12 of 12 episodes seen
From the start we are setup with our typical and predictable harem anime plot, a high school guy Kyousuke who is fairly nondescript and normal finds himself involved in his little sister's secret hobby, eroge games and anime. Since up till now his sister, Kirino, has basically had nothing to do with him so both her secret and her sudden willingness to open up to him is a complete surprise. Now he finds himself helping Kirino acquire new eroge, hide her hobby from her friends, help her make new friends, and I suppose repair their sibling relationship. Seriously a pair of siblings find happiness through the power of eroge! Are you kidding? Is this a PSA for the eroge industry?
Now I haven’t read any of the light novels so I can’t speak for how well this anime does as an adaptation of them. Though I can say that if this really is a good adaption then I think I will pass. It’s not that Ore Imouto is a bad anime either; it’s just really uninteresting. Watching this show wasn't a chore but I just kept wondering to myself, why isn't this any good? I can usually see why someone might like or dislike an anime more that I do but with this one I cant for the life of me understand how anyone could think this one is any good. The lack of any interesting story makes this anime completely character driven and since the characters are so awful it just feels like it doesn't get anywhere nor do you care if it does or doesn't. Elements of the plot eventually becomes so totally implausible and unrealistic that they defy belief.
Overall Ore Imouto is an idealistic view of how otaku and anime fans want to be viewed by others. It clearly panders to the otaku community and those who fancy themselves as wannabe otaku, i.e. weeaboo’s. They really aren't creepy guys who cuddle with full size oppai body pillows on the train or buy an anime special edition box because they have a pair of blue striped panties inside. They are fashion models, Buddhist monks, and super rich oujosama's! It’s not that I have anything against otaku mind you, but at the same time I don’t find the lifestyle to be particularly interesting or commendable. While I do think Ore Imouto tries to deal with some serious issues at times, Kirino's character makes it impossible to really accept them. On the plus side I will give the anime credit for not caving in completely to the fan base by drowning the show in pervy fan service.
The main issue overall with the story is there is too little of everything. There isn’t any story to speak of, though that would probably be ok if it was completely episodic, but it’s not. We start out with Kirino's hobby being laid out and the drama that unfolds as her best friend and her father find out about it. Both are coincidentally very anti-anime/eroge. Though I can’t really blame them really too much for the later, I mean she is in middle school for god's sake and watching/playing those things is technically illegal for her. Kyousuke stands up for her every time along the way. It actually sounds kind of inspiring and sweet but it isn’t (more on why later).
The romantic elements don’t work either, since we really aren’t given much about each character to think there is even a relationship developing. There is really no chemistry between any of the characters either. This is mostly due to Kyousuke's complete and utter lack of anything resembling personality. The ending is also bad, but not unexpected given the genre and this lack of chemistry.
The lead Kyousuke is without a doubt one of the most uninteresting characters I have seen in recent memory. He seems to exemplify the ordinary lifeless harem lead. It seems he has absolutely no interests of his own. A look into his room shows a barren waste that lacks even the most Spartan decor and might as well just be a room at a hotel. I think his room tells you a lot about him because like him, the only time it contains anything is when it belongs to someone else. He is like an empty glass, waiting to be filled by whomever he comes into contact with. I mean sure, he is a really nice guy. He helps his sister and her friends whenever they need him, every time! All of this without any thought or expectation of a reward. However it feels more like he does out of sheer boredom than anything else. He doesn’t seem to really care one way or the other about anyone, especially his sister. You get the feeling that he’s helping her out of an obligation as her brother. Of course why would he like, let alone love her or want to help her for any other reason? She’s nothing but a complete bitch to him anyway.
Kirino is on the surface your standard tsundere archetype. Visually she’s got everything that makes for otaku wet dreams but under the pretty exterior lays one of ugliest and most unsympathetic characters in anime. There is a really fine line to walk when doing tsundere characters. The difference "tsundere" and a "bitch" is extremely small. Kirino falls squarely on the side of the bitch. Her actions are not cute nor are they even funny. She’s conniving, mean-spirited, selfish, vain, disloyal, and wholly unlikable. Despite apparently "loving" her brother she treats him totally opposite, in true tsundere fashion but unlike most characters in this archetype she never backs down at all from this role. She uses everyone in the cast for her own selfish wants and then casts them away when she doesn’t need them anymore. Unable to even stay true to her new otaku friends she shuns them as soon as her "cool" personality and friendship with the “in crowd” is threatened. Additionally she is utterly unbelievable as a character. We are supposed to believe she is popular, athletic, a professional model, successful novelist, an imouto, AND an otaku? All before even entering high school? Right...
By the end of the anime little has changed for either Kirino or Kyousuke. They haven’t grown at all as characters or as people. Kyousuke remains an emotionless robotic proxy with no will or dreams of his own and still unable to see all the girls throwing themselves at his corpse of a personality. If Kirino had become better at expressing her love for her brother and her friends or even learned to embrace her hobby openly without care as to what other people thought, it might have made her character easier to take.
With lead characters this bad it really makes the supporting characters seem even worse by comparison, or better depending on who you’re talking about. The downside is everyone with the exception of Kuroneko and to a lesser degree Manami. Manami is Kyousuke's childhood friend and I suppose defacto girlfriend was a likable character who I actually felt pity for than anything else. She is poorly developed and mostly ignored by the plot but from a cast that is so poorly conceived she stands as a lone bright spot. In a better cast and with better leads she is probably lost as just an also-ran character.
Kuroneko on the other hand is different. She is actually a really interesting and well implemented character. As one of Kirino's new otaku friends she is basically everything that Kirino is not. She is true to herself and loyal to her friends. She is responsible and trustworthy and has her priorities in line. In one episode that shows her taking care of her little sister you can see from her actions that she honestly loves her sibling as she plays with her, puts up with her favorite anime, which she despises but she does so anyway. Although she is well aware that people and even her family thinks she is weird and abnormal, she doesn’t care and does as she likes. Because it gives her enjoyment. In my opinion Kirino doesn’t deserve her as a friend. Of all the people in this cast the only one I would want to hang out with willingly and be friends with is her.
Ore Imouto's visual aspects are top notch however. The character designs are pleasing to the eye and well proportioned. The settings and backgrounds are well done though a bit bland in some cases. Kirino's room is probably the most interesting with the most amount of things lying about. Some of the visual parodies and references to other anime and games I found were pretty amusing. Particularly those relating to Fate/Stay Night which appeared several times. I did enjoy the lack of tits and ass from the production and that went a long way towards making the show far less perverse as I had initially assumed it would be.
The seiyuu cast is also strong, featuring Ayana Takeatsu fresh off her success as Azusa from K-ON in the title role. It’s too bad she wasn’t given a better character to work with, but I think she played the part as well as it could have been. Other favorites of mine such as Yukari Tamura and Saori Hayami play smaller roles but overall I found all the performances to be very good. The music is a definite strength as well; ChariS OP "irony" is one of the better anime songs of the year.
When it comes down to it Ore Imouto is the kind of disposable anime that comes along every year. While it got more than its share of hype and press it is unlikely to be remembered in the years to come. I don’t necessarily think this is a terrible show, it has aspects that I think are terrible but overall I can’t say I hated it either. It had just enough to keep my interest from week to week and little else. I suggest you ignore the hype and skip this anime. If you want to see an anime about otaku that doesn’t pander to them, watch Kuragehime instead. You can thank me later.
13 of 13 episodes seen
The premise of Working!! puts us into the inner workings of a family restaurant. The employees run the gambit of strangeness and mental issues to setup all the outstanding and original comedy that awaits us. That’s sarcasm by the way. At the start of the show the restaurant is shorthanded and the search for a new part timer to help out ends with our typical over burdened high schooler, this time named Souta Takanashi. Apparently the financial distress of Japanese families is quite high and even though he lives in a modest house with three working age sisters and an alleged mother (I am assuming she existed, they said she did kind of like my Papa told me Santa Claus lived in the North Pole when I was five...) that they must put their high school younger brother to work to make ends meet. It’s such a romantic setting that can only occur in Asia apparently. The bastion of child labor and exploitation... oh wait I was talking about our lovely heartfelt slave err labor anime!
From the very beginning the show is decidedly unimpressive. The cast comes off completely stereotypical and clichéd from the start. Every character type is represented there has ever been there, in all their glory. Now this isn’t exactly new ground here, we see this in practically everything and at this point there basically are no original characters anymore. But these characters for the most part come off as bland copies, devoid of personality and psychotic misfits I would sooner see hauled off by a van with padded walls driven by guys in lab coats.
However, this starts to change and by mid series things start to actually get pretty fun and amusing. Characters which are annoying take a back seat and others which initially were the worst actually develop into pretty solid and interesting personalities. I found it unusual that I could have such a completely different opinion of certain characters in such few episodes from the beginning to the end of the series.
Things really fall apart though in the last episode. I was well on my way to having an average to above average experience with this anime until once again the characters that made watching this show such a pain in the beginning, bring it down into the sewer. I always find it strange how people who claim to all be "friends" in some of these shows can do the things they do to each other, even in fun and for their own selfish amusement. There are some lines that just can’t be crossed however and over the years I have found I have grown tired of humiliation and deviant behavior being used for laughs.
The cast is ripe with love and hate characters. On the positive side is our lead, Takanashi. At first I found him to be an initial source of annoyance as he looked to be your typical lolicon. Thankfully this wasn’t the case and he manages to develop into a pretty nice leading man and one whom the viewer can relate and root for. He is a bit strange in his own right, which is love of cute things but this is mostly harmless and for the most part is the only voice of reason and sanity.
Next to him would be another character who I thought would be irritating, Inami, who contrary to what the viewer might think from the start is actually the lead heroine. She suffers from a fear of men which makes her want to punch any man she sees. This of course causes a lot of problems in a working environment populated by both men and women and results in quite a few punches to the face of our unfortunate leading man. Despite this, as the reasons for her fears is revealed and her struggles with conquering them makes her ultimately a very interesting and satisfying character.
The bad would be pretty much everyone else. Characters initially amusing like the cute and adorable Taneshima become narcissistic perverts and contribute to my eventual disdain for this title. Others are just completely boring and unamusing. This would include characters such as the one dimensional restaurant manager, head waitress, and kitchen staff as well as Takanashi's useless sisters. While there are a few laughs with them along the way, they’re totally devoid of likability. Their contribution, through their selfish behavior, to ruining what should have been a touching final episode and the culmination of the series makes me despise them even more.
One of the real positives though is what initially attracted me to Working!! The artwork is really good. Despite my negative feelings for many of the characters, their designs were very good. I thought the humor was expressed very effectively through the animation when it was actually funny. The OP animation was also really cute and charming, even though the music itself was a bit ordinary. Vocally the acting is pretty average all around with nothing exceptionally bad or good.
Overall, Working!! is just too uneven an experience to be considered even average. Was I too harsh with this? Perhaps, but at this point I feel I have grown tired of certain anime fetishes. Incest, psychologic trauma from horribly inexcusable parenting, and cross-dressing are just a few. While there is nothing incestuous in this the other two are on display proudly. Is Working!! worth watching? I think that depends. If you’re a relatively new or inexperienced anime viewer this will likely be amusing to you and the things that stand out as clichéd won’t seem so much so. Anyone else should give it a pass, I sure wish I had.
12 of 12 episodes seen
The premise for Kämpfer is a bit unique. While it shares many of the same themes as shows like Ikkitousen and Sekirei, Kämpfer deviates by essentially making the male lead one of his own harem by forcing him to transform into a girl in order to participate in the battles. The girls are divided into factions, red and blue, and must battle each other to the death (apparently) at the behest of a mysterious and sinister sounding faction known as the Moderators. From the start we seem to be set for a series chalk full of exciting action and ecchi gender bending comedy. By mid series we have our completed harem all vying for the affections of our clueless nondescript leading man (more on him later). Initially I found Kämpfer had a lot of potential for delivering some interesting action and some really entertaining comedy. Unfortunately it doesn't take too long for things to start to unravel. Mainly because the series makes the mistakes many others have made before, trying to be and do too many things instead of just keeping things simple. It was also a bit creepy the matter-of-fact way the lead accepted his fate of becoming a girl and his constantly flip flopping back and forth between masculinity and femininity. This element always tends to bother me a bit in gender bending stories and its rare that it actually really works.
For a show that appeared to be about action and fighting there is a shocking lack of any real fighting in it. Very little about why the girls are fighting is even explained adequately and the ending to the series is in a word: pathetic. Additionally even the ecchi is inadequate with even the supposed "uncensored" version of the show lacking anything all that arousing. The comedy which at times is pretty good is not good enough, enough of the time to really be very pleasing in that aspect either. While normally I would scoff at the mention of any kind of serious romance or drama coming out of a harem anime, the series does try to deliver some of this as well. Some of it works but the characters are so uninteresting and lifeless that the impact is really lost.
Because of the mediocre nature of all of the shows elements it’s unlikely to appeal to fans of any of these genres. Those who like action or romance will not be satisfied and neither will fans of ecchi since all of the service is pretty tame and pedestrian by current standards. Combining that with the terrible ending that fails to resolve neither the main plot or any of it's subplots and we have almost total across the board fail.
The characters really bare the blunt of the blame for Kämpfer being so uninspired. This is nowhere more evident than with our harems leading man, er woman, Natsuru. Now this is nothing new to anyone who has watched any harems. Typically it’s the girls who always shine brightest in these sorts of shows with the guy being a typically plain and indecisive proxy for the fantasies of the intended, mostly male audience. The only difference here is that the guy is in fact one of the girls too. Though other than being hot and combined the stereotypical guy in a girls body humor there is absolutely nothing interesting about "her" either. Maybe the most memorable thing about Natsuru though is he is without a doubt the most clueless and colossally stupid man in the history of the universe. Really dude, buy a fucking clue! I wanted to reach through the TV and slap him myself. I actually almost felt sorry for those girls.
Speaking of the girls they unfortunately don’t fair much better. They meet all the usual harem standards by combining a tomboyish childhood friend, moe oujosama, tsundere meganekko, and cool aloof student council president. They are about as exciting as their descriptions too. Perhaps the only exception is Akane, the bespectacled tsundere. Though this may only have been because of my affinity for the character type and that she was voiced by Yue Horie then out of any real quality. The supporting cast is equally as clichéd and unmemorable. So much so that I doubt I could even remember any of their names without looking at the cast list first.
The best thing to come out of the cast is clearly the talking stuffed "Entrails Animals" that serve as companions for each of the Kämpfer. The fact that they were all voiced by very well known seiyuu was a big part of it but they were really the only characters who were actually funny. You know a series is in a lot of trouble when the highlight of the show is the preview of the next episode and the summary before the episode starts (all coincidently voiced by these characters). I felt that a huge opportunity was missed in not making these characters more involved in the episodes dialogue and comedy bits. I felt there was a lot of untapped potential left behind.
Artistically Kämpfer is solid but unspectacular. The girls are cute and have nice figures and our leading man is at least somewhat manly in at least appearance. I thought the breasts were pretty silly looking though, a bit too torpedoish looking. Kind of a peeve of mine that if you’re going to show me these girls tits all the time that they don’t even look natural. Even if they are usually obscured by the usual convenient steam and light beams. The action scenes are also not that spectacular either, which is even more disappointing considering how few their actually are.
The voice acting is the best and only real bright spot of the anime. A real all star lineup of acting talent is on display but unfortunately they all had very little to work with. The musical performances were fair. I was a little disappointed at who they actually had perform the OP/ED songs considering the talent they had available.
Overall there is nothing for me to recommend about this anime. It fails as a action, harem, or even ecchi comedy. While it does have its moments at times there is not enough of any one thing to really appeal to fans of any of these genres. Stay clear, you can do a lot better than this one.
26 of 26 episodes seen
The premise behind Maid-sama has an initially interesting hook. Misaki Ayuzawa is the newly elected student council president at a mostly male high school. She is strict and violent in protection of the female students and in making it a place friendlier to girls. But she has a secret that could ruin her image as the tough and unyielding class president, she works part time in a Maid Cafe to help her family with the bills. Of course this means that the ultimate alpha male at the school, Usui Takumi, will find out about her secret. Blackmail, as only shoujo can do ensues... or does it?
Thankfully the answer is no but what does follow, at least initially is a pretty fun and entertaining back and forth repartee between Misaki and Usui. Misaki is revealed to not be quite the man hating tyrant she is in school and Usui is not the cold, unfeeling ladies man either. The romantic chemistry between the two characters is quite good and builds very quickly early on. But the typical problems that plague shoujo romances soon follow. Relationship development slows to a crawl and nothing of significance happens after the first third of the series until its end. Despite this the series does end with a bang and has a very touching and satisfying conclusion which is probably the only thing that saved it from a lower overall score.
Maid-sama at its best is extremely funny and enjoyable to watch. The series' comedy is really quite good most of the time. But no amount of jokes can hide the fact that it doesn’t have any kind of story what so ever. Misaki's job at Maid Latte is mostly just a gimmick, and besides for a handful of episodes it’s totally unimportant to the plot. Basically what we get is a series of loosely connected stories with the same underlying theme. Even though they are mostly funny it gets tiring when you realize that nothing significant is ever happening. When things do finally start to get interesting between our couple, not unexpectedly a rival appears. Though he is so poorly conceived and much too late to the party to have any real significance. It was almost like someone in the production staff realized with five episodes to go that they nearly made an entire anime without a love triangle. Though despite all of this the biggest flaw is the sheer weight of supporting characters and their overall detraction to the screen time and back-story of the lead characters.
Misaki makes for a good heroine. She is quite funny walking the line between her dictator president and her submissive maid persona's. However she is a bit of your stereotypical tsundere, but it's easy to root for her. Shockingly we really don't find out all that much about her with the exception of some flashbacks of when she was a little girl (which in actuality weren't even about her). Other than learning her father had walked out on her mother and sister, leaving enormous debts and apparently they are also really poor. An aside to Misaki's family poverty though. I thought the way they portrayed her family was kind of offensive. The inside of the house is crumbling and dirty. Walls have paint peeling off them, the floor has holes in it, and their are spider webs and other cliches. Yes we get it, they're poor. Like poor people can’t keep a clean house? Besides this is completely out of character for someone as meticulous as Misaki. When you consider how fanatical she is at school about keeping things clean and orderly the very idea that she wouldn't do the same at home is totally implausible.
Usui on the other hand initially comes off as the kind of love interest I hate. Aloof, privileged, and apparently great at everything he tries he is precisely the kind of ideal man that makes shoujo romances so unbelievable. However it is pretty quickly apparent he isn't your typical leading man. You can tell he is immediately smitten with Misaki from the start and he uses this droll personality of his to push her buttons and amuse himself while at the same time bring her closer to him. I ended up liking him quite a bit. Like Misaki, his past remains as much of a mystery at the end as it was at the beginning. Especially frustrating considering the amount of time that was given to Misaki's childhood friend Shintani who basically only appeared in 4 episodes.
The supporting cast really brings down this series though. As much as I enjoyed the leads, I found the rest of the cast to be uninspired and lacking substance. The main reason for this is that there are just way too many of them. Maid-sama features nearly 30 supporting characters and they take way too much from the ones that are actually important. Even if many of them are likable and funny, they have absolutely zero depth and at best one facet to their personalities. Stories with lots of characters rarely work that well especially when the majority serve no purpose and overlap one another. Too many of them are basically identical to each other and were unnecessary. For example I know having a cross dresser is a shoujo staple but having more than one in the same anime is overkill, regardless of whether or not they both did it willingly.
The anime is well acted and I enjoyed the performances for the lead actors in particular. Though neither of them are rookies by any means, they aren’t the typical names we are used to seeing at the top of a cast either. So I enjoyed hearing some fresh voices for a change. The music is solid but unspectacular. Saya Mizuno's "My Secret" is an appropriate if kind of generic shoujo OP. Both ED songs by heidi are pretty good though and I liked them a lot more.
Artistically Maid-sama is strong. I did enjoy the character designs and the frequent use of deformed and chibi characters to complement the series comedy. The art really brings out the emotions of Misaki and Usui and is able to speak volumes about their feelings for one another even with nothing is being said. The quality of this non audible communication is one of the best I have seen in an anime.
Even though I was ultimately disappointed with this anime, it was not a complete waste of time to watch. If you enjoy Rom-Com anime then you will most likely not be sorry for watching this. The comedy is great; the romance is hit or miss.
12 of 12 episodes seen
Much like the original, Strike Witches 2 features a plot you could have written out on a cocktail napkin. The fight against the Neuroi continues, this time moving on to Romagna, which is the real world analog of Italy. The girls of the 501st Fighter wing are reformed to battle the Neuroi presence. Happily, especially early in the series the action is really ramped up. But what is likely to disappoint is the lack of any development of the enemy. None of the important events of the first series were carried over and the Neuroi returned to being a faceless and unthinking enemy. I was also disappointed that nothing new was explained about the disappearance of Miyafugi's father. The series does climax with an epic battle, culminating with the use of a special magical attack that is pretty much the only reoccurring plot element over the course of the show.
Despite the lack of any substantive plot however, the series does shine over each episode. Instead of a story, the episodes focus on building the characters of our various heroines. New witches are brought into the fold, the most interesting being Barkhorn's countryman and rival Mariselle. The episodes range from being the usual comedic silliness to light drama and quite a bit more yuri undertones than in the previous series. As expected the ecchi content is extremely high, so if that annoys you then this really isn’t your show. Much like the first season, the forthcoming DVDs will be featuring a bounty of boobs and booty, unblocked by the TV versions convenient sunbeams and steam clouds. Though as pervy as it is, for me it seemed much less exploitive and in your face as it did previously. So those who might be on the fence might be relieved to know that the series doesn’t revolve around seeing some underage girls panties, you just happened to see them a lot.
As with the original, SW2 features its unique mix of World War 2 history with all of the magic and witchcraft. Fans of military history will be delighted to see the attention to detail paid to the designs of all the various nations’ naval ships and right down to the aviation correlations with the witches Striker Units and the weapons they carry into battle. I am by no means an authority but I can tell the amount of research and attention to detail the production staff went to in order to have each of the girls use nation specific weaponry and unit names.
Because of the weakness of the main story, what really carries the series is its wonderful cast. While the cast is quite large and it’s really impossible to do justice to all of the girls, SW2 does a pretty good job at trying. Obviously you will get far more out of this series if you already have the familiarity with them that comes with seeing the first season. For the most part each girl or pairing gets their own episode to build on their characters. I found some characters that I didn’t particularly care for previously, such as Perrine, were much more fun and likable this time around. Though others like Lucchini remained annoying. As I mentioned earlier, more time was spent developing some yuri relationships between several of the characters. Though it’s nothing particularly significant, fans of that sort of thing are sure to be pleased.
Visually the art and animation is quite stunning. For me other than the pure fun I had watching it this was the best element of series. The girls are extremely cute and appealing and since we see so much of them in their birthday suits they are also realistically proportioned. The series combat scenes are exciting and chalk full of a combination of conventional battle and magical effects. The detail of the various backgrounds which feature many famous Italian landmarks and the countryside. Everything from the naval and military forces down to the ammo clips on the weapons has a very authentic feel to them.
The music really sets the tone for each episode. The upbeat OP performed by Youko Ishida pumped me up for the fun that proceeded after. The ED theme is similarly enthusiastic and changes up week by week as it is performed by different members of the cast. The background music also enhances the series many battle scenes. The seiyuu cast is strong and full of many of the industry’s top talents.
I loved this series enormously and I am going to be very sad to see it go away. Despite all the things about this show that should make every ounce of my feminist being burst into flames, Strike Witches was just really fun. Everything it lacks in substance (and clothing) is more than made up in sheer entertainment value. Turn off your brain and smile a little and I think you will enjoy it as much as I did.
1 of 1 episodes seen
Bungaku Shoujo or Literature Girl is about a young girl, Touka Amano who eats books. Yes she literally eats books. She can’t eat normal food apparently. Of course it would have been really nice of the story to actually tell us WHY she eats books but unfortunately we have to divine that answer for ourselves. Perhaps I could have slit open a goat’s stomach or read the source materials in order to get the answer to that but honestly why should I have to? That’s the movie's job to provide me with those necessary answers. The only answer we are given is she’s a literature girl, as if that explains everything. And thus that is the main problem with the entire movie in general, it’s called Literature Girl but it’s really not even about her. Touka is basically a side character in her own movie.
Well the real story eventually reveals itself to be about a young writer, Konoha Inoue who after winning an important literary contest a couple years before and subsequently his novel became a national sensation. But do to a personal tragedy that followed this, he has vowed to never write again. Konoha lives as an ordinary high school student since his book was published under a pseudonym and he has remained anonymous. Rather far-fetched idea really as he has seemingly managed to keep this a secret from his family as well. Of course this completely ignores the fact that it is also incredibly unlikely that a middle school student is going to have the ability to write such a novel to begin with. But I digress.
The drama that unfolds does manage to be pretty compelling however. I did find myself engaged and interested in the story. While the major story arc is adequately resolved to many additional questions linger at the end. As mentioned before we learn really next to nothing about Touka herself. The only reason I think I understood it as much as I did was by additionally watching the preview OVA and the Memorie OVA. I would suggest anyone interested in this title to do the same to get the maximum amount of enjoyment from it. I am unclear as to whether this movie will get a follow up movie or perhaps even a TV/OVA series to further explain all of this but taking this film by itself as it currently stands, I would have to say as an adaptation it fails.
As mentioned the titular character, Touka is really left to be mostly a mystery. Personality wise I found her to be a likable character which a lot of potential if they had explored it. She felt like an odd mix-mash of Haruhi Suzumiya and Yuki Nagato. But other than being likable she really doesn’t make that much of an impression. The male lead Inoue is typical for the genre. A soft spoken, effeminate nice guy. Though I did feel he was presented very well and made for an interesting character. The struggles he has in dealing with his own personal demons I think were mostly realistic and understandable. With one exception, the rest of the supporting cast is mostly just background. The only ones who really even stood out to me at all were the ones voiced by actors I happen to like.
Above all the characters would be Miu Asakura, who is at the center of all of the stories drama. She is both the films chief antagonist and protagonist, particularly over the last half of the movie. Miu by far has the biggest impact on the film and really steals the show for herself. When you consider she’s voiced by Aya Hirano, I suppose it’s not surprising she would have the most impactful role. While Miu makes for an extremely convincing psychopath, some of the reasons behind her mental break didn’t exactly add up to what she eventually became. This being said, she is the brightest spot in the show character wise.
The acting is clearly the best part of Bungaku Shoujo. I thought Aya Hirano was exceptional as the psychotic Miu and I think it might be the best pure acting performance of her career. Many other well known seiyuu stars such as Nana Mizuki and Aki Toyasaki appear but unfortunately their characters are mostly unimportant to the film. Musically this film is just average. Neither the films background music nor ED song was really that moving, despite the latter being performed by eufonius.
Artistically the film is good. The backgrounds are quite stunning and color palette is soft and pleasant. The one thing that did strike me was just how similar so many of the characters looked however. It’s almost like most of them had exactly the same face, just with different hair and eye colors. While it’s not hard to distinguish them from each other at all I just found it a bit unsettling to look at.
Overall this movie only rates as average with me. Sure I did actually enjoy the movie quite a bit despite all its warts. However the large number of important questions about the overall story and title character really detracts from it as a whole. Until such time more of this information is presented to us in future works, then I suspect only fans of the original works would really get much out of this film.
13 of 13 episodes seen
The story as it’s called is as weak, pointless, and clichéd as they come. Our excruciating high school harem all live happily in their coed dormitory, frolicking in the bath together, sharing wonderful meals prepared of course by the master cook amongst them, and all lusting after the uninteresting indecisive male lead. On a side note, I am always amazed at how early Japanese kids seem to be able to master something. It’s always funny when kids are suddenly master chefs despite having no real training. But that’s not the point and assigning any sociological meaning to this pile of feces is an exercise in futility. Our cast meanders through the so called plot through a series of very loosely connected episodes focusing on one member of the harem. In a way it feels almost like a collection of six OVAs tied together by a common them and wrapped up in a single final episode. They are all extremely formulaic with two episodes for each girl. Each girl’s arc explains of course why they are so in love with our lead and usually revolve around all the many people on their island trying to tear them apart so they can’t all live together as a wonderful happy family! Aw!!! Let me wipe away my tears. (note: these tears are from realizing what I have done to myself in watching this not because of any genuine emotionalism from the story)
I really find it difficult to go into much detail with my analysis of the characters of the individual stories. For one they are devoid of any personality or originality to even comment much on, but also because most of the show is quite vague in my memory. This is due to the fact it took me nearly six months to watch, as I was only able to stomach about 2 episodes a month and also because I have bleached a large portion of it from my mind to protect myself from serious psychological damage. Overall though I think the most disappointing thing about this anime is that a gigantic tsunami or an asteroid didn't appear at the end and swipe out the island, ridding the world of their presence.
Our spectacular leading man is Wateru Hoshino. He’s quite the hunk (not really) and I hesitate to say it but I suppose his closest analog would be someone like Tomoya from Clannad, except without any personality or likability. I suppose it’s mostly because he is voiced by the same actor. Wateru is a delinquent and he feels the need to help every girl on the island to expand his harem even though he refuses to actually make a move on any of them.
As for his lifeless harem we have our standard clichés. Rinna is the sporty girl who doesn’t want to be friends with everyone at first because they have to all move away in a year. Really? But apparently this really pisses off the rest of them and they have to show her the power of friendship! It’s so moving! Oh wait, I think that’s this morning’s burritos... Umi is our standard anime childhood friend, completely devoted to our lead despite not getting the time of day basically from him. Her wish is just not to be alone! NO!!! Don’t leave me alone! We should all live happily together forever! If I was Wateru, I feel I would have said, "Get lost bitch! You're annoying." Next is our loli and emotionless robotic girl, Shizu. She’s messed up because her parents are total douche bags but thanks to Wateru he is able to take her away from their cold treatment so she can experience the joys of their dormitory life. This includes bathing together with our pedophile leading man and other clichéd anime activities. Miya is our oujosama who frankly is so completely uninspired and uninteresting (even in this cast) that I can’t even remember what it is she wanted. Something about collecting newspaper clippings. Literally it was THAT exciting. Naoko is our perfect girl and closet tsundere. Perfect body, exceptional student, class president, and of course is unable to show our lead the way she really feels! It’s so touching I just want to... oh god it’s the burritos again. Last but not least is our sensei, Saeri. The fact that she doesn’t act like an adult and is actually a serious love interest of her own student speaks volumes.
Usually when something is this dreadful, I can find at least something to compliment. With the artwork and the animation quality that’s not the case either. It is completely 3rd rate and devoid of anything that might be misconstrued as talent. Backgrounds are bland and cheap looking while the characters are equally uninspired or appealing. The quality of the animation is also extremely poor, with many of the motions looking very awkward and unrealistic. It’s obvious that this was made cheaply and I feel a bit ashamed to say that the artists are this untalented. But the results do speak for themselves and its completely obvious to the eye that to everyone involved this was a paycheck and not a work of love.
If there is only one thing remotely positive to be said about this anime then it can only be about the soundtrack. And that is only because it is noticeably less horrible than the story or artwork. The OP/ED songs are bland and very ordinary. However compared to some of the songs that have graced other anime they are masterpieces. The seiyuu cast has really only one talent, the voice of Wateru the rest of the cast is made up of little used and unknowns who were probably desperate for any work and eroge actors. The lack of talent definitely shows and the lack of ability shows, particularly the incessant crying which sounds like a more like something you'd hear in a hentai gang rape scene.
Without a doubt this anime is the worst pile of crap ever inflicted on an unwitting public. I firmly believe that everyone involved in the production of this anime should be rounded up and arrested and tried in the World Court for crimes against humanity. Or at the very least they should never be allowed to work in the industry again. Think of all the children in Japan who were harmed in the airing of this program. Then again, even Japan had to know this sucked really badly and the ratings had to have been abysmal. Small miracles.
26 of 26 episodes seen
The overall story in Telepathy is both the best and worst part of the series. While there really isn’t an overriding plot, the general theme is pretty interesting and in many ways unique from most anime of this kind. The story centers on Ran, a seemingly normal middle school student who suddenly finds herself able to read minds and possessing other strange powers. In a turn that is a bit different from most series, the plot focuses more on the feelings of fear and isolation of being different from everyone else and how people's impressions of you would change if they found out. While the story is generally light-hearted and upbeat, this theme permeates the entire anime and is the basis for most of the stories. At times the drama is pretty intense, particularly when it comes to Ran's friend Midori who shares her powers. The conflict between the two of them and the development of their characters (particularly Midori) as the series progresses is without a doubt the best part of the entire show.
However it’s not all good. As I mentioned, the series is uneven and that is due mostly to the story. While the beginning portions of the show are extremely interesting as well as portions later on that have to do with Midori's character development, too much of it feels a bit too much like mindless fluffy filler. Many of the stories are monster/freak of the week fare and the only thing that makes them interesting at all is Midori's antics. Though of all the series faults the one that annoyed me the most was the eco-rant and violence in the last story arc of the series. While I have no problem with message stories, this came across as a lecture and really was inappropriate. Though the overall ending seemed to tie things together, I really hate feeling like I am being preached to.
By far, the characters make this series worth watching. As a lead, Ran is pretty typical. She is an earnest and idealistic girl we are used to seeing in anime. She is a bit vanilla but despite that she is going to be the one most people will be able to relate to. Shockingly she is surprisingly normal (despite her telepathic powers) and unlike a lot of anime characters she actually has a normal home life free of perverted brothers and fathers or dead or missing parents completely. It's kind of a shame that I seem to have to point out normalcy when it actually occurs in anime given how rare normal is. But I think it’s refreshing to see a family like this instead of using it for cheap laughs or tired drama plot devices.
Midori however really steals the show overall. While she starts off as a villainess her growing friendship with Ran and their personality conflicts really sets her apart. Her personality could best be described as a closet tsundere. While she puts up a facade of being the demure and elegant rich girl while in reality she is a crabby, foul mouthed glutton. Her crush on Ran's older brother Rin is also quite amusing. However it is the deep emotional scars under the surface and the development of her character over the series that really sets her apart. Midori's experiences is in many ways is what Ran herself feared the most. The rejection of Midori by her mother when she found out about her powers shaped her whole outlook on life but through her friendship with Ran and helping others she is able to come to grips with her powers and her mother.
Rui rounds out the rest of the main cast. He is also the least interesting to me. He is your typical effeminate anime male who mostly comes across as an emotionless robot. I suppose you could call him Ran's boyfriend and while you can certainly tell that he cares and likes Ran a lot there is little change in how he appears to feel about anything really from the first episode to the last.
The supporting cast is pretty solid. Ran's family is refreshingly normal but because of this they aren’t particularly interesting either nor do they really appear much either. The only exception would be her brother Rin, who has the most screen time. They provide bits of levity and comic relief, though perhaps ultimately end up rehabilitating Midori the most from her emotional scars. Since a lot of the stories are a bit standalone most characters appear once and don’t return again.
Artistically, Telepathy is good though not spectacular. The characters are suitably proportioned for their age groups and realistic. That being said it does feel a bit plain and bland. This is not really a bad thing, as I kind of liked the more down to earth and realistic style but given how flashy a lot of series are some people may find it visually dull. Vocalist Chara does an excellent performance with the OP to the anime which I felt fit the show wonderfully. The ending is less spectacular. Overall the voice acting is solid and there is little to complain about, or compliment either for that matter.
I find myself feeling both rewarded and disappointed with this show in the end. I think it had potential to be much better but at the same time it is never bad either. The repetitive stories and environmental raving at the end is a definite negative however this is offset by the great leading cast. It’s a pretty safe series in that it is unlikely to be hated by anyone but equally unlikely to be loved either.
3 of 3 episodes seen
The plot is ridiculous and silly, even by anime standards. Nor does it really make any sense either. It’s not that this really matters, because clearly what it is about is gigantic tits, tank tops and low angle panty shots. Though I was not going into this expecting a deep storyline but everything that is presented is completely nonsensical and a bit disturbing. What you might be able to decipher from it though is that a secret organization is making human-animal hybrids for unknown purposes. I think. Or maybe they are just spontaneously happening on their own, apparently because they are lonely. I get lonely too sometimes. Does this mean I am going to wake up one morning with rabbit years and a fluffy tail?
And now, on to our hero and heroines. Every good harem anime (and bad one too) needs a dull, lifeless, loser hero to attract his covey of buxom babes. Haru fills this role, as the animal loving guy who must fend off his slutty harem from making him see their enormous tits or trying to sleep with him. I mean what kind of teenager would want that!? Mikami/Mimika and Miku star as the chief threats to his virginal ways. Mikami is a violent girl but when merged with the rabbit she becomes a completely different type as the moe affectionate stupid girl Mimika. The story manages to delve into Mikami's sad and tragic past but there is little emotional meat behind any of it. The most unbelievable part about Mikami is her total and complete lack of any reaction to becoming half rabbit. I mean really? Hello? You have bunny ears and a tail! This doesn't freak your out even a little bit? She basically just treats it like its always been that way. On the other hand, Miku is our long suffering childhood friend who has always loved the male lead but doesn’t have the courage to say so. Yawn... where have I seen this before? Oh yeah, everywhere!
The supporting cast exists mostly for laughs. The villains are shadowy and lack any substance to make them hated or to even understand their motives. Of all of them Chou, the dog boy is probably the most amusing character in the series. The running gag with his changing headband was worth a few chuckles.
Artistically this show is really not appealing at all. If your desire is to see breasts and up skirt shots there are other anime that do it far better than this one. The breasts in particular are absurd looking and I have to honestly wonder if the artist behind these designs has ever even seen a real woman naked before. The action and fighting scenes are not compelling either. I suppose the music track and acting would constitute the high point of this series but that is giving it too much credit. They are average at best though some of the character voices are annoying to listen to. Mimika's performance in particular is increasingly irritating and grates on ones nerves as the show progresses.
Even hard core fans of ecchi and bunny ears would be hard pressed to find anything remarkable about Usagi-chan. If you really want to watch girls fighting you would be better off with something like Ikkitousen or Sekirei.
24 of 24 episodes seen
Kobato herself begins as a bit of a mystery, tasked with a mission of healing the hearts of others in order for her to be granted her own wish. Despite being a hopeless idiot and incurably moe, Kobato does the best she can helping others. She is guided and protected by Ioryogi, an important figure from the spirit world who appears to Kobato in the form of a stuffed animal. The reasons for her mission, her origins, and the reason for Ioryogi's appearance are explained as the story unfolds.
Most of the plot is going to be fairly predictable to anyone who's seen many series like this and the early episodes are a bit formulaic. However this does change as the plot thickens over the last half of the series. I found the pacing to be good and I never felt that it lingered or stalled for too long in any place for me to get bored with it. Maybe the only exception would be the first half dozen episodes, with their similar and episodic plotlines. I was never blown away with any of it despite Kobato's overwhelming cuteness, but the ending story arc is both heartwarming and heat wrenching. But I did like the ending overall and felt it wrapped up the series nicely and tied up all the loose ends.
The main reason to watch Kobato is for the titular character. She is overbearingly adorable in every way. Her character design is extremely appealing and she has possibly the best wardrobe I have yet seen in anime. Kobato could be the poster girl for moe; she’s earnest, innocent, naive, lacking any common sense, and impossibly stupid. On the surface one would probably think she lacked substance as well. While you could definitely say this early on, due to the length of the series and the time spent growing and developing her character she eventually becomes a great all around protagonist, instead of just a moe figurehead.
Kobato's main foil would be her guardian Ioryogi. A quick tempered spirit stuck in the form of a stuffed animal, he is constantly berating Kobato for her stupidity and chastising her for not staying on task. However despite his gruff nature it’s obvious that he really loves and cares about her too. The relationship between them is the source of a lot of the shows humor, and I found the pair to be quite a delight to watch.
The other most important character to the story would be the introverted and standoffish Fugimoto. I am not really a big fan of Fugimoto's type and always feel this is an overused cliché, particularly in shoujo and romance anime. I don’t think I will ever understand why girls find this kind of guy to be appealing. Why would you want to break down the guys emotional barriers and deal with all his baggage when there are plenty of other guys who are actually nice to you? Someday I hope to understand this mindset.
The rest of the supporting cast is handled well and for the most part quite interesting. Sayaka is the most important, as the head of the preschool that Fugimoto and Kobato work. The great majority of the story takes place at the school and revolves around their efforts to save it from villainous loan sharks. Sayaka is given some back story and development but most of the remaining cast remains mostly static. They push the story in the right direction when needed and then fade from view. This is a good thing since it allows the show to focus on those who deserve the screen time.
I am not particularly a huge fan of CLAMP artwork and designs. While their drawings are undoubtedly brilliant and beautiful (particularly when drawing children), I never liked the skinny and malnourished looking characters. However, I was pleasantly surprised that this wasn’t the case in Kobato and the production studio opted for a more normal look. While everyone is still a bit too thin, they don’t look like they are starving to death. What really won me over and why I think this is perhaps the most visually appealing work yet was Kobato and her beautiful clothing. Also, being a CLAMP product you can expect are to see plenty of references and cameos by familiar characters from their other works. It is nice that at least for the important ones, they don’t seem to reuse the same old models with different names. This may or may not be a bonus to some fans, but for me it was refreshing.
The series music, the OP theme and the in between songs are cute and very fitting of the series nature. In addition the acting is solid all around. Kobato's seiyuu is suitably adorable sounding and brings out her personality. Though it does become a bit grating and overly cute at times, it is a minor annoyance and it probably wouldn’t work as well with a more mature sounding voice.
Overall I found Kobato to be a rewarding and wonderful viewing experience. If you like cute and adorable things, CLAMP, light hearted and touching stories with a hint of romance; then Kobato should be high on your list. If you really dislike moe or need action to be entertained than this is something you should stay away from. While it may not go down as an all-time classic, Kobato will leave you with a smile.