Suzuka

By bluemist on January 21st, 2006

Suzuka

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Of the entirely vast array of romance-themed anime series, only a few stand out in my memory. Why? It’s because most of them are harem in nature, meaning ALL the girls like the male lead. I don’t usually like that kind of anime. It reduces the chance of a story progression to happen, and all episodes will become mere fillers for character development. On the other hand, progressive anime series have plots that really ‘move’, and are very enticing to watch because you want to know what happens next. It’s somewhat the same way why some people love regular soap operas on TV. Certain progressive romance anime series like Kimi ga Nozomu Eien are very appealing to my tastes. And that’s why this next progressive romance anime, Suzuka, makes such an impact as a series that somehow deviates from the cliched world of harem anime.

Based on a manga, we have a seemingly typical setup of a harem series in Suzuka. Our main character Yamato has just arrived to stay in an apartment, where he would live with a girl next door, aptly named Suzuka. Then we have the usual array of supporting girl cast, including a shy type, a younger sister type and her mother, a drunkard, a meganekko, a teen idol, and a fellow cool beauty. We also have an array of supporting male characters to annoy them, including the ever-required perverted male best friend.

Sounds typical so far? Okay, let’s go to the differences. First up, behind the romance plot is a background of shounen-type high-school athletics theme. Suzuka is on high jump, while Yamato eventually joins track and field. They practice their sports and compete in inter-school tournaments. This sub-theme gains secondary focus, and makes for some interesting plot devices for the romance part. Secondly, not all girls like the male lead. Whew, this is a very refreshing counterprogramming (cough*Da Capo*cough), if you get tired of those kind of harem anime. And lastly, the most important of all, is story progression.

The plot of the Suzuka anime literally ‘moves’. Nothing stands still. You see characters developing, relationships changing, rivalries starting, etc. It won’t even take the entire length of the series just to make anything happen. In Suzuka, something happens in every episode. While some may still argue otherwise (the anime did drag near the end of it), don’t you think it is already non-cliche because of the continually moving story? It was a wonderful experience to watch an anime that is more story-based.

Because of the story, character development is affected by the plot dynamics. You may end up liking a character at one point, and hating him/her at another. This human aspect makes the anime more realistic than most series. That does not mean the characters have no special characteristics. Suzuka, for one, is the ever-loved (or ever-hated) Ice Queen and Denial Queen. Her cold and sarcastic attitude towards Yamato makes her oh so cool and cute! I like girl next door types, and Suzuka really rocks in that department. Also, it does not mean that the characters don’t grow up either. Honoka-chan, the shy girl type, will shed her shyness away, and unbelievably even take center stage at some point. Watch the series to find out how.

The only caveat is the radically changing animation quality. Arrgh, the Negima curse remains. Thankfully, it doesn’t annoy me too often, because the plot is really engaging. At some point in the series, I didn’t notice or even care whether the characters look kinda off or poorly animated. It’s that good. The background music doesn’t stand out too much, but isn’t an annoyance either. There are some good tracks though. The OP (Start Line) sounds kinda 80’s, which is good. I didn’t like the first ED (Aoi Field) too much, but the second one (Kimi no Koto) is now an instant classic in my playlist.

All in all, this is a highly recommended watch. If you are tired of fillers, Suzuka is a refreshing progressive change. IMO one of the best of its genre, which is saying much already, if it even belongs to one. Everything else is cookie-cutter, but this one takes a shape all its own.

Project Hiatus 2: Cardcaptor Sakura

By bluemist on January 18th, 2006

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Before bluemist anime blog @ animeblogger.net, and before the old bluemist anime blog (gone now), my very first web project was a relatively unpopular Cardcaptor Sakura fansite, called the bluemist cardcaptor sakura anime reference. As you can see, it’s also gone now and incomplete. After having this anime blog, I never got to finish that site.

Maybe it was boredom or a change of hype, since I was more into ToHeart2, bishoujo games and live-action stuff last year. Nevertheless, Cardcaptor Sakura remains and still is the very root of all the anime evil that I’ve been writing about up until now. Yes, being my personal best anime EVER, I blame Cardcaptor Sakura for my anime fandom, and I realized that it is somewhat a necessity for me to finish what I have started, that old site itself.

I decided to do this now since I am not quite active in the latest anime season anyway, because of lack of interest for certain new anime. I also decided to finish that CCS unfinished business, in order to move on to some… er… bigger, MORE IMPOSSIBLE stuff very soon. I’m also predicting that real life obligations will take more pieces of time away from me yet again.

And so in line with this, I will be putting this blog on a certain semi-hiatus state. Updates may be few and far between again, just like last time, whenever I just feel like it. I’ll be doing the CCS site and this blog in a more casual manner, in the hopes of fitting into my busy schedule.

Actually, I’m still debating on whether to incorporate my CCS site into this anime blog as a project as well. It may be too much work, but it should be perfect for my Retro status isn’t it?

In any case, that’s it. I’m still here, but I’ll be less active… as if I am active at all. Bye for now.

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Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha A’s

By bluemist on January 12th, 2006

Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha A’s

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Still nothing lyrical about it, but it was a nice ride.

This series which was a spinoff to a Triangle Heart game has just started to live a life all its own. With all new character additions, and a plot that is just as exciting, Nanoha’s world is getting more vibrant. This new season begins some time after the first (Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha). Nanoha and Fate have since become very close friends, and with the backing of the Asura crew, we see more focus on the workings of the Time-Space Administration, rather on delving on just Nanoha.

This makes it seem as if the first series was an introduction to our main character, and then the second series expands on the idea by making it more of a team effort. Yup, Nanoha has her new friends and allies join her. Or rather, Nanoha joins the crew in yet another mission. Well, they need lots of magic firepower after all, because the new enemies are quite plentiful too. A certain book called the Book of Darkness is bound to cause havoc around the magical dimensions again, and it needs to be stopped. The knights who protect the book is composed of three hawt girls and a familiar. The master who is supposed to control the book is actually this frail but cute girl named Hayate. Despite Hayate being the master of an evil book, she is this kind and sweet girl who tends to the knights, and even consider them as “friends” instead of slaves.

See a pattern again? Yup, in almost the same story setup, the enemies in Nanoha A’s are given more than enough backstory to make it seem that they will also be powerful allies in the end. In the first series, some enemies become friends, and so this will not be a big surprise the second time around. We know that cute Hayate and the gang would eventually be on Nanoha’s side, so all the viewers need to do is enjoy the ride on how they get there.

It does have its usual share of plot twists and stuff like that, but the best thing about this new season are the fight scenes. Yup, this is an age in which even young witches use brute force (moetan quote). The Nanoha series have lots of surprisingly awesome action scenes. Nanoha A’s has tons more of them, but eventually it withers off as the plot starts to thicken. Near the end of the series, it becomes some boring firepower festival, in which all the characters show off their uber-magical powers. Heck, it even becomes videogame RPG style, with magic spells being blown to the enemy one after the other (there’s even a healing spell lol). Well that’s just a nitpick, as Nanoha A’s boasts awesome animation in some of the other fight scenes.

Animation runs quite consistent, which is a great plus. Fanservice becomes a minimum for this second series, which is good considering I was quite annoyed with it in the first series.. The OP is quite laughable to me, because it reminded me of certain Gundam Seed opening sequences. Heck, I can even replace the Nanoha A’s OP song for a Gundam OP (try it on Invoke, it fits too well) and laugh out loud. The other music are quite nice too.

The very end of the anime came as a disappointment, not because of anything bad, but because it may have closed the possibility of yet another season to come. Of course, it’s not final, but I really hope the Nanoha series continue. This is one sequel that is up on par with its original counterpart, and it’s kinda rare to see that kind of consistency. Yup, it still has me screaming ‘sequel!’ at the end. Cheers for more Nanoha!

Ns’ Aoi

By bluemist on January 11th, 2006

Ns’ Aoi

Usually I follow only the highest-rating jdorama, but since this season’s #1 jdorama doesn’t seem too interesting to me (it’s the overworked story of Saiyuuki), I’m gonna pick some less popular series that may have potential. Pretty girls are a plus.

How about a pretty nurse?

Ns’ Aoi seems to be based on a manga, which I don’t think has been licensed nor translated. If anything, I can say that this is an equivalent of your usual “great teachers” (GTO’s Onizuka and Gokusen’s Yankumi), except that she’s a nurse in a hospital. Misora Aoi is a newbie nurse at this hospital. All seems fine, until she realizes she has some problems with many of the staff there. As an institution, this hospital has some interestingly weird “politics” going on. And that sometimes saving lives doesn’t seem top priority. As our idealistic main character, Aoi-chan goes to great heights and performs duties beyond what a nurse is set out to do, all for her patients.

Nurse me too! Ehem… err…

Ishihara Satomi topbills this drama, and is one hawt girl indeed. Nothing else seems to be special, so I’m not expecting big things.

AOI-CHAN OF THE WEEK
Ep 1:
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Ep 2:
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Ep 3:
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Ep 4:
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Ep 5:
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Ns’ Aoi Bishoujo Tracker?
Hmm… never thought I could see some remnants of Densha Otoko in this series… remember this guy?

Nurse and other figurines… an otaku in a hospital

Is that a magazine front page of the horrifying Amenaideyo anime?

Showing off his kawaii Nurse-chan again

Retro!

By bluemist on January 7th, 2006

This season… I’m going retro!!

Yeah baby yeah!

Figures. Since I don’t usually blog anime episode-for-episode, and only do reviews when some series is more or less complete, I can say I’m always one season behind the latest. Furthermore, since I have a backlog of reviews, it makes me even more behind! So, what better way to buck my lazy trend, than going all-out retro!?!

While I’ll still do the jiggy on the neato-latest winter 2005 anime I like, I think some nostalgia would be nice.

Wait, don’t think I’m gonna wipe the dust off “very old anime” spanning years and years ago. With the fast pace of anime, a season or two behind is already “retro”. So sit back, relax, and…

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RETRO STAMP

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Ojamajo Doremi Naisho!

By bluemist on January 6th, 2006

Ojamajo Doremi Naisho!

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Ahh… Ojamajo Doremi. Of all the anime in the world, this is for me the most elusive anime that I may never, ever completely enjoy. With no less than 200 episodes, most of it already lost in time, someone like me living in the remotest of areas would consider getting an episode of this a monumental effort. Since this kind of anime is rarely a fansubbing favorite, only a few subs of Ojamajo Doremi exist (thanks to those fansubbers btw). And since this series is quite old already, I cannot find anything else, not even raws. But no, nothing is gonna stop me from continually searching for my most elusive anime ever. Unknown to many, Ojamajo Doremi is one of (if not) the longest mahou shoujo (magical girl) anime series ever. And despite its seemingly unpopular status outside of Japan, I can consider this one of the best anime ever made… even with the limited number of episodes I watched.

An excellent example of this would be the latest season, called Ojamajo Doremi Naisho. For a little background info, there are five seasons of Ojamajo Doremi. The first four seasons ran for almost a year each (50+ episodes), and the latest season ran for 13 episodes. While it is the latest season, Naisho’s timeline actually runs between the third and fourth seasons. Not that it matters though, because what Ojamajo Doremi offers is not a big plot… but a “big heart”.

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Oh my, where do I start? For first-time watchers, they may be skeptical on picking this up because it runs in the middle of a series, but Ojamajo Doremi as a whole excels in full-fledged characterization. Watch one episode of Ojamajo Doremi Naisho, and you more or less get to know about each main character already. Watch another, and you see one of the characters being fleshed out further. Watch yet another, and you enjoy so much of Ojamajo Doremi overall because of its appealing characters. Character development is an immense factor in the success of this anime. And not only those main characters (the pretty witches) get their development, but various supporting characters as well.

The strongest part of Naisho (and any other Ojamajo Doremi season for that matter) is how endearingly heartwarming each episode is. Even if each episode you watch has a different story and features different characters, they make it oh so memorable. Each story, no matter how frantic or comedic or depressing, is very very good. Ojamajo Doremi Naisho has a specific theme, in which they delve on some characters’ “secrets” (hence Naisho). Well I wouldn’t say some should really be considered big secrets, but these stories feature many events from the past, and how they learn from those events.

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Remember that this is a mahou shoujo series, and yet it veers away often from magic being central to a story. It extends its moral values to more than just using magic to do something special. Sometimes I imagine that this anime can veer away from magic completely, because it is all about our life. All the happiness, sadness, complications, and simplicity of life, being channeled through various heartwarming stories.

This series particularly has a interestingly dramatic theme to it despite the relative fun. Some stories even end up with some of the characters crying. Moreover, seemingly mature themes like the life’s complexities, and even death, is being dealt with. It is something you really won’t expect from a mahou shoujo series, plus considering this is an anime aimed for kids. It is rare that an anime of this kind can be this moving. It’s easy to make viewers laugh and awe, but it is hard to make them cry. And yet Ojamajo Doremi can do that, and more. Because it mirrors our lives, viewers can relate, reflect, and learn. Entertainment that transcends beyond entertainment.

I won’t talk about the cute characters and animation, the memorable music and songs, or how the voice acting fared. It is enough for me to say that Ojamajo Doremi Naisho entertained me to the brim, sky is beyond the limit. It is enough for you to know that I highly recommend this anime, whether dubbed, subbed, or otherwise. It will be remembered forever in my heart. I’d love to watch it all over again (I don’t usually repeat anime I already watched, so this is a rare exception). Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be going treasure hunting for more Ojamajo Doremi.

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