration of the series. As far as I reckon, only Kuromitsu's kimono was colorful. Yes, the series is bloody as hell, but the way how some of the fight scenes were presented was already explored in Texhnolyze, and to a lesser extent, Shigurui. You know, that flashing camera angles and stylized shots of dismembered limbs (to substitute for fluid animation) coupled with the distortion in the animation of the surroundings (in Kuro's trance mode)... yep.. it's Texhnolyze, samurai style.

- Final Comments: Although not living up to its intial hype, Kurozuka was enough to keep you watching it while it ran. The story ran slow a bit when the two lovers separated and the series itself never regained that carnal energy it had on its first two episodes (which was essentially what drew me to this series). Watch it if you like, but don't expect loose ends to be resolved.

Anyway, if there's a second season to clear things up, I'll go for it.