Tuesday, March 25, 2014

"Usotsuki Paradox" Manga Review

***I apologize but unlike my other reviews this one contains spoilers throughout the entire review.***
Never in my life have I been so motivated to write a review even though it's like 2AM here. What started out as a funny ecchi comedy ended in the worst possible manner. Let's dive into why Usotsuki Paradox is a manga you should avoid.

Story: 2/10

I'll admit that the opening chapters had me quite interested in what was going on. Essentially the main female lead is part of a "long distance" relationship and decides that it would be ok for one of her co-workers to provide "emotional support". It starts out all innocent but they eventually move onto things that can never be forgotten. The thing is, this is not a bad plot device. In fact I really enjoyed the manga up until this point. The drama was intensifying as we had almost no data on the mystery long distance boyfriend and all our eggs was in the current basket. 

What happens later on of course is that she goes to see mystery man and that just fu$#s up the whole rest of the manga. No joke it gets to the point where they actually tag team her. Gross. This manga had a lot of good things going for it but it descended into a lackluster reverse harem and when it tried to redeem itself by giving the main male lead a new flag to pursue, we get the cliché "they end up together anyways" (talking about the main male lead and the female lead). What's worse is that the author tries to make you think that it was the main male's fault for everything even though the female lead was ok with cheating on her own boyfriend. The only positive things I can say that were constant throughout the entire manga was the comedy and art style (see below).

The reason why I am not supplying names is because most of the manga is un-translated and while my Japanese is ok, names are still tough to pick out of the mess.  

Art: 9.5/10

This aspect of the manga I actually really, really liked. Even though it looks a little messy and undefined, the way the characters were drawn really had me engaged. The female lead had really large inviting eyes and the male lead looked quite mature. The background scenes were very well done and all the side characters looked amazing as well.

Characters: 2/10

They really fell off the deep end in the second half of the manga. We get introduced to some asshole that we are somehow supposed to root for. The one strong female character in the manga decides to go soft and allow the male lead to get away, and the friends of the female lead do little to no help in resolving the conflict. The only character I really liked was the main male lead as he was pretty much tricked and provoked into initializing the faux relationship.

Overall: 4.5/10

The ending chapters really made me want to gag. Not only was it cliché as hell and disgusting beyond belief, it completely ruined what the first part of the manga tried to establish. If you want an ecchi comic then here is one; just be warned that any emotional attachment will just make you want to hate it even more in the end.

Monday, March 24, 2014

"Sundome" Manga Review

***This is a semi non-spoiler review***

This manga was a real puzzle for me; so many people seem to praise it for many different reasons. Is it how the female lead treats the male lead like absolute s%&t and manipulates him in every chapter? I don't really know but there are some good things here.

Story: 5/10

There's a story? Well kind of; essentially we follow Hideo and Kurumi's pervy adventures in the "Roman Club" (they look for aliens). This club goes on many adventures looking for aliens for just checking out really creepy areas and of course something pervy happens between the two lovebirds in every chapter. Look I get that this is an ecchi manga but some of the fetishes are just a little too awkward to endure (and I'm pretty open minded). That aside, the manga is actually pretty fu$%ing hilarious. There were a plethora amount of moments where I was literally laughing out loud at what was going on. The author should be praised for his sense of comedy.

Art: 8/10

The manga doesn't look too bad. It has a lot of rough looking scenes but I think that was done on purpose to some degree. Both Hideo and Kurumi look defined in the more serious and "other" scenes. The quality of the scenes did seem to get better as the manga went on.

Characters: 9/10

The characters are hilarious; all of them. They do fit some of the generic roles but they work very well with each other. They all contribute a lot to the comedy aspect of the manga. Hideo and Kurumi actually had some good chemistry between them other than the whole peeing on each other thing.

Overall: 7.3/10

So I kind of enjoyed reading this manga but there is a small bit of regret. The ending was actually quite mature and had me a little taken back. The characters did an awesome job at providing some really funny moments but overall the awkwardness of some of the fetishes really turned me off (literally) when reading. If you like ecchi and comedy then you will most likely enjoy this manga.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

"Noragami" Anime Review

 ***This is a spoiler free review***
Cute, adorable, fluid, funny, interesting; these are words that I would use to describe the anime Noragami. With loads of character development and amazing animation quality, this might just be the best Winter 2014 anime I have watched thus far.

Story: 7/10

The thing really holding back the show in my opinion is the occasional fluff (fillerish stuff) you encounter. I also did not necessarily enjoy the whole arc surrounding Yukine but overall the premise of the show really did grab onto me early on. The first episode explains the situation Hiyori finds herself in quite well and also shows you what to look forward to for eleven more episodes; the character interactions (see more bellow).

Overall the show kept me interested all the way through. The Yukine stuff was a little boringish to watch but the other characters help make it watchable.

Animation: 9.5/10

Loved, loved, loved, LOVED IT. Sleek and beautiful/handsome character models, amazing quality on background and snow shots, and really believable facial expressions really had me glued to the screen. Everything from how the characters looked to how fluid their eyes were just had me taking screen shots everywhere. If it were not for Nisekoi also airing this season, Noragami would be hands down the best looking anime of this season.

Sound: 9/10

Who cannot love the male voice actor that has contributed to so many awesome male leads such as Otonashi (Angle Beats!), Koyomi Araragi (Monogatari series), and Hiroomi Souma (Working!!). The second Yato spoke, my brain immediately screamed, "ARARAGI-KUN!!!". To my surprise, I also really liked the female voice actor for Hiyori. She did a great job of transmitting flustered and embarrassed scenes. The music for the anime worked well enough and was very fitting.

Characters: 8.5/10

First and foremost I loved every scene that focused on Hiyori and Yato. The chemistry between these two characters was so spot on. The supporting cast for the most part were also very well done. Kofuku, Daikoku, Nora, Kazuma, and Tenman-Tenjin did an amazing job of adding more character development for the main cast. The one snag in this though was Yukine in the first part of the anime. I get that he is a kid and kids do stupid stuff but the problems he causes for the main cast really made me start to loath his character. Thankfully once his arc was over, he became a much more likable character.

Overall: 8.5/10

This was a very nice catch as I was not expecting very much after doing initial research for the anime. The voice actors and animation are amazing and the cast helps put on some really interesting and funny scenes. While I did not like the middle part of the anime as much, I still feel like this is a very good and worthwhile anime. I recommend it to anyone that wants a semi-light hearted anime to enjoy.

"Kotonoha no Niwa" Anime Review

***Spoiler free review***
One superficial gripe I have with movies in general is how short they tend to be. I have always enjoyed books, manga, and long running shows because of the added time to build upon characters and expand the plot. I however must retract my superficialness for the animated film Kotonoha no Niwa as it has pulled on my heart strings to their breaking point.

Story: 8/10

At its core, Kotonoha no Niwa is a mature love story between student Takao and skipping work Yukari. They end up meeting on rainy days in a very lush park in the Kanto region of Japan. They began to mingle a little bit inching closer and closer to each other when all of the sudden the rainy season ends. I think that a lot of people might not like the ending of this film since it does not follow the typical good ending of most Japanese anime but I found it very fitting.

Animation: 10/10

Drop dead gorgeous oh my god what the f#$@ that isn't real rain!!?
I cannot believe how pretty this anime was the characters just shine in the rain and the amount of detail of each shot really shows.

Sound: 9.5/10

The voice actors did a really good job but the real winner was the soft piano and strings in the background. The score fitted so well with what was going on screen.
After looking back at Kana Hanazawa's profile (voice actor for Yukari) I noticed why I liked her voice so much; she plays Kosaki Onodera in Nisekoi.

Characters: 9.5/10

I loved the scenes between these two star-crossed lovers. Pretty much everywhere in the world a relationship between two people of their status might be looked at as wrong but it works well here. There was real emotion behind every decision and resolution.

Overall: 9.3/10

If you cannot tell I freaking loved this movie. It has a somewhat bittersweet ending but I loved it nevertheless. This movie really made me rethink what a 45 minute film could accomplish. Highly recommend to everyone.

I apologize for the short review it is 3AM here and I wanted to get my thoughts down before I forgot what I wanted to say.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

"Kokuriko-Zaka Kara" Anime Review

***This is a spoiler free review***
Grazing through my "want to watch" list I find an animated movie that I have been dodging for years now. The reasoning is quite arbitrary but the important thing is that I finally took the time to sit down and watch it. My verdict? :D

Story: 7/10

This movie really does not have a lot going on but how it moves from scene to scene was quite well done. The basic premise of the movie is a following of the relationship that begins to form between Umi and Shun. Throughout the story we see them get closer and closer as they help save the school's clubhouse from getting torn down. What I did not see coming was a sub plot added around 30 minutes into the film that becomes the real purpose of the film. When the resolution is met, I was very happy for the main characters. This ninety minute film had me interested all the way through and I am glad that I finally watched it. 

Animation: 7/10

This is a 2011 movie which means it has to go up against some pretty amazing looking anime films and shows. While the colors were not eye popping, the scenes were fluid and interesting. The character models were detailed and the facial expressions were well done. It's not overly flamboyant like a Shaft production but it doesn't need to be.

Sound: 9.5/10

This movie hit it out of the park with its overall sound presentation. Amazing voice actors, music, and ambient noises. I personally liked the way Shirou and Shun communicated with each other. The music was soft but very suitable for what was occurring on screen.

Characters: 9/10

Loved, loved, loved everyone of them. Shun, Umi, Shirou, Sora, and all of the club members were all very unique and pulled off some really great scenes. Nothing felt generic about any of the characters and the growing romance between Shun and Umi felt believable even with the problem they eventually had to face.

Overall: 8.1/10

This movie will not wow everyone since there is no magical action adventure type elements within its ninety minute runtime. What you get is a very heartfelt slice of life with some romance brewing as a group of kids try to save a broken down building. If you are looking for a more realistic type slice of life then I highly highly recommend this film.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

"Kimi no Iru Machi" Manga Review

It has been one long ride but after more than six years of weekly chapter releases, Kimi no Iru Machi has finally concluded. The problem? It should have ended a long time ago.

Story: 3.5/10

I wish I could rate this by arc because just like with Bleach this manga starts out incredibly great but really starts to lose steam as it chugs away. Part of the problem was that there were a lot of plot lines that either lasted way too long or were abruptly ended way too quick. It starts out as a romance high school type story but then migrates into a nauseous mess of "MUST GO HERE TO FIND 'X' PERSON WHO MAY OR MAY NOT LIKE ME". Problem with this is that the girl Haruto ends up really wanting was my least favorite out of the bunch. He literally tramples over like seven different girls heart's in order to get one. 

All of this aside, there were good moments in the series. Unfortunately there was just way too much crap between. And that ending? Just when I felt like something fresh and new was about to happen....yeah the same ol' crap.

Art: 8.9/10

I very much enjoyed the art in this series. Character models were great both on the male and female side. Very detailed scenes in a lot of different parts of the story. I would check out the next manga the author has planned just to see some of the new character models.

Characters: 4/10

Kind of a mixed bag here since Haruto and Yuzuki were by far the biggest factors of why I didn't end up enjoying the series as much as I could. The other characters however helped make the series much more enjoyable. Rin, Takashi, Akari, and Kyosuke really resonated with me since they had legitimate feelings, hopes, and dreams. There were even some really cute and awesome things that this cast accomplished. Too bad the main characters were total shit.

Overall: 5.5/10

Like I said in the opening;  I really enjoyed the start of the series. It felt like a normal high school romance in the making. It continued to evolve and move onto new ideas and areas. It however fell very short as there were large gaps in enjoyable content. The train has been milked as far as it could so onto something different.