Ashita no Anime

Anime of Tomorrow

Monthly Archives: December 2011

Anime of the Week 12/11 – 12/17

Anime of the Week – Shakugan no Shana III
It took a while, but Shana is really starting to get its pace balanced with action and story. Anyone who was worried of a repeat of Shana II can rest assured that things have definitely improved.
December 12 Working 2 Ep. 11 I’m reminded of a Jeff Foxworthy moment; a lost item is always in the last place you thought to look for it.
December 13 Mirai Nikki Ep. 10 This episode didn’t move the plot along much, but it did reveal a lot about the main characters’ inner personalities.
December 14 The iDOLM@STER Ep. 16 This episode was all about Hibiki and considering that she’s my least favorite character, I didn’t like this episode.
Shana III Ep. 9 This is what I’ve been waiting for. Finally, the series is starting to get into a good pace and it’s not even half over.
Shana III Ep. 10 A climax is coming, but for now I’m enjoying the action. I feel some information overload with all the various objectives.
December 16 Mashiro-iro Ep. 4 Some major headway is made between the hero and heroine. But Inui’s sudden personality shift doesn’t have any context.
Guilty Crown Ep. 10 So Shu has decided to pull a Shinji and run away from his problems, only to find his problems are chasing him.
December 17 Boku wa Tomodachi Ep. 11 Since Kodaka’s flashbacks started, I’ve been anticipating a climax that finally happened with one episode left.

*You could have read these tweets in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.

K-ON! Movie (summary)

Back on December 3, I watched the K-ON! Movie.  Below are the notes I took while watching the movie detailing a summary of the major events and plot of the film.  Be warned, the following text contains major spoilers.  Additionally, I’ve composed this article under the assumption that readers will already be familiar with the TV anime’s previous two seasons.  The events of the movie take place close to the end of the story of the second season, but before the anime’s final episode.

WARNING!! SPOILERS!!

Yui wakes up in her bedroom to the sound of her alarm.
The five HHT girls are going to school.
After classes they go to the club room and they can be heard upstairs
playing hard rock.
Azusa arrives in the club room.
Ritsu and Yui argue about the kind of music HTT typically plays as
being too light, fluffy and carefree.
She’s lamenting the end of the light music club because the four
seniors are all graduating.
Azusa pushes the play button on a boom box nearby to discover the hard
rock track that everyone heard downstairs wasn’t actually HTT.
Azusa wants to practice with everyone, but Yui decides to take a tea break.
Mugi takes out a baumkuchen cake to share with everyone, but has
trouble opening the packaging.
Sawako appears at the table out of nowhere and surprises the girls.
Yui says she wants to do one last senior-like thing before she graduates.
Back at Yui’s house she talks it over with Ui.
Maybe the four seniors should give a present to future members of the
light music club.
Ui suggests a bunch of other ideas that Yui doesn’t like.
Ui then suggests they go out on a senior trip and bring Azusa along as
a gift to their only junior.
In class the next day they comment on how Mugi’s hands are warm, but
Mio’s hands are cold.
Other seniors in the class are talking about going on trips around to
different places in the world with their clubs.
The class discusses what kind of gift they should get for Sawako
because she’s their homeroom teacher.
The four seniors ask Azusa where she would want to go if they went on
a senior trip.
She says anywhere is fine.
Ritsu suggests Hawaii.
Yui wants to go to Europe.
Mugi would be fine with a hot springs inn.
Mio really wants to go to London.
They use an amidakuji (a lottery ladder) to decide where they will go.
Yui wins the game but Azusa catches her cheating, so she has to sit
out any future decisions.
Mugi thinks it was really clever of Yui to cheat like that.
As a penalty game, they make her wear a piece of paper over her face
that has a funny expression drawn on it.
They decide to let Ton-chan decide where they should go by putting
teacups in his tank with names of the destinations written on them.
After a really long wait he touches London.
Mio is very happy.
Yui is sad, but when everyone reminds her that London is in Europe,
she admits she didn’t know that.
Mugi invites Azusa, but she hesitates because she’s not a senior.
Yui wants Azusa to come, too.
Azusa finally accepts the invitation after Mio invites her, too.
Azusa leaves the clubroom and calls her parents to check if it’s ok to
go on a trip to London.
Azusa returns to find the other girls calling their families as well.
Back at Yui’s house, Nodoka is helping pack and wishes Yui a fun trip in the UK.
Yui tells her they’re going to London, not the UK.
Nodoka tells Yui that London is in the UK and once again, Yui admits ignorance.
They go to a travel agency to pick out their hotel and sightseeing destinations.
Back at school, Yui talks with the members of the occult club and asks
them if they want a souvenir.
They ask her to take a picture of Nessie.
Yui tells this to the other HTT girls and they explain that the occult
club was just joking.
The four seniors still want to give a better present to Azusa as well as Sawako.
Maybe they should write a song?
Azusa returns to the clubroom and nearly blows their cover.
She becomes suspicious about it later when she recalls their serious faces.
Yui’s parents help her finish packing.
We only see their faces briefly when Yui departs for the airport.
The five girls meet up as they near the airport.
They have their instruments with them aside from Mugi.
Mugi asks everyone to double check to make sure they didn’t forget anything.
Yui jokes that she forgot her passport.
Azusa says they’re going to leave her behind.
At the airport the girls check their instruments and Yui says a long
goodbye to Gii-taa.
Yui talks about how amazing airplanes are, but Azusa points out that
it’s just a vehicle, not a time machine.
The girls are flying JAL (Japan Air Lines).  Product placement much?
For a while, Yui and Azusa practice their English on the flight.
At night during the flight, Yui wakes up to write lyrics for Azusa’s
song, but she falls asleep while writing.
Azusa wakes up and starts to read Yui’s notes, but Yui stops her just
in time to make sure the secret is safe.
The theme for the song is “World Wide.”
The immigration officer in the London airport is a black man.
They are visibly nervous.
The girls answer his questions with decent, if clumsy English.
On the luggage rack they can’t find Mio’s bag.
Ritsu jokes that Mio is going to have to get by without any underwear.
They find Mio’s bag off in a corner for unclaimed luggage.
Yui and Mio are amazed by all the English and begin taking pictures of
everything they see.
They have some difficulty telling their cab driver where their hotel is.
Yui comments that everything is so much bigger than in Japan.
They end up going to the wrong hotel.
Turns out this hotel chain has several places around London.
They consider taking the bus.
Azusa bought new shoes for this trip but her feet hurt.
The shoes are probably too small.
They buy Azusa new shoes.
As they head to their hotel on foot they see a conveyor belt sushi
restaurant and they decide to eat.
The store’s manager thinks the girls are a Japanese band he hired.
Yui can’t understand his English and just keeps answering “Yes” to all
of his questions.
By the time they realize the mistake it’s too late to back out.
Not that they even know enough English to point out the manager’s mistake.
In an attempt to explain the situation, Ritsu says “I love sushi.  We
are okyakusan (customers)”.
But the manager can’t understand them, so they decide the best thing
to do is to just go with the flow.
The manager introduces their band as Love Crisis, which Ritsu
recognizes as the name of her friend’s band.
They play some songs and the customers like the music.
HTT doesn’t get to eat any sushi.
Ritsu’s friend Maki from Love Crisis shows up.
They explain the mistake to the manager.
HTT finds their hotel.
Yui is tired and hungry
It’s a good thing Ui packed food for everyone.
Yui plugs in her hair dryer, but it shorts out because of the voltage
difference.
Azusa has a bad dream about Yui.
The next day in a park, Yui sticks her hand into what she thinks is a mailbox.
It’s actually a waste bin for dog poop.
Everyone wants to ride the ferris wheel in the park but Mio.
After some forceful coaxing, Mio gets on board and enjoys the ride.
Back at the hotel room Yui rushes to give Gii-ta a hug, but Azusa
thinks Yui is trying to hug her, so she elbows Yui painfully.
The four seniors have another meeting to work on Azusa’s song after
she falls asleep.
Azusa awakens in the night to find Yui missing.
Azusa knocks on the door, but the peep hole is too high for Ritsu to
see through.
Azusa is looking for Yui, but she had already left to go check on Azusa.
Azusa returns to her room while Yui returns to the other seniors to
report that Azusa is missing.
The two then start running in circles through their two hotel rooms
looking for each other.
The next day they go to a music store.
They get a surprise call from Japan.
It’s the owner of the live music house HTT played at.
Maki and the manager of the sushi restaurant want them to play at a
Japanese culture festival the next day.
They’re worried they might not be able to do it because there won’t be
enough time to make their flight.
That night they attempt to translate the lyrics of “Rice is not a side
dish,” into English with little success.
Azusa has another strange dream about Yui.
Mugi gets her keyboard airmailed to London.
HTT is playing on an outdoor stage at the Japanese culture event.
They’re going to play wearing their school uniforms.
Yui remembers shorting out her hair dryer the first night and worries
that plugging Gii-ta into the UK-made amp will hurt her guitar.
Then Sawako shows up and reminds Yui that her guitar wasn’t made in
Japan and everything will be ok.
Sawako made samurai outfits for the girls but they refuse to wear them.
They play Fuwa-fuwa time and Gohan.
Yui attempts to sing the last verse of Gohan in English, but fails.
They’re running out of time to make their flight.
Azusa falls asleep in the cab ride to the airport and Ritsu takes a
picture of her sleeping.
It starts snowing.
Back in their club room, they start sorting through all the English
tea they bought in London.
Their classmates are impressed that they went to London and played there.
The class wants HTT to play a final graduation live performance.
The senior girls of HHT go to the teacher’s room to ask Sawako if it’s
ok to do a final live performance.
At first she thinks it’s a good idea, but when the principal walks in
she has to feign prohibition to keep up appearances.
She recalls back when she was in the light music club, the principal
was her homeroom teacher and got really upset with her playing music
in his classroom.
The class makes a stage for HTT with their desks while the senior
girls go to get Azusa to come join them.
Upon hearing the music start, the principal heads off to stop the
performance, and Sawako attempts to restrain him unsuccessfully.
After seeing everyone having a good time, the principal relents and
allows the performance to continue.
Their classmates push the teachers into the classroom to better enjoy the music.
Later, the four seniors continue to discuss Azusa’s song.
Mugi has written a melody everyone likes and suggests they each write
a verse for the song.
Azusa is suspicious and discusses the issue with Junko and Ui during
gym class while they play table tennis.
She laments the other girls are going on to university together without her.
While writing lyrics in her room, Yui must hastily hide her notes from
Ui so her cover doesn’t get blown.
Yui thanks Ui for giving her the idea of going on a trip with everyone.
Yui is lost in thought and absentmindedly asks Ui, “since we’re all
going to the same university, we’ll still be able to have after school
tea, right?”
Next day on the roof, the four seniors are having a group huddle
before their performance for Azusa.
The lyrics aren’t quite finished yet, so they need one last brainstorm.
A bird flies away.
The seniors liken Azusa to the bird because she gave the group a set
of wings and helped keep them all focused.
Without the serious Azusa, they never would have gotten this great.
Azusa is their guardian angel.
It’s a little embarrassing, but they decide that’s the best choice for
that section of the lyrics.
The light music club has their last after school tea together and
Azusa comes in for the performance of her song.
They play.
Azusa claps.
Yui smiles because Azusa liked it.
The four seniors are university students now.
They go home.
Yui asks everyone where they should all go next year for Azusa’s senior trip.

THE END

Anime of the Week 12/4 – 12/10

Anime of the Week – Guilty Crown
I’m glad to see Shu finally taking some initiative instead of being lead around by the nose by Gai. Unfortunately, he’s in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation that’s certain to give him nightmares no matter which decision he makes.
December 5 Fate/Zero Ep. 10 I have a sneaky feeling that Rin was given her own episode for no other reason than she’s a popular character…
December 6 Mirai Nikki Ep. 9 Amano needs to stop being so accommodating. He’s in a survival game and already had a hand in several people’s deaths.
December 7 Working 2 Ep. 10 I’m not sure how to characterize Inami. It’s like she’s bipolar. One minute she’s violent and the next she’s lovestruck.
December 8 C3 Ep. 10 The concept of turning two curses against each other to create a complimentary balance appeals to my more poetic sensibilities.
Infinite Stratos OVA Really what was I expecting? The series wasn’t fond of closure, so why should the OVA be any different?
December 9 Squid Girl 2 Ep. 6 Mini Ika Musume always puts a big, stupid smile on my face. This series does a good job telling stories silently.
Guilty Crown Ep. 9 The ability to see true thoughts would be cool, but sad if your loved ones weren’t really who you thought they were.
Boku wa Tomodachi Ep. 10 A lackluster episode. I’ve seen much better versions of the private beach house theme in countless other anime.
Persona 4 Ep. 10 I’m curious about the large amount of time that was skipped at the end of the episode. Is it time for more side stories?

*You could have read these tweets in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.

Dantalian no Shoka (review)

Final impression – a pleasant diversion (7/10)

Summer 2011 (12 episodes) (title literal translation – Dantalian’s Bookshelf) (alternate title – The Mystic Archives of Dantalian)

In 1920s Europe, Heward “Huey” Disward is given a large mansion and library as inheritance by his late grandfather.  He is also given a key to which he does not know the lock it opens.  Living in the mansion is the library’s keeper, the lolita-fashion-wearing Dalian.  She explains that as the library’s new owner, it is now Huey’s duty to track down books that have gone missing from his grandfather’s library.  These books are dangerous items that hold forbidden knowledge that can easily be twisted towards nefarious ends.  In order to fulfill his new role, Huey makes a contract with Dalian, giving him access to the library of cursed books she holds locked in her heart.  Thus begins his mission to tie up the loose ends of his grandfather’s book obsession (and help a bunch of people along the way).

In my experience at least, Gainax just doesn’t seem to do very much middle ground. They’re either filling my recycling bin with the likes of Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt or gracing my all-time-best list with gems like Gurren Lagann.  So I’m pleased to say they’re finally starting to fill in the middle of their spectrum with titles like Dantalian no Shoka.  I’m also happy that it’s weighted towards the good, rather than the bad, because when it comes to Gainax, you just never now what you’re going to get until you start watching.  The concept of using works of literature as tools to move the world in fantastical ways, while a little dull at times, is nonetheless fascinating.  Through this, we get treated to quite a few wonderful views of pride, love, generosity and humility among other traits of the human condition.  Additionally, the banter between Dalian and Huey never gets old and is an example of well-orchestrated comic relief in an otherwise serious setting.  But while Dantalian no Shoka is certainly a fresh idea, it is hindered slightly by the all too common problem of having an annoyingly nebulous conclusion.

Last Week’s Tweets 11/27 – 12/3

Anime of the Week – C3 Cube x Cursed x Curious
C3 is definitely this season’s most underappreciated anime. I expected to watch a lot of good anime this season and I found myself disappointed with several series I had high hopes for. Cube is a surprise hit and it seems to be going largely unnoticed, which is really sad.
November 27 Shana III Ep. 8 Current events feel like the run down to the final battle. But with 16 episodes left, it’s far from over. What’s going on?
Fate/Zero Ep. 9 While this episode was important for character building, there was absolutely no plot development to forward the story.
Guilty Crown Ep. 7 Why is Shu back at school? This makes no sense. Didn’t the GHQ learn last episode that he’s a member of Funeral Parlor?
Working 2 Ep. 9 Sato’s life must be frustrating. Yachio’s life is too narrow. Takanashi is easily influenced. Yamada is a two-faced fraud.
C3 Ep. 8 Even when this anime has ecchi moments, it’s still brilliant and well composed. Yukari Tamura is in her element as Fear Kubrick.
Boku wa Tomodachi Ep. 8 That was a very different spin on the obligatory swimsuit episode. It’s nice to see a break from stereotypes.
Last Exile 2 Ep. 3 I guess the plot is progressing…? I see the character’s motivations, but their methods are haphazard at best.
Last Exile 2 Ep. 4 It’s all just too random. I can’t follow the plot without reading someone else’s summary. Fam is such a scatterbrain.
November 28 Persona 4 Ep. 8 The comedic twists continue to please, even if they aren’t very surprising for people who have played the game.
Mirai Nikki Ep. 8 Is this anime one big parable about how nice guys finish last? Amano needs to be more careful to avoid these situations.
November 29 iDOLM@STER Ep. 15 It seems that the key to improving daytime Japanese TV is to substitute all of the regular hosts for anime characters.
C3 Ep. 9 This was the setup episode for what is this series’ final arc. Not all the new villian’s motives are clear, but it’s still fun.
Ben-to Ep. 3 For being an anime about fighting over boxed meals at supermarkets, the metaphors are surprisingly deep and significant.
November 30 Ben-to Ep. 4 This anime’s ecchi colors were shining brightly this episode. Fortunately, it didn’t detract from the usual high-tempo pace.
December 1 Ben-to Ep. 5 Superficially, the plot of this anime could fit into many settings. The fact that this war involves box lunches makes it fun.
Mashiro-iro Ep. 3 Most of this episode was the ordinary fare of tsundere-ness, but the twist at the end put a huge smile on my face.
December 2 Ben-to Ep. 6 For an episode that was supposed to be about an epic rivalry and a grand battle, there was very little tension or energy.
Guilty Crown Ep. 8 And… the obligatory swimsuit episode. At least it didn’t take too much time. Sadly, this episode was a dead end.
Ben-to Ep. 7 Two swimsuit episodes in a row, but across different anime. The ridiculousness of this show compliments its ecchi and hilarity.
Persona 4 Ep. 9 I’d known Rie Kugimiya was the voice of Rise when the P4 game was released in Japan, but it’s cool to hear her for real.
December 3 Boku wa Tomodachi Ep. 9 Kodaka is one of the coolest and most composed male characters in a harem-esque anime I have seen in a long time.
K-On! (Movie) Set somewhere between the final episodes of the second season, it watches as if it was a missing segment from the TV series.

*You could have read these tweets in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.

Blue Exorcist (review)

Final impression – a blast of awesome (8/10)

Spring 2011 to summer 2011 (25 episodes) (Japanese title – Ao no Exorcist)

Rin Okumura, an orphan raised by a catholic priest, has a terrifying secret hidden in his past.  He’s actually the son of Satan.  His old man also has a secret – he’s the world’s strongest exorcist and works to keep the dark lord of hell from discerning the whereabouts of his lost son.  But few secrets this big can be kept hidden forever, as Rin accidentally uncovers the truth of his identity when he gets into a fight with a delinquent and subconciously releases a bit of his power.  Faced with the risk of being captured by Satan and dragged to hell as well as the loss of his adoptive, human father, Rin decides he’s going to use his demonic powers towards the goal of following in his old man’s footsteps.  He commits to becoming the world’s strongest exorcist in order to kill Satan with is own hands.

Blue Exorcist marks the triumphant revival of shounen anime.  With the unending, filler-saturated, steaming piles that Naruto and Bleach have become over the past several years, I’d pretty much all but given up on this subgenre.  But then Blue Exorcist arrived and helped clean things up.  It’s got action, comedy and story all in equal measures.  The cast is just the right size to provide a nice variety of roles without spreading everyone too thin; characters are likeable and their motivations are clear and concise.  I do have one complaint, and it’s that there are several “fooling around,” episodes whose existence completely ruins the flow of the plot at a few very crucial moments.  Besides that though, Blue Exorcist was a real treat to watch and I recommend it to anyone who misses the days when mainstream shounen anime were still good.

As an interesting little aside, I’m an English teacher in Japan and one of my students is named Yuuki Okumura (a coincidentally similar name to Rin’s brother, Yukio Okumura).

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