review

Life ‘n Stuff

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Dat Face

Been pretty busy looking for work and keeping up with the shows airing weekly from Japan lately. I managed to get hired at a local grocery store as a cashier so here’s hoping that that brings me some luck. ^^

The shows I’ve been watching this season are pretty good, though I have dropped a few I started out with, but so far the ones I’ve stood by have gotten better and better. I had dropped Denpa Onna due to it just being sparkles and moe mess, it’s not really my style and I thought a few of the characters were pretty obnoxious but so far the shows I chose to keep are Nichijou, Hanasaku Iroha, Ao no Exorcist, and one I call Ano Hana for short. My two favorites are probably Ao no Exorcist and Nichijou but the others are definitely worth the watch.

Nichijou is sort of like an Azumanga type thing, every episode is broken up into smaller segments and can be pretty random at times. I’ve heard people describe it as if the creator was high or something at the time, and it definitely gives off that vibe but that’s what makes it so funny. The main cast are 3 high school girls & their teacher, then a little girl who’s a Professor and her Robot caretaker along with their talking cat. Overall if you’re looking for a silly show to watch this season, I’d say Nichijou is your best bet.

Secondly, Hanasaku Iroha is a slice of life anime about a girl, who is a bit of a diva and is tired of how boring and predictable her life seems but when her mother leaves and sends her to live with her grandmother, things suddenly change for her. Her grandmother happens to run a Hot Spring Inn and she is promptly put to work. I really like this series, it’s not over the top and at times can be very calming but there’s always a nice story to tell. The girl who sings the opening and ending songs kinda grates on me though, her voice is just blehhhh.

Ao no Exorcist, or Blue Exorcist, is my action for the season, while it’s different than the other two, I really like it so far. The main character Rin is pretty damn cute as well as I’ve been in the mood for this kind of thing since finishing Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood months back. It’s basically about how the world has two sides mirrored, one being the demonic realm, and the other being the world we live in.. The main character Rin is the son of Satan and a human woman who’s powers had been sealed until around the time the series starts and he begins to see the demons. After some drama goes down he ends up attending a special academy where he can train to become an Exorcist to fight against Satan. Now.. I know that sounds sorta trite, maybe cliche, but the show itself is actually pretty good and funny, Rin is very likeable to me and the action is always entertaining to me. I really hope it keeps getting better, I’ve been reading the manga along side of it but I’ve been tempted to read farther in the manga than the series is so far.

Annnnd, then there’s Ano Hana. This is a pretty sad one, but it’s got some laughs too, I guess it’s another one of those laid back chill animes, not much action to see here, it’s about a group of friends and a dead girl only one of them can see. This one should be coming to a close soon so I’ll know how I feel about it by then, it’s not bad but not much to comment on next to the others.

Otherwise, after getting this job I’ve found my art-spark coming back. I submitted 5-6 pictures or so to my DeviantArt but as expected, I haven’t laid one finger on trying to do any of the 100 themes thing. Eventually…. I want to do it anyways but it’s a lot of thinking and sometimes I’d rather just chill. Here’s to hoping things get good soon. =)

Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon

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Back in 1999, there was a time in my life when 4 pm meant everything to me; Just getting home from school and finishing homework as fast as I could to tune into Toonami. When I first discovered Cartoon Network, it was newly added to our Comcast plan and by that time, Nickelodeon was lacking in good shows so I thought I’d check it out. I was only 11 years old at the time and while I still liked cartoons, I wanted a bit more than zany antics, so when I turned on the channel and first laid my eyes on Sailor Moon, I was hooked.

Sailor Moon, known by Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon in Japan, was probably not my very first anime, but it is the first one I really remember watching religiously. Though many will argue the English Dub is so terrible, they wouldn’t give it the light of day, for a kid my age it was perfect. The big eyes, the flashy transformation sequences, no matter how repetitive each episode was, I always made sure to tune in. I was damned if I missed an episode, and if I wanted to go out and play, I’d set my VCR to record it. Sure, I loved the other shows that aired, including ReBoot and Tenchi Muyo! but to this day none of them compare to my love for Sailor Moon. Even as an adult, this show still holds sentimental value for me and manages to get me teary eyed at times.

When I was about 13 years old, I got my hands on two Japanese VHS movies, Sailor Moon S and Super S, and for the first time I got a taste of what Sailor Moon was meant to be. While as a kid, I didn’t mind the corny jokes and changes to the anime, I didn’t exactly know what I was missing either. The two movies were a great treat for a fan, which so far had only seen what TV had to show. It would be nearly 8 years before I ever got to watch the series in its entirety, untouched, and with the original audio. Watching it again, I felt a sense of excitement as I watched each episode again, it was like watching it for the first time and I couldn’t get enough. I laughed, I cried, and wanted so much to see more of it.

The first season of Sailor Moon was one I was most familiar with, although I had watched the other two series, I didn’t completely remember all of it. Admittedly, I watched each episode using Sailor Moon Uncensored to see just what was changed in the English version I had seen first. Many of the episodes had a much stronger impact on me now than they had previously, though I suppose to be fair, one could chalk that up to age. The consecutive seasons were no exception to censorship, some of it silly, while the rest may have been to cover up plot holes from previous edits. The most drastic change I can think of is the way they handled the ending. In the English Dub, the last two episodes of the season were squished into one episode, omitting many elements that just made it so much more emotional and intense. Granted I cried watching both, but eh heh, what can I say?

It wasn’t until the final season of Sailor Moon, Sailor Moon Sailor Stars, that I felt I finally experienced the series. I felt as if girls who grew up watching the Anime would feel the same way I felt as I watched how much the heroine, Usagi,  had grown from the first series till now. When it ended, I cried so hard, not necessarily at the ending itself but the fact that from now on, this was it. There would be no more Sailor Moon to watch. While this was devastating, I never forgot what I had watched and how much it affected me. The fondness I hold for Sailor Moon couldn’t be overcome by any other series and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Once I finished the anime, the only thing left for me to do is watch the Live Action series put out in 2003, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon. The Live Action takes many elements from the manga and reworked them into a unique retelling of its own. The show relies heavily on special effects, which is known as a Tokusatsu in Japan and it’s used for many of their attacks and transformation sequences. The series only features the 5 Inner Senshi and Tuxedo Mask and covers the first arc of the Manga, and as an adaptation, I feel on its own it’s great, despite the sometimes cheesy acting.

Overall, I feel Sailor Moon is a great show for young girls, as a typical Magical Girl anime. I loved it, I still love it and frequently crave more. Usagi, though she is a crybaby and a ditz at time, also has a compassionate loving side to her which warmed my heart and gave me a deeper appreciation for the character. If you’re interested in the Magical Girl genre, this is the place to start.

Never Knows Best

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For the last few days I haven’t done much of anything, I started to draw a few times but maybe I’m just not in the right mindset yet. It’s been a long road of ups and downs, and the last few days I’ve felt a little queasy. I’m feeling a little better today, but I really ought to take the advice of a friend and get into some kind of routine, otherwise I fear this will just become the norm. I thought starting this blog as a first step as something to do would certainly help me start things off, so hopefully I can keep motivating myself.

Friday evening I watched all of FLCL, not that it was too hard as it’s only 6 episodes, but for some reason I had never watched it and felt it was time to rectify that. Overall I liked it, it was a bit zany for me at times but it was still a rather enjoyable for what it was. Though I think people give it too much hype, like they do Evangelion, both series are good in my book. I like short OVAs because I can watch them in one sitting and not feel like I have 3+ days to like 2 months ahead of me to finish it up. I was done with this in close to 3 hours, barring any breaks I took mid episode to do things around the house or whatnot. When I was finished it was a bit late, so I called it a night.

Then, Saturday evening I moved onto Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, which is silly and another easy to watch show. Sometimes when you’re not up for something deep, dark, and emotional, shows like this come along and really help mellow you out. I like to balance myself like that, as I just finished watching all of Revolutionary Girl Utena and it was really time for something light. It’s a little fanservicey at times but I think it’s pretty funny, I don’t slap my leg laughing at it like some people I know but it’s definitely not something that makes me facepalm every other minute from stupidity. If you like comedy that isn’t over the top zany, I think this one is pretty good. The girls all have some sort of problem, the super positive girl, the hikikomori girl, the stalker girl, the illegal immigrant… It’s your typical school anime but with a definite streak of dysfunctional.

As for the art front, I had an idea to get myself inspired a bit, but I’m not sure how well it’ll work out. I wanted to start-up playing one of the new Pokemon games, I figured I’d go with White Version because of the version exclusives, ( I love you Lilligant! <3 ) and what I wanted to do was draw a little comic to go along with my journey. A friend suggested to me instead of worrying about the story so much, maybe just draw little scenes and the like, instead of a whole comic which may be easier but I guess I’ll see about it when I get around to wanting to start-up a file. I’ve been on a bit of an anime binge lately so I haven’t picked up my DS much in the last 2 weeks or so.. I pick up so many things at once, but I’ve been trying to rectify that by going back and finishing things I left undone, I wonder how long I’ll hold out..

My next anime blog post most likely will be about something I’ve watched previously, I wanted to do one on Sailor Moon but I really need to refresh my memory so I think I’ll get started on the Manga and let that jog me, otherwise I’ve been big into Slayers since finishing Sailor Moon and I think as I continue that series I can also come up with some good ideas there, so let me know what you think.

Revolutionary Girl Utena

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I’m rather new to the blog scene, they’ve been around for years but I’ve never found myself able to keep up with one. I spend most of my time drawing, playing video games, or watching anime, so I thought maybe I could share my thoughts here as an outlet.

Revolutionary Girl Utena
Dios, Utena & Anthy

Most recently I finished watching the series Revolutionary Girl Utena, a contemporary fairy tale with a twist, which I feel strays away from traditional shoujo archetypes. I’ve heard people refer to it as the Neon Genesis Evangelion for girls, and I can see where they got the idea. They both deal with psychological elements, NGE may be darker than Utena ever was, but the elements present in the later arcs definitely put you through a loop when contrasted with the start of the series. The biggest thing I loved about this series, is that while things start getting dark and serious, they always have a touch of lightheartedness so that you don’t spiral down into some deep depression mid series. That itself makes it stand out from NGE which, while I liked it, it weighed heavily on me when the series ended and frustrated me to no end when I didn’t ‘get it.’ When Utena ended, I felt good about what I saw. I was happy for it.

There are many themes, many of them dark such as manipulation, death, betrayal, and even forbidden love, but also many light themes, such as friendship, chivalry, and a sense of nobility. There’s a good balance of both and I think that they did a great job expressing the darker themes, in a way that’s almost tasteful. I never felt awkward or dirty watching the characters, nor did I feel it was ever trite and unbelievable. Utena is very much a coming of age anime, as its main heroine Utena grows and changes she comes to learn more about herself as she gets wrapped deeper and deeper into the story. Sitting at just 39 episodes, it didn’t take me too long to breeze through it, though after initially watching only seven episodes, I stopped for a short time to watch other things. For some, it may start off a bit slow, but by episode 15/16 things start getting more tense and emotional and honestly had me hooked. At first I may have had my doubts, but after finishing the series, I feel it was definitely worth the time I spent watching it.

The story itself revolves around the “Rose Bride” and the Ohtori Academy Student Council, as the Council members fight to obtain the her, as she is thought to be the key to a coming revolution. The current champion is constantly challenged for the right to possess her. The Main Character, Utena, a chivalrous, kind, and trusting individual, met a prince in her childhood. She was so impressed with him that she decided to become a prince herself, reflected in her choice of clothing and personality. She attends Ohtori Academy where she meets Anthy Himemiya, who she soon finds wanting to protect when she sees she’s in an abusive relationship with a fellow student. Utena fights to protect Anthy and is pulled into a series of duels with the Student Council. Unaware what she’s gotten into, she defeats her opponent and obtains the “Rose Bride”, Anthy Himemiya.

Overall, for the series, I’d say a 8.5/10. The music was great, I felt a real concern for Anthy’s wellbeing, and I will admit I got a bit teary eyed at the ending. ( Ok, maybe I cried. A little. ) The story may have felt a little slow at times, there are a few Nanami-heavy episodes that I would consider filler that I didn’t like too much but all around, it was a good watch and I would definitely watch it again in a few years. The music in the series is mostly done in what I’d call a… Choral Rock style and then there’s even some jazzy elements, but overall it’s very catchy. For such a short series, the OST is actually pretty big, the collection I have is like 10 cds. The opening, sung by Okui Masami is very nice, but picking just one version, that’s the hard part. It’s definitely up there with some of my favorite series, such as Sailor Moon.

Two years after the series finished, they released a movie titled Adolescence of Utena in 1999, which was a retelling of the original story. It definitely took a different route with the series, as some of the characters either had their personalities tweaked or they were removed all together. If you liked the series, I still say the movie is a good watch and even has some more great music, so to me, that alone is worth it. If you feel like you want more, Adolescence of Utena was good, even if a little short, as long as you view it as a retelling.

If you like a Shoujo series with drama, this series is definitely for you.