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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Skip Beat! Character Profile: “Sho” Fuwa

shoShotaro, or “Sho” as he goes by on stage, Fuwa is a classic jerk. He plays the perfect antagonist against Kyoko as she fights her way into the world of show business. Originally, he was her goal and sought revenge against her, but eventually, Kyoko realizes he wasn’t even worth it.

When the series starts out, Kyoko is completely in love with Shotaro. She grew up with him, Shotaro’s parents hoping she would marry him and help him settle down. She learned all the “important” wife-things, like how to cook, clean, and care for children. But, not knowing his parents’ plan, Shotaro had another goal. He wanted to be a rock star and become famous and adored.

Right out of high school, the pair took off to the big city. Neither of them even graduated, but Shotaro was on the right track. Kyoko simply came along because Shotaro trusted her and she thought they could be together. But as Shotaro became more famous, he started to change. He would come home late, and get angry easily, especially when his professional rival Ren showed up on the television. But Kyoko was always there with his favorite snack and a joke to calm him down.

Convinced she was in the right place, Kyoko continued to act as a sort of maid and servant to Shotaro. Until one day, she had made him lunch and he’d forgotten it. Deciding it would be nice to visit him at work, she pushed through the crowds and headed up to his office to deliver it. But upon arriving, she discovered Shotaro speaking with his manager, claiming to only be using Kyoko as a maid. Obviously she is furious and vows revenge at him. He simply laughs it off and leaves.

Though Shotaro is confident in his skill, he is extremely competitive. He does his absolute best at everything, even going over the top sometimes. He practices as much as he can, trying to get every note right in order to “beat” his rival at the show business game. But he is constantly pushed back by his own drive to dominate that he comes off childish, causing Ren to basically ignore him. This causes Shotaro to become even more furious. But when he realizes that Kyoko has pushed off the ground and rocketed ahead of him, even working directly with his rival, he can’t stand it anymore. He can’t stop thinking about her and is confused why. Not only is he angry that she’s achieved even more than him, but that he may still be attracted to her.

In the end, he gets his just desserts. He’s a great character, and I actually really like him because he plays his part so well. It just goes to show you that using people and being a jerk doesn’t get you anywhere, and really all it does it slow you down on your way to your dreams.

Anime Review: “Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit”

SeireinoMoribitoep26aDespite its redundant title (Moribito means “guardian, so essentially it’s called “Guardian: Guardian of the Spirit”), this anime is quite a treasure. I actually watched this once before when the dubbed version was on Netflix, but I thought it needed a rewatch. With interesting characters and a strange, but drawing story, it’s one of my favorites.

The story is set in a somewhat fuedal Japan-esque setting, but it is not on Earth. The land is very diverse, and the planet itself has two moons. Balsa (yes the same as the wood) is a female bodyguard seeking work as she travels the land. One evening, she finds herself is a city near a castle, seemingly the capitol of the kingdom. As the royal family is parading through, the cart slips and the second prince falls off the bridge across the gorge and into the river. Without thinking, Balsa leaps in and saves him. In thanks, the second queen gives her a feast and a room for the night.

But that evening, the second queen comes to Balsa’s quarters with her sleepy son and begs Balsa to take him away. She explains that the mikado (or royal court) has hired assassins to kill her son. She doesn’t explain why, but she offers a large sum of money and some royal jewels as compensation. Initially, Balsa is reluctant, but she learns she doesn’t have a choice when the queen’s guard shows up. Angry at the queen, she agrees, but softens when the queen thanks her and shows she is just worried about her son.

Escaping the first wave of assassins, Balsa and prince Chagum make their way to the nearby town where they meet up with some old friends. She rewards them with some gold, but they are forced to find a new home as the assassins may be nearby. However, they are all able to escape in time and make their way toward the mountains.

After a time, Balsa and Chagum are able to settle down in a rented millhouse with some of the gold from the queen and Balsa’s savings. Their friends are close by, so they can always share information, but Chagum grows restless and draws attention to himself and Balsa. Fortunatly, Balsa is able to take care of it, but not before their house burns down. Not only that, but as it turns out, Chagum has some kind of creature living inside of him that he reveals in the reason that he is hunted. His family believes it is a water demon within him, but in reality, it’s much more than anyone could have ever imagined, and the pair sets off to find the truth and save the people of the land.

While I felt it dragged on a little, I liked how much Chagum grows up within the whole story. I also liked how Balsa’s past is explained to reveal why she is so protective. As it turns out, this series is based on a book, so guess what I’ll be reading next? I give this anime a 7.90 out of 10 on my rating scale.

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Anime Review: “Blue Exorcist”

670px-0,671,0,360-Blue_Exorcist_animeThis anime popped up on Netflix for me a few weeks ago, and I heard so much about it, I figured it was time to give it a shot. After having watched D-Grayman, this was right up the same alley with demons and the like. But it was a bit different and showed more of the personal struggle of the main character.

The twin brothers Rin and Yukio grew up together with exorcist and priest Father Shugo. However, when they turned fifteen, Rin is told that he is really half demon. Shugo gives him a sword and explains that he should never draw the sword or his demon powers will be released.

However, now that he is fifteen, Satan, the twins’ father, is now aware of their presence. As only Rin has inherited the demons powers, he is the only one that Satan is interested in. He sends his forces to attack the temple where Rin lives with his brother and Shugo to possess Shugo and try to bring Rin back to hell. But Rin attacks Satan’s forces, drawing his sword and releasing his demon powers. However, Shugo ends up being killed in the process,  but Rin vows revenge on Satan.

In order to achieve his goal, Rin begins exorcism school. However, his brother has been secretly attending since he was seven, so now Yukio is already a first class exorcist and his instructor! Needless to say, there are tensions between him and Rin, as well as the other students. Rin begins to think everyone is out to get him until he makes a new friend. But as everyone discovers their potential as exorcist, trouble begins to stir within the school, the world, and even the exorcist headquarters. It will take all of Rin’s powers, as well as his brother, to take on Satan’s armies as well as someone they thought they would never see again.

This is actually a pretty good anime. The character development is very well done from all characters, even the ones that hate Rin at the start. Rin develops his powers and relationships, but his brother always confused me. First he disliked Rin, then he wants to protect him, and then he doesn’t listen to him at all. I feel like it was quite a guessing game right up to the end, which isn’t a bad thing. I give this anime an 8.75 out of 10 on my rating scale.

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Anime Review: “Skip Beat!”

skip-beat-muzic-world-free_136926When I first heard about this anime, I thought “Wow this is probably going to be awful and boring.” But rather quickly, I began to think completely different. I’d have to say that this anime quickly became one of my favorites, and I’m sad to say there’s not a continuation series.

The story starts out with a girl named Kyoko living in an apartment with her childhood friend who just happened to become a famous musician and TV personality. While they were children, they spent almost every moment together, but now that he is famous, Shotaro, or “Sho” as he is called in the business, has begun to change. Kyoko quickly finds out that Shotaro has been using her as a housemaid while she thought he really cared for her and she vows revenge on him. He laughs it off, saying she would never be able to get revenge unless she got into the acting business, so that’s what she plans to do.

Upon making the vow, she seeks to join the competing talent agency LME and runs into Shotaro’s biggest rival, Ren. At first, he dislikes her because of her motives, but she soon proves that she has more than just guts. She has talent and creativity, willing to go the extra mile. She is assigned to a special department as a sort of “intern” and manages to secure a few positions. But, even after becoming friends with Ren, the two have to face their biggest role and all the challenges that come with it. They’ll have to work together and learn more about each other as well as themselves to get it right.

The story is heartwarming, showing how Kyoko grows from a revenge-seeking amatuer to a real professional. I didn’t want it to end, and I felt my heart swelling when Ren realizes how much he cares for her. The friendship between Kyoko and her department-mate “Moko” is perfect, too! I wish they made more than one season of this made. But apparently the manga is still going. I might have to resort to that! I give this wonderful anime a 10 out of 10 on my rating scale!

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Anime Review: “Noucome”

11452494664_5870f7c676_zI heard about this anime a while back when I used to frequent Bubblews. Apparently, the full name is actually “Ore no Nounai Sentakushi ga, Gakuen Love Comedy wo Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru” or, translated, “My Mental Choices are Completely Interfering with my School Romantic Comedy.” I decided to take a look, since it’s only 10 episodes. I’m not sure if there will be more, but it did kind of leave things open for more episodes after the finale episode.

Anyway, the story is a bit strange. There is a boy named Kanade who suffers from a curse he has dubbed “Absolute Choice.” At random times in the day, he will be presented by at least two choices and must pick one, no matter how strange or embarrassing they are. Needless to say, this has caused him to be considered somewhat of a pervert and weirdo, because the choices often involve things like “Lay on your back and squeal like a dying pig” or “Say ‘Boobs, boobs, let me touch your boobs.'” If he doesn’t choose one, intense pain shoots through his head.

However, one day, a strange girl falls from the sky, and explains that she is here to help him remove the curse. He must complete a series of missions to remove the curse. Each mission involves something embarassing like “Take a picture of your friend while she is crying” or “See your friend’s underpants.” Fortunately, his teacher used to have the same curse, so at least he has someone to speak to it about.

Overall, the anime is creative and entertaining, but it didn’t really have a plot besides the curse. It felt bland and lacking, basically consisting of nothing but stupid jokes. There is a bit of a romance plot but it’s so hidden, it’s almost not even worth it. The characters are a bit flat, but they are interesting enough. I’d give this anime a 6.5 out of 10 on my rating scale.

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