The “Yu-gi-oh!” Experience

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“And this is the card I sleep with every night!”

As a middle-schooler I was obsessed with Yu-gi-oh!, just like I was with Pokemon. I didn’t think about it at the time, but there’s a lot of key features within the actual show that may or may not have defined the “Card Game” genre, which eventually expanded to other things including spinning tops and bead battler toys. As an anime itself, it was a little unbelievable, looking back on it now.

 

The anime itself, before the multiple spin-offs (which included Yu-gi-oh! GX, Yu-go-oh! 5Ds, and Yu-gi-oh! Zexel), came in about five seasons. It started off with a group of middle-schoolers (of which, only the main character Yugi looked the appropriate age) that liked to play a game called Duel Monsters. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s basically the classic card game War with a few extra things.

The Japanese version is actually quite a bit different, including a complete removal of the true episode one, but that’s a whole other can of worms we won’t go into (stupid 4Kids). Anyway, the entire anime is basically a series of Duel Monsters tournaments in different locations, and an episode usually consists of an entire card game or sometimes even a small part of a card game. If I recall correctly, at least twice, a game extends four to five C_l2hNLXUAAbddiepisodes.

While I’m sure this is an excellent marketing tactic for the company that owns Yu-gi-oh!, going back and watching it now, as an adult, has made me realize how rediculous the show actually is. First, the main character has some kind of ancient spirit within him, thanks to his super cool necklace called The Millenium Puzzle, but he apparently doesn’t realize this until midway through season one. The irony being that he magically transforms into this spirit before every duel, which does nothing to him except make him look more serious, about a foot and a half taller, and have a much deeper voice.

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“This is how we get all the chicks!”

Also, the games apparently require the use of holographics to make them super cool and playable, so the characters use special arenas to make their monsters come to life. But, sometimes the monsters actually hurt the people. Like, losing actually causes physical pain sometimes, according to a few episodes, and as the series goes on, the monsters seem to get more and more real. I constantly found myself asking “Do they realize this is just a card game?” Apparently not, because the bratty Seto Kaiba decides to throw a tournament just to defeat Yugi, and when he loses, blows up a whole island.

While this genre is mostly aimed at young boys in middle school, it does sometimes draw older people, especially if they grew up in the Pokemon and Yu-gi-oh! era. For me, however, it’s just background noise while I update any various social media sites I have or play videogames.

“Girls und Panzer” Review

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“Does she know that’s a real gun?”

Girls and giant war tanks – what could be better? That seems to be the underlying reason this anime was made. If you’re notaware, Japan is and has been really obsessed with western culture basically since it was introduced to them during the 1800s. This means, there are still people that love western war-related things, and of course, who doesn’t like cute girls? So, with this in mind, it’s safe to say this anime is very much a moe (moh-eh) anime.

Now, the anime itself is very adorable, but it’s also shows just how tough girls can be. Within this universe, there are large barges (like we’re talking massive city-sized ones) that contain a school and surrounding community. They are called “Academy Ships,” and were supposedly designed to nurture practical as well as academic learning. Also in this universe, a sport called tankery exists, which is basically war games with actual tanks driven by teams.

The main character, Miho, has transferred to this new Academy Ship to escape her sister, who is a tankery champion. She had a traumatic experience with the sport and tries to avoid it, but when the student council finds out, she’s dragged back in. Thankfully, she learns that there’s more to tankery than

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“Stop standing there and help me with this flag, idiots!”

always winning, and her new friends support her much more than she expects. But she and her team soon find out that in order to keep their ship up and running, they just might have to win nationals.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first started watching it. I thought it was going to be fan-service for 13 episodes, but there’s actually nothing but adorable girls, teamwork, and giant army tanks. Despite it’s rediculous name, it’s quite a good anime with excellent character development.

Final Words

I think it needed to be a little bit more realistic and less unbelievable of a concept. Who in their right mind would let middle school girls use live ammunition? It just seems a bit rediculous. This is a solid title, however: it’s cute, there’s lots of action, and  the main character grows quite a bit through even the short series. If a season two does become available, it’d be right on my list of “to watch.”

I would give “Girls und Panzer” … 7.5/10 (rating scale)

If you like this anime, you might also like: Princess Jellyfish, Rosario + Vampire, Assassination Classroom.

Picture credit: https://wall.alphacoders.com/by_sub_category.php?id=194904
and a screenshot from final episode via Crunchyroll.com

“Hiiro no Kakera” Review

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“No, I won’t pet your shoulder fox.”

If there is just one thing to say about Hiiro no Kakera, it is that it’s a textbook bishoujo. Literally, if you looked up the definition of bishoujo, this anime would probably be the picture example. It is full of romantic tension, and a heroine that is clueless and helpless for about eight episodes. Now, that’s not to say it’s a bad anime. Hang on, I’ll get there.

The first thing I noticed about this anime is how Dawson’s Creek-y the opening is. If you were a fan of teen dramas like Dawson’s Creek, Charmed, Gilmore Girls (basically anything on “The CW”), you’d instantly recognize the style even if you can’t understand a single word of it. The second opening is slightly better, and actually feels like an anime opening, which was somewhat a relief after ten episodes of wanting to rip my ears off every new episode.

I know what you’re thinking. “Why am I still reading this review if you hate it so much?” Patience. I’m getting there. Now, while this anime starts off very frustrating with a protagonist that has no idea what going on and seems helpless, her positive attitude tends to help her improve her situation.

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“I got this, bro-san.”

Basically, she is tasked with taking over the position of “Tamayori Princess” who is supposed to make sure something called the “Onikirimaru” (what a mouthful), which you don’t find out exactly what it is until probably episode seven of eight. Turns out (spoilers) it’s a sword. Apparently, there’s lots of oni (demons) and youkai (evil ghosts) that are drawn to this power.

Here’s the kicker – she’s protected by five super cute anime boys. They are supposed to protect her until she has realized her powers as the Tamayori princess so she can keep the Onikirimaru sealed. But, there’s another group called Logos that want to unseal it and use its powers. There’s quite a few plot twists, so I think I’ve spoiled enough for you.

To be honest, I was annoyed at how cliche it was, especially in the beginning. But the second season (ep 11-20) actually redeemed the series somewhat. Tamaki, the protagonist, does grow quite a bit, having been thrown into a situation she doesn’t like at all, and of course, there’s romance (basically a requirement in bishoujo).

Final Words

I would have to say that this was a pretty good anime. Though, it’s not my favorite genre, there are many people that would enjoy it. It’s well put together and has a cool setting, as well as excellent animation quality.

I would give “Hiiro no Kakera” – 7/10 (scale)

This anime would be great for…fans of teen dramas like “Degrassi,” or fans of romantic movies or TV shows. Seeing as it’s geared toward teenage girls, this would also be an ideal audience. Also, as this anime has a supernatural element, this might also appeal to fans of fantasy settings.

If you like this anime, you might also like: “Natsume’s Book of Friends” (Natsume Yuujincho), The Eccentric Family, and Wolf Children Ame and Yumi.

Picture Credit: http://www.anime-planet.com/
https://errantprincess.files.wordpress.com/

“Hayate the Combat Butler” Review

So, as you might have noticed, it’s been quite a long time since I’ve used this blog. Since

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“How very dare you!”

then, I’ve changed the name to go along with my new book-in-progress. Besides, I’d rather write anime reviews than have a set schedule of writing stuff. So, this blog won’t necessarily be a weekly thing, rather I will be posting as I watch series, with occasional character profiles sprinkled in. Feel free to browse the other posts, as I’ve removed all non-anime and non-Japanese posts.

Anyway, enough dawdling! Having finished Hayate the Combat Butler about a week ago, I had been throwing the idea back and forth of even writing a review since it’s not as fresh in my min as I’d like it to be. But, I figured it would be a nice place to start reviewing again. Either way, the first series (noted as “seasons 1&2” on Crunchyroll) is very lighthearted and funny. It’s designed as a comedy with slice of life elements.

Nagi Sanzenin is an extremely rich girl who is the product of a trust fund, and to top it off, she’s actually very smart, though headstrong. She lives in a gigantic mansion with her maid Maria, her pet tiger Tama, and her old semi-retired butler Klaus. On the other hand, Hayate is an unfortunate high-schooler with absent parents who’ve places him in a huge, unbearable debt of 150 million yen (1,325,991 USD according to Google). Of course, a 16-year-old has  no way of paying this back, even though he’s been lying about his age since he was 8 to get some kind of job.

The story starts when Hayate runs into Nagi (who has run away again) at the park and plots to kidnap her for the money. Nagi misunderstands and takes it as a confession (it also doesn’t help that Hayate is too nice to actually do it), but then she actually does get kidnapped by real criminals. Hayate saves her, of course, in the most rediculous way possible, and she sort of adopts him as her new personal butler. The irony being that he’s had so many physical jobs, he literally makes the perfect butler.

So begins the story, where Nagi is always getting into trouble, skipping school, and trying to constantly hint that she loves Hayate. He’s completely clueless, of course, and along with tons of pop culture references, the entirely female cast of characters (save Tama and Klaus) begin to fall for Hayate who is still completely clueless.

It’s actually a very entertaining anime, filled with rediculous situations. The third series “Cuties” is not nearly as well done, and they even hired a new animator, so I don’t necessarily recommend that one. However, I’d have to give this anime a 7.5 out of 10 on my ratings scale, and encourage you to check it out at least once.

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Anime Review: “Phi Brain”

r7gxAgain at Crunchyroll, I find something new. I swear, that site is the death of me. Anyway, for Anime Thursday this week, please welcome Phi Brain: Puzzle of God. While the concept was a decent idea, it began to take the feel of Yu-Gi-Oh! after a while. What do I mean? Read on.

There are three seasons in this anime. The first season consists of introducing all the characters for the most part. Kaito Daimon has loved solving puzzles his whole life, but his childhood friend Nonoha Itou can’t solve them for crap. Instead, she participates in pretty much all sports, drama club, and is strong as an ox. One day, Kaito is exploring a puzzle maze deep in some ruins and “forms a pact” with an Orpheus armlet, which attaches to his arm and increases his thinking speed.

When the two friends both transfer to Root Gakuen High School, they find that the ability to solve puzzles is highly valued. Those that are good at them gain titles and are able to hang out in the Title Lounge and eat lunch for free. Of course, Kaito demands to gain one of these titles, so he challenges the holder of the Gallileo title – Gammon Sakanoue. Much to Gammon’s dismay, he is beaten, and Kaito gains the title Einstein. However, now that he has a title, the others in the school with similar honors seek him out. He challenges the two with the titles of Edison and Da Vinci, winning both times. While at first he is unaccepted into his new position of honor, eventually the three accept him.

But a strange organization called POG is creating dangerous puzzles in the city. They seek Kaito out and force him to participate in deadly “Philosopher’s Puzzles.” What didn’t make sense to me is why they were trying to kill Kaito via puzzle. If they wanted him dead, couldn’t they just go ahead and kill him? Also, the puzzles that they make are so immense and I wondered how these characters were getting the funding to make these giant things. Of course, Kaito solves all the puzzles, and in exchange, gets the prizes the puzzle givers offer. The prizes include anything from antique cars to strange maps. Continually, these puzzle givers chase Kaito down and force him to solve their puzzles by threatening him with things like “solve the puzzle or Nonoha dies.” It all seemed really rediculous. If you wanted to kill someone, why would you give them a puzzle that can be solved?

Anyway, Rook, Kaito’s friend from his grade school days, shows up and reveals that he, too, has an armlet. At first, they suspect nothing, but Rook begins acting strangeley, demanding Kaito do puzzles given by the POG. If he solves all the puzzles, he can become a Phi Brain and solve the Puzzle of God. Apparently, if the puzzle is solved, the solver can gain the Book of God and control reality itself. What made no sense is that Count Pythagoreas, leader of POG hid it in the Puzzle of God, but he wants it back. Does he not remember where in the puzzle he put it?

The armlet worn by Rook begins to take over his mind and make him obsessed with beating Kaito. The final puzzle the two face causes Kaito to have to chose between killing his best friend and gaining the Book of God. But Kaito figures out a way to do both, causing the armlet on Rook to break off. Rook then turns the POG into a helpful organization, assisting him and his new friends through the next seasons.

The second seasons brings forth a new organization called the Orpheus Order made of five people who claim to know Kaito from his grade school days. The leader, Freecell, claims that Kaito caused his mother’s death and wants revenge. Each of them have a replica armlet and harass Kaito and his friends to do a puzzle with them. But instead of getting annoyed, Kaito wants to save them. So the team go against the Order and of course beats them, but that isn’t the end of it.

A strange man named Herbert appears, and tries to destroy Kaito through puzzles, because his attempts failed in the last season. Again, why is everything about puzzles? If he wanted Kaito dead, why didn’t he just kill him? So Herbert forces the gang to take on a dangerous puzzle, causing the building to collapse. Herbert dons two armlets, and Kaito tells him how dangerous that is and vows to save him (again with the saving just kick their ass and move on already!). But the armlets have taken over his mind and he can’t control his words or emotions.

In order to finally get what he wants, Freecell captures Nonoha, and brings her to the Himalayas. There, he forces Kaito to take on a Puzzle of God (there’s more than one?) and play a sort of game of tag with Kaito. It’s a very anti-climactic Puzzle of God as I’m thinking it’s supposed to be ancient ruins, but it’s some high-tech thing. Of course Kaito wins again and everyone becomes friends.

Finally, the third season, some girl named Raetsel appears and brings Kaito’s freind Jin into the picture. Rook and Jin and Kaito were friends back in grade school, but Jin is much older so he was like a mentor. Apparently, Jin’s memories are gone, and Kaito has to solve puzzles to bring them back? WHAT IS WITH THE IMPORTANCE OF PUZZLES IN THIS ANIME? It’s like Yu-gi-oh! with puzzles! Kaito has been claiming the whole series he can “feel the puzzle’s emotions” or something like that. I don’t know, but it was a struggle to finish it. No one dies, everyone becomes friends, and the characters are 2D. Really it could have been done a lot better.

Anyway, bringing back Jin’s memories causes him to be possessed by Orpheus, who has bypassed death to possess people in order to have eternal life. It’s revealed that the Puzzle of God (which one?) is actually a way to find a new host for Orpheus. There is no real prize. So of course Raetsel and Kaito face each other in the Puzzle of God in another non-ancient, easy puzzle that really just made everything anti-climactic. Then apparently, Jin can’t become un-possessed, because Orpheus is mixed in with Jin’s mind. But something happens and everything is all better. Oh and again no one really dies because everyone is a genius.

Probably a 5 out of 10 on my ratings scale. Two weeks wasted watching this stuff.

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Anime Review: “Natsume Yuujinchou”

Natsume-Yuujinchou-Wallpaper-HD-_-Also called “Natsume’s Book of Friends,” this anime is a bit different from the ones I’m normally used to seeing. The story follows a teenager named Takashi Natsume who has the rare ability to see youkai, or spirits and demons, that roam the world. He meets some friends, and some of them can even see youkai like him, so it turns out he’s not so alone after all.

The story begins with Takashi having just moved to his new home. Both of his parents had passed away when he was young, so since then, he’s been passed around the relatives. Most of them felt he was a burden since he was always acting strange and running from youkai that no one else could see. He was bullied in school and called a liar by his peers, and when that became too much trouble for the family, he was passed to another home.

Because of his situation, he never made friends. And this is clear when two of his classmates begin to invite him to activities with them. At first he avoids the answer, then gradually begins to feel that they really want to be his friend. Along with his final home with his new family, everything seems to be settling in. These “parents” actually ask him what he wants instead of ignoring him for their own children. Gradually, Takashi begins to open up to them and share his life with them.

However, when he arrives at his new home, he sorts through a box they had found of his grandmothers things. He comes across a strange book with names written on each page. On the cover it says “book of friends,” but he is confused, so he puts in back. But soon words gets out, and he is chased around by local youkai that want to obtain the book. But one powerful youkai that calls himself “sensei” makes a deal with him and acts as his bodyguard against those that would take it.

As it turns out, the book is actually a series of contracts that Takashi’s grandmother made with spirits. She would battle one, and when she won, make them write their name on a sheet of paper. This meant that she could call the name whenever she wanted and the youkai would have to do what she said. But Takashi wishes to free those youkai instead, and he sets out to return all of the names, one by one.

This, of course, leads to the various adventures in the series, the first of which is very episodic. There really is no overall plot except for Takashi meeting new friends and learning more about youkai and himself. However, the second series known as “Natsume Yuujinchou Shi” is a bit more plot-driven and more interesting. There are two- and three-part sets of episodes that really keep things interesting, from saving a mountain disguised as a youkai to sneaking into a party to save a friend. The whole series is very cute, but the second series is much better than the first. I give this anime a 7 out of 10 on my rating scale.

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Skip Beat! Character Profile: Kyoko Mogami

Mogami.Kyoko.600.130754Kyoko is a strange one, but also a determined one. She enters the acting business with hopes of getting revenge on her former friend Sho Fuwa. But, it’s not as easy as she initially thought. While her first audition was quite different that what the recruiters first thought she might show, she ends up landing a spot in the agency she hoped she could get into.

But, the agency has taken a liking to her, and puts her in a new special section called the “Love Me” section. Not only is it embarrassing to wear their bright pink jumpsuits, but she is asked to carry out various tasks such as errand running and carrying luggage. At first she is very upset about it, but she realizes that this is her chance, and she grabs the opportunity by the horns and puts her all into her tasks.

She soon gains some fame by taking a few jobs in commercials, but she really proves herself when she takes over the role of a quiet woman performing a tea ceremony. Having fractured her leg helping that very woman make it to the shoot, she goes through with the role, not making a single complaint the entire time. The director and her costars are stunned, and soon she gains more jobs.

However, an old enemy has joined the “Love Me” section. When the woman, Kanae, and Kyoko first meat, the former is very rude and says she will never make it. But now that they are both in the same section, they are forced to work together. I liked the development of friendship between them despite their differences. They even team up to make a commercial together and really knock it away.

Kyoko is not only determined, but passionate about everything. When revenge fueled her, she would get visibly angry when Sho was mentioned. But as she moved away from him, her anger softened, and she became passionate about the roles she played. In the end, she really shows how much she’s grown as an actress and how much talent she has.

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