Won’t You Let Me Take You on a “Sea” Cruise

April 23, 2014 in Anime, General Reviews

nagi-no-asukara

Talk about a fish out of water! This is a standard high school romance anime, with a bit of a twist. “Nagi-Asu: A Lull in the Sea”, known in Japan as “Nagi no Asukara” (“From Calm Tomorrow”), takes a new tack on an old story. But first, let me bring down, from the Forbidden Shelf, a book. A book filled with lore and tales so fantastic, no one could believe them……except Steven Speilberg, who could turn it into a blockbuster movie.

Long ago, before cable TV, before transistor radios, before taxes, human civilization had lived on the ocean floor. However, there were many humans who wanted to live above the surface and they moved to land, creating a fundamental separation between the two. (Think of it like Red States and Blue States). Oshiooshi is the seaside village we are in, where, just below the surface is the sea people village of Shioshishio. After their school closes down, four middle school students from the sea have to go to school on the surface. This is about their lives as they adjust to a new environment and the relationships with each other.

Sounds simple? Not on your harpoon! We examine not only the lives of the five people up there, but the dynamic interaction between upper and lower residents, as each views the other with misgivings and distrust and distain. Read the rest of this entry →

“Cop” a Plea

April 20, 2014 in Anime, General Reviews

coppelion-review

This could broadly be described as another of those “Girls Who Save the World” shows, but it is handled in a slightly different fashion, in that there are no transformation sequences, but their goal is not much different than “Sailor Moon” or Symphonia”.

Coppelion” tells the story of (left to right) Taeko Nomura, Ibara Naruse and Aoi Fukasaku, who are not what they appear to be. Are they high school girls, on a class trip to Kyoto so they can look at the temples and take advantage of the cuisine there? Not hardly likely.

In 2016, a ‘incident’ at the Odaiba energy plant contaminates all of Tokyo and everyone has to leave (and they never say that it was a nuclear meltdown, although all the Hazmat suits, Geiger counters and radiation symbols plastered everywhere are enough to make it so). But not everyone leaves, for whatever reason. Twenty years later, a distress call is heard from Old Capitol and these girls are dispatched to answer the call.

So these aren’t even real girls. They are clones who have been biologically engineered to be able to withstand massive levels of radiation that would turn the rest of us into instant goo. They are to render immediate first aid and then get those people out of there. The story details their efforts, but it is more than a “Who can we save this week” approach, as that would get boring really fast. Read the rest of this entry →

Nerves of “Steel”

April 6, 2014 in Anime, General Reviews

Arpeggio of Blue Steel review

How many of you folks know what an ‘arpeggio’ is? Sure, most of you could identify it immediately as something related to music, but the real definition is a musical technique where notes in a chord are played or sung in sequence, one after the other, rather than ringing out simultaneously. This word comes from the Italian word “arpeggiare”, which means “to play on a harp.” An alternative translation of this term is “broken chord.”

Arpeggios allow monophonic instruments to play chords and harmony and help create rhythmic interest. The title is most supportive of “Arpeggio of Blue Steel (“Aoki Hagane no Arupejio”), which looks like a mere submarine anime, but it’s more than that.

In the year 2039, it’s a mess. Humanity, via global warming, has reduced a lot of their land mass. In that year, a strange alien force came down. Known as the Fog, they manifest themselves as naval vessels and successfully blockaded the oceans, so humanity was cut off from one another. 17 years after the blockade (that’s now 2056, if you are trying to do quick math), Gunzō Chihaya, a former student of the Japanese National Marine Academy, is captaining a Fog submarine that defected and joined humanity’s plight. Technically referred to as I-401, Iona is the Mental Model for the Blue Steel submarine. Chihaya and crew are pirates or renegades, or, more to the point, blockade runners. They can deal some major hurt to the Fog fleet. Read the rest of this entry →

We Are the “World”

March 30, 2014 in Anime, General Reviews

Sekai De Ichiban Tsoyoku Naritai review

As part of this onslaught of sports animes that I have recently encountered, we now segue over to “Wanna be the Strongest in the World!” (“Sekai De Ichiban Tsoyoku Naritai!”) which is as representative of women’s pro wrestling as “Hetalia” is of world history. It’s not bad, but this is more like WWF (and that’s NOT for World Wildlife Fund) than the Olympics.

We start out with the best, the biggest, the most famous, the most beloved J-Pop group to ever grace a stage in Japan, Sweet Diva! Stadiums are sold out, CDs are hotter than flapjacks and every bit of information about them is glommed up by a hungry and caring public. The Center of the group is the dulcet-toned, flowing grace, heavy-bosom, just 17 years old, Sakura Hagiwara (black-haired up there). If she went out for the Diet (the National assembly, not something from Dr. Atkins), she would be elected by a landslide. Or a spacequake.

As part of their duties as pop idols, they do these meet-and-greets. One is with the wrestling team Berserk, an all-female pro team. One of the members of Sweet Diva, Elena Miyazawa (redhead with the mic), who is also Sakura’s on-stage rival and best friend, makes an injudicious comment about wrestling and is challenged by Rio Kazama (silver-hair, far right) to a no-holds-barred match. Sakura accepts the challenge in her stead and is soundly defeated by Rio. Read the rest of this entry →

Flight of the “Walkure”

March 21, 2014 in Anime

walkure-romanze-review

This is a sports anime and the second strangest one I have encountered (“Girls und Panzer” wins that race). “Walkure Romanze” takes place in Germany (they never say it, but you see enough text and print to be able to determine this) at Winford Academy where, on the agenda, is jousting. Forget metal shop here, we’re going after some really heavy metal here!

Now, it is supposedly for both male and female knights, but we only focus on the ladies. Our male hero is Takahiro Mizuno. He used to be a knight but suffered an injury to both body and mind and has now relegated himself into being a begleiter (and you pronounce it like you are trying to bum a match for your cigarette: beg lighter). His job is to offer support and guidance to whomsoever the knight is. (Much like what Burgess Meredith did in ‘Rocky’).

Mio Kisaki is at this school (the one holding the helmet), but not in the jousting section. However, she runs afoul of Celia Cumani Aintree (big busty blonde) who challenges her to a joust. This is bad, as she is a jousting prodigy, is Student council president and has never lost a round in her two years here. However, Mio does well enough to want to get into the jousting program. The series is her attempts to better herself, trying to get Takahiro back into the jousting program and all the other concerns and machinations within the jousting program. Read the rest of this entry →

Short Run Series XI: When I Was a “Lad”

March 17, 2014 in Anime, General Reviews, Short Run Series

blood-lad-anime-review

Being a demon is tough and when you are a territory boss in the East Demon World, it’s even tougher. In “Blood Lad”, Staz Charlie Blood is the descendant of a noble vampire, and his father would go to the human world to suck blood. Not Staz. If he went to the human world, it’s off to Akihabara for the latest in video games, animes and figures. However, one day, he meets Fuyumi Yanagi, a regular old-fashioned girl who wandered into Demon World through a portal that opened in her bedroom.

His staff wants to suck her blood; he wants to impress her with his ‘knowledge’ of human things (thus the bizarre get-up he has on). Sadly, this little tryst is broken up when a neighboring demon boss is set on taking Staz’ territory and unleashes some hideous beasts. Staz manages to defeat all of them….but one, who manages to get to his apartment and devour Yanagi, turning her into a ghost. Since this is the first girl Staz has ever met and seen really close up, he vows to do whatever it takes to make her human once again. Read the rest of this entry →

“Service” Department

March 9, 2014 in Anime, General Reviews

servant-x-service-anime-review

It is rare, in my opinion, to see an anime about ordinary people. School animes are not all that ‘ordinary’ and some push it into the realm of supernatural or fantasy or fan service gone berserk. (I remember when I was in high school and I NEVER saw ladies that….uh….hefty. Yeah, that’s a good term).

Servant x Service” takes us into the exciting world of…..public service, revolving around the daily lives of employees in a government office building in the fictional city of Mitsuba in Hokkaido.

The story starts off with the three newest members of the team, and they are, from left to right, Lucy Yamagami (more on that later), Yutaka Hasebe and Saya Miyoshi. They want to fit in and be part of the team, but it gets difficult with shenanigans both in front of and behind the counter.

Miyoshi gets teamed with Mrs. Tanaka (she is the old-fashioned lady in the center. No, she is nowhere that tall and robust, but this was the best picture I could find of all the players. She is more like four-foot-nothing, OK?). Mrs. Tanaka comes in practically every day and drones on and on and on about her life and her son-in-law and that Saya needs a good husband and that she could find one for her. Read the rest of this entry →

Smells Like “Teen” Spirit

March 6, 2014 in Anime, General Reviews

My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU review

Another one of those very long titles, we have “My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU” also known as “Yahari Ore no Seishun Rabu Kome wa Machigatteiru. (“My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong as I Expected.“). This one is a caliber of nothing show, but things do happen, just very slowly.

Hachiman Hikigaya (the sweaty one, second from left) is a caliber of loner and a pure cynic. He feels that youth is simply an illusion created by hypocrites, for hypocrites, born from the ashes of past failures. Well, he is not going to get on any popularity lists. Yukino Yukinoshita (dead center, flowing black hair) is president of the Service Club, a group that helps out people in distress. Sadly, she is the only member, so has to blackmail Hikigaya into joining, much to his irritation and distress. He doesn’t need to belong to any club. Well, he does belong to one, but it’s the going-home Club. And then he is pressed into service to do something he has never really done before: be helpful! Read the rest of this entry →

A “Monster” Hit

February 26, 2014 in Anime, General Reviews

the-monster-sitting-next-to-me-anime-review

My Little Monster” (“Tonari No Kaibutsu-kun”, also translated out to “The Monster Sitting Next to Me”) could potentially be described as a nothing show, as it starts off that way. It takes a little while for the plot to get moving, as we have a rather wide-ranging cast, but it is a good entry into the romantic comedy genre.

Shizuku Mizutani (pencil near mouth, holding book) is focused on one thing only: studies. She studies morning, noon and night, all weekend long, around the clock and through the seasons. She has no time for frivolities if she wants to get into a prestigious university. One day, she is asked by the teacher to deliver handouts to a slacker student, Haru Yoshida, (dude with the rooster) to his house, as he has been absent a huge amount of time. Because no one has ever been this nice to him, especially a girl, he starts to come to school, much to the consternation of others. Read the rest of this entry →

“Advance” Force

January 7, 2014 in Anime, General Reviews

Neon Genesis Evangelion 2.22 You Shall (Not) Advance review

Opportunity is a strange thing, as it just manifests itself and you have to decide to open the door or hide near the torchiere and peer through the curtain, to make certain they have gone away.

I had a marvelous chance to see “Neon Genesis Evangelion 2.22: You Shall (Not) Advance” with the family in tow. Now, I initially argued against seeing it, as I did not really enjoy “1.11” and since they were so behind the curve on things, I was afraid I would be spending huge amount of movie time explaining things. If you thought I was bad coming into this film, they were even worse, but they said they would take the chance.

They lost.

I had to explain about the Second Impact and what these angels were and trying to do and what the EVA units were and trying to do. Now, not a lot of time has passed between the films, so we still have Shinji Ikari, who is more determined than ever to stop being a pilot, partially aided by the fact that Rei Ayanami is back to some degree of health and can reshoulder the burden.They also are given the ‘present’ of a new pilot, Asuka Langley Soryu. Despite her heritage, she is considered American, which means she is brash and rash. Oh, and also has boobs. She takes care of EVA unit 2 and we see all three of them work together to attempt to take out an angel, trying to fight as a cohesive unit. Read the rest of this entry →