Thursday, July 24, 2014

Quick Reviews: Please Teacher and High School Girls Volume 1

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

In Clothes Called Fat: Full Series Review

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

Sailor Moon Crystal Episode Two: Review

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.*

Thursday, July 17, 2014

After School Nightmare, Volume One: Review

Ichijo Mashiro has a secret he can not reveal to others and this leads to a deep inner self-loathing inside himself, Mashiro is for all intents and purposes a Hermaphrodite, and after dropping out of the Kendo club because of his first defeat at the hands of Sou (a darkly handsome playboy who has his eyes set on the girlish Mashiro). Mashiro is inducted into an after school program that makes him live out his worst nightmare that he really is a woman while fighting others in a tournament this also leads him to a budding romance with the outwardly bubbly and inwardly broken girl Kuhara. It's this juxtaposition of a sweet budding romance between the self-loathing Mashiro and Kuhara. Juxtaposed with Sou's predatory sexuality and the hellish dreamscapes, Mashiro is forced to endure to put an end to the nightmare he must endure and protect Kuhara. That make it a astute depiction of the dark psychological themes it details, while it would be easy to see this as Mashiro's “hate letter” to his situation. I think it's more than that he's a guy who seeks to be what he sees as an “ideal man” it's admirable to see him want to protect Kuhara and once the initial shock of his situation is allowed to settle. Mashiro is a great hero who I can support wholeheartedly while I really hope Kuhara gets some closure about her past traumas and Sou can go die quickly as he's a despicable user and borderline rapist who is utterly repulsive. It’d be real easy to see this as just a insular meditation on gender identity but I think it's less about that. Mashiro's situation is more an extended metaphor for the trauma almost anyone suffers in adolisnce trying to find out who they are. It's just so overtly bizarre and shocking that I can't blame someone for being put off by it I know that the whole gender identity question is the reason I won't read Wandering Son. Yet this is less about Mashiro's Hermaphroditic body or even the obvious love triangle that seems to be developing between him, Sou and Kuhara. This is a story about persona and self-identity or learning to be open with others, as first volumes go this is near perfect, the art is crisp, the story closes in a conclusive way while also leaving you wanting to know what happens next. Mizushiro's art is clean, economical and detailed with loving touches paid to clothing and expressions even some cake Kuhara makes for Mashiro looks like delicious food that even abstract expression like “love in the offering of it” is noticeable. Than the nightmares hit like a thunderhead on a beautiful spring day, filled with battles the unseen sufferings and private faces of truly broken individuals and a tight claustrophobic feel for clanking armor and causal sadism. It is truly impressive to read something that is alternatively so disconcerting and alienating and also leaves me with hope for Mashiro but sadly I don't think it's going to be a series were he gets his “happy ending” but even if that doesn’t happen I'll still admire this broken yet admirably noble knight. CAN'T WAIT FOR VOLUME 2!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

First Impressions: Momo Kyun Sword

The action scenes are clean and look well choreographed the "magical girl" aspect is a pleasant twist and Ayana Taketatsu's line delivery is well done capture both earnestness and naivete in this the female version of Momotaro. Those are also the few positives I can say because the rest of it looks cheap and so many corners have been cut that now we have a circle. secondary character's mouth movements don't match up and while the idea of a Sentai style corp of female celestial maidens seems like an interesting idea the celestial maidens do so little as to be nothing more than mere window dressing. I really hope when Onihimi get introduced things will get better but as for now good Taketatsu's voice acting and the action sequences are the only good things.

First Impressions: Blue Spring Ride

Quiet and Melancholic are the best descriptors I can think of for this episode and while the main drama between our heroine Futaba and her crush Kō are based on a contrived misunderstanding, overall the episode works in showing Futaba's personality change from demure to outwardly tomboyish to spare herself the "slings and arrows" of other girls. While it's disheartening to see people be so shallow as to cross Futaba out as a date for the boys because of things like overeating and having an overstuffed school bag. I still like her and hope for some future happiness for her. Were as Kō has an intresting turn from who he was in the past to who he is now. While it also looks very pristine with soft pastel colors and individual characters that I want to know more about just from having seen them.

First Impressions: Rail Wars!

Trains and the people who protect them that's this series and it could be boring as all get out but thankfully with an fun (if unoriginal) cast from main protagonist Naoto who he i very much the nice guy who has dream and not much else although the series seems to want to pair him up with Haruka who is sweet and has an encyclopedic knowledge of trains but mostly exists to be the "fan service character." While so far my favorite character has to be hot-blooded Aoi Sakurai who has professed distaste for men but is also able to shot and fight better than any of the others. I also have to love a girl whose first action when catching a molester on a train is to shoot him dead on sight. Overall it's an odd mixture of pedantic train trivia and boiler plate character interactions but still everything feels entertaining and okay in short a solid B+.