Aoi Hana

By bluemist on October 11th, 2009

Aoi Hana

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I love slice-of-life series because it takes me into a leisurely pace without much heavy or sad emotions to worry about. Aoi Hana is one example of an anime that just walks you softly into a realistic world where love, while complicated at times, is just that… love. I would want to pace this review similarly slow as well, because this may be the first time I have actually dealt with girls love (yuri) as a topic. I am on the opposite sex of course, and so our tendencies to like yuri things may be a bit sexual by nature. Fortunately… and a bit unfortunately, this anime isn’t anything like that at all. It is a female-oriented show designed for a unique female-oriented feeling, and therefore I need quite a bit of my shoujo-loving power for this one. Well okay, the anime may not be that deep to warrant any discussion about yuri actually, but I hope I can convey my interest in this series as lightly as possible.
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Naisho no Tsubomi

By bluemist on July 7th, 2008

Naisho no Tsubomi

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Originally a shoujo manga aimed at young girls, this is a small anime about a huge topic… or should I say a topic huge to girls who are growing up. Well basically… it’s about girls growing up.

I know that a lot of people may not like this anime, and indeed in the surface it just looks like some fanservice anime about young Japanese love/sex/physical education. While the original manga was supposed to be for young girls, I think no modern Japanese parent in their right mind would pick up and buy an OVA anime like this for their growing-up child. I saw a lot of pantsu and underage fanservice goodness, which borders on the absolute controversial. This leads me to think that this time, the anime is specifically aimed at lolicon otakus. And as some of you know, I tend to be a lolicon every now and then (or more often than not lately?). Of course I’m going to give it a positive review merely based on that. NO, I am NOT. I don’t like Naisho no Tsubomi just because it completely fulfilled a LOT of my anime preferences… or should I say fetishes. This anime is a surprising and timely reminder of why I am watching anime in the first place.
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Lovely Complex

By bluemist on December 9th, 2007

Lovely Complex

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With the seas of bishoujos I sail lately I really appreciate having a catalyst. For this season Lovely Complex is the counter-programming, and I should say that this is really a blast! Despite rollercoaster animation quality, this shoujo series is a total LOL-fest! Extreme comedic value with a lighthearted touch on romance… and height complexes.

You see, Risa is a tall girl. Usually tall girls are the school idols of anime society, but this one here is a total baka. Well not really, she is as talkative and fun as a rowdy girl can get. On the other side, Otani is a short guy. Usually short guys get the flak and ridicule in anime society, but this one has his thing going (good basketball skills for example). Nevertheless he is quite an baka too. If we mix baka and baka together we form the “All Hanshin Kyojin”, a nickname awarded to them by the school, because they always bicker with each other as if they’re some owarai comedy duo! Yep, Risa and Otani started up doing word wars with each other… and crazily enough ended up STILL fighting by the end of the series. The question though is… will they find love with each other?

I would say that relationships between a tall woman and a short man are statistically low, it’s usually the other way around. Lovely Complex delves on this kind of ‘height complex’ a bit, in that Risa wouldn’t imagine falling in love with a short guy. Likewise, Otani wouldn’t prefer someone taller than him. Nevertheless the setup is fun enough, but what Lovely Complex excels in is the totally extreme laugh factor! All characters speak in Kansai-ben, which is a perfect dialect for owarai comedy. Tsukkomi and boke-type jokes abound, which doesn’t necessarily translate to English well, but Lovely Complex gives the aural factor treatment because ALL the characters just SHOUT their lines! This anime OVERACTS like crazy! Might as well say that this is the first OA (overacting) anime I’ve watched. This ridiculous energy made me laugh out loud ‘literally’ almost every minute, and it really never lets up. The comebacks and the witty dialogue… very well executed. Maybe not really well-executed per se but it’s done in the OA fashion as mentioned, and that makes it as if you are part of the LOL gang. You know, if they had the “laughing audience” like in US TV comedy series, I think this would be a total knockout. The comedy kept me entertained, and the story isn’t so bad either. Just my observation, but the love story seems like a reverse of what Suzuka had, in which Otani acts as the male version of tsundere… if there is such a fandom classification.

There’s nice development in the relationship of Risa and Otani, although some new characters just pop up out of nowhere near the end. This must have been a manga quirk, because they didn’t fit the whole manga content on there. I think they were struggling for a closure near the end, and the energy kinda died down, but still the rest of the series were so strong I just didn’t mind the slightly lowered quality. Speaking of animation quality, since this is a crazy LOL-fest, the character designs just zoom out of proportion, and the faces deform in very weird ways. When things get serious though, you would notice the inconsistencies in the way they draw between episodes. For a show like this though, it isn’t a major setback. Yup, this is one rare instance of me not minding the animation quality, because the rest of the show is just that good.

All in all, a surprisingly good anime, and one that makes me want more shoujo in my watch list. Lovely Complex is a hyper-WIN in my record books, and warrants my repeat watching. It’s hard to make me laugh (even rarer to make me laugh ‘out loud’) but this anime managed a ton of them (I even choked once, haha). Highly recommended.

Nana

By bluemist on April 19th, 2006

Nana (movie)
Nana 2 (movie)
Nana (anime)
Nana (manga)

No matter how many bishoujos you see in this blog, this fact remains. Shoujo is my all-time favorite genre in anime, manga, and everything else. Shoujo characters, despite some not being as beautifully drawn as their counterparts in other genres of Japanese fiction, are the most colorful when it comes to attitudes and characterization. More importantly though, their stories are some of the very best in mirroring the entire array of human life and emotion. With this, I introduce Nana, one of the biggest hit series in Japan today. It is a #1 manga, a #1 movie, and now an anime series as well. The author must be very happy right now.
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Boku wa Imouto ni Koi wo Suru

By bluemist on June 1st, 2005

Boku wa Imouto ni Koi wo Suru

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Koi Kaze not enough? Enjoy the dangerous world of incest with Boku wa Imouto ni Koi wo Suru.

Boku wa Imouto ni Koi wo Suru is a one-shot OVA based on a shoujo manga of the same title. It tells the story of a taboo incestual relationship of brother Yori and sister Iku. Yori is the first to break down. He starts to keep secrets and ignore Iku, and yet sometimes he’s being too overprotective of her, even fighting someone in class who made her embarrased. Iku wonders why she’s being mistreated lately. One night, Yori confesses to Iku, and of course rejection is abound, because it is indeed weird. Yori even realizes it himself, that this is wrong, but he can’t stop his feelings towards his sister. He does a lot of things to make himself go the right path somehow, by planning to go to a faraway college to stay away from Iku, and even trying to have a normal relationship with another girlfriend. By this time, Iku herself is starting to waver her own feelings. She starts to become jealous of Yori and his girlfriend, and so she also developed feelings towards her brother.

Treading into dangerous territory eh? These are the kinds of stories that are very interesting to me because a person like me could barely understand the emotional pains of having this feeling. This is the kind of storytelling that makes the onii-chan complex seem light-hearted. Deep inside, the pain of an impossible relationship exists within the lovers involved. Yup, Yori and Iku, despite their extreme intimacy, continually remind themselves that this is wrong. Towards the end, they still try to find ways to move on and forget their impossible love somehow (through separation), and yet we still see a tease, because somehow it’s very hard to let go.

There are scenes of intimacy in this anime, but nothing too graphic. The animation and color tone reminds me of Marimite, the atmosphere similar to fellow incest-themed anime Koi Kaze. This is well-animated and well-paced, staying true to many scenes in early volumes of the manga. Of course, other events are omitted. In the manga Yori and Iku are extremely intimate, they express it almost anywhere. I wonder when they’ll be caught…

Anyway, I recommend you watch this with an open mind. In the real world people may be guilty of this, but while society abhors this, do not be discriminative. Love is really more complicated than we think.

Update: It’s going to be a live-action movie! Boku wa Imouto Ni Koi Wo Suru the movie will be starred by Jun Matsumoto (of Gokusen/Hana Yori Dango fame) and one hawt babe Nana Eikura, a magazine model. Nice, I hope to catch it soon.

HCD Series: Fruits Basket Drama CD

By bluemist on June 1st, 2005

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I just can’t believe there is a new drama CD about Fruits Basket! Moreover, this features basically the same stellar cast… and much more!

Okay, so I didn’t understand some parts at all, so please bear with me on this.

About the drama
This drama CD is composed of 2 stories, the Cinderella play, and a story about the student council. While I understood the Cinderella play, the student council part really boggles me up to now (complex Japanese conversations), so I can’t describe it.

The Cinderella play is loosely based on a couple or more chapters in the manga. Garten over at Memento’s blog has a summary for those chapters (87 and 88), among others.

Cinderella play gone totally wrong
The school play Cinderella is composed of the following cast:
Cinderella = Hana-chan
Prince = Kyo-kun
Fairy Godmother = Yuki-kun
Evil stepmother = Minami Kinoshita (Prince Yuki fanclub member)
Evil stepsister = Tohru
Friend of Prince = Uo-chan

Notice something? Yup this play is up for disaster! The only remotely decent casting was that of Minami, because her attitude is like that. A denpa-Cinderella who loves tea parties and food, a prince who doesn’t even care about girls, a fairy godmother who cross-dresses (to the delight of Yuki’s fans), an evil stepsister who is definitely not evil at all, and a royal friend who is a Yankee. Because of this, the script radically changed, and it even has a narrator continually doing improvisations whenever the dialogue screws up. Kyou actually speaks Tohru’s name while in the play, then the narrator reminds him not to do that… that gave me a big laugh. Also funny is the part when Cinderella appears in the ball… with a black dress. Everyone in the audience

Seiyuu
Hearing the generic Yui Horie voice feels like a dream. The main three guys of the juunishi are the only Soumas that appear in the drama, because this is basically some school comedy stories. Momiji is mentioned but I didn’t hear him (too bad, he’s my favorite). The biggest surprise is that Tamura Yukari is actually in this drama, as new character named Kimi (who doesn’t appear in the anime). I love the rapport of the student council parts even though I didn’t understand it much, so I guess it’s time for me to follow the manga again.

All in all, this drama CD served me like a teaser… I want a second Fruits Basket anime season!