I'm Outta Here!

Hello, my dear, dear readers! I'm off to the desert for a week to be a bohemian and write! There is no internet in this mythical hippie land I am going to, but I think there is a lot of crystal healing and people with feathers and beads in their hair. Hopefully, M will carry the torch! See ya!

Hey, man! Is that Freedom Rock? Well, turn it up, man!

Antique (Movie)

A Cast as Tasty as Cake?

So I just finished watching the 2009 Korean movie "Antique". The movie is a real life adaptation of my favorite manga, "Antique Bakery," by Fumi Yoshinaga.

The original covers had scratch and sniff stickers.

Antique Bakery is an amazing story. Fumi Yoshinaga is an amazing mangaka. To quote one review of her work, "...she’s so damn good at making comics that it’s almost unfair to all the other mangaka out there." And, it's not hyperbole. Fumi Yoshinaga is a great story teller. Her ability to deal with chronology is something I'm envious of. In her hands, time is fluid, sequenced, filmlike and yet literary. I can't explain it. I wish I could do it with my own work. You have to read Antique Bakery or maybe even Ooku to see what I mean.

I have such a deep seated admiration for Fumi Yoshinaga's work that I would happily rename this the Fumi Yoshinaga blog and only cover her stories and adaptations of her stories for as long as I could.

But where was I? Yes, Antique Bakery. This manga got me into my thirties because its characters were in their thirties or almost there. I'm not going to review this manga right now. I'll just say it is beloved by me. It follows four men who run a bakery. That's the premise at least. It's a drama, a comedy and a bit of a crime/mystery story. There are no speed lines or ninja high kicks, no sword action and not that many high school girls. But, it's good anyway.

So there is an anime version, which I watched one episode of. It was boring. If it got better, I don't know, and I guess a tv show too, but I heard the main character who is gay in the comic is not gay in the show, which is just weird because a huge portion of the comic focuses on how this affects him and those around him.This isn't a yaoi story. It's really just a story with a gay character, so I'm not sure why the producers of the show made that call. Or, maybe they though they could because it isn't yaoi? In any case, I'll let it slide.

Now we come to "Antique." I was worried I would hate it, but I didn't. I loved the casting.

I'd like to have some desert please!

And I think the movie stayed true to the spirit of the manga, even when it couldn't capture every story or each thing that made the characters unique. It was interesting to see what the film makers did focus on and how they changed Fumi Yoshinaga's classic. All in all, it was a spirited, sweet movie with AMAZING CAKES throughout. I can't help but wonder what someone who may have never read the comic might think of it.

Oh, did I fail to mention there is also a hot French guy in this movie?

Too Much Anime? Stan Lee's Superhumans and Shakespeare's Ramblings

Impossible! But, lately, dear readers, all six of you :), I have been obsessed with superhumans, Shaolin and becoming a samurai. Or, maybe just words that start with the letter "S".

It's Ani-me      
Because it's Sunday, and I'm trying to recover, laying flat on my back and repeating the mantra, "I am on a lazy river with as much Pabst Blue Ribbon as I can drink," I figured why not go further off course, deviate from my prescriptive anime schedule and watch Stan Lee's Superhumans?

I'm Daniel Browning Smith. I am adorable.
I like this show. It's not annoying like many shows like this can be. Hosted by ultraflexible superhuman and super cutey Daniel Browning Smith and overseen by a personal hero of mine and possibly immortal, Stan Lee, the show seeks to find "real life superhumans" around the world.

I'm Stan Lee. Bow before me, for you are not worthy.

DBS is an entertaining host. He seems genuinely interested in the superhuman powers of others, and he approaches each first as a skeptic. What I like most about the show is that they consult scientists to study the subjects. Some of these people are pretty amazing, and it makes me wish I had a superhuman power.

What isn't lost on me is that there are NO women, none. And that's a bummer because I bet there are a ton of extraordinary ladies out there. It bums me out. Shoot, DBS could just follow around one average pregnant lady and her super-humaness would blow all of the men documented on this show right out of the water.

Okay, that is my rant. The show is great with that one flaw. Now I'm off to either write or watch Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon.

Blue Exorcist - Episode 10

Squee! What a cute episode. Where in Rin finds his familiar, Kuro. Seriously, this would have been cute as a stand alone show outside the context of any series.

As an aside...while reading up on Blue Exorcist tonight, I found this awesome Tumblr site dedicated to Rin. Nice!

Here we go again: Pain, Depression, Anime & Manga

I feel just like Ash.

Actually, it's not as bad as it sounds. My back has not been cooperating with my desire to live life to its fullest, and I've pretty much been crippled with pain the last few days (again). I'm optimistic it will heal spontaneously, and I will be back to being a secret samurai in no time flat. Failing that, I hear your spine changes in your sixties and back pain is no longer an issue. C'mon old age!

But, all this pain and pining away for  more active and fun filled days got me thinking, there is a lot of pain in anime and manga -- pained looks, battle scars, near death experiences, horrible experiments, tentacles going places they probably shouldn't, etc. -- but, I can't, offhand, think of an actual  prominent and permanently disabled character in popular works. I can think of characters with scars, painful pasts, eye patches, and empathic ability, which seems like a disability.

Not to say that these mediums have to be all inclusive, and also to say, I'm probably not as well read as I could or should be. But nothing comes to mind.

In some ways it's odd because there is the reoccurring theme of illness in anime and manga, from colds to car accidents, the creators and consumers of anime and manga love to explore how the tough get taken down and the caring show their true colors. Seriously, it's really not true love until the main character gets a fever and the aloof, unreadable love interest breaks out a cool cloth and some home made soba. I'm just saying is all.

I wouldn't mind reading a manga or watching a show with a disabled protagonist or main character. I'd love suggestions if you have them.

In the meanwhile, I'll just lay her flat on my back hoping things get better or that I transform into Kisuke Urahara and become the owner of a cane that is also a sword.


Day 31 :) What Anime Character does your Best Friend Look Like?

It's Mandie!!!

Umm, Ponyo, duh!

M is off on wedding patrol this week, and I find myself without my guiding light, and you, dear readers, find yourself without your awesome co-blogger. M is the ideas of this operation. Without her, I just write reviews and essays and pine away for the perfect manga and the perfect meal.

Hopefully M will see her duty through and keep up this blog while I am sequestered in the desert sans internet for a week looking deep into my own heart of darkness and writing the great American chic lit novel or what I like to call, the book to end all books, alternately, the book that will mean I won't have to go to a desk job anymore, fool

I believe in myself (but it's a whole lot easier when your best friend is around to believe in you, too!).

I miss you, M!!!!!!!

It's a Million Mandies

Not Love But Delicious Foods Make Me So Happy - Fumi Yoshinaga

Not Love But Delicious Foods Make Me So Happy by my favorite mangaka, Fumi Yoshinaga, is about a mangaka, Y-Naga, a comic incarnation of the author herself (or is she?), who loves food. A sloppy, slovenly single 30-something who can't really take care of herself, gets drunk and tends to make a fool of herself with the men folk, Y-naga loves to eat and make me laugh out loud.

The manga's stories center around real restaurants. Quasi-reviews in comic form, each chapter includes brilliant, tasty depictions of food and a generally lighthearted story.

Fumi Yoshinaga is the author of Antique Bakery, my favorite manga, and those familiar with that series know that her descriptions of food are so over the top good, that you find yourself craving a taste.

I love this manga for the same reason I loved Antique Bakery: frank depictions of thirty-somethings who have imperfect but interesting lives. F-naga might as well be me, although more awesome, single, a little immature but an adult none-the-less, in love with food and good times but going through the motions of being alive.

I like how Y-naga is drawn alternately as a be-whiskered slob while she is working and a flamboyant mismatched over the top vamp when she is out to eat. I like that she isn't perfect or a super-hero, and she doesn't have any special powers. She just likes food and makes a mess of things and her friends love her and she loves her friends.

Also, I "want to go to there" to every restaurant in this manga. Mmmmm... Is it lunchtime yet?

Day 30 - Favorite Anime Involving Guns: Black Lagoon

Wow, Day 30 ends with a BANG! And, another couple hundred. And then some explosions. And a few trickshots.

Black Lagoon gets my vote as Favorite Anime Involving Guns. This is one hell of a shoot'em up. I'd love this if it were live action, but animated...woo wee!

The city of Roanapur is a criminal underworld, and the Black Lagoon mercenary crew is composed of the best guns for hire. The anime is part classic outlaw western, part cold war James Bond weapons cartel conspiracy, part pirate adventure, and 100% dark comedy.

The main character, Rock (with the pizza on his face in the trailer), is (of all things) the company accountant. He's just a miserable Japanese businessman, thrust into a world of insane guns-for-hire bad-assery.

It is just so much fun.

And Revy...hahahah!

Revy is the most bad-ass anime bitch ever created!

Most Pointless Anime -- The Winner is (once again) Super Milk Chan

I cannot express enough, how much I really don't like this show. Yet, I've seen it enough times to mention it on my blog twice already.

Ugg, Stupid Milk Chan.

(But tell me how you really feel.)

Day 29 - Most Pointless Anime: Dead Leaves

What just happened?
Seriously, because if you know what just happened you could tell me.
I'd listen.

I actually watched this twice, because I thought I missed something the first time...but...if I did, then I didn't get it the second time either.

Most pointless, because I don't know that it has one.

Blue Exorcist -- Through Episode 10

Hey, Blue Exorcist, I like you. I mean it. You are everything I like in an anime!

What is not to like about an exorcist cram school where the teenage son of Satan, a demon in human form, Rin, studies under the tutelage of his twin (younger) brother, Yukio, who just happens to already be an amazing exorcist himself? Absolutely nothing!

Though he may be the devil's spawn, Rin Okumura, plans on learning to harness his blue flame powers and demon dispelling sword, so that he can one day avenge the death of his adoptive father, a pretty bad ass priest and exorcist, Shiro Fujimoto. In order to do this he must attend exorcist cram school with a group of fellow (misfit-type) pupils.

Exorcist cram school, True Cross Academy, exists in a place called Academy Town where students can go to study anything. Rin's brother, Yukio, happens to be an instructor there, even though he is only fifteen. The chairman is a man named Mephisto Pheles (who I keep wanting to call Dr. Faustus). He's a bit off and seems to have some secret ties to the demon world. All of the students at the academy have their own special reasons for being there, mainly wanting to defeat Satan. Some have stories that will clearly emerge as time passes. Studying happens. Things ensue. Enjoyment is had.

This anime is a salty mix of high school comedy and supernatural hijinx. In some ways it reminds me of the best things I loved about Bleach in its first season. I hope Blue Exorcist doesn't lose its momentum but stays on course to remain a really fun show.

I love Rin's character. He's a sweet guy with a bit of a temper in service to the people he loves. He is not over the top angsty, though being Satan's kid, he's probably got some stuff to deal with.

Actually, I like all of the characters so far. They are all adorable, especially Shiemi, the budding tamer with her little demon familiar the infant greenman.

She reminds me of my little sister when she was a kid :)

Day 28 - Favorite Pokemon: Squirtle

I just like to say it. Squirtle squirtle!

Squirtle! WTF! I don't even know what's happening here! That turtle in the sunglasses is eating onigiri. Now they're vandalizing something. Now they captured some peoples. Now it's injured. Squirtle don't care. Squirtle don't give a shit. Squirtle has sparkle eyes.

I feel like if I watched more than 5 minutes of this I would lose what's left of my sanity.

Day 27 - Favorite Anime Opening Theme Song: Bleach Season 6 "Alones" by AquaTimes

I catch myself humming it all the time. I like it so much that I can play it on the banjo. I don't know if that's cool or lame. I suspect that it is lame.

Favorite Opening Theme -- Blue Exorcist

Right now, I'm watching Blue Exorcist and loving the opening song,"Core Pride" by Japanese rock band Uverworld:

A close second and perennial favorite is Sakura Kiss from Ouran High School Host Club:

It is a pure squee trigger for me!

Day 26 - Your Favorite Harem Anime: Ouran High School Host Club!!!


I want a harem of wealthy school boys whose mission it is to make girls happy. That sounded creepier than I meant it to sound. Oh, well...I'll take a pair of bad-boy types, a strong and silent, and a cool beauty. Harems--totally awesome in reverse.

NEWS: Ouran High School Host Club LIVE ACTION VERSION! Will start airing in Japan in July of 2011. I think that is odd, but I will watch it, because I love Ouran.

Favorite Harem Anime -- Saiunkoku Monogatari -- The Story of Saiunkoku

The Story of Saiunkoku is a totally squeeworthy anime.

I started following the show when it was first airing in Japan at a time when you had to wait for fansubs to come out. It takes place in a fictional medieval kingdom. Centered around Shurei Kou, the poor descendant of a noble family, who wants to be a government official despite the fact that she is a woman, the anime has enough twists and turns to keep it enjoyable despite its length. There are something like two seasons of almost forty episodes, so it's a nice, long epic adventure.

Since there were large gaps between episodes, my interest in the show waned after a time. What I can say is, it's a great show with nice art and a great male harem anime that includes just about every bishounen type know to fangirldom. Also, there is a strong and interesting female lead with a depth of character I really enjoyed.

I'm not aware of an official licensed streaming version of this right now. Its not available on Netflix, and frankly, the boxset is stupid expensive. I'd like to watch / finish this show one day, though.

07 - Ghost: Post - Season Review

Man, I'm tired. I just watched 25 episodes of 07-Ghost. I think I have post Zaiphon battle stress disorder! What was I thinking? I wasn't! M can attest. She likes the cliffhanger, but I tend to do the marathon. I'd rather wait for a whole season to finish and then watch it all at once. Obsess much, Shakespeare? Yes. Yes, I do.

Overall, I liked 07 Ghost. Teito is adequately self-loathing and loving. He's still a kid, but he's also pretty mature, so his character has a kind of duality of depth. He's driven by the memory of the people he allowed himself to love, his father - the King of Raggs, the Father -- one of the 07-Ghosts in the guise of a bishop who raised him, and Mikage -- his dear friend from the academy.

He's a vessel for the Eye of Mikhail (I think a reference to the archangel Michael), but he's got a lot of power all on his own. He's got some pretty impressive buddies: a few gods who bum around as bishops and have sweet powers, a mermaid who plays the organ, a cute little pink winged fluffy animal thing that is the reincarnation of his lost pal, and another kid studying to be a bishop, a runaway from the Oak family.

He also has some pretty impressive enemies, namely Ayanami, who would probably be my candidate for big meany of the year. He's got a scary look. He's probably a fallen god. He likes to kill people. He also likes to take partial control of their souls and get them to do his bidding. There are a lot of villains in anime. Ayanami really gives me some creepy chills.

The story takes place mostly at the church/sanctuary in district 7. Basically, it's supposed to be a place where people can go to be safe, but these Kor keep coming in and dirtying up the place. Kor are people who have sold their souls to have wishes granted. Apparently, people do that a lot because there are a lot of Kor.

It's the job of the church to love people and purify them and keep them from going astray, you know, same old typical Christian type mythology, except the bishops often dress like punk rockers and travel around in stealthy rockets and such. Frau, aka Stisel, even has an adorable porn addiction and sexily smokes cigarettes when he is not being all pure and stuff.

So anyway, Teito hangs out at the church for the entire series, which was kind of a bummer for me. I was hoping that the show would go somewhere. I thought he would hang out at the church for a while and then put the show on the road. That didn't happen. Most of the "journey" was emotional, and it got a little repetitive after a while. Basically, Ayanami or the empire or whoever would get all panties in a bunch about the eye of Mikhail. There would be some kind of attack on Teito. Frau and the other bishops would step in. Someone would get hurt. Teito would feel bad and want to give up or run away, but then he would gain the inner strength and fortitude to move on -- usually through the kindness of others, rinse and repeat and you have a series.

Of course, there were variations on this theme, and Teito was able to forgive himself and soften up as the season progressed. And, the very last episode, they finally left the church, but to what end? I don't know because there is no season two and the manga, which is ongoing in Japan, had a few volumes printed in English but I don't believe they are available in print anymore. Le sigh. (Yes, I know I could probably find scans of them online, but I like books, damnit.)

I'm sure part of my problem is that I do watch things in one sitting. Rather than getting weekly doses of epic, I get it all at once and I see the repetitive patterns, which are important when a story arc is spaced out, but a little bothersome when it is compressed. Also, though I really dig male harem animes, I would have liked to have seen more ladies in this besides the completely sweet little nuns and the mermaid. Teito doesn't even really acknowledge he had a mom. For him the world is strong male relationships. Buddy-ships, I guess. I would have liked to have seen the church a little less segregated gender wise, but in the end it is an anime, not some kind of diversity program.

If you're looking for a diversion, this is good. I just wish there was more. I hate stories ending without really answering any questions.

Day 25 - Best Anime Villian: Dr. Muraki Kazutaka from Yami No Matsui (Descendants of Darkness)

”Best?” Yes. He is vicious. He’s also creepily calm and intense. I don’t like it. He is so creepy that Ms. Shakespeare and I have been known to quote him just to skeeve the other one out. Ms. Shakespeare, "do you remember our sensuous night beneath the cherry trees?" Mwahahah! Dr. Muraki is the best anime villain in that he is irredeemably evil, overtly predatory and still somehow charismatic and beautiful. So evil! SO EVIL!! Is he human? Is he demon? No one knows. He seems to have no motivation beyond just being evil (and attracted to our hero Asato Tsuzuki)...EVIL! Like a pretty, pretty snake who will tie you up and make sexually suggestive remarks before biting you.

A close second is Light Yagumi of Death Note (yet another Shigigami or Soul Reaper drama) he is irredeemably awful, and the lead character. I like the way Death Note sets up Light as the protagonist only to allow viewers to watch him fall further and further from his first purpose into a narcissistic villain who destroys pretty much everything he once believed in. He’s truly horrible, but he doesn't quite have the creep factor of Dr. Muraki. So despite playing God, betraying everyone he knows, and stacking up one hell of a body count, he gets bumped to number two.

I need to do a Death Note post soon. It is a pretty messed-up series.

Best Animation? Technically NOT anime... Samurai Jack

So, it's technically not anime. So what? I like what I like. I like the animation for Samurai Jack. Stylistically it fits my aesthetic perfectly. And since I'm the progenitor of this blog, I get to write about what I like.

So there.

Day 24 - Favorite Anime Hero or Heroine: Shuzo "Shu" Matsutani of Now and Then, Here and There

What makes a hero? Selflessness? Humility? Grace? Determination?

Shu is amazing.

He’s not tough in a traditional way, he’s not a warrior-type, he isn’t a knight in battle, he’s human, but he’s also the epitome of heroism…really. He fights and sacrifices himself again and again to protect others, and to right the wrongs of a world that has lost its humanity in many ways. Although he is thrust into a dystopian future, beaten, and nearly destroyed, he still maintains a positive view of humanity. He believes people are, despite all evidence to the contrary, essentially good and always worthy of redemption.

Now and Then, Here and There is only a 13 episode series, but 13 episodes are plenty. This series deals with some heavy themes: war, rape, violence, greed, misery, abuse…heavy stuff. But through it all Shu’s heroism changes things. The world becomes a better place through the patient and caring devotion of one person to the people around him and the goodness he sees in those people, no matter how far they have fallen into despair or corruption. Shu redeems the world. He shows the world a better way. He’s just a young man, but he’s willing to suffer endlessly for the benefit of others.

Although I really love and admire this series for its message and its artistry (so much symbolism…beautiful stuff!), I would have to say I wouldn’t recommend it for most viewers. Although many of the characters are young, many of them children…this is NOT a kid’s show. It has a good message to share, but it is at times stomach-turning in its depictions of brutality. If you can handle the painful scenes (and they are painful, I’m not exaggerating), then this is well worth the watch, but sensitive people should be wary. For instance, Ms. Shakespeare, this might be a bit out of your comfort zone. But for those of you who can handle graphic violence and heartbreak, this is an amazing piece of anime, and Shu is hands-down the most heroic figure I can think of.

The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service

Manga, Volume One, Suckage

Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service just goes to prove you can't judge a book by its cover.

When I first saw this manga, I thought, this is going to be a great read.

The cover is unique, rough stock instead of glossy, and it lacked the stereotypical windy, angsty, weapony type scene manga can have or the big-eyed, big-busomed lost looking girly-type that often graces covers. It was a stripped down cover with a graphically interesting layout. Printed in 3 colors, an uncomplicated guide to the body sits next to the volume number and above the title displayed in both English and Japanese. Below this, there are mug shots of some of the characters and the tagline: Your Body is Their Business.

The plot looked really interesting: Five graduates from a Buddhist college with supernatural powers/special skills deliver bodies to their final resting place.

The exectution of this story, however, was terrible. Open the cover, and you will find that the interesting art stops there. The drawings in this manga are subpar. The character designs feel cartoonish and not fully realized. Maybe subpar is the wrong word, and criticizing a comic for being too cartoonish is unfair, but Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service has a kind of Scooby-Doo-esque feel to it that doesn't inspire me at all.

If the story wasn't so bad, maybe the art wouldn't matter as much. I've read plenty of manga that weren't drawn that well but were compelling enough to keep me interested. Not Kurosagi.

Basically, the members of the KCDS have these special powers. There is a guy who can talk to the dead, a guy who can dowse for bodies, a girl who learned embalming in America, a guy with a hand-puppet that channels alien voices and a computer hacker leader who is kind of buxom and always wearing her hair differently. I don't like any of these characters, so maybe that is where the comic goes wrong for me.

The characters find bodies dumped in various places and then commune with them to find out their dying wish. Once they cart the corpses around for a while, figure out what they want, and accomplish it, they get some kind of kharmic cash payoff.

Anyhoo, the stories usually involve the bodies wanting to seek revenge, reanimating and doing stuff to the evil guy who ruined their life. Also, there is some unnecessary dead body sexual overtones/necrophilia incest type stuff in the first story that was so offputting I really didn't want to read the rest of the stories in the first volume.

But, I did. They were all equally unremarkable.

Meh? I'm sure someone relates to these because they've published an awful lot of them. M, you might like them a little since they are supposed to be horror -- though I keep expecting the members of Kurosagi to run into Fred, Shaggy, Daphne, Velma and Scooby cruising down the road in the Mystery Machine -- but I could do without these in my collection.

Day 23 - Anime You Think Had the Best, Or most intriguing art: Howl's Moving Castle

Or, really anything by Hayao Miyazaki and his Studio Ghibli. So beautiful.

Here's Howl:

And the worst…Negadon: the Monster from Mars…uncanny disturbia.

That's anime...creepy lifelike anime. DO NOT WANT!

Day 22 -- Best Character Team-Up -- Ciel Phantomhive and Sebastian

That Hansel. He's so hot right now!

Right now, Ciel Phantomhive and his demon butler are at the top of the team-up queue.

Happy Birthday To ME!!!!

It is my birthday! And, I'm expecting today to be about this awesome:

Now let's get out there and make it happen!

Day 22 - Favorite Anime Character Team Up: Hikaru and Kaoru from Ouran

Double Evil! Hehehe! Funny and evil.

Here's why they're my pick:

The twincest thing is all a game...they're so rotten and mean. They stage fake fights, they torment poor Tamaki, and they're just generally mischievous. Hooray!

Incidentally, they were in the running for "Anime Character you Feel Most Like" as a duo, of course.

07 - Ghost: First Impressions

Spell battlers! Wind! Battle Academy! Weird Churchy Shit! This anime has it all.

07-Ghost First Ep, First Impression.

Teito Klein is a former slave who was enrolled in a military academy because it was discovered he possesses great powers. He has one friend: Mikage, who on the night before their final exam, he swears an oath to. An orphan, Teito can't remember his family, not outright -- he has amnesia and the past comes to him in bits and pieces and dreams and nightmares.

Mikage is a good friend, and they make a good team, sparring with one another, using the Zaiphon power they can both wield. The other kids at the academy are pretty dickish to Teito because he is a slave and their families are upper crusty, but Teito overcomes this by being more awesome than them.

Having made it through the final exam successfully, Teito and Mikage are getting pretty pumped to go out and be soldiers. However, everything hits a snag when a mean looking guy, Ayanami, shows up and starts rattling around a piece of wind chimey jewelry.

Teito has some kind of mental break when he hears the sound, and some of his memories suddenly return. He clearly remembers Ayanami killed his father who seems to be a priest of some kind. Overcome with anger, Teito attacks Ayanami on the spot. He is stopped by Ayanami's posse who put some shackles on him and drag him down to the dungeon for torture time.

Meanwhile, Mikage notices his best buddy is missing and goes looking for him. He finds him in the dungeon presiding over a whole bunch of beat up guards and getting ready to make his escape. Having commandeered some kind of fighter jet, Mikage helps Teito escape. At the last second, Teito pretends that Mikage is a hostage, drawing a knife on him in front of a guard that finds him.

He gets on the jet and takes off towards adventure.

And, that's just the first episode. I have to say, I like it so far. I felt strongly for the characters from the get go. It looks like a story where the plot will take a while to unfold. There's some real drama here.

Best Yandere Character? Gunter -- Kyo Kara Moah

Your Majesty, I love you!

So a Yandere character is generally considered a little more violent than I would categorize Gunter to be. The long haired bishounen is definitely a little crazy about Yuri, the Demon King, but I don't think he would hurt anyone in pursuit of his obsession.

I just kind of like how his reality is so different than every other person's because it is so colored by his idealized vision of Yuri.

Day 21 - Best Yandere Character: Kagura Sohma from Fruits Basket

"Best" is a relative term. One can discuss one's "best" tooth extraction, but it is still a tooth extraction. One could find an example of anything and call it the "best" version of that thing. I don't like Yandere characters.

Yandere characters in anime and manga are annoying. The word itself is used for psychotically obsessed (usually 99% female) characters who seem normal (well...maybe overly devotional and self-sacrificing, but that side can be a little sweet at times--one characteristic of a yandere is that they have very distinct sides of their personality, the term actually suggests "sweet outside-crazy inside"), until they are in the vicinity of the one they love. These characters would literally do ANYTHING for love. Axe-murdering? Sure. Dramatic suicide attempts? Absolutely. General loony toons? To the extreme.

A yandere character woud conceivably even kill the object of their affection in a classic "If I can't have you no one can" sort of Mark Wahlberg in Fear dealie. It's all very Glenn Close, all very "I boiled your bunny," but a yandere character might even take it a step further. "I boiled your bunny, but I am also dressed as one, please pet and love me?" They're really screwed up, and they tend to switch so quickly from cute-cute to ultra-violent that they seem hyperactive and ridiculous.

So, the "best" yandere character? That's a pretty lame topic. I pick Kagura Sohma from Fruits Basket .

Poor Kyo. It isn't easy being the object of a yandere's obsession, especially if that yandere is the zodiac incarnation of a boar. She might be little, but she is powerful!

Kaze, Kaze, Kaze

Code Geass

Somebody cue the fan. It takes a lot of energy to look this good!

What does Tyra Banks know about anime? Top Models and anime characters look fierce and sexy with a little extra wind to seal the shot.

Il Gatto Sul G.

Wind can make a character seem vulnerable and open. It evokes something melancholic in the reader.


Wind can take your breath away.

Full Metal Alchemist

Wind sets the scene.


Wind makes Ryo and Dee even sexier.

Black Butler

Wind makes one hell of a butler even more bad ass.


Wind causes your posse to bring it just a little harder.

Wind in manga and anime is a powerful tool. Wind signals epic and angst. I'm convinced that when a plot isn't going anywhere, the mangaka begins to add windier and windier scenes in an attempt to revive the story.

What windy anime will I watch next? I'm going for 07-Ghost. Why? Simple. It looks like there is a LOT of wind in this show. This means it is either REALLY GOOD or REALLY CRAPPY! Either way, I'll be a happy lady.


(I submit this post in lieu of today's challenge -- Favorite Dubbed Anime -- for I agree with M on all parts.)

Day 20 - Favorite Dubbed Anime: Dubbed, who cares, Subbed: Gravitation (Remix: Hong Kong Rip-off)

I listen to a lot of dubbed anime, so I am going to modify this catagory so that I might talk a bit about bad subtitles. Bad subtitles are...bad. But, they are also really, really funny.

When I bought my copy of Gravitation, I got it for the cheaps. Little did I know that there was a reason for the bargain basement price of my copy of the series. I may, or may not, have accidentally purchased (no one sue me for this) a Hong Kong rip-off of the series. I was not aware of this until I watched it. I knew the series pretty well at this point, because Ms. Shakespeare and I had watched it together on several occasions. My copy was not like her copy. Her copy's the opposite of word vomit?

For example:
This screen capture should read, "You want a reason, maybe you're a lousy lay?"

It does not say this. It just says "Poor Sex Skill." Hahaha.

How about exhibit B?
In this scene Eri Yuki (whom my version insists on calling Kwan) is trying to talk seriously about breaking up to a traumatized Shuichi (whom my version insists on calling either Showe or Showende) who has decided to renounce his masculinity (he is dressed in his sister's school uniform) in order to help Yuki save face. Shuichi says something along the lines of, "You're leaving me because I'm a man. I thought you'd like this look better." Yuki is saying something like, "How you're dressed isn't really helping your case." But it came out really weird. Poor Shuichi, he actually cross-dresses a few times in the series.

One last one:

Tohma (whom my version insists on calling like 8 things...seriously, it's like they forgot what they named him) is lurking in the room and catches Shuichi kissing Yuki (see the Kwan there?) goodbye on the ear. Yuki gets a little flustered, so Tohma (whom my version believes is a "she," although I assure you he is not) says something like "Oh, Yuki, I didn't know you had an ear fetish." I suppose that could  be a "problem," but I think it is more likely just a super bad translation.

Ms. Shakespeare couldn't even watch this version with me. She made me turn it off. I think it's hilarious. So, it gets my vote for best subtitles, on account of the amount of amusement it provides me. Not because they're good. Because they really, really aren't.

Mandatory Victory Pose? Ryuichi Sakuma -- Gravitation

I am a rock star with a great voice. I am also crazy.

Ryuichi Sakuma, always victorious!

Day 19 - Mandatory Victory Pose: Tamaki Suoh

Oh, Tamaki!

Black Butler -- Kuroshitsuji -- Day 18 -- Best Plot

I wanna be your dog!

I first heard about Yano Toboso's Black Butler while I was enrolled in Japanese classes in San Francisco. One of my very junior little otaku classmates told me she thought I would love it, and she wasn't wrong.

Set in an alternative Victorian London, Black Butler features a 13-year-old protagonist, Lord Earl Ciel Phantomhive, a mature for his years, orphan who heads the family business, who keeps deep ties to the underworld and an allegiance to the queen. Ciel lives in a manor with a number of attendants, most notably a butler of amazing talent: Sebastian.

It's not long before we learn that Sebastian is actually a demon who has a pact with Ceil. Ceil needs his help to avenge his parents' deaths and his own humiliation at the hands of an evil group of a**holes and in payment, he will give his soul to Sebastian.

It's an interesting relationship. It's not master and servant, though it can seem that way. Ciel orders Sebastian around. Sebastian follows orders. Sebastian is loyal to Ciel, and he protects the crap out of him, but it's not love or fidelity that binds them. It's the promise of a tasty soul, which Sebastian is willing to wait for. After all, he's immortal. And, he knows that Ciel's soul is going to taste really good, so full of hate and thoughts of cruel revenge for someone so young. Sebastian may seem tender, but he doesn't have feelings, not in the way humans might experience them.

The main plot, of course, is that with Sebastian's help, Ciel will seek his revenge, but there are plenty of subplots to keep the viewer's interest. Whether they are hunting down Jack the Ripper or engaged in a Queen's favorite curry cooking contest, the characters and plot are engaging.

The art is great. I have to say, Ciel looks adorable in a dress:

This show has been the inspiration for many a cosplayer, I'm sure. Truth be told, with such fun fashion, I might be convinced to to dress up as a character from this show!

So, will Ciel get his revenge? Will Sebastian get his tasty treat? Watch and find out!

Day 18 - Anime with Best Plot Idea: Tactics

Kantarou Ichinomiya is a writer (he specializes in folklore) and is a part-time exorcist. He has the ability to see youkai (like Japanese fairies and mythical creatures), and he has a powerful spiritual side and a really big heart. Usually exorcists exorcise spirits and demons and the like, but Kantarou reasons with them. When he was a small boy his powers scared people, so he was often alone. He spent most of his time with the youkai and became fond of them. He learned from them the power of names, and that if he names a youkai then it will obey him.

Kantarou has spent his adult life writing (his publisher is a frequent and annoying character), and searching for the "mythical" Oni-Eating Tengu (most bad-ass demon around, because it EATS other demons). In episode one Kantarou finds and names the Oni-Eating Tengu, Haruka. Haruka has lost both his memories and his Oni-Eating powers. The two form a friendship beyond master and servant and work together to help Haruka piece together his past.

I have learned a lot about Japanese mythology from Tactics, and although some stand-alone episodes do seem very "monster of the week" the overall plot and development of characters (even characters who seem minor at first get their own development) is at the center of the anime and manga series. The relationships between the characters are interesting as well; not quite love, not quite family, not quite mere friendship. There are a lot of exciting moments, and some very sad and tender moments as well, all revolving around Japanese culture (both mythological and contemporanious to the Taishō period of 1912-1926). The Taishō time period is pretty significant to the story, as it is historically a time of change from the traditiona into a more modern era, and signified Japan's opening to democracy and international influences. Traditional Japanese culture was at a sort of turning point, and that feeling exhibits itself in the anime.

There are only 25 episodes of Tactics in total, and it seems perfect. Unlike a lot of American cartoons that don't end, or are so episodic that they don't have a plot, Tactics has a clear story arc and a sense of completeness to it. It's a tight series, with some impressive interconnected and overlapping shorter segments. The cumulative effect and novel-in-stories feel of the anime makes it my choice for Anime with Best Plot Idea.

And Haruka is totally dreamy:

Favorite Anime Ending Song: Yami no Matsuei -- Love Me

Kind of folky, kind of punky.

Let me tell you guys something. Don't throw bricks. I mostly don't like JPop at all.

But, I do like anime...

Day 17 - Favorite Anime Ending Theme Song: Fruitsbasket

This song is Chiisana Inori's "Small Prayer" as performed by Ritsuko Okazaki...and it is soooo sweet!

Fruitsbasket or FuRuBu is so freaking sweet. So sweet. So, so, so, sweet. And this song only makes it sweeter. There is an english dubbed version, but I do not like it at all. The original version is so perfect for this anime. I never skip over the song at the end.

Other good'uns: Ouran High School Host Club's "Shissou" (Sprint) by Alliance, and Gravitation's "Glaring Dream" by Kinya Kotani, which may have some of the cheesiest lyrics ever recorded, but who cares.

She is the One Called Sailor Moon -- Day 16

Um, magical girl anime? Oh boy, there are whole subgenres that just don't tickle my fancy. This is one of them. Well, that's unless you count Sailor Moon, which I have watched, duly noted, and thoroughly enjoyed.

It has been many moons, pardon the pun, since I watched this anime. In fact, I used to watch this anime before I really even liked anime. Basically, it was on early in the morning, and I watched it to keep me awake when I was doing the overnight shift in my early twenties. Wow. That was a LONG time ago.

There is a show I really enjoyed that is not quite magical girl anime, but sort of. It's called Sumomomo Momomo, World's Strongest Bride, which I watched more recently and also totally enjoyed.

Basically, it is about a girl who is a really kick ass fighter who is seeking another kick ass fighter to have children with.

Anyway, it's super cute and sometimes inappropriate.

Nabari no Ou

Nabari No Ou

In which warring ninja clans use ninjitsu to gain control over a young man's crazy ninja powers.

Or, something like that! We begin the story with Miharu Rokujo an apathetic kid who lives in a small town in modern Japan with his grandparents. Surprise! He's an orphan!

We learn quickly that Miharu has a special ninjitsu power within him, the Shinra Banshō, a kind of forbidden scroll type thing that appears to him as a demonic fairy. Once awakened, it will make him the most powerful ninja of all. This makes him a target for all sorts of trouble because all the ninja clans in Japan want to have control over this special power, and they will do anything to get it. Well, they will do stuff. Of course, he doesn't really want to have anything to do with ninjistu, but he doesn't have a choice.

Enter characters, a lot of them. There is someone here for everybody, from teenage Samuri, to gun toting ninja gangsters, to characters with forbidden powers. They all have an interest in Miharu. If only the viewer did, too.

So, yes. I will watch anything, and I did watch all 26 episodes of Nabari no Ou. Why? Because it wasn't that great; it just okay. Okay is good enough for me on a rainy weekend, so whatev-.

It had the proper amounts of wind, a sneakily evil bad guy that you just wanted to be good and a ton of young ninjas. I've probably mentioned before, I like ninjas.

The problem is, this anime is just kind of adequate. It is neither good nor crappy. It follows some well tread territory. The same thing has been done better and with more of a sense of angst or whimsy: Mirage of Blaze or Kyo Karah Maoh to name a couple of anime we've discussed on this site. Both feature protagonists with spotty memories and immense powers and big epic fights over those powers.

The ninja clans in Nabari no Ou are a bit banal comparatively, but the characters are interesting in that they are just regular teens, young adults born into ninja clans, so this could have, if it had wanted too, turned into something of a high school dramedy. It only went there a little. Too bad.

Nabari no Ou did have Yoite. I like his character. He's totally emo with his engineer's cap and his tragic dyingness and all that. He has a forbidden power called the "Kira" that allows him to kill people by focusing his chi at them. In a way it reminds me a lot of the "blood bending" tactic from that Katara from Avatar uses. Anyway, using it means he will die, because, well, you can't have a forbidden power without something bad happening to you. That's just how it is.

Anyway, Miharu and Yoite form a special bond and Miharu plans to use his special power to either erase Yoite completely from ever having lived (something Yoite wants) or to save him from certain death. 26 episodes pass and they go on some adventures and ninjas f*ck some sh*t up and there is blood and stuff and brushes with the true power of the Shinra Bansho, and in the end things more or less get resolved.

Wow, I didn't give it away this time.

My general synopsis. This took two seasons to tell a story that could have been more deftly told in one. Oh, well, merchandising, I guess. It is easy to watch, but not that stunning.