Avatar: The Legend of Korra Season 1

I know it’s not anime but whatever, I wanna talk about this piece of awesomeness.

Honestly, western cartoons have a knack of totally not catering to my preferences. Of course I watch cartoons ever since I was a kid but the stuff that I’ve always wanted to watch appeared in anime. Stuff liked actual characterization, a plot and those things. . . I actually want that to come out of cartoons. Not that I don’t appreciate the ones that don’t. I love very intellectual, smart, funny, sitcom cartoons likes The Simpsons and Family Guy as much as other people. Heck even Disney Channel, Cartoon Network and Niceklodeon have this with “Adventure Time”, “Phineas and Ferb”, “Spongebob” etc etc. But I guess in a sense, I wanted to see a cartoon, with a proper story, plot, characters and shit. This is when Avatar steps in.

Avatar: The Legend of Aang answered is the gap that what was lacking in my western cartoon life. It had everything I wanted from a story. A great plot structure build upon many different episodics, compelling characters that you get attached to more and more as the episode count rises, and an actual use of visuals with an amazing input in animation. This is what I wanted from western cartoons and The Legend of Aang gave this to me and more. So imagine the look of my face when they announced The Legend of Korra, the technically sequel to the original Avatar. It promised a more darker tone in plot, a more steampunk world in setting and a more mature set of characters. It had a lot of hype with it. But the big question would be, did it deliver in it’s promise? Well I loved it but not to the extent that I thought I would.

The Legend of Korra has an amazing plot that really doesn’t leave time for a breathing space. In each episode, the plot gets thicker and thicker as the problems of Republic city becomes bigger and stakes become higher. While Aang’s story had a lot better structure in it, Korra makes up for it through . . . well the awesomeness of the story itself. I honestly liked all the plot revelations even with the wonky pacing. It really delivered in this sense.

What Korra unfortunately suffers from is a lack of character depth. Korra is definitely a good character, I’ll give you that. She’s whiny and annoying but the way her character is built up is really really good. Her strengths and weaknesses are very much highlighted in the course of the series and you could actually see a change in her towards the season finale. The other characters though, I don’t like as much, MAINLY KORRA’S FRIENDS. My god these people are so One-dimensional. They never break their archetypes and actually become characters. I don’t hate them but I don’t particularly care about them. This really hurts the series because The Legend of Aang had an amazing cast, and when I say amazing, I mean AMAZING. Korra, because of the lack of time and with the really huge plot and all, didn’t have much time for this. Don’t even get me started with the romantic yadda yadda which was cute at first but became incredibly dull. In the end, a lot of the characters in Korra felt like they were made by fan fiction writers or something.

On a more positive note, Korra had amazing animation. And when I say Amazing, again I really mean AMAZING. It was like The Legend of Aang Season 2 times 100. The fighting choreography is really awesome and detailed (even anime can hardly top this) and the CGI for the steampunk setting actually fitted really well (very reminiscent to ufotable’s works). And like The Legend of Aang, Korra has a fantastic setting. Republic City is fleshed out amazingly because of this.

While the ending was a bit too happy for me, remember we are only HALFWAY through the story. There still a lot more to come and in addition to that, a lot more plot points that have not been revealed (Iroh’s character in general since he is related to Zuko I assume) and I’m really pumped up for the second season whenever that comes.

Fate/Zero (END) – 92 points

Fate/Zero has been the biggest and most popular show that has graced us this season and last fall. And with good reason too, since this was ufotable’s comeback to the TV screen after the success of Kara no Kyoukai in the movies. Everything was laid out to us: Amazing execution, Movie-like animation, and a point that the Fate franchise can actually be adapted decently (though Fate/Zero is a Light Novel and doesn’t have 30+ hours of game time). In all honesty, I just wanted to watch this to see Saber in a much, MUCH more justified form.

The question with all the hype of this series is definitely this: Did it deliver? Yes. YES IT DID WITH FLYING COLORS. Fate/Zero gave us a much darker tale than Fate/Stay Night with amazing character analysis, kudos to the writer Gen Urobuchi. It tackles different philosophies like what does it really mean to be a hero or how does someone actually rule. It gave us different opinions and ideologies while never actually adhering or favoring one or the other.

I think the turning point of this series was definitely the meeting of kings, halfway through Fate/Zero. I have to admit, even my concept of a what a ruler is was shaken because of Rider’s speech to Saber. I’ve always thought of a king as someone who serves but Rider showed us a different opinion on what a king is and made all of those who watched this, be convinced. Saber then was portrayed in a completely different light afterwards. From someone that has the skies shining on her armor, she became someone to be pitied. It became pure despair to her even up until the end where she herself accepted that she was wrong. I love how one of the last shots of her in the last episode was her standing in a pile of bodies, in the land that she could not save.

My favorite Servent-Master in this series is undoubtedly Rider and Waver. Many times in this series, I just wished that these two were the main characters and for a very good reason. These two were the light and hope in the dark atmosphere of this anime. Rider and Waver showed a contrast in the Servant-Master relationship and how it doesn’t have to be one controlling the other. Both showed respect to each other and treated each other as friends. I particularly liked how Rider’s ending, though very sad and depressing, was very honourable and true to what these two embodied in the series.

Kiritsugu is also another character I liked. His ideologies are twisted and we all knew that he was gonna break down his facade towards the end because of how human he is despite being so cold in the entirety of this series. He was someone who tried to be a hero but failed drastically even towards the end, with how the grail ended up killing a whole lot of people.

If I had a complaint in this series, it would be the lack of a catharsis. I guess in however awesome Fate/Zero is, it’s still a prequel to Fate/Stay Night. If you take the series as its own, characters like Saber never really got the proper end that she deserved. She’s still foolish on how hopeful she still is on having the grail while never really realizing while Kiritsugu ended up ordering her to destroy it. But of course all the loose ends of this series are answered in Fate/Stay Night but the thing is, I hated Fate/Stay Night and I will definitely never watch that crap again. Fate/Zero is amazing but it could have been much much more if it wasn’t a prequel (not that I’m hoping that they ended it differently).

This will definitely end as one of my favorites this year but to what extent, I still don’t know. For now this is how I’ll rate this series:

Execution: 37/40 (Damn fine amazing storytelling; almost in the sense as how Madoka did it.)

Engagement: 27/30 (While the first few episodes were very slow and wavered my patience, this ended up as one of the series I looked forward to each week and that 3 month hiatus almost killed me)

Characters: 18/20 (Very rich and diverse cast of adults with so much different philosophies, beliefs and ideologies. I definitely preferred some over others but that’s because those character’s way of thinking hitted my way of thinking. This is how Fate/Zero  works. Also Rider is awesome.

Production: 10/10 (Movie-like quality.)

Overall: 92/100 (One of 2012’s best anime)

Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji

Searching for a good Shoujo manga is hard. You will always get fooled by premises that sound unique and with potential for great romantic development but most of this premises are completely gone after 3 chapters in order to give way to “generic shoujo route of falling in love”. What I love about Shoujo manga though is that there will always be a handful of series that do not go in this route and actually both fulfill its premise while keeping up with the romantic department. Kimi ni Todoke played with purity in its most absolute value; Dengeki Daisy played on with a “Depressingly hopeful premise” even after 40+ chapters; Tonari no Kaibutsu Kun never forget that grades are very important to Mitty because she’s a nerd; Ao Haru Ride never forgot the important details to the main characters relationship.

After reading Ao Haru Ride recently, I tried to find similar manga that would give me a fresh take on usual cliches and it really took me awhile to find this manga. Really, the number of atrocious Shoujo manga really reaches critical mass. Strobe Edge, LD-K, Sukitte Ii Na Yo. . . OH MY GOD THEY ARE SO GENERIC AND TERRIBLE. I would like to particularly mention LD-K and how it made me vomit on how offensive it was. Anyway, I eventually stumble upon this series, Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji or “Wolf Girl and Dark Prince” in english. After going through those dungpiles, this really was a goldmine.

Ookami Shoujo started out wonderfully. Of course I had my doubts (I still have that premise fooling mindset) but what I saw in the first three chapters was amazing. It was a full-on insult to the Generic Shoujo manga territory. Guys were presented as assholes who treat their girlfriends as pets while girls were just dumbfuck stupid and shallow. The thing is, this is how most Generic Shoujo manga are. In Ookami Shoujo, or at least the first three chapters, I loved how they went on with that mindset like nothing was wrong while actually being aware that these people are horrible.

Interestingly though, Ookami Shoujo then turned into a real relationship drama which in turn made this series more down to earth though it did become slightly generic. The main character, Erika, kept on trying to bring this series into the usual generic shoujo route by forcing her pretend boyfriend Sata Kyouya to “go have a nice Christmas date” or “eat my Valentine’s chocolate” but Kyouya will always have a way of insulting her ideas. Which leads me to my most fucking favorite character of this series who I will probably add to my MAL favorite characters soon.

Sata Kyouya is a damn fine, well written character. He’s an asshole, like most bishies are supposed to be, but with actual awareness on how horrible he is. One thing that impressed me with this series that it has really witty writing and most of these are poured in to Kyouya’s dialogue. I still remember one of the things he said in one chapter: “These people aren’t in love with each other. They’re just in love with romance”. That is a fucking genius yet true thing to say. He trolls on Erika to the point of making her cry almost every other chapter and their relationship is fucking terrible AND I LOVE IT.

One of his most asshole-ish thing he’s done was telling Erika that he likes her then proceeding to tell her that “LOL that was a joke”. Erika, being someone who wants things to go generic, really thought it was true even though you can see how out of character the confession was. This proceeded to Erika telling him to die and pouring him with water. How did Kyouya fix this problem? He gave her a necklace and told her “Now you have a collar and you’re mine”. And that in itself won her back to him.

Sata Kyouya is like a horribly gone wrong Bishie mixed with a male-Beatrice mixed with a Senjougahara typed mouth. He’s a cool guy and if I were a girl, my ovaries would explode (oh god what?). The switch of focus in this series really made him shine (and still shining) and I’m just glad that I picked up this series.

There’s a lot of more awesome moments in this series that I didn’t mention and really READ THIS MANGA. There’s only 12 chapters translated so far and actually like Ao Haru Ride, this is a relatively new manga (started 2011). It’ll be easy to catch up so go on read this.

*Also just a request, if you’ve read a relatively new awesome shoujo manga, then please go ahead and suggest it to me because I am itching right now to find a new one.

A bang or a whimper? The End of Spring 2012

Spring 2012 has been hailed by almost everyone in the anime blogging community as one of the best in recent years. Stuff like Sakamichi no Apollon and Fate/Zero managed to catch the hearts of both elitists and casual viewers alike. But things doesn’t look like it’ll end as memorable too (or at least for me and the shows I really like this season).

Sakamichi no Apollon – 60% Chance of BANG 

Sakamichi no Apollon is on a steady state of depressing, usually present in most high school anime. It’s not exactly the most exciting to watch and the whole “jazz” theme is almost forgotten. I really fear that this will end like how most Noitamina anime will which is nothing special, slightly rushed and almost impair the anime of being a memorable one. Still this series has proved that pacing is NOT one of its problems, so I really want to cross my fingers for a satisfying ending.

Mysterious Girlfriend X – 60% Chance of whimper

Honestly, this series is the season’s prime and glory for me. These last few episodes though were sorta frustrating in a sense. One episode, they reintroduced a character which they almost turned into a rival of sorts while on the next, a screw went loose and the series forgot part of its character. I’ve been all roses and praises for this series but I can’t believe it’s not pulling as well as it should in its last few episodes and these last episodes are the most important ones. This series has made quite a mark on me already (a big deep hickey) but the ending will really determine exactly how deep it did.

Fate/Zero – 100% chance of WHY THE HELL DID YOU KILL RIDER!?!?!

Fate/Zero will probably have the best ending this season but I’ll definitely make it a point not to smile since THEY EFFING KILLED RIDER. We all knew this was going to happen but it still pains my heart every time I remember our Broskander come close to Gilgamesh while swords slash through his body. Why F/Z Why!?!?!?

Sankarea – 80% Chance of “Hey this might actually end well”

I was pleasantly surprised with Episode 10 and how it actually managed to reintroduced Rea’s father in a different light while not justifying his sickening love for Rea. That whole episode was pure glory and I also liked how this marked as a start of finale of sorts. While I’m wondering how the hell will this end, somehow this episode reassured me that it will end awesome.

Saki-Achiga: 80% Chance of “Wow I’m really pumped for this”

Achiga-hen rubbed me wrong from the start with dull main characters and buildup that goes nowhere but damn these recent episodes were amazing as hell. The superpowered, crazy, slightly cheating techniques finally came back as well as great flashbacks. Yes Achiga-hen, this is how the original used to do it. I’m also pumped that his has 5 more episodes left so this will really determine the fate of the ultimate Saki final.


Anime and haircutting

I’m too prim and proper and nice! I need to cut my hair and ruin my life!

I’ve seen quite a lot of this as of late and it’s really interesting how its used in anime (it’s not really limited to anime but whatever).

Our resident Oujo-sama from Sakamichi no Apollon proves her so called “rebelliousness” by cutting her hair. Why? The most probable answer is it symbolizes a sense of freedom but why exactly so?

When you go to a barber shop and cut your hair (especially if it’s really long already), you realize that there’s this tingling sensation in the back of your neck. It feels nice. It feels refreshing. In a sense, cutting your hair relaxes and relieves you. It sorta soothes you and tells you “hey I’ve changed”. Most anime characters that have done this must have felt that way. Let’s enumerate those characters shall we:

1. The bitchy new girl from Mysterious Girlfriend X who just broke up with her boyfriend

2. Senjougahara Hitagi from Nisemonogatari

3. Araragi Karen from Bakemonogatari

4. Emo angst Natsuki from Tsuritama who FINALLY lightened up a bit.

5. Mio from Ano Natsu de Matteru

All 5 of this characters have been keeping something heavy and wanted to have a new start. They wanted their napes to be tickled. They wanted to be slightly turned on after the recent events in their lives.

*Couldn’t think much on what to write this week so I wrote this garbage. hahahaha

CHIHAYAFURU SEASON 2 CONFIRMED

From ANN

More hyperventilation. KYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

Ao Haru Ride

I came across this title while I was surfing at a certain forum to look for decent shoujo manga. I haven’t really read any good ones since Tonari no Kaibutsu-Kun (that was like a year ago) so imagine the smile on my face when I was finally able to read something decent and not so generic shoujo manga for once.

If I talk about the story, it would either sound like a terribly generic premise or a booohoohoo dorama so I won’t talk about that. And yes I do think the premise is slightly crappy (two lovers separated when they were young blablabla) but what drives this manga is both execution and emotion. And honestly when it comes to any entertainment, these two are the most vital parts.

I think it’s quite a feat. that I geniunely care for a story with “long lost lovers finally reuniting” as it’s theme. The way the author managed to execute  such a story with such refinement amazes me. Maybe it helps that both characters were pretty “normal” (the emphasis on “cool guy” or “bishie” is toned down) in the beginning of the story and I didn’t have to roll my eyes as much.

The story then turned into a “I will be the one to change this bad boy into a good kid” type of story. I thought it would fall to pieces. I thought “oh god it’s turning into generic crap” when the first few chapters started. But then the author did her magic again and it turned such story into a very emotional character arc. I think I let up a tear in one scene. The author is pretty good at drawing out emotions and again the sense of refinement prevailed yet again. It didn’t turn into a “Boohoo HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY UNDERSTAND MY PREDICAMENT” type of melodrama but one where you really sympathize with the character.

Now 16 chapters in, I must say, this manga is REALLY REALLY REALLY good. EVERYONE GO READ AO HARU RIDE.