Ashita no Anime

Anime of Tomorrow

Monthly Archives: September 2011

Ikoku Meiro no Croisée (review)

Final impression – Not what I was expecting, but pleasantly satisfying (7/10)

Summer 2011 (title literal translation – Crossroads of a Foreign Labyrinth)

In the late 1800s, Yune, a young Japanese girl, stays in the sign shop of Claude Claudel as something of a housekeeper.  Claude’s worldly grandfather brought her to Paris to expand her experience of the world.  At first, Claude is unaccepting of this quiet little girl with strange clothes and an incomprehensible personality.  But as time passes, he begins to open up to Yune when he realizes she’s much more perceptive of the world than he had initially given her credit.  Additionally, he must also protect her from getting too close to the bourgeois Alice, who is obsessed with all things Japanese.

To start, Ikoku Meiro no Croisée led me to believe it was going to be a slice of life comedy and focus on the cultural differences between the west and Japan.  But little by little it turned into a simple slice of life story with an unlikely premise.  While there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, I do feel a little betrayed by the clever lead in that I was given during the first few episodes.  Even with this change in pace as the story unfolds, Yune continues to be innocent and adorably naïve to western customs and ways of thinking through the whole anime, which are accented by some nice character development with her two main foils, Claude and Alice.  In all, they learn to accept and at times adopt each other’s cultures.

Kamisama Dolls (review)

Final impression – incomplete…waiting for season 2 (7/10)

Summer 2011 (title literal translation – God Dolls)

Kyouhei came to Tokyo to escape the traumas of his past in the remote Karakami Village, a place where the elite families control powerful, supernatural mecha called Kakashi.  He used to be an amazingly talented Seki, one of the keepers of these devices some of the villagers respect as gods.  However, he passed that responsibility to his litter sister, Utao, who wants nothing more than to live up to the strength of her brother.  But nowhere is far enough away to escape from Aki, the Seki who went on a rampage with his Kakashi many years ago.  He is indignant at the circumstances of his troubled life and is obsessed with the fact that Kyouhei abandoned his former strength in an effort to deny what Aki believes to be his true, much darker nature.

This is probably my own bias speaking, but I’m getting sick of these ~13 episode anime that can’t come to a semi-decent conclusion.  Instead, their loose ends resemble a frayed ship mooring cable and the viewer is left wondering if a second season will ever even be made.  Kamisama Dolls at least has the decency to leave us with the message that it will in fact be returning to wrap things up, so I give it a moderate level of forgiveness in that aspect.  Waiting for a second season done properly is certainly better than enduring years of filler arcs I could point to in certain shounen anime.

Complaining aside, Kamisama Dolls is a pretty decent show.  Although we meet the characters well after the traumatic events that shaped their current relationships, their reactions to each other are well founded and set the stage for the plot to unfold, so the characters are never reduced to tropes.  The Kakashi, the “god dolls” that the story revolves around, also give some interesting metaphors to explore as each character has a unique view of just what these enigmatic devices are and what their purpose should be.  Because it intrigued me sufficiently (unlike the similarly loose-ended Yumekui Merry) I’m going to allow Kamisama Dolls a bit of reprieve and bank on its potential second season giving just as much to look forward to as this season provided.

Itsuka Tenma no Kuro Usagi (review)

Final impression – Original, but nothing groundbreaking 6/10

Summer 2011 (title literal translation – A Black Rabbit has Seven Lives)

Taito Kurogane thinks he’s just a normal high school student with an average amount of misfortunes for someone his age.  But all that changes when he gives his life to save a girl he doesn’t even know from getting hit by a truck.  As he lies in the road expecting death…it never comes.  Miraculously, his body knits itself back together and suddenly he knows what he must do.  The healing magic courses through him and in a rush of repressed memories that come flooding back, he seeks out his childhood sweetheart, the powerful vampire Saitohimea, who he made a pact with many years ago and who granted him his immortal body.  But their reunion doesn’t go smoothly when the sorcerer who separated them in the first place reappears, intent on renewing the curse that was just broken.

Itsuka Tenma no Kuro Usagi breaks with some anime stereotypes initially by giving its lead hero a true love immediately from the outset.  This was a refreshing deviation from the typical setup of stringing the love story along through a series of awkward, indecisive circumstances that may or may not lead to a partnership at the anime’s conclusion.  That being said, Itsuten deviates back into the territory of annoyingly nebulous love and inserts what feels like a very forced “innocent homewrecker” mentality from the love triangle’s third corner.  All in all, the action of this anime was well played, the concept mostly fresh and it gets points for at least attempting to have its romance deviate from established norms. But it loses those points almost as quickly when it winds down to its nonconclusion that is begging for a second season to tie up the loose ends.  At the start, I had thought I was getting an anime that would be much more revolutionary than it turned out to be.

Yuru Yuri (review)

Final impression – Refreshing, but not as funny as I’d hoped 7/10

Summer 2011

The unstoppable, capricious leader, Kyouko.  The level-headed sidekick who vainly attempts to keep her in line, Yui.  Their childhood friend and the girl everyone forgets about, Akari.  And a new addition to the group, the hot and cold, pink twin-tailed Chinatsu.  Together these four members of the Amusement Club have taken over the former Tea Club’s room and turned it into a gathering place where they can goof around and just have fun.  Opposing their happy days are two members of the student council.  The strict tsundere Ayano and her calm, yuri sidekick, Chitose.  But despite their attempts to crash the Amusement Club’s party, more often than not they just end up getting sucked into the high-tempo pull of Kyouko’s personality to be whisked off on another wild ride.

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting Yuru Yuri to be as clever as it turned out to be when I first started watching it.  With an all-female cast as is typical of moe anime, you’re not going to be seeing any romance from this series.  However, as type-cast as some of the characters are, they do occasionally get to show a few more facets of their personalities in delightfully comedic ways.  That being said, their depth is quite shallow when compared to the growth and development of the characters of A-Channel, another recent moe anime.  The music is delightfully cheerful, the tropes pleasingly nontypical and it adds up to an anime that entertains.

No. 6 (review)

Final impression – a grand metaphor 9/10

Summer 2011

In a world ravaged by wars that deprived the land and reduced the habitable zones of the planet to only a handful of areas, humanity has constructed utopias in those places to preserve peace, life and knowledge.  But here in No. 6, personal freedom has had to give way to policies that quell dissent and unrest to keep the system perfectly in line.  When the youthfully naïve Shion sheltered the dark, young fugitive Rat, he was expelled from his prestigious school and his future seemed to be destined to be that of a boring public servant, working for the government.  Several years later however, he’s once again unlucky enough to become caught up by the unseen system that is No. 6 when Shion witnesses the bizarre death of one of his coworkers.  To keep him from speaking out about what he saw, he’s arrested and accused of crimes he didn’t commit.  As he’s taken to the correctional facility, hope seems lost until Rat comes to the rescue.  However, as Shion escapes from No. 6, he must now come to terms with a sobering fact.  There are big problems in paradise.

No. 6 is probably going to go into my record book as a grossly underappreciated anime.  However, that’s probably just my own personal experiences talking.  For me, this anime watched like a metaphor for delusion and what a person may go through as they escape that kind of thinking.  The plot basically transitions from paradise, to darkness for Shion as his perceptions of reality get turned upside-down.  He then must decide if he’s going to follow Rat, the man who saved his life and seeks to destroy No. 6.  Or will he simply adapt his opinions on the gilded paradise he lived for his entire life and attempt to save it from itself?  This dichotomy plays out well and is capped with a satisfying conclusion.  In short, my advice for viewers of No. 6 is to look for deeper meanings than what you’re watching on the surface.

Precious Memories Translations

 

 

 

 

I’ve become so inspired by the recent Madoka☆Magica expansion for the Japanese trading card game, Precious Memories that I’ve decided to expand the scope of Ashita no Anime and start translating cards. It’s my hope to add more titles in the future besides just Madoka.

I ask anyone who might be reading to link back to my Precious Memories section and help me get this information out to the people who will need it most because I’ve searched all over the internet and I’m confident this is the first English language website that is providing translations for full sets of cards from Precious Memories. For the time being, please enjoy the new additions to the site.

Yosuga no Sora (review)

Final impression – emotional, but not tear-jerking 7/10

Fall 2010

Following the death of their parents, Haru and Sora move out of their spacious apartment in the city and head back to their family’s house in the countryside.  Beset by money woes and the loss of their family, they have to readjust to the small life and begin by rediscovering their childhood friends.  The girls Haru played with as a kid have grown into young women, and they haven’t forgotten the nice boy who was always there when they needed a friend.  Beset by troubles from seemingly every direction, Haru constantly must balance his love life with taking care of his antisocial twin sister, Sora.  In doing so, they shed the innocence of their childhood and begin to grow into adults.

It really baffles me how it was possible this anime was able to be aired.  I’ve watched hentai with fewer sex scenes than Yosuga no Sora (admittedly you never get to see too much, but it’s darned explicit compared to the usual fare I deal with from h-games turned anime).  The development of the plot follows the formulaic standard that was set by Amagami SS just a season earlier; Yosuga no Sora separates the story arcs of the different girls into distinct “plot universes,” with each path following to its eventual conclusion of having that girl become Haru’s lover.  This is opposed to the traditional way of having the story meander from girl to girl, ending each indistinct arc with a “let down” / “lets be friends” ending before the conclusion with the main girl he was destined to hook up with anyways.  The music is really nice and the drawing style is very pretty.  But given its very open portrayal of sexuality, Yosuga no Sora isn’t for everyone.

Shinryaku! Ika Musume (review)

Final impression – Delightfully comedic.  A must-watch. 9/10

Fall 2010 – (title literal translation – Invade! Squid Girl)

Humans beware!  You’ve polluted, overfished and scorned the ocean for the last time!  Fear the powers of Squid Girl, the invader from the deep!  Or at least that’s what she’d have you believe when she attempts to seize control of the beach-side restaurant, Lemon, as her base of operations.  But the young owners Eriko and Chizuru have plans to put her tentacles to work waiting on the customers.  From there it’s a series of missteps from her original goal of world domination as she slowly comes to the conclusion that not all humans are so bad, after all.

It’s too easy to make comparisons between Ika Musume and Sgt. Frog.  They’re both anthropomorphic denizens who have come to society to conquer the world.  However, their missions get sidetracked by adventures, new experiences and little realizations that the world they’re trying to subjugate is actually quite nice as it already is.  For me at least, the themes of Ika Musume strike a little closer to home because of my love of the oceans and the story plays nicely with fun, original and most importantly, interesting ideas.  The art style stays away from moe or chibi themes that might turn away some viewers and goes with a bright, colorful, cheerful, cartoony style that’s distinct and creates a perfect tone for the story to unfold.  Ika Musume is a humorous, feel-good anime loaded with tons of squidding fun!

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