dim the lights in your room
until your vision goes dark
let me tell you a story
how the angel drowned my spark
i went to a faraway land
filled with gold and milk and honey
in search of my life’s vices
wasting more of time and money
not knowing of their words and culture
i strive to understand
wanting to be like them
i try to comprehend
but they will always treat me different
they could never perceive me whole
i am left alone to feed
the hunger of my soul
until one day when she arrived
upon the heavens above
a fallen angel at my feet
to hold, to move, to love
but i not know the ways of love
as she smiles at a blank face
i cower my head down to hide
the isles of hidden disgrace
i am not a man worthy of gifts
yet she is wrapped in silk
in front of me a shining star
that sparkles the skin of milk
words were exchanged and understood
unlike the land of vices
i slowly detached myself from greed
and followed her advises
i became prepared to flee
and i was prepared to fly
leaving the innocence of my journey
beyond this sinful land’s sky
but the angel was nowhere in sight
and she never came back again
the life she led me, full of hope
only to falter in the end
i never knew what the meaning
why she was but never will
how temporary an entity is such
the angel never stood still
i then left this wretched land
and went back to before i wandered
i now asked myself who i am
but my question was never answered
and then i realized the whole truth
what the angel took away
my sight, my words, and my innocence
without my spark, i was astray
whatever i had i can never bring back
and so i could only move on
i walk to the next faraway land
in search of the hope beyond
and so my journey goes on
as i make another mark
i will never ever forget
how the angel drowned my spark
After the powerful first series and its less than impressive sequel, the popular bishoujo game franchise returns for yet another ‘da capo’ in anime form. Da Capo II the anime is actually made up of two 13-episode seasons, and I’m here to review both, although some may argue that the only one worth reviewing is Da Capo II Second Season. I think everyone knows by now how bad Da Capo II (first season) went, but I have another alternate reaction about it.
All along Da Capo II was probably really slated for 26 full episodes, but the producers deliberately cut it in half, maybe because of production/time constraints and TV broadcast conflicts. Assuming that is the case, Da Capo II, when taken as a whole, is an excellent anime overall. The problem is that viewers would tend to isolate the first season from the second. But do remember that the first Da Capo didn’t really hit its stride until after the latter half of its 26-episode run, and Da Capo II isn’t any different from that. If both seasons were taken as a whole, it makes more sense. The first half would be introductory episodes for everyone, and minor arcs for minor characters. The second half would make up the serious main arcs. This setup captures the essence of the first Da Capo anime, without those half-baked seiyuu music videos and side-stories.
So Da Capo II is around 50 years since the original, and the same city setting of Hatsunejima. We see that the sakura is unwithered all year round just like before, and the magic to grant wishes is starting to grow once again. Joining the Da Capo mythos are new characters, mostly descendants of the original set. First, Yoshiyuki is the ever-present boring male lead, and in twice the fun, he has two sisters, Yume and Otome Asakura (imouto and onee-chan complex). Sakura Yoshino returns as the eternal loli, while we see our original male lead Junichi as a grandfather, and Suginami… as the same freaking Suginami (a mystery?) The rest are the usual fare of male sidekick (Wataru), childhood friend (Koko), tsundere robo (Minatsu), loli know-it-all (Anzu), and school idol (Nanaka). Thank goodness we have a smaller cast, although too bad they didn’t capitalize on each one effectively.
The first season gave the limelight mostly to Koko and Minatsu, with a sad little spotlight to Nanaka. I’m quite surprised that they gave the love angle immediately to Koko. It was something worthy of praise especially with the annoying bishoujo cliche of having so many girls but not much romance. Koko was an underappreciated character in the game, so this is one point for the Koko fans. It was really a fair run during the Yoshiyuki-Koko relationship, and I feel that Yoshiyuki had more character in this first half, because he deteriorated a lot in the latter half (more on that later). Minatsu’s story starts its stride in a very accurate portrayal of her game scenario. But again, Minatsu is another underappreciated character. With those two getting so much attention, all the boos by fans came out of having almost no loving for Nanaka. She gets a few episodes but not much story. Towards the end, the Yoshiyuki-Koko separation is very expected, and many wonder how this season overall is da crapo because of no Otome and Yume in sight. Again I argue that if taken as a whole 26-episoder, this isn’t any different from CLANNAD and Kanon right? Kill a few arcs from the start before going to the main juicy stories.
In any case, fans rejoice at the announcement of Da Capo II Second Season, where the much-awaited Otome and Yume stories are expected to be shown. This is really where the series shined like no other, the animation was consistent, and the music is atmospheric. But where it really hit the mark is how they gave the baton to not only Otome and Yume, but also Sakura as well. If one didn’t play the game, this is a welcome surprise, as Sakura is really central to the plot. This solid mixture of Otome, Yume and Sakura’s game scenarios is one for the history books. The pace is excellent, and the drama is endearing to watch. Classic Da Capo like never before, and it “almost” dethroned the original in terms of magical emo drama… “almost”. Because I have a fundamental nitpick… Yoshiyuki. Yup, again the male leads tend to spoil all the fun. Yoshiyuki in this second season lost his character, and he is more faceless than ever before. We see Otome, Yume, Sakura, and even the minor cast pouring out all their love for him, and yet I can’t see that he deserves it. He accepts everything at face value, and his smiles seem so empty. Even when Yume and Otome confessed their love, he seemed too naive. Why not show a bit of affection? Not even sisterly love? I know that it is a good decision to get rid of some romantic aspects so that Yume and Otome are treated as equals instead of rivals, but I can’t see how Yoshiyuki loves even ‘both’ of them, not even as sisters. He’s so emotionless here, and he acts indifferent. And the ending which is essentially a deus ex machina is expected, but with an unlikable character such as Yoshiyuki, the experience is somewhat cheapened. I’d rather have it end at episode 12, where he is completely gone.
That’s a nitpick that doesn’t take away the magic of this anime though. The rest of the anime is so solid that it deserves a second sitting. It was really a good run, deserving of the original Da Capo standard. If you liked the original Da Capo, you’ll definitely love this one. It extends the bishoujo-dorama genre upward to new heights of quality.
I’ve been through a lot of internet forums and message boards. They are all out there for people to connect. There is no exception, no limit as to what topic can be discussed, as long as you find the appropriate forum for your subject of interest. Most of the time, complete strangers and familiars can log on, chat and share their thoughts and experiences. Despite this though, I never would think that this is a window to change one’s life.
Maybe I’m still too green at this, but really, serious talk has been revolving around message boards ever since it began. For example, I’m not interested to search for them, but most probably there are chat messages about someone who wants to attempt suicide, and the other people in the forum try to convince the person not to do so. I read somewhere that someone in a message board was able to predict the events of the 9/11 bombings, leading to controversy and many people trying to extract more information about the matter. Quite heavy stuff isn’t it? Well let’s put that aside and focus on a similarly serious but not deadly matter… love problems.
I’m very, very sure that many people turn to the internet message boards and tell complete strangers about their love problems, hoping that someone could give them advice. Of course, results may vary. Now, Densha Otoko is a jdorama delving quite closely about this subject, on how a guy successfully gained the courage to date a girl with the help of complete strangers in a message board. Quite a generic story if you ask me, but why did this Densha Otoko make such an uproar in Japan? Having not only a TV series, but also a movie, manga, and novel of the same name, Densha Otoko is the talk of the town. Why is it so popular? Well, I watched the series to find out myself.
I think the magic of the series lies on its improbability. As some of you describe, some Japanese otakus are so focused on their fandom, that they even ignore society. As a result, most of them don’t have a lovelife. What are the odds of someone like that getting the girl of his dreams? Not likely. But Densha Otoko is a story about an otaku guy who successfully gained the courage to date and confess to a girl with the help of complete strangers in a message board. Each
Somehow the title doesn’t make sense eh? Well, for me it means that because of further advances in technology, we are not only able to make things smaller, we are seeing smaller things become more awesome. Let me start first with the current status of video.
Well, believe it or not, VCD quality video is still being used, but for the digital age. With YouTube leading the wave of streaming video, we still have a horrible bottleneck of internet services for consumers. While there is already an HQ and HD mode for YouTube, I don’t think it’s being used that often. Most broadband subscribers are still stuck on low internet speeds, even below 384kbps, in our country at least. Well, for the developed countries, their problem is not so much the speed, it’s the ongoing war on yarrr and also download cap limits. Because of these little annoyances, we can’t get rid of low resolutions in video.
Of course, for ones who have the bandwidth, they can enjoy TV-quality video right now. Also, the DVD industry is still flourishing as ever, despite the HD standard already being defined as I will mention later. In the anime side, I’m quite surprised that this format still stays. I thought anime fans are techie enough to want higher definition video. The new standard in fansubs seem to be multiple-format releases. Let’s say one group releases the same episode both in HD form (usually 720p) or SD form (usually 480p). Sometimes there’s even an xvid version for the real slowpoke computers.
The energy is here. People are starting to notice the visual difference. Blu-ray won, creating the video disc standard. Unfortunately, high prices will make this format lag, especially with the current economic climate. Well, call me an early adopter, but I “do” have a Blu-ray drive on my PC. I only have a few movies, but I can tell you… it’s awesome! This is the quality I wanted ever since, and a high threshold for years to come. Another unfortunate thing is the slow adoption of this format in anime as well. Only few anime are being released in the high def format. At least my all-time favorite is available in Blu-ray, albeit in an extremely impossible price. Someday my Sakura-chan, someday.
I’m quite particular when it comes to shounen anime. It’s hard to follow a shounen series because most of which have hundreds of episodes, and so oftentimes I find myself having a major backlog. In fact, I dropped most of the series I follow in this genre. After a while, I start to get bored of the formula. In this article I would try to look at the patterns of shounen series based on the very few of them I watched, and hopefully I could discover the aspects about it that either makes me go “AWESOME” or go “zzzzz”.
STRONGER AND STRONGER
One of the most typical patterns of shounen would be this one. The heroes and protagonists would generally become stronger, ergo their opponents will become stronger too. There are a variety of ways of showing this, like having local or small-scale tournaments and fights first, then on to bigger and national or international tournaments and fights. Slam Dunk would fall on this formula quite nicely, as the story tries to revolve on reaching each tournament one at a time. Naruto, while having no formal tournament, features stronger opponents over time. It was its downfall for me though, in that as the series progressed, the skill levels rose from being tactical ninja to just a bunch of super fantastic powers. A mix of both would be in Prince of Tennis. We have tournaments and a skill curve that started to become more ridiculous as episodes go by. We have all heard of the fireball tennis shots by now.
Many shounen series can revolve on the past in order to give some meaning and motivation to whatever a character may be doing right now in the present. There are examples of these in any shounen anime, but a shining example of it would be in One Piece. This is a great epic journey because even if you have sheer length of story and many characters, the backstories and flashbacks are very effective in bringing drama and emotion. I think I can remember Rurouni Kenshin having effective past stories on it as well. With this kind of formula a series may never get old because there would be a fresh story everytime a new character arrives.
MONSTER OF THE WEEK
New characters can be annoying though sometimes, especially when you don’t flesh them out too much or too often. Inuyasha has these annoying story arcs that feature new heroes and enemies, but more often than not those characters only last for a few episodes or chapters. Inuyasha is a filler series for much of its run, there’s not much story advancement for its length. Tsubasa Chronicle suffered from this a bit, though they do give plot revelations from time to time. Unfortunately, the anime didn’t hook me up because it’s too Beetrain-yawny.
Sometimes a shounen series’ shortness would be quite annoying too, because there is really no room to flesh out characters. A very familiar example would be current anime Saki. It featured interesting characters ALL AT ONCE on one big arc, and now the anime has nowhere to go because it had exhausted the manga content already. Saki shouldn’t have been animated this early I think.
ONE BIG ARC
This is a rare breed which I only encountered in Fullmetal Alchemist. This series doesn’t seem to be divided into arcs, everything revolves on the fight of the humans vs. the superhumans over there. I like it that the story really progresses rather that stopping itself for a diversion like a backstory or a monster-of-the-week.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Boundaries shift, new players step in, but awesomeness always finds a place to rest its head. Two years ago, I talked about how the modern doujin exploded in popularity with the new concept and venues of MAD videos, unique amateur music both viral and of almost professional quality, and products hand-made by fans for fans. Fast-forward to today, and I could argue that the time I spent entertaining myself with fan-made stuff may even exceed the time I spent just watching anime or reading manga. If you follow me on Twitter, there were times that I just link endlessly to either a anime parody MAD or a new Vocaloid music discovery, among many other things. I believe that this is already an integral part of our fandom in one way or another. After all, I don’t think any current fan would merely lock himself or herself only to the official or commercial versions of whatever anime or other visual culture entertainment he or she may love. Whether it be video, music, pictures, literature or even tangible items, doujin or fan-made content are more accessible than ever, and it has somehow changed the way we get entertained. Because this time, we do the entertaining ourselves.
Problem is, there’s literally too much stuff out there, and we are in a constant battle of wading through the trash to find the gems. Sometimes