Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Anime Reviews: June 2011

It’s the season for anime!~ And there’s a lot to get through.

*** Obligatory Possible Spoiler Warning ***

Bokura Ga Ita

This series truly belongs in the romance genre, as the entire story revolves around the feelings of four people. It is so focused on these relationships that there is little else on offer as far as true comedy or minor support characters go. For this reason, the series begins to drag on by the second half. Basically, nothing is resolved and very little happens past the halfway mark. With no other padding available to fill in the time, Bokura No Ita unfortunately resorts to recycling flashback animation along with super slow camera zooming or panning. The other odd thing about it is the animation style. It’s cute and pastel coloured like a shojo anime should be, but there is often a tendency for white fuzzy borders and a lack of facial features.


Despite these faults, the plot is surprisingly serious and dark. The two main characters (Yano and Nanami) are the central couple in the story, but they are both plagued by insecurities and psychological issues brought about by the existence of Yano’s previous dead girlfriend (Nana). More drama ensues from interactions with Yano’s best friend (Taki) and the unstable little sister of Nana (Yuri). To simplify the plot, Yano and Nanami love each other but are in a constant destructive cycle of getting together and breaking up again. Taki is the typical ‘nice guy’ who also loves Nanami, but holds back knowing how wrong it is to make a move on a friend’s girlfriend. Yuri loves Yano but mostly pretends to hate him for various reasons. You know, I’m just going to make everything easier and present a chart in image form.

So, since Yano’s old girlfriend died in an accident while in a car with another guy, he harbours deep seated mental scarring that he must overcome. Mostly, it’s jealousy issues and being unable to come to terms with his ongoing feelings of love for his deceased girlfriend. Personally, I felt that everything would have turned out fine if Yano wasn’t such a womanising pervert to begin with. Then again, Yano also has other psychological disturbances as a result of being a love child. While everything seems to be going well with dating Nanami, Yano starts to make comparisons and expose his previous love for the deceased Nana, which causes Nanami to dump him for having divided feelings. After much crying and talking with the always present Take, Nanami decides to take Yano back. Sadly, Yano fails to mention that he randomly slept with his dead girlfriend’s younger sister (Yuri) one time, which causes Nanami to once again dump him for being such a sicko. So eventually they sort of decide to work things out, but then Yano stupidly ditches Nanami to comfort Yuri when her mother suffers a stroke. And yeah, Nanami kind of dumps Yano again only to get back with him later. -_-

That’s almost everything that happens in the entire series, except for a few minor events which never really have any effect on the story. Take and Yano fight over Nanami a few times, but nothing really comes out of it, despite the fact that it is obvious Take and Nanami have been eyeballing each other the entire time. Even after Take confesses his feelings for Nanami, he’s mostly ignored and treated as some nice guy who always just waits around. It all ends with Yano moving away to live in Tokyo with his mother, leaving Nanami and all his friends behind. If you’re wondering if it all turned out hunky dory, let’s just say that the manga appears to be even more depressing than the anime series. Overall, there’s a solid story but you probably want to steer clear of Bokura No Ita if you want to see a conclusive or happy ending.

What will I gain from this?
Do not go after your dead girlfriend’s sister. Don’t even think it.

Starry Sky

I’m going to tell you directly the only reason why you would watch this series: You just want to ogle your favourite character from the Starry Sky games and/or want to hear more from the voice actors. This entire animated series was made for only that reason – fan service. There is no story, no plot and nothing really happens. If you are a (straight) guy, this anime is going to be more boring than watching grass grow. The problem with the concept is that there is only one heroine, and at least 12 different guys who are all in love with her. Polygamy is frowned upon in society, particularly where 13+ people are involved. She can’t very well give birth to 24 children and marry them all, right? I think they could have given Starry Sky a good story and appealed to males if they also introduced 12 female zodiac characters. And that way they would have been able to create a continuous story out of it. On the other hand, who am I to argue with fan service? The final thing I’m going to mention about this series is that the animation quality is poor, especially if you’ve seen and compared it with the beautiful CGs from the Starry Sky games. I almost feel jibbed. Somehow.

What will I gain from this?
A puddle of keyboard drool and a Starry Sky art book. Or three.

Kimi Ni Todoke

This series is a clear standout from the rest of the shojo genre, but not yet up to the standard that Lovely Complex set before it. The characters in Kimi No Todoke are refreshingly different, particularly with regards to the main heroine (Sawako). She’s a painfully shy but frightening girl who closely resembles Sadako from The Ring movie. Because of this, everyone is terrified of being cursed by her and flee in the opposite direction whenever she gets near. That is, except for the most popular guy at school (Kazehaya), who secretly has a taste for girls who are awkward and reclusive. With his help, Sawako finally manages to make friends for the first time in her life. This aspect of the story is told very well in the first half of the series, and unfolds wonderfully when paired with Sawako’s awkward but kind personality. But as for the romance side, it took far too long for even the simplest things to happen. In fact, you could save yourself a boatload of time by watching just the first half of Kimi Ni Todoke and then immediately moving onto episode 9 of season two.

Thank Arceus season two had already been released, otherwise I’d be flipping a table and throwing old fruit at the monitor due to the lack of progress. And I understand that Sawako has a lot of trouble talking to people, especially the guy she likes. I was, and probably still am, that awkwardly gloomy recluse who everybody avoided. But seriously, even I know it doesn’t take that many years to tell some guy who’s been consistently dropping hints like lead weights that you like him back. Sigh. So, other than that low point where you started flailing your arms around in the air like a madman in the desperate hope that someone might actually do something, Kimi Ni Todoke is a very enjoyable experience. Apart from the infuriatingly sluggish pace of the central relationship, my only other beef with this series is that nothing happens between Ryu and Chizuru despite so many damn wink moments. In contrast, I’m strangely relieved that Ayane didn’t end up with a comic relief guy (Joe or Pin).

I have to say that this series also has decent comedy. The characters are interesting, but not in-your-face annoying like many of the stereotypical anime cut-outs out there. I was reminded that seemingly bubbly and cutesy people are often hiding something, as opposed to the regular anime stereotype where all bubbly and cute people always had kind personalities. Kazehaya also ticks all the bishonen boxes by being 1) willowy, 2) the jealous type, 3) prone to blushing and 4) open to wearing girly hair pins. On the other hand, there are few other characters that can be classified as ‘attractive’. Sawako is only drawn in a positive light occasionally, her two female friends are definitely not typical anime beauties, and the rest of the male cast also range from average looking to rock bottom. The only other visually attractive character is Sawako’s rival (Kurumi), a girl who pretends to be nice in order to be viewed upon favourably, but really has a mean streak underneath. This means some eye candy is lost in exchange for more focus on character personality rather than looks.

What will I gain from this?
Strawberry Time?

School Days

I have to stress that this series is exceptionally deceptive. You would think that this colourfully animated story would be just like all the other generic student harem titles out there. 

Well, it certainly starts out innocent enough, with a seemingly regular guy liking the typical quiet girl who takes the same train as him every day. Predictably, the guy manages successfully to confess to girl #1 with the aid of girl #2. But after spending a short while attempting to date girl #1, the guy decides she is boring to be around and so allows himself to be seduced by girl #2. He admits to himself that girl #2 is more comfortable to be around, and yet never tells girl #1 that their relationship is over. Now at this point, this guy has been firmly established as complete scum, and you would assume that the rest of the plot is going to be all about girl #1 and girl #2 aggressively fighting over him. But you’d be wrong. Even after ditching girl #1 in order to get physical with girl #2, this guy gets two more girls (#3 and #4) seriously throwing themselves at him. So, he regresses into a monkey wearing shoes and decides to do every girl who walks within a two metre radius. By the time the monkey has slept with almost every character introduced, girl #1 and #2 have both moved into their psychotic yandere phase. Girl #2 announces to everyone at school that she is pregnant, which annoys the monkey wearing shoes and causes all his mating sources to avoid him like the plague. Feeling lonely for once, the monkey realises all he ever wanted out of life was girl #1. This development causes the sanity of girl #2 to suddenly implode, as she finally puts a gory end to the monkey wearing shoes with a large kitchen blade. Girl #1 comes by and stuffs his remains in a gym bag for safekeeping. Also, girl #1 discovers that girl #2 lied about the pregnancy with help from the aforementioned large kitchen blade. Oh right, and the last scene is of girl #1 lying in a yacht with the monkey’s severed head. 

Aren’t you glad you witnessed such an unbelievably creepy turn of events instead of the innocent school life series you anticipated? Me neither. Hmm, suddenly I really want to get a flip phone with a screen in the lid.

What will I gain from this?
Choose to be with only one girl at a time. And be afraid of yandere. So very afraid.

Nyan Koi!

This is a tale of a cursed boy named Junpei, who lives in a beautiful world where everybody loves cats. When I first heard of this series, I decided to watch it purely on the basis that it was about cats. But actually, I quite enjoyed it. More than I should have. I found it funny, I liked the art style, and I thought the story was relatively solid for a 6-1 harem anime. Maybe it’s just the cat enthusiasm talking, but if you’re a cat person too, you’re probably going to like it. That is, at least until you get to the second half of the series, where the story kind of stops developing and a whole lot of fan service is substituted in. The last episode also comes across as completely rushed and sloppy, but don’t worry – apparently there’s a second season being made… in the distant future! :P

What will I gain from this?
Everyone secretly loves cats. Absolutely everybody.

Chi’s Sweet Home

A collection of three minute shorts about the adventures of a lost kitten named Chi, who gets separated from a mother cat and taken into the home of a little boy and his parents. At some point you will realise that Chi is actually a girl, which is weird. The animation is delightfully cute and depicts the responses of a real life cat very well. For some reason, the subtitles I get with this series never seem to be in English though.

What will I gain from this?
Some of the cutest cat animation ever made.


I’m not sure if this series can be classed as good or bad. But it’s different, that’s for sure. The story is mostly about trying to banish supernatural entities that are residing within human bodies. There are random frames inserted between the normal animation containing coloured backgrounds, words, phrases, unspeakable gore, eye close-ups or other irrelevant images. This is a little… distracting. It’s as if you were going about your daily life with someone intermittently flashing pieces of coloured cardboard in front of your eyes. There is quite a lot of bloody violence throughout it and the backgrounds are distinctly realistic and colourless. I found the experience somewhat unsettling.

What will I gain from this?
Staplers are really badass and should be feared.

KimiKiss Pure Rouge

This series is ordinary, in every sense of the word. The animation is average, the characters are typical, and the story is nothing new. It’s not quite boring enough to stop watching, but just interesting enough to leave on while you’re waiting for dinner to come out of the oven.

KimiKiss Pure Rouge is basically what you would expect to get after tossing a few anime stereotypes into a sack and shaking it around. Guys are going to get together with girls while random school events take place in the background. If anything, I’m reminded that the bond between childhood friends just never lasts through to adulthood. It also appears that being too bookish makes a girl boring, while too sporty makes a girl too unfeminine, but evil genius girls are a-okay. And again, there are subliminal signals that urge me to go out and buy a flip phone with a screen in the lid! This must be how the production of all dire shojo animation is funded nowadays. Anyhow, to save you precious time, I’ve summarised everything for you.

Winners: Mr. Ordinary (Kouichi), Big Sister (Mao), Mr. Average (Aihara), Aloof Genius (Futami)
Losers: Sporty One (Sakino), Quiet Bookworm (Yuumi), Mysterious Jerk (Kai)
Ineffectual Bystanders: Mr. Irritatingly Smug, Authority Girl, Classy Dame, Two Udon Girls+Frog Puppets, Awesome Udon Grandpa

What will I gain from this?
Being part of a group of long term childhood friends with an uneven girl to boy ratio will lead to a difficult life.

Hatsukoi Limited

Despite the fact that this series is dripping in fan service, it’s very blunt and honest. This also paves the way to very funny humour. The story is refreshingly simple, which means there is no drawn out hesitation or waiting around. In the short span of twelve episodes, almost everything is said and done, and we can all leave feeling satisfyingly content.

The plot alternates between the romantic events of seven girls, their siblings, and three guys. The more interesting themes to note here include sibling complexes, shallowness and running away on bicycles. Only one out of the two people afflicted with the sibling complex managed to cure themselves by the last episode. The message concerning shallowness is mixed. One girl at the start of the series insists that a guy is only worth how good looking his face is, but by the end she learns her lesson and realises that what’s inside is the most important. Her turnaround was the result of falling for a perverted kappa, though. Meanwhile, another girl is confessed to by a beast-man with a kind personality. Now, this is a guy with a face that makes the general public weep and small children cry. The girl understandably goes for his far more appealing younger brother, who also has a kind personality, but is interested in someone else. 

Given all this, I assume what someone was trying to say is that it’s okay to be ugly, but not too ugly. Finally, just as we saw in Honey and Clover, apparently Japanese youths typically go on long bike ride journeys when they get dumped by girls. This glorified process of running away seems to allow Japanese anime guys to heal their drained HP through starvation and disregard for basic personal hygiene. Oh, and I seriously need to own a flip phone with a screen in the lid. :O

What will I gain from this?
Give them lollipops.


This series shares many features with Love Hina, except I find the latter much more funny. You’ve got a loser who moves into his aunt’s apartment complex, complete with young female residents and an indoor bath. Suzuka is another tale of how one sad little man manages to eventually win the heart of a girl who is way out of his league. Given that the protagonist is a trembling wreck around girls, the support characters actually do provide some very sound advice here. The rest of the content mostly focuses on hopeful athletes training to achieve their goals and the extensive use of snazzy flip phones. I applaud Suzuka for showing us all that both talking to a cat and having one sit at the dinner table are common practice.

Although Suzuka has a likeable plot and more solid characters overall, there are problems with the two central characters. Firstly, the main guy (Yamato) is probably what you would end up with after throwing Yugi Muto, Sena Kobayakawa, Shinji Ikari and a stick of rhubarb into a blender. In other words, he’s a very weak, whiny, cowardly and hollow main character. In comparison, the lead girl (Suzuka) is aggressive, indecisive, tsundere and very focused on her athletic ability.

Even though Suzuka comes across as a psychotic nutcase at times, the major fault of this entire series lies with Yamato. His issue is that absolutely everything he ever does or thinks revolves entirely around Suzuka. And not only that, but much of his inner monologue is of him constantly complaining about either how hard his training is, or why Suzuka hates him. Perhaps this is the reason why Yamato happens to be one of those pushover ‘nice guys’ who girls are never attracted to, but are always pressured into carrying their shopping bags. But don’t worry, his character is redeemed because he happens to have a natural talent for card games/running fast/piloting Eva.

We see that Yamato falls in love with Suzuka at the very first scene, and he is ecstatic to find out that his new room is located conveniently next to hers. After some obligatory fan service from two drunken college floozies, Yamato slowly inches himself closer to Suzuka by spending more time with her. These bonding activities with Suzuka primarily include eating dinner with his aunt and going shopping. One day, Yamato gets conned into getting some tickets to an amusement park. Being a spineless pansy, he delays asking Suzuka to go with him until the night before, when drunken floozy #1 destroys the tickets. While Yamato is moping on the stairs outside his room, Suzuka mentions that she also has complimentary tickets to the amusement park. Somehow they end up agreeing to go together, much to Yamato’s everlasting joy. At the end of the day, while Suzuka is enjoying the night parade, Yamato musters up some courage and decides the mood is adequate enough for a confession. However, it turns out that Suzuka is still hung up on her dead almost-boyfriend, leaving Yamato to blubber inconsolably into his pillow like a sissy.

After this initial rejection, Yamato decides to do the most pathetic thing he can think of – he joins the hellish field and track team just for a chance to spend more time with Suzuka. Considering that Suzuka is a star high jumper, Yamato begins to believe that if he can become a champion runner, he might be able to make Suzuka fall for him after all. Luckily for Yamato, he happens to be a dead ringer for Suzuka’s deceased almost-boyfriend (Kazuki). But unfortunately for Yamato, Kazuki genuinely took running seriously and was ranked as the number one fastest sprinter in Japan before his untimely death. Rather than impressing her, Suzuka hates Yamato’s lack of ambition towards running. Around this point, another girl (Honoka) stoops to Yamato’s level and joins the track and field club as the manager just so she can get closer to the guy she likes. And that’s Yamato. Wow.

Honoka realises that there is something going on between Yamato and Suzuka though, so she pulls out the heavy artillery and randomly kisses Yamato one night. Due to his lack of exposure to female intimacy, Yamato becomes bewitched by Honoka’s lips and his brain subsequently starts to malfunction. Honoka and Yamato start seeing each other for a short while, but mostly because Yamato has no idea what he is doing and still likes Suzuka. One attempted rape incident and a tainted birthday gift later, Honoka realises that Yamato is only using her as a rebound to fill the void left by Suzuka. Yamato also suddenly becomes aware of the fact that he knows absolutely nothing about Honoka, and they break up as if nothing ever happened. The single positive thing that results from this deluded relationship is that it makes Suzuka mildly jealous. Some attraction is also generated by Yamato declining to go shopping with her, thus making him seem less whipped.

Yamato picks a fight with the fastest runner in the sports meet, and the two become rivals. Well, actually Yamato just gets his ass handed to him every time they compete. As you would expect, the rival is a total jerkface whose hobby is putting other athletes down. Fuelled by the awesomeness that is unrequited love, Yamato manages to catch up to the jerkface in the middle of a running race, only to trip over like a doofus seconds later. After his loss, Yamato looks the jerkface straight in the eye, yells some empty threats and then gallantly runs away with the blinding spirit of a true coward. What a guy.

For some reason, Yamato then decides that he wants to be the number one runner in Japan. Not because he has a passion for sprinting, but so he can gain the confidence he needs to confess to Suzuka again and close the talent gap between them. Well, Yamato fails spectacularly at the last sports meet anyway, and doesn’t even qualify for the preliminaries. Even so, when Suzuka visits his room to cheer him up, Yamato still blurts out that he loves her a second time. Sadly, this causes Suzuka to have an almost-boyfriend flashback and she runs off crying. 

Meanwhile, Yamato sinks to the floor, bawling and writhing around like a dying turtle in response to his second rejection. In the end, Yamato chases Suzuka down and forcibly kisses her. For this act of indecency, he gets slapped about the face in the rain by a raging Suzuka. After giving Yamato the silent treatment for a while, Suzuka drags Yamato to Kazuki’s grave thanks to an enlightening talk with Honaka. There, she earnestly apologises to her dead almost-boyfriend seeing as she now likes an idiot. And the most Yamato willingly gets from Suzuka is hand holding, so everyone lived contentedly ever after. The End.

What will I gain from this?
Nice guys finish last.

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