Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Four Volumes! This is a series that easily could have turned into a “one joke” series but from the world building, eye for detail, and overall fun this series has even if certain parts are cliché. Monster Musume continues to be entertaining, and occasionally insightful, with this volume another Monster Girl get introduced bringing the total harem up to a total of six. With the introduction of Rachnera the “feme fetal” of the group. Her introduction also allows for Okayado to hammer away at the core moral of the series that of not judging other based on how they look. With Rachnera holding a lot of bitterness towards humans after being rejected by her first host family due to her having the lower half of a spider, which is just fine with Kimihito because she's got legs (eight of them). It's a nice little bit of character development, To see Rachnera change while Centorea has to come to terms with Rachnera's overly “forward” ways, again this allows for some good character development with Centorea unloading her emotions from behind her facade of honorable stoicism. This story line is the strongest part of the volume. A storyline involving a trip to the gym and the introduction of the super perky Kobold Monster-Girl Port (a nice RPG/D&D reference), is slight but entertaining and has some good action scenes in the race between Miia and Mero and shows the world that everyone inhabits in little ways that make it enjoyable. From little details such as the effect chlorine has on Mero or Mero's misplaced complement in comparing Miia to an eel. While finally the last storyline is the girls following Kimihito while he's on what looks like an date with Ms. Smith, it's a cliché romantic comedy trope that's been done before but throw in a moisture hungry Suu and the various girls personal quirks and it's more than enjoyable. Especially so is Mero's love of the tragic doomed romance in The Little Mermaid, while it all ends on an ominous note, this continues to be one of my go to “fun” series, asks very little in the way of investment from the reader but pays huge dividends when the emotions are hit right. In short it's a series I care about a lot as every character is bounding off the page with life and emotion, while Okayado's art has strong points from backgrounds, clothing, and oversized reaction shots. Faces tend to be weak looking for the most part the same yet it's the only real flaw. While the translation by Ryan Peterson or at least Peterson's attempts at humor, fall flat for me such as Rachnera's use of the phrase “itsy-bitsy” is too “on the nose” to be an enjoyably bad pun but thankfully this speech pattern is almost non-existent by the end of the volume. I get that translation is an art and not a science so my sense of humor just may be too different to find certain aspects of this volume funny, but that's more a personal preference and not an actual mark against the series it’s self. As an aside I liked the choice of “magical garment girl” in Is This A Zombie? While others found it grating same here it's a simple matter of taste. Still a fun read that I keep in my “pull rack” of Manga because it handles it all so well and most of the fan service is handled with a kind of winking acknowledgment that never crosses over into rapey or distasteful. The one acceptance being one a pack of goons almost take advantage of Centorea but like all the other cretins in this series swiftly get their comeuppances, so it ends up kind of being a “wash” for lack of a better term as I always feel if the potential assailant “gets it in the end” I don;t have a huge problem with it but if it's “mind break” or “rape fetish” than I do . It's also good to have a male lead in a romantic comedy that isn’t a complete cipher or “Marty Stu,” Kimihito is a nice guy who takes care of people and worries over the girls simply because he has a good heart not becuese he's flawlessly perfect. Still fun and fun in and of itself is good as allowing your enjoyment of something to become too cerebral or intellectual is the sure death of any kind of real enjoyment of entertainment or art.
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Another episode that is hard for me to review as I honestly had a stupid grin on my face the whole time while watching it even though this is a "filler episode" the art direction choreography of the ballroom scene are superb and Rina Sato gives an understated and somewhat melancholic turn in some prats as Rei and overall the episode leaves with a great lead in to the next episode with the arrival of Makoto (this time voiced by Ami Koshimizu who turned in a grand prefromince as Ryuko in Kill La Kill. Again two weeks can't come fast enough.
Sunday, August 3, 2014
With this volume Dragonar Academy feels less like a simple low fantasy, series and more like an excuse for the artist, Ran to allow his imagination to run wild, with barely clothed dark skinned lolis, panty shots a plenty and drunken Eco/Ash make out sessions. In short it's a trashy ecchi series with low fantasy elements and it's a strong contender for most shameless Manga of the year. Yet I love it and the bits of character development from Ash's concern for Sylvia, to Sylvia developing a spine and doing the right thing and even Eco's misunderstandings, Mizuchi's writing doesn’t intrude on the fan service and yet the fan service is so gleefully crass that I tend to like it more than the writing which is not a knock against the writer it's just kind of hard to notice anything else when you have a brown skinned loli with only strategically placed snake armor in a scene or entire splash pages dedicated to lovingly detailing Sylvia's body. Still this is a series that is at best adequate low-fantasy and excellent ecchi, while the slow developing palace intrigue and looming war give me hope for a more well crafted story down the line. As is it's nothing special and also something very special in being so gleefully over the top in it's fan service, the last story line involving a mutant panty stealing panda would be the worst or best (depending on how you feel about heavy fan service). If not for the side story involving Rebecca's dream about Ash which involves tentacles... While a few jokes about Jessica Valentine wanting Ash's baby are also enjoyable as well. This is a series that has now gone to a place that if your uncomfortable with it get off now because I predict it's only going to get worse from now on, as is I look forward to volume four if only to see how far Ran will go now. Enjoyable sleaze has never been this good, action scenes are also well executed showing an eye for meticulous detail on armor and fight choreography as well but that's more of a nice thing to notice because this is a series that is proudly all about the ecchi.
Saturday, August 2, 2014
Sailor Mars makes her debut with Rina Sato doing a great job showing not only Rei's strength but also her vulnerability while the transformation sequences have seemed to have improved after the first episode that was criticized so heavily for it's use of CGI. While the growing resltionship between Usagi and Mamoru is showen in all it's stumbling youth on Usagi's part. While USagi as Sailor Moon has to rely on her friends and herself to save those abducted by Nephrite showing the lie of the the critcism that Sailor Moon was a "fake empowerd" female charcter the fact is USagi gets things done she may need Ami to talk her up but she'll get things done. Again the art style is probably the most devisive thing about the series but this contiues to be a top tier series as far as screen writing and voice acting goes. The hardest part is the two week wait between episodes but the quality of each episode makes it worth it.
Thursday, July 24, 2014
High School Girls, Volume One: While I enjoyed the Anime adaptation of this series this first volume is not that impressive while notable for being in my opinion the “anti-Azumanga Daioh” in that instead of being about the perceived “purity,” innocence,” and Moe of the female cast instead it chronicles the rather unhygienic and uncomfortably informative parts of being in a all-girls High School. While it does a great job capturing the desperation and pent up desire of the female cast. They all feel like female versions of the various pathetic schluby self-insert male leads found in Shonen Romance series like Gacha Gacha or Pastel. It’s not a relateable kind of “cringe humor” that causes you to commiserate with the lead (part of the problem may be because it's an ensemble cast). Instead it feels like a mixture of awkward humor, crass references to bodily functions and an overall aura of utter banality that's more annoying than endearing because you can empathize with their struggles unlike say Tomoko from Watamote. That makes it an inane slog while the art feels like a rushed attempt at aping Hiroyuki Tamakoshi not even making it pleasant to look at. It works more as an antidote to series like The Virgin Mary Is Watching Over You, A-Chanel, Lucky Star, and K-On! High School Girls works immensely well at shattering the idealized sugar encrusted silliness that Manga and Anime depictions of Girl's lives in High School are often reduced to but only at that and barely as that. Please Teacher (Complete Series): Sigh! At two volumes this series feels like a waste of time summed up as “unoriginal and uninspired” from the transparent wish fulfillment fantasy of Kei getting married to his hot alien teacher to the ham-handed attempts at drama that leave unexplained plot holes and unanswered questions. This is a painful series to read as it's honestly nothing, it's not well drawn the translation makes the dialogue come off as stilted and the layout makes it difficult to read. Nothing good or notable a sad attempt at a “cash in” for a Anime franchise unrecommended and justly forgotten on the ash heap of bad Manga adaptations of bad Anime series.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Words fail me to describe how utterly flawless and great In Clothes Called Fat by Moyoco Anno the story of Noko an overweight office lady at a company who is constantly belittled by co-worker snide backhanded comments fetishized by men and used as an emotional crutch by her salery-man boyfriend. Anno gets the inner life of Noko down so realisticly and cold that it's painful to see her be so mistreated by others. This is the best book I have read all year hands down anything else that comes out will only be second best after this. I don't even want to say anything too much because it's a book that must and should be experienced by everyone. This may have started out as a Josei Manga but this is for everyone who has ever felt uncomfortable about their body image and simply anyone if I could be some kind of mendicant evangelist for this title I would. I honestly do not think I will ever read anything this good ever again. This is as close to perfect I think a work of art will ever come, a raw acerbic look at the hell people put themselves through and no one is spared when the most sympathetic character is a possibly mentally disturbed revenge obsessed cultist you have done something special. This makes Helter Skelter look like Kimi No Todeki in comparison in some places yet also seems to end on a hopefully more positive note than that series.
Monday, July 21, 2014
With this Ami gets introduced and the paceing on the new series is fantastic gone are the seven episodes of "monster of the week" filler and instead it gets right to the charcters I have to complement the direction in the opening minutes of the episode as it captures Ami's isolation with out having it explained to death through expository dialouge. Also Hisako Kanemoto turns in a rserved measured performance for most of the episode which considering the first role I saw her in was Squid Girl it's a change that she pulls off flawlessly. While Ami's transformation into Sailor Mercury is gorgeous with water imagery lightly added ripples and simple touches it's an improvement on Usagi's transformation into Sailor Moon which while good the conspicuous CGI is jarring to some. This continues to be a series that feels like everyone has brought their "a game" next episode brings us Rei in two weeks voiced by Rina Sato so the voice of uber-tsundere Misaka Mikoto will hopefully be gracing us with a wonderfully hot-blooded performance in two weeks *ques up Tom Petty"s "The Waiting.*