Bakuman’s 90s-ness makes me happy.

Some thing, or rather many things, or rather everything, about Bakuman makes it seem like it’s from another era of anime. I can’t speak for the feel of the manga, but I know what I see when I turn this show on each week. I see a flashback to the 90s!

What first alerted me to this other-time feeling in Bakuman was the opening song. “Blue Bird”‘s lilting quality and sweet sound strikes me as unexpected for this shonen series. The character designs, especially Miho, the female lead, and her mother feel very much informed by Masakazu Katsura of Video Girl Ai fame (which also ran in Weekly Shonen Jump). In any case, they aren’t pulling from what is a modern and currently popular aesthetic. More than anything else though, it is the hopeful, sweet, and endearing pursuit of their dreams (and loves) that makes Bakuman seem nostalgic.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #103

hisuiconSince it seems that no one is interested in licensing Michiko to Hatchin I decided to finally check it out especially after Sean Ryan mentioned it would have made a great addition to the fallen fans guide. It is a road trip movie in which the journey is far more important than the destination. In fact if anything my major complaint about the series is that the destination seems extremely anti-climatic after everything than comes before it. I feel in many ways this was hinted that it was going to be like this but it did not make it any less disappointing. That said they journey before then is filled with some grim parables, touching vignettes, and great action scenes. We see Michiko and Hatchin grow from interacting with each other and fundamentally shift how they look at the world. It is a touching and compelling journey that should be watched for the experiences you get along the way more than the prize at the end. The audience in a way experience exactly what the characters in the show do for better and for worse. But overall I think you will be glad you went on the trip.

There was no down time for Ichigo as Yumeiro Patissiere Professional started just a week or so after the original Yumeiro Patissiere finished its TV run. This is a couple of years in the future as Ichigo returns to Japan from studying abroad in France. We know very little about her time there beyond her learning more skills, but not losing her charming naiveté, and that something happened between her and Kashino. Things at the end of the first season were a little over the top in Henri’s plans but things just get crazier with this new series. Henri now seems to be some sort of eccentric, semi-diabolical pastry chef that pits the students in a competition of opening their own pastry shop in this playland of sweets he has created. After 4 episodes I can firmly say it is still plenty amusing and cute. So far we have seen the dispersion of Team Ichigo with the exception of Kashino, and the return of Lemon plus the new addition of incredible caricature, American Johnny. The competition is also a lot different from what was seen in the original as this goes into business and customers as well as creating that perfect dessert. As this series is slated to be much shorter than the original I’m curious where it will end up.

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Fall 2010 Anime Guide: A Musical

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears

Fiddler on the Roof’s Sunrise, Sunset

Another season of anime has come and another set of season previews is upon us and we both try to find some new shows to watch and learn a few shows to avoid like the plague. This time around we spiced things up with some lyrical thoughts on each show before the main previews. As a reminder, we don’t review ongoing series, sequels, or anything that we are more than likely not going to like.

Iron Man

Nobody wants him
He just stares at the world
Planning his vengeance
That he will soon unfold

hisuiconSadly the Iron Man TV series is exactly the anime I suspected it would be and not the anime I had hoped it would be. A show that basically understands the Iron Man formula that made the movies so successful but is just off enough that it never clicks. It is sadly never mecha enough to be the Japanese Iron Man nor American enough to be the Marvel Iron Man. The show’s greatest sin is that the action scene are so quick that if you turn to talk you might miss them. Also Nanami, the Japanese reporter, seems utterly superfluous at this point and she does not even fulfill the eye candy position like a Bond girl. I never thought it was bad but I was also never gripped as well. I might watch more if it goes streaming but until then I am fine. Speaking of which I still don’t see why they are waiting for 2011 to play in on G4. This should have been simulcast on day one in Japan and the U.S.  I am curious to see how well the sales and ratings will be in the casual market despite the fact that it will be fully fan-subbed before  anyone can see episode 1 on American TV or buy the first DVD.

Oh Iron Man how I looked forward to you. This must have been my great downfall. This show felt weird from the get-go from the pacing to the character designs that seemed right out of 90’s man-ime. The best way to describe the feeling of this show is clunky. Iron Man kept fading to black after every scene, many of which were only a minute or two long, and then ending up not so far from where they already were. The best example is Tony asking the reporter for a ride while standing next to the car. After she says yes, the show fades to black, and then the next scene is them driving along. You couldn’t animate him getting in the car? Iron Man seems underserved both in story and animation so I can’t say I was intrigued enough to watch anymore.

Kuragehime (Jellyfish Princess)

So never judge a book by its cover
Or who you gonna love by your lover
Love put me wise to her love in disguise
She had the body of Venus
Lord imagine my surprise

Aerosmith’s Dude Looks Like A Lady

hisuiconIt would be easy to say that Kuragehime is another wonderful noitaminA show that you need to watch and leave it at that but that would be a shame because there is a lot of good things to talk about with this show. It is a show about a house of girl geeks that are well, actually geeky, and not just fetish fuel for the male viewers. The “nuns” of the all female Amamizukan apartment building are amusing and colorful and we see everything from a doll fanatic to a warring states fangirl. Tsukimi seems an awkward but likable and being a jellyfish otaku is definitely an unusual hobby. The stylish Kuranosuke Koibuchi is an interesting wild card added to the mix. I am curious to see where the show is going but I have confidence that it is going in a positive direction. It is further proof that there are some amazing Josei properties that could appeal to an older anime fan market if promoted correctly.

In honesty, I was a little on guard when I started this show. What with a recent slue of otaku series that are a lot more fetish than I’d like to see, I was cautious treading here. My fears quickly dissipated as the cast slowly revealed itself. This story is full of quirky characters, yet quirky in that relatable way even though their particular obsessions are unique, and the feeling of camaraderie was wonderful. Kuragehime is a geeky sitcom but it has a couple of mysteries in its midst and maybe even some romance later. And with a sweet opening, I am incredibly excited for this show.

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