the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘anime’ Category

A lot of anime gets watched in this house. 300 channels of cable TV, and I’d rather watch Crunchyroll.  I got hooked on anime when I was in high school, watched a boatload through my early to mid 20s, and although in my late 20s I got out of it, the hubs has been watching a ton recently and been getting me hooked again.

Here’s what he’s been watching the most of lately, and I’ve been enjoying these too – Gosick, Mysterious Girlfriend X, and Hyouka. He’s seen every available episode of the shows mentioned, where I have probably seen half the episodes. The words below are his.

 

Gosick- this came out a year or so ago, and it advertises itself as a mystery solving anime, but it’s really a character study and a romance, possibly one of the best romances ever seen in an anime story. It does everything right, successfully combining action, adventure, romance, and situation comedy. A refreshing way to present a story, as so many anime are so focused on just action, or just comedy, or just romance, or just slice of life, etc. Although many animes genremash, very few offer such a good blend of, for lack of a better phrase, storytelling methods.

Taking place in the 1920s, the story starts when Kujo goes to a small fictitious European country to study at a private school. He’s the 3rd child of a fairly wealthy Japanese family, and he experiences some prejudice against Asians while in his new city. In his boredom, he explores some unused buildings in the school, and meets Victorique. Tiny of stature but large in attitude, to tell you much more about her would spoil the major, and most fascinating part of the story.

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Think anime is all mechas or outer space bounty hunters or weird jokes you won’t get or Tokyo getting exploded? Think anime isn’t for you? think again.

Take Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, and put it far in the future. A future where a walled Paris is one of the few habitable places left on Earth and the moon has been fully colonized. A future where the rich marry for political reasons and machinations and everyone else just tries to get by as best they can. A future where the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Loosely following the original material, yet told from the point of view of the overly naive Albert, Gankustuou: The Count of Monte Cristo is as visually stunning as it is fascinating. This is an anime that you want to watch because it is well written, well voiced, and simply beautiful to behold.  The fact that you’ll be digging around for old Dumas titles afterwards is just an added bonus.

An oversimplified summary of the original story goes thusly:  shortly before the sailor Edmond Dantes is to marry Mercedes, he is betrayed by Fernand, a rival for Mercedes.  Dantes is imprisoned in the Chateau d’If, and Fernand marries Mercedes.  During his imprisonment, Dantes befriends a fellow prisoner who claims to know of a buried treasure. When Dantes escapes the Chateau, he finds the treasure, and returns to Paris.  It’s been 15 years, and Mercedes and Fernand have a son, named Albert. Introducing himself as the Count of Monte Cristo, Dantes plans his revenge on the man who destroyed his life, a slow revenge that is as beautiful as it is brutal.
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Three weeks in a sultry August, anything could happen.

And it does, over and over and over again.

Starring Okarin, a college student who styles (and LARPs) himself a mad scientist, his hacker buddy Daru,  his childhood friend Mayushi, and the rest of their growing circle of friends, Steins;Gate was the sleeper hit of the summer. Bursting at the seams with Otaku jokes and on-purpose cliches, this is a show that took apart all the expected and overdone anime tropes and rewove them into something ground breaking.

This is my third post on Steins;Gate, so feel free to get yourself caught up by reading my first reactions to the show, and my mid season post.  Really, go read them, as this post may not make much sense otherwise.

but now, after 24 episodes, Steins;Gate is over.  Over three sultry weeks one August, a time machine was created, used, abused, and a choice regarding it’s uncreation had to be made.  Okarin and his friends used the time machine to create the lives they wanted.  Feyris used it to spend more time with her father, Ruka uses it to be born a little different. Suzuha tries to use it to find her father.  Everyone takes a turn to change something from their past.

But everytime the time machine is used, the world line, our dimension, shifts a little.  The city and the people who live in it change a little. Not as much as you’d notice, but an avalanche starts with one snowflake.  Everyone gets what they wanted, but no one wins. And only Okarin can stop what’s happening.

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There’s not been a ton of good, accessible anime out these last few years.  seriously, how much Bleach and Naruto do I really need (well, none, actually)?

then I discovered Steins;Gate. Available to stream through Crunchyroll, and viewable through Roku boxes everywhere, you can buy a subscription and stream it live, or be a cheap ass like me and watch one or two episodes behind.

I got hooked on Steins;Gate a few months ago, and I can easily say it is the best anime I have seen in years.

to put it another way: Steins;Gate is the best thing that happened to me since the original Fullmetal Alchemist.  

if you’re at all into anime, you owe it to yourself to track this show down.

I’m going to jump right into what’s going on at this point in the season, so you might want to read this article on the first 8 or so episodes.  Consider yourself warned, there be spoilers ahead.

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I’d gotten interested in the Anime BECK for one reason: the anime was directed by Osamu Kobayashi, who also directed my favorite anime series ever: Paradise Kiss. Yes, Paradise Kiss was a manga first (reviewed here), created Ai Yazawa, and it was her characters plus Kobayashi’s graphic detail style that made the Paradise Kiss anime better than anyone could have expected. Kobayashi has this habit of putting in buckets of detail at the right moments, things like funny bumper stickers on cars, funny t-shirts, unexpected sound effects, and excellent intro and end credit sequences.

confused? don’t be. Just know that if Osamu Kobayashi has anything to do with it, I want to see it.

Thus, BECK went on the netflix queue, with me knowing nothing about it except it’s about a bunch of high schoolers who start a band, and it’s directed by Kobayashi. Just for kicks, I got the first few manga (known as Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad) out of the library as well.

A coming of age story in a working class town, Beck stars Koyuke, a bored and uninspired 14 year old. Not the best student in the world, the only thing Koyuke likes about school is that he gets to talk to the girl he has a crush on, Izumi. Most of these interactions go horribly wrong, thanks to Koyuke’s buddy Tanabe, who doesn’t understand that peeping at girls at swim practice isn’t a great way to make friends with them. Hilariously awkward, to say the least. Koyuke and Tanabe’s after school activities tend to be hitting up the arcade and avoiding the bullies who hang out in the rough neighborhoods around the school. and Koyuke can never seem to avoid the bullies, both on school property and off.

So many Japanese stories starring teenagers focus on their obsession on getting into a good college and exams and grades and such. Not this one. it was quite refreshing.

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A little bit of Otaku spoof, some time travel, some mad scientists, maid cafes,  and cosplay, Steins;Gate has it all.  And then the writers take the expected anime tropes, and bash them to hell.    While college student Okarin plays at being a mad scientist being chased by rival organization SERN, his hacker buddy Daru makes sure the rent is paid and cute little Mayushii makes sure the boys remember to eat. Their lab space is a tiny studio apartment above an electronics shop, but really, what else does a mad scientist need besides a computer, a microwave and a few loyal lab assistants?

To be honest, I felt completely lost during the entire first episode.   Okarin goes to a university sponsored seminar on time travel, is approached by a beautiful woman only to later find her dead in the building’s basement. A few minutes later, she is alive and well, and as Okarin is returning to his lab he sees a satellite has crashed into a building, and his friend Daru tells him the time travel seminar has been cancelled.  Talk about getting thrown into the deep end.  But the voice acting was probably the best I’ve ever heard and the animation was top notch, so I decided to keep watching.

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About this redhead, etc.

Redhead is a snarky, non-politically correct 30-something who reviews mostly science fiction and fantasy and talks about all sorts of other fun scifi and fantasy geekery. She once wrote a haiku that included the word triskaidekaphobia.

This blog contains adult language and strong opinions. The best way to contact her outside of this blog is twitter, where she is @redhead5318 .

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