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noteDhero's Blog

April 1st, 2011
Anime Relations: Mars of Destruction
For April Fools' Day, the contributors at Gay-Nerds decided to re-skin the website as Straight Hipsters. Taking on that role, I decided to write up an article on Mars of Destruction in the style of our feature, Nerdgasm (renamed Intellectual Gushing for the sake of consistency of theme). Though almost totally not reflective about my thoughts on the piece of garbage it is, I almost convinced myself of one of the more ludicrous arguments that I pose at the beginning of the article.

Aqui es el linko.
Intellectual Gushing: Mars of Destruction

Tell me about your thoughts both here and on the forums.
Posted by noteDhero | 04-01-11, 9:13 PM | 0 comments
February 17th, 2011

I can remember a few years ago, when I ran into the word “moe” for the first time. I suppose I was on Wikipedia, and the best description that I could find anywhere was that it was a current trend in shows where one character (usually female) would be different from the rest in that she was bizarrely pure, wide-eyed, dumb, prone to blushing, and spoke ‘cutely.’ The ‘moefication’ of anime is a dangerous example of the evils of catering to the fanboy faithful. When targeting such a small demographic in the overall population, an unfortunate sameness is the resulting product. With the trend going unchecked, it has threatened the prosperity of an entire medium.

In the beginning, moe characters were inserted organically as one of the “love interests” or the blank slates that serve as a vehicle of the viewer’s understanding of a highly fantastical world (Real Drive). Increasingly, though, the casts of shows began to fill with these unwitting takes on archetypes, and it wasn’t long before psycho-killers (Higurashi no Naku Koro ni) and (contradictorily) geniuses were given this specific type of characterization (To Aru Majitsu no Index).

Read the full article
Posted by noteDhero | 02-17-11, 4:53 PM | 0 comments
February 13th, 2011
Since I've decided to put all of my blog efforts into G-N, I figured I'd at least update my articles here, also. I won't be doing Impressions over there, so unless I find the time to continue doing them here, they may get lost all together. However, at G-N, I started doing broader articles on both the industry and individual series akin to the "How I Choose What Shows to Watch" group of posts over here. Here's a list of what I've done since then, and I'll try to update as I publish from now on.

5 Gay Anime This Season: Rainbow
5 Gay Anime This Season: Ookiku Furikabutte: ~Natsu no Taikai~
5 Gay Anime This Season: Angel Beats
5 Gay Anime This Season: Uraboku
5 Gay Anime This Season: Saraiya Goyou
Our Representation in Anime: Lesbians
Our Representation in Anime: Bisexuals
Our Representation in Anime: Gays
Our Representation in Anime: Transgenders
3 Gay Anime This Season: High School of the Dead
3 Gay Anime This Season: Kuroshitsuji II
3 Gay Anime This Season: Yebisu Celebrities
Gay Metaphor: Natsume Yuujinchou
Nerd Premiere: Iron Man
Gay Anime This Season: Kuragehime
Gay Anime This Season: Togainu no Chi
Nerd Premiere: Wolverine
Posted by noteDhero | 02-13-11, 8:01 AM | 1 comments
August 5th, 2010
Anime Relations: Kuroshitsuji II, Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin, Shiki, Highschool of the Dead
As you all know, I’m pretty bad with deadlines, so these impressions are a bit late. But I actually have a valid excuse this time. I’ve been all up and down the South the past two weeks with family, so blame them. The shows I picked to watch this season are Cat Shit One , High School of the Dead, Kuroshitsuji II, Sekimatsu Occult Gakuin, and Shiki. But, since Cat Shit One seems to be released under an irregular schedule, I’m going to go ahead with the other four.

High School of the Dead

Everything was normal when Takashi went to school. His classes went on as usual, he skipped them, was chased around by his class representative, and his childhood friend continues to bitch at him. Then, while standing on the roof, he witnesses his teachers being attacked by slow-moving intruders. His whole world changed in that instant. In the matter of hours, some kind of infectious disease has spread throughout the entire world, reanimating corpses that were given even the tiniest of scrapes. With the world falling apart around him, can Takashi and his classmates hold on together?

It’s a zombie show—a campy, George Romero-inspired zombies show. So with that in mind you know exactly what to expect: Running, boobs, screaming, killing, rinse, and repeat. If you ignore the annoying fanservice of Gainax breasticles, HSotD is quite serviceable for what it aims to be: a mindless zombie survival romp. Characters in their own right are either annoying or bland as hell, but in combination and as a group, it just works. Each personality is neatly balanced by another, so I’m only annoyed when a character is isolated or get a ‘story.’ The plain fact is that with a show like this, story doesn’t matter as much as atmosphere and pacing. So I do have to take issue with the fourth episode and how the first half of it was framed as a recap. As bad as that was, it also was the episode with the most striking characterization of the world post-zombie apocalypse. . We don’t get the living dead too much in anime, and it’s handled rather well. So for anyone who loves the genre, I think it’s a must-watch.

Kuroshitsuji II

So I haven’t done an impression on a sequel since last year because I feel like people know exactly what they’re getting into and don’t need me to say anything either way about the show. In the case of Kuroshitsuji, though, this thought doesn’t hold true at all because the sequel isn’t making a lick of sense considering where we left off at the finale of the first series. SPOILER ALERT. Everyone died. To top that off, the show was promoted as though we were going to watch a new sexy butler, shota count, and all their supernatural antics, but that was all one big troll. By the end of the first episode, we witness the protagonists of the last season alive and well with no explanation. And every episode after has resurrected more characters.

It’s absurd. There has been no attempt to explain or acknowledge the time line of this season, so the viewers can only sit and watch in befuddlement as dead characters interact as though nothing has gone on. Then there’s the compounded fact that I distinctly remember celebrating the death of a few of these zombies, and I want to pull out my hair even more. “So why the hell are you watching?” you might ask. I don’t know. This season looked so sparse and crappy that I said why not. And I did enjoy the over-the-top nature of Jun Fukuyama as Grell. And Sebastian is cool. Save yourselves and don’t bother watching. Though I’m sure you won’t because no one really watched the first season.

Sekimatsu Occult Gakuin

The year is 1999, and Uchida Fumiaki has been sent back in time to prevent the doomsday that Nostradamus foresaw centuries ago. He arrives just as the teenage Maya Kumashiro’s father dies, leaving the position of headmaster to his private academy vacant. The school is an oddity in that its students study the occult, and due to her father’s neglect, Maya is determined to have the school closed. With the arrival of bumbling Fumiaki, however, Maya’s plans have changed drastically, and she decides to take on the challenge of saving the world and investigating the death of her father.

I’m pretty damn entertained by this. Something really great seems to happen each episode where the plot unfurls quickly and consistently, despite being a little unoriginal, but the combination of mystery, horror, comedy, and school life is enough to keep any one genre from feeling stale. What really sells the show, though are the lead character, Maya and Fumiaki. Maya is a no-nonsense, smart, and talented teenage girl who bullies the wilting, spastic, and dim-witted adult Fumiaki around into solving the case of each arc. The dynamic between them is a thrilling anchor that grounds all of the insanity swirling around them. One of the funnier shows of the year, Occult Academy is my favorite of the season by just a bit.

Shiki

In a quiet town surrounded by graves, a summer cold causing anemia begins to sweep the town, slowly killing the elderly residents. It isn’t until an eccentric, young, and healthy girl named Shimizu dies that the town doctor, coroner, and priest realize the strange pattern of symptoms and investigate the cause. But is it too late? Many more residents are dying at younger ages and accelerated rates. Most unnerving, is that Natsuno, Shimizu’s crush, can’t sleep because he feels like she’s watching her. Grudges can’t be real, can they?

It’s pretty obvious what’s going on here, but I won’t say, since (technically) I could be wrong. After four episodes we haven’t really had the big reveal of the cause, but it’s fairly obvious after the first episode, and nearly impossible to be left in the dark after the second. Plot aside, the art is borderline atrocious. There is little cohesion between body types, and the show suffers from “Make the hair distinguish who’s important” syndrome. Though the art is terrible, the direction is fantastic. Again, we have a show that really knows how to do atmosphere, which is very important for a horror show. In fact, I’d say that Shiki does a much better job of creating and holding tension than High School of the Dead because excruciatingly bad characters don’t ruin the pacing. Shiki is a pretty fine show that surprised me, and is the runner up for project of my affection.

So that's it for the Summer, feel free to discuss your thoughts on all four of the shows below.
Posted by noteDhero | 08-05-10, 2:19 PM | 5 comments
May 12th, 2010
Anime Relations: Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru, Saraiya Goyou, Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei
Uraboku
Orphaned Yuki can hear the thoughts and feel the emotions of the people he touches. This power has always been too much for him to handle, causing great trouble in many of his peer relationships. Soon after re-uniting with his older brother, his very presence becomes a danger to the people around him he cares about, and decides to move to Tokyo with his new, magical family, and a tortured man who pledges to always stay by his side, never to betray him. Can Yuki trust his new brother? And why are so many demons after him?

Basically, this show is yaoi take on what would happen if Orihime from Bleach got to star in her own show. Yuki has haxor healing abilities called "God's Light.'' The repercussion is that he takes on the pain that he heals. Despite that, he is necessary to a family of demon slayers--led by his shady brother--in a war against demons possibly being led by a childhood friend (also male). Lot's of pretty boys running around with uninspired religious imagery (how many times do I need to hear of a 'bloody cross' in my anime?), with Yuki bringing up the rear (ha!) whining about how useful he wants to be while constantly placing himself in danger.

Oh yeah, and Yuki is an re-incarnation of some princess, explaining away the gay (because just being gay is lame). You've probably seen this show a million times because you were fooled by the art, but apparently I'm still drawn to these shows in such a way that I honestly thought this would be good despite the desperate appeal to fangirls. And it is decent in the first three episodes. So that's something.

Saraiya Goyou
The House of Five Leaves kidnaps heirs to corrupt houses in exchange for ransom as a sort of noble cause. Or so the wilting samurai Masa is led to believe so by the charismatic Ichi. In truth, the robbers are just a bunch of thieves constantly turning to their criminal roots because there is little else they can do. Except Ichi seems to have no use for money, frivolously spending it on the women in the brothel that he resides. Ichi seems to have taken a liking to the idealistic Masa, and with each new mission, Masa tries to break past his cavalier attitude and understand the man who rarely speaks about himself.

I think I love this show. Saraiya Goyou creates an electric atmosphere rife with tension and anticipation in a way that no other show this season does. Everything from the art to the voice action is executed with such intention that I trust what the creators are doing and just sit along for the ride. The show doesn't really do anything with characters individually that I haven't seen before. What it does do is nail interactions in such a way that I immediately feel comfortable with someone after a few lines of dialogue. All that said, I wonder if the pay off for the mystery surrounding Ichi will be worth it in the end. The poorly transitioned flashbacks tend to break the flow of the episodes, almost to the point that I'd rather the show stay in the present. Regardless, I think this show is worth the watch so far.

Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei
Watashi (or so we call him) falls into a repetitious cycle of reliving his years in college, wasted with his friend Ozu in some club, and befriending a raven-haired beauty named Akashi. The viewer watches as he is caught in a loop, details of his life and relationships slowly coming into focus.

It's like Groundhog's Day. That was absolutely evident from the second episode. Though some make a distinction in character between Watashi and Bill Murray's character, the premise seems wholly the same to me: Until Watashi can correct his though processes and truly grow as a human being, he is doomed to repeat his time in college. Though a lot of the circumstances and tangential relationships may differ, what remains constant are many key pieces of dialogue, Watashi's visit to a fortune teller, and his relationship with Ozu and Akashi.

The tone of the posts during the episode discussion really excites me. The very nature of the show is anathema to childish weaboos who whine for brawls, boobs, and bros. That alone is enough to keep me watching, even though the story seems to unfold itself relatively slowly, to the point that I was a little bored during episode three. Also, and I'm sure many will call me a hypocrite, there is far too much said and explained. I would like to say simply that there is too much dialogue, but it's not. The overly obvious narration is the culprit. Instead of integrating a lot of great figurative language into the dialouge, the viewer is constantly bombarded with Watashi's incessant, fast-paced monologuing. Honestly, it's a little exhausting, not only to hear, but to read. I will say, though, that because of the quick dialogue, the show seems to breeze by, and even seems to balance the fact that we as the viewer don't get much new in the way of content, thereby keeping us from being as bored as we probably should be.

Well, that's it for this season's impressions. Feel free to comment in any of the previous entries to talk about the specific shows.
Posted by noteDhero | 05-12-10, 1:53 PM | 8 comments
May 2nd, 2010
Anime Relations: Working!!, Senkou no Night Raid, Giant Killing
Busy, busy, week, so I'm catching up by doing one entry with three shows.

Working!!
Souta loves small people. He maintains he's not some kind of strange pedophile, but when Poplar--an upperclassman who looks like a grade-schooler--begs him to help her at her job, he can't say no. Thusly, Souta is thrown into a workplace with an overly compliant general manager searching for his wife, a do-nothing store manager, two waitresses (one katana-weilding, the other, an androphobic with a violent streak), and two chefs (one who blackmails others to get out of work, the other a very no-nonsense type). Love triangles and comedy ensue.

Jesus. Writing that out as brief, yet descriptive as possible was a little tough. The gist is, though that everyone is crazy, and we're supposed to be entertained by their antics. That doesn't really happen in the first two episodes. The agoraphobic Inami is too overused, punching Souta nearly 10-15 times each. Once the focus is taken from her, and onto Souta's other co-workers, the show really hits a fun stride. Characterization is done in a way befitting a comedy--funny, and not melodramatic like other shows with comedic elements tend to do--and everyone's idiosyncrasies are so specific that no one's actions step on the toes of another, which is very important.

The best part of the show, however, is the voice actors. The cast is full of talented performers who continue to be amazing at differentiating their voices in specific ways from their other characters. Even Jun Fukuyama is beginning to come back into my good graces (between this and Durarara!!). All in all, Working!! is a promising comedy that I hope will continue to get better, as opposed to stale.

Senkou no Night Raid
A team of super-powered individuals comprise an elite team tasked with important missions right before the Second Sino-Japanese War officially begins. Their story has been hidden in the archives of history, just now coming to light.

Sound vague? I know. That's about the best way I can put it. Three episodes in, and only in the third episode do the viewers get a good sense of where the plot is going. The elite squad apart of an organization known as Sakurai Kikan is made up of the telepathic Yukina, telekinetic Aoi, teleporting Kazura, and somewhat all-seeing Natsume. Just so you know, I had to look up each of their names. The characters don't really get a good sense of self until the third episode. You must be asking what the first two episodes were doing in the first place, then. Well, to be honest, they focused more on introducing how the team works and what the nature of their job is. Every now and then we'd get a quick glimpse at the a background of a character, but it was so isolated that it became quickly forgettable.

The show has a very assured sense of production. Almost as though it is aware of its faults, but continues to move forward under the presumption that everything will eventually come together. As of right now, I believe it. Senkou no Night Raid is well, animated, scored, and acted, so I can forgive the ambiguous plot as of now. But it is a red flag. What has been shown of the plot is rather basic, and almost totally removed from the time-period--to the point that I almost question the decision in the first place.

I'm not sure about this one. It's almost like the show doesn't have a heart, while doing everything rather well. It comes off as rather pointless and uninspired.

Giant Killing
Takeshi left his Japanese football team, the East Tokyo United, a decade ago for a shot in Europe. In his absence, the team took a sharp decline, only to slowly build up in the last five years while he becomes a successful coach in his own right. The upper echelon of ETU has decided to bring Takeshi back as the manager. Can he whip his new team into shape while dodging bitter resentment from his players and fans?

I used to say that I don't like the sports genre of anime. Then I watched Ookiku Furikabutte, Touch, and Cross Game. Now, with Giant Killing, I can say with a great deal of assurance that that is no longer the case. In all the ways that I find soccer to be boring and somewhat indulgent, I find Giant Killing exciting and engaging. Maybe it's because the focus isn't on one player that's supposed to be the savior, but the coach/manager that's supposed to have his act together and do the job that (in any other shounen series) would be asked of some unassuming genius. Like Ookiku, Giant Killing gets an exacting sense of the team as a whole. No one carries the weight alone. Everyone is necessary. On top of that, the show is full of strong egos that clash in greatly exciting ways. No two characters interact in a similar fashion. This is the type of writing and character work I expect from all shows. With there being so much character work, some viewers may be dismayed at the lack of 'action,' in the matches, but since I'm not a big fan of the sport itself, I don't care. Also, others may be put off by the art, but because it's different and cohesive, I have an appreciation for it.

Well, that's all for right now. There are two more shows I need to catch up on--Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteru, Saraiya Goyou, and Yojohan Shinwa Taikei--and that should be it for the season. Unless I get roped into something else. Don't forget to leave a comment!

Posted by noteDhero | 05-02-10, 11:49 AM | 6 comments
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