Anime Rec I – Best Girl Contest

      Usually, anime fans are a peaceful bunch. However, whenever their waifu is concerned, they are suddenly aggravated, for reasons that other people don’t understand. I’ve only picked three anime for this category, and they all belong to drastically different genres. There are mecha, love comedy, and love triangle shows. They all point out to the one truth, though. That is, as otaku, if two people have different waifus, there are no way they get along!

 


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True tears

MAL score: 7.5 (link)

TV (13 eps)

Summary: Living under the same roof with the girl he has a crush on should be a dream for Shinichirou, but the reality is closer to a nightmare. At school, Hiromi is bright, athletic, and popular. But at home, she is a completely different person. She is cold and distant.

One day at school, a weird girl named Isurugi suddenly takes an interest in Shinichirou. She loves raising chickens, especially Raigomaru, who she is convinced can fly. Thus begins a strange relationship where Shinichirou helps to resolve her problems, while he tries to figure out his own feelings toward the strange girl, Hiromi, and his childhood friend, Andou Aiko…

Comment: Are you constantly bothered by the fact that the childhood friend heroines lose 99% of the time in the anime world? Well, look no further!

Even though True tears is limited by its high school setting, it does its job well despite of that and provide us with a pretty good teen romance show that has solid portrayal of characters’ subtle emotions. If you like love triangle shows, this just might be your thing.


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Macross Frontier

MAL score: 8.0 (link)

TV (25 eps)

Summary: In the year 2059, a young pilot trainee named Alto Saotome and his colleagues are preparing to perform an accompanying routine for the famous singer Sheryl Nome. During the performance, an alien species known as the Vajra make a sudden appearance, crash-landing near the concert venue, plunging the entire city into chaos. As the concertgoers evacuate, a young girl named Ranka Lee is left behind and gets targeted by the Vajra, but she is saved at the last minute by Alto. Following these events, the Strategic Military Services program notes Alto’s skill in battle, resulting in his recruitment to combat the new alien threat.

Comment: Nowadays, interest in mecha anime is dwindling. There are probably only two things that help us remember this show. It is one of the few anime that managed to sell 40,000 hard discs on average, and it is also the supplier for a certain meme. Well, we will talk about that later.

Macross Frontier tells a stand-alone story in the expansive Macross franchise. There are several classic anime series that came before, and afterward (bad) shows like Macross Triangle would still come out. While the plot in Macross F is not extraordinary, it has an excellent pacing that make us engage with the story. Moreover, I bet you won’t believe this is a show from 2008 based on its animation alone. The awesomeness of watching giant mecha making fireworks in space, along with the heroines passionately singing, will certainly give mecha fans a unforgettable experience.

I digress. This is a best girl contest, right? So I will talk about the heroines. First heroine, Sheryl, a galactic star, tsundere yet honest, also loves MC very much. Second heroine, Ranka, a deput star, cute, and is willing to work hard for her dream of becoming a singer. Did I forget to mention that she also love MC very much? This kind of multiple choice question has troubled millions of male anime protagonist, however, Alto-kun was able to resolve this situation with ease.

After all, “You two are my wings.” That’s what he said.


oreimo

Macross Frontier

MAL score: 7.6 (link)

First Season + ONA (16 eps), Second Season + ONA (16 eps)

Summary: Kirino Kousaka embodies the ideal student with equally entrancing looks. She works as a professional model alongside her best friend Ayase Aragaki, who abhors liars and all things otaku. But what Ayase doesn’t know is that Kirino harbors a deep, entrenched secret that will soon be brought to light.

At home one day, Kyousuke, Kirino’s perfectly average brother, stumbles upon an erotic game that belongs to none other than his seemingly flawless little sister. With her reputation at stake, Kirino places a gag order on her sibling while simultaneously introducing him to the world of eroge and anime. Through Kirino, Kyousuke encounters the gothic lolita Ruri Gokou and the bespectacled otaku Saori Makishima, thus jump-starting an entirely new lifestyle.

Comment: Without a doubt, oreimo looks like your typical harem anime. While that is a large part of what it is, it also uses this cliched setting to delve into a social commentary of otaku lifestyle. It goes without mention that this is a highly controversial show. The best girl contest among the heroines (which is HUGE at the time) was part of it, but it also because oreimo covers some sensitive topics within the otaku culture. At its conclusion, the author brought us a shocking ending, and no matter if you come to despise or like it, it is a conclusion that makes you remember this show.

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My Anime Recommendations by Categories (in 2018) – Intro

Hello, everyone. It’s been a long time since I posted anything on this blog. In an effort to revive it, I am going to share some of my “classic” anime recommendations, organized by my own quirky categories. These shows may not be the best of the best, but I think they are interesting enough in their own right. Besides, they tend to be fairly high ranked on MAL.

There is one restriction that I attached onto making my list. That is, it has to have an “ending”. Whether it followed the source material’s conclusion or had an original end, it has to give some sort of closure to the audience. If it is a big IP and scheduled to end very soon, that’s okay too.

Each anime rec will take the format below:

- Romanized Japanese name (& English name)
 - MAL score
 - MAL page link
 - Anime in the series by name

- Summary

- Personal comments

(pros and cons, not suitable for [certain groups]...)

(other information)

PS: MAL is the short name for myanimelist.net, the world’s largest anime database and community.

Fantasy Novel Review – The Riyria Revelations

Today, I will be writing about my thoughts on a fantasy fiction trilogy that I just finished, The Riyria Revelations by Michael J. Sullivan. So yeah, this is going to be another English fantasy novel review, instead of an anime/manga one. I will probably get back to those soon. Cross my fingers on it.

Goodreads Link

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THEY KILLED THE KING. THEY PINNED IT ON TWO MEN. THEY CHOSE POORLY.

There’s no ancient evil to defeat or orphan destined for greatness, just unlikely heroes and classic adventure. Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, are two enterprising rogues who end up running for their lives when they’re framed for the murder of the king. Trapped in a conspiracy that goes beyond the overthrow of a tiny kingdom, their only hope is unraveling an ancient mystery before it’s too late.

Before I dig into the books, I want to say something about the current, “grimdark” trend of English fantasy novels, spearheaded by George R.R. Martin‘s A Song of Ice and Fire series. Suffice to say, I am not a big fan of the current trend. Before you guys label me as blasphemous for not being a fan of novels like A Song of Ice and Fire, let me explain myself. Yes, I don’t like books that just spew out cliched concept good defeat evil, hero wins the day and get the girl stuff anymore than you do. Certainly, a lot of books haven’t that much imagination and it seems that they are just using a template to write. However, that doesn’t mean we have to swing to the other extreme direction and have heroes always be the fodder, always suffer, and characters that readers like never getting any sort of good ending. I don’t know about you guys, but I am reading these mainly for escapism purposes (If you are looking for a great tragedy, try books like The Crucible, Antigone, 1984, etc. I read them in my high school English class). It’s a good thing that this series, The Riyria Revelations, is neither so fairy-taled nor such a grimdark-wannabe that likable characters always experience hell.

One thing that I have to admit is that The Riyria Revelations series does contain a lot of setting that is considered cliched in the fantasy genre. Nevertheless, that does not mean the series handles its setting in a cliched way. For an epic fantasy novel, tropes like elves, a powerful church authority, the lost heir, banned magic, a mysterious distant history are mixed together and combined in a new way that made the story seems fresh, so that the series feel familiar and new at the same time. Of course, there is also a good, continuous story, a good character cast, and nice pacing.

The biggest treat offered by this series is exactly its plot-twist factor. There are so many plot twists that you never know what to expect next. Every time you discover something new, you are faced with even more mysteries and unknowns. This series ground its plot twist on well thought-out foundations in that usually there are numerous seemingly unimportant details to foreshadow any mysteries unveiled later. There are six chronological and very-much related episodes working together to tell a cohesive story. Unlike most books that loses its momentum as it veers toward its conclusion, this series culminate into an ultimate plot-twist toward its ending.

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Of course, it is not without its flaws. The series start off slow in its first book, and make it seem that the story might be told in an episodic fashion.  Although it starts off with mainly just the perspective of the main character duo thieves and the princess, as the story progresses more and more POV are introduced. Like many other books, sometimes reader do not care for the other POV as much as the protagonists’ because there is hardly time to feel attached to the new narrators. Luckily, the three main characters’s perspectives always take the spotlight and the majority of the story-telling. The other perspectives serve to giving additional information to the main story line, rather than telling a story of its own.

Finally, the characters cast is great. The cast is humorous, round, varied, quirky, and all of them are flawed in different ways. Yet despite their flaws they try to overcome them, and to become better persons. I am not going to lie and say there is no character death, but trust me in that it is a relatively happy ending. Oh, did I mention that there is several adorable romance sub-plot as well.

Overall, The Riyria Revelations takes numerous tropes from the epic fantasy genre and melted them into a new, fresh story, supported by a good pacing, interesting characters, and one whole story told by a trilogy. Of course, the greatest strength is its ability to drive home the surprise factor produced by its well-foreshadowed plot twists that slowly reveal the truth of the present and what happened in the distant past, hence its name Revelations. I would give the whole series a score of eight out of ten (8/10), which is a pretty good score from me.

Fantasy Novel Review – The First Law series

I am pretty surprised to find that I haven’t been posting here for exactly one year. I might try to improve on that pretty soon. Today, I write not about ACG related topics, but rather about a English fantasy novel series that I just purchased and finished. The name of the series is The First Law series, by Joe Abercrombie. This review will contain some non-specific spoiler-ish comments.

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To understand where this series stand on the grand scheme of things, we must first understand what is meant by a deconstruction piece. A deconstruction piece is a work that at first seems to use tropes and stereotypes coming from a genre, but later subvert audiences’ expectation of that genre completely but doing the unexpected. This is exactly what this series is, and it is quite different from the gritty realism found in fantasy works such as Song of Ice and Fire. In deconstructional works, the author relies on the shock factor of audience realizing what is happening is different from what is expected as a central plot device. Ironically, simply by understanding that this series is a deconstruction work would probably lessen that shock value. Granted, a truly good deconstruction piece will still hit you in an unexpected way, even if you were sort of expecting it.

To start off, one noticeable aspect about this particular series is that it always use multiple perspective narrative with 3 (or more) protagonists. This has its advantages and disadvantages. While it does make the story more expansive to narrate from multiple perspectives, and the author does a great job in using difference in narratives to characterize characters, the pacing of the narrative really suffers from the drag, especially because there aren’t a lot of action in this series . Moreover, it becomes considerably harder to get attached to the narrators, and in a few cases, never. Multiple perspectives story-telling usually become successful when the narratives are intertwined, telling just one event from different angles. This is decidedly not the case here.

Characters, most of them heavily flawed, are not at all what they seem. While some of the roles of main characters seem to correspond to those found in a typical epic adventure fantasy story (a guiding wizard, a boy king-to-be, a seasoned warrior, etc), one can’t help but notice subtle differences right away (non-virgin young hero’s love interest, cowardly and complacent hero, etc). I already said that this series is a deconstruction piece and defined the term for you. If you are still hanging on the hope that the story will end with typical happy endings and can’t tolerate a single main good character’s death, well, perhaps you are not ready for this yet.

So how is this series in terms of a deconstruction piece? I’d say it is a solid read, and successfully breaks apart a reader’s expectation of a classic epic hero-save-the-world-and-get-the-girl adventure story with some war, politics, and magic involved. While the story has resolved the majority of the mysteries, containing no major plot hole, I feel like the author wrote the story for the sake of writing a deconstruction fantasy work. That is, the series lacks something extra that distinguishes it from just a deconstruction story. The shock value could have been larger with more setup; the human drama could have been more gripping; the author could have planned for a couple more books as a direct sequel that further drives its characters to despair…… I suppose you get what you get.

The First Law series try to subvert some of the most popular stereotypes and tropes in the fantasy/adventure genre, and for the most parts does it successfully. Do keep in mind, though, as more and more deconstruction works are written, they themselves can create new stereotypes and tropes, and can only remain as unique series if there is something extra to the story. Personally, this series is far from the masterpiece that its fans would like to claim it to be, but at least it deserves three and half stars.

rating for the series: 7.5/10

 

 

 

Cross Medium Recommendations (1)

Hi, been a while since I last posted on this blog. I’ve been planning this post for a while, and hopefully it will be interesting. Today, I will bring you guys several recommendation across ACGL (anime, comics, galgame, and light novels) spectrum.

It is usually easy to seek recommendation in the same medium. For example, for anime rec, you can just pop into myanimelist’s recommendation forum and ask for rec according to your criteria. The same goes for manga, light novel, or visual novel; you just have to ask in the relevant forum. However, one thing that I’ve rarely seen is recommendation from one medium to the other. To give an example, if I liked Code Geass, can I find similar stories in VN or light novel…?

I am going to tell you, yes, absolutely.

Moreover, all recommendation that I am going to enumerate here are considered classics in their own respective fields. Even if you have never experienced a particular medium before (probably visual novel/galgame or light novel), this is a good place to start.

1. Gintama & Futurama

Gintama (anime/manga)
Futurama (cartoon)

So despite what I said, I decided to start off my first recommendation with a Japanese anime and an American cartoon. Well, anything goes, right?

Gintama started as a manga in 2003, and was since adapted into anime in several seasons starting from 2006. Futurama debuted on TV way back in 1999, and came to an temporary halt in 2001 after just 4 seasons. The series is revived on TV, however, in 2007, and aired 3 more seasons until its finale in 2013. At first sight, one can immediately observe that both shows have 2 main male characters, with 1 main female character, in their posters. Of course, the similarity doesn’t just stop there. Both are episodic comedy parody series that follow one principal and one principal only: anything goes.

The setup allows for such flexibility in story-telling. In Futurama, the protagonist, Fry, is a 20th century man who was frozen and essentially time-traveled into the 31st century. He had no choice but to work in a universal delivery company, exploring the most dangerous part of universe on an everyday basis. In Gintama, the protagonist, Gin, is an Edo Samurai whose entire country has been invaded and occupied by Amanto, or space aliens. As he has lost his job as samurai, he opened a yorozoya house, where he and his team do all kind of odd jobs upon request. Already, both shows have such broad and crazy setup. Literally anything can happen, so you’d never know what to expect, ranging from popularity contest, space conquering, holiday gathering, to sudden, emotional flashbacks. Normally, I don’t like to watch episodic series in that they lack a coherent main story line, but pure comedy parody series with such crazy setup are an exception.

Parallels in how characters are presented also draws affinity between the two series. The protagonists, at first, seem to possess all kinds of negative qualities that a human being could have, spending their days lazing around the neighborhood. Unlike the deluge of Mary-Sue protagonist that seem to encompass all positive qualities in shows nowadays, Fry and Gin are usually lazy, sometimes dumb, indulging in bizarre habits, occasionally revels in others’ misery, and always draw the short end of the stick in life. However, this is only on the surface. As the shows progress, audience will discover that, actually, there are a lot of good points about the protagonists and their entourage. This stark contrast is always done in powerful ways, making the characters real humans instead of characters endowed with many good attributes.

Finally, both series share the element of trying to make fun of everything that is waiting to be ridiculed, from our everyday habits, customs, culture, to just ways of how humans interact with each other, in a non-aggressive, fun way. Of course, Futurama mostly makes fun of American culture, while Gintama do Japanese, so it is sometimes hard to catch the humor if you are not familiar with the particular culture. Still, the key point is that there is so much comedy in both that you’d at least be able to catch some, and it would still be very funny. Ultimately, through their ridiculing of human nature, we could perhaps learn something about ourselves, and change for the better. I am very serious when I say this.

2. Code Geass & G-senjou no Maou

Code Geass (anime)
G-senjou no Maou, or Devil on the G-string (visual novel)

If you are an anime fan who is still active in recent years, you’d probably already watched an original anime called Code Geass, or at the very least, heard about it somewhere. Now, if you really absolutely loved Code Geass, right after you finished the anime you’d probably feel a big void in your heart. Where else can one finds such an entertaining and gripping tale of revenge, fraught with tension and theatrics? Some would, rightly so, suggest the anime Death Note. Of course, it doesn’t take a detective to see the similarities between them. Still others would recommend the anime Guilty Crown, written by the same script writer. In this case, one would disappointingly find that the similarities remain limited, if not only on the surface, with setup such as the king’s power, big robots action, blah blah blah. Today, I am going to take you guys on a different path. If you broaden your horizon, you will find that there is this one popular visual novel called G-senjou no Maou (Devil on the G-string) that will definitely satisfy your thirst for Code Geass.

What makes Code Geass so endearing is definitely not the mecha action. It is the drama, the theatrics, the high amount of tension, how characters pull ridiculously impossible yet brilliant moves against their opponents, and of course, Lelouch. Unfortunately, Lelouch is not in this visual novel, but we get the next best thing: a charismatic, mysterious criminal mastermind, self-styled Maou, or Devil, whose identity is shrouded in mystery even from the audience.

Instead of royal offspring acting as commanders trying to outwit one another in the battlefield as in Code Geass, we dig deep into the world of terrorist and yakuza in G-senjou. As the adopted son of a mafia boss, the protagonist, Kyousuke, obey his father’s every bidding. His peaceful day as an yakuza-in-training is disrupted when two individuals suddenly showed up in the city, a beautiful girl named Haru and an internationally powerful mafia known only as “Maou”. And so, along with Haru, Kyousuke begins an deadly cat-and-mouse game with maou, in an epic game of wits.

Without going into more details, I am going to assure you that the two stories are most similar in that they have the same “feels”. The suspense is there. A lot of mystery needed to be uncovered. Characters engage in deadly games of wits against each other, with high stakes. They pull off huge stunts when one least expect it. Some comic relief here and there, and then bang, plot twist again. Although the story is prone to some minor plot holes with careful inspection, just like Code Geass, the story overall is very well written and executed in a good pace. The conclusion ends in the most dramatic fashion possible.

Oh yeah, and did I mention that the voice actor for both Lelouch and Maou is Furukawa Jun?

For more info, refer to this post https://bunny1ov3r.wordpress.com/2015/01/24/first-experience-with-visual-novel-an-attempt-at-g-senjou-no-maou-review/

PS: I really meant to include a couple more recommendation in this post, but I got really lazy and still wanted to publish it today. I’ll call this post part I. Hopefully the next part will come soon with more interesting recommendation across mediums. 

Saiteihen no Otoko

Since I run out of review-worthy recently-watched anime, I am doing a manga review today, always for manga that was completed.

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Murai Masahiko (16) has a fetish for the smell lingering around a scumbag in his class. One day, a beautiful girl named Mizusawa Haruka transfers into his class, but when they start dating he spills the truth: “Mizusawa Haruka died 5 years ago…” Who the hell is she!? What are her intentions!? The heart pounding suspense horror Scumbag Loser begins! (Source: Batoto)

First off, if you are just looking for a happy-go-around romance/slice of life manga, stay the fuck away from this one. Saiteihen no Otoko is noticeably different from the majority of other manga because it actually tries to be a true horror story, with messed up contents. This is quite rarely seen in the medium of manga and anime.

The story is relatively short, with only 14 chapters and approximately 40 pages in each. There are however a tons of narrative contents told in mere 3 volumes. The pages are filled with twists and turns, leaving readers on the edge of their seats. The manga never loses its intensity, though there is a departure of tone in the second half of story, opting for a less scary but more “shounen” tone. Compared to numerous similar mystery manga that I’ve read (with shitty ending), it actually gives a great finish. At least I found it satisfying and not pulled out of nowhere.

Being a psychological horror story, there is a heavy focus on MC’s (unstable) state of mind. I myself am not a “scumbag loser” like MC, but even I can see the loser characteristics are exaggerated. Still, it’s entertaining (in a shounen way) to see how even a person who resides at the bottom of social hierarchy can exhibit moments of heroism, at crucial moments.

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I don’t think I can do a better job of commenting on the art than what is shown by the two pictures so far. Scared yet?

[Fyi: itadakimasu means bon appétit]

tl;dr

Overall, for its satisfying story, unique art style, and generally decent execution, I award it with a 7.7/10.

RECOMMENDATION

Recommended to readers who want to read an actual horror story in manga, or anyone who want to take a break from the mass of ecchi harem.

Don’t even attempt this if you feel disgusted to the point of throwing up simply looking at the two drawings from this manga.

For ultimate recommendation, I point you to Ibitsu, also a short horror story.

 

 

High School of the Dead

Time to talk about everyone’s second favorite ecchi show!

HotD

A mysterious, lethal disease is on the loose worldwide, resulting in a catastrophic death rate of humanity, and the increasing rise of attacks, caused by the living dead. In Japan, several high school students and a school nurse have banded together to escape Fujimi High School shortly after it was attacked by zombies. The group now attempts to figure who or what was responsible for this plague, and in the meantime, attempt to survive the present apocalypse.
The story is initially narrated through the eyes of Takashi Komuro, one of the students who had survived in the initial outbreak. (MAL)

If I am forced to only use two words to sum up this anime, it would be … boobs and zombies. I have to say, what a glorious combination!

If you are watching this show with your brain turned on, you are doing it wrong, because this is not an intelligent show, neither does it try to be one. The only reason that plot exists is so that characters can move around the city swarmed by zombies, showing off exhilarating zombie-smashing action as well as their jelly-filled boobs that modestly hide behind very suggestive clothes. Seriously, that’s all there is to it.

There are totally 6 main characters, consisting of 4 pairs of tits and 2 boys who seek to protect those pairs of tits.  Among the 4 walking pairs of tits, 2 pairs do nothing but annoy the audience, and the other 2 pairs gratify the male audience with some of the most ridiculously hilarious sword-panties-boobs or gun-panties-boobs action, ever. Oh yeah, before I forget, all except for one pair of tits have crush on the male lead, Takashi.

Fortunately, the main male characters in this show is much better done. The male lead Takashi of course is the epitome of manliness. A shout out to his voice actor, who just made his voice that much more manly. Also deserving of mention is the fat gun-geek Hirano, a person who knows the ins-and-outs of fire-arms and go psycho with guns whenever he gets his hands on one. Between the two of them and the sword-wielding pair of tits, there were plenty of entertaining zombie-exterminating action.

saeko busujima
expect this in the entire show

The art is, if you haven’t figure out yet, amazing. The backgrounds are colorful and vivid. The animation is often exaggerated, thereby maximizing the entertainment value. The character designs follow faithfully in those of its manga. The only character design that I didn’t like is the pink-haired girl’s (doesn’t her hairstyle just annoys you?). In terms of fan-service, the art is great!

This show could have been better had the producers done better in the music department. The opening has an awesome first 30 seconds instrumentals, but loses all intensity as soon as the singer opens her mouth. There are 12 endings, one ending each for each episode. I don’t see the point of this except for promoting the singer’s album (indeed all 12 ending songs are from the same artist). In general, this anime could have added more sound tracks in the action part, but the ones that are there are not too shabby.

All in all, High School of the Dead is an anime that is not to be taken seriously. Once you forget paying attention to the story as well as screening out the failures in characters, this show becomes very enjoyable. It has some of the best down-right outrageous boobs-swords-guns action as well as its own fill of love triangle drama, amidst the zombie apocalypse might I add. I award this show with a gracious 6.2/10.

RECOMMENDATION

Again, recommended if you especially enjoy fan-service or sword/guns action.

Not recommended if you are looking for something intelligent in anime. Nevertheless, you are welcome to try this show.