What do the characters we hate say about us?

This week we look at the characters we hate and once again ask you the readers decide if that it means anything about Narutaki and I. It is often said that what we hate the most in others in what we hate about ourselves. Does the fact extend to anime characters we hate? Do the characters that get under our skin the most provide some insight into our psyche? Does it tell us something different then what the characters we like or are they merely opposite sides of the same coin?

If there is one thing the internet has enough of, it is hate. Hate for shows, hate for people, and plenty of hate for characters. Unfortunately, we will be spreading such ire today. What would our former post be without its companion piece? However, I would like to point out this post isn’t about bad characters or poorly written development, it is about characters we dislike for inherent flaws in their personalities. I would even argue, if I can passionately oppose a character that means they are actually written rather fully. Once again we are trying to explore what, if anything, it means to dislike a character with such fervor. This, much differently from the previous post, can get a bit hairy and quite intense at times. But we will do our best to be respectful. Maybe.

Continue reading

Fall of the House of Anime: Fall 2009 Anime Guide

It’s that time of the year again. You know, when everyone and their mother does a fall preview/review. So as to not be left behind, or because we were going to check these shows out anyway so why not get a blog post out of it, here we are. A new game we were playing this time around was pick an image that in no way represents the show. Remember the other rules for season reviews, we only watch the first episode and we only grab up shows that are brand spankin’ new this season.

If you were previously unaware I feel it is my duty to inform you that anime is over. Yup this is the final season of all of anime. No more after this. Pretty sad when you think about it. Oh wait. This may be a weak season but it is hardly the end of everything. I can’t say I went into this season super jazzed about anything but I can say I do see a glimmer of hope in a few series. But seasons like this will come every so often. We have had some great seasons lately so a less than spectacular season was a bit overdue. Still I will only start complaining when I don’t find at least 1 show to watch from any particular season. While there seems to be a good number of mediocre shows this season I hope we can help you find some shows that rise above the rest.

Letter Bee
(Winner of the Award for Most Stylish Use of a Bedazzler on a Hat)

Ah, Letter Bee. For some reason I feel that you will get the same reception in America that D.Gray-Man does. You are both stylish series with unique well thought out worlds and well made charters. But they are both not Soul Eater so no one cares. Letter Bee is set in the land of perpetual night called AmberGround. Letter Bees are mailmen who deliver items between the towns and are trained to fight the armored beasts that live in the wastes between. While on one of his mail runs Gauche Suede find a boy named Lag Seeing who has a package slip on him. So Guache takes it upon himself to successfully deliver the boy to his destination while they both brave the dangers on a sunless world. The animation is top notch and capture the feel of the manga quite well. Gauche is an engaging character so far with a gentle charm. Also I am very curious to see if they give any explanation to how this world came to be with it’s artificial sun and giant mechanical bugs.  They take a whole episode episode to go through half of the the first chapter of the manga. I appreciate the idea of faithfully adapting the manga but some things need to be sped up in animated form. I will probably just continue reading the manga but I might check back just due to the fact that it is legally streaming on the Internet.

I was looking forward to this show and then at the same time I wasn’t. For the most part I prefer to read Jump series, just because they often get so unwieldily long. However, Letter Bee may or may not fall into that pattern. The series has plenty of style to go around, and this is not lost in animated form besides it having a fairly good budget (the monster are CG-ified which I’m not a fan of though). I also really like the focus on these letter carriers, I’m not sure why maybe because it is just different. Unfortunately, while these things are cool, the first episode doesn’t do a great job of highlighting the actual story. It is rather slow-paced, with a large chuck of exposition in the middle, drawing out this first chapter doesn’t do anything for bringing in new watchers. Especially considering it only half-reflects what the overall plot is.

Nyan Koi!
(Winner of the Award for Best Chance to Get Scott VonSchilling to Watch Fan-subs)

Hooray for the power of lowered expectations. I went in thinking this was going to be a lame harem show with cat girls and fan-service. I got a bizarre comedy instead much to my pleasant surprise. This is the cat version of The 100 Lives of Black Jack Savage. Junpei Kosaka is allergic to cats so when he accidentally breaks the statue of a cat god he finds himself with a curse. He is able to talk to cats to helps facilitate him in aiding 100 cats in repentance. If he is not able to complete his task he himself will turn into a cat. Also Kaede Mizuno, the girl he likes from school is a huge cat lover in that Elmyra Duff way. The comedy is solid so far with some genuinely funny moments that made us both chuckle. The main problem on the horizon is if the show will stay funny or sink into horrible harem territory. There are a bunch of attractive girls that seem to hint that the show will go downhill but that is not necessarily the case.

Funnily enough, we watched this show first and it was a last minute addition to the list. We had a feeling it was going to be terrible but could maybe, sorta, be entertaining. Overall, we were kind of right. While the opening reflects everything I expected it to be, there in comes the terrible part, but the actual show was funny in moments. It has the potential to be a funny story about a boy who has to save his town (and the cats of said town) while trying to win the girl he is in love with at school. Junpei is a rather weird guy, but doesn’t fall either into the awesome or horrible human being category. And the girl of his dreams loves cats but her house is a dogs only place, so while I totally fault her for not loving those dogs, she was still okay. Then you watch the ending and you are back to the “Oh, yeah this is going to be a fan-servicy, harem show” parts. I liked this first episode, but I don’t trust it. It’s like it is lulling me into a sense of security and then will strike back!

Fairy Tail
(Winner of the Award for Most Light-Hearted Look at White Slavery)

Lets get this out of the way right away. All the cool kids have been saying that Hiro Mashima has been cribbing off of One Piece since he started writing Rave Master way before he started doing Fairy Tail. Lucy Heartfilia aka fake Nami is a summoner looking to join the prestigious Fairly Tail guild of wizards. After running into a phony member of the guild she is saved by a young man named Natsu Dragneel who is a skilled fire mage despite his goofy appearance. This is just another shonen show that follows the tried and true shonen formula. It is a fine formula that consistently produces many an enjoyable show but is also makes many a bland and boring show. While I feel that Fairy Tail will have it’s fans there was nothing that hooked me to continue watching. Lucy just struck me as a try a strong female character in a shonen show but feels more like a swing and a miss. Natsu and his blue talking cat, Happy did not stand out to me in any way what so ever. The fights were serviceable but did not pop with any excitement. Also the opening credits seemed really cheap as it was the level of in-show animation which is never a good sign of any sort of budget. A decent fix if you are thinking of picking up a new shonen show. But then again why not just watch Kekkaishi?

So since I kept hearing that this was a One Piece rip, I thought there was going to be pirates! It’s kind of pirate like but not and make everyone wizards. We even had to make the joke as we were watching the intro readying ourselves to hear about Gold Merlin (unfortunately this did  not occur). Lucy is the main character but you know this show is absolutely about Natsu. Lucy comes off as a not quite as clever as she thinks she is so most of this episode is spent with her bumbling things up and saying Natsu’s name whenever appropriate. Natsu reminds me more of Lina Inverse than Luffy, and that works to some extent. In fact, I found the show to have a much more Slayers vibe to it than anything else. But not as successfully since most of the gags fall flat and the fight seemed boring and too long since it was obvious Natsu was far superior. 

Armed Librarians – Book of Bantorra
(Winner of the Award for Repeatedly Talking about Meat)

There is a major lesson that the creators of Armed Librarians never learned. If the audience does not care about the characters they will not care about the complex mysteries surrounding them. In the world of Armed Librarians when people die they turn into stone tablets that detail the life of the person who left them behind. The Armed Librarians are an organization that protect these “books”. There seems to be a church group that that is feuding with librarians and is trying to gather the pieces of a book of one of their most important members. To show the church is made up of nasty dudes they use human bombs they call Meats. One Meat absorbs a fragment of the book the church is after. There are some other subplots but I don’t care. Everyone in the show looks like they were called into work while they were at a costume party were you got a prize for the worst outfit. The boss of the armed librarians is a woman who has the most incongruous bunny print cleavage shirt ever. The character you care most about is the unnamed human bomb who hardly gets any dialog. There might be a good story behind all this but I don’t care to find out what it is.

Truly, the main reason I wanted to watch this show was the title. After the opening, which I liked quite a bit, we are thrown into the midst of a battle which I assume we were supposed to be on the side of the eclectically dressed bunch. This became a running joke since no one seems to be dressed appropriately but like one random side guy. There was the throwing about of the word “meats” a lot. That’s about all that I remember about it, there was nothing worth thinking about. As far as first episodes go, I found this one poorly put together and trying much too hard to do much too much. And thanks to that connecting to anything or anyone on screen was virtually impossible. I have to agree the best character was the unnamed guy who appears for a totally of probably 2 minutes.

The Sacred Blacksmith
(Winner of the Award for Second-Best Use of Breasts in Combat)

Once, twice, three times a failure. Cecily Cambell’s father died so she took over as the guardian of her hometown. Too bad she is a useless female character masquerading as strong female knight. After she breaks her ancestral sword losing to a berserk knight she is saved by Luke Ainsworth a swordsman and blacksmith with a katana and his cute companion Lisa. When Cecily goes to Luke to reforge her sword he winds up saving her two more times from monsters unleashed on a local caravan. The animation is nice. Luke seems aloof but pleasant. Lisa is super cute and seems like a fun character. The problem is Cecily is a bottle of lame sauce all over this show. The only useful thing she does is block a fatal blow with her impossible shirt armor. If I felt she was able to grow as a character I would give this show a chance but I just get the feeling she is going to say the same unless mess she is at the beginning of the series. I love swordswomen so you have to go out of your way to make me dislike one. Good job The Sacred Blacksmith.

If there is a fantasy show coming out, I can’t help but give it a chance. Though truly, I didn’t really have any expectations going in. The episode starts with the end of a battle, which makes the ending of the episode less of a cliffhanger than they seem to realize. I rather liked Luke and his assistant Liza, they seem to have a very typical relationship of the quiet genius and his sweet supportive assistant. However, there is another piece to the puzzle, Cecily. Even though it is obvious that Cecily isn’t the brightest bulb, she still makes decisions that make no sense given her dialogue. She throws a tizzy about not being able to use any other sword but her family’s then turns around and wants Luke to make her a cool katana. She is very gung-ho which isn’t a bad thing per se, but the first episode gave me little confidence that she will ever back up her moxy with actual skill though I didn’t find this show without some bright moments.

(Winner of the Award for Best Documentary on Metal Disorders)

Wow. That was an unusual show. Ichirou Irabu is psychologist who helps patients with a  unique style. The first case is, Kouhei Yamashita, a trapeze artist that is suffering from insomnia and therefore cannot perform correctly during his act. I get the feeling that each week there will be another patient whose case tied in with one of the other cases. Next week seems to be the case of a government clerk we meet during this episode. That might not seem to unusual but first of all the animation is a strange mix of traditional animation, live action, and animation over live action, and some times all thee at once. Ichirou has two voice actors both male and female because he has three distinct forms that he switches from throughout the show. This show is distinctly for people who want to sit down and puzzle out why each shot is they way it is. What is the symbolism of each transition of Ichirou? Why Is Kouhei sometimes a man, sometimes a man with a bird’s head, and sometimes live action? This is not a show for everyone. Other than art house movie fans I am not sure who this it is for but if you are looking for something different here you go.

Hum, what to say about this…it is unique. With the combination of animation, stop motion, and live action there was always something visually interesting on the screen. At first the combination of styles didn’t strike me as purposeful but once you realize everyone is totally mental, it works much better. I was laughing hysterically when the Yakuza guy kept trying to poke out his eye but was continuously foiled by the goggles he was wearing. If saying that doesn’t tell you what kind of a show this is, well then nothing does. While it certainly adds something new to the canvas the show is not for me but I have to give it props on an artistic level.

Kimi ni Todoke
(Winner of the Award for Most Liberal Adaptation of The Ring)

If someone told me that Kimi ni Todoke was part of the noitaminA block I would have unquestioningly believed them. Kimi ni Todoke has fluid animation, great storytelling, lovable characters, and a strong but not exclusive appeal to a female audience. Kimi ni Todoke is the story of Sawako Kuronuma a socially awkward loner who is a dead ringer for Sadako from the Ring. Most everyone at school avoids speaking to the spooky girl until Shota Kazehaya tries connect her to the rest of the class. Could this be the start of a bit of romance between the most dashing boy and the scariest girl in the class? Production IG animates this series like it was Ghost in The Shell which is delightful for a shojo romance. Sawako is funny and charming and instantly has you rooting for her. We don’t learn a lot about Kazehaya directly though too much exposition but it is quite obvious why anyone would fall in love with him. The scenario is not particularly new but it is approached with such a refreshing grace that you can’t help but get sucked into this show. If they can keep up this energy and fun then this might be the show everyone is talking about this season.

I was struck by this show for a myriad of reasons, even before I had watched it. First, the manga has been talked about quite a bit though I haven’t had a chance to read it. Second, Production IG was working on the anime and if you take a look, Kimi ni Todoke isn’t their normal type of work. But that hasn’t stopped them from making a gem, they introduce you to Sawako, endear her to you, and make your hearts soar by the end of just one episode. Kazehaya is this wonderful combination of laid back and positive while still  not revealing too much of himself in this first episode. We, just as Sawako, will learn more as the story continues. This is a simple school romance story, but that doesn’t mean it won’t surprise you. It is subtle, but it takes these typical side characters and makes them break out of what you expect of them. Basically, an everything done right romance that makes it easy to declare: if I’m committed to watching one show this season, it’s Kimi ni Todoke.

Yumiero Patissiere
(Winner of the Award for Best New Excuse to Eat Cake)

This is a kids show and as long as you understand that can still mean enjoyable for everyone I think there is a lot to like here. Yumiero Patissiere has a simple, sweet, and richly delightful flavor just like the pastries in the show. Ichigo Amano has lived her life in the shadow of her sister the piano protege. Her only talents seem to be her extremely clumsiness and her incredible love of eating cake. After a chance encounter with a handsome pastry chef Ichigo realizes that her sense of taste would help her become an patisserie like her grandmother. So she sets off to become a pastry chef. This is just a heartwarming tale of discovering of talents and perusing your dreams. There is nothing super challenging so far in the show but it is not supposed to be filled with pathos and melodrama. It is supposed to leave you with a fresh and happy feeling and so far it has succeeded. There seem to be magical faeries in the opening but they have yet to appear. I am not sure how they are going to effect the dynamic of the show but I am sure they will just add more cute.

Let’s be very clear, this show is aimed at 8-12 year-old girls. Beyond Pretty Cure, few shows like this get released each season and the last time (Gokujou!! Mecha Mote Iinchou in the spring) was pretty horrifying. Yumeiro Patissiere however revitalized my faith. Ichigo is rather typical, she is very wide-eyed and cute and a little clutzy. But she has a very discerning palette, especially when it comes to pastry, but she doesn’t realize it’s a talent till she meets Henri (a totally hot blond chef!). This encounter, along with the memory of her grandmother, and her zealous mother push Ichigo in the right direction. It is unclear from the first episode whether or not this is a magical cooking show or whether the fairies seen in the opening are just a imaginary element, but either way this show has easy childlike appeal which is should, after all it runs in Ribon.

(Winner of the Award for Best Attempt at Bringing the Rat-Tail Back in Style)

CLAMP does another magical girl show about collecting items. I have a feeling that you will know what your opinion about Kobato will be after you read that sentence. Unless you never saw Cardcaptor Sakura in which case go and watch that and then come back. Kobato is a strange girl who must heal people’s hearts with the help and guidance of her stuffed animal companion Ioryogi. If she helps enough people she will be able to have her wish granted but she seems not be be from Earth so she does not quite get things that should be obvious. Other than that is has a light airy feel much like most of CLAMP’s fun works. Kobato is cute and Ioryogi has the comedic effect of being a demonic task master in a cute blue dogs body. This is not going to be the series that wins over people into liking CLAMP or magical girl shows. But for people who want a new CLAMP series or a new magical girl show I recommend it. I had a good time and look forward to seeing what Kobato’s wish is.

The premise seems quite simple, heal those who have troubled hearts. Through this Kobato learns about humans and life on Earth. It certainly has a very naive quality about it but at the same time I wouldn’t call the show young. We don’t yet know where Kobato hails from nor do we know her motives beyond wanting to go “somewhere.” But it’s obvious that she has the purest intentions and works hard to become helpful in order to aid the people she encounters. She is also randomly saved from wandering rapists by a guy who I can only assume is important later. I thought the show had charm but the dog was used overmuch. I can’t believe I just said that about a dog.

(Winner of the Award for Most Artistic Panty Shot)

Some shows never reach for the brass ring and still succeed at being thought provoking and exciting despite not trying to be intellectual or super innovative. 11eyes on the other hand shows up and does his job and punches out without standing out in any way what so ever. Kakeru Satsuki is an orphan with an overly elaborate eye patch and Yuka Minase is is wispy wanna be girlfriend who grew up in the same orphanage. They soon find that they keep slipping in and out of a strange parallel red tinged world filled with monsters. With mysterious students transferring to their class, strange girls stalking them, and armored knights talking about them it is obvious that they are going to be pulled deeper into some sinister. I can’t say anything really bad about this show but nor can I say anything good about it. The characters are all so very obviously from an erotic visual novel but none of them are horrible. There is a good deal of fan service. We get panty of Yuka shot so detailed the audience can tell if she has an IUD. The school nurses breasts bounce for no apparent reason other than to show how stacked she is. Maybe I can’t really even attempt to get mad at a show like this after watching Chaos;Head. My one word review is “Next”.

It’s obvious from the first scene of this show that it is walking in the footsteps of other shows which combine cute, cute, cute with gore and violence. Kakeru is an orphan high schooler (who somehow lives in a nice apartment) with a traumatic past and a very over-the-top stylish eye-patch. Yuka is his childhood friend on which he relies as well as protects. She is not totally dumb but not really that smart either, I’m not sure if Kakeru is smart, he just rarely talks. I’m not really sure what the plot is, but it certainly revolves around this violent mysterious past and how it will now come back. Oh and panty shots, definitely part of the plot. I was forgetting this show as I watched it.

Sasameki Koto
(Winner of the Award for Best Roundhouse Kick)

Yuri romance has finally come into it’s own when you can watch a generic yuri romance show. Ushio Kazama is a lesbian who loves cute girls but seems constantly destined to fall in love with other girls who want nothing to do with her. Sumika Murasame loves Ushio but does not have courage to confess fearing her rejection. Sumika keeps supporting her friend while suffering in silence. Narutaki put it best when he said this show would be an utterly boring and predictable romance anime if Sumika was a guy. Making her a girl does not make the story anymore engaging. Where as Aoi Hana immediately roped you in and made you want to know about the characters there is no such connection with the charterers in Sasameki Koto. It’s another show this season that is not bad it’s just not fun. I will state that there is no lesbian exploitation that I could see so far. If you need a yuri fix or a romance show in general it is serviceable but not extraordinary.

There has been quite a few lesbian centered shows popping up in the last few seasons, or at the very least with lesbian undertones. Sasameki comes out of the gate saying this is a show about two girls falling in love. Despite this strong intro, the show is rather bland and limp. I felt like I learned nothing about these characters in the first episode. Also, this is just random but Sumika looks almost exactly like Fumi from Aoi Hana. This show came off as extremely generic and making it two girls as apposed to a boy and a girl isn’t enough to set it apart (atleast not to me).