AURON570 (Level 15)

kukuku, how did that laugh ever become cute?... mysteries of the world..
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Why hello there! I just had the time to watch episode 1 of Utakoi over at Crunchyroll.com, and thought I would give you some of my thoughts. I also worked on the episode 1 page, you can check it out here, with lots of screenshots.

The Plot

Utakoi, is an anime based on a Japanese poem anthology of 100 Poems, each poem written by a different author, which was compiled almost a thousand years ago. At the beginning of episode 1, Fujiwara introduces the 100 poems. Fujiwara is also the person who compiled the 100 Poems, and explains that by looking at the poems, it should be clear what he likes. The majority of the poems are about love (43 of 100 according to this series). The episode then shows the "stories" behind two of the poems. They are both love-themed.

Impressions: not too impressed

This is pretty, isn't it?
This is pretty, isn't it?

Visually the anime is alright. Since the poems were written almost a thousand years ago, we get to see a lot of traditional clothing and buildings. It has some nice art and the animation has it's ups and down. The voice acting is alright too, but nothing really stood out. Perhaps this is the nature of doing this sort of series. Even if the series restricts itself to only the 43 love poems and assuming this doesn't go more than 26 episodes, each poem will get less than 1 episode to tell it's story. This first episode did feel a little generic and rushed, but that might just be the nature of the beast. Because of the simple stories and art, Utakoi is easy to watch. For example, the first story could be boiled down to: guy finds girl attractive, girl resists him to save her dignity, girl falls for him anyway, they have an affair without anyone knowing. How romantic, right?

Alas poor Hiroko, I barely knew ye
Alas poor Hiroko, I barely knew ye

But because of the simplicity, I'm not really willing to contribute any more to the wiki for this series than I already have. :S Nothing really impressed me about this episode, and given how the series is going to be structured, I feel like it would be better if I just watched it more casually. That probably says more about my own reasons for working on the wiki as a whole, but that's for another post. ;)

Originally this series caught my eye because previously I had watched Chihayafuru, which featured the card game karuta, which uses the 100 Poems. I really enjoyed Chihayafuru and was interested to see the 100 Poems in a new way. This first episode didn't really do that for me, but I suppose if I really wanted to learn about the 100 Poems, I'd go to the library and actually find some books on them, or maybe even try reading the Poems themselves. From this episode, it doesn't look like this is going to be a very serious look at the 100 Poems, sure it's about love, and love is great and all, but the telling of the stories comes off as sort of shallow.

Closing thoughts

As I was watching the show, it weirdly reminded me of 30-sai no hoken taiku. It was a short anime, that didn't really take itself seriously, was about love and had some humor. Similarly, it doesn't look like Utakoi is trying to be fancy or is trying to do anything big in terms of plot or development. I can't really recommend this series to others. The speed of the show is a little worrisome, but it might just take some getting used to. So, I'm going to continue watching it, but dropping it is not out of the question at this point. :(

P.S. a word on interpretation

Since this anime is an interpretation of the 100 Poems, one might have the tendency to not take this series seriously right off the bat (I think I might have done that actually), seeing as it is not really "original". But then I thought, well... almost every anime is based off a manga, and, among other things, just by having voice actors the anime creators are already making an interpretation on what the characters "should" sound like. And they probably have to go through the same struggles of "staying true to the original" while also making it work as an anime.

It's just something to keep in mind when watching anime, a music performance, a movie or whatnot.

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Anime update and wiki

Well hi there! I hope everyone is enjoying the anime that they have been watching and finding cool things to think and talk about with all your friends and family. You know.. to show everyone how great anime can be. I recently finally started watching Monster, it's really nice (be sure to check out Tom's articles if you're interested in that series). Otherwise I have been watching more of the same (One Piece, Kids on the Slope, Mysterious Girlfriend X among other things). Also I started getting back into wiki editing, working on episode pages mostly. If you are interested, keep an eye out in the weekly Community Spotlight for some of my more recent work. >.>

Space Brothers: Mutta's older brother dream

A brief plot synopsis for those unfamiliar with Space Brothers: Mutta and Hibito are brothers with a few years age difference, Mutta being the older brother. One of Mutta's most important principles that he lives by is that "the older brother should always be leading the younger brother." As a result of this principle, Mutta, both as a child and an adult, has always tried to out-do, excel further than younger brother Hibito in order to be a model older brother who can lead and protect his younger brother.

As children, Mutta and Hibito while out exploring a nearby forest, witness what they think to be a UFO. After that moment Hibito swears that he will become an astronaut and go to the Moon. Mutta, wanting to be the leading older brother, promises that he too will become an astronaut, but he will go to Mars! Fast forward a dozen or so years and Hibito has become an astronaut who is currently training with NASA to go on a mission to the Moon. Meanwhile Mutta is a automobile engineer over in Japan, who just lost his job.

The series follows Mutta as he tries to become an astronaut. As he does so, he realizes that almost everywhere he goes, he is recognized as "Hibito's older brother," not as Nanba Mutta. So Mutta is determined to make a name for himself. However, at the same time Mutta's decisions and actions are largely influenced by his younger brother Hibito. In episode 9, Yamato, a character who did not pass the second round of recruitment to become an astronaut, comments that Mutta only passed because he is Hibito's older brother. Also if it weren't for Hibito saying, "I want to become an astronaut," and Mutta's desire to be a model older brother, Mutta might not have promised to become an astronaut.

So the problem is, is becoming an astronaut really Mutta's dream? It seems like his real dream is to always be one step ahead of his younger brother. However, if that is his real dream, then he will always be considered, even by himself, as "Hibito's older brother," because that's ultimately what he's going to be if all he does is try to compete with his brother. This problem is brought up explicitly, but briefly, in episode 7. Mutta is visiting Hibito in America, and Mutta almost gives up on becoming an astronaut. Then Hibito says angrily to Mutta, "if you can give up [on becoming an astronaut]... then becoming an astronaut was never really your dream." But was it wasn't really his dream to begin with?

Mutta, this is no time to be discouraged
Mutta, this is no time to be discouraged

Mutta is in a similar situation to Chihaya in Chihayafuru. Chihaya's initial dream is for her older sister to become a popular idol. Then after playing Karuta with Arata, she changes her dream to becoming the Queen of Karuta. But it is not exactly clear whether she chose this dream because of Arata, or because she really wants it for herself.

With only a few more episodes to go, I wouldn't be surprised if Mutta ultimately does not become an astronaut. It would be a bit of a downer, but given this series' more mature tone, it would certainly drive home a few good life lessons, if you believe in that sort of thing. Whatever happens, I'm excited to see how it decides to conclude.

-----------------Watch Space Brothers for free at Crunchyroll.com

Kids on the Slope

Holly cow I talked about Space Brothers way longer than I thought I would. Errrr, I'll try (haha) to keep this one short. If you want a brief introduction to the series plot please check out my previous blog post.

This series has some excellent music. No really, just follow this link and listen to the attached clip. Since I play piano myself, I understand how hard it can be to improvise on piano and make it sound really good and authentic. Then I began to wonder how the songs for the anime were recorded. You can tell just by the above clip, a lot of it is (almost certainly) improvised. That's just how jazz works, there are some rules and guidelines for chords, scales, and ways to improve your technique and practice, but a lot of jazz comes down to feeling it on the spot.

Then I began to wonder how hard it must have been to match the animation to the audio recording. I mean... FUCKK. The animators must've worked really closely with the musicians/audio guys to get the movements of Kaoru and Sentaro down just right. I remember when I first watched that clip in episode 7, I believed that it was Kaoru and Sentaro playing, not just two characters who are animated to match a pre-recorded audio recording. And to make it so that something like jazz which is so heavily improvised, actually feel improvised and authentic, when it is actually pre-recorded and animated, is a HUGE accomplishment.

Kids on the Slope is my top anime pick for this season, possibly for this year. It's that amazing.

-----------------Watch Kids on the Slope for free at Crunchyroll.com

Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave comments or thoughts below.

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So... I watched the anime...

Why hello there! I just finished watching Deadman Wonderland. It was alright, I would give it a 7/10. Typical summer action movie/drama stuff. But, since this is not a review, I don't really want to talk about what made this series good or bad.

Watching this anime was a kick to the face, sort of
Watching this anime was a kick to the face, sort of

Some personal background: I am an anime fan, not a manga fan. I have never really liked sitting down reading comics, japanese, american or otherwise. On the other hand I like watching a good anime come together (sound, animation, voice acting etc.) I also never really liked it when people brought up the issue that an anime was unlike the manga. I used to advocate that the anime should be judged on its own, separate from the manga, since after all it is a different medium of art.

However, watching Deadman Wonderland has made me realized a few things about the transition between manga and anime. I am currently reading through the manga (from where the anime left off), and have changed some of the ways I view manga and anime.

Censorship - still sucks

The first thing that really irked me as I watched this series was censorship. Since I support legal streaming, I began watching Deadman Wonderland at FUNimation.com. After a few episodes I began to notice that the screen was turning black or extremely dark at some points, sometimes for almost a minute at a time. At first I thought, "what the heck, I can't see anything? Is it supposed to be this dark?" Soon enough I smartened up and realized it was censorship. Looking back, I honestly can't believe it took me that long to figure out it was being censored. I mean, they even added bleeps in to replace swearing.

Can't tell if censored or just really dark..
Can't tell if censored or just really dark..

So, I made a decision to *holds breath* watch a fan sub of Deadman Wonderland. Yes, I did it... so sue me. But it was almost unbearable. As I mentioned earlier, a part of why I enjoy anime is because I like seeing all the parts of it come together. That includes animation. And watching it censored means I'm not watching what the creators of the anime intended me to watch. And that is a big no no for me. =\

Anime/manga differences - so this is what people complain about

FoxxFireArt, had recently started watching Deadman Wonderland as well. He mentioned in his Weight to Watch blog, that the series has a non-canon anime finale. So, I kept this in the back of my mind as I watched the series. And now that I have finished watching the series I think I finally understand why people care so much about differences between anime and manga.

Unfortunately, due to money and time, many manga never get made into anime, and even then some anime are forced to end early and are unable to tell the whole story as it was in the manga. I used to not really be bothered by this, and kept telling myself to evaluate anime on its own terms. But this anime changes things! Honestly how could they end the series on that note? The anime wasn't good, but it wasn't bad either. It was interesting enough to make me want to find out how the story ends in the manga, dare I say, how it is "supposed" to end.

So.. manga>anime? I still don't care, but

I'm still an anime fan, and I really still don't think it's a good idea to compare manga and anime. At least not in terms of which is "better or worse". Anime offers many things that manga doesn't and vice versa. I just never grew up to read comics and such. But I might start reading manga more now.

I was never one to watch an anime and read the manga it is based on at the same time (as I know some people do). To me it's like experiencing the same story twice, which is another thing I don't like doing. There is already so much anime and manga out there, I barely have time to watch/read a series once!

Until next time, feel free to leave comments or thoughts below.

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What up guys? (a moment of self-reflection)

So, summer break started for me about a week and a half ago. I've managed to avoid needing to take summer courses again. But I have not managed to get a summer job yet. =\ Trust me, I'm trying. >.> I have finished watching some anime series and also started watching some new ones. Overall though, I'm watching fewer anime series at once than previous summers (I'm watching 8 series right now). I'm really enjoying them, but ehh what can I say. Having a break from school is great and all, but it also gives me time to think about myself.

The impending thought of post-undergraduate life is always in the back of my mind, along with all the other life challenges that await. Grad school? Law school? Writing? Teaching? Getting a car? A house? Getting a wife? Raising children? Fulfilling my dreams and potentials (whatever those might be)? Lately though, I have thought a bit about my hobbies, and how much time I spend with them. Right now I have about 3 clear hobbies: anime, piano and video games. How would I maintain these hobbies if I really tried to get into grad school and became a professor? or if I started working full time? Or if I had a wife and kids? There's also the worry that I should be spending my time doing something more "productive" than spending time on my hobbies.

So now that the depressing part of this blog is out of the way, let's move on to some ANIME! *YEAH*

One Piece (ep 130): The great adventure continues!

I just finished watching episode 130 of One Piece (okay maybe about half an hour ago now) and DAMMMN. Alabasta, Vivi, you will be missed. I almost wanted to cry... almost. Not that making-someone-want-to-cry was ever a measure of how good anything was, but again I am impressed by the writing and story of One Piece.

About a year ago I wrote a blog about watching One Piece from duty of being an anime fan and watching one of the "Big 3". You can read my full blog here. I had just started watching One Piece and was on episode 22. So, I did some quick calculations, and that means I have watched roughly 108 episodes of One Piece in a year. Which evens out to roughly 2 episodes a week. Which means, if I keep at this rate of 108 episodes a year, then in 4 years I will be on episode 562 (One Piece is currently at episode 546). But at that point, One Piece will be airing episode 754! (assuming 1 episode is released a week). *dizzy face*

Like in RPGs, for now he&squot;s "Dude with Popeye arms"
Like in RPGs, for now he's "Dude with Popeye arms"

Sometimes I look at screenshots of recently aired One Piece episodes and I think, "what the heck is that?" No seriously, why is Chopper wearing that goofy hat? Who's the dude with Popeye arms? What the heck's with these giant female snakes? If you're following One Piece, please don't answer those questions. I'm sure the series will let me know about it when it becomes relevant, and I'm sure it'll do a damn good job making me feel that it's relevant.

Right now I'm more interested in Nico Robin and where the Straw Hats are going to go now that they have left Alabasta.

One Piece: Pirate Warriors (GET HYPE): Also for those that don't know One Piece: Pirate Warriors for the PS3 has been released in Japan and it is quote "selling like hotcakes over there," (Crunchyroll). I can hardly believe that I am excited about a game based off of an anime. Games-based-off-anime usually fall into the same category of "games-based-off-movies", which are usually terrible. But I'm genuinely excited to see the Luffy and the gang in 3D! I hope it really delivers the same story punch as the anime.

Legal Streaming: One Piece is available to watch for free at Funimation.com. If you're thinking about checking out One Piece, don't be intimidated by the episode numbers. One Piece has a great sense of adventure and knows how to build up and tell it's story. Watch at your own pace and enjoy the world of One Piece.

Kids on the Slope (ep 4): Jazz piano, love and life

"Sometimes jazz music takes an unexpected turn." Was a quote from this episode. And that's what makes playing jazz so much fun. You can screw up and still make the best of it (you still have to know what you're doing though). Since I play piano, this series story which already has amazing characters and soundtrack, has hit me in a big way. Only recently have I discovered how fun it is to improvise on the piano.

Ritsuko, modest, caring and lovable
Ritsuko, modest, caring and lovable

Kids on the Slope starts off with Kaoru, a male, a glasses-wearing, classical-piano-playing, high school transfer student from a rich family. He has trouble making friends, and it doesn't help that some of his classmates tease him for being rich. However he soon grows a crush for the female class rep, Ritsuko. Upon learning that Kaoru plays piano, Ritsuko introduces him to Sentaro. Sentaro has a reputation for getting into fights, but Ritsuko, who is Sentaro's childhood friend, assures Kaoru that Sentaro is okay. Soon enough his feelings for Ritsuko, and some other jazz-like incidences with him and Sentaro, lead Kaoru to start playing jazz piano. Yes.. I know that sounded very vague, but the anime speaks for itself, and I'd rather everyone watch it first hand.

There is some great plot development in this series, and it all feels very authentic. Maybe it's the jazz style of improv that makes it feel the way it does. At this point we have a variety of possible ways that various relationships could turn out. And I wouldn't be surprised if Kaoru never gets to go out with Ritsuko, but I guess that's jazz.

Legal Streaming: If you have not checked out Kids on the Slope yet, I highly recommend it to everyone to go check it out. You can watch full episodes with great quality and subs for free at crunchyroll.com. Here, just watch the trailer and tell me you're not sold! I DARE YOU, no just kidding, but seriously this anime is a real treat.

What now?! You mean you watched even MORE ANIME? - Conclusion

Yes I've been watching more anime than just these two, but I decided to just blog on the two above... FOR NOW *dramatic pose*. But, along with Kids on the Slope, I'm also watching and can recommend Space Brothers. It is also available on Crunchyroll. ;P

Thanks for reading, be sure to post any comments below. Anyone else excited for One Piece: Pirate Warriors, One Piece or Kids on the Slope? Finding it hard to manage your anime-watching habits? Maybe sometimes we just have to treat life like jazz, or an adventure, and give it our all.

All the best.

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The Plot: transfer student, ocean goddess, weird friends?

Yuki Sanada
Yuki Sanada

Yuki Sanada, our red-haired high school boy protagonist, transfers schools a lot. So he doesn't have a lot of friends. The place he is transferring to now is Enishioma (spelling?) a place right by the beautiful ocean. Yuki is terrible with introducing himself or talking in front of the class. He soon becomes reluctant friends with Haru, an alien, and Natsuki, a fishing prince. Natuski is the cold, straight man. Haru is the bumbling eccentric spontaneous one. The episode ends with Yuki speaking in past tense saying how little did he know, they would work together to save the world.

The episode also opens with a myth story about Enishioma, how there was a five-headed dragon who was persuaded to stop its destruction because of the sheer beauty of a goddess who smiled at him. This seems to be an obvious parallel to Yuki and a female classmate that he saw on the train on the way to school. Probably a love interest.

Impressions: water/fishing imagery, Haru the annoying, another slice of life?

Yuki Sanada takes a look at his new area
Yuki Sanada takes a look at his new area

I'm pretty impressed with the visuals. Very summery. Also water imagery was used when Yuki would get nervous. So it's like he is drowning in water and can't say anything. It makes his face all contorted as if he is suffocating, which makes others laugh at him, which leads to his confidence going down again. The show really seems to want to do something with the whole water/drowning/getting your head above water thing. In a way by having friends, he is being "saved" from just being a loner again and not making friends.

Yuki can't breath, HELP
Yuki can't breath, HELP

The whole fishing thing is sort of interesting too, when you think of it in terms of people instead of fish. If I recall, fishing metaphors are also sometimes used to describe romantic relationships, like "oh there's more fish in the ocean", or "this person is a good catch". It also works with friends to a certain extent. There are a few scenes in this first episode that suggest that Haru actually purposefully wants to be friends with Yuki.

Did I mention that Haru decides to stay in the same house as Yuki? It seems that Haru and Yuki's grandmother made some sort of deal, that Haru becomes friends with Yuki and so Haru can stay at their place. But it is not explicitly shown, just implied. OMG ILLEGAL ALIENS< FUUUUUUUUUUUUUU.

A girl on the train
A girl on the train

Anyways, I found Haru incredibly annoying. It does not help that he is voiced by the same person that voiced Chizuru from Kimi to Boku (which I have watched). He's that guy that always wants to do stuff, and is always in everyone's face, and they're just like no, but he keeps repeating himself like an idiot....

Which brings me to my last point. Is this just going to be another slice of life? There was enough of a hint at the end, and some very brief scenes of a guy (around the same age), wearing a turban and has a pet goose, spying on Haru, that suggests there is some underlying grand plot that is going to be developed. I suspect that there will be some "bad guy" introduced at some point or some big problem they all have to solve together, but it's too early for that.

Star Driver + Kimi to Boku? pacing?

Natuki, Haru and Yuki, friends forever?
Natuki, Haru and Yuki, friends forever?

This show has reminded me both of Star Driver and Kimi to Boku. It has a similar art style as Star Driver (also both red-hair protagonists), and also has some sort of underlying plot that seems to be covered by day-to-day high school activity with friends. It's also like Kimi to Boku because you have a bunch of guys, that do stuff together. In this episode they go fishing, and most of the episode was just set-up and hints anyways, but if this show just becomes these guys going around doing random stuff, I doubt I'll enjoy it that much.

I'm also not really sure about the pacing so far. It sort of feels like this anime is trying to do too much. You have your possible romantic interest, an alien, weird friends, a beautiful ocean, something about a goddess, a potential spy character, and also hints at a 'save the world' plot. According to animenewsnetwork, this is only going to have 11 episodes. I know it's really early, but I have my doubts about how well this series is going to come together.

Isn't it a pretty train station?
Isn't it a pretty train station?

To be honest I'm not really feeling this one. It looks nice and all, but I said the same thing about Star Driver. And Haru's voice actor can make the most annoying boy voices ever. Ex. imagine me saying "But guuuyyysssss, let's doooo somethinggggg. Yuuuukkkiiii, coomee on." in a whiny, up and down inflected voice, over and over again. That's most of what Haru's character is. Besides being an eccentric alien.

I expect that we'll get a fuller explanation of how Haru is an alien, but for now we just see that 1. he has the ability to control fish (sort of, from one scene in an aquarium), 2. sometimes he has a triangular halo appear above his head and 3. he seems to have the ability to talk to his pet fish. These all go by in very very short cuts, maybe 5-10 seconds each?

Anyone else check this one out? Thoughts?

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