Thursday, July 18, 2013

Playlist - Young and Beautiful

Lana del Rey's haunting music from the original soundtrack of The Great Gatsby is my favorite song for the past two weeks. Play this video to be mesmerized.

WYD Rio 2013

Wishing I could be there. But since I won't be able to go with my vagabond shoes here's a promo trailer for the 2013 World Youth Day to be held in Rio de Janeiro this coming July 23-28, 2013. I'll be celebrating in spirit together with every folks from all over the world praying for their safety, enjoyment and harmony.

Monday, July 8, 2013

First Look: Stella Jogakuin Koutouka C3-bu

Year: 2013 | Based on the manga series written by Ikoma and illustrated by Tomomoka Midori |
 Directed by: Masayoshi Kawajiri | Studio: Gainax

So Girls und Panzer meets K-ON! 

I love those two aforementioned series and I'm a fan of them obviously. In a way my expectation for C3-bu is to be disappointed, after all the formula for "cute girls doing cute things" has been repeatedly done in anime countless of times. So what's new? For one, the studio that produced this anime is the same studio that brought us Evangelion. However, there is no Ikari Shinji here, everything looks nice and carefree, butterflies and daisies. For a summer season that is composed mainly of cute high school girls I am surprised that this one turns out to be rather enjoyable. Not sickening saccharine. These girls are weird and they are not afraid to show it. They are crazy about a hobby that doesn't get as much attention from other girls because it is known to be something rough, crude and dangerous. Of course the staple scenes of getting a new member for their underdog club is right there, but I really don't mind because the premise of the story is all about fun. The whole point is not to take itself seriously. I watch these shows to be relaxed, to get in touch with my inner child, and I'm glad that the first episode gave me a dose of that. 

P.S. I will be writing First Look entries for Servant x Service, Dog and Scissors, Genshiken, Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi, Uchouten Kazoku, and Blood Lad but it would be delayed for a few days due in part to real life circumstance. 

First Look: Free!

Year: 2013 | Written by: Masahiro Yokotani | Directed by Hiroko Utsumi
Studio: Kyoto Animation & Animation Do

Sparkles of shirtless able bodied bishounen's here and there. I am flabbergasted that there could be so much man-service for just one episode leaving me speechless. So hail to the fujoshi! However, it would be dismissive to say yaoi because this is created by a parent friendly studio to begin with. So don't even think about the possibility of BL for this show because it's not going to swing that way.

The first episode is more or less average -- not as great but not that bad either. The animation quality and the overall visuals - this being KyoAni is of course spectacular - but not at par with Hyouka. However, the concept (and these man candy's) pulls you straight in like a magnet. Due to the overwhelming fanservice I have to watch it three times to really get into the program without drooling and giggling. Now I'm stuck with that ED sequence and song. There is also an obvious gender bender thing going on with the characters names. And the stereotype is pretty much set. Haruka being the tsundere type, Nagisa with his big Moe eyes, Makoto as the softie, Rin as the badass a-hole, and Rei as the studious megane. 

Is it just me or am I seeing a female dominated season this Spring? Not for empowerment in my opinion but for the benefit of those male otaku's. While men are feasting over moe overload, us women only have Free! to revel on, and it's getting some unfair criticism from narrow minded people. For once, give us a break and let the women have a good time. We want our sexy males and it doesn't need to be translated as BL, okay. It wouldn't hurt if the writers could inject some women love interest to our Iwatobi studs as well. I don't know if that's possible but here's to hoping that we'll get some lovey dovey girl-boy factor in one or two episodes. 

Final Notes: Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge

Year: April 4, 2013 - June 27, 2013 | Directed by: YĆ«ji Yamaguchi
Episodes: 13 | Written by: Tatsuhiko Urahata | Based on the manga by Tatsuhiko Hikagi
Studio: Studio Gokumi | Roundup Rating: A-

This is the type of series that gets more better as it becomes much weirder. I don't think that Crime Edge suits the traditional anime route -- it's in its nature to be shocking and unnerving, and that's what sets it apart from the rest. Where its comfort zone lies is the uninitiated viewers discomfort. And I have no trouble with the blood, killing and the nibbling, well maybe except for the fluids. I rejoice and my attention is all focused when scenes are always out of the box. Maybe it sounds sick but I like pushing my mental threshold from time to time.

The animation is top notch, although it is more in the cutesy side, but the coloring/cinematography is so elaborately gorgeous that it balances out the strange and the kawaii. The summer season doesn't have a lot of quality anime to boast, so it is a relief that Crime Edge comes in perfectly as a sleeper hit with a rather unique storyline that could easily haunt our imaginations. I honestly want a second season after its rather vague conclusion. But I guess at the moment that would be out of the question since BD/DVD sales have always been a determining factor and so far Crime Edge is performing poorly at the market. It is such a shame that series like these are getting frowned over by the Japanese viewers in favor of lolicon's and siscon's of otaku fandom. If you want to watch something worthy of your time go ahead and pick up this series you'll definitely enjoy it from start to finish.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Someone's Always Better Than Me

Maybe I won't live overseas. I used to be frustrated all the time being left behind (and my soul sister Abigail Rose Zaide Juano knows all about this) because I've always wanted to live in Paris, Amsterdam or Kyoto. Whenever there's a friend or a relative packing their bags to live abroad I am struck malevolently with envy. But after travelling to Singapore City last year, reading a 3rd grade classmate's blog, and when one of my closest friend passed away last month (she died without having her passport stamped) I had a change of heart. So I'll be stuck here in the Philippines, eating my favorite street foods and pica-pica, enduring the summer sunshine the whole year round, getting rained on, having my hair smell like engine fumes, keep on hating the government and its bureaucrats and etc. But I would never stop shooting for the moon, even if the powers that be refuses to make it happen. I can always travel the world while living full time in my country -- all I needed to do is to save up some money. I don't care if I have to do it alone, I'm always alone after all. Some people couldn't watch movies in the cinema or attend rock concerts and eat at restaurants by themselves -- that's never an issue to me because I'm accustomed to going solo. Perhaps I'm just a second rate pauper with no good-looks and no special skills, with dumb luck and ADD, and I'll be chase around eternally by credit card collectors and law offices, but at least I have an awareness of this truth and I won't spend my cash recklessly ever again like I was some nouveau riche bitch. Life is hell. Happiness is a burden.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Final Notes: Suisei no Gargantia

Year: April 7, 2013 - June 30, 2013 | Directed by: Kazuya Murata
Episodes : 13 | Written by: Gen Urobuchi and Kazuya Murata
Studio: Production I.G. | Roundup Rating: A

I have no qualms about our world looking like this in the near future if I based it solely on the news I've been reading everyday. As I've stated on my 'First Look' Suisei no Gargantia has some elements of Water World and Star Wars. But only on the surface. This is a much different story.

There were episodes that I loved and episodes that turned me off, particularly the famous chapters 5 and 6 -- it didn't work for me and I think they were a waste. However, Urobuchi's visionary talent always sees it through, maybe not with a blast, but with a satisfying end. Actually, maybe I'm one of the rare few who prefers the nihilism on Gen's writing -- to the point of missing that side of him on Gargantia. But I think it wasn't lost here, maybe he wind it down a little for a change. So I'm glad that in the last episodes I was able to get that touch of Gen here and there.

Gargantia is a fascinating series. It made me sad how human beings can easily give up their humanity for the sake of survival. That's how I see it with the creation of the Hideauze. I can also see in the series how humans can be ruthless creatures, who are prone easily to corruption and manipulation without questioning their authority just for the sake of, again...survival. But their curiosity makes them move forward and it's with that same curious behavior their humanity can be improve and be regain.

Most of the hits and misses of this series --aside from that bothersome episode 5 and 6 -- has to do with the characters. The only one that I was able to understand fully is Chamber, and he is an AI mecha. Ledo and the entire Gargantian fleet was saved because of him. Maybe it can be true in the future that AI's will be more human than human when it comes to reason because they are not made to have lapses in judgment unlike us. Our ability to observe is faulty because we only see what we want to see and then we ignore the rest that doesn't strike as interesting. They, on the other hand, were created to observe everything about us human beings, they are objective and we are subjective. So yes, Chamber is the savior and the star of this show, and kudos to his voice actor Sugita Tomakazu for his unbelievable performance. (P.S. Everytime I hear Chamber I am reminded of Switch from Sket Dance, or maybe it's the other way around).

Additional final notes goes as well to the ED song by Choucho. I don't really like the OP so I'll dismiss that one right away. Music should always represent the anime rather than just something fun to listen to because if you cannot connect the song to the story then it's nothing but a piece of accessory. However, the lyrics for the ED "Sora To Kimi No Message" embodies perfectly the story between Ledo and Amy. And yes the closure between them two is a little vague, but I think it's already a given that they are special for each other, maybe not as lovers but surely more than friends. After all, Ledo is just on his way to discovering his full potential as a human and what it means to live like one.

So before I end this final note I'll leave it with an old quote that rings true with this series and it goes like this, "life is always about the journey and not the destination."

Final Notes: Hataraku Maou-sama!

Year: April 14, 2013 - June 27, 2013 | Directed by: Naoto Hosoda  
Episodes: 13 | Written by: Masahiro Yokotani | Based on the LN by: Satoshi Wagahara
Studio: White Fox | Roundup Rating: A

It is clear that I love Hataraku Maou-sama right from its PV until its very last episode. It took a surprising turn by being one of anime's unforeseeable frontrunner's in a season with a rather weak lineup. I'm not saying that it is the strongest show of the season because it does have its own moments of high and low, but mostly the former. I like how they made every day cliche's funny. Like it can be over the top hilarious but not distasteful. The magical side of the story is entertaining but I prefer its slice-of-life premise every time. You have people working in fast food, call center, then there is the discount shops, the hikikomori, the stalker, all kinds of people with different lifestyles all rolled in to one. I would also like to note that Tokyo, the city itself, is one of the main characters of this anime; every places and establishment portrayed is spot-on, and I like how it became a literal part of the story than just a mere backdrop for them to stand on. 

Speaking of characters, this season is filled with so many interesting MC's (male character's) that are not pathetic, absurd and overly pervy, which is a good thing. They are giving me a hard time whom to choose, but it is obvious to me that Maou Sadao is heading the race for the coveted title of favorite MC. I mean who wouldn't be fascinated with this guy? Once a master of all evil, overthrown from power, tossed to planet Earth and became a fastfood savant: hardworking, honest, nice and a gentleman. What's not to like, right? Then you have Ashiya/Alsiel, the uber loyal general (or waifu), probably the most funniest supporting character to walk on the face of anime, and I think everybody shares the same opinion with regards to this one. He has the perfect comedic timing, everything he says makes you laugh so hard and he's not even trying -- it's just there. With the girls, they are pleasant at times and enjoyable, but they do not hold the same candle with the men. They are more often annoying and their characters lack the same pow and development if you ask me. Even though Urushihara/Lucifer has limited screen time his character cannot be tops by Emi or Chiho. 

I think with Hataraku's success it is pretty much locked that we will be getting a second season. But who knows when. I've read some of its story from online forums and the writers from White Fox did a good job with the interpretation. They did not rush the story or made huge time skips to confuse the viewers. In my opinion, story is always the key for a successful adaptation. If it sucks, no matter how good the animation is it wouldn't be memorable. So I am grateful that they are taking their time to flesh out the story in an unhurried manner. 

So until then Maou and Co. I would be missing each week of hilarity, but I know you'll grace our presence soon. Make it fast. Your faithful viewer, Chin. 

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