Anime Me! #11: Kimikiss Pure Rouge

Anime Me!  #11: Kimikiss Pure Rouge

I am going to round off my list for now with KimiKiss Pure Rouge.  Not a main stream popular anime, actually, Kimikiss started out as a dating simulation game for the PS2.  That’s right, a video game.  It was released by Enterbrain  in 2006, and has since become a media franchise.  After the game it was extended to a manga, a light novel, and of course this anime Kimikiss Pure Rouge.

The anime itself began airing in Japan on October 6, 2007.  It was produced by J.C.Staff  and directed by Ken’ichi Kasai. Now this 24 episode anime focuses on the girls of the game and their daily lives with a more romantic genre.

Our main protagonist Kouichi Sanada wakes from a dream while answering his front door.  He finds a beautiful woman standing in front of him.  She quickly enters as though she has been there before.  A confused Kouichi tries to remember if he knew a girl like this in the past.  A misunderstanding later, and they suddenly realize who each other is.

The story continues with them going to the same school.  Forming relationships, and basically going through life.  This is more of a comedy than anything else and there are sections that just make you laugh out load.  I would categorize this as a “slice-of-life” harem anime.  Simply put it’s an anime that shows the day to day lives of the characters, nothing out of the ordinary, and has the main character trying to find his true love with many suitors to choose from.

I do seem to enjoy “slice-of-life” anime.  I see many situations from my own life in them.  As well as a part of me also enjoys harem anime.  Simply put I love anime that basically makes you wonder if certain characters will really form a relationship with each other.  It’s a funny soap opera to put it in simple terms.  If your looking for cool explosions, sappy dialogue, car chases, and shoot outs.  Your in the wrong spot.

Trust me, I enjoy action oriented anime like that as well, but sometimes all I want to do is sit back and watch someone elses life for a bit and these fit the bill nicely.  It’s a nice change of pace anime.  Which I recommend highly!

I intend to increase this list with anime that I find.  For now I will need to do some research and bring you diffrent genres, good stories, and fun anime!

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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.

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!

Anime Me! #7: Toradora!

Anime Me!  #7: Toradora!

Originally a Japanese  light novel series by Yuyuko Takemiya.  The series in total are ten novels released between 2006 and 2009, published by ASCII Media Works under their Dengeki Bunko label.  A manga was then adapted by Zekkyō and started serialization in the shōnen manga magazine Dengeki Comic Gao! formally by MediaWorks.

After a run by an internet radio show in 2008 hosted by Animate TV, a 25 episode anime adaptation produced by J.C.Staff aired in Japan on TV Tokyo starting in 2008 running through 2009.  The title Toradora! is derived from the names of the two main characters Taiga Aisaka and Ryūji Takasu. “Taiga” sounds like “tiger” in English, and tiger in Japanese is tora. “Ryūji” literally means “son of dragon” in Japanese, and a transcription of dragon into Japanese is doragon.  Thus Toradora!

Toradora! is one of those stories that just hooks you and never let’s go.  Now like most “high school dramas” it follows the lives a few characters and their interactions between them.  They go through normal everyday events and their daily struggles through high school.  A love triangle story develops and becomes interestingly twisted as each character finds their true feeling for the one’s they truly love.  At one point you actually do start rooting for certain characters to find each other.

We find Ryūji Takasu, the male protagonist and absolute neat-freak, who is becoming more frustrated by his own looks as he enters his second year of high school.  He has a very gentle personality, but his looks, mainly his eyes, make him look at first glance as an intimidating delinquent.  He is at a time in his life where he is looking for a girlfriend, but he is utterly hopeless about going about it.  From his constantly hungover mother, to his best-friend (Yūsaku), to the one girl (Minori) he has a secret crush on.  He unexpectedly knocks into “the school’s most dangerous animal”, Taiga Aisaka.  Who just happens to also be in his class, and is a good friend of Minori.

Taiga has a negative attitude towards others and just about everything (except Minori).  She will not hesitate to snap at anyone.  After meeting Ryūji, she takes an instant dislike of him, and literally smacks him upside the head.  Now here is where the story gets interesting.  As it so happens, Taiga has a crush on Yūsaku, and Taiga finds out about Ryūji’s affections towards Minori.  Both Ryūji and Taiga decide to team-up for the purpose of helping each win the hearts of the ones they love.  At first Taiga exploits the fact that Ryūji will do anything to get closer to Minori.  But along the way they open up to a side of each other that neither ever shows.

I won’t spoil anymore, and there is a lot more to view, side plots, and an added love triangle, not to mention much more to have laughs with.  On a side note the opening theme Pre-Parade by Kugimiya Rie & Kitamura Eri & Horie Yui is very catchy, and very appropriate for the series.  By far it is one of the most enjoyable themes in any anime.  Now to be truthful, I was very hesitant about this anime.  At first glance it seems like a Shojo type romance story, and in some regards it is.  But ultimately the story itself is what keeps this anime going.  It is a very interesting look into why you should never judge a book by it’s cover, as you never know what is inside, until you look.  Lesson learned…lol.

From the many, many comic gags and situations throughout the series, to the touching scenes towards the end.  There is no doubt Toradora! is one of the best stories I have seen.

Anime Me! #6: Fullmetal Alchemist

Anime Me!  #6: Fullmetal Alchemist (Brotherhood)

For the sake of this review this week, I am combining the 2003 anime (known as Fullmetal Alchemist) and the 2009 anime (also known as Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood).  They are both based off the 2001 manga of the same title.  The only difference being, the 2009 anime follows the manga story arc much closer and is currently still ongoing, as the 2003 anime was altered due to being produced at the same time as the manga itself.  Thus there are some major changes in the story arcs.  Believe it or not this was done on purpose and with permission from the creator, Hiromu Arakawa.  In an interview she explains that “…she would not like to repeat the same ending in both media, as well as to make the manga longer to work more in the development of the characters…”

Simply put I felt the original anime, even though it differed quite a bit from the finished manga, was one of the top notch Shonen anime of all time.  The 2003 anime spanned 51 episodes, and even culminated in a theatrical film that ended the story arc.  It was very engaging and exciting through out.  That being said, I was hesitate when I learned that a “reboot” of sorts was planned in 2009.  I was worried that the reboot was going to altered too many things, as is the “new” wave of Hollywood remakes in this day and age.  I was gladly and pleasantly surprised to find that the 2009 anime was following the manga much better than it’s original did.

The series itself, in both versions, follows the story of two alchemist brothers, Edward  and Alphonse Elric, who want to restore their bodies after a disastrous failed attempt to bring their mother back to life through alchemy.  You see, in their failed attempt, they paid a heavy price.  Edward loses a leg.  Alphonse on the other hand loses his entire body, nearly dies, and is only saved by his brother quick thinking.  Unfortunately by saving his brothers life (by affixing his soul to an empty suit of armor), Edward also loses his arm.

As you can tell, this anime is not exactly for anyone young and the scene above is very graphic and may not even be for everyone.  Such is life, and I am glad this pivotal scene remained as the common running theme of having consequences for every action (even well intended ones) still rings true.  As we pick up the story we find that Ed has equipped himself with metal prosthetics with the help of his mechanic and childhood friend Winry Rockbell, and Al is still affixed to the suit of armor.

Speaking of the suit of armor.  A common running gag within the series is Ed’s reactions to people calling him short, or people mixing him and his brother up.  Some people they meet already know of the Elric brothers and know that Ed is the oldest of the two.  But when they see Al’s very tall suit of armor, they just assume he is Ed because of his height.  Since Ed has a short fuse when it comes to his height, there is always an argument over the subject.

A few years after their failed attempt, the boys get involved with the State Military, because of their talent with Alchemy.  In this world, you soon realize that Alchemy has become much more prominent and relied upon scientific technique.  They take the opportunity to learn as much as they can in order to discover a way to return their injured and broken bodies along with their deceased mother.

Now if you are watching both anime, you will notice quickly that exact scenes and characters are changed in Brotherhood, but pretty much remain identical to the 2003 anime.  That is until you start reaching the 17th-18th episode.  You will then be treated to an entirely different story arc.  Some seemingly minor characters from the 2003 anime become much more prominent in Brotherhood, and some others are killed off.  After the stories diverge it really does become 2 separate animes, both very enjoyable.

As of today’s date, there are 57 episodes (60 that I know about) in the 2009 anime version, with many more to come.

Anime Me! #5: Angelic Layer

Anime Me!  #5: Angelic Layer

Officially marked as a shōnen style anime, this weeks review is Angelic Layer.  It is the anime I introduced my own daughter to, and she cannot get enough.  First off, originally developed by CLAMP. an all-female group formed in the 1980’s.  They are one of the most acclaimed group of artists in Japan, and very rarely make appearances.  Due to their work, they are credited as part responsible for the manga explosion in the United States.  They have an uncanny ability to write towards male and female readers and because of that will always straddle that line between shōnen and shōjo manga.

This title is CLAMP’s first work to use a different art style.  There is less emphasis on detail and more on posing and gestures.  This kind of artwork would be used on later titles, and become some of their most well known and popular series.  The manga was adapted into a 26-episode anime series produced by Bones which aired on TV Tokyo from April 2001 to September 2001.

Angelic Layer introduces us as the viewer to a universe that CLAMP will go to again and again in different and later series.  This notion that multiple titles and characters exist in the same world becomes part of the charm for most of their titles involved.  Some of CLAMP’s other works which are interconnected include Chobits, Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, Cardcaptor Sakura, Clamp School Detectives, as well as one of there current running anime Kobato.

The primary character and protagonist of the story is Misaki Suzuhara, a seventh grader who just moved to Tokyo to live with her aunt.  She is inspired by a video she sees on a jumbotron outside of Tokyo Station and becomes infatuated to learn as much as she can about the popular live game called Angelic Layer.  The game itself is based on dolls, called “Angels” that can move and fight via mental control across a stage/ring called a “Layer”.  She meets many different characters, who all seem to be interconnected throughout the story.  While all this is going on, the meat of her back story takes shape, as she deals with not only adjusting to her new surroundings and budding relationships, but also her past about her mother, whom she has not seen in years.  Like other manga and the anime based on them, Angelic Layer’s ending as well as relationships were changed.  So I’ll stop there to avoid spoiling you any further.  LOL!

What I do extremely like about CLAMP’s work is the interconnection of the different series.  For instance Angelic Layer is a de facto prequel, without actually being one, to another CLAMP work called Chobits You can pick up each of these titles and understand the story with out the other, but can be happily surprised when certain characters or places make appearances.  The manga shows much more of this, but the anime has some information about certain characters as well.

For Angelic Layer specifically, it was the first opportunity to show my daughter something I enjoyed watching and she, enjoying it along with me.  The story itself is easy to follow, even with all the character relationships, and back story weaving in and out of the main plot.  Most of the “Angels” and trainers (called Deus) are female with one or two exceptions.  While the over all moral of the series is “believing in yourself is essential in accomplishing your goals”, there is more than enough action as the game itself can be a combination of boxing, wrestling, and video games all rolled into one.

By far Angelic Layer was exciting, emotional, action-packed, and hilariously funny as any anime can ever get.  It was the first CLAMP anime I watched, and it set me on a path to find more of their works to view.