Secret Santa 2010 Project Reveal

And now the part you have all been waiting for. The Secret Santas are revealed, the ancient conspiracy is foiled, and the destined couple finally consummate their relationship. This is the master list of all the participants, what they reviewed, and who gave them their recommendations. I know that several people are not going to finish on time because of various mishaps during the holiday season. So I will do my best to update this list at least once a day as reviews come in. Hopefully everyone watched something a bit unexpected and maybe learned something new about the range and scope of anime. Other than that Happy Holidays and I wish you and yours the best of luck in the upcoming year.

Ongoing Investigations: Case #017

Ai Morinaga saw a clearly untapped niche in the manga market and capitalized on it. Japan did not have (and needed) a manga about abusive homosexual human/frog relationships. The Gorgeous Life of Strawberry Chan fills this void as only it can. It has the standard Ai Morinaga fascination with mean-spirited comedy told with jerk-faced characters. For some reason she does it in a way that I enjoy. I think a good litmus test of your enjoyment of Strawberry Chan is the fact that Strawberry Chan’s owner sticks a straw up his butt and inflates him like a balloon to blow off stress. If you find this funny then try Strawberry Chan. If that makes you feel anything else you might want to go elsewhere.

I mentioned last week that I have been reading a lot of anthologies and a stand out one was X2. This series of shorts is done by the manga-ka of Monkey High! which I recently gave a glowing review of the first book. It captures the sweet and funny moments of new love. It was fun and hopeful and it gave the characters enough of a life that I could understand their feelings in a such a short amount of time. I also ready SOS which had a good range within its pages. We move from happy but dark underneath, to sweet and sad, to hopeful. But one deals with first love in its own way. I particularly enjoyed the last story involving a shooting star, but I am just a sucker for such things.

Maria-sama ga Miteru shows that your lesbian Catholic school fantasy is most probably not as interesting as you would think. I bought the first boxset due to Nozomi Entertainment getting some oddball shows which I encourage with my wallet. Also I have seen that it’s one of those super love it or totally hate it shows. I did periodically crack up with the thought of a roving band of bad girls that go through the school and jump girls to improperly tie their ties and get them in serious trouble. They would never physically hurt them. Heavens no! The disgrace of an off center tie would be worse than any physical pain. Other than that it always seems like it wants to be an over the top drama fest but never dares break the carefully constructed placid world. Slow and subtle are the watchwords for this show.

Man, this show. I grant it that the second episode was mildly better than the first but still it struck me as rather boring. Everyone is proper and quite and it made me crazy! I just wanted to leap through the TV and cause a ruckus! Even the most outspoken and wild girl is still whispering her wildness. It doesn’t move into comedy and it isn’t outlandish enough to be a over the top drama. I am kinda of curious to watch a little more just to see if they can actual get me to feel any sexual tension in this show which there wasn’t in the first two episodes.

Pani Poni Dash! is the exact opposite of Maria-sama ga Miteru. The show has no time to smell the roses because it has the next joke to get to. Pani Poni Dash can be subtle at times. In fact, it’s easy to miss the subtle humor because of the in your face kind going on. There is constant blackboard comedy in the background which is often non-sequitur but sometimes sets up jokes. All the various characters are rather amusing but I can’t say that I really have a strong love for anyone. The ADV pop up liner notes are really well done but are best watched after you have seen the episode once through without them on.

Kaichou wa Maid-sama is everything it should be. A ridiculous, over the top, shojo romance comedy. Misaki is the first female student body president of a recently made co-ed high school. She is an insane hard-ass who is trying to reform the guys. At the same time she is desperate for cash because of her family situation so she has a job at a Maid Cafe. Obviously she wants to keep this a secret but one day her biggest rival Usui happens to see her in uniform. Let the games begin! In only 8 chapters this is what I have learned about Usui, our male lead, he is of course really hot; he is the best student in school; he is also the most bad-ass fighter in the school and probably elsewhere; he is a master chess player; he can cook like an Iron Chef; he can jump off the roof of the school and only have scratches; and he can show up anywhere at anytime (they actual reference and make fun of this fact). I love that it doesn’t just go half way to insane, it is full-throttle!

One Piece came out with it’s newest popularity poll. Nami is back to were she belongs. She will never overtake the popularity monster that is Chopper or the immovable three but at least she is not the least popular of the Straw-Hat crew. I guess they had to remind everyone that she has nice tits and they all come back. Traitors! Your Nami love should be about more than that! I found it interesting that Brook has become popular so quickly but when you are a talking skeleton with an Afro then the only surprise involved was that I was surprised. I was also amused that Vivi was so high on the list because as far as I can tell many American fans still hate Vivi with an unfounded passion.

I wrote up a little blurb on 4chan for the Chunnel. I tried to stay about as neutral on 4chan as possible. I tried to mention both the good and the bad. I know there was so much more I could say but 4chan is big enough and strange enough that you could write a series on scholarly papers on it.