Jul 30, 2008

Summary: Arakure (Wild Ones), Vol 5, Chp 21, Part 2

It's now Christmas Day and Sachie's classmates have arrived for the party. Her classmates are in awe of the grandeur of her house -- the gate is so big. Sachie is a little embarrassed. The class president thanks her for allowing them to visit. She attempts to greet him formally and he tells her that the formality isn't necessary. And then Sachie opens the gate to find the yakuza in their formal dress (complete with the family crest) bowing deeply to welcome Sachie's guests. Sachie quickly closes the gate and explains to her guests that things aren't quite ready and then she re-enters the gate and angrily tells the yakuza that it's Christmas and that they need to change into some other clothes. The yakuza change and it's time to let the guests in again. As they are going in, Igarashi notices the sign on the door that identifies the family. He covers it from the sight and bids the students swift entry by enticing the girls with the possibility of a night of fun with him. Sachie is grateful for the Igarashi's nice save.

Inside, Azuma is serving drinks and the kids are playing the King Game with the yakuza. Everybody is having fun which pleases and relieves Sachie. While cleaning up after eating the class president volunteers to help her. He praises her cooking and she explains that she does this everyday. "But you are a princess" class president counters with a dead pan face. Yikes!!! Sachie tries to cover by saying the saying the even though she's a princess, she still has to do various things. "Oh, like a fairy tale princess," class president says and for a minute he looks like "evil Igarashi", but then his face goes very serious and he asks, "Does the Wakamura household perhaps ..." Sachie tenses up -- "oh crap what is he thinking" she wonders. "... have a bad child?" class president concludes. And in walks Raizo dressed as Santa which breaks the tense situation. Igarashi soon arrives and remarks that Raizo makes a strange Santa. In passing, Igarashi tells Sachie to be wary of the class president. Sachie wonders whether she has something to aware of about the class president.

Time for dessert. It's a Christmas cake and the yakuza mistakenly put candles on it so it looks like a birthday cake. As they are singing, one of the students says that she thinks she remembers the yakuza from the cultural festival. They were the acting troupe that came to the school. "You live with them?" she asks. "Why didn't you tell us?" she continues. For a moment Sachie's world is ending. She wants to tell everyone and she wants to introduce her family properly. She clasps her hands tightly as she decides what do. Igarashi looks on with interest and the yakuza are stunned into silence. Sachie has decided and she tells them, "Actually these people take care of me. There are ... my family." The yakuza are deeply touched, Azuma looks proud, and Igarashi ... well .. I guess he looks slightly relieved or something. All of her friends smile back warmly and the girl who spoke up says, "That's great! You have a nice family." The tension is instantly lifted and everyone looks relieved. Igarashi looks a little defeated, though -- perhaps sharing a secret with Sachie was a bond with her and now that bond of secrecy is broken. Raizo and his second in command look on proudly. Second-in-command says, "Ojou-sama is surrounded by good friends." And then they all celebrate and, I imagine, eat the cake.

In the middle of the fun, Sachie hears a familiar sound. It turns out to be class president's cell phone ring tone. It's his Dad on the line and class president explains that he has the ringtone because his Dad is a policeman (I guess the ringtone is a sound associated with police -- perhaps a siren sound???). Class president turns his phone to Sachie and the yakuza and says, "Dad would like to greet you all." Sachie and the yakuza are in great shock. "A policeman!?" they all collectively think.

-- End of Chapter --

Jul 29, 2008

Summary: Arakure (Wild Ones), Vol 5, Chp 21, Part 1

It's a new volume of "Arakure." I'm working my way through this so slowly -- argh, I'm even driving myself crazy by my pace. Anyhow, this chapter picks up directly after the last. Recall that Sachie's class is coming over for a Christmas party.

Sachie bursts hysterically onto the scene yelling, "Everyone get out" which the yakuza interpret to mean a raid is happening. The excited yazuka spring into action asking which group is raiding them and then Sachie quickly realizes that they got the wrong idea. The head of the low level guys comes in and assures everyone that there's no raid, but rather Sachie's classmate are coming over for a Christmas party. With a desperate look on her face she explains to them all that she fears her friends will find out the identity of her family. Igarashi and Azuma look on with mild shock. Igarashi then turns evil on her and with a wicked smiles asks, "You understand, so why did you invite them over?" Sachie is embarrassed and in tears. She couldn't bring herself, at the time, to turn down the class president's request, plus, the girls in class are excited about coming to see where Igarashi lives. Sachie retreats into her own little world. She's got a crazy smile on her face that frightens the yakuza. The yakuza decide for Sachie's sake they will figure out some way to hide their identity and they swear this on their tattoos to Sachie.

Later that night Igarashi goes to check on Sachie who is outside reflecting. He starts a conversation with. "Can't sleep?" he says. Sachie turns and he continues, "What's wrong? Everyone is going out of their way for you and you've got a sad face. " Sachie looks sad and blushes a little. She says that she feels self loathing for selfishly inviting her classmates over and then telling everyone that they had to hide. She feels bad for being so reckless. Igarashi being Igarashi put on his fake smile and replies, "If you weren't Sachie-sama then your ass would have been kicked." His comment didn't help and now she feels worse. She turns around and rests her chin on the deck railing in a heavy mope. Igarashi pats her on the head and then seriously explains that the guys are doing it for honor. Sachie says, "I can't say I understand that but if we didn't have to deceive everybody, I really would like to properly introduce everyone." Igarashi is moved by her sentiment, but at the same time he knows that being deceptive is for the best. He tells her, "That's true. I'm no stranger to being deprived so I know sometimes there are things we can't say or tell others. This is all the more true when someone is happy. That happiness has to be protected daily." Sachie looks up at him with concern and asks, "Are there things you don't want other to know?" Igarashi thinks back to his past and replies, "There are" to Sachie. Then he turns Casanova on her and says, "but I will show everything to Sachie-sama. Now which secret do you want to know?" He appears to loosen the collar of his sweatshirt in preparation to take it off. Sachie is completely taken off guard and yells, "No thank you!" She looks repulsed. "Well too bad because quite frankly you should have," Igarashi says slyly as he turns and heads inside. Sachie is very embarrassed and implores Igarashi to stop teasing her. Igarashi continues making small talk remarking that it's cold outside. Sachie wonder whether he really would have stripped and let's out, "Igarashi ... won't you get sick?" Igarashi returns to Sachie's side and completely ignoring her concern and says, "This will be everyone's first Christmas so let's look forward to it. We'll have a fun Christmas." His smile is very warm and inviting and Sachie wants to believe him, but she has her doubts but she sets to her mind to making this the best Christmas. "Hai!!!" She says enthusiastically in response.

To be continued ...

Jul 22, 2008

Summary: Arakure (Wild Ones), Vol 4, Chp 20

It's winter time and Christmas is coming. The yakuza are testing white powder to the horror of Sachie. It turns out that it's just flour that the yakuza are going to use to make goodies that they will sell in vendor stalls for the upcoming Christmas festivities. Meanwhile Igarashi and Azuma and lamenting over having to get dressed up for the festivities. In particular there's a kooky looking reindeer costume. Sachie teases them and Igarashi reminds her that she has to study for her exams -- he will of course be her tutor.

At school, Sachie gets through her tests thanks to Igarashi's help. She free and looking forward to winter break. Sachie's friend is excited about the Christmas party and wants to spend it with Igarashi, which doesn't please Sachie. The class president warns everyone about exceeding the budget. The girls ask Sachie what Igarashi likes and what kind of girls Igarashi likes. Sachie doesn't know. Which sends her mind thinking about presents. After school she decides to go shopping instead of going straight home. She ends up at the place where the yakuza are running the food stalls. They are all dressed in Santa Clause costumes and they welcome Sachie and her friends. Sachie begins to wonder who's who. One is super polite and offers to get her some takoyaki. He reminds her that he told her not to come and Sachie figures out that it's Igarashi. Poor Azuma is in the kooky reindeer outfit. They chat about how it sucks to be in costume and the fact that Igarashi is a pitiful Santa. While they talk, Sachi rubs her hands together and blows on them to try to warm them up. Igarashi notices and puts her hand into his pocket and then remarks that there are advantages to being in disguise. Sachie thinks that this is un-Santa like because Santa is supposed to pat your head and ask what you wish for. Igarashi gets up for a bit to tend to the customers. Sachie for some reason blurts out that she would be happy with anything that Igarashi would give her for Christmas. Igarashi doesn't hear her clearly. He comes back and asks Sachie what she wants for Christmas and she says that she wants to be together with everyone. And off she goes to do her shopping.

At a store she finds some gift (I'm not quite sure what's she's buying. It looks like wrapping paper to me). When she goes to pay for it, she discovers that her wallet is missing. Meanwhile back at the street festival one of the yakuza finds Sachie's wallet and he along with Igarashi decide to go find Sachie while she is still in the area. Sachie is back tracking to find her wallet, when she comes across across a couple of yakuza not in her family who are trying some you-knocked-me-over-now-pay-for-my-injuries scam on a well dressed old man. Sachie protests and says that the yakuza bumped into the man. The yakuza threaten her and Sachie pulls rank on them. Just as one of the thugs was about to hurt Sachie, Igarashi rushes in to the rescue with a big protective face burying hug (he's always trying to shield her eyes from violence). The man thanks Sachie and then pulls out a police badge which shocks everyone -- especially Sachie since she just bragged about being a yakuza princess. She and Igarashi get the hell out of Dodge before the policeman realizes what happened. It seems the policeman is the class president's father. On their way back Igarashi teases Sachie about her wallet and says that bad girls that don't go straight home don't get their wallets back. Sachie calls him devilish and says that she wishes the rest of her classmates could she what a meanie he really is. Igarashi says that only she gets to see this side of him which causes Sachie to blush and her heart to skip a beat.

The next day at school, the class president asks Sachie if they can have the Christmas party at her house because her mansion can accommodate all of the students and to keep within the budget. Sachie looks very nervous. The ending caption reads, "It looks like Christmas is becoming troublesome"

Jul 10, 2008

Anime Review: Vampire Knight Ep. 1 - 13

I finished watching the first season of "Vampire Knight" a little over a week ago. I think that the series is a nice companion to the manga, but it is definitely not a substitute. The anime follows the manga pretty faithfully -- a few things are omitted or the order in which they come in the story has changed, but it's nothing too upsetting. The anime also has more slapstick humor than the manga. Sometimes that annoyed me because I feel the story is at it's best when it is dark. So what's keeping me from strongly recommending this anime? Well, the anime lacks the "loveliness" of the manga. The characters are drawn sorta like those in the manga, but they lack the curly-flair and the detail of Hino's drawings. Hino draws very appealing looking males and the animators just don't have that talent. I realize that it would be very expensive to recreate the details of Hino's drawings, still, in that sense, I feel the anime is a bit soulless. One of the strongest moments in the manga is the scene in which Zero bites Kaname. In the manga, the build up to the event is violent, tense, and intense and the spread devoted to the bite was red-hot in all it's glory. The drawing is, well, "lovely" and over-the-top. The anime took a different approach and I think, in comparison to the manga, the scene fell flat.

I was hoping for a little variation in the story from the manga. From reading the forums, basically fans fall into the Kaname camp or the Zero camp. I am, of course, in the Kaname because I like bratty slightly evil characters and emo-characters like Zero cheese me off. I was hoping that in the anime, Zero would be less emo and more fierce. Rather, they've made him powerless and pitiful. Kaname is robotic in the anime. I imagine him to be seething under a calm exterior -- one of those guys with a beautifully biting tone. (forgive the bad pun) Oh well ...

As a good companion to the manga, I give the first season of the"Vampire Knight" anime 3/5. I highly recommend the manga, though, for its lovely drawings and dark and detailed story. The story comes on slowly but when a secret is revealed, it sheds light on all the past events and, for me, I felt the impact of the build-up greatly in retrospect. It's like magic. When it happened I would go back and reread the previous chapters and marvel at the little cues Hino left. The subtlety is amazing in when read in retrospect.