Mahou Shoujo Oriko Magica (Manga)

July 18, 2011

Japanese title: 魔法少女おりこ☆マギカ
Synonyms: Puella Magi Oriko Magica
Author: Magica Quartet
Artist: Mura Kuroe
Chapters: 7
Volumes: 2
Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Magical Girl, Contemporary, Mystery, Seinen
Serialisation: Manga Time Kirara Forward 2011

Plot Summary: Puella Magi Oriko Magica is the second spin-off manga of Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magicaillustrated by Mura Kuroe with draft by Magica Quartet. Puella Magi Oriko Magica takes place in an alternate timeline to the main series, in which Homura, Mami Tomoe and Kyōko Sakura, along with a young orphaned girl named Yuma Chitose, find themselves up against a Puella Magi pair, Oriko Mikuni and Kirika Kure, who are hunting other Puella Magi. – Puella-Magi.net  and Wikipedia

Did you watch Madoka Magica last fall? If not, you probably shouldAniplex USA recently got it licensed, so it should be released on DVD for us in the UK soon. It is currently Japans best-selling  anime Blu-ray of all time, and definitely for good reason.

Madoka Magica was not adapted from any manga, in fact, Madoka Magica is  the source material, and it wont surprise you of course that it has inspired not just one, but 3 different manga’s drafted by Magica Quartet (The guys responsible for the anime) and is illustrated by 3 new artists who I have never heard of before. Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica has artwork by Hanokage, a doujinshi artist. Mahou Shoujo Kazumi Magica: The Innocent Malice is a side story illustrated by Takashi Tensugi, and Mahou Shoujo Oriko Magica is illustrated by Mura Kuroe who is responsible for a long chain of Touhou doujins.

Mahou Shoujo Oriko Magica volume 2 cover

I am disappointed with some of the reviews I have read for Oriko Magica, as I found it to be extremely enjoyable. Of the 3 different manga to be released, I found the artwork of Oriko Magica to be the most brilliant. It has a very high contrast feel to it, the lines are thick and well defined and it really complimented the unique characters of the Puella Magi universe. It is not required that you read the other 2 Mahou Shoujo manga’s, but you should watch the anime first.

In essence, Mahou Shoujo Oriko Magica is an extension of the anime’s episode 10 and takes place in an alternate timeline as demonstrated in that episode. Surprisingly this particular story was very dark and was complimented well by the art style, there was a lot of blood and the sanity of some of the characters was under question. The characters facial expressions were very invoking and possibly terrifying at times. It had the Higurashi eyes going on which I found very spooky, whilst weird camera angles and creepy fish eye effects did wonders for Kyuubey‘s disposition. He was particularly devious and shockingly, showed his true colours in the end. The villains themselves were very well thought out and the best part is, you could understand the logic behind their thinking; they felt very human. I wonder if I myself would come to their same conclusion.

Yuma Chitose

The character expressions were very invoking.

Each character from the anime was back, and each of them had a prominent role to play  (besides Sayaka, but I don’t mind that). Each chapter focused on a different set of characters before finally bringing them all together for the finale. The villains themselves got a chapter too which is nice, and their back story was sufficiently addressed and the new additions felt very real in terms of their actions and motivations. Mami herself was also prominent, her presence in the anime was cut short, and it was nice to get to know her better. I am a particular fan of Homura, certainly, she is one of my most favourite characters ever, and Oriko magica just served to strengthen that. The ending brought a frog to my throat, and that is all I’ll say regarding that.

This manga can easily be read in a single sitting, and the anime itself is not all that long either. I think that with the popularity of Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, Oriko Magica is quite under-appreciated and should be far more popular than it is. If I ever saw this published in English, I would want it on my shelf.

If you enjoyed this I think you should go check out Higurashi, or vice versa if not just for the creepiness factor. If you liked Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, I don’t see any reason why you would dislike Oriko Magica either… Of course, what I am really trying to say is this:

Kyubey

Make a contract with me.

Download Mahou Shoujo Oriko Magica

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Thoughts on AnoHana (Spoilers)

July 17, 2011

Read my proper review for AnoHana instead, it’s much better. Whilst I enjoyed AnoHana, I couldn’t help but think this kind of stuff. You won’t get anything out of it if you haven’t already seen the show, and it will spoil it for you.

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Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai (Anime)

July 17, 2011

Japanese title: あの日見た花の名前を僕達はまだ知らない。
Synonyms: We Still Don’t Know the Name of the Flower We Saw That DayAnoHana
Animation Production: A-1 Pictures
Genres: Drama, Slice of Life, Comedy, Romance, Supernatural, Tragedy, Seinen
Number of episodes: 11

Plot Summary: A group of six childhood friends drift apart after one of them, Meiko “Menma” Honma, dies in an accident. Five years later, the leader of the group, Jinta Yadomi, has since become withdrawn and lives as a recluse. One summer day, an older looking Menma appears before him, saying she wants to have a wish granted, though she does not remember what it is. Jinta, remembering his memories of the past, once again attempts to bring his childhood friends together and fulfil his promise with Menma. Wikipedia

To be honest, AnoHana hit me, and likely much of the anime loving community as a bit of a surprise. Anime original works by A-1 Pictures have been somewhat unsuccessful as of late and whilst I enjoyed both Fractale (2011) and Occult Academy (2010), the DVD sales and overall ratings just do not scream success. On top of that, I feel I do not quite fit the target audience of A-1 Pictures more successful adaptations, so I was not expecting much.

AnoHana OP screencap
AnoHana was definitely the sleeper hit of the spring season however, In its first week of release, Blu-ray sales of AnoHana hit rank #1 in Japan, selling over 31,000 copies. It has a very strong rating of 8.84 on MyAnimeList, and a mean rating of 8.9 on ANN. The director, Tatsuyuki Nagai, was responsible for the very successful Honey and Clover II, and the success of AnoHana should probably  be put down to him.

The soundtrack for this show was also pretty fantastic. The opening theme “Aoi Shiori” by Galileo Galilei, and similarly the ending theme were brilliant and very fitting. Additionally, the animation for the show was very fluid and appeared to have a high production value. The animation and soundtrack combined very nicely to produce a very calming experience, and the way the next episode preview was blended into the credits worked a treat. The series is beautiful and unique, with excellent character development that feels consistent throughout. It never drags and I found it relatively easy to watch the entire series back to back without getting bored; every episode was exciting in its own way.

Ano Hana Before and after
The series was very emotional, but it wasn’t until episode 8 and onwards that I started to get a little choked up, and I often found myself on the edge of tears during the final episodes (I don’t actually cry because I am a man). The main drawing point for this anime in particular is of course the characters. But the odd thing is, I found it difficult to find much likeable about any of the characters in question when examined individually. Rather, it is more about the way the characters interact with one another, and how well they each express their emotions. AnoHana did start to feel very melodramatic towards the end, but I think it worked in the shows favour. As an anime original production, and not a manga adaptation, I believe that it shows the advantage anime originals have. You can tell that this was originally produced for the screen and it really shines because of it.

I believe that AnoHana was well worth the watch, but is not quite worth as much praise as it is currently receiving. Part way through AnoHana, it became clear that this show is one very large, complex love polygon. That is not to say that this show is a harem, thank god, but it did serve to frustrate me greatly. I do have a few quirks with the characters of course, and when I thought about it closely this show had a serious knack for annoying me. Saying all that though,I really enjoyed it. It’s the first show in a long time to bring a tear to my eye. If you enjoyed it, I might recommend Honey and Clover, Clannad or Tokyo Magnitude 8.0

Download Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai

Me~Teru no Kimochi (Manga)

July 15, 2011

Me~Teru No Kimochi manga

Japanese title: め~てるの気持ち
Synonyms: Maternal Feelings (Maybe?), Maetel’s Feelings or even  Love Laughs at Locksmiths.
Author: Oku Hiroya
Chapters: 28
Volumes: 3
Genres: Adult, Drama, Mature, Romance, Seinen
Serialisation: Young Jump 06-07

Plot Summary: Koizumi Shintarou is 30 years old, a virgin, and has isolated himself in his room for 15 years. He has become a burden on his father, Koizumi Yasujirou. One day, Shintarou makes a proposition that if Yasujirou gets a girlfriend, Shintarou will come out of his room. It turns out that Yasujirou has already made a girlfriend, a young beautiful woman, Yoshinaga Haruka, who is with Yasujirou for her own personal reasons.Yasujirou and Haruka decide to get married, but Yasujirou dies on their honeymoon. Now Haruka decides to take care of Shintarou, and so this weird “mother and son” are now living together. – MangaUpdates

I’ll just stick with the romaji name for this one, no one can seem to agree on a proper translation.

Me~Teru no Kimochi is a relatively short, hidden gem of a manga by the well-known author Oku Hiroya. More well-known as the long time author of Gantz, a manga which I am currently reading, and am quite fond of. Me~Teru is short enough to read in a single sitting and deals with hikikomori as a subject. The main character is an extreme example of a shut in who, since his mother’s death 15 years ago, has locked himself away in his room without once setting foot outside.

Me~Teru No Kimochi Haruka art

When his father dies from cancer his new mother-in-law, a beautiful 22-year-old girl moves in to take care of him out of devotion to his father. The plot summary sounds like the perfect set-up for a questionable hentai or ecchi manga, but do not be put off. The girl is sweet and attractive, and the manga works out to be a very heartfelt romance and drama. There IS a single sex scene in volume 3 but the scene itself was not particularly explicit and it did serve a purpose, additionally, the manga barely showed a single hint of ecchiness up to this point.

The premise for this manga is fairly simple; the reclusive man is slowly helped out of his shell and into a more normal way of life by the beautiful, sweet and caring girl, and eventually becomes happy. The story is a little out there, certainly, in that it is unbelievable that a young and beautiful girl like that would marry an old man and go on to take care of his 30 year son, and the author certainly left his own personality stamped on it, but the struggles of the main character can really be understood and felt. I really empathised with the main character. Whilst I myself am not (strictly speaking in all manner of the word) a hikikomori, I often struggle with the same kind of deprecating thoughts.

Of course, Me~Teru No Kimochi was created by the author of Gantz and the single sex scene in the final volume should have been expected. It did however feel like a slightly unfortunate turn, the beautiful innocence the story portrayed to that point just seemed to crumble, but it felt necessary for the story to move forward. Additionally the ending felt a little rushed, but again with only 28 chapters to work with I think it was unavoidable. It did leave me wondering whether this series got the attention it deserved with the mangaka working on Gantz at the same time, but despite that, the ending, and consequently the manga felt very satisfying as a whole.

Me-Teru No Kimochi chapter 3 Haruka

The artwork is very appealing. Ain't Haruka pretty?

The artwork is definitely appealing, Haruka is drawn particularly beautifully, and it is easy to see why Shintarou fell for her. I particularly enjoyed the way her eyes and hair were drawn. Now, I do not believe that everyone would enjoy this manga. I feel that women would probably not enjoy it, and that neither would properly socially adept males, but, if like me you can relate with the main character, you will certainly find it involving. Additionally, if you are a fan of Gantz, I feel that you should probably check it out.

Download Me~Teru No Kimochi

Deadman Wonderland (Anime)

July 15, 2011

Japanese title: デッドマンワンダーランド
Animation Production: Manglobe
Genres: Action, Horror, Sci-Fi, Drama, Mature,  Shounen, Supernatural, Tragedy
Number of episodes:
12

Plot Summary: Ganta Igarashi has been convicted of a crime that he hasn’t committed, and sent to a new, privately owned and operated prison, where the inmates are the main attraction in a modern day twist to the gladiatorial coliseums of ancient times. Throw in a healthy dose of weird little girl, some new-found super powers, and a little conspiracy theory, and you have Deadman Wonderland. – ANN

So, Deadman Wonderland eh? In all honesty this was one of my more anticipated shows to come out this Spring. Manglobe was behind this one, and judging by their track record I have to say I was seriously looking forward to it. The World God Only Knows (2010), Samurai Champloo  (2004) and Ergo Proxy (2006)  are definitely some of my favourite shows to date, so yes please! Unfortunately, Deadman Wonderland did not quite live up to my expectations.

The most appealing aspect of Deadman Wonderland was how dark, gritty and atmospheric it was. The characters were often ruthless and deceitful and the concept of “Deadman Wonderland”, the setting of the show, speaks volumes about the author’s view of humanity; a view which I share, and for that reason alone I certainly enjoyed it. Not only that, the characters were intriguing, and seemed to have a genuine past. The show constantly painted a moral shade of grey and the world itself was well thought out. Additionally, the show seemed to have a great shock factor not often seen in anime, I found myself cringing more often than I would have expected and not because it was bad either.

Deadman wonderland episode 2 sniper guard

"Deadman wonderland" is a fascinating place.

Deadman wonderland exhibits a prevailing sense of irony throughout, it is beautiful. The main seat of my enjoyment was within episodes 1-6 and for a while the show seemed highly promising.  The early episodes did an excellent job of setting the mood; The situation was depressing, it was dire. For the viewer it was very exciting, particularly the “games”. Around about episode 7 however my enjoyment dwindled. The shock factor certainly remained, that much is true, but the focus very much shifted. New characters were introduced and suddenly, there was a plot. The pacing of the show felt dramatically different, possibly sped up to fit within the 12 episode window and it started to feel very shounen-eque in nature. The fights felt shallow and the superpowers whilst very interesting in concept, felt poorly executed. Furthermore, the main character became quite irritating, whiny and dense; a typical shounen male lead.

Ganta Igarashi - the whiny crying loser

Irritating main character.

There could easily be a second season to flesh out the story, but  due to the story being slightly rushed, many of the more interesting characters got swept to the sidelines. The initial sense of mystery and intrigue did wonders for this show but unfortunately the show lost some of that charm part way through. The closing episodes left a lot of loose ends to be tied, but there has been an OVA scheduled for release since before Deadman Wonderland even aired. It is set to be bundled with volume 11 of the manga this October in Japan.

In terms of animation this show was great. The production was right up there along with earlier Manglobe works, and the show did not fall into many noticeable  clichés or traps. The choice in animation style did feel questionable at times, with the camera panning and zooming to make up for what seemed like a lack of real movement. It was by no means horrendous, but it did draw my eye, and the show was so dark in terms of colour, that I had to turn up the brightness of my television to make out some of the details.

One gripe I had with this show was some of the major censorship in parts. This show has a lot of blood, after all, this show is rife with torture and violence. Hell, the powers themselves are blood, but the censorship seems to only cut in at arbitrary moments, and when it does, you notice. The show has been licensed by Funimation, so hopefully, the DVD and BD will be released uncensored.

Deadman wonderland censorship blur owl arm chopped off

Censorship often cut in arbitrarily and is very noticable.

The soundtrack for this show was also fantastic, I particularly liked the opening song “One Reason” by Fade and it was refreshing to hear an anime opening actually tailored to the show. Unfortunately they did seem to overuse some tracks at times and again, it was noticeable.

Saying all that however I really did enjoy Deadman Wonderland. It is by no means perfect and in retrospect quite shallow, but it was well worth watching and I do recommend that you do the same. I have a feeling that if you enjoyed this, you may also enjoy Rainbow and Now and then, Here and there, both of which portray a very grim situation, but don’t end up feeling all shounen in style.

Deadman Wonderland did leave me with one nagging question.

Deadman Wonderland Toto androgenous

Is Toto male or female?

-“So make me your deadman”
Download Deadman Wonderland 

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