Sunday, October 12, 2014

Anime: Ao Haru Ride (2014)

I can't tell you how excited I am to post this. I had a particularly challenging work week so I needed desperately to escape with some anime. I did a general queue search and came across this title and description. Looked unassuming and could potentially be interesting. From the first episode the opening scenes with the water color background caught my eye. It was dreamy and innocent. By the time the first episode was over, I NEEDED to watch more. Just when I decided I could stop at episode nine and save the last three for another day, I made the mistake of surfing images and was enticed to continue. I finished all 12 episodes in one late evening/early morning sitting. 

What makes this title so outstanding is that there aren't any annoying and unlikable characters. Really! I frequently give up on romance/shoujo titles the moment two-face, back-stabbing characters are introduced or worse, when the lead female protagonist is abnormally clueless and dimwitted.
 
Immediately in the opening we learn Yoshioka Futaba has loved Tanaka Kou and that he probably loved her back. However, circumstances led them to where they are today and they are re-acquainted with each other again and so we follow Futaba's journey to reach Kou. What's nice to see is the consistent cute physical contact our two main leads have with each other. The presence of this element is not any different than other shoujo stories but the pacing is well-timed and I don't feel it's the sole page-turning reason to continue. Superficial topics of school life exist here but it's not overblown or excessively emphasized. There are real relatable situations and emotions.  

With a total of 12 episodes, it is shorter than the average title. Usually when I finish watching animes, I find it hard to read the manga from beginning to end. This time however, I started from the beginning and didn't skip a thing. The anime follows the manga pretty closely with very little deviation. I loved this one so much, I plan to purchase this for my collection.

5 out of 5 stars

*Update 10-16-14* 

I have been going over the manga on my second pass and wanted to analyze the supporting characters a bit more. I really like Kou's friend Kominato. He offers sound advice as an observer and will bluntly call out Kou on his poor decisions. 

Murao in Futaba's camp is another supportive friend with sharp observation and the voice of reason. Intelligent supporting characters are slim pickings from what I've come across but this manga really shines all the way around.

It is somewhat disappointing that there are only 12 episodes of the anime at this point. I would like to see more development of these supporting characters in the anime. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Anime: Chihayafuru Season 1 & 2 (2012-2013)

It has been awhile since I've been excited about anime/manga. I started watching this one several weeks back and then couldn't help but be hooked after Season 1 so had to catch-up on the manga. Season 2 has been stretched out so as to not outpace the manga which is still being serialized. 

What I really like about this anime/manga is that it falls under the non-violent, sports category and is shoujo-oriented. Chihaya is your high school beauty albeit clueless and karuta-minded but passionate and well-liked by her peers. I recently tried to watch Sailor Moon Crystal and it was excruciating. There are clueless protagonists who are loveable and then there are the ones that make me want to stick a spork in my eye. Chihaya is thankfully one among the loveable. 

Now onto our two males. Taichi...yeah he's tall, smart, everyone likes him, girls especially etc. etc. (yawn). I do like that he is extremely jealous of Chihaya's friendship with Arata. Ahhhh, Arata (aww yeah). A tall, smart, karuta hero who is also sweet. And definitely doesn't beat around any bushes. I love his Fukui accent. It's been a long time since I've come across anime with a male character I can get squealy and fangirly over. I mean a really long time! Arata has confirmed that I really do have a type. =P
4 out of 5 stars

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Anime: Hakuoki - Season 1 & 2 (2010)


Oh ho?! This is my kind of anime. Reverse-harem with an interesting story line set in historic samurai times. Just about all of the characters are based on a historic person. Why do these harem-type animes all start out being video games? Most of the time they don't amount to anything, so I'm watching for pure in-the-moment enjoyment. There are two movies to be released this year that retells the story. I may have to check them out. I like all of the bishounen in this series but my two favs are Hajime Saito and Harada Sanosuke.
*Update 2-4-14* So I had to power through to Season 2 and I agree with many who say Season 1 was way better. There was actually a plot. Season 2 was a narrative of the battles that took place in the war and our characters were just inserted along the way. Definitely not as exciting or engaging and you have to slog through all of the yawn to find out what happens at the end. Season 1 gets 3*** and Season 2 only 1*

Friday, January 03, 2014

KDrama: School 2013

I was only peering in casually from the window before my feet walked through the front door and I handed over my marathon credit card. The conflict ramps up fast in this one and then the cliffhangers make your fingers click through to the next episode. And for once, reading spoilers just makes me want to get back to watching ASAP. I'm not familiar with Lee Jong-suk and initially I wasn't too warmed by his character, Go Nam-soon. Maybe it's his bee-stung lips or likely just good writing but he's growing on me.
I think what's particularly identifiable in this show is that each student seems to have some hidden conflict that they're struggling with. There's a good psychological slow-reveal as each episode unfolds. I stayed up late watching until Kim Woo Bin's character made an appearance. It's really starting to get interesting now. Here we go, sleepless nights.

*Update 2-2-14* I really liked this series. The Go Nam Soon and Park Heung Soo bromance was the best part. It helps that the two actors are real-life buds. Even after the series ended, there's so much Heung-Soon behind-the-scenes and fan-generated media to keep the buzz going for sometime. 5 out of 5 stars.

KDrama: Heirs (2013)

I finally did some marathoning over the holiday. My bad habit of starting a drama and then reading spoiler recaps when I'm not watching, really set me up to be underwhelmed. If you're interested in this drama, you only need to know 3 words: Kim Woo Bin. His character, Choi Young-do was by far, the most interesting one in this series. He was the only reason I continued to watch.
Lee Min Ho didn't hurt the screen but his character was incredibly one-dimensional and our main leads' conflict was nothing we haven't seen before and also magically became a non-conflict by the time the show was ending. Save your time and watch Boys Over Flowers again. Or see more Kim Woo Bin in my next post. 2 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Anime: Free! Iwatobi Swim Club (2013)


Here's another stumbled find while I was toodling around recently. First impression: Ooooh, it's so blue! Water! Agua! Clean, vivid animation with bishounen in swimsuits! Coming off of my last anime, this is a nice segue into more eye candy. After doing some research, this title is probably going to be shounen-ai/yaoi oriented. The story so far is centered around swimming so if the boy-love is an accessory component, that works for me. I can commit to 12 episodes, so far so good!

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Anime: Amnesia (2013)

I sat down and powered through this title in three days, a random find one evening while browsing for new titles. This anime is based on the popular visual novel video game. (Why can't we get cool games like these released in the US? There's definitely a market for these types of games, just ask your neighborhood teenage girl!).

I read a lot of comments as well as reviews in between episodes and most of them were not great. Is it me or do people seem to have unrealistically high expectations of anime these days? They can't all be Naruto or Bleach or other endless 1000+ episode series. Don't expect too much coming into this one. Appreciate it for what it is, romance and eye candy - you'll be golden. The color palette for each character was very bright and everyone's eyes were rainbow gradients! It was mesmerizing. I also liked everyone's ombre hair too.

I rate this 4 out of 5 stars (as long as you don't over think it).