Jul 30, 2007

The Devil Beside You -- Live Action Taiwanese Version

I honestly tried watching this drama since it came highly recommended from the Crunchy Roll drama forum. The first 5 or so episodes were really good and then the show went to repetitive suckdom and I became bored. I read the manga a couple of years ago and I remembered the basic premise -- high school deliquent who is also the son of the school's director decides he "wants" the main character who's mother is going to marry the school's director, the result being a pair of "dangerous" siblings. For whatever reason the two don't realize since they aren't blood related that it's okay. I remember reading the manga and getting tired of the main female character asking "what should I do?" every other page as repeated misfortune and misunderstanding followed one after another. It felt the same way watching this too and to a greater extent since the actress playing the main character is really good at pouting. The main male character is played by an actor with lots of charisma, but even his charisma isn't enough to keep me hooked. Oh well ...

Jul 28, 2007

Anime Review: Himawari Season 1

Himawari is the story of a girl, Himawari, who was rescued by a ninja and, therefore, decides to go to ninja school in order to learn how to protect her savior. Himawari only knows her savior by the tattoo on his neck, so when a teacher shows up at her school with the same marking, she decides that he is her savior and declares him her master. The problem is the teacher, Hayato, is not a ninja (or so it seems), but rather a teacher hired to teach general education. I suspect, though, that Hayato is a bad-ass. Like bad-asses in other anime he's able to look like a clumsy bumbling idiot who luckily escapes from danger (Trigun and Trinity Blood for example). I think the closest the anime gets to admitting that Hayato is a bad-ass is during the last episode when he leads a group of good natured but misguided ninja children away from Himawari, thus giving her chance to escape from danger. It's implied that he's never reacted to the wayward ninjas actions because they posed no real threat, and Hayato so much as says that he was about to open a can of whoop-ass on the boys if Himawari hadn't shown up to the scene at the end. There are also a few teasers about Hayato's abilities in the episode involving the teacher who is a master of disguise. Underneath this there is some untold back story about Himawari's origin which appear to have something to do with a science lab. There's also some back story for Hayato, who is most likely not the ninja that rescued her, but rather he is a part of some secret organization and he was sent to keep an eye out on Himawari and the ninja school in general. But that's just my speculation. Or he could be the savior ninja and the nice face he wears is just a disguise -- saaa ...

This anime feels like Ken Akamatsu-lite in that there's a somewhat bumbling guy with hidden strength in the midst of some very strange young girls. I call it "lite" because the characters are not fully developed, the fan service is pretty well contained, and there is barely any sexual tension between the Hayato and Himawari. To me it felt as though Hayato regards Himawari as a daughter. This is okay and makes the show easy to digest. I think it would take some skill to make this full on Akamatsu-like.

I give this a 3/5 because it's a likable enough show, even though it's shallow. Hopefully, the second season of the show will have a story line to propel things forward.

Jul 23, 2007

Anime Series Review: Yamato Nadeshiko Shichihenge

The last episode of "Yamato Nadeshiko Shichihenge" finally came out yesterday. I was surprised that it was still being fansubbed as I thought the series was licensed. Well, thanks to those brave fansubbers! Anyhow, Shichihenge is the story of Sunako and the 4 bishonens she shares a house with. The premise of the story is that the bishonens can live in the fabulous house with Sunako so long as they turn Sunako into a lady. Sunako is a Goth-chick who gone over the edge, relying on the company of various life size anatomical figures rather than actual human beings. The anime has lots of elements of the manga. The very funny
Goth-Loli sister (yonin) are given an expanded role for added comic relief ("Goth-Goth-Loli-Loli"). The anime, as in the manga, is both hilarious and touching. Any girl who's ever been told she's ugly or believes that she is ugly knows exactly where Sunako is coming from. And it's nice to watch Sunako's transformation from an isolated girl to one that is well supported by and supports her friends. Her friends manage to find Sunako's real inner beauty and it is hinted that Sunako, herself, is not physically ugly. She just has low charisma and weird hobbies. As for the bishies and the two other bishojos, they are good characters too and show some growth throughout the series. Of note is the Kouhei character which illustrated the reality that some bishonens face, that is mobs of overly excited girls. Yes, we've all seen it and the cat fights and the hair pulling that occur over pretty boys. The ending was satisfying too, as we find out that being a lady has nothing to do with outer beauty, but is instead a personal statement of inner strength. The bishies, indeed, have fulfilled their end of the bargain. I really enjoyed watching this series. 5/5

Jul 17, 2007

Series Review: Hanazakarino Kimitachi e -- Taiwanese Live Action Version

I finally finished this series last night and it was good until the last two episode. This series follows the manga pretty closely and concluded with the photo shoot. It seemed, though, as if the screen writers didn't know how to end the series, so there was a lot of filler and Rei Xi (Mizuki) and Shu Yi (Nakatsu) became louder, shriller, and more over dramatic as things wore on. I got so irritated with the actors that I fast-forwarded through a lot of the hystronics. I, also, still was bugged by the appearance of the actress who played Rei Xi. No matter how I looked at her, she was not cute. Her way of moving and her expressions were not that of someone who is a girl or of someone 16/17 year old. In the outdoor photoshoot scene I finally figured it out. She looks like a chubby cheeked ten year old, very much like the curly headed Coke-girl from about 10-years back. She also acted like a very loud and very hyper 10-year boy, which made it hard for me to believe that her character could feel romantic love -- which may have actually been a reflection of the heart of the actress, because she had absolutely no chemistry with Jian (Sano) so the sexual tension the two experience while living together doesn't get expressed (or rather it's expressed one-sidedly by the actor that plays Jian, but comes off all wrong because of the Rei Xi's actress). The actor that played Jian is very good and definitely looks the part. I felt so bad, though, that he had to act like he was romantically in love with a chubby-cheeked androgenous child. It felt more like a big-brother looking after little brother more than anything. I did like that they added the extra element of Shu Yi falling in love with Julia. I had hoped that that would happen in the manga and I was disappointed when it didn't. It seemed that the way that they argued indicated an underlying attraction, or so I had hoped.

Anyhow, I think this version of the story really understood the craziness of the situation of both Mizuki and Sano holding on tightly to an illusion so they can be together, but at the same time using the illusion to protect themselves from hurt. I think it also dealt well with Sano's internal struggle against himself with regards to high-jump, keeping Mizuki's secret and how he uses her secret to toy with her. I think though, I would have like to have seen this actor go through the emotions of finally breaking down and his efforts to finally get he and Mizuki to move toward to confess their feelings. Instead, they left them in the illusion. I also like the way they handle the doctor and his gayness in such matter-of-fact and straightforward way.

I give this 5/5 for Jian and doctor and an overall 3/5 because Rei Xi wasn't convincing and the last two episodes were really annoying. They really missed the point that Mizuki in no way looks like a boy or acts like one, but rather she cuts her hair, puts on boys clothing, goes to a boy's school and convinces herself into believing that everyone takes her as a boy. And most everyone believes she's a boy because they assume that a girl wouldn't choose to go to an all boys school. It's a circle arguement.

Jul 15, 2007

Hanazakarino Kimitachi e -- Taiwanese Live Action Version

I have watched the first 5 episodes of this 15 episode long version of Hana-Kimi and I find it quite good. At first I didn't like that the actress that plays the Mizuki character (Mizuki is called Rei Xi in the version) because she actually looks like a chubby unattactractive boy -- well more like a "Pat" type from SNL -- but I think I've gotten used to her (and her overacting). The other characters are well played and well cast, especially the Sano character (Jian or Quan depending on the fansubber group) and the Nakatsu character (Shu Yi). This version, so far, follows the manga very closely, so it's very satisfying to watch. There are some deviations that had to be made to account for the casting of the Rei Xi. Instead of Jian inspiring her when she was being teased at home for being Asian, Rei Xi was teased instead for being fat. It's a change that doesn't affect the story at all. Anyhow, I'm really enjoying it and I'm wondering at what point in the story it will end it since at the end of episode 5, the story is at the beginning of the 3rd volume of the manga. Hmm ... we'll see ...

Jul 12, 2007

Hanazakari no Kimitachi e -- Japanese Live Action Version Continued

I found a fansubbed version of the new Hana-Kimi series on Crunchy Roll. Basically, this live action version is, indeed, very loosely based on the manga. The basic scenario is the same -- girl disguises herself to enter an all boy's school to be with the boy she admires. The characters are present, but they are not like the manga. There are elements of the scenarios in the manga, but they had been chopped into small bits and rearranged. Mizuki's reason being at Ousaka is changed too. In this version, she comes there knowing that Sano no longer does the high jump and she has the goal in mind of making him jump again. It also seems that Sano does not realize right away that Mizuki is a girl (or maybe he could know who she is since in this version he gets the injury that ends his high jumping while saving her from street thugs a year before she enters the school). There are lots of other things changed too, which is frustrating if you compare it the manga, so I've decided not to associate this with the manga and take the show for what it is. Once I did that, I have decided that the show is watchable. The scenes between Ashiya and Sano, Ashiya and Dr. Umeda, and Ashiya and Nakatsu are charming but the scenes with the accessory characters are mostly pathetically silly fan service. I imagine as I continue to watch this series, I will be fast forwarding through the fan service. I also find the St. Blossoms girls to be very annoying. Sigh ...

Jul 10, 2007

Hanazakari no Kimitachi e -- Japanese Live Action Version

There's a live action version of "Hanazakari no kimitachi e" (For you in Full Blossom) this season. I watched the raw of the first episode and it is VERY loosely based on the manga. There is no coherence in the activities and the show appears, so far, to be a bunch of fan service for teenage girls (male and female -- 'nuff said). I'll give the second episode a chance to see if they attempt to do something more than fan service. If the second episode is equally as crappy or crappier than the first, then I will not following this show. The first episode, though, was truly disappointing.

I did some digging around and there's also a live action version that came out of Taiwan. I'm going to see if this version is any better. Fortunately, this version is subtitled in English.

I'd love to see an anime version or a live action version of this come out that is closer to the manga. I realize that would difficult, though, considering that the manga is 23 volumes. I think, though, if there is a savvy screenwriter involved, they story could be satisfactorily told in ~13 - 24-episodes. There's lots of stuff to cut or abbreviate like the story around doctor and his lover, the scavenger hunt (or whatever that was), the appearance of Hajima's little twin bothers, the lake story where Nakatsu is possessed, ... to point out a few. Sigh ... oh, well, ... I love the manga, so I guess it's alright that it's not been made into anime.

Jul 8, 2007

Emma: Victorian Romance the Second Act

I finished watching the raws last night. The ending is nothing like the manga, rather there seems to be some business dealings going on (I could not understand because I don't know many business words in the Japanese) and a lot of shots of Emma pausing and thinking very hard or William on the verge of tears. SUCKED!!! Read the manga! It's got a lot more going on and it is more explicit about the burning passion between William and Emma. Them two are on fire! (Okay in a very victorian way ...)

Anime: 2.5/5 -- it started off good and then quickly went to SUCKED
Manga: 5/5 -- that's the kinda of romance I like to read :).

Anime Review: Nodame Cantabile -- Anime Version

This series ran 23-episodes long and covered Volumes 1 - 9 (a little bit of 10) of the manga. The series, overall, was faithful to the manga, although, a couple of tidbits were trimmed to keep the story moving. I've written quite a bit about this series in the past, so I won't go into more. They decided to end the series when Chiaki goes to Nodame's home to convince her to come to Europe with him. The last scene is the hug when Chiaki finally finds Nodame while she's talking on the phone with him about their future. I suppose that was a good place to end things and from the looks of it, they could or could not make a second season. 5/5

Anyhow, I'm looking forward to the second season of the live action version :).

Jul 7, 2007

After School Nightmare Volume 4

It came out in English before I could finish translating the manga. I managed to translate the first 20 pages or so and it looks like the US translation dumbed things down a little. I was having trouble myself translating because a lot of what was said didn't have a good English translation. Oh well, this volume leaves Sou in a pretty sad state. He finally gets his hands on Ichijo only to have her flatly reject him again in favor of Kareha, who Ichijo promises to take care of as a final request of Shinbashi. We also get a taste for how scary and possessive Sou's sister is. From glancing at the next volume it seems that Ai loves her brother in a most un-sisterly-like fashion and there's also some girl-on-girl action between Ichijo and Kareha ... Ah, but what would this twisted story be without incest and lesbians. Poor Ichijo, caught in the middle of two triangles because she can't accept that she's a girl.