Sunday, September 25, 2011

Anime Reviews: September 2011

First up, not much anime this month. Mainly because I’m out of stuff that’s actually good, but this time also because I caught some kind of nasty flu. It’s one of those strains that causes a stuffy nose, coughing and vomiting all at once. Yup. Anyway, onto the anime!

*** Obligatory Possible Spoiler Warning ***

Marmalade Boy

This is a series which relies entirely on romantic drama to keep viewers watching it all the way through. Basically, the story tries to develop the connections between all the characters in an attempt to generate suspense as to which guy is going to end up with which girl. However, the series manages to spoil itself from beginning to end during the short animated intermissions at the halfway points. This gives away nearly all the plot twists, although it didn’t personally stop me from viewing the entire 76 episodes. If you aren’t so tolerant of sappy girly romance, all you have to do is skip to three of the intermissions to find out who the winners and losers will be. 

Massive Hint: The character who falls down or looks defeated in the half-time animation is the loser. (It’s pretty obvious.)

Part of me wants to point out the similarities between Marmalade Boy and Kodocha, but the major parallels are mainly the physical appearances of the two main characters. Just in case you’re curious, the characters in Marmalade Boy are around 17 years old, but nobody ends up actually sleeping with anybody else. Well, unless it happened off-screen or later in the manga somewhere. 

Marmalade Boy consists of mostly attractive guys and girls getting together with one another via the usual hook up methods. For guys, these include bashing each other up, lying, getting flowers, using physical force, befriending + being nice, stalking, composing music, forced kissing, winning sports competitions and blind + unwanted persistence. For girls, these include acting cute, lying, being disgracefully forward, random kissing, excessive crying, writing novels, and pretending to be considerate. And apparently toy robots and rockets are extremely romantic. 

The central couple are Sana/Miki and Hayama/Yuu/Jounouchi/Joey Wheeler, who struggle to maintain their relationship throughout most of the story. Predictably, both Miki and Yuu have several love rivals who try to break them apart, but none of these candidates manage to succeed. 

Yuu is described a very loyal character, yet while he never actually cheats on Miki, he does nothing to prevent the advances on him by other girls. This always struck me as very strange behaviour. Throughout the course of the story, Yuu turns into a confused lump of firewood every time a rival girl kisses him. Dude. Back up, push their faces away, block them with your arms, or run in the opposite direction… Do something, for Dragonite’s sake. You don’t know where these women have been! How do you know they haven’t been mopping public toilet bowls with their faces?

Miki also has her fair share of forced kisses from rival guys, but at least she knows how to slap and push them away. Her role as Yuu’s girlfriend mostly involves her worrying about the other girls hanging around him, which is totally justified. What sort of boyfriend ditches their girlfriend at every opportunity in favour of their other ‘friends’? Seriously, Yuu has put work, studying abroad, waiting in a hospital, meeting up with friends and delivering a CD above Miki. You know you’re not worth anything to him when your boyfriend ditches you to give a CD to another girl. Oh well, I guess Miki should have threatened to shave Yuu’s eyebrows in his sleep instead of pretending to be nice about being neglected. 

In any case, Miki deals with her jealousy by feeling miserable and crying. Simple, but clearly effective. Meanwhile, it is revealed that Yuu knows he is not the biological son of his father, which torments him to no end. So he spends his time having a campy bromance with the school president (Satoshi) in the hopes of confronting his real father. Alas, it turns out that Satoshi isn’t his half-sibling after all. But that’s okay, because they can still bond over their mutual interest in architecture.

Numerous love triangles later, Yuu decides that he wants to study abroad in America, but does not inform Miki of his intentions. This is a very bad move on his part, because the distance between them causes Miki to leave him. That, and the fact that the local harlot (Jinny) feeds Miki lies about sleeping with Yuu. Is it just me, or do Japanese anime writers all think Americans are out to get them? 

Miki almost immediately ends up seeing a guy she met at work (Kei) back home in Japan, while Yuu sits around and looks lost on his own in America. Kei then has the audacity to confront Yuu personally in New York and tell him how he is going to steal Miki away. In response, Yuu essentially shrugs his shoulders and says it’s all up to Miki. Kei can’t believe his good fortune at this development, and returns home to charm Miki with his epic piano music. 

Even though Kei is clearly a better match for Miki, Yuu returns to Japan for the summer and she realises that she will always be in love with him. Leaving Kei in the dust, Miki leaps into Yuu’s arms once more during a group camping trip. Sigh.

I know what you’re thinking. The two main characters are back together now, so finally all the unnecessary drama is going to come to a close, right? Wrong. Yuu finds some old photos of his mother posing with Miki’s father in college. He arrives at the conclusion that he and Miki are half-siblings, and has a nervous breakdown. Upon this incriminating revelation, Yuu rushes over to Satoshi’s house and stays there overnight. Wink. Speaking of winking, I’ve noticed that Yuu winks at everybody. Especially other guys.

Anyway, Yuu breaks up with Miki again due to reasons of incest, leaving her heartbroken. He flees back to America to deal with his psychological anguish alone. But Miki soon follows him there and declares that she will always be in love with him for the rest of her life. With this, Yuu finally cracks and screams out that they are brother and sister. In horror, Miki jumps into a taxi and orders the driver to take her anywhere… To Manhattan! 

Unfortunately, she is swiftly chased by knife wielding rapists on the streets of Manhattan. Thankfully though, she is saved by a small boy and his little sister. The boy and his sister declare to Miki that they love each other and plan to stay together forever. By getting married. Hmm. Miki perceives this as a holy sign from Arceus telling her that incest is okay, as long as two siblings love each other.

But just after Miki is struck by this epiphany, the knife wielding maniacs find them and try to slay the boy. Yuu’s fist materialises out of thin air just in the nick of time, and his friends call for police. The children survive unscathed, the car doesn’t explode, and Yuu reunites with Miki. They both mentally tell their anti-incest alarms to shove it, because they are going to be together regardless of their genetic composition. Surprisingly, their friends all seem to warm up to the idea rather quickly.

Yuu and Miki come to the agreement that neither one of them cares about getting married or having their own children. Apparently it is forbidden to marry and procreate with blood relatives in Japan, even though it happens in so many anime series. Sure, you two may not be able to legally marry right now, but you could always change your names and flee to a remote farmhouse where nobody will recognise you. Even if it is wholly against what nature intended and may result in birth defects. I mean, nobody can stop you from being incestuous if that’s what you truly want. Just saying. 

At long last, Yuu finally confronts his parents about the identity of his biological father after 75 freaking episodes. Guess what? In about 7 seconds, everyone finds out that Yuu has always been the biological son of his existing father all along. Sweet, buttery Dratini. If you had just directly asked your parents about this 50 episodes ago, you wouldn’t have mentally scarred yourselves for life. Now you’re going to need years of government funded therapy to regain what little sanity you had left. You foolish fools!

Ah, who cares. It’s wedding time! While Yuu and Miki were tormenting themselves for no reason, Meiko and Nao-chan were planning their wedding day. Meiko’s parents aren’t there, but that doesn’t matter since they were evil anyhow. Everyone there is smiling and paired with somebody, except Satoshi. We all know he won’t end up alone with a face like that though, so let’s just assume everybody lived happily ever after.

(By the way, Nao-chan was their school teacher. He began an illegitimate relationship with a student (Meiko) eight years his junior and then had to resign. Satoshi tried in vain to win Meiko over, but ultimately failed. <Insert Sensei and Ninomiya-kun reference here>) 

Despite all the excessive relationship drama, Marmalade Boy is one of those hunky-dory titles where everybody happily pairs up with someone in the end. The unfortunate side effect of this feature is that all the characters are forced to do unrealistic things in order to create drama. They eventually become more like puppets being controlled by a poor script rather than credible human beings. 

The plot points regarding Yuu’s biological father and Miki being his half-sister are especially weak. The entire series builds upon Yuu’s mental anguish surrounding his father issue, showing us how tormented he is over the unknown, and then just dumps the whole thing down the toilet at the very end. The way this is executed really demonstrates the sense of a rushed ending to please the masses. 

The female rival characters in particular are quite detestable, leaving Miki’s best friend (Meiko) as the only likable girl. It seems that the more beautiful the girl's appearance, the more awful her personality is. Luckily, the series lives up to the shojo label by ensuring that all the male rivals are pretty with somewhat likeable personalities. There is quite a pool of characters to choose from, as outlined below:

The final observation that I would like to mention here is that all girls secretly take pleasure in watching beautiful boys beat the crap out of each other over them. Notice that there are never any permanent injuries or cases of facial disfigurement with main characters in anime. This event is a common occurrence in all shojo series, as stated plainly by Suzu during the fist fight between Kei and Michael over Miki’s affection.

What will I gain from this?

You will realise that both horses and deer are evil.

Peach Girl

I would describe this as a typical shojo title, only because it delivers everything you would expect an extremely girly series to put out. It’s got people being dumped by other people, cheating, lying, guys with overgrown eyelashes and mental anguish in the form of unwarranted crying. But regrettably, all the characters are stupid. They do stupid things, they say stupid things, and most importantly, they fail to say important things to one another. Precious time and so many therapy invoices could have been saved if these characters just told each other the whole truth up front. It does entertain you for 25 episodes, I have to at least give it that. You should expect a mediocre, daytime soap opera type series out of Peach Girl. 

There are a few clues throughout the episodes pointing towards which guy Momo is going to eventually end up with. You might observe that Kairi is consistently present during the entire story, and has much deeper character development and a more detailed history. He’s also the better looking one, and his portrait is featured in the ending credits alone with Momo. In contrast, Touji always reminded me of a brick with a face painted on it. 

Here’s a brief description of the four main characters:

Momo Adachi

A tanned, promiscuous looking schoolgirl who is actually has a totally naïve and kind hearted nature. Despite being a good person, she is clearly not very bright or decisive. In fact, she seems to be a glutton for punishment and has no respect for her own wellbeing. 

Sae Kashiwagi

A thoroughly malicious girl who always pretends to be an innocent victim whenever possible. She does this because she has absolutely nothing else to do in her life other than to cause other people suffering. She loves to lie and inflict misery on others simply because she is the Devil incarnate. Towards the end of the series, she transforms herself into Momo’s overly nosy ‘friend’.

Touji Kazuya

A quiet, dependable, stoic kind of guy. He wears a serious face most of the time, as if participating in an eternal game of poker. He doesn’t seem to know what ‘fun’ is, and Momo never seems to be having a genuinely good time being anywhere with him at any given time. Touji apparently loves Momo, but never seems to care that much about it. He is able to treat her extremely cruelly with the only immediate side effect being to shake like a frightened boulder. He quite easily hands her to Kairi, only punching him (and one other guy) in the face a few times for making Momo cry. And he yells a few times. I don’t like him so much.

Kairi Okayasu

A pretty, flirty, chatty playboy. He is the least stupid character, but has a creepy fixation with his old home school teacher. This is due to a reverse brother complex, which came about from his older brother stealing away every girlfriend he ever had. In other words, his older brother is like the male version of Sae. Only probably worse. Anyway, Kairi always seems to end up trying to drown himself so Momo can rescue him. I think these suicide attempts occur four times throughout the series. He also seems to get beat up by thugs a lot, which makes me wonder why he doesn’t at least learn self defence.

Our story beings by introducing Momo as a misunderstood, tanned student at her school. It is quickly established that she has been in love with a guy from the baseball club (Touji) ever since she met him. Sadly for her, the devil incarnate (Sae) decides to target Momo and make her life a living hell by spreading nasty rumours about her to the other students. Sae tries to ask Momo who it is she likes, but Momo points to a random guy (Kairi) in an attempt to throw Sae off. 

This information is all you need to predict how the rest of the series will unfold. Touji and Kairi are going to fight over Momo, while Sae continues to go to unbelievable lengths to make Momo miserable.

As you may have guessed from the opening and closing sequences, both Touji and Kairi are eternally in love with Momo. And they have eyelashes that are far too long. Unfortunately, there are significant bad points about each of them. But these are the only two suitors Momo has, so we have to roll with it. So throughout the 25 episodes, Momo must choose which of these two idiots she truly loves the most.

Although Kairi blatantly expresses his interest in Momo from the start, Touji finally confesses to her out of concern that Kairi might steal her away from him. By then, Kairi has already stolen Momo’s first kiss and been resuscitated by her after drowning himself in the school pool. But at this point, Momo is in love with Touji, so they decide to become an item. Kairi decides to hang around Momo as her support in the meantime, which is a clever move on his part.

Sae soon corners Touji and puts on a nice act in order to both sabotage the relationship and steal his first kiss. This could have been avoided if Touji didn’t have the same IQ as a cup of mashed Gummi Bears. But he just stands there and allows Sae to manipulate him, being the demented letterbox that he is. Momo witnesses this and actually excuses it, even though she is completely devastated. Yes, I know. She is a nincompoop.

Ah, but there’s more.

After more lies from Sae, Momo doesn’t find out that Touji has appendicitis until several days after he’s been admitted to hospital. Even after everything he’s been through with Sae, Touji still won’t believe that she is pure evil, and refuses to hear Momo’s side of the story. It takes Momo threatening to kill herself by jumping out of a hospital window to get Touji to even listen to what she has to say. Now, when your supposed boyfriend won’t even hear you out after all the crap that has happened up until this point, I think it’s time to kick him in the shins and invest your time elsewhere. Thankfully, that’s what Momo finally does. She throws an apple at him and tells him to piss off for being such a colossal idiot. This is okay despite Momo being an idiot herself, because compared to brain-dead Touji, she looks like an intellectual.

Kairi starts to move in on Momo as her only source of comfort, but then decides to help out Touji by exposing Sae’s true colours to him. After finally realising just how dense he has been, Touji steps in to save Momo from Sae’s lies and Kairi helps to reveal her evil personality to the entire class. (Supposedly Kairi tied Touji up beforehand with a rope and stuffed him in a locker to punish him for hurting Momo, but I just thought it was weird and uncalled for.) So Touji and Momo get back together, and Sae is defeated. 

Everybody has a good time for a while, except Sae, who is now totally isolated after her lies were found out. Again, like an idiot, Momo takes pity on Sae and continues to talk with her. This results in Sae pretending to idolise Momo, but all the while cursing her newfound happiness with Touji underneath. Before long, Sae regains her former confidence when a himbo model by the name of Jigoro (Jigolo, Gigolo, it doesn’t matter) falls in love with her. In vain, she tries to force Touji into kissing her again, only this time he actually resists. The plot fails, and Sae is forced to think up a more malevolent scheme. 

On Momo’s birthday, Touji organises a small party at his house for just the two of them. He buys her a perfume in a peach coloured bottle, although Sae sees him do so and buys the same product. The day goes well until Sae calls Momo’s mobile phone, begging her for help with her model boyfriend. Sigh. Like an imbecile, Momo rushes to her aid and ends up alone in a car with Jigoro. He drives her to a dock somewhere and refuses to leave her alone for some reason, much like some sort of unstoppable killer robot. 

Meanwhile, back at Touji’s house, Sae slaps on a wig and marinates herself in the same perfume that Momo received as a birthday gift. She somehow breaks into Touji’s house, locates his bedroom and turns off the light. Touji just assumes Momo came back from helping Sae because of her scent and silhouette. After Sae seduces him, her phone rings (why didn’t she turn the ringtones off?) and Touji flips the light switch back on. He then realises that the girl sitting before him is really Sae with an orange wig on, and starts freaking out. Now, any normal person would know the difference between a person wearing a wig and the actual person. Or failing that, at least call the police to report breaking and entering or something. But no, Touji just drags Sae along with him to help find Momo. You stupid, stupid person.

As Momo continues to flee from the Jigornator, she crashes into a pile of boxes which all collapse onto her. She eventually wakes up partially undressed in Jigoro’s bed, with Jigoro strutting around the place in a bathrobe. Thinking she’s been drugged and deflowered, Momo bursts into tears just as Sae peeks into the room to snap an incriminating picture on her mobile phone. Touji and Kairi then force their way into the room. Seeing  the situation, Touji finally leaps into action and begins rearranging Jigoro’s face.

Okay. Allow me to list all of the bad decisions that were made leading up to this event:

1. Momo actually answered her phone, knowing it was Sae calling.
Missing mental dialogue: Are you insane? She wants to eat you!

2. Momo believed the story Sae told her.
Missing mental dialogue: Why would her boyfriend ever listen to you? He hates you!

3. Momo decided to abandon her birthday celebration with Touji to help Sae.
Missing mental dialogue: It’s your birthday. She wants to kill you. How stupid are you?

4. Touji failed to stop Momo going to help Sae, and even let her go alone.
Missing mental dialogue: You are terrible at protecting your girlfriend. Your stupid, stupid girlfriend.

5. Momo willingly got into a car with a stranger.
Missing mental dialogue: You don’t know him. What are you doing? He’s not even offering you any candy!

6. Touji allowed himself to be seduced by someone wearing a wig.
Missing mental dialogue: Exactly how well do you know your girlfriend? Wait until people speak before kissing them in the dark!

7. Touji didn’t chain Sae to a pipe, and failed to call police about her criminal behaviour.
 Missing mental dialogue: It’s almost as if you want her to get away with it...

8. Jigoro continued to chase Momo down for no reason.
Missing mental dialogue: Are you a rapist? Stop chasing schoolgirls who hate you around in the dark!

9. Jigoro took Momo back to his apartment and partially undressed her.
Missing mental dialogue: Seriously, you’re a rapist, aren’t you?

10. Jigoro undressed himself and was strutting around in a bathrobe in front of Momo.
Missing mental dialogue: Okay, maybe I can still save you if we get you into a correctional facility.

11. Jigoro didn’t tell anyone that nothing actually happened between Momo and himself.
Missing mental dialogue: You secretly want to have your face rearranged, don’t you?

12. Nobody actually asked Jigoro about what really happened.
Missing mental dialogue: I’m disappointed in you, Kairi. You always seemed to be the least dumb.

Well, the next blow to Momo’s sanity comes when Sae approaches Touji with the incriminating photo she took earlier. Sae demands that he break up with Momo in exchange for not releasing the picture to the media. Touji tells her to slag off, but ends up caving in to her mind game and breaking up with Momo on a Ferris Wheel. Sae doesn’t release the photo, but then insists on Touji being her slave in order to keep it that way. Thus, Touji is forced to date Sae against his wishes, much to his everlasting disgrace. 

Momo refuses to believe Touji would do such a thing on his own, and pesters him relentlessly about it because she has no self-respect. Touji then resorts to being inhumanly cruel to Momo just so she can better comprehend the message that it’s over between them. He snubs her, actively kisses Sae in front of her, locks her outside his house in the snow until she gets sick and even smashes his birthday gift to her on the ground in front of her very eyes. 

After this series of nasty acts, Momo spends the next few weeks at home, sick with a cold and crying uncontrollably. Kairi moves in again as her support, dragging her out of the house and forcing her to go on an all-expenses-paid shopping spree. Through the awesome power that is retail therapy, Momo primps herself up and starts to forget about Touji and Sae. The new semester begins, and Momo immerses herself in talking with her new friends, particularly Kairi. She’s soon back to her smiling self, much to Sae’s bitter disappointment.

As you would expect, Momo falls in love with Kairi, and they start going out. Sae is powerless against him, and Touji gives his seal of approval. It all goes well for a while, with a few hiccups from Kairi’s jealous fans and an ex-girlfriend. Kairi’s evil older brother (Ryo) interrupts by trying to rape Momo (what else is new...?) and manipulating Sae (who falls in love with him). These are all minor issues compared to Kairi’s strange love for his old home school teacher (Misao), who now works as a nurse at their school. Misao is significantly older than the students, overweight and in love with Ryo. Yeah. It doesn’t make any sense to me either.

It has something to do with being the first person to accept Kairi for himself instead of Ryo’s little brother. I don’t know. Whatever the psychological issue is, it’s damn creepy and doesn’t belong in the story. I think they just made it up in 15 minutes as a desperate attempt to generate more drama. Anyhow, Kairi suddenly does an about-face and tells Momo that he loves Misao more than her. Understandably, this revelation deeply upsets Momo. But she tells Kairi that she doesn’t mind being second to Misao for now, because someday she knows she will be first in his heart. As I mentioned before, Momo has no self-respect. 

Touji gets wind of this issue and commits attempted murder by throwing a dictionary out of a window at Kairi’s head. When he misses, Touji tells Kairi to lug the dictionary back up the stairs to him. He does so, and Touji rewards him with a knuckle sandwich. You have to admit, that’s just a tiny bit funny. 

Over time, Kairi’s divided loyalty makes Momo increasingly anxious and distressed. Finally, Kairi decides he is going to confess his feelings to Misao as a first step to get over his disturbing fixation, and gets turned down. He tells Momo that he is going on a long journey to think everything through, and she tells him that she will be waiting for him for 5 minutes at a meeting point before giving up on him. Now that’s an ultimatum. No, he doesn’t set off on a long bike ride across Japan. He walks instead, getting mugged along the way. Oh, and Sae has now mended all her sinful ways and is ‘helping’ Momo with her personal life. 

After having his wallet stolen by rogue skateboarders, Kairi is unable to pay for his meal at an udon restaurant, and ends up working there over the summer. On the last day, he reaches an epiphany about how the udon is not greener on the other side, it’s how you perceive the flavour of the udon in front of you (or something profound like that). With his lesson learnt, he realises that the one he is in love with is Momo, and he rushes home to tell her the good news. But nuts, his older brother gets bashed up by a street lunatic, and he has to accompany Misao to hospital because she’s in shock. This makes him late in meeting Momo, and she sees him get into a car with Misao while waiting for him at the agreed point. Momo takes this as a rejection, and goes off on a trip somewhere alone. Thanks to the reformed Sae, Touji is now back in the game for Momo’s affections. And he secretly stalks, I mean follows, Momo all the way to the vacation spot on his own. 

Back at home, it dawns on Kairi that he took for granted the fact that Momo would wait for him forever, so he sprints off after her. Regrettably for him, a typhoon comes in to block off the transport system, and he chooses to walk 20 kilometres through the storm to reach Momo at the vacation spot. Kairi’s too late though, because by the time he arrives, Momo has already spent the night with Touji. He sees them together at the station, but instead of confronting them, he decides to hide behind a shrub or something. His loss.

The next school semester, Momo gets everyone talking by walking to school with Touji. Kairi pretends everything is normal on the outside, but spends his private time sulking over losing Momo. For those of you who have lost track, Momo is dating Touji again now.

Eventually, Sae and Misao end up fighting over Ryo, with Sae announcing to a crowd of impartial bystanders that she is pregnant with his child. Ryo was only using Sae all along, and tries to bribe away his paternal responsibilities with an envelope of money. Sae refuses and Misao dumps Ryo for being such a jerk. Ryo ends up sitting in a park talking to Sae about how tragic his existence is, but then hired goons jump out from behind the trees or something and beat him to a bloody pulp. Sae tries to shield him with her own body, but gets kicked in the stomach. Everyone is concerned about her losing the baby, but then the doctor tells them that there never was any baby. What? Apparently Sae wanted a baby so badly that her body began releasing all the relevant hormones, resulting in a positive test result and morning sickness. Okay.

So with that problem solved, Touji and Kairi both turn to Momo and insist that she choose one of them on the spot. Like examining slabs of beef at the meat market, Momo considers both of these men. And she picks Touji. With this, Kairi temporarily transforms into an irate goat and charges at Touji with all his might, knocking him to the ground. He then grabs Momo by the hand and drags her along into a waiting taxi. Smooth.

Kairi and Momo get out somewhere near a body of water, where Momo tells him that she wants to be with someone who cares only for her. Kairi desperately tries to convince her that he no longer cares about Misao and only loves her, but Momo won’t believe him. She finally manages to shut him up by saying that her feelings for him are like her dead phone battery. Interesting… analogy.

Later, just before Momo is about to leave on a trip with Touji, Sae appears tell her that Kairi walked 20 kilometres through a typhoon to be with her earlier. This makes Momo feel incredibly guilty, and she finds out that he bought a rose for her that day and everything. Finding out all this information causes Momo to be over an hour late for her date with Touji. But that’s okay, Touji is the king of patience, even preparing drinks for her arrival. They set off together on their trip, much to Sae’s dismay. 

Witnessing all this makes Kairi depressed, so he takes a trip of his own to try and get over Momo. One train ride later, he ends up standing in front of the ocean, screaming obscenities at it. Highlights include death threats, and how Touji is a bastard and a quiet pervert. He tries to throw the handmade phone case Momo gave to him into the sea, but finds that he can’t do it. A few hours later, a typhoon is on the way. Yes, another one. But Kairi can’t find the phone case Momo made him, so he rushes off to look for it.

Meanwhile, Sae sends a hoax text from Kairi’s phone to Momo saying that he’s going to drown himself in the ocean. This makes Momo panic, and she tries to leave the room she and Touji are staying in to save him. But Touji puts his foot down and holds the door shut, preventing her escape. Then he pushes her onto the bed and pins her down. Uh… I think you’re going too far there, guy. Touji tells Momo that if she has to go, then she’ll have to break up with him first. They sort of kiss, but Momo starts crying through it. So I guess Touji takes the hint and tells her to go to Kairi.

After a call from Sae, Momo finally realises that she can’t live without seeing Kairi again and sets off on a journey to meet him. Touji gets his ass nicely dumped and Momo is now confident that she is actually in love with Kairi. While that’s happening, Kairi has been searching the beach fruitlessly for the lost phone case. When morning breaks, he finds it around the neck of some surfer thug wearing a backwards cap. He refuses to give it back to Kairi, so he tries to rip it off the thug’s neck. But he gets beat up. The good news is, the thug throws the phone case into the ocean so that he can at least fish it out. The bad news is, as soon as Kairi grabs the phone case out of the water, he starts drowning. Someone really has to tell him to stay the heck away from large bodies of water.

Miraculously, Momo happens to be at the exact point on the beach as Kairi at that very moment. She sees him drowning, goes in to save him, resuscitates him, and they kiss. Then there’s a bit of tying together the loose ends, and a few wistful lines about the significance of the sea. The End!

What will I gain from this?

Don’t be a Momo:
Study all your options, get to really know them, think carefully before you do anything, pick one and stick with one of them. And please, please try not to be an idiot.

Don’t be a Sae:
Or you’ll end up being firmly strapped to something in a maximum security institution.


Karin is a mostly light-hearted title centred around the life of an adolescent vampire. The unusual thing about Karin herself is that she is the opposite of a normal vampire. Rather than sucking blood from victims, Karin produces excess blood and injects it into her prey. As it turns out, this condition is very inconvenient to manage, with all the constant nosebleeds and bloody explosions suffered. On top of dealing with the frequent increases in blood volume, Karin also has to attend a normal human school and somehow hide the fact that she is a vampire from everyone. 

Not surprisingly, a vacant looking guy with scary eyes (Usui) soon notices Karin gushing blood all over the place at school and becomes suspicious of her. (No, I’m sorry to say that it’s not the same Usui from Maid Sama!) Another interesting fact about Karin’s blood-maker condition is that her blood volume increases whenever she is near unhappiness. Of course, Usui just happens to be the most hapless person in school.

Usui lives with his mother below the poverty line, and he never has any lunch to eat. His stomach was often growling for nourishment, until Karin decided to make him a boxed lunch every day to curb his epic unhappiness levels. At first, Karin’s charity towards Usui was only to prevent her blood levels from rising around him, but that soon shifts to gratitude in exchange for his kindness towards her. And as we all know by now, love and care are sure to follow sentiments of gratitude by the mighty law of shojo anime. 

As Karin and Usui become increasingly close friends, we discover more about both of their families. Karin has a younger sister (Anju) and an older brother (Ren) along with both her parents. Comparatively, Usui has a depressed mother who can’t seem to hold down a job. She is also cursed with the ability to make middle-aged men go bananas over her. Hence all the despondency.

It is soon uncovered that every individual vampire has a different taste for blood. Karin’s mother and father crave blood infused with lies and pride, Ren feeds on stress, Anju is drawn to jealousy, while Karin goes for unhappiness. The plus side to all this is that when a vampire bites an afflicted human, the specified characteristic is sapped away with their blood for a period of time. So when Karin chomps down on the neck of Usui’s mother, much of her unhappiness is drained away for a while, leaving behind a much more cheerful demeanour. The victim’s memories of the attack are erased, and there doesn’t seem to be any negative consequences other than a temporary change in personality. Am I the only one who thinks these vampires should set up a resort clinic business for curing misguided wrongdoers?

Getting back to the story… Well, nothing major really happens. The connection between Karin and Usui doesn't get much further than standing around blushing awkwardly at one another, while the vampires all do their own thing in the background. Some extra eye candy shows up in the form of a pretty boy named ‘Winner’. (Yes, somebody actually named their child Winner.) How should I go about describing this guy? Imagine you have TK (Angel Beats), some bumbling medieval knights (Monty Python and the Holy Grail?), a handful of cumquats, and whatever that furry thing is you found behind the sofa cushions last month. Okay, now mash all of those together unevenly in a birdbath using a gumboot filled with beans. After you’re done roasting your creation in the sun for 5 hours, pour it all into a plastic vessel shaped like a person. But not just any vessel, it has to be made from combining Tamaki (Ouran Host Club) and Hermit (Kenichi the Mightiest Disciple). Voila! You now have something which vaguely resembles Winner. I tip my imaginary hat to you.

The point I was trying to make about Winner was that he’s… odd. I mean, other than looking physically fabulous, everything else about him is weird. And not the admirable sort of weird either, I mean more like the funny farm kind. He talks in an overly disjointed way, he’s incompetent, he eats giant rolls of meat from a stick, and he’s scared to death of blood. Oh, and he’s a vampire hunter. The screenshots say more than words ever could. The police even try to arrest him on two different occasions! I think that’s proof enough for you. 

There’s also a peculiar yaoi episode about Ren being somewhat bi-curious (which was most likely put in due to relentless pestering from rabid fangirls). It’s a lengthy flashback of when Ren attended an all boys’ school with an incredibly effeminate student (Makoto) as his room-mate. Yup, you know where this is going. In addition, the school features three gay council presidents who are fruitier than all the guys in Ouran’s Host Club combined. These three jerks decide they want Ren and Makoto to join their band of merry gay students, but fail to persuade them with conventional methods.

One fine afternoon, Makoto is nibbling at a doughnut while Ren stands next to him. Makoto proclaims that he hates it at the school, and violently punches the wall in frustration, leaving a red blood stain. The sight of Makoto’s blood mesmerises Ren, who automatically begins licking it off his knuckles. Like any of us, Makoto darts his eyes around to see if anyone was watching and then runs daintily away. Ren is left to savour how the boy tastes and starts to feel confused about his identity. And the three fruity council presidents are spying on Ren in the bushes, commenting on how beautiful boy love is. Uuh.

Later, Makoto decides that he is going to escape from the school and invites Ren to go with him. But he ends up trying to break out himself, only to be captured by the three fruity council presidents. The gay squad send a flowery letter to Ren, informing him that he should come and rescue their hostage. On the way to meet them, Ren’s fabulous vampiric powers are awakened. He snatches Makoto back, verifies that he isn’t a girl, and sinks his virgin fangs into the boy’s neck. The fruit squad ooh and aah in adoration, before presumably getting their asses kicked and their memories wiped. Ren learns a valuable lesson: His preference is girls, not men. But he’ll resort to girly men. By the way, the only reason Makoto wanted out so badly was because he wanted to mess around with women. End flashback! And apparently the entire episode was a lie. Haha.

But wait! As Ren walks along Pick-Up Avenue with a cheap floozy, he passes a guy with a girly face who has two older women hanging off him. Holy Arceus, it’s Makoto! Right? Let’s assume that it was.       

The one episode which was really disappointing is the last one of the series. It’s in a different style to the previous episodes (the majority of it is done in a strange black and white colour scheme), and I can sum it up using dot points:

- Karin begins the ritual to become a true vampire.
- Winner rides in on the horse he summoned earlier. (It fell out of the sky when he whistled.)
- Usui arrives on a Frisbee made of bat minions.
- Glutinous tentacle rape on Karin for 7 seconds.
- Grandpa Sinclair (the vampire hunter) kills Karin’s entire family.
- Karin goes ballistic and almost sinks her fangs into Grandpa Sinclair’s neck.
- Usui stops Karin going berserk by offering her his own neck.
- Karin bites Usui. (And he seems to get some kind of strange pleasure from it.)
- Karin reverts back to normal. Usui wakes up from the bite.
- Grandpa Sinclair goes into all caps rage.
- Karin steps in front of Usui to protect him from Grandpa Sinclair’s slash attack.
- Grandpa Sinclair’s slash attack rips Karin’s top off.
- Above waist nudity on Karin.
- Grandpa Sinclair defeats himself with a perverted nosebleed.
- Karin’s family all get up from being dead. (It appears they were never actually dead.)
- The episode returns to the normal style at about 15:50.
- Winner runs to Grandpa Sinclair, restraining him.
- Grandpa Sinclair turns around to reveal that he is now the jolliest man alive.
- ^ This is because Karin’s family sucked all his bad qualities out through his blood.
- P.S. His blood tasted awful.
- Grandpa Sinclair lets slip that Winner wet the bed before.
- Karin’s bats repair their demolished house in 4 seconds.
- The ritual was bogus.
- Everything is so embarrassing.

Other than that particular episode, I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of Karin. So I’ll conclude by saluting the young Elda and Al the botanist. Long live the vampire loving botanists of yesterday!

What will I gain from this?


Kamisama Kazoku

This one started off in a kind of promising way, but deteriorated like a sugar cube in hot water. The idea had untapped potential, but the writing staff did not.

So I’m just presenting dot points:

- Apparently you can switch from being an angel to a devil with just some evil thoughts and a snap of your fingers.
- Gods are completely powerless when it comes to defending others, so much that they are lame. All they can do is grant trivial wishes, mostly relating to bloomers.
- Gods will do absolutely nothing to fight back when their houses and family members are being decimated, except maybe run away.
- The main character defeats a random all-powerful devil by stabbing himself in the chest. This (for some illegitimate reason) hurts and destroys the devil.
- The two lead female characters magically transform into angels, hold hands and pray for about 5 seconds. This is sufficient to bring the dead main character back to life.
- I think the archangel piggy bank is actually Tenko’s father. Unfortunately, any connection between them is never directly revealed.
- Tenko promises the epic voice of the piggy bank that she will return to Heaven in 3 days no matter what. When her time is up, the piggy bank just dismisses the verbal contract like he’s refusing a plastic bag at the supermarket.
- The main character’s mother and older sister are ‘killed off’ by the devil in the first part of the last episode, and yet they are completely fine by the end of the episode.
- The devil’s dream form is that of a beautiful girl in a red dress. She’ll tell you to take your own life. You are advised not to obey.

What will I gain from this?

Gods are lamer than you might think.

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