Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Thoughts on Naruto's Non-existent Romantic Aspects

First, let me just say that engaging in the speculation of romantic relationships that have yet to materialize is probably as nerdy as it gets for anime fans. So here goes:

I've been watching Naruto for a long time. I stopped after the filler episodes started and just recently picked back up with Shippuuden. I don't read the manga and don't ever plan too so I only know what's been shown in the anime and what Wikipedia has spoiled for me. So far I'm really enjoying the series and while Naruto has always skated the line of perviness, I feel like now there's a level of maturity that was absent before, providing us with an actual possibility of some relationships developing.

Naruto X Hinata (Naruta? lol.)

I found a million cute images of Naruto and Hinata so either they just have a ton of fans or the entire fanart community's talent is completely concentrated in NxH fandom. This is probably my favorite couple, because I feel like Sakura is more suited to Sasuke. Besides, Hinata is so cute and has always been Naruto's biggest supporter. She's really as angsty as it gets, I love her just for that. Adorable, twice she fainted. Twice. lol.

They haven't really done much with Hinata's character in Shippuuden but I imgaine that like all the other characters she's gotten a bit stronger, maybe more confident. Hopefully, they'll do something about the love story since they flashed forward something like 3 years, presumably then, they're planning to address their adolescence which love is invariably a part of. I really hope it won't be like Inuyasha* in this aspect, I'll die. Really.


Naruto X Sakura (Nakura :P)

Like I said, not a fan. Sakura is just more suited to Sasuke. Her character was written to be dismissive of Naruto in the first series, now, while she acknowledges his abilities she still doesn't seem to be able to like him in that way. She's still stuck on Sasuke, clearly. I really doubt anything will develop here.


Sasuke X Sakura (Saskura)

I can't wait to see grown up Sasuke in the new series. It's annoying that we're 41 episodes in and still nothing *sigh* but such is the nature of shounen anime. I'm guessing that if they ever address the love square that's been forming for 9 trillion episodes now they'll do it when Sasuke finally appears. I really hope they don't dodge the issue, or else it will be the permanent elephant in the room like the love triangle was in Inuyasha.

*Inuyasha - is the perfect example of how *not* to write a romantic storyline. I feel like Rumiko Takahashi is more concerned with prolonging her stories than character development or plot continuity. So fans never got a resolution on the issue of Inuyasha and Kagome's relationship in the anime and the manga has been dragging on for so long that I don't know anyone who reads it anymore. The second movie did have a kiss, and I'm 393842094% sure that was because Takahashi was overridden by the producers. I was keeping up with the manga for a while but the story gets old. I'd like to know what's going on now without having to read the however many chapters I've missed since the last time I read it. At least with Ranma 1/2 we got some iota of closure (even though, not really) but I feel like Inuyasha is just going to drag on FOREVER.

I stole all these images from google search and I couldn't find the artists' names so if you are the artist or know who is please let me know so I can credit them.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Vampire Knight To Be Animated!

Info from CoTRJF and ANN.

I'm pretty excited about this. As I've said before this is the only manga holding my attention right now in Shoujo Beat so I definitely welcome this development. I hope that the eerie darkness and subtle sexual tension translates well into animation, although I fear it might not. I have to admit that generally, when I read a manga first, it's difficult for me to like the animated version. I get annoyed if the characters don't sound like I had expected them to sound, or the colors don't look right, or if the music isn't what I would have imagined. Those problems definitely kept me from enjoying Peach Girl TV as much as I would have otherwise. I'm wondering whether I'll feel the same way about Perfect Girl Evolution when I *finally* see it. (Speaking of which, why didn't they ever animate Mars? Gah.) In any case it will definitely be something to watch out for late next year.


: )

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Lovely Complex Review

This series was very amusing. I didn't think I would be able to get past the height difference between the main characters. (Not that it would be a problem in real life but I watch anime to live in a little escapist world where every guy is a Tuxedo Mask, and I'm sorry but Tuxedo Mask is tall.) It's definitely a romantic comedy with more comedy than romance, but it's formulaic in the typical romance anime way. You know, they can't get together for *insert reason*, they finally get together, *insert rival*, they get over that one, *insert new rival*, it did lack the obligatory love triangle so it wasn't too awful. The formula-ness started about 2/3rds of the way through and it made it a little boring for me, probably because the comedy died down around those episodes as well. However, the first 2/3rds of the series was laugh-out-loud-bust-your-gut ridiculously hilarious. It was funny on par with Midori No Hibi
and Those Who Hunt Elves. It's definitely worth the watch. I think it would be especially accessible to people who aren't necessarily in it for the cheesy romance - although there was plenty of very sweet cheesiness. Shoujo Beat ran the first chapter of this as a preview a few months back, I might check out the manga but I'm kind of reluctant too because the anime had a pretty good conclusion. I don't really see how the story could expand any further than it did in the anime. I also keep hearing that the live action was just awesome so I definitely plan on getting that soon.

I'm taking a quick break from romance anime to catch up on Naruto Shippuden (lol yes I watch riff raff as well), but I'll keep the blog updated with news and my thoughts on romance manga. I'll probably watch Season II of the Japanese Hana Yori Dango Live Action after that. So many great romantic animes and dramas to look forward too. I'm also eternally waiting for Greencine to send me the first disc of Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge (The Wallflower or Perfect Girl Evolution) and the next disc of Kodocha. I have all the discs for Kaleido Star, which I was planning to watch during this school break but my parents DVD player doesn't read the discs. *sigh* .-.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Shojo Beat January 2008 Issue

I skipped the manga preview, Be With You, in this edition because it just didn't look very appealing to me. The only story that's really holding on to my attention is Vampire Knight, I suppose because I'm just partial to plot lines about girls and vampires/monsters/whatever. The other stories are loosing their luster. Absolute Boyfriend is dragging even though there was finally some progress in the story. SB even ran a nifty little article about making whoopee in manga. I found it amusing. Honey & Clover is cute, it's not difficult to read but I have trouble caring about the characters. Outside of the romantic interests, which in this chapter didn't get a lot of attention, I don't really care what happens to them. Also, the more I read the story the more I'm disturbed by the fact that this is a girl that looks like a child. It's kind of gross, and I'm having a tough time seeing past it being a form of sexual perversion. I can't suspend my disbelief enough to enjoy the story. Crimson Hero is also slowly loosing my attention. I generally enjoy shoujo sports stories, so I'm not really sure why I'm starting to feel this way. Probably because endless struggle stories become annoying when the characters NEVER get a break. I'll have to see if the next issue makes me feel the same way. Haruka, ugh, boring and difficult to read, plus I don't like the art style. As far as I'm concerned it's a bad knock-off until proven otherwise. It's hard to know what's going on the way the manga is drawn... the characters look too much alike? I'm not really sure, it might just be me though.

I was little disappointed with this issue.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Gakuen Alice Review

For a basic explanation of the plot line please see ANN.

I guess I'll start with my gripes. This anime, like so many others (>_>, <_< - Fruits Basket), has no resolution of the major plot points because the manga is still on-going in Japan. I'm not sure what's worse, incompleteness like this or the evil filler ala Naruto and Bleach. This is especially frustrating in a series like this or Fruits Basket because so much of what's going on plot-wise is completely dependent on some secret that has to be revealed about the past. The audience is left hanging. In GA you get all these references to another student who had the same Alice as Mikan, and how there was a rebellion at the academy because of her... you do end up finding out who that person was but you never find out what happened or why. Many of the 'mysteries' that get explanations, like Natsume's weird MI5 job, are hurried, and well - unconvincing. It wasn't as frustrating in Gakuen Alice because the episodes are mostly stand alone and not necessarily dependent on each other, although there is some semblance of a loose plot line. The series did have a closed resolution, meaning a single story arc was concluded at the end. It reminded me of a season closing in an anime that has multiple seasons.

Gakuen Alice is about as shoujo as a series can get formula-wise, Cute/Stupidly Sweet/Ditzy Girl finds a Closed off/Walled Up/Mean hero type - he says stay away, she doesn't, insert angst here, insert angsty scene where character A falls on character B here. Think, Sailor Moon, Fruits Basket, Kodocha. Cute stuff, I mean this is what I love - but it's probably not for the non-angst loving set. I found this anime to be very similar to Fruits Basket, seemingly happy, but dark characters with strange secrets unlocked by a happy go lucky ditzy girl, then they fall on each other and get red-cheeked. The main difference between the two is that Fruits Basket spent a lot of time on Tohru's interactions with the male members of the Zodiac (at least in the anime) and Gakuen Alice concentrates a lot on Mikan's friendship with Hotaru, which I found boring. Ultimately, I was watching for the cuteness and the subtle angstiness. This isn't a romance in the traditional sense. Mikan doesn't understand her own feelings which I think is a cute twist on the typical romance schema, although there is a little barely nascent love triangle that's squeal worthy. It has its moments. I did enjoy the references to Alice in Wonderland (their currency is called 'rabbit' and their powers are Alices). I think all the things that are absent in the anime are probably explored more fully in the manga, especially as far as character relationship development is concerned. I do plan to read it, hopefully there will be a second season.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Gakuen Alice Manga to be Released this Month by Tokyo Pop!


Yeeeeay! I'm pretty excited about this, I'm definitely going to start collecting it (even though it's 14 volumes long -.-') I just finished the anime and was a little disappointed to find that there isn't very much closure and they don't really explain somethings - a la Fruits Basket - so like with FB I'll have to turn to the manga. What really sold me was a spoiler I read on another blog, Otaku Shrine, that's going to turn the angst level up on GA to super squeal: read at your own risk.

I'll do a review on the anime once I'm done with finals which are consuming my soul right now.

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Great Anime Tragedy of 2007

Getting back into anime is sort of depressing. I've forgotten so much of what I used to know, I almost feel like I never knew anything about it. Even catching up on the recent stuff is overwhelming, so much has happened since I've been on hiatus. I decided to begin my endeavor by booting up the old computer (which had been on permanent rest until I could get a new DVD burner to transfer the information from the hard drives). I was really afraid of using this computer too much and losing all the data, something like 400 gigs worth of anime. It was just a feeling that something awful was going to happen. I go out buy a burner and sit down to begin the transfer process. I move my files from documents and settings to desktop and bam, their gone. I got a recovery program. I got all the files back but now I can only see the first 10 or so seconds from each recovered episode. I was able to identify some of the stuff that I lost (Live Action Sailor Moon, Negima, Air, Anne of Green Gables among them), others I'm just completely baffled as to what they are. I'm going to take screen shots post them of A4 and here. Hopefully someone can identify them for me and I can go about trying to download, buy, or rent them.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The WallFlower (Perfect Girl Evolution) Anime to be Released on December 18th!

This is apparently old news but I just found out today. The Wallflower is available on ADV's site for 15 bucks if you pre-order. I totally would buy this I can't justify the expense due to my abject poverty as a student. This is the only manga I kept up with during my hiatus (I even stopped reading Furuba). It's angsty, but substantively lacking in actual romance. I never get tired of Sunako's nose bleeds, seriously hilarious. Check out ANN for the info.

I'm glad I'm coming back just in time to see all these great mangas being animated.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Shojo Beat

I've been a Shojo Beat subscriber since the inception. I originally ordered it because I had been reading Zettai Kareshi on Shoujo Magic, and when rumors started circulating that it would be serialized in a monthly for the U.S, I had to subscribe. I enjoyed some of the other serials as well Crimson Hero (which I hadn't read before SB, but loved Mitsuba Takanashi's other series The Devil Does Exist), God Child, and Nana. I absolutely detested Kaze Hikaru and Baby & Me. Actually I was a little confused why they picked these at all. I imagine they were cheaper to license, but really if you want a new concept, like a monthly manga magazine, to take off then why not pump it up with some of the really popular stuff. The fan base already exists on the net, it wouldn't have been difficult to find out what people would have wanted to see in SB.

Overtime they got rid of those, and most recently they've exited Baby & Me. I can't imagine that many people were into those particular stories. I wasn't too pleased when they stopped running God Child, but I've never been a huge Kaori Yuki fan so I got over it. To my chagrin they also stopped running Nana, they claim it is due to the exponentially more explicit content of the next few volumes. It's frustrating because I don't want to start collecting Nana when I've already read at least 8 volumes of it in Shoujo Beat. I always buy manga that I enjoyed as a scanlation but I pay for Shoujo Beat, and while I want to support manga publishers, I rather spend money on a story I haven't already spent money on. And I don't want to buy a series without also getting the earlier volumes.

I have my gripes but I do like the new format of the magazine, it seems they are running short stories, like Yume-Kira: Dream Shoppe and Backstage Prince in addition to the longer serials. But I'm a little afraid that they will keep up with the habit of exiting serials mid-way through... even though I'm happy to see the ones they've dumped so far go (minus Nana and God Child), I hope it's not going to become a marketing tactic. Like crack, they get you hooked on a story line then pull it from the magazine and tell you to go buy the books.

Right Now Shoujo Beat is running these stories (with links to Wiki), as you can see only 2 stories from the original run remain:

Absolute Boyfriend (Zettai Kareshi) - by Yuu Watase (author of Fushigi Yuugi, Alice 19th, Ayashi No Ceres, and Imadoki.)

I love this series, well I love all of Watase's manga and anime. Of course there's a love triangle, an essential staple of Watase's work. The story is dragging a little in the same way that Ceres did, although probably for different reasons. I was violently opposed to Tooya as a love interest in Ceres. Here, really Riiko can end up with Night or Soshi and I'd be equally pleased. >.<

Crimson Hero (Beni'iro Hero) - by Mitsuba Takanashi (author of The Devil Does Exist)
I usually get really into these sports based manga, which really seems counter intuitive because I'm not reading this stuff for the sports action... I'm only here for the angst. This story does a good job of combining both. Annnnd of course there's a love triangle, not sure who I like the most yet.

Harukanaru Toki no Naka de - Hachiyō Shō ("In A Distant Time: Hachiyō Chapter") - by Toko Mizuno
Hmm. I've only read a chapter of this so far (I have yet to read the November and December volumes of SB). I have to say I'm a little suspicious of it because it was based on a video game (and I absolutely always hate anime based on video games without fail) and this series is remarkably similar to Fuushigi Yuugi. SB is kind of treating that as the elephant in the room, when I feel like they should just address it. I realize that the legend of the four gods comes up in a lot of Japanese and Chinese manga, anime, and movies and I don't know anything about Chinese mythology, I also don't know which manga came first but its just too similar for me. I'm giving it a chance though.

Honey and Clover (Hachimitsu to Kurōbā) - by Chika Umino
I read a few chapters of this when it was being scanlated. I'm not all that into the art style. The main protagonists are college boys, as opposed to highschool girls and while I do enjoy some unconventional shoujo, I like my stereotypical cheese. With that said, this manga is genuinely laugh out loud funny.

Sand Chronicles (Suna-dokei) - by Hinako Ashihara
I'm really enjoying this series so far... it's really angsty sprinkled with some heart tugging - love it. (and again, love triangle.)

Vampire Knight - by Matsuri Hino (author of MeruPuri)

This is probably my favorite series running right now. Vampires, weird love triangles, shady pasts = awecome. It reminds me a lot of Love Monster by Riko Miyagi, but a lot darker and less sexually explicit. Good choice on this on SB!

*sigh* If they do keep changing stories I would love to see them run something by Arina Tanemura (author or Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanna and Full Moon Wo Sagashite) or Wataru Yoshizumi (author of Marmalade Boy, Handsome Girl, Kimi Shika Iranai, Ultra Maniac, Random Walk, and Mint Na Bokura.)

(I'm planning on doing monthly SB reviews, I'll update again when i finish reading November and December 2007)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Gakuen Alice

I was watching this anime long ago before law school started, and because I've decided to get back into anime, I'm returning to this one first.

Gakuen Alice has 26 episodes and deals a special academy for children with super powers called "alices". The concepts are pretty standard here: sort of ditzy magical girl has a smart best friends and is mercilessly teased by the mean boy with a dark past. (If he were older would probably be a bishie.) You get all the basic themes of valuing friendship, family, integrity blah blah etc. This is a cute show and great for people who long for Fushigi Yuugi/Sailor Moon type plot lines. There is a considerable amount of angst between Miki and Natsume, although no real romance yet. I'll have to finish the series to decide what I ultimately think about it but so far it is worth the watch. It has yet to be released in the US but you can download it here.