Saturday, March 30, 2013

"Tamako Market" Anime Review

In our world today, most people turn to anime for over the top action or thought provoking thrillers (Dragon Ball Z, Death Note, Naruto, ext.) but there is something that anime has brought that most people glaze over. Aria was one of the first anime I experienced as a child and while it contained a very slow paced plot (since it was a slice of life), it literally made my day watching it. It contained characters and music that were so in synch it made it such a unique watch. Years later we have Tamako Market which in a lot of ways mirrors what I loved about Aria.

Story: 6.5/10
In a slice of life anime, it is hard to get a large amount of appeal unless they rely on moe type stuff to get a large viewer base. While Tamako Market does have some moe elements, it is the very spot on pacing and character development in which Tamako Market in my honest opinion becomes a spiritual successor to Aria. Both shows follow a small cast of characters on their daily routines while also taking place in a seemingly conflict free world in which they are free to do whatever they fancy. Both shows also bring out the question, “What do I want to do in life?” Both Aria and Tamako realize by the end of the show what and where is their true calling. Since all the show does is follow the main characters, you might think it would get boring real fast. Well you are wrong on that front because the character interactions are all funny and/or engaging. The character Dela who is a bird who talks usually steals the spotlight in the scenes he takes place in since he is usually both the starter and resolver of conflicts due to his all mighty personality. The anime does rely on some gag type comedy but nothing is overused beyond their usage. One recurring gag is when someone sneezes on Dela, he takes it as an act of courting since it is such an action in his home country. The plot does start out a little slow in the beginning but the show steadily brings in new elements to add towards the final episode. While it isn’t the most thought provoking plot, you will still hopefully enjoy the interactions between the characters.

Animation: 7/10
The animation is a little lacking but by no means horrible. The colors are on the plain side but in terms of the actual animation the show does a really good job of keeping a smooth frame rate especially on the scenes where there are objects in motion. Character models are nice throughout the entire season; nothing really else to add.

Sound: 9.7/10
So I happen to be very much into acoustic qualities and how it affects film. A lot of people do not understand how an amazing score/soundtrack can really make something shine. Visuals are important but it is the sound that makes your chest shake during an explosion or the emotions you feel when a character is crying and the voice actor is doing a great job expressing the in-film character’s emotions. In the case of Tamako Market it happens to all of these things but the music takes the main prize. The music used in this show is light, cheerful, and used perfectly in all the scenes. The opening song is also amazing as it is catchy and has great instrumentation. The soundtrack is so good that I plan on buying the OST when it comes out.
Best opening song...EVER
Characters: 9.5/10
Slice of life shows HAVE to have a good cast or it goes to sh!%. Unless you have a show like Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei that has a character for literally every possible situation, your limited size cast has to provide scenes that are pleasing to the audience. In my honestly opinion, I think that the characters of Tamako Market did an astounding job providing thirteen funny and enjoying episodes of goodness. All four high school students (plus the bird Dela) do an excellent job interacting with each other in both mundane and unique ways. The scenes where Mochizou and Tamako talk to each other from their rooms using the two cups connected by a string reminds me of my youth when that seemed like the cool thing to do. The interactions between Mochizou and Midori were interesting to watch since Midori is overprotective of Tamako and Mochizou is so fu#$ing clueless about girls. The star Dela really brought the show together with his personality and lack of knowledge. I don’t want to sound fanboyish but I am having a hard time trying to find anything wrong with the cast. I am pretty sure that anyone who watches this show will enjoy the characters.

Overall: 8.2/10
This show is not going to appeal to everyone. I and many people are getting fed up with the anime industry’s push for more and more slice of life anime with a heavy emphasis on moe. It seems as if studios are becoming more reserved on making a new amazing action adventure or thriller type anime. When Fate/Zero came out it was a breath of fresh air because it was awesome, fresh, new. I want more anime that takes risks BUT in the mists of all the moe crap going on currently, something arose from the garbage and gave me something to look forward to each week. Tamako Market is the rainy day anime of the 2000’s. With an amazing soundtrack and cast, I honestly cannot think of any reasons why someone might not like this show. Don’t go into it thinking it is going to wow you with emotions and actions; just sit back, relax, and watch some youngsters live out their life. You might even laugh along the way.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

"Kotoura-san" Anime Review

Well it’s finally over. I hate to say it but I had such high hopes for this show after seeing the opening episode but while Kotoura-san is energetic, beautiful to look at, and full of interesting characters, it falls far short of what I feel it was striving for.

Story: 5/10
This anime takes many steps forward in trying to make this drama/slice of life interesting but unfortunately falls down the stairs one too many times. The show opens up in such an amazing fashion; Haruka is a very young girl who was born with the ability to read peoples thoughts. Unknowingly she spreads out everyone’s feelings and soon finds herself all alone at a very vulnerable stage. She also in the process ruins her parents’ marriage by babbling out their personal plans with some not so ok people. She ends up at rock bottom with no one to turn to except her grandfather. Flash-forward a couple years to high school and she is still very shy and scared of reading people’s thoughts. Just when she is about to give up all hope, she is introduced to Yoshihisa who takes a liking to Haruka despite her ability to see and hear every one of his thoughts. So this premise is freaking awesome right!? The first three episodes had me completely hooked because the premise was interesting and it felt like it was going to be a semi-serious high school drama. Well though luck kids because this show runs down stale lane after about the fifth episode. What the show turns into is your typical “This is what our club (the ESP society) did today” which don’t get me wrong isn’t a bad thing for some shows. Why it doesn’t work in Kotoura-san is because there was this big whole setup to make me think this show could be more than a romantic comedy. Speaking of comedy, the slapstick style humor and running gags in this show were funny the first time they were introduced but when the main gag of a show is the main character thinking of really pervy stuff and getting slapped for it…like every episode, it gets a little boring. With crap airing right now like Da Capo III and Little Busters, I was really hoping this was going to be that somewhat awesome drama that Maoyuu Maou Yuusha also could have been (I found out that show was just all about boobs). After revising all the airing anime this season, I have to unfortunately agree with the rest of the internet in saying that there was just way too much moe stuff this season.

Animation: 7.9/10
Grr this is a tough thing to talk about because the animation in this show is both really basic looking but also fantastic…all at the same time. There really isn’t a lot of work done on the character models and in typical anime fashion when a comedic scene pops up, the facial expressions on the characters turn extremely basic looking for an added effect. Why I also fit in fantastic as an adjective is because the lighting, quality of the backdrops, and how the eyes were animated was just so…awesome. “What this guy is giving a good score based on eye animation?” Yes, yes I am because like I said in my Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo review the show has a “normal” feeling towards it but the little elements make it shine. The animation while a little too cartoony for my tastes was still unique and very pretty to look at. It would have scored even higher but I didn’t find some of the character models very appealing.
Started out awesome
Then turned into this...
Sound: 6.5/10
The sound design was in my opinion pretty average in this anime. I did enjoy the opening theme quite a lot as it was both catchy and the instrumentation was to my liking. The voice actors also did a pretty good job but I got so fu#$ing annoyed with Haruka saying in her high pitched voice “Ewww Manabe!” over…and over…and over again. Also the music used during the show was very generic and just not very appealing.

Characters: 6/10
The problem with the characters in Kotoura-san is that the ones that are interesting and unique don’t give you a reason to like them and the main characters (Haruka and Yoshihisa) annoy the fu#$ out of you. So see the problem here? Yuriko and Daichi are both interesting but Yuriko’s hidden agenda and true feelings just make her feel no remorse on my end and Hiyori is just an annoying tomboy third wheel. I do have to say that all the characters had good chemistry and created some funny and interesting moments throughout the season but as individuals not one of them stood out to me in an overly positive way.

Overall: 6.4/10
Yeah a 6.4 sounds just about right for this show. The only noteworthy things I can praise this anime for was the amazing opening episode, catchy opening theme, and the unique art style. Believe me I REALLY wanted to like this show but it really did fail on me. God I really hope there is some new unique anime coming out soon because while I like a romantic comedy just as much as the next person, I don’t want like five of them like this season. Go watch this though if you get bored because…well it’s better than watching School Days right?

"Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo" Anime Review

Sorry for the late posting of this anime review. I actually had it posted 2 days ago on my Animeplanet profile but for whatever reason Blogger would not let me upload a post the last two days. 
Well after two back-to-back seasons, Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo has completed (for now) and I have to say that I already miss its charm.

Story: 6/10
Out of the main four categories, the plot is the least appealing but by no means a hindrance to the show. The anime starts out by introducing Sorata and the other main members of an off-campus dormitory, Sakurasou. Sorata is forced to move into the off-campus dormitory due to his collection of stray cats. What becomes very apparent to Sorata as he is moving in is that this dormitory does not host ordinary students; in fact it houses the most socially unaccepted students he has ever met. Towards the end of the initial episode, he is introduced to the “pet” of Sakurasou, Mashiro who is an extremely talented artist. What then unfolds over the twenty four episodes is a couple of story arcs revolving around the daily lives of the members of Sakurasou and more importantly the growing relationship between Sorata and Mashiro as he is put in charge of basically keeping Mashiro alive since she cannot do her own laundry, get dressed, or pretty much anything a normal person could do. What becomes common knowledge by the second episode is that every member at Sakurasou is extremely gifted at something. It is this element that helps Sorata (who has no clue what his special talent is) grow as a person. This becomes one of the primary focal points for the show (on top of the relationship between him and Mashiro). Now don’t get me wrong every episode is interesting to watch but the pacing is quite slow especially in the beginning when the show is trying to set up all the plot elements. Also the ending episodes have some serious melodrama that is quite awkward to sit through even though Nanami is the cutiest thing ever. As far as the comedy aspect (since most slice of life anime have some sort of comedy) goes, there is an element of running gags and slapstick style humor (it’s spotty here and there) that the anime retains throughout all twenty four episodes. It’s not distracting or a hindrance but is by no means on the level of Gintama

Animation: 8/10
The animation in this anime is quite good and the quality remains in check throughout the entire double season run. The colors are bright and very soft which helps give it a unique look compared to the other slice of life dramas going on at the moment. Also the character models are not super realistic but not too undefined; you can say it is in the sweet spot of normal awesomeness. All of the characters especially the female leads are drawn very well in fact I am going to go on record and state that Nanami is by far the most adorable character…EVER. Overall the animation isn’t eye dazzling but still pretty damn awesome to look at.

Sound: 7.5/10
I quite liked the sound used in this anime. Both the soundtrack and the voice actors really helped set the mood for each scene perfectly. I liked all the main cast’s voice actors but the back and forth conversations between Sorata and Mashiro were amplified (I use that word too often) by their respective voice actor’s performance. Since this show (and pretty much every slice of life) relies on conversations as a means to progress the plot, it is vitally important for the voice actors to express their character’s emotions to their fullest ability. I feel safe in saying that the cast of Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo will not let you down. As for the soundtrack it fit very well within the anime and both the opening and closing themes were catchy and well done. Great sounding anime too bad it gets overshadowed by Tamako Market.

Characters: 8.8/10
I’ll just put this out here first; this is completely skewed depending on who is watching the show. I personally loved the cast because you (and by you I really just mean me) feel an established connection between the members of the dormitory very early on and there is suitable character development for each character. Heck even the recluse and shut-in Ryuunosuke matures quite a lot between when he first introduced all the way until the final episode. Each character also goes through a sort of epiphany stage at one point during the show. Sorata, Nanami, and Jin all come towards some sort of realization on what they need to do with their lives after facing many setbacks and hardships. I for one enjoyed seeing all three of them at the lowest and highest point while they were on this journey. Also the clashing between main characters while at the moment of occurrence is saddening, the resolution that follows is so enjoyable to see through. Overall the sense of connection and how each character interacted with one another felt so natural that I feel safe saying this is one of the best slice of life casts I can think of (catching onto the theme going on?).    

Overall: 7.6/10
After seeing what amount the four categories added up to, I feel as if it represents the show quite well. While the cast, sound, and animation are so spot on, the pacing and amount of “super over reactive highschoolness feelings” really dragged the show down for me. HOWEVER, you really should give this anime a shot because it has that level of charm that will cause you to smirk and smile throughout each episode (unless you know it ends on a sad or sour note).

Friday, March 22, 2013

Quick Update

So since we are getting so close to the conclusion of this current anime season, I have decided that it would be much more beneficial if I start working on the anime reviews that I plan on rolling out instead of posting my thoughts on two or three anime a week. I plan on reviewing Tamako Market, Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo, Kotoura-san, and OreShura. I am not sure if some of the other anime are continuing to air into the next season (too lazy to look it up) or if any of the above are planning on airing into the next season but with four already on my plate that should keep me somewhat busy. On top of reviewing these particular anime, I plan on doing a "final thoughts" for each of the currently airing anime that end up completing in the coming weeks. Also Bioshock Infinite comes out next Tuesday so...anime will not be on the top of my priority list.

Monday, March 18, 2013

"Tamako Market" Episodes 1-10 Thoughts

So while on spring break I had some time to sit around and look for anime since we had some bad weather on a couple occasions. One that I stumbled across was Tamako Market and boy am I glad that I did. This show has the unique qualities of pretty much making you feel happy and joyful after each episode no matter your feelings before you clicked play. This is slice-of-life done correctly and very well.

So the first episode of Tamako Market really pulled me in from the get go because I fell in love with two things; the animation and the bird Dela. The show starts off with a monologue from Dela as he tries to understand the situation he is currently in. He somehow winds up in a florist’s shop in Japan and is taken in by Tamako. As the day progresses we learn that Dela is on a mission to find his prince a bride. Oh by the way the bird talks…So after all that was done, Dela decides to stay with the Kitashirakawa (try saying that three times fast) family for a little while. It's his almighty and bossy attitude that really makes him a fun character to watch. Also for whatever reason I really like his voice actor. What ensues over the next nine episodes is a series of events that while are connected to each other, they do not really need prior knowledge to understand what is going on. For this I bring up how much it reminds me of Aria’s formula. Aria was a three season anime that literally followed three girls around on their daily routines. Even though we only saw their monotonous activities, the way the characters interacted with each other was such a joy and relaxing experience that it was the perfect rainy/bad day anime to watch. Back to Tamako Market; this show has the same exact qualities because the characters are such a joy to watch. The daily activities that revolve around Tamako, Mochizou, Midori, Kanna, and Dela are all just interesting. Call it fanboyism but this show doesn’t need a super interesting plot or godsend action; it is self-sustainable with what it shows off. So other than the just interesting nature of the show, it does provide great visuals and a fun soundtrack. The character models are very well drawn and all the action orientated scenes flow nicely. Backgrounds look great and the lip syncing seems to be done quite well. The music that they decided to use during the show is very fitting towards what is going on. The opening song is VERY catchy and was stuck in my head after seeing it the first time. 
The characters like I have stated already are all very interesting to watch. The main character Tamako is an airhead but always acts with a positive intent. Her friends Kanna and Midori are good sources of character development and interaction. Mochizou plays the childhood friend that lives across the way who has a hidden crush on Tamako (basically the Chiwa from OreShura of this show). We are introduced to more characters as the show progresses including the other shop keepers of the market and Dela’s master Choi who comes in search for Dela. 
This is how I looked after I watched all ten available episodes back to back
I really don’t know how to sell this anime to you; if you are looking for something to watch that doesn’t require a lot of focusing then this is the perfect anime for you. It’s not trying to wow you; it’s just here to make you feel happy and I ensure you that you will find it funny and entertaining. I will be reviewing this show once it finishes airing.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Posts coming

I’m back and I didn’t die!! So for a crazy turn of events, not only have I caught up on what I missed last week but also I picked up two more shows and have caught up on them as well. These two anime are Tamako Market and Suki-tte Ii na yo and I have pretty much fallen for both of them. I plan on releasing my thoughts on Tamako Market today then following up on my other shows in the coming days. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Off for the next week!

So my spring break officaly starts tomorrow at 5PM so for the next week I'll be hopefully not dying on a beach in Mexico. I will not have internet access so when I come back I'll have to do a full week's catch up on anime and will try to get some good posts out over that weekend. Everyone stay safe this week and I will see you when I get back!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Simcity is fun...if only I could actually log onto the servers...

So if you are like me and have been waiting for the new Simcity game since it was first announced, then you must understand how infuriating it is when the gaming community (you know the people actually paying for the game) warns you (you being the publisher Electronic Arts) well in advanced about having such dependency on servers and an “always online” type game. Since the game’s release, I have been able to get maybe two hours of gameplay in before getting booted off and having my city wiped away. It is unfathomable how such a large company could not be able to have the resources to withhold the Simcity community. It’s like they never heard what happened with Diablo 3’s launch. I don’t necessarily protest DRM since pirating is such a huge issue right now in the pc world but if you cannot get your s#!t together and at least let us play the game, then all you are doing is adding fuel to the fire. The reason pirating is such a huge thing is because of greedy and in this case poor and idiotic business moves. EA, welcome to my s#!t list.