Anime Me! #10: Blood +

Anime Me!  #10: Blood +

The Blood+ 50 episode anime series premiered in Japan on October 8, 2005 with a new episode airing weekly until September 2006.  The series was directed by Junichi Fujisaku and features original character designs by Chizu Hashii.  Now initially ratings for the anime began to drop, but eventually in December 2005, Blood+ was one of several anime series selected as being a “recommended as an excellent work” at the 9th annual Japanese Media Arts Festival.  The series was ranked #41 on TV Asahi’s list of top 100 favorite anime series for 2006.

The original story was inspired by a stand alone anime called Blood: The Last Vampire.  While there are very few elements that are the same between each, it is quite clear the characters and basic premise from Blood: The Last Vampire was attempted to be explored and evolved in Blood +.  Each season has separate opening and ending themes from a variety of artists, with the final episode using the season one ending theme.

Now first and foremost.  It may seem like your average hack and slash, “villain of the week” type anime.  I will admit there is a lot of violence in this anime.  But it is not used as a crutch to hide a poor story.  Rather it is used as a tool to help move the story forward.  A very interesting and detailed story, from beginning to end.

Using the anime movie as a mysterious back story.  Under the care of her adoptive family, Saya Otonashi has been living the life of an anemic and amnesiac, but otherwise ordinary schoolgirl.  Saya’s happy life is shattered when she is attacked by a chiropteran, the demons from the movie.  She learns that she is the only one who can defeat them.

Armed with her katana, Saya embarks on a journey with her family, allies, and her chevalier, Hagi, to rid the world of chiropteran and rediscover her identity.  The course of the journey reveals the background history of the chiropterans and Saya’s very deep past, which extends into the mid-19th century.

The series is initially set in present day Okinawa City, on Okinawa Island, near the US Kadena Air Base.  In the course of the series, Saya visits locations across the world, fighting enemy chiropteran and searching for her origins.

As stated it is a decent and detailed story, very rare for anime.  On top of that, the 50 episode length is very convenient, and is enough to tell the story in a way where it doesn’t seem rushed, nor drawn out as others I have reviewed here.

It must be said, that there are a few twists and turns that help develop the main characters into what they are meant to be.  But it is still not for the feint of heart.  The story is told in a grown-up way.  Not every action that is taken is a positive one, nor do the “good-guys” always win.  There will be a point where a decision is made that inadvertantly sacrifices a character.  There is no magic potion, no redo button, the story is told as life.  You must live with your decisions.  I will have to admit this will cause viewers to be astonished and heartbroken.  Some of these decisions will effect the characters, just like real life decisions would.

For a story, or in this instance, an anime, to do this…is classic story telling at it’s best.

Happy Birthday Anniversary!

This week we celebrate a whole slew of birthdays and one special anniversary!

First, the birthdays:
My brother Brad, my wife Jill, and my own!

Speaking of my wife and I, we celebrated our 11th year Anniversary together.

I promise starting next week, back to the reviews.
And a few more drawings to boot!

Anime Me! #9: Crest of the Stars

Anime Me!  #9: Crest of the Stars

Crest of the Stars was released in Japan in 1999 and re-released in the United States by Bandai in 2001.  What makes this anime a bit different is that in most anime, it usually is an adaptation from a manga.  In this instance, the anime was born out of a trilogy of space opera science fiction novels written by Hiroyuki Morioka.  Beginning in 1999, the novels were adapted into multiple anime series.  The first of which ran for 13 episodes.  The initial trilogy was followed by another, ongoing novel series called Banner of the Stars, which in turn was also adapted into three sequel anime series, two recap movies, and an OVA called Crest of the Stars Lost Chapter.  A fourth anime series, adapting the third novel, Banner of the Stars III is an OVA released in Japan in 2005.

See sometimes I get in the mood for a good old fashioned space romp with battle scenes reminiscent of WWII, alien conquerors, and upheaval.  What you get is Crest of the Stars.  Surprisingly I was introduced to the sequel series first (Banner of the Stars).  I came into this anime not knowing it came first and actually tells the story of the 2 main characters first meeting.  Silly me.  In any event I was still not disappointed.

Crest of the Stars and it’s subsequent series follow Jinto Lynn, a young count whose world is taken over by the space-dwelling race of the Abh.  Through some back room dealings by his father, Jinto gains a position within Abh society and is sent off to school to learn the ways of Abh nobility.  The story of Crest of the Stars continues as he meets the young Abh princess, Lafiel as they are about to travel to military school for Jinto’s further training.  This is basically an origin story for the main characters.  Where both, in the midst of their travels, find themselves at the very beginnings of a huge war between the Abh Empire and the Four Nations Alliance of humankind.

One aspect that must be praised is the writing.  Not only did this anime begin life as a novel, the series are particularly notable for the fact that Morioka created an entire language (Baronh with an accompanying alphabet, Ath).  This language is utilized by the Abh when they speak, read, and write through out the series.

Crest of the Stars is by far a great ride.  At one point of the story you really do not know who the bad guy is.  As in most wars, each side believes they are right, and with this story it is no different as we are treated to both points of view.  Yet in what really is about the friendship between two people from two entirely different worlds.

Even for an anime, the music selection just works.  It has an orchestral reminiscent of the 1970’s Battlestar Galactica, or vintage Star Trek.  In this day and age of just throwing together the hottest flavor of the month for a soundtrack, it is relaxing to still hear theme music with as much emotion as the story it is representing.

Anime Me! #8: Love Hina

Anime Me!  #8: Love Hina

Love Hina is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Ken Akamatsu.  A 24 episode anime version of the manga was produced by Xebec and aired in Japan from April 2000 to September 2000.  So popular it was soon followed by a bonus DVD Christmas and Spring television specials.  One draw back was the lack of a proper ending for the series.  A new OVA series was created Love Hina Again, originally rumored to be a complete sequel, this series was only 3 episodes long, quickly introduced new characters and a plot that slightly confuses the original.  It ultimately resolved everything rather quickly, due to the short length.  But it still gave a proper ending to the series.  Oddly enough, this anime is still considered one of the best selling anime, manga, and critically popular series worldwide.

The series itself is listed as a Shonen title, but is never recomended for anyone under 16 years old since there is many sexual innuendos littered through out.  So for this purpose I have listed them as both a Shonen and a Seinen.

The series follows the daily life of Keitaro Urashima, the manager of an all-girls dorm, as he attempts to pass the Tokyo University entrance exams and find the girl he promised to enter Tokyo U with when he was a child.  While it seems to be a Harem series, with the girls in the dorm all having personal opinions about Keitaro, some eventually have crushes on him.  Even with the initial main female character Naru, it doesn’t truly become a Harem until Keitaro meets Mutsumi and the debate starts as to which girl he really has made his childhood promise to.

While there is really never any doubt who Keitaro will end up with.  It is wall to wall comedy, as each time he either gets the nerve to approach Naru, or one of the other girls try to approach him there is always one thing or another that seems to get in the way.  The main running gag in the series has Keitaro trying to approach or say something to Naru, just to have it misunderstood or completely missed, usually resulting in Naru punching Keitaro (which sends him soaring into the sky).

When I initially heard about the ending before I started watching this series, I was hesitant.  I do not like anime which doesn’t resolve the story arc, nor if the ending is a cop-out.  I was happily surprised with the ending to the original series.  Without giving anything away, I felt the series did have a satisfactory ending.  Even with the Specials and the extra OVA.  That being said, you have to take this series for what it is.  A light hearted comedy.  It’s not hard to follow, and each female character in the dorm are very interesting.  Each has there own quirks and style.  Each has there own reasons for “liking” Keitaro, some bizarre, some funny, some down right sweet.  You start to have your favorites as the series progresses, and you even seem to root for different girls, even though the one he’s destined for is rather easy to predict.

I personally found myself yelling at my TV.  This is how I know for sure, that this anime is a keeper.  If you can be that invested in an anime where you can lose yourself, it’s a good one!