MyNiceIceLife (Level 11)

The ending of School Days is PERFECT!!!
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(Instead of reviewing each series and the OVA separately, I decided to do it in a blog post since it will be mostly incoherent anyways.)

I hated School Rumble. It was extremely boring, the characters sucked, and there was no real story besides he likes her, she likes him, and everyone else likes someone else. I got so bored that I didn't even bother watching it in Japanese and just switched over to the American dub so I could do something else while it played. But even that didn't help me get through it. I stopped after six or seven episodes, put it away, and started watching something else.

That was more then a year ago, and since money is tight now I went back to it hoping to at least get something out of it and if not kill some time since it was long enough. I didn't even bother with starting over as I figured I'd end up stopping again. In the end that was probably the best thing I could have done. In fact I probably should have just picked it up somewhere past the midway point of the first series as it still didn't hook me. Then something happened and I don't know what it is. Maybe I finally "got it", maybe my expectations just got so low that it started to get good, or maybe I went brain dead. I'm not completely sure, but I started laughing and enjoying what was going on.

I started to finally enjoy the characters, the set-up was over with and it just went silly, and I finally found the character that made me pull for them (it's Yakumo if your wondering). But that was just through the OVA and I wasn't prepared for what came next: It got even sillier. The second or third episode of Second Semester sealed what I feared would happen and that was that I went from hating School Rumble to absolutely loving it. The dirty jokes, the banter between characters, the beatings that Imadori would get from Lara (or Lala), and just how awesome Yakumo was. It just hit the point where I didn't care how stupid or pointless the "story" was, it was just funny.

But speaking of the story the whole love octagon or whatever didn't seem to matter much to where the animated series was going to end. There was the point that it seemed like it was going to have a good serious ending and things were finally coming together, but then I realized that this was happening during the second to last and final episode and my fear for poor anime endings came rushing in. And I was pretty much right. It set up for a big pay off where the whole story of Harima and Tenma would come to a head, Yakumo's rather out of place story (which is saying a lot for School Rumble) hit it's peak, and things could actually end. But for the most part none of that played out. Nope, you get the typical ending of everything turns out right and things can keep on going as they were, with very little closure. Although, the story of Tenma and Yakumo is spelled out and while the bigger story of Yakumo isn't answered what you find out about Tenma's and Yakumo's relationship is rather nice.

I don't think I would have expected the turn around that I had from when I first started watching the series to when I finished up. It was a love and hate relationship, but I'm willing to admit that I actually liked School Rumble. I don't know if I could recommend it to anyone, but then again I can't highly recommend it enough. It's exactly what I heard about before I ever bought the series, some people love it while other people hate it. I just so happened to be both.

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I've watched some pretty dumb series in the time that I've watched anime, but I've also skipped or started and then dropped a series for something "better". Recently I've undone some of those past mistakes by watching both Soul Eater and Eureka Seven. Both were shows that I had started but for some reason got distracted with something else and just couldn't get back into them.

The first correction was with Soul Eater. I bought the blu-rays when they were cheap during the RightStuf Black Friday sales because of a friends recommendations. I watched the first episode and then never got around to watching anymore. A couple months ago after an anime convention I got around to finally watching it, and boy did I get addicted to it. The look, the story, the dialogue, the characters were all just so fantastic. Even for how long it was it was interesting through the entire show, even with some stupid filler here and there, "FOOL!". The thing that I noticed while watching the special features of the show was a lot of talk about Eureka Seven, which I didn't know the same studio made at first.

So, once I got done with Soul Eater and re-watching some of my favorite anime series I got around to resuming Eureka Seven (I actually just got done watching it less than an hour ago). I had gotten to episode 8 before I stopped watching it and this was back in 2010, so it was awhile ago. One thing that I knew was hard for me to get into the show was that it was a mecha. I've never been a fan of mecha's so it was kind of a put off, but after starting up again I quickly realized that it's SO much more then a mecha. I won't say I liked everything about it, too much whiny people especially the kids, but everything else was perfect. I'd be writing a essay if I went into the things I liked about it, but the few things I will point out is the love story of Renton and Eureka, the story of Holland, and how strong it ended just stand out so much. I wish all anime could end as well as Eureka Seven does, then I'd be a happy viewer all the time.

Now I go back and try and watch School Rumble in hopes that I have the same luck with it as I did with Soul Eater and Eureka Seven. I remember not liking it too much, which is something that wasn't true about the other two, but maybe it'll grow on me. With money being tight, hopefully the few things that I still haven't watched that I own prove to be gems like Soul Eater and Eureka Seven were.

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As someone who has slowly been acquiring anime figures over the past 2 years or so, I've had a rather uneventful task of getting any of the ones that I really want. This ease has recently changed as I have learned that not everything is as it seems. So, I decided to do a little write up on what people who are starting out or have been collecting figures for awhile to keep in mind as they look for their must have figures.

My first figure was that of Asa Shigure from Shuffle. I saw the figure on Tomopop after watching the anime and had to get it. After going through some normal searches I ended up going with some of the more normal importing sites that I saw on Tomopop: amiami and hobby search. I ended up going with amiami and have sense stuck with them as they have proven to be excellent so far with both their promptness and their quality of shipping.

I have ordered a few things from them, but as anyone that has imported anything before will tell you, importing can be rather expensive. Shipping can almost double the price of the item depending on the type of shipping you choose, so doing your research and finding the cheapest you can before buying is definitely worth the time and effort. Also, exchange rates tend to change a lot, especially if you are dealing with the Japanese Yen. It used a rather good exchange rate in the past when the Yen was weak, but the Yen has gotten a lot stronger in recent years meaning the advantage that you used to get isn't there as much (in the past it was about $1 = 100 Yen but now it's more like $1 = 80 Yen). This means that at times you'll be getting a better deal then others, but it has seemed to be consistent over the past few years so don't be expecting a miracle in exchange rates to happen, at least for anyone's economy sake I hope not. If you want to check what the current exchange rate is you can check out xe.com for current rates.

Another thing you need that is good to know is the type of figures that are out there. There are a few main types that you will commonly see: PVC figures, Figmas, and Nendoroids.

  • PVC Figures are the more common static posed figures that you will find. They tend to be the most expensive and the most detailed of the figure types and have few, if any, extra parts to customize what they look like when you display them. There are a lot of companies that produce these type of figures, but the more popular companies tend to be Alter, Kotobukiya, Max Factory, and Alphamax (these are up to debate, but have been the best that I have found). A lot like name brand versus generic brands in America prices and quality will vary depending on what company's figure you go with so your mileage will vary. There are a variety of sizes that PVC figures come in, mostly in the 1/8 to 1/6 scale range (8 to 10 inches). If you're looking for high detail and are willing to spend a little more, then PVC figures are what you'll want to check out.
  • Figmas are basically action figures. You can pose them in multiple different ways and they tend to come with a lot of accessories to change appearances. These accessories can include everything from objects like a music instrument or weapon, different facial expressions or hair, and even different hand poses to grasp or do a peace sign. These are the most flexible (pun intended) figures that you can get as they allow their owner a lot more choices as to how they want them to look instead of being stuck with just one pose the entire time. Figmas also tend to be cheaper than PVC figures even though they come with more stuff. Sizes tend to range around the 6 inch range for the most part although you will find some bigger and smaller.
  • Nendoroids are "deformed" figures that usually have a big head and a small body. They are a lot more of a love or hate type figure as some people love them and some people hate them. They tend to be a cross between PVC figures and Figmas as some are stationary (can't change poses), but some do include different faces or accessories to change appearance. The biggest of these tend to reach the 6 inch mark with most tending to be smaller than that.

The hardest thing with figures is actually finding them. Unless you find a figure that hasn't come out yet and you can pre-order it, some of the more populare figures tend to be difficult to find, unless you don't mind them being used. If you do find a place that you can pre-order and you want it, then pre-order it. It learned that when I got the re-release of the Rise Kujikawa figure from Persona 4. I pre-ordered it early from amiami and by the time it was released it was already sold out. PVC Figures tend to be the hardest to find especially after being released for awhile so when you do find them they tend to be near the $100+ range, some going a lot higher than that. Personally, I have been have good luck recently finding stuff on trusty Amazon some even with free shipping. Depending on your figure your mileage will vary and so will the price.

Another route would be going on auction sites such as eBay. You will run into high prices as well, but also have a chance at getting a good deal on something hard to find. I will caution everyone going this route though, there are counterfeit/bootleg figures out there that look almost exactly like the real thing. This is something that I learned yesterday. While looking for a Black Rock Shooter figure, I found the one I liked for a real good price and free shipping. Turns out it was too good to be true. It can be hard to tell the difference as sometimes it's only small details that could be different, but if you're a stickler for quality then you'll want to be careful. Small details like eyes, mouth shape, hands, and hair color can be off and the overall quality can be rather poor leaving you a sad buyer when you finally get it. Thankfully, on sites like eBay you can dispute stuff and can get your money back if such things occur (as I did with very little hassle), but the hassle and disappointment can be a strain. My best advice is to check out myfigurecollection.net and find the figure you are looking at and check to make sure if there are counterfeits of it out there before you buy.

There is a lot more that I can go into, but hopefully for those looking to start a collection or already have a small collection going you have learned a little bit to save you some money, some headaches, and some time. For those that have any horror stories or advice you are more than welcome to share what you know.

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This past Saturday I had the chance to attend my first anime convention with my friend Adam at Kitsune Kon in Appleton. Simply put, it was awesome! Neither of us went as far as cosplaying or anything, although we did see many people that were and I must say it is interesting at least. It's incredible some of the costumes that the people can create, although a lot of the time came down to figuring out what character we saw the most of. I'm pretty sure that Hatsune Miku won, although the Pikachu and Madoka people represented pretty well (even had two Lucy's from Elfen Lied which made me happy).

We spent 15 hours there, which for $15 ends up being a hell of a deal. We didn't actually attend any of the panels as they seemed to just be Power Point presentations, which we didn't want to bother with. Also, the autograph sessions were kind of pointless as both me and Adam listen to anime subbed instead of dubbed so most of the voice actors there we couldn't place unless we actually saw the show they did. So, so we spent most of the time walking around the vendor section, looking at cosplayers including the contest, talking with Adam's sister and friend, and playing a lot of arcade and rhythm games that they had set up downstairs (about half the time was spent on the games).

The vendor area was the most entertaining as we spent a lot of time looking at figures. Our first go around there were some interesting ones that caught my eye, but not until I saw the Tomoyo figure by Kotobukiya did I truly get excited. It was $85 though and since I only had $100 on me I decided that if it was meant to be it would be there the next time we went through. Sadly it wasn't, and my heart did sink a little bit. This however let me get a small figure and 1/8 scale figure of Azusa from K-On which made me happy. Almost bought the Ui nendoroid, but I didn't feel like spending $60 on it when I'll probably get the new swimsuit figure that comes out in August. Adam on the other hand didn't get away so cheap. He ended up spending $210 the day we were there on 5 Strike Witches figures and another figure that I can't remember the show she is from. The next day he had his sister pick him 2 more that he looked at, and just yesterday he picked up two Al Azif figures.

In the end he went from having no figures to having 10. Thankfully, I haven't gone that crazy, although I do have a few (the two Azusa figures, Asa Shigure from Shuffle, a Suzumiya Haruhi figma, and the recently re-released Rise Kujikawa figure). It's a dangerous thing to get sucked into buying those as they tend to get expensive rather quickly, especially when you have to start importing them. Another thing that'll get expensive is if we start going to more conventions, which the talk of going to the one in Chicago has come up. I doubt we'll go, but who knows.

And to end on a happy note from my story earlier about the figure that got away. The next day I went on Amazon and searched for it and sure enough it showed up. Not only that, but it was on $68 with free shipping. Needless to say that I am now waiting for my shipment from Amazon to add my new Tomoyo figure to my collection.

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I will probably end up writing a review about Shuffle in the near future, but there is a lot about that show that I don't want to put into it because I feel that it would spoil what makes it so great.  Now yes, it is a harem show with it's typical ecchi moments, but about midway the sudden shift from the happy/comical demeanor of the show takes a sudden turn to a very emotional seriousness.  The show gets real strong in it's story as Rin finally starts making his decision about what he wants to do and who he chooses and things just seem to go down hill. 
 
I don't think that it would have been as dramatic as it was if the characters weren't so great, but even just some of the stuff that happens got to me.  Primula nearly being "reset", the sadness that Kaede had with Rin not choosing her, and the health issues with the reveal of why they were happening just was a lot to take in.  And near the end I knew what Rin was going to do to make Asa do what she needed to do, and it still made me flinch and cover my eyes when he cut his wrist, mainly because I've known people that have done that to themselves and it still gets to me. 
 
None of what happened was expected to me.  All I knew was what I saw from the first episode and the preview from FUNi (with the god awful dub, which I didn't even listen to).  So, I'm really happy to have given Shuffle a chance as it has found a place in my heart for what it did. 
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