Tuesday, January 21, 2014

a parade of first impressions

I picked up anime again a few weeks ago.  What propelled this strange occurrence since my hiatus to this blog and the anime/manga world since 2009 is the most random thing:  Netflix began uploading anime with dual language rather than simply uploading the English dubbed versions.  Now I can watch select few anime series and movies on Netflix in originality with subtitles.  It's kind of nice.

On that note, I began to think back on a lot of the anime I had yet to watch but had wanted to watch for a long time.  And somehow, that wall came down and now I'm watching lots.  It just so happened that I already had a Crunchyroll account too.  So I've been checking out a bunch of anime, new and old (some that are new to me, though way old for everyone else), as well as catching up on some anime I never finished (which will be a different post later).

So let the party begin.

Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic
This is the first of my anime "first episodes" marathon, as the premise sounded kind of neat.  Not that it was extremely interesting or anything, but I was curious enough to pick it up.  I'm not entirely sure what the storyline is about, but it seems to follow a young boy and his djinn with a promise to return the magical creature back to his own people.

It seems like a cute and possibly exciting series so far with really pretty animation and lots of action and humor.  I'm thinking that my only complaint about it is the talk about boobies every few frames of the anime series.  And our boys are constantly groping the girls around them.  I'm not sure I feel too great about those parts, but then again, this is Japanese anime after all and we're always open to the "open pervertedness" of the anime culture, no?

After finishing up other series, I may come and pick up the rest of Magi as well as it's second season.

Log Horizon
As of the writing of this post, I've already decided to continue following Log Horizon to it's most recently aired episode.  With 25 episodes total and only around 16 available so far, I have a feeling I'll be doing quite a bit of waiting around nearing the end.

MMORPG to anime series have always been rather successful and tons of fun to watch if you've ever been someone who's spent hours upon hours stuck in a virtual world of adventure.  In the same line, series about MMORPG worlds are even more fun when accompanied by the futuristic "real body experience" virtual reality gaming where the MMO can be played as if you were really in the game rather than just watching the game play on a screen.

.hack was one of few of these types with a multi-series show from a couple years back.  Last year, we enjoyed the glorious story of Sword Art Online that included a rather intriguing, almost horrifying real world experience where players are stuck in the game and a game death would mean a real life death as well.

Log Horizon takes on a different style of "virtually stuck in a game".  I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume that Elder Tales was a game that you would play the normal way at present: on a computer, staring at a screen for hours.  I'm going to assume that this isn't one of those fancy futuristic games where we use virtual reality gear to enter the game's world as if it were real.  But then due the new expansion of Elder Tales, the players somehow ended up being whisked into the game itself as if it were really a virtual reality game.

So the story taking place now pretty much follows our heroes as they try to figure out what to do with themselves in this game where, death leads to respawning and survivability is easy, and the law is so non-existent that people have come to take advantage of the system to truly become terrible, evil people.  After all, if you kill and steal from others in the game, those people will respawn anyway and you get to keep all their loot.  And best of all, there are no repercussions.  So why not go all out and do exactly what you want to do right?

I guess the entire basis of this series will follow the mystery of why players were forced into the virtual world as real people and why there is no escape from the game at all.  In the meantime, we simply follow along some mini-adventures with our heroes.

The concept of the series still seems a bit hard to grasp for me, but I'm enjoying the anime nonetheless.  There's enough MMO language, gaming excitement, character growth, and dry, yet spontaneous humor to keep me interested.  Also, running gags are pretty fun when done correctly -- Nice Job! Akatsuki-chan!

Magical Warfare
I'm a fan of anything fantasy, adventure and magic, so a series called Magical Warfare sounded like it would be interesting.  Especially when we start with a kid suddenly acquiring magic when he had none to begin with.  It's a typical hero story line with the main character gaining power and skills, joining with characters of "a whole different world".

However, I started getting bored of the action as the episode progressed.  Even though there was a lot of fighting and a lot of info being flung around, I found myself hard pressed to care about the events.  And then there was the one suspension of disbelief moment in the nurse's office when the magic girl, Mui, pulls a gun out.  Rather than freaking out that she has a gun on her person, our main guy seemed pretty darn calm about it.  The entire time I'm wondering, "Why isn't he questioning anything that's happening?  Why is he just going with it all?"  And in spite of his easy acceptance of these strange circumstances, he then ends up freaked out when his friends are exposed to magic and develop their own powers as well.

Realistic this series is not (as realistic as a magic genre can be, I mean).  However, as I've mentioned before in some other post, even within the logic of the series itself, things should make sense.  And somehow, it didn't really.  At least not for me.

In short, I may not be continuing this series at all with so many other series to watch and so many other things to do.

My Little Monster/ Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun
Here's another sweet little shoujo genre anime to add to my pile of rom-coms.  After finally finishing Kimi ni Todoke and then picking up another shoujo anime, Sukitte Ii na yo, it never hurts to have another one waiting for when I'm ready for another dose of fluff.  Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun is proving to be every bit as cute and unique as I expected, considering the fact that the main couple comprise of non-standard female and male types (if you compare with the typical shoujo characters seen regularly).

The girl is smart, academically successful, and she has a no-nonsense attitude about her.  She's realistic too, as she doesn't swoon at the cute guy clinging to her; and she also behaves appropriately around him.  When he's acting all angry, dangerous and creepy, she walks away.  This is normal behavior in the real world, because no matter how good looking a boy is, if he's exhibiting violent behavior, it's probably smart to stay away from him.

Of course, as any rom-com would have it, the boy, of course has a heart of mush as all he wants is to make friends.  He's cute AND angrily violent at the same time.  I'm... not sure how I feel about that combination.  Because the depressing and pathetic cute side of him makes you want to hang around so you don't make him cry...  But his violent side makes you just want to avoid him altogether so that you don't get hurt.

Conflicts of the dramatic, teenage world, no?

As a short series, I'll probably finish this one fairly quickly, but it'll hang for a while until I've watched some other series.  Because after this, I'll have to search for some more rom-com, shoujo-esque series to enjoy.

Tonari no Seki-kun
I can't not look away from this series for some reason.  I mean, it's seven minutes per episode of Seki-kun killing time while he's bored in class.  It's like... I'm really watching merely out of curiosity to see what he has planned next.

Which is strange considering there's really nothing else going on.  So it's probably a good thing that this series is only airing short seven-minute episodes.  And for a while there, I was wondering how they would fill 20 minutes with nothing but Seki-kun's bored feats.

Watching it as it releases an episode at a time on Crunchyroll.  This series is amusing at best, but aren't those usually the ones you end up enjoying?

I did not even finish the first episode.  Nothing in the story line was making sense, none of the characters made sense, and the show seemed to be another weird fantasy/Digimon/Pokemon/transformers/mecha... well, I'm not sure what this series is about and maybe I would have found out soon enough.  But I didn't have the patience to sit through 20 minutes of this series when I was starting to wander.

Definitely not going to be continuing this one.  That is all.

Wizard Barristers
This is a hard one to form an opinion on.  On the one hand, the artwork is shiny and pretty and the concept is unique.  On the other hand, the story line thus far (episode 1) was kind of boring and random.  And the world creation isn't really making much sense either.

For now, I'm just going to monitor and maybe watch a few more episodes before I make a decision on whether or not I want to continue watching this one.

There's office politics, real politics, magical politics, and some silly magical girl antics going on that doesn't quite do it for me.

See my first impression post of Strange+.  That is all


So there you have it.  Several anime series that I've picked up and tried to pick up.  There are also several other ones I've begun watching as well, but that I don't have anything much to say about them.  Newer series includes Attack on Titan, which is visually and conceptually awesome, though it seems more like something my brothers would enjoy on a different level than I would.  I don't have many thoughts on it yet except for the fact that I'm enjoying it.  Other series include Fullmetal Alchemist, Soul Eater, and a continuation of Fairy Tail -- all three series of which are fun in a totally different way.  I have plans to start watching Gintama and maybe see to catching the first few episodes of One Piece... just because.

I've even been playing around with rewatching Sword Art Online, Samurai Champloo and D.Gray-man.

Otherwise, this is it for now.

Monday, January 20, 2014

first impression: Strange+ (anime)

I have absolutely no idea what the heck this anime is about, but I just... I can't... not look at it.  I'm even going to throw-in a #strange+ even though I'm pretty sure I'm not using the hash tag properly (and I still don't understand the concept anyway) and I don't have a twitter...

But hey, this series got me to actually publish a blog post on this long abandoned anime and manga blog.  I just... needed to express my opinion, because somehow, I'm just... well, I'm not quite sure what I'm trying to talk about... except that the character with the blue hair is the big brother...

Take a second to let that sink in.

Yea.  I thought so, too.


Now that my consciousness has returned...

This series wasn't what I was expecting and everything just kind of, "came out of left field" for the lack of a better description.  I watched the first episode as a tester just to see what the series was like.  After it sped by with the strangest rapid-fire dialogue, I realized it was only a 3 minute short and that nothing was really making sense.

I went on to watch the second episode out of some sort of morbid, twisted curiosity.  And it's not like I didn't have 3 minutes to spare, right?

And then:  "In the name of the moon, I will punish you!"

Yeah.  THAT happened; a dude said it (the tall dark dude on the left in the poster above).  It came out of nowhere completely.  I burst out in laughter.

And now I'm stuck.  Even though I have no idea what the heck is going on, I'm going to keep watching out of some twisted need to fulfill my morbid curiosity at what else will come flying out of nowhere... besides a bunch of shiny pink butts.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

news: Hana Kimi @ the drama zone

Having recently been more interested in watching live action drama, I know that I've left this blog fairly unattended. It can't be helped since my interests change often from one area to another pretty sporadically. There is still hope that I'll return to the anime and manga blogging scene as there have been few anime series and manga series I have left unfinished. But while I continue on my new quest to enjoying live action drama, the animanga zone will definitely continue it's extended hiatus.

Of course, that doesn't mean that I've forgotten about it completely. Because in the coming future, I have my own plans to post certain articles in the drama zone in which will include some elements of anime or manga.

With that said, here are two live action drama series based off of ever popular cross-dressing reverse harem shoujo manga, Hanazakari no Kimitachi e by Nakajo Hisaya:

Hanazarkarino Kimitachie also known as Hua Yang Xiao Nian Xiao Nu (花樣少年少女) -- a 2006 production in the Taiwanese Idol Drama genre.
The story line to Hana Kimi is a perfect match for Taiwan's hit television series arena wherein Idol Drama's rule the entertainment industry, showcasing the hottest new artists and stars who are capable of singing, dancing and acting as well as simply looking pretty or handsome. Lead by S.H.E. girl group member Ella Chen alongside Fahrenheit boy group members Wu Chun and Jiro Wang, this series became vastly popular throughout Asia with it's sweet and fun story base as well as rising star cast. While probably not the best drama series production in Asian media, Hana Kimi truly was a hit among young girls all over the world. This series boasts musical numbers from S.H.E., Fahrenheit and Tank.

Hanazakari no Kimitachi e: Ikemen Paradise -- a 2007 production from Japan, it is also referred to endearingly as IkePara.
As with any popular Japanese manga, it is only a matter of time before the country takes it's own productions to create a live action series for the people to enjoy. While not truly following the original manga story line, it takes elements and plot devices from the manga and incorporates them into a separate story altogether. Packed with hilarious Japanese humor and excellent comedic timing, this series boasts some wonderful entertainment as well as elements of slice-of-life philosophy about being young and following dreams. Among the cast are Horikita Maki, Oguri Shun, and rising star Ikuta Toma who pretty much steals the spotlight from the ever beloved main couple. With this series, Ikuta Toma received his biggest break, capturing hearts of young girls all over the Asian region and catapulting him into main leading roles in his own drama series as well as movies.

Both of these above mentioned series have been analyzed to death by this weblog fangirl. There has never been a doubt that Hana Kimi will forever be one of my most favorite shoujo manga ever created as I can easily reread chapters upon chapters without feeling bored about them. As a warning, the articles posted above are fairly in depth and may contain spoilers. But as they were broadcasted more than four years ago as well as are based off of a well-known manga anyway, it probably doesn't hurt for me to spoil just a little bit of the story line. After all, for the most part, romantic comedies typically yield the same predictable formulas regularly.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

news: the obvious

Well, by about now, two years after my last post, I think the community has pretty much figured out that my blog is on extended hiatus. I fully and humbly apologize to anyone who is even really following this blog. After starting school again and falling into a new career, I've had little time to worry about whether or not my blog was being updated. After all, I don't even know if anyone is really reading this anyway and so it became my last priority.

But with a new chapter in my life beginning, between work and a new level of otaku-ism, the life of Ani, the weblogger will continue.

I make no promises in the area of anime or manga, but my motivation has returned, I assure everyone (population = 0?). Except that I have expanded my obsessions and have also decided to incorporate other items into my blogging life.

Presenting to the community a new side of me will be a whole new blog:

anicabyss' - drama zone

Take it or leave it, but it will be a whole new start, and who knows, I might even be motivated enough to start blogging anime and manga all over again as I still have several pre-written posts that still need to be presented to the readers.

Anyway, the official launch will be coming soon and my lists and whatnot and priorities have changed. And this blog needs a new picture anyway.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

thoughts: Seishun no Tamago (manga)

Creator: Nakahara Aya
Genre: comedy, drama, romance, slice of life, shoujo
Volumes/Chapters: 5 oneshot stories

Story 1: Spring Egg
Chika-chan's mother owns a lodging house for college students. The first to come live with them was a boy named Fujimori Tomohiro and since then, it has been love for Chika-chan. Unfortunately, Chika had to learn early on that Tomohiro had no interest in her at all when her mother makes him sign a contract saying that he'll never go after Chika. Not only did he sign the contract, but he also commented that it would never happen.

It has been a year since Tomohiro moved in and three other college students also are lodging with Chika's family. While their relationship is quite close, Tomohiro consistently treats Chika like she's just a little child; even though he knows that she has feelings for him, he openly rejects her time and time again, always calling her "just the lodging house's little brat," in front of others.

After openly offering herself to Tomohiro one night when they are alone at home, he doesn't even show any sign of being moved. Chika is finally set on giving up this one-sided relationship.

Story2: Sunflower Girl
Misaki has a crush on Kurita Kenji and in order to see him all the time, she purposefully eats sweets and junk food to give herself cavities. Kuri's family owns a dental office and upon going in, Kuri is always there hitting on the young girls jokingly or teasing Misaki. Due to summer break approaching, all the girls have the same idea of confessing to the guy they like before they separate and Misaki is encouraged to do the same by writing a letter. Unfortunately, a junior student is also interested in Kuri and has the same idea, beating Misaki to her confession.

In a fit of frustration, Misaki exclaims that she does not like Kuri and even refuses to go to his dental office even though her tooth aches. Realizing that she has been cowardly, the next time she sees Kuri, she breaks down into tears because of her toothache only to learn that Kuri has also liked her as well.

Story 3: Happiness Faces South!
Bon-chan is the type of guy who everyone adores because of a "magic" he creates when socializing. Bon-chan wears untrendy clothes and is extremely cheerful almost all of the time. And Bon-chan fell in love with Sakura at first sight after watching her hit an outstanding homerun even though she was dizzy with sickness from a cold. He later learns that Sakura is the younger sister of a renown beauty at his college.

Sakura had been in love with her sensei from softball and had recently learned that he got himself a girlfriend. Because of this, she got sick and while nursing herself back to health learns that her sister had just gotten a boyfriend. And then Bon-chan shows up and immediately attaches himself to Sakura, claiming that he likes Sakura the most.

But as Sakura begins to fall for Bon-chan's charms after his efforts to chase after her, she knows that she is no beauty compared to her sister. She overhears a few of their mutual friends gossiping that Bon-chan couldn't possible like Sakura and that he might be using her to get to the older sister instead. This occurs not too long after Sakura learns that her sensei and her sister were dating and she is not surprised because in the end, everyone falls for her sister anyway.

But Bon-chan gave his word that he would only look at Sakura and that it was Sakura whom he liked.

Story 4: Prince and I
Mari-chan's neighbor is a boy named Kaoru who is a year younger than her and he does not know how to ride a bike. Ever since she'd met him, she has liked him, and the two are always together, but not as a dating couple. Feeling depressed because even the elementary school kid has a girlfriend, Mari is ecstatic when Kaoru asks her to go to the planetarium with him after she mentions wanting to see it.

But when Kawase-senpai tells Mari that he likes her and wants to go out with her, jealousy takes over and Kaoru tells Mari to go with Kawase instead. After all, Mari had just twisted her ankle and Kaoru wouldn't be able to transport her home on a bike, so it was only right, right? But because of this, Mari has lost hope that Kaoru might care about her.

Story 5: 2 Block Honey
Satoshi and Micchan have been dating for at least a year, but back then, the two matched like such a nice couple. A year into the present, Micchan towers over her boyfriend by at least six centimeters and when she puts on another six centimeters worth of high heels, she is twelve centimeters much taller. And sadly, this affects Satoshi's thinking because he doesn't like that he's so much shorter than his "use to be cute" girlfriend.

Because of this, Satoshi has become irritated to the point that he wants to break up with her if she ever goes out with him in high heels again. But during the date to determine their status, all of the fates are against them when Micchan shows up in the only pair of shoes she can find, the six centimeter heels. They go on their date anyway, but when someone mistakens them for older sister and younger brother, Satoshi decides to end their relationship because of his pride.

Story 6: Spring, Air, Sunday
Sumito died not shortly after getting an agreement from his crush Risa to go on a date with him. At his funeral, his ghost sees Risa who is crying. And then he sees Haruno, his friend who can see him for some reason. Uncaring and cold, Haruno tells Sumito to leave and quit bothering her so he leaves just to find Risa; in doing so, he learns that Risa never really liked him and found it bothersome for him to chase after her. She only agreed to go on a date with him to shut him up.

Depressed, Sumito returns to Haruno's only to find out that she had been in love with him since the beginning even though she acted so cold about his death. And now, Haruno is on the roof ready to join Sumito as a ghost.


I really like oneshots, and even though I write a lot for the summaries, I really hope I don't give too much away.

Seishun no Tamago encompasses the greatness that is Nakahara Aya with her interesting characters, her wit and humor, and fun plot devices. This is a collection I enjoyed a lot, though I must say that nothing quite compares to Lovely Complex, not even the fifth story which was almost a direct knock off of Lovely Complex's idea, but with different types of characters and a different storyline.

Of the six stories, I enjoyed the first, third, and fourth ones the most. The third one, Happiness Faces South had one of the most interesting characters in the form of Bon-chan. I enjoyed his presence a lot and wouldn't have minded if the story was a little longer.

Again, Nakahara-sensei's witticisms do not cease to amaze me.

Friday, January 23, 2009

thoughts: Himitsu Kichi (manga)

Creator: Nakahara Aya
Genre: comedy, drama, romance, school life, shoujo
Volumes/Chapters: 4 oneshot stories

File 1: Boyfriend's Secret
Ikeuchi Kana is a first year high school student who can't stand childish boys. At a coffee shop near her house, she met the mature and good-looking Kaneda Kyouichi who, according to her investigations from the shop owner, is a twenty year old college student. She confesses to him not soon afterwards and he unhesitatingly agrees to go out with her.

Of course, after learning that Kana is a high school student, Kyouichi displays strange behavior, expressing that he thought she was the same age as him. The matter is, there is a secret about Kyouichi that the shop owner lied about, and when Kana finds out, it is a matter of whether or not she still wants to date him and if so, whether or not she wants her friends to find out. Also, Kyouichi has the nickname of Kanegon?

File 2: My Own Secret
Haruka Hiroko was walking home one day and by chance saves a boy being bullied. "I want to be a strong guy like you!" the boy exclaims, and by doing so, Hiro-chan angrily tells him that she's a girl-- although she has always been mistaken for a guy since young. Even though she dislikes that, at school it seems she has a reputation to keep as a cool judo club member and so keeps a secret about having a crush on the school idol, Yoshinaga-kun.

At school, she meets the weak boy she saved earlier, learning that his name is Kotake Jun and that he's in the handicrafts club-- he is quite girly as well. Meeting him afterschool at a convenience store, Jun unexpectedly learns that Hiro-chan has a crush on Yoshinaga and agrees to help her become girlier so that she can confess her feelings. In return, Hiro agrees to train Jun in judo so that he can become stronger.

An unexpected twist in the end has Hiro reevaluating her crush for Yoshinaga and her relationship with Jun.

File 3: Girlfriend's Secret
Seiji is the main vocalist to a local band and he is also in love with Eri, the girlfriend of one of his band members, Katagiri. But when he fell for her, it was because she told him she was moved by his singing. He had no idea that she was the girlfriend of Katagiri. By chance, Seiji learns something about Eri-chan and ends up in a complicated mess of secrets in order to help Eri-chan stay with her boyfriend.

But as time goes by with Seiji being the only person who knows this secret, it seems to draw the two closer, causing Seiji to become more and more jealous of Katagiri and his relationship with Eri-chan. In the process, Seiji is also told something revealingly shocking about himself.

File 4: My Secret
Afro Kawashima is thirty-four years old, has twelve years of experience as a performer, and is stuck on doing uninteresting and stupid gags and so he is not a famous actor. He is also the father of Kawashima Emi who is tired of being the lame actor's son. As this is the situation, Emi keeps his relation with the well-known Afro Kawashima a secret, and no matter how dotingly his father acts towards him, Emi can only return indifference.

And then one day, Afro Kawashima shows up to school revealing all the lies Emi had been telling about his family background. Not only that, but now everyone knows that the two are father and son.


There's something unique about the way Nakahara-sensei details her stories, even in oneshots. Each oneshot in this collection details a particular secret that each of the main characters has. As the readers, we learn about these secrets pretty early on, but the secret is still kept going up to the end of the short story.

The unexpected twists, especially in the first three oneshots are fun when found out. The second story may not seem to have a secret other than Hiro-chan's obsession with the school idol, but the surprise at the very end will have you rolling in your seat with laughter.

Between her witticisms, her surprises, and the facial expressions and whatnot, Nakahara Aya does not cease to amaze in her delivery of storytelling.

I like her work a lot for these reasons, as there has not been a story in which some part did not make me want to laugh out loud. These are especially found throughout Lovely Complex, but that will be for a different post in the future.

Himitsu Kichi is a fun and cute oneshot collection full of laughs, if not romance. Nakahara-sensei displays her awesomeness yet again.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

first impression: Zoku Natsume Yuujinchou (anime)

Natsume Takashi is a young boy who can see ayakashi-- a trait that other humans do not have. He inherited from his grandmother, Natsume Reiko, this ability to see ayakashi as well as the all-powerful Book of Friends. With the Book of Friends, Natsume Takashi is constantly being attacked and seeked out by various demons and spirits who either wish to have their names returned, or who just want to own the book for their own evil purposes.

This is a continuation-- the second season-- of Natsume Yuujinchou which ended on thirteen episodes during the 2008 fall season.

To be exact, this particular post is more for my own opinionated thoughts rather than for a first impression. As a first impression, it is more a way for me to compare the first season with the second season's beginning. In a way, Natsume Yuujinchou fans of the world will be given a chance to compare Natsume Yuujinchou's second season with the glory of its first season.

When I first picked out Natsume Yuujinchou from various other broadcasting anime in the fall, it was because I had been drawn to the advertised poster. This is all explained in first impression: Natsume Yuujinchou.

As the first season drew to a close and the anime loving community was informed of a second season, I was extremely ecstatic. After all, the first season was rather short and left much to be desired. While I had intended to draw up some hype on the soon-to-be-aired Zoku Natsume Yuujinchou, my busy schedule and loss of motivation sort of threw all of that into the dumpster.

But lo and behold, having finally gotten my hands on the first episode of the second season of Natsume Yuujinchou, I am thoroughly revived and ready to tackle my almost abandoned anime blogging once again.

And now back to the anime.

I remember why I liked this series so much. It's relaxing and it makes you really think about every situation and every scene and every dilemma. As I had described it in the end of series thoughts, instead of being an action packed, supernatural and fantasy adventure, Natsume Yuujinchou borders more on a serene, slice of life, drama-esque type of genre. Supernatural elements just happen to be its basis, used to better distinguish Natsume Takashi's growth and development and how he learns to deal with the world around him.

The second season starts off in very much a bit of a bang compared to how the first season had started. Of course, once again, our beloved hero is being chased by some greedy ayakashi out to get him for the Book of Friends, and again, Takashi-kun meets up with a danger to himself involving more dangerous ayakashi. The second season has Takashi tripping over yet another barrier and releasing yet another high level ayakashi from its seal. And then the story goes from there.

It feels less of a sequel and more like a continuation from the first season, exactly where it had left off. Little seems to have changed save for Takashi-kun's level up in emotional and mental quotients.

The anime is still aiming for the same feel and wonder as the first season.

The only difference I can filter out of it is that Natsume Takashi seems a bit livelier than he did from the first season. It could be because of a plethora of things, such as all the friends he had made from season one, and how much more secure he is feeling in his own home now. His sense of duty from accepting the presence of youkai has been amped up a few levels-- its as if he feels that, since he has the power to do so, he needs to play mediator between youkai and humans.

Otherwise, his personality still remains quite the same: he is a good kid with nice qualities and a penchant to think for other people's sakes. He's just a little less monotonous, more active, and less depressing-- not that he had been depressing in the first season at all.

The second season seems to be trying to bring up the comedy just a little more, but hopefully it will incorporate that element as the first season had done-- the first season had the perfect dosage of every genre it portrayed and hopefully the second season will remain as such.

I have to admit though that the first hit of comedy which involved Takashi-kun being smashed in the face with a soccer ball unawares as he is reminiscing was very classic. I jumped and then I gasped and then I laughed. The bit with Natsume Takashi's overpowering strength towards ayakashi is quite admirable-- and amusing-- when he is pissed off enough to take action instead of just relying on his unreliable feline/high-level ayakashi bodyguard.

On top of everything else, I think that I have become mesmerized everytime Takashi-kun does his little clap and blow bit when returning a name to the present ayakashi. Something about how he does it and the fact that he has proven to be quite the bishie and kind-hearted boy... it just makes me unhesitatingly add him onto my list of favorite bishounen males.

Natsume Takashi has become one of my favorite main anime characters. Hands down, he's great!

The theme song is more upbeat than the first season's, but I like it. It kind of synchronizes with Takashi-kun's personality as he continues through this serial anime journey. It took me two watches, but I had noticed that the first half of the theme song shows scenes without ayakashi and the second half shows those exact same scenes with the ayakashi. I feel like it's really significant in showing just how natural the presence of youkai are in the Natsume Yuujinchou world.

Overall, I will continue to look forward to watching the rest of Zoku Natsume Yuujinchou, although I know I'll be hard pressed not to compare it to its first season.

On an end note, the ending theme is not only animated beautifully with Takashi walking through snow and his friends joining him one by one, but it is also catchy and pretty. I will wait patiently for the full version of this song.

Monday, January 12, 2009

spotlight: Natsume Yuujinchou (anime)

It's a wonder that I've even been trying to show my enthusiasm for blogging. I've been slacking off extremely for the past couple weeks-- past month, actually-- and had even disregarded the December spotlight.

However, with the coming of the new winter season in anime as well as my continued love for shoujo manga, I think I can manage to post a few things here and there for the sake of keeping this blog alive somehow.

To start the year off, my first order of business happens to be the first spotlight of the year. The Januaray spotlight goes to none other than one of the best anime series of fall 2008 and hopefully of the winter season in 2009.


I'm hooked on this particular anime for many, many different reasons. I truly do believe that Natsume Yuujinchou can easily be called a "diamond in the rough." It's also one of those surprising pleasures that you would have never thought you'd fall in love with.

As explained many times before, I picked up this anime series purely because I thought the poster was gorgeous. The summary seemed cliched, just like any other supernatural series, and I hadn't had much high hopes for it in the first place. But then, after watching the first and second episode, ditching it for a while and then picking it back up, I found how refreshing and mellow the series made me feel.

I fell in love with it and then I basked in the moment of knowing that a second season would be airing soon after.

This is a true episodic series in which every episode has a story of its own, which also pertains to the rest of the running story line. And everything just kind of falls into place neatly and nothing seems forced. If a filler had been interjected, I don't think I would have noticed. Because even as the series progressed in a nonlinear fashion, our main hero, Natsume Takashi continues to develop and continues to grow and continues to learn new things about hisself, about the world around him, and about his special ability.

I fell in love with Natsume Yuujinchou, despite my main genre being romantic comedies based around shoujo manga. Comedy meshes naturally with the drama, the melodrama, the supernatural, and the everyday slice of life elements.

Instead of being a supernatural series with a side of drama, comedy and adventure, Natsume Yuujinchou prides itself on the drama and slice of life areas, which just so happen to have supernatural, comedy, with a side of adventure and sprinkles of action. Natsume Yuujinchou is not flashy or fast-paced, and Natsume Yuujinchou does not force action or comedy.

In a sense, it depicts one specific kind of subject: "This is what your natural life would be like if you could interact with ayakashi." And then, "This is what Natsume Takashi's natural life is like, having always been able to interact with ayakashi." There is nothing thoroughly exciting and funny about being able to see these things, and we are shown this through the flashbacks and the emotional stress that Takashi-kun exhibits throughout the series. He is in contact with ayakashi every day of his life, every hour of every day, and everything is suddenly second nature to him. Like interacting with various people, Takashi simply ignores what he doesn't care to see and deals with what he thinks should be dealt with.

This life is not an adventure for Takashi, this is just how life is for him. And the series does well to depict how he comes to accept his abilities and the constant presence of ayakashi around him. Yes, he is different from others and because of this, he has been shunned and thrown from household to household. But somehow, Natsume Takashi has been able to manage himself quite well.

In other comments and posts around the anime-internet community, it has been mentioned that Natsume Takashi's personality is quite different from manga to anime. In the manga, I've read, he is more melancholic and less kind than he is in the anime. Frankly, I really do prefer to see a serene and good-natured Natsume Takashi over one who will brood and hate because of his lonely and tortured history. Somehow, it adds onto the wonder and amazement that is the anime of Natsume Yuujinchou; the character of Natsume Takashi makes the series such a hit.

Everything from his past history, his flashbacks, his insecurity, his sense of needing to know where he belongs, and his consistent state of kindness and serenity towards the world and the people around him despite all that has happened to him make him a very unique person.

And it is this part of the series that makes for an awesome beauty. The characterization of Natsume Takashi. He can be melancholic, but in a rather subtle way, and he can be a bit terse. But he is depicted overall as a very nice boy who cares about the people around him and cares about the welfare of any perfect stranger, be that stranger ayakashi or human. He is simply lonely and full of concern about what will happen to him and about all the people he may or may not trouble because of his ability to see and communicate with ayakashi.

In a perfect world, one would be hard pressed to find such an optimistic person who has gone through what Natsume Takashi has gone through. But it is this type of person who allows the viewer a sense mysterious hope that not all views of life are filled with drawbacks and malicious evil. There is always a silver lining.

Natsume Yuujinchou is a wonderful and lovely series. And if you think I haven't boasted enough about it, then you haven't read my thoughts on the first season. Another written post for the second season may enter into this blog as well as soon as I finish watching it.

Throughout this post I have mentioned only the series itself and the main hero. I have made no mention of the fat cat, which is also a significant factor to the series. Of course, I feel like the anime really fluorishes because of its tone and it's slow paced storytelling. The characterization of Natsume Takashi is wonderful, and the supporting role of Madara/Nyanko-sensei is a must as the cat actually gives Takashi the hope that there is somewhere he belongs and someone who will always be with him. The introduction of each ayakashi and their episodic storyline can be touching or amusing, and they all add onto the greatness of Natsume Yuujinchou.

Natsume Yuujinchou is probably not for those who seek shounen adventures and the like. But I definitely recommend this series to anyone and everyone who just wants to sit back and relax with a good series. It is a series that needs to be felt rather than rushed through, and I enjoy watching the entire series slowly by episode as it seems only right to feel at ease when watching such a serene series.

Indeed, as the first spotlight of 2009, there is no other who could take the place of Natsume Yuujinchou, the unexpected treasure of 2008's fall season and the looked forward to love of 2009's winter season.

Monday, December 1, 2008

news: holiday breaks are in order

I've been feeling a lot of fatigue lately, and I know it's because of all the work hours and school work and social dealings that have been going on. Sleep is steadily taking over all of my extra time and it just feels easier to give into my weariness.

I had originally planned a few posts for this month, but my interest in anime and manga have been waning lately. This isn't to say that I won't be posting at all, it just means that I won't be trying to break into a two digit total of posts each month.

There are a lot of ideas I've been dying to share with everyone, and I plan on taking this month off of posting in order to pre-plan and write rough drafts for those features and whatnot.

I'm going to do my best to at least share a December spotlight, but it'll be another half-baked "I think I like this idea a lot but it sucks in reality" deal just like the last one.

As of current, I've stopped my viewing of anime with the exception of Skip Beat! and my anticipation of the next Kara no Kyoukai movie. Kuroshitsuji seems a little less interesting despite Sakamoto Maaya being one of the main seiyu. Michiko to Hatchin is one of those series that I can force myself to wait until it is completely available so that I don't end up on interesting hangers.

Manga is still the same as ever. I continue to wait for the next release of Lovely Complex, Ouran High School Host Club, and others. I'm pretty sure I've read a lot of good oneshot stories to death, and Hana Kimi gets a new skim through by me every month anyway.

I've been slipping into the live action series lately, but not Japanese or Korean. Instead, I've been watching and rewatching a lot of Hong Kong series of which I will leave thoughts and random opinions of them for my other blog: Abstract Abyss.

This month at anicabyss will be rather slow and unworthy of an anime fanblog. And I'm really shamed to say that the rest of the months will probably be given the same treatment as my otaku days are slowly calming down from obsessed to laid back viewer.

But anyway, for anyone who's actually been following along with this place, thank you very much for your support and I will continue to do what I can with this half-a**ed anime blogger.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

spotlight: Seiko-chin to Seishiro-kun

Due to my obviously likely nature at slacking off, the spotlight for November has been randomly chosen by way of "Hey this sounds pretty neat to share with the public!" Yea, I'm lazy, but I haven't even really had time to sit and make sure my feet are intact before getting up again.

Anyway, in all honesty, this particular post is really more about the latest chapter of Lovely Complex that I have been able to view as a fan.

Volume 15, chapter 56 is a special chapter of Lovely Complex dedicated to a short side story about Kotobuki Seishirou, otherwise known as Seiko-chan, and his cute little love story. Now, no Lovely Complex plot device is without some shocking, lulz-inducing twist by the ending. For those who haven't gotten that far yet, I will not give out the twist, but I assure you, by the end of the chapter, you will either be guffawing with laughter, or you will simply drop your jaws, too amused to even make a sound-- much like me.

As a brief cap, chapter 56 of Lovely Complex begins with cute little Seiko-chan looking extra sparkly and who "seems to be in love at the moment." We all remember that when Seiko expressed interest in poor A-chan long ago, it was quite difficult for the little midget not to succumb to Seiko-chan's "pheremones." After all, even though Seiko is really a boy named Seishiro, dressed as a girl and acting like a girl, he is definitely cuter than a lot of other girls.

This time around, Seiko has set his sights on another boy who stepped up and helped him out at the train station when he was being harrassed. Completely prepared to confess this new love, Seiko had even bought all new clothes and a thank you gift. Unfortunately, as biology dictates, it seems that Seishiro has finally become more male when his voice changes to a deeper tone. Because of this, Seiko believes he is disgusting and so has lost all confidence in confessing his love.

The plot of the story, of course has an interesting twist in the end in which we learn that the voice change had nothing to do with puberty, but in fact was really just because Seiko had had a cold. The surprising twist in the end is much more fun when found.

I really had a good laugh for this particular chapter, and it made me think of just how much I really admire and enjoy the presence of Seiko-chan in the storyline of Lovely Complex. Since the beginning, while my own ideals aren't quite that open yet, Seiko has proven to be a very courageous and beautiful person. After all, in today's society, there are still so many taboos and social restrictions and whatnot that make it hard for people to openly express their own likes and dislikes when they stray from what is believed to be the set "norm."

Kotobuki Seishiro is a boy, but he has always felt like he should have been born a girl. He loves to dress in cute clothes, wear his hair in pretty styles, and when placed within a group of girls, there is no telling that he is a boy at all. Seiko falls for those of the same gender, and his initial appearance in Lovely Complex was the means for Risa to realize that she was in love with Otani as well and that she shouldn't let trivial issues misguide her own feelings.

Seiko is very open and honest about himself. Even when made fun of, he can still smile and act cute like the best of them.

But when the "voice change" incident occurs in chapter 56, Seiko feels disgusted. He decides that he has no choice but to be a man now and forces himself to become Kotobuki Seishiro. Unfortunately, this plight is still overcome by the fact that Seiko loves cute things no matter what and cannot stand to be uncute at all.

So who is Kotobuki Seishiro, really anyway? Within this particular chapter, we get to see the male version of Seiko-chan-- which I bet fans have always wondered about. He is loud, obnoxious, and he's extremely depressing. Because as Seishiro, he just isn't the same Seiko-chan we've all come to know. He's unhappy with this transition and it isn't until Risa convinces him that Seiko-chan should never change.


As of the posting of this monthly spotlight, I am a little shamed to admit that next month will be extremely slow or even non-existent in the anicabyss blogging unit. My attention has not only been drawn away by other things, but my work hours seem to be never-ending and with the holidays coming up, there are way too many things to focus on.

In December, I will try what I can to post about certain anime and manga, but I make absolutely no promises. It will be a skimpy month, but my focus will be on at least one spotlight, and hopefully a featurette or editorial to finish off the year.

Due to all the above reasons, this was probably one of the worse spotlights I will ever create-- but don't hold your breath on that claim. For those who care, thanks for enduring my skimpy blog up to this date.

I will continue to improve, but I also plan on cutting down my blogging for a while.