Summer 2009 Anime Thoughts \\ Part 1

lolol i don’t feckin’ know.

Anyways, it’s time for Owari’s Whenever the Hell she Feels Like it Summer 2009 Anime Thoughts! I honestly doubt I’ll be able to do anything about when I post whenever I post, because I’ll post whatever I feel like posting when I feel like I should post some stuff. I’ll probably be kinda busy with IRL things around Fall 2009, so even though I’ll be keeping up with anime airing and such, I’m not sure if I’d have much to say. I could probably make ~2 posts a week if I really wanted to, I’m sure I could think of something to talk about. To be honest, though, I haven’t had anyone inside my room besides my siblings, at least not for a long time, so I started to fill it up with anime-related stuff (posters, mini-figures, wallscrolls, and the like, even some Megami posters) and all of a sudden, one of my sister’s friends is staying here for a week. Being as me and both of my sisters share a room, but one of them is away at college, she’s staying in this room.

Not that there are any other rooms in the house, why the hell do you think three girls would share a room otherwise? I don’t think I’ll be able to experience the joy of having what’s truly my own room until at least after I get out of college. If I had the money for it, I’d be sure to fill it with lots of my weeaboo/nerd stuff. I really am looking forward to living alone, and not having to be bothered about anything by anyone and just living peacefully with a job and maybe a pet or two or something like that. But, I digress.

In any case, yeah, I haven’t seen every anime this season, so if there’s a show you really like that you think I should be watching, then tell me, or something. These are just the ones I’m actively following.

Now first, and foremost, we have Umineko No Naku Koro Ni, directed by Studio DEEN. Now, I’ve read it, all four of the Question arcs, so you can’t really…uh, spoiler me. I’ve seen the preview for the first answer arc, and I kinda have a few things to say about it, but for the fear of bringing several fantastical arguments into this, I’m not going to bother.

The reason I consider this ‘first and foremost’ is not because I thought it would be the best anime this season. It’s great, but….in comparison to the visual novel, it’s pretty damn weak. As of right now, I’ve seen two episodes’ worth…and, while it does manage to instill some of the sympathy you had for all of the people involved in the shed incident, alive or dead….it only really gives you a little for George and Shannon, which is a pity. And even then, not really-people aren’t gonna feel some sorrow for some guy who wasn’t quite presented well enough for you to get to know all of his motives.

But the real thing I like about Umineko is the fact that it’s both a mystery, and at the same time, it has fantastical elements. But, at the same time, they don’t necessarily exist on the same plane, and you have to use the elements of fantasy and the few stated truths to try and put together a truth behind everything that happened on Rokkenjima. Honestly, if you really want my opinion, watching the anime’s not that much of a big deal-if I could get the readers to do one thing, it’d be to read the visual novel over watching the anime.

But the anime does have its benefits. Hell, the reason I started watching the anime was because I just wanted to see how it would be animated. But, the thing is….I’m just worried the anime’s gonna attract the kind of fans that Higurashi seemed to attract. I wouldn’t call it quite the majority, but…there was a certain portion of Higurashi fans that watched it because it was “LoL bLoOdY nD sUsPenSeY oMg!!111” or something like that. I guess you’ll find a certain amount of blood, but based off the scene of the first twilight, it’s going to be just blackish blurs anyways.

But maybe it’s just that it’s kinda lampshaded in the VN, and there’s more emphasis on “Who the hell would do this? This is terrible”…but, to be fair, the anime wasn’t that far off.

I liked both the opening and ending for this show. The ending takes…some…getting used to, but once you’re used to it, you’ll love it. And both have some interesting visuals. But I don’t think you should watch a show for the OP/ED for no reason, as I’ll emphasize with my next review.

Okay. This show…I’ll say it. It’s pretty damn bad. It’s so bad that I don’t know whether to laugh at it or to start banging my head upon a keyboard repeatedly, until all of the keys have been reduced to a fine powder. Maybe I should have done both, and then proceeded to ingest dangerous amounts of caffeine. But it’s so bad, that in a way, it’s good. Who the hell produced this? …Madhouse? Really? I guess they made Chaos;Head, so I suppose they’re capable of making anime that’s just plain bad, but…

By any reviewer standards, though, it is pretty darn bad. You’ve got the main character, who’s this typical shonen hero. As in, a total idiot who has no idea what the hell he’s doing with anything, and has APPARENTLY no inherent ability for whatever the hell it is, because I could hardly even pay attention to what was actually going on, and I just ended up laughing at how ridiculously sacreligious this show is. Seriously, there are a lot of ties-in to…Priests, fighting a mecha that’s called a Testament? And the priest is this guy with a ridiculously overmuscled chest. And the animation is so QUAAAAAAALITY that I’m not even sure how they got away with it.

No, I can’t even bother to remember any of the character names, but I have a feeling the guy’s sister is gonna show up again and be a fucking evil bitch, for whatever reason that I can’t seem to place my finger on, since she didn’t have an on-screen death. And the priest guy is gay, or at least it seems kinda like it. As are some of the bad guys. EXCEPT SOME AREN’T. But, I really can’t seem to think of anything remotely intelligent to say about this, because this is such a stupid show.

However, my main point of interest in this show is the ending theme. It probably has more yuri than the summer ’09 season, and as far as this season goes, it seems like it has more yuri than most seasons I’ve seen, so this is really saying something. But…I haven’t even seen these characters yet. And it’s incredibly unsuiting to the show. The OP is just plain terrible, though, as far as song choice goes, so I guess it actually kinda suits it, in a way.

In any case, I’d only watch this if you’re bored and you want something incredibly fucking dumb to laugh at. Otherwise, just don’t even bother with it at all. I’ll probably get bored at some point and just find it incredibly unfunny and dumb and drop it like a rock, but I thought I would do that with Akikan too, and I ended up liking that, in a way, despite finding it terrible as a show. So, hell, I don’t know, and I don’t think people’ll gain anything from reading this, except knowledge that I can’t take shows like this seriously.

Now, moving onto the next show, Kanamemo. I’d say this is a pretty likable show-it’s certainly nothing near groundbreaking, but it’s pretty damn cute. It’s animated by Feel, and I’m just looking up what they’ve animated now, and I didn’t really know what they produced bevofe that, but those are mostly things I’ve been meaning to watch, and then, on a totally different note, Da Capo, which I couldn’t be less interested in. Even for a generic harem, it always looked kinda…mediocre for that.

As to the actual plot? It just seems to be more of a setup to show the crazy interactions of six girls living together, as is common in the slice-of-life genre. But, even for a slice-of-life, it has quite a bit of yuri fanservice, which can only be seen as a good thing, at least from my perspective, ’cause I’m a pretty hopeless fangirl. (Especially between Yume and Yuuki-hell, they even kiss each other! I just hope that they don’t come up with some bullshitted reason and then try to feign heterosexuality, it’s always so disappointing when that happens.)

But even so, I think my sort of opinion, or anyone’s opinion, is somewhat useless when it comes to Kanamemo. Either you’ll like it, or you’ll find that it’s another run-of-the-mill slice-of-life anime (that was a lot of hyphens.)

So, I went on the internet, to find other people’s opinions of this series. And…I was surprised. A lot of people seem to take issue with Haruka’s behavior. Granted, a lot of these people are the kind of people who weren’t really sure what they were getting into when they were watching it, but I personally can’t be bothered by it at all. Actually, I like Haruka, even though she’s not really original, per se, being the classic drunken lolita complex 20-year-old, she’s a fun character. Although, after seeing episode 2, I do have to wonder if she even delivers papers, or if she’s supposed to just be looking after the other five young girls she’s taking care of.

But that goes into my opinion on characters’ behavior that would be fine in a show is fine in a show, and that you don’t need to apply how these people act in real life. Like, yeah, if there was someone like Haruka going around my town, collecting preteen girls and groping them in various ways and being the only guardian for these five kids who already have a job, despite illegally, because you have to be at least 15 to work even with a permit, I’d be worried about these kids too. But this is anime. It’s not real life, so I don’t think these are the kinds of things that people need to be connecting in their head. I guess this is only my opinion, though, and I know that, despite this, there are going to be people who disagree with me, so really, you can go ahwad and think whatever you want.

So now, I’m going to move on to a show that was pretty much utterly mediocre. And, that is…

Yeah, this show. It’s pretty much a relatively generic magical girl show, probably has some loli fanservice…only it’s about re-writing code. From the first episode, it doesn’t seem like it’ll be anything special, but it was mildly amusing, so unless it becomes utterly terrible I probably won’t bother dropping it. (It’s what, how long, 12 episodes? For some reason I have much less of a problem watching episodes of shows that aren’t as long even if they’re not quite so good. Not that I mind watching longer shows, but I’m less willing to do so.)

But yeah, I’m kinda interested where the whole topic of writing ‘codes’ is gonna go…what, is this girl gonna know how to rewrite the C++ holding people together? That doesn’t even really make sense, but if I could mess with stuff like that, it’d be awesome.

Still pretty generic and nothing special, though, so I’d say skip it unless you really like magical girl anime. And…as for the plot or characters, I don’t have much else to say. They’re okay, I guess…it’s hard to hate characters from one episode of introductions, though.

But, anyways, since I don’t have anything else to really say, I’ll just go on ahead to the next thing I watched…in part two. olololol. No, seriously, Stringed just told me to break it up.

All Ye Who Like Stories Gather ‘Round — Princess Tutu review

Stringed again. I fail so hard; I was planning on doing regular-ish updates, but clearly that did not work. I’ll keep trying, though! Well, if Owari’s TL;DR about the history of her internet connection didn’t scare you away, this wordy Princess Tutu review of doom probably will. The TL;DR version of the review is: Princess Tutu is AWESOME and you should watch it, preferably by actually buying it, because it is one of those series that really deserves to be bought, even if you’re not a buyfag. But even if you can’t bring yourself to pay for it, watch it. You won’t be disappointed.

(The character pictured is Rue. I don’t mention her much in the actual review because it was getting too long and her importance to the story, as well as Fakir’s, doesn’t come into play until a bit later on in the series. However, she is possibly my favorite character along with Fakir, so I felt the need to use her image.)

Modern anime (anything made after 1999) rarely breaks any molds. This is a commonly accepted viewpoint that many fans that have been fans for a long time hold. Most anime that’s being produced is a variant of a tried and true archetype that will make money for the company, but won’t do anything new or groundbreaking. Moe shows, typical shonen fighting shows, and harem shows are the majority of what comes out of Japan anymore. However, there are times when some brave souls opt to step away from this formula. Sometimes it fails miserably and the involved are left kicking themselves for taking the risk, but sometimes, they achieve greatness.

Okay, maybe not greatness; at least not in most lights. These unusual series that turn out amazing don’t usually sell well. They don’t get merchandise or huge fanbases. Often they go completely under the fans’ radar. Unfortunately, that seems to be what happened with this little gem that I’m reviewing, Princess Tutu.

This series came out in Japan in 2002-2003, though I was still a new fan back then and didn’t really hear about it until around 2006 after it had been released in America. I never ended up buying and watching it until just last year, though. But now I’ve seen it all and I must say, mind = blown. Sadly, I don’t think anywhere near enough people actually gave this series a shot, especially not out of the demographic of anime fans that actually buy their anime.

ADV really didn’t handle this series too well at first, though. There was nearly a year’s gap between the initial releases of vol. 1 and vol. 2, and the series was obviously not very well marketed, since I had no idea it even existed until the first episode got shown at the anime club that I attended at the time. By this time, the entire series was out, though there was no box set. When I finally got around to buying it, having really liked what I saw at anime club and having heard a few positive reviews of it, as well as watching the famous Håll om Mig nu AMV, the single discs were next to impossible to find. A box set was put on schedule after I’d bought the first disc, but I continued attempting to chase down the singles up to volume 3. I did so because the box set was listed for a low price, so I was afraid it was going to be a thinpak rather than the brick that it was, and ADV has a history of stripping the extras from its thinpak releases. I knew from the first disc and word of mouth that Princess Tutu had really good extras, so I didn’t want to pay for stripped discs like I had stupidly done with Azumanga Daioh. I stopped hunting singles after volume 3 since I found out that the new box set was actually going to leave its extras in tact. Also volume 4 was next to impossible to find. I still need to watch the extras on vol. 2-6, but the ones on vol. 1 were completely worth it. The English director commentary was really fascinating; it went into a lot of detail on the music used in the series.

As for the actual series itself, I already said that the end result of watching the whole series was mind = blown. I have a list of the 3 anime that I consider to be the best ever made, and Princess Tutu is #2 on that list (1 and 3 are Haibane Renmei and Gankutsuou respectively). Whenever I watch a new anime title, I judge it using those 3 titles as my standard (the exception being comedy anime. Those are judged on how much I laugh at them and that’s about it). Because it’s one of the series that I use as a standard to judge other titles against, I thought it would be best to make it my first actual series review, especially since I finished it recently (December 10th, 2008 to be exact).

The basic plot of Princess Tutu sounds so very simple. There once lived a man who loved to write stories. He was working on a story called “The Prince and the Raven”, which was about an evil raven and a prince that broke his heart into many pieces in order to seal the raven away. Unfortunately, the man, Drosselmeyer, died before he completed the story. The raven, bored of being stuck in a story that would never come to a conclusion, left the pages of the book. The prince followed, knowing it would be disastrous to let the raven wreak havoc upon the world unchecked.

From there, it turns out that somehow, Drosselmeyer’s spirit is watching the events unfold, and he is pleased. He decides that he should make things more interesting and bring another character out of the story. That character is Princess Tutu, a minor character from Drosselmeyer’s story, but the lead of the tale to unfold. He brings her into the story by offering a pendant to a mere duck. This pendant will allow the duck to transform into a girl by the name of Ahiru, and then again into Princess Tutu. The role of Princess Tutu is to return the scattered shards of the prince’s heart to the prince, who just happens to be Ahiru’s crush, Mytho. …Wait, did I say the plot was simple?

I must confess that Princess Tutu does have its flaws. There aren’t many of them at all, but still they’re there. The only one that is inherently part of the series is that there are a few dull spots. There aren’t too many, and they’re only present in the first half of the series, but they’re still there. I think they are a case of the exposition of the story stretching over too many episodes. I’m a big fan of character and world building, but even I have my limits. Though I think the biggest issue wasn’t so much that there was more character and world building going on than plot, but rather how formulaic the episodes were from episode 2 up to episode 6. These episodes all boiled down to there being a heart shard causing problems, so Ahiru transforms into Princess Tutu, convinces the heart shard to stop being defiant and return to its proper form, then she returns the shard to Mytho. That got old pretty fast, but once the series picked up, it really picked up.

This show really left a strong impression on me. It has a sort of charm that is really hard to resist once you get into the series. I felt so strongly for the characters that I feel guilty for wishing there was more, even if it were just an OAV or a movie. The reasons behind that are extremely spoilerific, but let’s just say all stories need to end. Also, Princess Tutu is a rare example of my opinion on a character doing a complete 180. That character is Rue (pictured near the top). The first half of the series has her characterized one way, but she steadily breaks out of the mold that you think she’s set herself firmly into and becomes something else entirely. That’s what Princess Tutu does so many times that it’s crazy; leads you to believe it is or will do one thing, then completely changes direction. It’s like a roller coaster that starts off with a pretty good drop, then slows down for a bit, but then it charges full speed ahead through all kinds of peaks and plunges and turns and anything imaginable, leaving your head spinning when you get off.

A lot of people passed up on watching Princess Tutu just from glancing at the cover and title. It does look and sound incredibly girly, after all. But the people that made that decision made a big mistake. Though it does have its feminine elements, Princess Tutu is primarily an extremely messed up fairytale. I don’t mean it’s along the lines of Junko Mizuno’s works; it’s not even close to that. What I mean is that it’s like the creators took the basic outline of a standard fairytale, then proceeded to turn it upside down, shake it a couple times, flesh it out far more than most fairytales ever get fleshed out, especially in character development, then spin it around really fast and see what it does. In other words, it’s a unique story in both the realm of anime and the realm of fairytales, and Western literature in general.

I urge anyone that has an interest in Princess Tutu either to buy one of the recent box sets that have been put out for it. I understand not wanting to blindly shell out cash, so watch a few episodes via Netflix, borrowing from a friend, downloading, etc if you’re not completely sold, but if you do end up liking it, it’s absolutely worth purchasing. Both the first complete collection, which I own, and the more recent one leave the extras in tact, at least according to Anime on DVD. If nothing else, these extras are worth buying the DVDs for, but as Princess Tutu is the second title on my list of the top three best anime ever made, it deserves to be purchased.