the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘anime’ Category

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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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.