Breaking All The RRRRRRUUUUUUs – A Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt Review

Taking a break from the Pokemon posts before I put up the last one[s]. Enjoy!

Okay for starters let me just address what a miracle it is that I watched the whole thing straight through as it came out and never got more than two episodes behind.  This review is going to contain spoilers, by the way, so if you haven’t seen the whole thing, proceed with caution and don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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I have a secret that I haven’t told you…I’m a magi

I am so horribly behind on the times. It took me up until this past July to finally stop being lazy and start playing visual novels, after End Game spent the whole summer poking me to play Umineko. I refused to play Umineko since it wasn’t completely released yet, but all of her poking did convince me that it was high time to start playing VNs. So where did I start? Where else? Fate/Stay Night.

This was the most epic battle in the entire Fate route

I had watched the Fate/Stay Night anime when the American DVDs were released here. That had a lot to do with my choice to play Fate Stay Night. I enjoyed the anime, especially at first, but towards the end it started to get insanely confusing. I was hoping the VN would explain things better, which it did. Read on for a proper review. Heads up, though; the idea of porn starring Shirou Emiya was not something that sounded too appealing to me, so I installed the anti-ero patch that covers the Fate and Unlimited Blade Works routes.

Okay, I should probably start with a quick terminology lesson for anyone that doesn’t know much about visual novels before getting into the review. A visual novel is kind of like a video game, usually for the computer. However, instead of controlling a little sprite that walks around and fighting enemies, all you do in a visual novel is read text and make choices. What choice you make affects the outcome of the game. They’re kind of like those pick your own path books from the 90’s, only more sophisticated and detailed, and yes, they actually are fun. They’re especially nice for people like me that suck at video games. I also mentioned the term “routes”. In this case, I’m referring to the fact that Fate/Stay Night has three different versions of the game, so to speak, and you play them in order. They’re Fate, Unlimited Blade Works, and Heaven’s Feel. As I’ve only just started playing UBW, this review obviously only covers Fate. From what I understand, “route” can also refer to the choices you make affecting which girl you end up with in dating sim VNs, too.

So, the basic premise of Fate/Stay Night is…not simple at all. Every 10 years, the Holy Grail appears in Fuyuki City, where the story takes place. 7 magi each summon a “Servant” from 7 different classes (Saber, Lancer, Archer, Rider, Caster, Berserker, Assassin), and proceed to duke it out in a battle royale for the right to possess the Holy Grail and obtain a wish from it. The only problem? You play as Shirou Emiya, a pitiful excuse for a magus with no idea what’s going on.

The game starts with a prologue from the perspective of another major character, Rin Tohsaka. If only the whole game was that way. Sigh. The biggest problem with Fate/Stay Night is that Shirou is so annoying. I’ve heard that this gets better in the later routes, but I’ve yet to see. You probably all know who Shirou Emiya is regardless of whether or not you’re familiar with Fate/Stay Night. You probably know him because he is the great philosopher of anime that told us “People die if they are killed”. Yeah, you get to play as that guy. And trust me, his Fate wisdom extends beyond that. He also lets you know that you can’t catch lightning because it is lightning. There are plenty of these and I should have written them down, but now you can discover them for yourself by playing the game. As annoying as Shirou is, this game really is worth playing.

The best part of Fate/Stay Night is to get to know the Servants. Shirou, despite being pathetic, somehow manages to summon Saber, who is regarded as the best of the Servants. Note, the Servants are all epic heroes; historical figures or mythological characters that have become legendary. So as you go through the story, each Servant’s identity is revealed. Saber is the Servant that gets the most development and screen time, but all of them are fascinating. I still have a soft spot for Caster left over from the anime, despite her minute role in the Fate route. Rider is awesome on many levels, as her battle against Saber displays. Seriously, Rider and Saber  scale a skyscraper while they have at it. Is that not total badass? There’s even a Pegasus involved. Towards the end of the Fate route, Lancer is just plain badass and wins at life in order to go out with a bang. It’s tough because you get attached to almost all of the Servants, but only one can survive to the end, and none of them can stay…unless you count the second Archer.

Sometimes people are horrible and fuel a servant that has drunk from the Holy Grail. The fluid within the grail keeps the Servant sustained in the human world after the War is over. They’re fueled with souls. This is how a second Archer happened. End Game keeps referring to him as Girugamesh and making me unable to unsee really bad things involving the second Archer and Sakuracon and Vic Mignogna.

Also, Taiga is hilarious and made of win. The Tiger Dojo sequences that follow a bad end choice are hilarious, as is any scene with Taiga involved. If you’ve seen Azumanga Daioh, Taiga is comparable to Yukari Tanizaki. They might even be the same person in secret, but I don’t know because it’s a secret.

I can’t do a lot of compare/contrast stuff yet, since I’ve only played through one route, but I can definitely recommend playing Fate/Stay Night. It’s a good visual novel and definitely worth your time. Do yourself a favor, though, and don’t try to use the Studio DEEN TV series as a shortcut. Maybe use it as a litmus test for your interest in the Fate/Stay Night franchise, but otherwise it’s best to avoid it and just play the game.

I’d give Fate/Stay Night’s Fate route high marks, but it’s still not the best story I’ve ever read. Hopefully Unlimited Blade Works and Heaven’s Feel will be more interesting. I’ll probably do reviews of those as well when I finish them.

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.

Rambling + ef – a tale of memories + Air = Review Time!

I’m bored now, so I’m going to write a review of…uh, everything I’ve watched lately that isn’t NGE or TTGL. But, before that, I’m going to explain in great detail why I’m writing reviews of anime that most of you watched at least 2-3 years ago. You see, back two or three years ago, I had just obtained DSL. As in, I’d had it for under a year. Before that, I had what is quite possibly the slowest, shittiest internet service. Like, we started out calling the AOL people and bitching for more free dial-up, then when they told us to shut our damn mouths and to be glad we’d gotten two years of shitty free internet with a fuckload of porn ads that probably gave the computer downstairs 2109341+ undetectable viruses. So, me still being like…I don’t even remember how old I was, it was this long ago. But then we got this other internet, that was run through the internet. It was something…like, And it was horrible shit-there was a maximum hour usage of 40 HOURS A MONTH. And that shit wasn’t even free, we had to pay ten dollars for crappy 56k internet that never downloaded things past a speed of 8kb/s unless it was 3 AM at night. Not that I ever got to use it at 3 AM at night, because it was only on one computer and…yeah.

I think I might’ve been thirteen or fourteen at the time. I’m not even totally sure. And it wasn’t like I had cable TV or anything, I remember having to sneak off to the library with my behemoth of a laptop that had to have a special card and cord just to use the internet, because it was only to be used on special occasions or something. That was pretty awful. And then I think they went out of business, or wanted to charge more or something, so we stopped using them. It was probably the worst experience I’d had in a while, though…I remember trying to download the Majora’s Mask N64 ROM, since I’m not going to really lie about my vidya piracy when I was a young kid, and it took over three hours, and everyone was yelling at me to turn off the internet. But I got the actual game-maybe that’s why I was such a vidya nerd then, because back then was when it was still possible to emulate games on PCs before they all got ridiculous in terms of what you needed to power them. I dunno.
And then I had peoplePC. I hope they’re like, out of business now, but I’m not going to really complain as much about them, because I was able to use the internet whenever I wanted by going through some loophole in the software (but then an update fixed that, but after that I only had it for another month, so oh well.) That was when my mother decided she wanted to start going onto yahoo chatrooms though, so it was like a bloody war to decide who was able to use the computer and who wasn’t. And that wasn’t exactly fun, but that was when I finally just decided to try downloading anime at the library. But I had shit taste and was into MMOs at the time, so I was downloading stuff like Inuyasha or something, whenever I did. I didn’t often, because I was too busy playing that silly online game. If you’re playing Maplestory, I’d advise for you to quit, because I think my life got a million times better after I quit. I mean, I’m not exactly a friend-attracting normalfag now, nor will I ever be. But my taste in things got so much better, and I was able to actually do productive things rather than grinding infinite levels. That’s why I don’t like MMOs, even though you might feel like you have absolutely nothing better to do, after I’ve played an MMO I feel like I’ve done nothing, and I’ll play one for like three days in a row (I mean, I’ll sleep and eat and take breaks, but all my time’ll be devoted to that otherwise) and then I either get addicted or bored. But it’s not like the vidya where there might be an actual somewhat-meaningful storyline, it’s just LEVELAN and stuff for e-penis.
That being said, I’m not really against MMOs, I just think that playing them religiously to the point where you do nothing else is boring. That’s just my opinion, though, and it’s not like I’m the most social butterfly out there, I just don’t think MMOs are as rewarding as…a lot of things.
Since I’ve rambled on enough about the history of my internet, I think I should just jump into the reviews of the anime I’ve watched? Oh, but before you think that my interweb history has no relevance, I brought it up mostly because I think that the longer you go without exposure to the internet, the worse your taste will be. I mean, I didn’t like Bleach even then, and I don’t now, so I guess it doesn’t particularly matter, and it’s like a learning curve, in a way. But, if you still have 56k, I think it’d be a good idea to try and get DSL/Cable internet. I think the days of 56k are dead, but I’m not totally sure, because just because I don’t know anyone who has it doesn’t mean some old grandma out there doesn’t have it?
Oh, and for your information, this review isn’t about everything I watched, just whatever I feel like reviewing, whether it’s good or bad.
Now, for the first review, is.. ef – a tale of memories.
Now, my thought of this series was that it was pretty much…average. I didn’t hate it, I liked how SHAFT executed it, but…I’m not sure if the source material was super-fantastic to begin with. I’m not going to say it was bad, but it certainly didn’t exceed my expectations. A lot of people seem to really think this show is terrible and full of cliches, or, on the other hand, they absolutely love it, and think it’s the best thing ever. I don’t really think it’s that fabulous, though I certainly wouldn’t say that I hate it at all.
I think the main thing that can be said about this anime is that one of the characters in it sparked a dubious fansubbing group, at least for many. Except, that’s not the main thing at all, and that’s just some side knowledge. It was based off of an eroge, and I don’t really care who made it. There’s a translation project for it somewhere, and they released a starter patch, but I’m not totally sure if they plan on continuing. I think it was the Miyako route.
As for the actual characters, which I find more interesting than the actual plot of the anime, I -hated- Kei. I absolutely thought she was just annoying, over-possessive, and really bitchy to Miyako. This Miyako really can’t hold a candle to the superior Miyako, however, even though I certainly wouldn’t say I dislike her. And the mangaka guy, who I found so un-notable that there was pretty much nothing I could say about him, was another victim of that girl. Maybe I just don’t like Kei a lot because I knew a girl with a similar hairstyle, only her hair wasn’t purple, and she acted really similar. I don’t think that’s it, though. The thing I probably hated the most about Kei was how she was Chihiro’s sister, and yet, practically her only contact with her sister was through TEXT MESSAGES. Just because it was so painful for her to talk to her sister, because of the whole amnesia thing, which I thought was probably the dumbest part of the plot. (Yet, I don’t mind Chihiro as a character, I honestly thought she was pretty cute.
The thing that always bothers me about eroge adaptations is that nine times out of ten, the male characters are so dull that I forget their names a few days after watching the show. I realize, because I’ve -played- eroge, and enjoy playing them once in a while, that the reason for this is because you’re supposed to place yourself into the shoes of the main male character, which means I get to pretend to be a boy for a while. I wish there were more yuri eroge, those are really fun, because I don’t have to pretend to be the indistinct teenage boy. But, because of this, there’s very little actual personality allocated to the male characters in most eroge, because, in general, the more defined of a character an anime/manga/eroge character tends to be, the harder it is to put yourself in their shoes. That might work for eroge, where all of the focus is on the girls and you’re meant to form your own opinions about the nature of the main character, or you can make choices to decide what actions you’d take. But I don’t think it translates well into anime. That’s not to say that all of the male characters in anime based off of visual novels or eroge are bad, and I’m sure there’ve been some good executions of the main male character. (Aside from the way that Yuuichi in Kanon ’06 dressed, because he looked like a totally unfabulous hobo, I actually didn’t mind the way he was executed, because he at least came off as some sort of sarcastic bastard who just likes messing with people.) I’m sure there’re exceptions, but for the most part, I just feel that the main male protagonists in anime based off of eroge tend to be…very, very dull and completely forgettable.
That being said, I think that while the animation for -ef- was wonderful, the actual plot itself was a bit lackluster and offered very little towards my enjoyment of the series. An illness like Chihiro’s, despite the fact that it’s complete nonsense or some such equivalent, tends to be more amusing than it is good plot material. Also, I just came back to writing this and took a two-week break, so that’s really all I have to say. If you want eyeporn with plot that’s just generic and makes me laugh at some of the awkwardness and typical keyaids-esque ‘illnesses’, but still manages to be decent, at the very least, then just watch -ef- a tale of memories. I haven’t watched melodies, but I might not, no SHAFT.
I think, since I’m in the mood for it, I’ll review Air TV. To abruptly switch what I was talking about…
So…yeah. Of all of the works of Key I’ve seen adapted by Kyoto Animation, this one’s probably the weakest. I didn’t particularly like any of the main three girls, though at least I didn’t hate any of them. My favorite character in the show, though, is…
…Potato. Yes, that adorable dog that just looks so cute and like you want to hug him only you can’t, because it’s an anime character. He just totally loved everyone in the show and was an adorable doggie and was so cute with his little bark and–
I’ll spare you more of that. But that just goes to show how…oddly developed the show is. One of my main problems with the show is, upon seeing the recap episode, both Minagi and Kana get about a minute each to summarize their arc. Which…really kinda kills the emphasis and the events of what happened, and makes it seem more like “MISUZU MISUZU MISUZU”. Of which…I wasn’t a fan of Misuzu much at all. I’ll admit it, she was cute, but…Key really needs to stop making plots that revolve around these “LOL MYSTERIOUS ILLNESSES”. It’s like, it couldn’t hurt to actually do something that doesn’t revolve around one main character dying/disappearing? Even though I quite liked Kanon and Clannad, I just still find it simply strange. And, with the exception of making a plot setup so that Haruko could accept her role as Misuzu’s true mother, I didn’t like how it was executed.
But I think one of the worst plot executions would have to be Crow!Yukito. I understand that Air wasn’t a story based on reality, and I understand that there are a lot of supernatural happenings that don’t really get much of an explanation, but this is really just…over-the-top. There’s no explanation, besides the fact of “Oh, I’ll die if I get too close to you!111”, but then Yukito -doesn’t- die, but instead, he becomes a bird that follows around Misuzu, and has apparently been doing so ever since the beginning of the story. Did he learn to do the time warp, or something? I just really don’t get it.
And, furthermore, even -not- in Misuzu’s story arc, the other two arcs are just…too rushed, and I felt like I didn’t even get to know Minagi or Kana. And, as a result, I think that all three of the arcs kinda…suffered. I think that both of them could have been elaborated on much further and extended my understanding of them, but as it stands now, I find it difficult to care about Minagi’s mother’s neurosis.
But, what I really really liked about AIR was the summer arc. I understand that it’s supposed to give an explanation for the happenings to Misuzu and Yukito, and it was only one episode. But the overall feel of it, of the story that explained the happenings in the present, was quite well-done, I thought. I didn’t have anything particularly against any of the characters in the Summer Arc, and I thought that even the explanation of Kanna’s mother’s illness was decent enough (Key and their lack of explanation for illnesses simply baffles me, and I don’t understand how it underlines the plot in almost any case, but oh well). I haven’t seen Air in Summer yet, and apparently it elaborates on the arc…
In any case, Air is worth watching, and I’d reccomend it, because it’s well-done. But, be prepared for a lot of annoying nuances in the plot, and be prepared for a lot of people who think that it’s far better than it is. If you liked other Key works, you should be fine, and most people who read this review have probably not wanted to watch AIR or seen it by now, seeing as it was made in the Winter ’05 season, but it’s still a nice show to watch if you’re bored, want to watch something with an interesting conclusion, and have a few hours to kill.
Just be prepared for every character except Misuzu to get shafted.
Since I think this is enough for a post, I figure I’ll just leave it at where it is now. Um…I’m not sure that many of you care too much about my opinions on Air, though…
In any case, if you’d like to know the anime I’m watching this season, I’m currently watching K-ON!, Basquash!, Pandora Hearts, Saki, and Eden of the East. Next season, I’ll definitely be picking up ZSZS, Umineko, APH Season Two, and Aoi Hana. (I’ll also be looking into Bakemonogatari and CANAAN). So…next time I review, expect a review for one of these shows, or other things I felt like randomly watching. So, until next time?