Posts Tagged ‘Seinen’

Angel Beats (Anime)

July 26, 2011

Japanese title: エンジェルビーツ
Animation Production: P.A Works
Genres: Comedy, Action, Drama, Supernatural, Fantasy, Seinen, Tragedy
Number of episodes:
13

Plot Summary: It sucks being dead. Sucks even more to be trapped in a surreal afterlife where you’re caught between the living and the dead—where a mysterious, violent Angel is trying to pull you over to…somewhere. What do you do? Well, if you’re this group of rough-and-tumble teens, you grab every weapon you can get your hands on and give Heaven hell! High-caliber action and locked-and-loaded comedy meet on a rock and roll battleground in Angel Beats! Sentai Filmworks

Well, it might be a bit late for me to write a review about Angel Beats. It is so far away out of memory since it aired in spring last year, but I think about it fondly and I have just began re-watching the series. I do of course have a very good reason for writing about it today. You see, Angel Beats came out on DVD and Blu-Ray in the USA today. Exciting news for everybody, I am sure.

The anime itself is very strong, and I believe that everybody with even an inkling of interest should go watch it. My previous experience with P.A Works has in itself been very unimpressive as both Canaan and True Tears felt wholly uninspiring. Though the animation itself of those shows was top-notch, they felt like they were lacking a certain something to really make them click. The plot synopsis and the animation production company for Angel Beats might look unimpressive to some, but let me assure you, this is not the case. Angel Beats is an exceptionally good watch.

Angel Beats Title Screen, White, Piano

You see, the thing you need to be aware of with Angel Beats is that the original story, screenplay and music of Angel Beats were all conceived by the one and only Jun Maeda, who you may otherwise know as the script writer, lyricist and music composer behind the founding of Key. Key itself is a highly successful software company who has been responsible for some seriously famous visual novels. Kanon, Clannad and Air and their anime counterparts are significantly well-known, even out here in the UK and the US where visual novels are practically an unventured territory. Additionally, Na-Ga is behind the character designs of Angel Beats, who was also responsible for the character designs of the aforementioned Key visual novels as well. Works by Key are usually thought of as particularly heartfelt and well planned out, with excellent storytelling and usually stunning character development, and Angel Beats did not disappoint.

The opening 5 minutes of Angel Beats does an unparalleled job of setting the scene. Unlike a lot of anime, Angel Beats does a bit of an unorthodox job of throwing the main character directly into the action.

Yurippe Sniper rifle

Yurippe sets the scene.

The main character is suffering from amnesia and can’t even remember his own name. He wakes up in an unfamiliar location, with an unfamiliar girl with a sniper rifle. He is immediately told that he is dead, and that he is in the afterlife. The girl tells him to enlist in the fight against the Angel, the girl whom she has her sniper rifle primed on. Of course, the main character with his missing memory feels a little confused, and goes to talk to the ‘Angel’. Again, he is told that he is dead, and he asks the ‘Angel’ to prove it. Since he is dead, he shouldn’t be able to die. Then, suddenly…

Angel / Tenshi kills Otonashi

BAM! The situation is made pretty clear.

He wakes up unharmed in the infirmary, and the rest of the cast is introduced, thoroughly mysterious to be sure. You know the rules, but none of the why or how. I guess that is what I like about Angel Beats. The situation itself remains a mystery for a good majority of the show whilst each episode focuses on the immediate tasks at hand, but at the same time the characters are slowly expanded on and explained. The pieces of the puzzle regarding the characters and the situation are slowly put together to produce a beautiful picture and when I found that last piece, I almost got a tear in my eye it was so touching.

The music for Angel Beats is very good. The opening theme is just beautiful and the band that is introduced, Girls Dead Monster, both plays excellent music and are of central importance to the plot. Their story was particularly touching for me but are again just one piece of the picture, and stack up nicely with everyone else and their touching moments to produce a very compelling story overall.

Angel Beats Title, Landscape

The comedy in Angel Beats is also pretty good. The odd situation, and the fact that it is impossible to die makes for some ludicrous, classic moments, whereas the unique characters add their own style. My own personal favourite for comedy is TK and his horrendously ‘so-bad-its-funny’ English quotes, and I will definitely not forget his head spins. Unfortunately, although I thought the majority of the aspects of the show were far above average, I did feel that some of the characters were not addressed as much as I would have liked. It is a minor quip, but you may wonder to yourself ‘hey, whatever happened to that guy?’ once it is all over.

News of Angel beats getting a US release (With dub, if that is what you are interested in) was like angel song to me as I have looked forward to owning Angel Beats on my shelf since I saw it last year. I was initially skeptical as to whether Angel Beats would get a US or UK release, as previous Key anime has taken an unfortunately long time to be licensed. Sentai Filmworks did an excellent job however, and this may be indicative of future Key works being licensed more quickly. Although I live in the UK, and no release date has been specified or hinted at over here, at least it looks like it is heading in the right direction. I am still waiting for all the big Key works to be released over here, but with my experience with Welcome to the NHK, I know that if worse comes to worst, I can import it.

The cast of Angel Beats

I loved what they did with the end credits.

I think that Angel Beats ended in the most fitting way possible. The final episode was moving to the point of near-tears, and I absolutely loved what they did with the final credits, it certainly kept the mood flowing. If you enjoyed Angel Beats and you would like to watch something a little more recent, I would recommend AnoHana. Additionally, I would like to recommend an old personal favourite of mine, Haibane Renmei, which similarly deals with the concept of the afterlife, and I also believe that if you enjoyed this, you would enjoy any of the previous Key works such as Clannad, Kanon or Air, although they have much less action involved than Angel Beats.

“Goodbye Wild Heaven”
Download Angel Beats (Dual-Audio)

Download the Soundtrack 

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Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko (Anime)

July 21, 2011

SHAFT openings are always something special.

Japanese title: 電波女と青春男
Synonyms: Electromagnetic Wave Woman and Adolescent Man
Animation Production: SHAFT
Genres: Comedy, Romance, Sci-fi, Seinen
Number of episodes: 12

Plot Summary: The story revolves around a highschool boy named Niwa Makoto. He lives with his aunt’s family since his parents are away on business. It is there where he meets his mysterious cousin of the same age Touwa Erio — who happens to tie a futon mattress around her upper body and is a self-proclaimed alien. Her staple food is pizza. Erio had been missing for half a year and was found floating in the sea. She doesn’t remember anything about what happened during that period of time, but she began to think that it was the act of an alien and wanders the neighbourhood wrapped in the futon. – ANN

The animation of Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko is fantastic, there is plenty of movement going on and the scenery is beautiful. The characters themselves are very sharp with plenty of detail and with very bright and vibrant colours. The overall imagery is brilliant and memorable, and character expressions are very well animated which I particularly enjoyed. You can sense what the characters are feeling and I felt that I could relate to them. This show just throws evocative imagery at you from start to finish, which just served to strengthen my love for all the characters, and the show.

Ryuuko Meme Erio

For the characters alone, Denpa Onna is definitely something special. Each of the characters feels unique in their own right, with none of them quite fitting into previously established archetypes, for that reason it feels very fresh. Each character is kind of an oddball and each stands out in their own way; you will not forget these guys for a long time as they felt quite real despite their eccentricities. The characters were always lovable, almost overbearingly so at times, and quirky, but not in your typical ‘moe‘ kind of way. I get tired with paper cut-outs, and Denpa Onna certainly has none of them.

Whilst the characters themselves are eccentric or strange, the setting and story feels firmly grounded in reality, serving as an excellent foil. The show is very strong in terms of romance unlike your usual anime romance in it feels believable. Nothing blows up out of proportion and character reactions don’t feel over exaggerated or forced, but rather subtle and well perceived.

This show lends its comedy aspects to the oddities of the characters, and with such poignant, unique characters it always feels new. The personalities of the characters are strong and they interact well together and importantly, each of them appears consistently throughout the show. There are no weak links here, and the show went out of its way to make each character feel as human as possible.

The soundtrack to Denpa Onna was surprisingly nice. None of the tracks were overused which is pleasant, and the background music always supported the mood fantastically. The sound effects were very effective too, worked well with comedic moments, and enhanced the overall experience greatly. The first 3 episodes did an excellent job of introducing the characters, setting the scene and establishing relationships. My only concern about Denpa Onna, is that the opening 3 episodes felt slowly paced in comparison to the remainder, and I feel that many would have not continued it on further. The ending also felt strong, nothing ‘out-of-this-world’ happened, but the show just seemed to flow nicely from beginning to end.

In conclusion, I think that this show has made a strong impact on me. I will definitely not forget this. It didn’t bring me to tears because that is not what it was aiming for, but it was very light-hearted, warm and heartfelt. It felt insightful and moving, and the quirky characters kept it feeling fresh and subtly funny throughout. There is an OVA episode 13 coming out with the DVD. I am intrigued as to what it contains because I felt that the show ended nicely, but I think it might have something to do with the upcoming festival and I am really hoping for a little romance between a certain 2 characters. It will be released on December 21st in Japan, and I am very excited.

I could not finish without mentioning Maekawa’s costumes. She also taught me how to make a bottle rocket, for which I am eternally grateful.

Maekawa - Sandwich Costume Maekawa - Mochi costume Maekawa - Octopus sausage
Maekawa - Fish costume Maekawa - Alien Maekawa - Dugong

If you enjoyed this, I would personally recommend any of Shafts earlier works. It feels very much like Arakawa under the bridge, but without the skit format and a little more serious. I am a huge fan of Shaft, and I believe you will be too after watching this. A season 2 might have been hinted at, but if so, I do not believe that it is required.

Download Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko

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

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


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