OK, lest I sound like a sour old man (“Hey, you kids, get off of my lawn!”), there is nothing wrong with all-girl animes…..to a point. It’s just that you need to have something more than moe girls or full-figured femmes or luscious ladies cluttering up the screen. I do like (wait for it)…plot. We actually started off with “Teekyu”, which began as a sports comedy manga (and the title is a pun on the Japanese word for ‘tennis’. Things like that are lost on me). They then had a spinoff, “Usakame”, which is named for the high school these four ladies attend and they belong to the tennis club. (more…)
Short Pull Series XX – “Tennis”, Anyone?
“Ace” of Base
This was another sports show that I gave up on, but some other sports anime fan felt that I didn’t give this an honest run. Since we now have “Ace of the Diamond: Second Season”, I should check it out, as ‘it has gotten better.’
The reasons I left the show were (a) the minute dissection of everything to the point of it being mono-minded, (b) the butt-head nature of all the people involved and (c) the real lack of character growth. My feeling was that any problems that bedeviled the first season would still be part of the second. Not that the second season started out that well. It opened with THREE recap episodes. Crfap, I might as well watch the end of the first season. One recap show, OK, but three? Not a smart call in my book.
So, the team has gone its separate ways, as the third years have graduated, but the Saito baseball team, still smarting from its playoff loss, dedicates itself to the Fall Tournament….with the same cast of nitwits and ninny hammers, plus more. The biggest addition is a new coach, who spends the show tugging at his cheesy chin beard. An arrogant, conceited, self-serving butt-head, I was hoping that four or five members of the team would jump him, hold him down and shave that sucker beard off! You look like an idiot! (more…)
“Road” to Nowhere
OK, as you know from a previous review, I walked away from “Yowamushi Pedal”, as I felt everyone were pricks. I got a message from a fan of the show who felt I was too harsh in my initial review and I should give the second season, “Grande Road”, a test drive. (Huyk! Hyuk! Gotta love those puns!)
The overall problem is that any concerns that were endemic in the first season will potentially continue through to the second and worse ones may crop up. They did.
The first problem is that the original idea of the show, letting us see how otaku Sakamichi Onoda (specs in the middle) transmogrifies from a ‘weakling pedal’ (the English translation of the show) to a determined person, has been discarded, so that he is a supporting player in his own series. He gets left behind as we examine, in painfully minute detail, the lives of everyone to show that they did not all start out as pricks, but unhappy events and foul circumstances and missed bus connections MADE them into the revolting piles of poodle-doo that they are now. (more…)
It’s a Cruel “Summer”
Certainly the ending of “Free!” strongly implied there would be a second season; I just didn’t expect it to come so fast.
“Free! – Eternal Summer” continues/completes the saga of the Iwatobi Swim Club and the rivalry between them and Samezuka Academy and how they strive to prove who is the best, both individually and collectively, with the target of the Nationals well within their sight and grasp.
One thing that bothered me was the titles of the individual episodes, as they tethered it with swim terms. It’s just that it got corny to watch “The Butterfly of Farewell” or “The Crouching Start of Vindication”. Why not have “The Flip-turn of Despair”? This was one of two drag points. The other was fake problems that really weren’t problems, but everyone gets to sing an aria in this show, so you need something that causes them consternation. Oooh, oooh, I broke a nail! (more…)
Let’s Have a “Ball”!
OK, it’s another sports anime. “Haikyuu!!” (“Volleyball!!”) takes us into the marvelous and interesting world of…..volleyball! Oh, yeah! I can hear you stomping your feet and pounding the table. Serve it up! Sorry, it’s Men’s Volleyball and done inside (Sure, if this was Ladies Beach Volleyball, that would be COMPLETELY different).
OK, it’s another sports anime. This one tells the story of Shōyō Hinata (the carrot top near the right). He watched this student athlete play called “The Little Giant”. He was short, short, short, but managed to dominate the game big, big, big and became a real force to contend with.
OK, it’s another sports anime, so we see the trials and tribulations as the divergent members of Karasuno High School start to come together and form the team into not only a cohesive whole, but try and revive the greatness that this school once had. (more…)
Fan Service Alert – “World” Harmony
Now, let’s drop the pretense. “I Wanna Be the Strongest in the World” is just a really thin excuse to show off female wrestlers and their body parts. The plot of the original story was practically transparent but the OVA drops everything.
There may be more than three shorts I ran across (about five minutes each), but you get to see all that you want to see.
Somewhere in the bowels of the Berserk Gym is a special room, a room filled with mud, so the ladies can learn all there is to know about mud wrestling. Is this an Olympic event or is Hooters hiring? So the ladies learn that mud is slippery and, in trying to acclimate themselves as to what to do, costume tops gets pulled down and the boobies come out, unfettered and uncensored. There is squealing and not caring that one is topless amid other topless ladies as we slop about and slide through and roll hither and thither. (more…)
“Free” To Be You and Me
I was drawn to this sports anime, as I had not seen one with swimming as its core. For this show, “Free!” is both a noun and an adjective, but first, some background for the plot.
Some years earlier, our four friends used to swim for the Iwatobi Swim Club and participated in the Medley Relay, which they won readily. However, one of their entourage was moving to Australia and this would be the last of it. Flash forward to the future. Three of them attend the same school and learn that the swim club they spent their youth at is being torn down. They go to look at it and bump into their old friend, who has enrolled in a different school, one that is a swimming powerhouse (Samezuka Academy), while these guys go to a school that no longer has a swim club. This is a show about revival and what it means to be free. (more…)
I can’t really remember a biking anime. The closest I got was an ending arc for “Honey and Clover” when one of the students went on a biking journey of Japan. “Yowamushi Pedal” is more focused than that and with the same amount and caliber of fan service.
Let us meet Sakamichi Onoda (dead center; look at the size of his eyes!). To say he is an otaku is like saying the Pacific Ocean is a little wet. He has just entered Sohoku High School and plans to join the anime club. In middle school, Onoda did not have any friends with whom he could talk about otaku things and is hoping he can make such friends in the anime club, but he finds out it has been disbanded. In order to reestablish the club he tries to find 4 other people who would like to join. Yeah, good luck with that! (more…)
“Diamond” in the Rough
Of all the sports out there, baseball seems to be able to generate the best metaphors and symbolism in a reflection of life:
Clear the bases
Three strikes and you’re out
And animes pick up on this, as we can track how a person grows and matures under these arduous, unforgiving situations….for the most part.
“Ace of the Diamond” follows in the tradition, but it has problems when it fell into old tropes and clichés. But first, the plot:
Eijun Sawamura (big grin in center) is a fairly good pitcher, but he is erratic and lacks control. But he makes up for that with a zeal and passion that fires up everyone else and makes them help the team in the town of Nagano. He gets scouted by Rei Takashima for Seidou High, a perennial powerhouse in high school baseball. He is reluctant to leave his friends behind, but they all feel that he stands a better chance of reaching his dreams by going there than staying here. Win for us, as they send him off to his future. (more…)
We Are the “World”
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. (more…)