Dream (Level 21)

Unless significant events come up to get in the way of my plans, my 50th Ani-Crap Review poll and the nominations thread for my next anime tournament should be up next Friday.
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Before I press on with this article, let me tell folks that this title is now officially the absolute worst anime I’ve had a chance of seeing to date. I had to regularly take breaks every few minutes watching this horrific piece of trash just to keep myself from getting the temptation to destroy the disc when I rented it from Netflix. I did warn you guys this was not gonna be a pretty one for me and I was almost tempted to go on a profanity-laden rant for this article because of how much Eiken absolutely disgusted me. But for the sake of those who want to avoid crap like Eiken, I guess I have a duty to inform you of why you should avoid this like the plague. So sit back and enjoy reading this.
 

Eiken was an 18-volume fan service-heavy romantic comedy manga series published in the Shonen Champion magazine from 2001 to 2004 and created by Seiji Matsuyama. A two-episode OAV anime adaptation of the series was released in 2003 and animated by J.C. Staff and GENCO. The anime adaptation was directed by Kiyotaka Ohata, a storyboard artist and episode director for titles like Arjuna and Azumanga Daioh.
 

Story

Densuke is a high school student who enrolls at Zashono Academy who finds himself taking an interest in shy, timid and beautiful girl Chihiru and unwillingly joining the mysterious Eiken Club. Hoping to earn Chihiru’s affections, Densuke is persuaded into entering a school-wide competition he desires to win.

Notable Characters (from left to right):

 
 
 
 
 
 


 

Densuke Mifune- Male lead of the series who is wimpy and trying to earn Chihiru’s affection. Quite often found in embarrassing predicaments with other girls which prevent any relationship developments for him to occur with Chihiru.   

Chihiru Shinonome- Timid, shy and beautiful girl with an 88 cm bust, Densuke’s love interest.

Kirika Misono- Purple-haired leader of the Eiken Club with a 99 cm bust who is normally seen sucking on phallic-looking foods and egging on Densuke throughout the school competition.

Komoe Harumachi- A clumsy elementary school student who is the youngest of the Eiken Club members and has the largest bust size at 111 cm.

Yuriko Shinonome- Chihiru’s younger sister with interest in Densuke and quite often likes pressing her body on him or jumping into his face butt or crotch first. 
 

Why It Sucks:

 
Enough boobage and ass-shots to drive me insane.
  Enough boobage and ass-shots to drive me insane.

Eiken is a huge smorgasbord of various scenarios and character archetypes you would find in ecchi titles. Any kind of plot and character development you would hope to get out of this series is taken out in favor of enough sexual innuendo to spot in just about every scene of Eiken. The series is so ignorant of its plot that it doesn’t even bother exploring what exactly the Eiken Club does and why the students never get in trouble for the suggestive predicaments they get into.

Here’s just a bit of the various forms of innuendo you would be exposed to throughout Eiken: suggestive use of food, butt shots to the camera, clothes flying off, Densuke getting in enough embarrassing moments with girls, suggestive movements between two characters in very close proximity of one another. These moments make Eiken seem almost like a softcore hentai title.

This might be all well and good if you crave ecchi and fan service heavy anime titles. But when there are a number of girls among the cast who have bust sizes that defy genetics (even the youngest of the Eiken Club being among the offenders), then it is rather hard to get turned on and interested in the female cast when that one “certain” area is very unappealing to the eyes.
 

Where They Do Now:

Seiji Matsuyama- Last I had heard about Matsuyama, he is still doing ecchi manga with the recent publication of his series, Oku-sama wa Shogakusei (My Wife is an Elementary Student). However, the series had been listed as a “harmful publication” by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in April thanks to the passing of the Youth Healthy Development Ordinance bill.

Kiyotaka Ohata- Ohata is still doing storyboards and episode direction for a number of anime titles, with the most recent notable ones including Baccano, Princess Jellyfish and Natsume’s Book of Friends.
 
The License- Both the anime and manga adaptations of Eiken are currently licensed by Media Blasters. The anime is still available to buy through the distributor’s Anime Works chain while only 12 of the 18 manga volumes are available for sale with no new volumes having been released in America since 2008. 

And for your personal amusement and my entertainment, I present this…
  

  

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After seeing an episode of Hell Girl: The Two Mirrors, I couldn't help but to put this video together.
 
  
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Many of you are well familiar with Hayao Miyazaki and the many quality works that Studio Ghibli has worked on for over 25 years now in Japan and for some of you, their anime films might have been your gateway drug into anime. Not counting The Borrower Arrietty (which has yet to be on video) and any other upcoming film from the studio, I have decided to personally rank what I found to be the best and worst Ghibli films out of the 17 films available on video, streaming or on direct download. While it was made before the studio's official formation, I will also be including Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind on this countdown since it was created by those who would later form into Ghibli. I will warn folks that what I present here is merely my personal opinion. So do not get too uptight over anything I rank higher or lower on this list.

17. Tales from Earthsea
Being the directorial debut of Hayao Miyazaki's son Goro, Tales from Earthsea was enough of a mess in the quality of its plotting. The film tended to gloss over relevant details concerning the world of Earthsea and any developments involving its characters, in particular what drove Arren to murder his father. Combine this with a shallow villain in the form of Lord Cob and enough elements of deus ex machina for the movie ending, and you have perhaps the worst Ghibli film that the studio has put together to date.





16. Ponyo
Currently being the highest-grossing Ghibli film here in America, Ponyo was created purely to appeal to children with its simple and light-hearted content which could turn away older viewers. The low ranking I give this film has nothing to do with it appealing to children. It has to do with the poor attempt the movie attempts to do in presenting its "life lessons" and some events that made me question the movie sticking with its light-hearted mood. The beginning of Ponyo presented a few themes it was juggling around that the movie seemed to want to explore such as man's pollution of the ocean, overprotective parents and the elderly thinking of better days. However, the movie fails to expand onto these themes instead favoring focus on the movie's fantasy element involving Ponyo. In addition, the flooding Ponyo causes as a result of her magical powers towards the later half of the movie and the easy resolution to it seemed something that should have been handled more seriously with the ending giving me a bad taste in my mouth as it felt similar to a typical ending you would find in a Disney animated film.

15. Pom Poko
The premise behind Pom Poko with its focus on raccoons trying to protect their forests from land expansion had its potential, yet became mauled with issues in whom exactly it wanted to appeal to. The antics of the raccoons and the cute way in which they were drawn make it seem too childish to hook older viewers yet the serious themes explored with land expansion and some onscreen deaths with the raccoons make it not so friendly to show to younger viewers. In addition, trying to paint sympathy on the raccoons doesn't come across as convincing with the narrator trying too hard at pushing sympathy onto them and the raccoons coming across at points as selfish and greedy such as stealing money from an amusement park owner or celebrating the pranks they pulled off.



14. The Cat Returns
The Cat Returns was a Ghibli film that started off decently in its first half and just fell flat in its second half. Focused on high schooler Haru and her interactions with cats from the Cat Kingdom, the first half made for a fun light-hearted comedy when Haru finds herself unwillingly receiving unusual gifts from servants of the Cat King for saving the life of his son, the prince, leading to some fun and unusual results that run at a slow, natural pace. Yet by the second half, the focus of the film shifts over to the Cat Kingdom where the film's pacing is rushed giving the viewer little time to get a sense of things within the kingdom. Also like Ponyo, The Cat Returns makes a failed attempt at expressing a "life lesson" for Haru to learn about which it fails to elaborate on because of the lack of focus on the girl's character.



13. Howl's Moving Castle
Like The Cat Returns, Howl's Moving Castle is a movie that starts off smoothly enough in its first half yet falters in its second half for me. The first half does a decent enough job of fleshing out the characters of Howl and Sophie to give you a sense of who they are and what they desire for themselves giving consistent focus on the two when Sophie starts living with Howl when she becomes cursed by the Witch of the Waste. However when the second half progresses, the plot focus becomes a bit disjointed making it difficult to keep track of events as the Witch of the Waste becomes a resident of Howl's home, Howl's involvement in the sorcery wars continues to put his body at risk and Sophie is conflicted over her feelings for Howl. By the end of the movie, it definitely comes across as a Disney-esque ending with the formulaic setup to have all cursed characters become freed and the unnatural way in which Howl and Sophie come together as a pairing.


12. Ocean Waves
Not many of you would be familiar with this movie as it has yet to be released in America and it was the only made-for-TV movie Ghibli animated to date during the early 1990s. Made to appeal to young adults, this movie explores a young man recalling his years in high school where he is caught up in a love triangle involving his best friend and a new female student. Interactions between the three come across naturally, as well as the awkward tensions faced by Taku as he tries repressing his feelings for Rikako to not upset Yutaka. The pacing for the movie does feel a bit rushed as it does quickly progress through the major events with the love triangle. Plus compared to many of the more well-known Ghibli works, Ocean Waves is a bit more subdued in its mood compared to the lively and high-paced stories you would often come across with Ghibli films which combined with appealing to young adults makes it an acquired taste.

11. Spirited Away
Being the only anime film to date to win an American Academy Award, Spirited Away was quite the feast on the eyes with its visuals featuring plenty of detail in the setting of the bathhouse with bizarre character designs coming off the various gods and spirits encountered by Chihiro as she works under Yubaba the witch. While the coming-of-age story was done before by Ghibli with some of their earlier works, Chihiro did come across as a believable girl of her age as she finds herself in a new environment that she is forced to adapt to, develop independence and learning to work and befriend the bathhouse workers. However, your mileage could vary on how well you warm up to Chihiro's character as she is a far cry from the strong-willed, independent female characters one could be accustomed to from earlier Ghibli films such as Nausicaa, Kiki and San. In addition, the immense focus on Chihiro and the fast pace of events does prevent one from getting to know more about the other bathhouse workers Chihiro comes to befriend and leads to a somewhat rushed ending.

10. My Neighbor Totoro
My Neighbor Totoro is a children's film that sticks with simplicity throughout its entire run without tossing in anything to bog it down like what Ponyo pulls off, making it a better quality children's film as a result. Focusing purely on the interactions between the Totoros and sisters Satsuki and Mei, the movie consistently retains its light-hearted mood with the moments between the two even with some drama coming from the hospital stay of Kei and Satsuki's mother. As a result, this movie contains no coming-of-age dilemmas, life lessons or antagonists to get in the way of these interactions. This is a perfect movie for a parent to show to their kids, though older viewers might feel a bit alienated seeing it (which happened with me) as it doesn't have the typical themes you would expect out of Hayao Miyazaki's films.



9. Only Yesterday
Like Ocean Waves, Only Yesterday was a film geared towards young adults when it was released during the early 1990s and it has yet to see a video release here in the states. Focusing on Taeko taking a break from her office job to figure out what to do with her life, the movie switches between past and present time frames quite frequently as Taeko reflects on events that occurred in her childhood. The transition between present and past events flows smoothly with occasions of Taeko's younger or older self being immersed with one another during transitions. Events do flow at a slower pace with the movie, unlike Ocean Waves, allowing one to get enough sense of Taeko's character as a woman who gets enjoyment reflecting on the smallest, irrelevant moments that occurred with her as a child while helping out her in-laws on their farm as she figures out what she wants to do for herself in the present. Like Ocean Waves though, this movie is geared for a specific audience and is just as subdued in its mood making it another title of acquired taste for viewers.

8. My Neighbors the Yamadas
A fun family comedy, My Neighbors the Yamadas is a series of short vignettes similar to titles like Azumanga Daioh and Minami-ke exploring the everyday activities of the Yamada family. The family members make for a likeable bunch due to their believable personalities and how they interact with one another in everyday situations such as losing daughter Nonoko at the mall leading to a family panic, wife Matsuko and husband Takashi getting in some silly arguments and son Noboru exasperated at the silly arguments coming from his parents. Their interactions with one another can come across as both heartwarming and silly with the occasional adult moments tossed in to give parents a good laugh. The artwork and animation for this movie is quite likely the lowest quality to come from Ghibli to date as they were trying to emulate the art style of the movie's manga source material resulting in simple visual details and a lack of fluid movement at many points throughout this movie. On top of that, this movie might not hook in those who didn't get enjoyment out of the series format and slice-of-life setup that drove the laughs for similar titles like those mentioned above.

7. Laputa: Castle in the Sky
This steampunk adventure movie features many of the prominent elements of Ghibli movies that one can enjoy. It features an immerse world that takes advantage of the steampunk genre through the use of advanced steam-powered machines in an alternate Industrial Era setting. Laputa creates an adventure out of Pazu and Sheeta's developments as they try to find out more about Sheeta's origins and become entangled in a government plot involving Sheeta's mysterious pendant. The two also come across villains who later become allies to their journey in the form of Dola and her group of air pirates. The visuals to the movie still hold up rather well today despite being made in 1986 as it features a great amount of detail coming from features such as scenery, buildings and airships; as well as well animated moments of movement during the movie's more intense moments such as airship fights and the Dola Pirates raiding a prison to rescue Sheeta. The movie does get a little bogged down for me thanks to Muska being your typical shallow baddie and the sudden developments that led to Laputa's ending.

6. Whisper of the Heart
A worthwhile coming-of-age romance, Whisper of the Heart focuses on middle schooler Shizuku finding herself curious about her own future when she comes across Seiji, a young man who has already planned out what he wants to do for himself. The movie believably explores the developments of Shizuku's character as she finds herself inspired to write her own story as a result of Seiji's goal to become a luthier (repairman of stringed instruments) and undergoes the challenges of trying to put her story together. Both of Seiji and Shizuku's characters behave naturally for their age as Seiji comes across as mature for his age and prepared for what sort of future he wants for himself while Shizuku is insecure and uncertain over what she wants to do for herself. The movie features detailed designs of scenery, in particular antiques found in an antique shop such as a grandfather clock and a cat statue that serves as inspiration for a character used in Shizuku's story. The John Denver song "Country Road", used at several points during the movie and sung in English and Japanese, fits in well with the natural mood of the movie and is used for plot development with Shizuku's character. The only blemish I could bring up with Whisper of the Heart would be the sudden choice of ending when Seiji and Shizuku come to terms with what they want in their relationship.

5. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
Being the very first movie made by Ghibli, Nausicaa includes many of the highlights to expect out of Hayao Miyazaki's films: a strong-willed and independent female lead in the form of Nausicaa, themes on environmental awareness involving the insects known as Ohmu and residents of the Valley of the Wind, the lack of a true antagonist, opposing factions that have justifications for their actions and fluid flying scenes coming from Nausicaa flying her air glider. The movie is notable for some complex animated scenes, in particular a scene animated by future Evangelion director Hideaki Anno involving the resurrection of one of the Giant Warriors towards the ending of the movie. A fun little fact about Nausicaa is that the ending of the movie has been known to cause some debate and controversy amongst fans over whether or not Miyazaki was adding in religious symbolism to the movie which he vehemently denies. Any fan of Ghibli movies should give this movie a peek as it helped pave the way for the future successes and films that the studio would put together.

4. Princess Mononoke
Princess Mononoke was the second Ghibli film by Hayao Miyazaki to explore themes related to environmental awareness in the form of the conflict between Lady Eboshi's ironworks village and the animal gods of a nearby forest with banished prince Ashitaka playing middle man in the bloodshed. Like Nausicaa, Princess Mononoke makes you care for the motivations of both sides involved in the conflict with both sides shown to care for those they wish to protect. Lady Eboshi and San both stand out as examples of strong-willed, independent women within Studio Ghibli works with San caring greatly for the wolves that adopted her despite being conflicted about joining human society when she encounters Ashitaka and Eboshi creating a village ruled by women in male-dominant feudal Japan that accepts outcasts such as lepers and prostitutes. The movie features fluid and intense battle scenes coming from the battles that occur between the two factions fighting with one another with great-looking and detailed scenery and character designs, in particular the various animal gods that are seen throughout the film. Princess Mononoke is Ghibli's most intense work to date filled with a number of graphic scenes that include heavy bleeding, the decomposing of animal gods when they die and the severing of human limbs. Because of this, it would not appropriate for younger viewers to see.

3. Porco Rosso
An immersive and somewhat touching adventure title, Porco Rosso is quite different from Hayao Miyazaki's other works in the fact that its setting occurs during an actual time period in the form of 1924 Italy, around the time fascism is about to gain influence in the country. Focusing on the character of pig-headed freelance pilot Porco Rosso, this movie effectively mixes focus on exploring the man's character and the conflicts he encounters with air pirates and a rival love interest. The movie does get a bit deep in its exploration of Porco as he finds himself disillusioned at his own humanity and comes to regain his faith in it with the presence of young mechanic Fio Piccolo later in the movie. Other characters come across as quite lively and fun to get attached to such as Porco's old romantic flame Madame Gina and the group of bumbling air pirates. The plane flying scenes are the animation highlight for the movie moving quite fluidly and are a sight to behold for an early 1990s movie.

2. Kiki's Delivery Service
This coming-of-age fantasy film is a perfect one for the entire family to check out as it involves young witch Kiki learning to live on her own as part of a family tradition when she turns 13. The movie does well at exploring the young girl's developments as she adjusts to her new surroundings and tries making friends with some of the locals, in particular a young boy named Tombo who has a strong interest in aviation. Like earlier Miyazaki works, the animation highlight for Kiki's Delivery Service comes from the flying scenes involving Kiki on her broom, which also serve as a symbolic source of character growth for Kiki's character towards later in the movie. The movie is notable for being the first Ghibli film to be released in America by Walt Disney Home Entertainment with voice talents for the English dub led by Kirsten Dunst and the late Phil Hartman as Kiki and her pet cat Jiji respectfully.


1. Grave of the Fireflies
One of the most emotionally powerful anime titles to come from Japan, Grave of the Fireflies explores the tragic circumstances involving siblings Setsuko and Seita as they struggle to survive on their own in the final days of World War II following the death of their mother during an enemy air raid. The movie doesn't hold back in depicting the civilian perspective of the war as the opening scene of the movie featuring Seita's ghost reveals the inevitable death of him and his sister that is to come and featuring scenes of the corpses of people killed during air raids. Even with all the depressing moments, the movie does show off its lighter moments with Seita and Setsuko spending time with one another as they try to hold to whatever normalcy that they can with their lives despite the fact this could contribute to their tragic downfalls with the harsh reality of war still lingering in Japan. Grave of the Fireflies is one of the personal favorite films of acclaimed film critic Roger Ebert. If you don't mind tragedy with your anime, then Grave of the Fireflies is worth a look as you are likely to shed a tear or two for the hardships faced by Seita and Setsuko.
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The Spring anime lineup is definitely shaking up to be worth looking into with enough worthwhile titles for me to grab my attention. I even managed to come across some titles worth a look that I wasn't even planning on checking out for this season. From slice-of-life dramas to manic comedy to superhero action, here's a look at my thoughts on Spring anime titles I have had a chance to look into for this season thus far.

Currently Watching
Tiger and Bunny
The premise to this series is quite original compared to much of what I have heard in recent years with the focus on corporate-sponsored superheroes competing on a reality show. Seeing product placement on the costumes of the superheroes for companies like Pepsi and Bandai was worth a chuckle when I first seen Tiger and Bunny. The series is focused on veteran superhero Kotetsu Kaburagi (superhero name Wild Tiger) forced to team up with newcomer hero Barnaby Brooks following the acquisition of the company that was sponsoring Kotetsu for the reality show. The first three episodes thus far have been used to introduce the two characters and focusing on the two adjusting to working together as they have different views of how a hero should be. This is one of the better-looking titles I've seen thus far for the season featuring plenty of well-rendered CG animation for city landscapes, the costumes worn by the heroes and fluid animation coming from the heroics pulled by the competing superheroes. I am hoping there is a point in the series that explores what led to superheroes becoming walking advertisements for corporations in the world of Tiger and Bunny. But for now, this series is doing a decent job of hooking me thanks to the chemistry between Barnaby and Kotetsu.

Hanasaku Iroha
I am a sap for slice-of-life titles and for the most part, Hanasaku Iroha has done a good job of hooking me into the show. Finding herself dumped onto working for her grandmother's hot springs resort by her irresponsible mother, Ohana finds herself learning to adjust to her new surroundings as her grandmother treats the family members working under her as employees, overcoming her own shortcomings with her personality and trying to make friends with the younger workers at the inn. The first two episodes appeared to be focused on a serious drama with exploring Ohana's circumstances of working at the resort. Yet in the third episode, there is a change in mood thanks to the antics of an erotic writer that Ohana meets up with in the resort leading to some comedic and somewhat perverted moments. Some folks I've come across in blogs and forums online have already started ripping on the series for going against the serious mood it had in the first two episodes and are threatening to drop the show. I did enjoy said episode despite it seeming out of place with what was set up in the first two episodes. It looks like the next episode will be focused on the school lives of Ohana and the high schoolers at the resort which should make for a decent break from focusing on things at the resort.

Steins;Gate
The focus on time travel that I heard of from the premise for this visual novel game spinoff was what brought me into checking out Steins;Gate. I was not expecting the focus on otaku-related subjects during the first episode until I seen Chaos;Head (made from the same makers of this series) recently which led me to get used to this element to the series. Unlike Chaos;Head though, this series looks more stark and subdued in its overall feel as color is a bit more darker and there is a more defined look to its visuals. Rintaro Okabe's character is quite different from Takumi from Chaos;Head  in that he is not afraid to defy others with his theories related to time travel and possible conspiracies, even while coming across as a bit eccentric. Like Chaos;Head, Steins;Gate appears to be setting up for a complicated plot set up by a powerful corporation as Takumi digs deeper into a conspiracy from said corporation. The time travel subject of the series has hooked me in well thus far with mentions of real-life infamous Internet figure John Titor proclaiming to be a time traveler and the series making reference to his original theories of what the future would hold for humanity. I'm looking forward to continue seeing what developments come up with Takumi's conflict with SERN in Steins;Gate.

Dodoron Enma-kun Meeramera
This was one of a few titles I wasn't planning on originally watching. I can be a sap for comedy titles provided they deliver the right stuff to hook me in and with the manic and perverse comedy of Dodoron Enma-kun, this series looks geared to be my comedy title of choice for the Spring season. The series knows how perverse and over-the-top it can be with its humor with Enma not afraid to do overkill tactics to kill off enemy demons and the raunchy elements to the show blending right in like a demon literally trying to attack Enma and his friends with a certain body part and Yukiko-Hime always winding up getting unclothed during intense moments with a demon. From what I understand, this series is a remake of an old 1970s anime series and it does show with the character designs. If you have no problem with manic, perverse comedies, then you should be able to get enjoyment out of this series.


A Channel
Many of you on Anime Vice are well familiar with my utter hate of moeblob titles. This has to do with the fact that such titles force you to feel a certain way towards the overly cute and submissive female characters that are portrayed in said titles, which is a huge turnoff for me in portraying female characters. Fortunately in the case of the latest moe title A Channel, this feeling of caring for the characters actually comes off naturally for me this time around instead of making me feel like wanting to bang my head on a wall. Other than Run's ditziness frying my brain cells at points, the interactions between her and her friends come across quite naturally enough where I did get some chuckles out of some of the actions of the characters and enjoying some of the heartwarming moments with the interactions between the four characters. As long as A Channel is able to keep the interactions between the four friends natural, I might not feel so tempted to bash moeblob titles as much as I have been.

C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control
Long title aside, C was one of this season's heavily anticipated titles by anime fans. Being a sap for Noitamina titles, this series was a definite choice for me to check out and from what I seen of the first episode, I'm already hooked. The first episode of this series did quite well at introducing both the twisted world of the competition for money in bank accounts and introducing college student Kimimaro. It's hinted from the get-go that there is something sinister going on in the "Financial District" that the creepy banker tempts Kimimaro into accepting. With the college student struggling on his own, such an arrangement would seem tempting to anyone trying to get by financially. The world of the "Financial District" already set this series up as one of the best-looking titles of the season with its highly colorful and abstract environments and the slick looking battle scene that took place at the start of the episode. It will be interesting to see how well Kimimaro handles things in the Financial District for the next episode of C.

AnoHana
This was another title that I originally had no plans of checking out and much to my chagrin, I didn't even know it was another Noitamina title airing this season. Setting aside my lack of prior research on AnoHana, I also got hooked on this show thanks to its dramatic focus on Jintan and the ghost of his dead childhood friend, Menma. The show got started from the get-go in pulling its punches with exploring what led up to Menma's death, the guilt Jintan had over her loss and what led him and his five friends to drift apart after Menma's death. The show appears to be focusing on Jintan trying to reunite with his friends to grant a wish for his childhood friend's ghost with what was brought up Menma during the episode. With the effective emotional drama AnoHana pulled in its first episode, I'm looking forward to seeing how things progress with AnoHana in the weeks to come for the Spring anime season.


Deadman Wonderland
This was another highly anticipated Spring anime series I heard folks raving for. Looking into how the first episode ran, my impressions of Deadman Wonderland are not too good thus far. It looked like the series was forcing things to be as hellish as possible for Ganta and to quickly toss him into the prison/ theme park known as Deadman Wonderland. The first five minutes of the episode alone looked quite rushed with the flow of events where Ganta's classmates are slaughtered, he gets hospitalized, arrested and went through a speedy trail. It's like the series wasn't sure how to toss Ganta into Deadman Wonderland so they decided to toss a bone and run with it. A later scene where Ganta recalls the time he spent with his classmates while in the prison had me caring less for the kid because of the lack of depth on his life before being tossed into Deadman Wonderland. In terms of showing off the prison/ carnival park premise, the series does do a decent job depicting it with the twisted mix of entertainment shown with the prisoners treated as circus freaks for the carnival that the audience enjoys and the reality of the situation with prisoners being treated horribly with their lives at risk with the prison staff caring less for how they treat them, shown clearly through a prisoner eventually killed from the poison in the collar strapped to his neck. However, the series has done a poor job from the start for me in mixing grittiness and substance effectively like Black Lagoon's been capable of pulling. I'll give this series a few more episodes to see if it can clean up its act or else I will be ditching it quick.

Hyouge Mono
Feudal era titles have done well in the past to hook me in as I got great enjoyment out of seeing similar titles like House of Five Leaves, Beast Player Erin and the 2009 anime adaptation of The Tale of Genji. Hyouge Mono makes itself a satirical comedy focused on the obsessive interest that warlord Sasuke Furuta has for expensive tea sets and his tense relationship with legendary shogun Oda Nobunaga. The laughs for the first episode for me came from Sasuke's facial expressions and his interest for a rival warlord's prized teapot getting his mind off a mission. This series definitely seems to be set to be under the radar for this season as there are quite a number of high-profile titles airing and Hyouge Mono has none of the conventional anime elements that would hook in viewers making it an acquired taste. As a matter of fact, the first episode of Hyouge Mono aired two weeks ago yet it wasn't subbed by a fansub group until just last week. So anyone planning to check out this series should be prepared to expect fansubs for it to be out later than usual.

Titles I Dropped
Sket Dance
The first episode to this shounen series had me comparing it to the old cheesy weekday afternoon after-school specials made during the 1980s to teach kids lessons on touchy subjects like bullying and drug abuse with how the Sket-Dan operated. The Sket-Dan does have its typical character archetypes that you would expect out of high school anime like Yusuke being the hot-headed, loud-mouthed leader, Himeko being the short-fused violent girl and Switch the group's brains and resident computer geek. Seeming both cliched and cheesy with how the characters and premise were painted, I chose to ditch Sket Dance after its first episode.





Nichijou
Nichijou was originally planned to be my comedy anime title of choice for this season thanks to the seemingly bizarre humor of it thinking I would get something like Arakawa Under the Bridge. However, the dry delivery of the humor I seen from the show's first episode had me getting bored with it and it led me to not seeing beyond the episode's first half.



X-Men
I decided to get a quick peek at the series since I heard first impressions of it seemed better than Madhouse's takes on Iron Man and Wolverine. The character designs to it definitely looked close to their comic book counterparts as Wolverine no longer looked like a gloomy bishounen from his Winter series and the opening battle with Dark Phoenix looked slick. However, the Japanese voice acting for the characters sounded quite corny and kept me from wanting to watch any further than the Phoenix battle. Perhaps when the series gets dubbed in English and airs on G4 in the near future I might be tempted to see the show again.



There is one additional anime title I'm planning to look into for this season which has yet to air in the form of Moshidora which I will likely post a review of here on Anime Vice once the series completes its run. The series will be airing all 10 of its episodes the next two weeks Monday through Friday starting on April 25. Otherwise, feel free to post your thoughts on what I thought of the titles I seen for the Spring 2011 anime season.
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Been working on this one all week. Decided to use the OP music of Bokurano, Uninstall, for the musical choice of the AMV and one of my personal favorite anime, RahXephon, as the anime of choice. Enjoy!
 
  
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