Anime 2010_Q1 & Q2

New anime

Arakawa Under the Bridge

Arakawa Under the Bridge (荒川アンダー ザ ブリッジ) is a manga series written and illustrated by Nakamura Hikaru since December 2004. It has since been adapted to anime and is scheduled to air from April 4 to June 27, 2010. The series has been renewed for a second season in Fall of 2010.

It has an opening and ending theme:

1. Esuko Yakushimaru’s “Venus and Jesus”
2. Miyuki Sawashiro’s “Think up a title yourself” (タイトルなんて自分で考えなさいな, Taitoru Nante Jibun de Kangaenasai na)
3. SuneoHair’s “Upside-down Bridge”  (逆様ブリッジ)

Ichinomiya Kou, has only one rule in life, “Never be indebted to anyone.”  He lives by this rule until he almost drowns from an accident. He is rescued by a strange girl who believes she is an alien living under a bridge. She refuses his money to repay his debt, but instead, asks to be his lover. Unable to reject this request, Kou/Ric (his new name short for Recruit) begins his new life under a bridge and meets weird individuals who later are known as “denpasan” – for people living under the bridge.

The humor is dry, but the message hits home. The characters are weirdly interesting and the anime is very much priceless.

FULL STORY | arakawa under the bridge

B Gata H Kei

B Gata H Kei (B型H系 – B Type H Series) began as a manga written and illustrated by Youko Sanri since 2003. This series is later adapted into anime, which began airing on April 1, 2010 with a total of 12to episodes. A drama CD has also been released, along side a production of Internet radio show.

There are two opening and ending themes, which are scheduled for release on April 28, 2010:

1. Yukari Tamura’s “Oshiete A to Z” (おしえて A to Z)
2. Yukari Tamura’s  “Hadashi no Princess” (裸足のプリンセス).

The series is about a beautiful and popular 15-year-old high school girl, Yamada, who wants to lose her virginity as she sees it only as her drawback in moving forward in life. As a result, she constantly has lecherous and salacious thoughts in the most inappropriate of venues – ie. the school. Her dream is to have relations with 100 different partners. You would think that because of her lascivious nature she would be more flamboyant and flirtatious. She, however, is insecure with any attempts made by guys to date her, and is a total klutz in the area of “loosing her stigmata.”

To that end, she targets a very average and unremarkable boy in her class as her “golden cherry” to be her first. The story continues with her going through great lengths to seduce him unsuccessfully.

Although this is a comedy series, which it does have its slapstick moments, it’s main theme trivializes the protagonist, and instead turns her into every teenage/adult male’s fantasy of a high school girl throwing herself at a random kid. It’s “redeeming” quality is her recognizance AFTER the fact of how irrational and rash she behaved. Hindsight is always 20/20.

FULL STORY | b gata h kei

Durarara!

Durarara! began as a light novel series written by Ryohgo Narita and illustrated by Suzuhito Yasuda in the Spring of 2004. It has also been released in other languages and countries including a Chinese issue in Taiwan and Hong Kong and a Korean issue in South Korea. The manga adaptation was serialized beginning of April 18, 2009 and is ongoing. The anime adaptation began airing from January 7, 2010 to June 24, 2010 with a total of 24 scheduled episodes. It is an adaptation of the first three novels of the series. PlayStation Portable has also announced a summer 2010 release on a game based on this series.

There are two opening and ending themes:

1. “Uragiri no Yūyake” (裏切りの夕焼け, lit. “Sunset of Betrayal”) by Theatre Brook (ep. 1-12)
2. “Complication” by Rookiez is Punk’d (ep. 13-24)
3. “Trust Me” by Yuya Matsushita (ep. 1-12)
4. “Butterfly” by On/Off (ep. 13-24)

Ryuugamine Mikado transfers to a school in Ikebukuro after he is invited by his childhood friend Masaomi. As they walk through the city, Masaomi warns him of a violent man dressed as a bartender, an internet-based mysterious gang called Dollars and an informant merchant. Apart from that, Mikado witnesses an urban legend on his first day – the Black Rider, as Dullahan working as an underworld courier. Soon, you will realize that every character in the series has less than 6-degrees of separation. Everyone who’s anyone, knows everyone.

Another one of those “weird Japanese stories” that can only be attributed to part of the culture. Arakawa Under the Bridge is comparatively milder compared to this quirky, but interesting series.

Fairy Tail

FairyTailFairy Tail is a manga created by Hiro Mashima serialized since Aug. 23. 2006 and is ongoing. It is adapted to anime on Oct. 12, 2009 to present with 27 episodes and counting. This series is also being developed as a game for PS by Konami.

The series has two opening and ending themes:

1. “Snow fairy” by FUNKIST
2. “S.O.W. Sense of Wonder (S.O.W.センスオブワンダー)” by Idoling!!!
3. “Kanpeki gu~no ne (完璧ぐ~のね)” by Watarirouka Hashiri Tai
4. “Tsuioku Merry-Go-Round (追憶メリーゴーランド)” by onelifecrew

It begins with Lucy Heartfilia meeting Natsu Dragnell and his best friend, Happy a flying cat, who is searching for a dragon, Igneel. Turns out, Igneel is Natsu’s foster father, the one who raised him and taught him the skills of a dragon slayer. Shortly after their meeting, Lucy is abducted by a person posing as Salamander of Fairy Tail, only to be sold as a slave. Natsu rescues her and reveals that he is the real Salamander. He then brings Lucy into the land of Fiore, and she is accepted as a Fairy Tale Guild member. Soon after, the three become teammates, together with two more Guild members, Gray Fullbuster and Erza Scarlet. Of the lot, Lucy brings forth a saner and calmer side to the rest of the team, albeit being exceptionally klutzy.

This is a cute magician story about impatience while striving to better oneself and never giving up on one’s friends.

FULL STORY | fairy tail

Giant Killing

Giant Killing is an ongoing Japanese sports manga written by Masaya Tsunamoto that began in April 2007 currently on its 14th volume. Three years later, the series was adapted to a 26-episode anime by Studio DEEN. In the same year, it also won the Kodansha Manga Award for best general manga.

Japanese professional football league, East Tokyo United (ETU), is on a slump. Team moral is down, and even fan support is at an all time low. Everything is rolling downhill until a new coach and former teammate, Takeshi Tatsumi, is hired. There is a lot of bad blood in this new/old relationship in a league that is primarily family-owned.

There is an opening and ending theme:

1. “My Story ~Mada Minu Ashita e~” (My story ~まだ見ぬ明日へ~) by THE CHERRY COKES
2. “Get tough!” by G.P.S

Football fans, this is one that shouldn’t be missed. It’s about standing about when you have fallen. Being the underdog doesn’t mean anything unless you decide to give up.

This looks like a very promising series, very similar to Rookies. While Rookies is about high school baseball played by ruffians who are looked down upon by society, Giant Killing is about professional soccer players who have lost their love of the game, but learn to live up to their fullest potential. It is no coincidence that it coincides with the 2010 World Cup in South Africa either. It seems all the underdogs of the world are overtaking the “superpowers” of football.

FULL STORY | giant killing

Hakuouki Shisengumi Kitan

In 2008, Hakuouki Shinsengumi Kitan was released as a new generation of otomegame (simulation love games for girls) for PlayStation 2. The illustrations of characters was done by Kazuki Yone. Even though the game was yet to be released, a 15-page artbook was first produced by Dengeki called “Girl’s Style.” The series is part historical part fiction. Most of the characters are true Shinsengumi persons depicting their stations during the historical and political period.

The anime adaptation began airing on April 4, 2010 and is scheduled to run with 12 episodes.

There is one opening and ending theme:

1. Aika Yoshioka’s “Izayoi Namida”
2. Mao’s “Kimi no Kioku”

The story begins with young Yukimura Chizuru entering the city of Kyoto in search of her missing father. Unfortunately for her, she is met by criminals but is saved by the Shinsengumi, a special police force of the Shogunate. When they realize that she is the daughter of the doctor they are looking for, they decide to protect her until her father is found. At the height of the story, a cure must be found for a medicine, which although provides the taker with superhuman strength, turns the person into a monster. During their search, the Shinsengumi are also pitted against a changing of the guards: the Bakumatsu (late Tokugawa Shogunate) – final years of Edo period when the Tokugawa Shogunate came to a crashing end (1853-1867).

It’s been a while since a feudal era anime about samurais has been aired and has peaked my interest so (Rurouni Kenshin was the last and most memorable one. Coming in at second place would be Demon Eyes Kyo). It’s very exciting to look forward to this series every week. Each of the characters are heroic and very pleasing to the eyes, not to mention that the storyline – its historical aspects are very educational. Who says you can’t learn anything from TV these days? The only problem (that I can see happening, as the series progresses) will be how much Chizuru is going to get on the audience’s nerves by her half-hearted attempts but she will surely make her way into the hearts of the boys. I already dislike her. Another console war game-turned-anime that should be given a chance is Sengoku Basara. Season 2 of Sengoku Basara will be taking over Fullmetal Alchemist’s time slot in July 2010.

FULL STORY | hakuouki shinsengumi kitan

Heroman

This manga series is created and written by Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee. It is illustrated by Tamon Outa and has been published since August 12, 2009. The anime adaptation aired on April 1, 2010.

It is about an orphaned American boy, Joey, who lives with his hip and rock-listening grandmother in the West Coast. Joey works at a restaurant while going to school. Unable to afford a newly released toy robot, he picks one up that is freshly discarded by a rich, school bully. He fixes it, and renames it Heroman. During a freak lighting accident, which strikes Heroman, the toy robot is transformed into a giant robot; just in time too, as the giant robot saves his friend Lina from an automobile accident. As Joey and Heroman become more in-synced, they become Earth’s last line of defense against the Skrugg aliens who are accidentally summoned by Joey’s teacher.

The opening theme is definitely catchy:

1. “Roulette” performed by Tetsuya of L’Arc-en-Ciel
2. “CALLING” by FLOW

I am caught off guard by this 80s-ish cartoon based in America with Japanese-speaking “white” kids. But after giving it a chance, it’s watchable but not enough to scream about. It wouldn’t get your adrenaline pumping, but it’s entertaining. It’s Stan Lee, which means the storyline is kind of predictable. You know where it is heading. Friends become foes.

House of Five Leaves

House of Five Leaves (さらい屋五葉, Sarai-ya Goyou)is a manga written and illustrated by Natsume Ono. It was serialized in Ikki magazine in July 2006 (until February 2010) and has a total of 7 volumes to date. Viz Media (in North America) later published it under Ikki’s imprint and is also released online on the Sigikki site. It was then adapted to anime by Manglobe and aired on April 15, 2010 with 12 episodes. The anime is licensed to FUNimation, which allows it to simulcasting from the noitaminA block on Fuji TV to its website at the same time that it is aired in Japan. It is also aired on Hulu and YouTube.

There is an opening and ending theme:

1. “Sign of Love” by immi
2. “All I need is…” by Rake

Masanosuke Akitsu is a shy and reticent ronin. Even though he is a highly skilled and loyal swordsman, his personality makes him unemployable by the lords. Destitute, he meets a charismatic but suspicious individual whose dealings are dubious. Yaichi of the “Five Leaves” hires the unassuming Akitsu as a front on one of his kidnaps, but they soon become a dynamic pair.

I guess they will be working together for a while. Two totally different people, meeting by chance. Akitsu, a quiet but skilled samurai, who has no qualms in sharing his past, tries to break out of his shell. Yaichi, an enigmatic man with a mysterious past, recruits an unsuspecting hungry samurai into the underworld of Five Leaves. The style and drawing of this series is not like anything done before. It stands out in its simplicity. The characters have filled in black circles for eyes. This series definitely has its promising moments.

FULL STORY | house of five leaves

Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou

ichibanushiro-no-daimaouIchiban Ushiro no Daimaou (いちばんうしろの 大魔王) is a light novel written by Mizuki Shoutarou and illustrated by Itou Souichi published on December 1, 2009. A manga adaptation by Mizuki and Itou was serialized on Sept. 19, 2008 and is ongoing. The series is then adapted to anime and aired beginning April 3, 2010 until June 18, 2010 with 12 episodes.

There is an opening and ending theme:

1. Sphere’s “REALOVE:REALIFE”
2. Natsuko Aso’s “Everyday Sunshine Line!”

Enter Sai Akuto, who is on his way to the Konstantin Magical Academy as a transfer student (aka Harry Potter). He wishes to be the country’s high priest, who can contribute to the betterment of the society. On his way, he meets Hattori Junko, who upon meeting him swears her allegiance to him. Unfortunately for him, things roll downhill after that. At the aptitude test for all new students, it is predicted that he will be a Demon Lord in the future (unlike Harry Potter who has to battle the dark lord). From then on, Hattori resents him, the head of the girl’s dorm wants his power for her own demented reasons, a female android who teases him mercilessly is sent to observe and protect him and finally an airhead childhood friend who promises “protect” him keeps appearing naked in front of him causing him much embarrassment and trouble.

This anime has adorable characters, but it is bordering on being an echi, hentai anime. The protagonist Sai tries very hard to dispel his stigma, but ends up falling into the traps of others while trying to prove otherwise. It’s a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. The only consolation is he is surrounded by a gorgeous harem of girls. I guess one could “die” happy.

FULL STORY | ichiban ushirou no daimaou

Kaichou wa Maid Sama

Kaichou wa Maid sama! (会長はメイド様! – The Student Council President is a Maid!), is a shoujo manga written and illustrated by Fujiwara Hiro. The animation has aired starting April 1, 2010.

The opening and ending theme of the series are:

1.”My Secret” by Saaya Mizuno
2.”Yokan (予感)” by Heidi (ep. 1-15)
3. “∞ Loop (∞ ループ)” by Heidi (ep. 16-present)

An all-boys school, Seika High School, has recently been co-ed and Ayuzawa Misaki is chosen to lead as the President of the Student Council. With the female population of the school, a dwindling minority, living in fear of the wild boys, Misaki takes it upon herself to reform the school to a safer environment for the girls. Unfortunately, she gains a reputation among the boys as an uptight male-hater.

Adding to her problems, Misaki has to take on a well-paying part-time job in a Maid Café due to her family’s financial situation. Her father left them (her mother, younger sister and her) with his debt and they are forced to live hand-to-mouth. Things take a turn for the worse when Takumi Usui, a popular and good-looking valedictorian who is constantly turning girls down, discovers her “after hours past time.”

The guy who rejects girls’ advances is being turned down by the one girl who doesn’t have any interest in guys like him but eventually changes her tune. The irony of the situation is not lost on me; being a man-hater, Misaki works in a Maid Café serving mainly men. This is an endearing series, on the same line as Kimi ni Todoke, Hatsukoi Limited and KimiKiss – Pure Rouge.

FULL STORY | kaichou wa maid sama

Katanagatari

Katanagatari (刀語, Sword Story – Katana monogatari) is a light novel series written by Nisio Isin and illustrated by Take from January 2007 to December 2007 with a total of 12 volumes. The series was animated by White Fox and began airing on January 25, 2010. The anime is a monthly series of an hour-long episode each (not the usual weekly supplement of 30-minute airing). It is scheduled for a total of 12 episode.

The series is based on the retrieval of 12 katanas created by Shikizaki Kiki, a fictional swordsmith, which is spread across the land and owned by different characters. During the Edo era, under the Bakufu (幕府)/ Shogunate, the famed katanas are ordered to be found and returned to the imperial court, to prevent uprising against the emperor. Samurai general and self-named strategist of the emperor, Togame, sets out to collect the swords with the aid of one highly skilled swordmaster. Said swordsman, is the 7th head of the Kyotouryuu (swordless style) house of Japanese sword martial arts Yasuri Shichika. He has been living in exile with his sister, Nanami, and father, Yasuri Matsue, in the Island of Fushou. Ironically, even though he calls himself a swordsman, he doesn’t ever wield a sword. The Yasuri family has no talent in wielding swords.

The opening and ending themes are:

1. “Meiya Kadenrou (冥夜花伝廊)” by Minami Kuribayashi
2. “Tasogare no Gekka” (誰そ彼の月華) by Yousei Teikoku
3. “Refulgence” by Shoujobyo
4. “Senhon Senjo no Jinkyuu Uta” (千本千女の刃毬唄) by Aki Hata
5. “Kyomu no Hana” (虚無の華) by kukui
6. “Ai to Makoto” (愛と誠) by Yukari Tamura

The conversations are lengthy, if not unnecessary and self-serving. It is not your average manga art, a definite different style of drawing, with bright and vibrant colors. The storyline though is strong enough not to be detracted from the constant rambling. The fighting scenes and style is definitely not lacking. More fight less talk and the anime will definitely thrive.

FULL STORY | katanagatari

Senkou no Night Raid

Senkou no Night Raid is an anime directed by Matsumoto Jun of Arashi fame. The 13-episode anime aired in Japan starting April 5, 2010. It is a historical piece set in Shanghai during the 1930s with plenty of action and the super-natural. After the First Sino-Japanese War, Russo-Japanese War and World War I, the Imperial Japanese Army is dispatched to Kwantung, west of Manchuria.

Japan was seeking an expansion into Manchuria (which was at that time leased to Japan as per the Treaty of Portsmouth) not as a colony but as an ally against foreign forces – namely the Russians. Others, of course, view the establishment of Manchukuo by the Japanese as an occupation of Chinese sovereign land by force. This incident and the ones thereafter, will soon lead to the Second Sino-Japanese War and subsequently World War II.

A military spy organization,”Sakurai Kikan,” is dispatched as one of the government’s chess pieces. The young members of the organization all have special powers, each contributing to the success of their missions.

There is an opening and ending theme:

1. “Promise” (約束) by MUCC
2. “To the Future…” (未来へ…) by HIMEKA

The use of Chinese dialogue and/or native speakers (other than the main characters) to the language is truly commendable. Hats off for the first try of MatsuJun. I know a lot of his fans must be in awe of this other side of him now. Even though the story was at first hard to grasp, it is quite entertaining to watch.

My major complain would be that the series does not elaborate on the historical aspects of the war. Many throughout the world know of the Japanese atrocities in most of Asia from the 1930s up until the end of World War II with the bombing of Hiroshima and consequently Nagasaki. But this black mark in their history has been conveniently erased by the Japanese themselves. It would have been a good opportunity to educate the (Japanese) audience of the darkest time in Japan’s history, yet, it is lacking.

FULL STORY | senkou no night raid

Working!!

Set in a family restaurant in Hokkaido, the northern prefecture of Japan, 16-year-old high school student Takanashi Souta works part-time along with his strange co-workers: Taneshima Popura, a high school girl who’s a year older than Souta who’s easily mistaken for an elementary/middle schooler, and Shirafuji Kyoko the 28-year old store manager who doesn’t bother to do any work at all.

“Not 12 and the cuteness… is this legal?”

The opening and ending themes are:
1. “SOMEONE ELSE” by Kana Asumi, Saki Fujita and Eri Kitamura DOWNLOAD

2. “Go to Heart Edge (ハートのエッジに挑もう)” by Jun Fukuyama, Daisuke Ono and Hiroshi Kamiya

It’s quite generic. Nothing really stands out with this series. The staff are all eccentric, but not in a nice way. There is an 18-year-old who looks like she’s 12. One girl carries around a katana while working in the restaurant. Another girl has problems with the other sex and feels a need to beat them up. The poor boy is constantly being beaten up – at work and at home!  Come on!! The women just swarm to him like fireflies drawn to a flame. I don’t know why I keep watching it. It’s like a train-wreck, you can’t seem to avert your eyes.

Continuing

Bleach (Season 14)

Bleach is an ongoing shonen manga series written and illustrated by Tite Kubo (Noriaki Kubo). The manga began since 2001 and was soon adapted to anime on Oct. 5, 2004. This series has even branched out to movies, CDs/OSTs, trading card game, video games for different consoles, books and even a musical.

The series is about a teenage boy, Kurosaki Ichigo, living in Karakura town, who lost his mother when he was young. In the process he was able to see dead people, and the soul reapers/shinigamis (死神) who come for them. He  assumes the duty of shinigami when the official soul reaper sent to guard his town, Kuchiki Rukia, is unable to perform her duties when she is severely injured in a battle with a hollow trying to protect Ichigo. Rukia then transfers some of her reiatsu (霊圧 – spirit energy) to Ichigo to enable him to defeat the hollow, but he unwittingly absorbs all her energy. Because of her lost powers, she is stranded in the human world, unable to return to Soul Society.

After a few months, the Soul Society’s higher-ups receive word of Rukia illegally giving away her powers and sends a detachment to arrest her. She is returned to Soul Society to await her false trial and immediate execution thereafter. Together with his classmates who possess spiritual abilities, Chad, Orihime Inoue, Ishida Uryuu (a Quincy) and ex-shinigami captain Shihouin Yoruichi, they travel to Soul Society to rescue Rukia. Once there, Ichigo and his classmates battle Soul Society’s elite, from vice-captains to captains and successfully rescues Rukia.

Rukia’s execution was conjured up by Captain Sousuke Aizen (3), who faked his death, to usurp powers in Soul Society. He betrays his fellow shinigamis to ally himself with the strongest of hollows, the arrancar. Ichigo then joins forces with Soul Society’s ranking shinigamis when they realize that Aizen’s next target of destruction is his hometown. Orihime Inoue is kidnapped by Aizen’s subordinate and Ichigo and a few friends are forced to enter Hueco Mundo, the hollow’s world, to rescue  Inoue. Now that the forces are split, there are less shinigamis defending Soul Society, Karakura town and rescuing Inoue.

Season 15 of Bleach (of the same manga written and illustrated by Tite Kubo) will begin airing on April 13, 2010 to present. It continues with the Shinigamis facing off the Arrancar in Karakura Town. Meanwhile Ichigo and his friends fend off the Arrancar to try to rescue Inoue yet again.

The season’s opening and ending theme are:

1. miwa’s “chAngE”
2. DIGGY-MO’s “Stay Beautiful”

The fillers have finally ended!!! The real fight is on! Will Ichigo become stronger to save his friend(s), Soul Society and Karakura Town? That’s a lot of burden for such narrow shoulders. Also, Inoue has a serious job as the resident damsel in distress. Not only that, but she’s the ultimate dumb blond (with red hair), and irritating as hell. Stop being such a timid wuss. You give girls with big boobs a bad name!!  Like Inuyasha, I’m forced to watch this, just because I’ve “gone through so much” with it. It started out really good. Unfortunately, it also got bad quite quickly. “Kono reiatsu…”

FULL STORY | bleach season 14

Fullmetal Alchemist

Fullmetal Alchemist is a manga series written by Hiromu Arakawa. This anime began in Oct. 2003 – Oct. 2004 with 51 episodes. In July 2005, a film sequel was released – Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa

Having lost their mother to terminal illness, brothers Edward and Alphonse attempt to resurrect their mother through human transmutation. However, their defiance of alchemy’s Law of Equivalent Exchange results in Edward losing his left leg and Alphonse losing his physical body. In the chaos, Edward (the stronger alchemist) transfers Al’s soul into a suit of armor by sacrificing his right arm. Having heard (through an alchemist named Roy Mustang who visited them a few days later) that they can restore their lost bodies, Ed becomes a certified State Alchemist. Before leaving, Edward is fitted with automail, an advanced prosthetic limb, created by family friends Winry and her grandmother.

He soon becomes renowned as the Fullmetal Alchemist. As a State Alchemist, Edward is able to call upon the State’s extensive resources and under Roy Mustang, is allowed the freedom to search for the fabled Philosopher’s Stone, only to find out that the stone is made from sacrificing human lives.

In their quest, the brothers stumble upon sinful abominations of man’s creation – the homunculi, who carry pieces of man-made Philosopher’s Stone in them. These Homunculus are named after the seven vices: Pride, Greed, Wrath, Envy, Gluttony, Lust and Sloth. They will stop at nothing to attain their goal.

Season 3 of Fullmetal Alchemist – Brotherhood began in April 2009 (taking over Mobile Suit Gundam 00‘s slot) and is ongoing. This 60-episode finale started with a recap of the original Fullmetal story. The Elric brothers’ search for the elusive Philosopher’s stone to regain their bodies has resulted in the death of Lt. Colonel Hughes and uncovering of half-truths, lies and the unknown.

The Führer, King Bradley, is revealed as a Homunculi named Wrath. He is the only Homunculus who ages and takes up residence at Central. Central, besides being the central army command center, acts as a base for the Homunculi and “Father.” Father, suspiciously, has the same appearance as sire to the brothers, Van Hohenheim.

The series has a few opening and ending themes:

Opening Themes:

1. “again” by YUI (ep. 1-14)
2. “Hologram” by NICO Touches the Walls (ep. 15-26)
3. “Golden Time Lover” by Sukima Switch (ep. 27-38)
4. “Period” by Chemistry (ep. 39-50)
5. “Rain” by Sid  (ep. 51 onwards)

Ending Themes:

1. “嘘 – Uso (Lie)” by SID (ep. 1-14)
2. “Let it out” by Miho Fukuhara (ep. 15-26)
3. “Tsunaida Te” (つないだ手 – Tied Hands) by Lil’B (ep. 27-38)
4. “Shunkan Sentimental” (瞬間センチメンタル – Sentimental Moment) by SCANDAL (ep. 39-50)
5. “Ray of Light” by Shoko Nakagawa  (ep. 51 onwards)

This was one of my very first animes that I watched and it has been unforgettably good. When it was announced last year this series was finally going to have a proper ending, I was ecstatic. This series is intricately woven with many characters, all of whom have a good story to tell. No one is too small or too big for a part. “Chibi?! Who are you calling small?!”

FULL STORY | fullmetal alchemist season 2

Ikkitousen (Season 4)

Ikkitousen (一騎当千 – One against a thousand) or Battle Vixens is a manga series written by Shiozaki Yuuji loosely based on the classic Chinese novel, “Romance of the Three Kingdoms.” The series is later adapted into anime. The series has also been adapted to video games, the first being Ikkitousen: Shining Dragon for PlayStation 2 released in July 2007. The second game, Ikkitousen: Eloquent Fist for PlayStation Portable (PSP) was released on October 2008. The third game will be released on PSP (2010) coinciding with the airing of Ikkitousen Xtreme Xecuter (Season 4).

Seven rival schools are constantly at war with each other trying to “rule” the other as they come out victorious with each battle. The fighters, both male and female, are constantly challenging each other to out-rank each other. They are guided only by jewels, called the Magatama worn as earrings, which contain pre-destined spirits of warriors from the Sangokushi period.

The main protagonist, Sonsaku Hakufu 孫策 伯符, is the reincarnation of famed Three Kingdoms warrior Sun Ce – Bofu, eldest son of Sun Jian, elder brother of Sun Quan. Together with her mother, Goei, they move in with her rich cousin brother, Shuuyu Koukin. Hakufu is a buxom, green-eyed and ditsy teenager with tremendous power despite being only a D-ranked toushi. She fights for the love of fighting, and cares little for the politics involved. Killing is not an option for her. She is blessed with a unique ability to predict and accurately pinpoint her opponent’s moves and flow of chi. At the end of the first series, Hakufu is possessed by Toutaku, but is later saved by her dragon that devours him. Later on, she apparently kills Ouin disguised as Saji. With Saji’s death, she becomes leader of the academy. Hakufu is destined to unite the 7 schools as her counterpart united 7 countries from years ago. Unfortunately, there is a darker side to her fate, as she and her mates try to break the chains of destiny and create their own paths in life.

Shuuyu Koukin (周瑜 公瑾):  Zhou Yu – Gongjin is Hakufu’s rich and very attractive cousin. In the “Three Kingdoms,” Zhou Yu is a well-known strategist of Wu, sworn brother of Sun Ce and the Commander-in-Chief at the Battle of Chi Bi. Kanu (Guan Yu), of Seito Academy and Ryuubi’s destined protector, and Ukitsu, a girl destined to kill Hakufu, have expressed interest in Koukin. He, however, has a huge crush on Hakufu, and later even gently rejects his pre-destined wife, Sonken Chuubou (Sun Quan), Hakufu’s stepsister.

The three destined rulers, Hakufu (Sun Ce), Sousou (Cao Cao) and Ryuubi (Liu Bei), each possess a dragon, which gives them massive power and puts them well above A-rank. This dragon is proof of their birthright as conquerors. During a manifestation, the physical form of the possessed changes: ranging from an increased upper body mass to a subtle change of eye color with cat-like slits. Even though it is said that only the three Ruling Dragons manifests the dragons, others have been shown to conceal the dragons in them as well. Ryomou (black dragon), Koumei (silver dragon called Crouching Dragon), Chou’un (yellow dragon) and Kanu (Guan Yu) are said to possess the dragon.

In the Dragon Destiny (S2) Sousou and Ryuubi’s Dragons are awakened. Hakufu, unable to control her dragon, still has no grasp of the importance of her destiny, but is visibly upset at being the cause of the violence around them. She travels to Kyosho to meet with Sousou (Cao Cao) in a duel to end the conflict. Instead, she encounters Kanu (Guan Yu) who is blackmailed into taking Sousou’s place (with Ryuubi – Liu Bei – captured).

During this battle, Hakufu’s dragon takes complete control of her while Sousou attacks her from behind with his dragon and deals Hakufu a devastating blow. The three schools are led to believe in her death at Sousou’s hands. Koukin is visibly devastated at the news of her death and lays the blame on Koumei for setting up the event to directly led to Hakufu’s battle with Sousou. Kanu later steps in to prove that it was Hakufu’s choice to challenge Sousou and their fight was one out of respect to each other and not hatred. With this, Koukin then leads the alliance between Nanyo and Seito to face Kyousho in preparation of the battle of Sekiheki (Chi Bi).

Fortunately for everyone, Hakufu’s unconscious body is found and brought to Master Choukou. The master tries to revive her, but awakens her dragon instead. Ukitsu, Hakufu’s predestined killer, steps in and gives up her life instead to revive Hakufu. Hakufu recovers from this death-blow and gains not only complete control of her dragon, but a change in her destiny. She returns to the Battle of Sekiheki (Chibi), teaming up with Ryuubi, to defeat Sousou. Koukin returns to Nanyo as one of the Four Devas of Nanyo, taking Kannei’s place.

In the Great Guardians (S3) Ryomou’s dragon, unlike Hakufu’s, did not go back into hibernation after Chi Bi and is slowly killing her. Shoukyou aka Sonken Chuubou appears in the Great Guardians as a younger sister of Hakufu named Sonken Chuubou (Sun Quan), but  tells them that her name is in fact Shoukyou. As Shoukyou, she is Koukin’s destined wife. However, Koukin gently rejects her love stating that destiny shouldn’t rule her life. Being the polite, shy and intelligent “sibling” she also knows that this rejection is because Koukin loves Hakufu.

Naruto Shippuden (Season 7 & 8 )

Naruto_SageNaruto began as a manga series by Masashi Kishimoto, which was later adapted to an anime series that started airing in 2002 until present. The anime, much like the manga, is split into two parts: the time split in the manga is simply named Part I & II while the anime is named Naruto and Naruto Shippuden. The second part of the series takes place two and a half years after the first part ends.

The series is about a young and rash ninja from Konohagakure, the Leaf Village named Uzumaki Naruto. The story unfolds as Naruto searches for recognition and acknowledgment from his peers and elders as he aspires to become the Hokage – leader of the village.  As a baby, the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox (kyuubi) was sealed in him to protect Konohagakure (the Leaf Village). However, the villagers, who were very much afraid of kyuubi, transferred that fear to the infant and eventually the child. Naruto grew up hated and mistreated by Konoha’s residents throughout most of his childhood.

Naruto, together with Uchiha Sasuke and Haruno Sakura are placed in Team 7 lead by Hatake Kakashi. Even though the team seemed mismatched at first, the soon find that they complement each other. The noisy idiot, with the skilled genius and the quick-tempered thinker quickly become one. However, Sasuke has a one-track mind – he vows to avenge his family and clan by killing his beloved older brother. When the chance is presented upon him, he takes it and leaves the village forever. Naruto vows to bring Sasuke back to Sakura, but to do so, he have to become stronger.

Unfortunately for Naruto, he is not the only one with a goal in mind. The Akatsuki is out to capture him, to drain him off the sealed Demon Fox.

At the start of Naruto Shippuden, Naruto returns home from his training with Jiraiya, having learned the Rasengan developed by the Fourth Hokage. Sakura is well-versed in the arts of medical jutsu thanks to Tsunade. Sasuke may just have surpassed the group in skills, training under Orochimaru. History, it seems, is about to repeat itself. The dreaded Akatsuki is on the move, and Gaara, an old friend, is the first of many targets. Soon Team Kakashi gets a new team member as a replacement for a departed Sasuke. Everyone is suspicious of him because he is recommended by Danzou, the person vying for the Hokage seat. Team Kakashi’s new mission is to seek out Sasuke while getting acquainted with a recluse newbie, Sai. While tracking the death of Asuma‘s old friend, Konoha ninjas go up against two immortal Akatsuki members – Kakuzu and Hidan. Naruto improves on the rasengan and creates a new jutsu under the careful tutelage of Kakashi and watchful eyes of Yamato, called the Rasenshuriken. Shikamura learns the horror of wars and finally lives up to his fullest potential to avenge a beloved mentor. Finally, Sasuke overpowers and absorbs Orochimaru. Unfortunately, Jiraiya sacrifices his life to learn the truth of Pain, the puppet leader of Akatsuki. Sasuke forms team Hebi to avenge his clan, while Naruto is forced to become stronger just to get a brother home and avenge a beloved teacher and god-father.

The seventh season of Naruto Shippuden (Part II of the manga by Masashi Kishimoto) began airing from January – March 2010. After two new episodes of Team Taka hunting Killer Bee, this is a minor filler arc on the six-tailed beast’s host Utakata of Kirigakure.

The story continues in season eight from March 2010 until present. Konohagakure will soon learn of the Sage’s demise. The village will have to fortify themselves against their enemy, just as Naruto will surpass his master to avenge him.

The two seasons have these opening and ending themes.

1. Flow’s “Sign” (ep. 142-153)
2. Azu’s “For You” (ep. 142-153)
3. Motohiro Hata’s “Toumei datta Sekai” (透明だった世界 – Transparent World) (ep. 154-present)
4. OreSkaBand’s “Jitensha” (自転車 – Bicycle) (ep. 154-present)

This series gets better with each season. The storyline is so well-written and the characters very well-developed. It’s like peeling an onion – layers upon layers of tear-jerkers. Everyone’s rooting for you U-Zu-Ma-Ki Naruto! Ganbatte! Fight-O on!! Underdogs of the world unite. Perseverance, patience, friendship and loyalty are all good themes and moral to learn. You watch as all the characters grow from young tots to responsible and courageous teenagers, learning and flourishing with every new challenge thrown at them. Friends become foes, and enemies become allies. History is never learned but doomed to repeat itself. “Dattebayo!”

FULL STORY | naruto shippuden season 8

Just Ended:

Baka to Test

Baka to testBaka to Test to Shoukanjuu (バカとテストと召 喚獣, lit. Idiots, Tests, and Summoned Beasts) is a light novel written by Inoue Kenji and illustrated by Haga Yui. It was first released on January 29, 2007 and has seen a total of nine written volumes. On October 30, 2009, the series was adapted to manga. The anime adaptation was soon released and began airing on January 7, 2010 with a total of 13 episodes.

There is an opening theme and two ending themes:

1. Natsuko Aso’s “Perfect-area Complete!”
2. Milktub and BakaTest All Stars’ “Baka Go Home”
3. HItomi Harada, Kaori Mizuhashi, Emiri Katou & Tomomi Isomura’s “Hare Tokidoki Egao”

Protagonist Yoshii Akihisa is Fumizuki Academy’s certified idiot / “Baka” – hence the title of the series. The school and staff are stringent in dividing the students based on their academic performance. Students are sorted into classes ranging from A to F based on their entrance exam scores. Class A has only the élite students, and their classroom reflects their high standards, while Class F doesn’t even have proper desks and chairs, as the students resort to using orange boxes as desks and flattened sitting cushions for seating.

Akihisa, together with the rest of his F-Class classmates are embroiled in Summoned Being Wars for many reasons. For Akihisa, it is to get intelligent girl Himeji Mizuki back into the class where she belongs (Class A) since she failed her entrance exam miserable after falling sick. The others, like class rep Sakamoto Yuuji, just wants to prove to others that there are more to life that just being book smart. Perverted ninja Kouta Tsuchiya, bishounen Hideyoshi Kinoshita and tomboyish Minami Shimada just want privileges that goes along with winning each war.

Aside from this caste system, the students of the academy can also conjure up Summoned Beings (Shoukanjuu). The Beings are used for battles between classes to up each other’s standings. The state and prowess of each Summon Beings is based on the knowledge of the Being’s owner.

This is a silly, but entertaining comedic series. Akihisa is constantly used as a punching bag for everyone, except Himeji who finds him endearing. The love-hate relationship of the F & A Class reps is physically painful, yet emotionally soothing.

Second season is under development and will be released soon.

FULL STORY | baka to test

Inuyasha

Kagome and InuYashaInuYasha 犬夜叉, a Feudal Fairy Tale, is a manga written and illustrated by Takahashi Rumiko (of Ranma 1/2) with 56 volumes. It was first published on November 1996 and ended on June 2008. The manga was later adapted to a 167 episode anime, which premiered on October 2000 and lasted until September 2004. The anime never concluded. There were also four films released: Affections Touching Across Time, The Castle Beyond the Looking Glass, Swords of an Honorable Ruler and Fire on the Mystic Island. There are also multiple games created for different game consoles.

The series begins in Feudal Japan, with half-demon InuYasha trying to steal the Jewel of Four Souls (Shikon Jewel) guarded by shrine maiden Kikyo. The jewel enhances the wielder’s powers and grants a single wish, to which InuYasha hopes to use to turn himself into a full-fledged demon. He is, however, stopped with a sacred arrow by Kikyo, thereby sealing him onto a sacred tree Goshinboku. It is later revealed that, through hoaxes played by a demon wanting to possess the jewel, Kikyo and InuYasha, the star-crossed lovers, were made to look like each one betrayed the other’s trust.

InuYasha is sealed but Kikyo is mortally wounded. Before her demise, Kikyo orders her younger sister, Kaede, to burn the jewel with her body to prevent it from landing in the hands of evil.

Fifty years after that incident, high school girl Kagome Higurashi lives on a hereditary Shinto shrine. While retrieving her cat, a centipede demon pulls her down a well. She awakens in Feudal Japan with only the Bone Eater’s Well and the Goshinboku tree as familiar landmarks. She sees InuYasha asleep (unbeknown to her that he is actually sealed) and a group of peasants trying to drag her back to their village priestess, Kaede. Upon laying eyes on Kagome, old Kaede realizes that she is the reincarnation of her sister Kikyo. With the demon centipede hot on her trails, it hits Kaede that the jewel too has been reborn in Kagome. Kagome frees InuYasha to get him to kill the demon. After soundly trashing the demon, he then tries to take the jewel. Kaede hands Kagome a magical rosary to be worn by InuYasha, thereby subduing him with a simple command – “Sit Boy!”

When demons begin to come after the jewel (and Kagome), it shatters into numerous shards that disperses across Japan. So begins Kagome and InuYasha’s journey of tracking down the shards of jewel. Along the voyage, they befriend Shippo, a small fox demon, Miroku a cursed but lecherous monk and Sango a demon-slayer looking for her younger brother Kohaku. InuYasha becomes stronger too and wields his father’s fang as his sword.

InuYasha 犬夜叉 完結編 (InuYasha Kanketsu-hen) returned for the final season in October 2009 and ended on March 27, 2010 with 26 episodes. Their final battle with Naraku is not as epic as one hopes.

Opening Theme:
1. “Kimi ga Inai Mirai” by Do as Infinity (ep. 1-26)
Ending Theme:
1. “With You” by AAA (ep. 1-9)
2. “Diamond” by Alan (ep. 10-17)
3.”Tōi Michi Saki de” (遠い道の先で, The Long Road Ahead) by Ai Takekawa (18-26)

This series started off interesting but quickly became draggy. I just had to finish off the series for the “accomplishment” of concluding an opened file. This is the final time I will hear the exasperated call of Kagome’s, “Inuyasha! Sit Boy!”

FULL STORY | inuyasha

Kimi ni Todoke

kimi ni todokeKimi ni Todoke: From me to You (君に届け) is a romance manga written by Shiina Karuho and was first published in 2006. In 2008, it won the Best Shojo Manga award. The manga is ongoing, but in March 2009, the authoress took time off for her pregnancy, and resumed as of October 2009. This manga has since been adapted to anime on Oct. 6, 2009 with 25 episodes (which ended on March 30, 2010). The manga has also produced a series of light novels and a video game for Nintendo was released in October 2009.

There are an opening and ending theme:

1. “Kimi ni Todoke” by Tanizawa Tomofumi
2. “Kataomoi” by Chara

The series is about a girl, who is feared and misunderstood because of her appearance but finds an unlikely champion in the school’s most popular and outgoing boy. With this new attention, more people are drawn to her, and as the love grows between both of them, there are others who are jealous and, instead, throw a wrench in their new-found relationship.

The main protagonist, Kuronuma Sawako, who is called by her classmates as Sadako (from the Ring) is a painfully shy but honest person. In comes super popular and good-looking school idol, Kazehaya Shouta, who is not only well-liked, but is kind to Sawako. He takes her under his wing, teaching her to speak up for herself. With this new-found confidence, she earns two new friends: Yano Ayane and Yoshida Chizuru. After the seating arrangement in class is changed, where Kazehaya, Yano, Yoshida and a new boy Sanada Ryuu surround her, things begin to look up for her.

Another beguiling series, on the same line as Hatsukoi Limited and KimiKiss – Pure Rouge. Both characters are shy, but one’s been living under a rock for ages and suddenly sees the light of day.

Season 2 is scheduled for Fall 2010

FULL STORY | kimi ni todoke

Nodame Cantabile Finale

Nodame Cantabile のだめカンタービレ is manga written and illustrated by Tomoko Ninomiya. This story is based upon a real character by the same name. The series has been adapted to 2 seasons of anime (S1: 2007 • S2: 2008) and a tv drama. Season 3 of the anime, with 11 episodes, aired from January to April 2010.

The tv drama has two movies in conjunction with the new third season, one to be released on December 19, 2009 and the final part premiering in the spring of 2010. The drama stars Hiroshi Tamaki as Shinichi Chiaki and Juri Ueno as Megumi “Nodame” Noda.

After much delay, season 3 (and the finale) returned in January 14, 2010 and ran through April 2010. Set in Paris, where they last left off, Chiaki is pursuing his dream of being the best conductor (as good a his Viera Sensei), and Nodame is trying to live up to her potential of being an exceptional pianist to perform in an orchestra with Chiaki. Will things finally turn out well for the two?

The opening and ending themes are:

1. “Manazashi ☆ Daydream (まなざし☆デイドリーム)” by Yuu Sakai (さかいゆう)
2. “Kaze to Oka no Ballad (風と丘のバラード)” by Real Paradis with Nodame Orchestra

One of my favorite anime and drama series of all time. The music is superb. The romance is bewitchingly saccharine. The camaraderie is genuine and they are never jealous of the other’s achievements. The trials and jubilation are heartfelt. “Mukya! Moshikashite, fall in love…”

FULL STORY | nodame cantabile finale

Ookamikakushi

Ookami Kakushi (spirited away by wolves) is a novel developed by Konami for Playstation Portable released on August 20, 2009 in Japan. It was later adapted to anime by AIC and aired on January 8, 2010 on TBS. A month later, Mirura Yano adapted this series to manga, entitling it Ookami Kakushi: Fukahi no Shou (おおかみかくし〜深緋の章〜).

The opening and ending themes are:

1. Toki no Mukou Maboroshi no Sora (時の向こう 幻の空, “Across Time, Sky of Illusions”) by FictionJunction
2. Tsukishirube ((月導, “Moon Guide”) by Yuuka Nanri (member of FictionJunction)

The main protagonist of the series is Kuzumi Hiroshi, or Hiro-Kun as called by Tsumuhana Isuzu. He is also called Hakase (Professor) by Asagiri Kaname as the kanji of his name can also be read as that. Hiro’s family recently moved to the city of Jouga for his father’s research on his latest occult novel. The new town is mysteriously separated into new and old city by a river. Even though he is new in town, many people, including his classmates are drawn to him, all except class committee member and what seems to be like the leader of the pack, Kushinada Nemuru. Like his classmates, Hiro is only 15 years old and quite unworldly and naïve. He has a younger sister, Mana, who is paralyzed from the waist down, from an earlier accident.

This is an alright series. Story should have intrigued, but its footwork is not too fancy. Drawing is quite nice, though. Could have sped along faster, instead of keeping the unnecessary turtle pace of suspense.

FULL STORY | ookamikakushi

Tegami Bachi

Gauche, Steak, Niche & LagTegami Bachi or Letter Bee is written by Asada Hiroyuki and originally serialized in the now defunct Monthly Shonen Jump since January 2007 until February 2010. This shonen manga, entitled Tegami Bachi: Hikari to Ao no Gensou Yawa (Letter Bee: Light and Blue Night Fantasy) was adapted to anime in the fall of 2008. The television series soon premiered on October 3, 2009 and ran with 25 episodes. A second season of anime is due out this Fall. A drama CD, aptly named “Drama CD Tegami bachi,” on Jiggy Pepper was released on February 2009.

There are two opening and ending themes:

1. Hajimari no Hi (はじまりの日 – Day of Beginnings) by Suga Shikao (ep. 1-13)
2. Love Letter no Kawari ni Konoshi o ((ラブレターのかわりにこの詩を – This Poem In Place of the Love Letter) by Seira (ep. 14 – present)
3. Hatenaki ((果てなき道 – Endless Road) by HIMEKA (ep. 1-13)
4. Hikari no Kioku (光の記憶 – Memories of the Light) by Angelo (ep. 14-present)

The series revolves around Tegami Bachi / Letter Bee, or to be exact, letter carriers, and their fight against armored insects, Gaichuu, to deliver letters in the surrounding land of Amberground. Gaichuu feeds on human hearts and are attracted to the letters that Letter Bees carry because the letters have “heart” in them too. Once a human is attacked and drained off its heart, it becomes a soul-less vessel that doesn’t respond or eat. That human then dies from starvation.

Gauche Suede is a Letter Bee (a postman) at the Bee Hive. He finds a boy of 7, Lag Seeing, marked as a letter to be delivered to the boy’s aunt, Sabrina Mary, in Campbell Litus. Lag’s mother was kidnapped and brought to a place called Akatsuki. Coincidentally this is the same place that Gauche’s sister, Sylvette, will be able to find cure for her paralysis. Gauche aspires to be the Head Bee to enable his sister to walk again one day. To that end, he goes out of his way to get his jobs done as efficiently as possible to hasten his climb up the ladder. He also reasons that because each letter carries with it the “heart” of the sender, the letters have to be protected and hand-delivered to their destination in one piece.

Little Lag, the underwear-less Niche and emergency food supply Steak are all ultra cute. However, the anime can sometimes be a sleep inducer. It did pick up towards the end, though, with the reappearance of the idolized hero, Gauche, who seems to have had an amnesia.

Season 2 is scheduled for Fall 2010

FULL STORY | tegami bachi

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