Posts Tagged ‘Toradora’

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #194

December 14, 2012

narutaki I read Love Attack vols. 1-6 which was released by TokyoPop a while back, sadly that is all they did before the company went under. It is a super not serious romantic comedy about “the scariest couple in high school” Chiemi and Hirata. They both have a tendency to punch first and ask questions later, these two rough-and-tumble characters fall in love after Chiemi flying kicks Hirata. Hirata was so overwhelmed by his love that he asks her out in the middle of class.

One thing that really stood out to me was these two actually have fights, knock-down drag-out “you are a freakin’ idiot” fights, which is definitely a rarity. Again, it isn’t super serious either so it adds a lot of comedy to them and those around them trying to get out their path of destruction.

Still, deep down they are a really sweet couple who are very much in love. Yeah, they are idiots but loveable idiots. Watching them get to know each other and grow closer bit by bit is really endearing and fun. Over the years of reading shojo, I’ve gotten more and more interested in series where the characters are dating as opposed to trying to come together right up until the end.

The obstacles in the series are totally insane and over the top from Chiemi’s father locking her in a cell so Hirata can prove he is man enough to take her back; to the latest pretty guy who tries to seduce Chiemi who subsequently kicks him so hard he flies into a wall rendering him unconscious and then she feels bad and cooks him dinner; everything has the volume turned up. All the misunderstandings that invariable come are handled quickly and usually with comedy and a face punch as opposed to dragged out sulking.

The support characters have also captured me as Chiemi’s best friend Yuka starts to fall for Hirata’s friend Ohno. When she rushes to tell Ohno her feelings and is thwarted, she realizes she doesn’t need to hurry because her feelings won’t change over night. She can stay close to Ohno and slowly open his heart. I’d read a manga just about these two.

It is a shame there is no more available in the States, but a group of scanlators have picked it up so I’m hoping I’ll be able to see it through to the end.

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For an upcoming episode of The Cockpit I stated watching Heavy Metal L-Gaim. It was a good choice as it takes me one step closer to my goal of watching all the Tomino shows. It began in 1984 so in terms of Tomino’s TV output it was right after the mega uplifting Aura Battler Dunbine and before the equally heartwarming Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam (that was sarcasm for the uninformed). From the first episode it is clearly not as dark as the shows around it but I don’t think it is as lighthearted as say Xabungle as well.

I know that Method to Madness likes to count the minutes to the first panty shot when watching fan service shows. Well there is no count in L-Gaim. We open up in the first scene with Amu Fanneria’s underwear right in your face. This is a running theme in this episode. We don’t see her unmentionables in every scene she is in but they are hardly an unfamiliar sight by the end of the episode. As Twitter informed me this tends to be more of fan service show than you might expect.

Amu Fanneria starts being chased by some mecha but it is all a ruse. She is actually a honeypot that is sent out to be rescued as a damsel in distress so she can help steal equipment from the unlucky sap who recuses her. So the hornball Kyao Mirao and the more gentlemanly Daba Myroad get caught up in her trap as her bandit gang tries to steal their hover truck and mecha. But soon Amu decides to join up with Daba after seeing how handsome he is.

As is the Tomino way.

This is an unusual in-between from Tomino’s either deadly serious mecha show tragedies and his slapstick comedies. Any scene with Amu Fanneria is mostly played for laughs but there are also people dying after breaking their spines  and having their hands chopped off like it was a “Kill ‘Em All Tomino” show. I have yet to watch any Tomino show that started so clearly straddling his two normal modus operandi.

I’m also curious because this is the show that seems to have annoyed Mamoru Nagano enough for him to make The Five Star Stories (whose anime would annoy him enough to make Gothicmade). While the show has a very Tomino style it is also clear that Nagano created the characters and robots. The L-Gaim look like a AV-98 Ingram and a Mortar Headd had a baby. So I am curious how much Nagano has  a legitimate gripe about Tomino ruining his grand vision that he had for L-Gaim. As far as a I can tell his problems with the the Five Star Stories movie were mostly in his head. But Tomino can be very variable (to be kind) in his work so Nagano might have legitimate gripes.

Well episode one alone makes it a bit hard to judge the story. The overarching plot has yet to be fully introduced. Some story seeds have been dropped but until I am farther into what is going on I can’t make a good judgment on the show.

The Ongoing Investigations are little peeks into what we are watching and reading outside of our main posts on the blog. We each pick three things that we were interested in a week and talk a bit about them. There is often not much rhyme or reason to what we pick. They are just the most interesting things we saw since the last Ongoing Investigation.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #193

December 7, 2012

There are a few movies I was really looking forward to this year. With a limited budget I have to be a bit more conservative to what I am willing to see in theaters but Wreck-It-Ralph was a movie I definitely need to see on the big screen. I enjoyed the movie a great deal. I think I liked it more than Narutaki. But everyone we went with agreed one thing majorly brought the movie down as a whole. The major question was how much did it hurt the movie.

Wreck-It-Ralph is a villain who after years of being the bad guy wants a little recognition so he decides to try being a hero. But in the process of trying to prove that he has what it takes to be more than an engine of destruction causes him to unwittingly unleash a terror that could destroy the arcade. Oh. And he has to help a bratty little girl win a Go Cart race.

There were quite a few good things to love about the movie. It has an amazing sense of style and place. The feel of the world inside the arcade machines is just so wonderfully realized. It is sort of the Toy Story for video games. Retro games feel retro and modern games feel slick with a wonderfully congruent style that still lets everything feel very unique. Fix-it Felix Jr. and Sergeant Calhoun are extremely different in their design but still have a sense of consistency to them. The humor can be quite good when it is working well. There was one line about Sergeant Calhoun that cannot be beat. I won’t spoil it but you will know it when you hear it. The cameos of real game characters are amazing. You have everyone from Zangief and Sonic to Tapper, Q*bert, and Beard Papa. Certain scenes beg to be watched on home video just so you can pause and take them all in. The licensed characters give the sense of authenticity while making sure never to steal the spotlight from the main cast. And most importantly the story is just fun homage to the arcade. And that is always just a warm feeling.

The major problems are two-fold. The first is in Japan the movie is entitled Sugar Rush. And for all intents and purposes that might be a bit more accurate title. Because while the story centers on Wreck-It-Ralph the majority of the movie is spent inside the Sugar Rush game. So you better like that candy coated Mario Cart world because it is the primary place you will see. The trailers make it seem like their will be much more world hopping than there actually is in the end. The other is just the fact that Sarah Silverman is an annoying human being who is about as funny as a root canal. She did not ruin the movie for me but she does drag it down especially considering she is deuteragonist in the film and does not really ever leave the spotlight after she is introduced. In a way she makes the Sugar Rush part of the film feel ever longer.

Still despite that I had a great time. I even enjoyed the AKB48 Sugar Rush theme song. As I understand they are already planning a sequel that deals with console games and/or MMORPGs. I look forward to seeing that. But until that I will enjoy this movie again on Blu-Ray when it comes out.

I had been looking forward to Wreck-It-Ralph for a long time, ever since the concept was announced. It was a movie that I wasn’t sure was really Disney but I hoped they could pull it off and breath new life into the repertoire. In fact, I felt like who else could afford to have all of these cameos besides Disney?

Ralph is a hapless lug stuck in a situation not of his choosing and who just wants to prove he can be a different guy, Ralph is endearing from the get-go. I really enjoyed him learning what it means to be a hero, it is great to want to be a hero but it can’t be about you. And the movie becomes less about Ralph the more he becomes a hero, kind of interesting.

Or at least it was somewhat interesting, but diminishing the character we’ve come to care for in the middle of the movie to instead focus on Vanellope? I know I’m just a bit biased because of her voice and humor that comes along with it. I did think their friendship was genuinely sweet at points and my heart broke when Ralph had to be the “bad guy” once again.

The tons of cameos were fun, though I almost shed tears at poor Q*bert without a home, living in Game Central Station. The animation and integration of the videogames in the film were brilliant, there were lots of quirks depending on the characters and what games they came from. This was most evident with the older games like Fix-It-Felix for example where characters would hop and make a jump noise when surprised.

I was pleased at the setup for the story, weaving in little details from the beginning that later were significant, it was plotted well. The ending was really well concocted.

I thought the music was mostly terrible, my only real complaint. So I walked away from the movie feeling pleased, but I felt like I should have loved it to bits instead of just liking it.

Maybe it was just overshadowed by the perfect, poignant Paperman short that played first.

The Ongoing Investigations are little peeks into what we are watching and reading outside of our main posts on the blog. We each pick three things that we were interested in a week and talk a bit about them. There is often not much rhyme or reason to what we pick. They are just the most interesting things we saw since the last Ongoing Investigation.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #132

July 22, 2011

Broken Blade‘s 5th movie really takes the series down a notch I am sad to say. The focus of the film is Girghe a lot, a character who as far as I’m concerned has no soul in their design. Perhaps this movie was trying to fix that impression, but it doesn’t work and the “reasoning” behind his past seemed like a cop-out full of holes. I just refuse to feel for the guy and I think they really wanted me to change my mind. While Girghe is acting crazy, Rygart isn’t helping the situation. They decide the best time for a vendetta fight (which they are having because why again?) is right in the middle of a major mission. Probably the only redeeming scene in the entire movie is the fight between Brocuse and Rygart, looks amazing, just try to forget why it is happening and why it ends the way it does. This is the problem with most of the film, it isn’t well put together and thus you start questioning why anything is happening the way it is.

Sadly since the defeat of Zess the Broken Blade series has not been nearly as strong as is started. Rygart just seems to lose a lot of strength as a lead character as he seems way too interested in dealing with Girghe but not nearly as invested in doing anything else as he should. And Girghe just comes off as an unrepentant and unlikeable psychopath despite them trying to soften him up during the movie. I think they want him to be the dark mirror to Rygart’s noble intentions but he just comes off as a big waste of time. Their last confrontation actually annoyed me. I don’t see why Rygart would waste time with his theatrics when everyone else is getting slaughtered. General Borcuse on the other hand as at least a little more subtle in his villainy. He sometimes twirls his mustachio but at least I can understand being a completely wretched human to your enemy on the battlefield. The dehumanizing effects of being a solider can do that to a man. Also his fight with Rygart was pretty good which was the highlight of the movie. Hodr and Sigyn mostly seem to show up in this movie to wishfully wonder how Rygart is doing. And Sigyn has to have more slumber part-time with the POW Cleo. I had such high hopes for Broken Blade. It started off so well but it seems to have sadly lost its focus.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #120

April 8, 2011

Ah, Toradora!, chronicling the eternal struggle between Tiger and Dragon in the form of a spitfire of a tiny girl and a clean-freak boy with the face of a delinquent. Two misunderstood people come together to help each other with their respective love interests, but wind up getting what they never knew they needed: each other. Despite that last sentence, Toradora! is a comedic romance but there truly are very poignant moments. Of course, this is my impression from the anime, the manga maintains a similar feel, and I assume will follow a similar course. Right now it feels better than average, but nothing is particularly moving in this first installment, though I did enjoy Ryuuji catching Taiga on the stairs. Taiga has a bit of a light switch feel at the moment, she is misunderstood but she isn’t wholly unlike her reputation either so I hope that evens out. The cover of the Toradora! vol. 1 manga is striking for its style and design; the interior art is a bit more generic but still well executed. There is also a bonus chapter for Ryuuji’s mom, and in general she has more fan-service in here than the anime. My biggest complaint for Toradora! is how verbose the manga is, this isn’t the most complex of stories so it is unnecessary. In line with this, there is a lot of repetition from Ryuji’s narration creating a showing and telling of many scenes; can probably chalk this up from it being a light novel first.

Manga adaptations of popular series tend to be some of the most mediocre things you can read. So I went cautiously into the Toradora! manga hoping for the best but braced for the worst. My general feeling was it is nowhere as bad as it could have been. I have never read the original light novels but I did watch the anime so I found myself comparing it to that. Ryuji and Taiga’s antagonistic friendship and budding romance is captured fairly well. There is a greater use of minor incidental classmates in the manga so it feels like people exist outside of the 4 main characters. On the down side we see much less of Minori and Yusaku so it is harder to see why our main characters should be crazy in love with them. Minori and Yusaku were not super prominent in the anime so when you cut their time they even become more plot elements and less characters. The character designs are very different from the manga. The girls are clearly done by a different style but you know who is who if you watched the anime. The guys on the other hand look like completely different characters that just happen to have the same name. The biggest complaint is that while there are clear differences so far if you have watched the anime you have read the manga. It is the classic dilemma of what happens when you do an extremely close adaption. If you are a mostly manga fan who is curious why anime fans keep talking about Toradora! this is a good place to see a very well executed shonen romance. Toradora! does not do much new with the genre but it does it in a well executed and lively fashion. For everyone else it is matter of how much you want to reread what you have already seen in a new art style.

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