Series Review: Honey & Clover II

Posted by Demian @ 6:53 pm, September 29th, 2006

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We’ve had some good times Honey & Clover but now it’s time to say goodbye. I remember your first season, you were a young spry show based on a manga no one had heard of and all anyone knew was that the art style was different. However in short time you introduced us into a world of (almost) realistic characters and their various soap-operish troubles. The weekly insert singles didn’t hurt either. Yep in those first 24 episodes you mananged to hit all the right notes of character development, plot, and comedy (who didn’t laugh during Morita’s first antics in the first ep?). That’s why it’s so sad that I just can’t feel the same about your second outing as a tv series.

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Oh now it was still a good show, miles above the usual harem/fanservice crap we get, but still it felt different. These weren’t exactly the same characters we had come to know and love. Mayama seemed a bit too much like a creepy stalker/jealous boyfriend. Shuuji went from well meaning mentor to potential pedophile. Yamada almost started a relationship and then for some reason it fizzled out and was forgotten by the end. Takemoto, my favorite and the most realistic character on the show, was already grown-up and was quietly pushed to the side until the dynamics of the triangle-love showdown demanded him. I blame a lot of this on the nature of the story-arcs. In the first season plots were spread over several episodes and either gently moved on or came to a startling conclusion but we could still chart their progress. Season 2 abandoned this for character arcs, first a Yamada/Mayama arc, than Kaoru/Morita’s, and finally Hagu’s/Shuuji’s ending. The plot didn’t flow but stopped,started, and even sometimes literally moved across the world. What I mean to say is that there was a lack of gradual progression, we were expected to understand any new plot revelaton and go with it. In a reality focused show like H&C this doesn’t really work. I mean really who didn’t start going wtf! during Shuuji’s love confession? I still have no idea if he was speaking as a parent loving a child or a man loving a woman. I really don’t want to know.

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Though of course there were many aspects I liked. Mayama and Rika’s journey to Hokkaido was stunning from an artistic point of view, you could really feel the cold. It must be said this season did have much better and more stunning animation, though some of the characters looked weird in the later episodes. I especially enjoyed Kaoru’s little revenge arc, which, even though it had a lack of build-up, was still an extremely emotional story. Kaoru’s flashback to his Father and Tatsuo’s revenge ranks up with Takemoto’s bike journey as the most poignant and beautiful part of the series. And the Takemoto/Morita fight, if unrealistic, was still a joy to behold (I would love to see the H&C staff do more fight scenes). Also Hagu’s accident scene was brilliantly and suspensefully built up, though I feel it took the whole series in a rather bad direction.

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So in the end, in the eternal way of measuring all anime, would I recommend Honey & Clover II? Hell yeah. Even if it was inferior to season 1 it still wrapped up all the plot threads, no matter how weird they were, and gave us another fresh look at people we had come to love. I would also have to say H&C would be worth watching just for the animation and music. I’ve come to love Spitz through this series. I’ve heard Umino Chika gonna do a spinoff from H&C so that will be interesting to see. And will someone license this and manga already! Why the hell would you pick up Coyote Ragtime Show over this? I just don’t understand american companies. Also Takemoto’s replacement VA sucks! He can’t do monologues at all! Just so you know.

Nipponsei Weekly Review: Coyote Ragtime Show OST

Posted by Demian @ 6:53 pm, September 28th, 2006

This week’s dose of my slanted look at music releases related to me and reminders to all forgetful otaku of the excellent music your missing this week. Only one CD review this time, the Coyote Ragtime Show (CRS) soundtrack that I really shouldn’t look at since I didn’t finish the show but it’s worthy of some attention (and there’s nothing else that interest’s me).

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In the end CRS was a show that failed most expectations (including my own) after a glorious first episode, eventually becoming a rather mediocre show that will most likely be forgotten in a year (unless that rumour about a 12 sister’s spinoff is true). So it’s fitting that it’s soundtrack is also in a way mediocre, though like the show it too has some good spots that should be looked at more than once. The soundtrack, composed by Kameyama Kouichirou, mostly includes track focused around smooth jazz/big band and american western movie type sounds, with a couple of odd stuff thrown in. When the music focuses on it’s jazz roots is where it shines the most, those tracks are the kind that gather your intention when their on in the background ie. they sound like music not a bgm track. Sadly there are few of these tracks in this 34 track collection, making the rest sound dull in comparison. If anything this OST is worth the download only for a handful of songs, the rest, like much of CRS as a whole, being mostly disposable.

Favorite Tracks:
The Showtime - the jazz action track, with nice trumpets grabbing your attention in the refrain. Definately nice for those often boring action scenes.
Coastal Wind - a nice smooth jazz track. Nothing special but it hits the right notes for a jazz fan like me.
Struggle - another jazz action track (seeing a pattern?) that’s a bit more intense and fast-paced.
Gospel Swamp - included just for the novelty of a gospel song in japanese.
Stardust - a nice simple bluesy harmonica piece.
The Mistress & Baroque Battle - basically the same piece as one leads into the other. I’m a sucker for electronica orchestra music (you should see all the Castlevania tracks I have) and these songs are perfect, with the right mixture of pipe organ and synthesizer.

Other releases this week are:
Blood+ Original Soundtrack 2
School Rumble 2 Gakki Original Soundtrack - Yagami Ongakusai
Gintama Original Soundtrack

I think that’s all the releases as that’s all Nipponsei has on their tracker and future list. Nipponsei is where you can get all the music listed here and more. Now I’m off to cry tears of happiness that Shinsen released two episodes of Demonbane and tears of Sadness that I won’t be able to watch them till tomorrow.

Diebuster: Gainax you didn’t fail this time.

Posted by Demian @ 7:32 pm, September 26th, 2006

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FUCK YEAH!

And so my love affair with Diebuster ends, with the release of the final episode “The Story of Your Life”. A brief summary if you will before I go onto my random fanboy musings and nitpicking. Ok basically since the space monster is going to devour earth the big plan is to ram earth into the monster and destroy it through some black hole science/magic. So yeah doesn’t really make any sense but it does give our final battle a more galactic feel. Lark is the one that pilots planet Earth, but is stopped by Uber-Diebuster Nono who’s now taller than a fucking planet from all those robot monsters coming together. She tries some SUPER INAZUMA KICK! and BUSTER BEAMS! but they don’t really work and she starts getting blasted to bits. Lark stops being emo and pulls out some guts and hard work and pimps Dix-Neuf up to the next level. Pimped up Dix-Neuf and regular Nono do a INAZUMA DOUBLE KICK! and kill the monster. This causes a singularity with the monsters black hole that almost forms another big bang. Fortunaely Nono pulls an End of Evangelion and takes care of it. Unfortunatly this means she has to leave. It ends ten years later with Lark welcoming the original Gunbuster Girls home. Whew. Notice I only included the kick ass mecha parts.

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…ok you lost me.

On an emotional level this was definately a tearjerker for me. Mind you they were manly tears that flowed down my face when Nono had to leave. Ultimately Diebuster was (in the usual Gainax fashion) more about the individual loneliness of the characters than old school mecha action. Both Nono and Lark felt alone throughout the series, Lark from being Topless and Nono from not being a Nonoriri. Of course these roles were changed halfway when Nono became a God but still they both felt different from everyone else. it wasn’t until the end that they understood how much their friendship meant to eachother. In a way (and I hate to do this) Diebuster is an update of FLCL, with Lark being Naoto and Nono being Haruka(Mamimi?). Nono definately acts as a catalyst to make Lark more human and to grow up. Their both basically adolescent tales I guess, just one in space.

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These are the voyages of the USS Earth, It’s continuing mission to boldly go where no one has gone before.

Now to what I didn’t like, and this is solely focused on the final episode. The whole moving Earth idea is some of the dumbest shit I’ve ever heard. Just by moving the Earth out of orbit you basically destroy it’s whole climate/ecosystem. And then everythings alright just by putting it back in place? And the moon does not stay in orbit once you move earth. What do you think it fucking orbits around? Maybe some of you that actually study this stuff can make it plausible but it’s still shitty science. Very much ruined the mood I think, but then again we left realism a while ago back on Mars.

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Oh God Lark is Hot (in a completely non-loli way)!

In the end how do I rate Diebuster? I would have to say it’s one of the best sci-fi animes I’ve seen in awhile. They don’t make ‘em like this anymore. Nono is definately one of the cooler anime babes I’ve ever seen (most powerful too). Really need more redheads in jumpsuits. Gainax needs to go a release a fucking PVC of her already, and not a thousand dollar custom one like they got right now. Mad props too for the excellent music. You can just put it on in the background and play it for hours without getting tired of it. Sooo when’s Gunbuster getting released in the U.S.?

Monday Otakuisms

Posted by Demian @ 1:39 pm, September 25th, 2006

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Just another 4chan image. Anyone know who she is, as she looks badass?

Because I don’t want to copy Mathew’s title. Anyway some things to talk about today are:

- Shingo reports to me that Genshiken is indeed getting, if not a second season, then more episodes created to be sold as extra’s on the Kuji-Un DVD’s. Someone in Japan must be laughin right now ” Yes let’s make an anime that know no one really wants and give them what they do want as extra’s on overpriced DVD’s “. Sad thing is Otaku will eat this up anyways. Still it will be interesting to see how far they get with just three episodes to make.

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Thanks go to TJ-han for the awesome June pic (I think that’s her name).

- Coyote Ragtime Show ends with a massive release by GG. A short time later CRS is licensed and all subs are taken down. This makes a certain blogger ie. me insanely angry as he only mananged to download 10 and 11 before missing the final episode. However after hearing from other bloggers that the ending was made of massive fail, he has decided to let it go and forget that CRS ever existed. The only anime ufotable has ever made is Futakoi Alternative.

- Anime Nano podcast 10 was released and will be listened to later.

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Akagi’s badass. That’s all one needs to know about Mahjong.

- In personal anime news I am still eagerly awaiting the final episodes of H&C, Muteki Kanban Musume, and the end of Ouran Host Club. It’s weird how I only really followed a few series through the summer (Honey & Clover II, Ouran, MKM, NHK, CRS) along with sporadic watching of Tsuyokiss and desperately waiting for more ARIA episodes. The best things I watched weren’t even from the summer or spring seasons ie. Demonbane, Akagi, and Diebuster (another series I’m waiting for the final episode of). However I see myself watching many series in the fall, with a much more varied offering than the rather pathetic summer season. On a sidenote even though I don’t blog episodes I still have a backlog of NHK and other stuff. Must be because I’m naturally lazy. Also downloaded the Densha Otoko special which I’ll watch later. For those who missed it Moetron has both the raw and SRT file here. Sadly I probably won’t be able to watch it as I have a paper to write. Woe is the student’s life.

- Another sidenote: the Demobane ED song fucking RAWKS!

Plot? Character Development? In my Demonbane?

Posted by Demian @ 7:45 pm, September 24th, 2006

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Lol I am the bone of my sword.

As the title say’s after ambling around for a few episodes and generally parodying (or being) bad mecha shows Demonbane finally decides it actually has a plot and it’s time to kick it into high gear. So much shit goes down in ep. 7 it’s hard to find where to start, but I guess I’ll go with resident psycho badass Master Therion. Remember him? Last time we saw him he was kickin ass and takin names, namely Kurou’s as he owned his mecha with just his hands. Now it appears Therion is actually a big pansy that get’s killed by last episodes loli-shota. Man that sucks. Too bad his grimoire had to die, she was pretty hot. Of course Therion’s death is caused by all the member’s of Anticross (who I thought were already dead) deciding to revolt because Therion goes and summons Chutlu for god knows what. Interesting point, for being an insane old god that kills everything Chutlu only appears for two minutes as a disembodied tentacle before disappearing. Even if Demonbane does do plot it’s still pretty dumbed down.

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I know this is an eroge but do you really need to show her panties when she’s dieing?

The second biggest thing comes in character development for our young loli Al who decides she does love Kurou and actually kisses him. Al is the best pink haired loli tsundere ever. Take that zero Louise! Too bad after shortly proclaiming her love for dumb man Kurou she somehow dies protecting Kurou from loli-shota’s energy blast. Oh shi-! how the hell can a main character die in just the seventh episode? I have a feeling she’ll be back by next week though seeing as the preview shows a wacky ” Adventures of Doctor West and Robo ” installment. See? Demonbane can’t even have a plot for a whole episode.

Fanboy Review: Fate/Stay Night Anime Spiritual

Posted by Demian @ 10:39 am, September 23rd, 2006

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So maybe the Fate anime didn’t really meet everyone’s expectations, especially the game players, but it was still a good anime on it’s own that left you with a smile (or tears) at the end. To commemorate the anime is the Anime Spiritual, basically the anime’s fanbook. The best part of this book to me is that it includes all the different spreads that were put out during the anime’s run that appeared in all the magazines. I had no idea there were so many and I saw a few that I’ve never seen before, and have begun looking for wallpaper versions of. No luck yet. Though if you can actually read japanese there’s a lot more interesting stuff here probably, with episode by episode recaps, staff and VA interviews, and a Q & A section at the end with Ilya and Taiga that I think reveals the truth about Archer and Rin and Sakura’s connection for those who didn’t get it. A nice book to look through for any FSN or Typemoon fan I guess. The scanned book can be gotten at Moe, or if your a more honorable otaku can be bought at HLJ.

Here’s some of the new spreads I found that I’m looking for wallpaper versions. If anyone knows where to find them that would be great.

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Really like the lower left corner picture.

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Most badass Archer spread ever. Desperately want wallpaper of smaller spread.

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Awesome

Nipponsei Weekly Update

Posted by Demian @ 2:37 pm, September 21st, 2006

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Go Go Danbooru Search!

This is an update instead of a fullblown review, seeing how all the titles released this week are to series I haven’t watched and have no interest in. Still perhaps you’ll find something here that might interest you. That really is the point of this column, to alert people that these things are out there. So without further adieu this week’s releases:

Ah My Goddess Sorezore no Tsubabsa OST
Angel Heart OST - not yet released on nipponsei tracker
Angel Heart ED 1 Single - Dare ka ga Kimi wo Omotteru [Skoop on Somebody]
Angel Heart ED 2 Single - Daydream Tripper [U_WAVE]
Angel Heart ED 3 Single - My Destiny [Kanon]
Angel Heart OP 2 Single - Lion [Tamaki Kouji] anyone care to enlighten me what Angel Heart is and why it has so many releases?
.Hack Roots OST
Project BLUE Chikyuu SOS ED Single - Kaze no Ubugoe [solua]
Soul Link OST
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya - SOS Dan Radio Shibu Bangai Hen CD Vol.2
The Third ~Aoi Hitomi no Shoujo~ OST
Tsubasa Chronicle OST - Future Soundscape IV

As usual these and more can all be gotten at Nipponsei.