Sunday, January 15, 2017

So VERY far behind!!!

Not only did I not post AT ALL in 2016, I actually watched almost no anime at all.  I had a commitment to my national professional association and it kept me traveling and busy the entire year.  I am so very far behind now.  I never even finished watching the second season of Owari no Seraph!

Other old series with second seasons that I've downloaded and not yet watched or finished watching include Akagami no Shirayukihime, D.Gray-man, Noragami, K, Durarara! and Fafner.  And now they're coming out with a second season of Ao no Exorcist and a fifth season of Natsume Yuujinchou.  

I've downloaded a ton of anime, and it's going to take me a bit of time to catch up on any of it.  So, this incredibly short post is just to let anyone reading this know that I'll be back.  Just gotta catch up on some watching first.  And maybe even try a new series or two.  

More soon.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Akagami no Shirayukihime

Akagami no Shirayukihime is basically a love story anime series which is adapted from a manga.  It occurs in a time and land where commoners live in various kingdoms which are ruled by Princes.   The story follows a particular girl named Shirayuki and a Prince named Zen.   Shirayuki is a girl with a gift for plants and healing, whose dream is to become an herbalist.  She seems to be the only person in her land with bright red hair, so she comes to the notice of the Prince of her kingdom, Raj, who decides to make her his concubine.  

Shirayuki cuts her hair short and runs away.  While fleeing she comes across Zen, an adventurous Prince of the neighboring kingdom.  Zen is accompanied by two people who are both his guardians/retainers and his friends, Kiki and Mitsuhide.  Raj sends poisoned apples to Shirayuki, thinking that she'll have to come to him for the antidote.  Zen is poisoned by one of the apples instead of Sihirayuki, and she goes to recover the antidote.  She and Zen manage to successfully get hold of the antidote from Raj and cure Zen, and Shirayuki decides to accompany Zen-tachi back to their kingdom to pursue her future.

In Zen’s kingdom, Shirayuki works to pass the herbalist entrance exam and become a court herbalist.  She succeeds in this and becomes friends with another young court herbalist named Ryuu.  She enjoys her training as an herbalist, her life in the castle, and her friendship with Zen, but she has an uphill battle for acceptance by others in the Court, including Zen’s older brother, the ruling Prince, Izana.   Being a commoner, most of the Court discourages her friendship with Zen.

The story here in this short anime series is basically a slice-of-court-life story.  Various obstacles are encountered and surmounted, by both Zen and Shirayuki.   For example a man named Obi is hired to frighten Shirayuki away from Zen, and instead he becomes Zen’s retainer and Shirayuki’s guard.   On another occasion, Shirayuki goes with Zen-tachi to another town and discovers that the outbreak of disease in the guards in the castle there is not accidental but is being caused deliberately.  She successfully figures out the disease and cause while she’s treating the sick soldiers and then finds a cure for them.   Several story arcs demonstrate her herbalist skills.
Both Shirayuki and Zen mature and learn during the series, and as the series goes along they finally realize they love each other.  The series ends without really exploring how that will work between the Prince and commoner, but it ends with them happily continuing on their daily lives, knowing they love each other.  Another season is planned so perhaps they’ll go into this more.

I enjoyed this series even though it was really predictable.  The anime style is nice and the character interactions are fun enough to watch to keep me watching.  There’s no seriously deep meaning or conflicts or tragedy, just a nice handling of everyday difficulties by some mostly likable characters.  I imagine I’ll watch the second season if they have one.   

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Knights of Sidonia - Season 2

Knights of Sidonia second season picked up pretty much where the first season left off.  In this current season Nagate is still the main character and is Sidonia’s premier warrior.  Izana is still his best friend, but that begins to change and Izana changes from a hermaphrodite into a female as her feelings for Nagate grow.  The original season story can be found in my post about season 1  
Early in the season, Captain Kobayashi’s actions are questioned by the Immortal Council running the ship, and when they decide to get rid of her, she stages a coup, helped by the renegade scientist Ochiai, and kills the entire Immortal Council.  This gives her free rein to run Sidonia in any fashion she chooses, and Ochiai works with Kunato Industries to continue developing Gauna hybrids.   Ochiai is essentially the series bad guy.  He should have been executed for directly causing Sidonia almost to be lost back in the Fourth Defensive War, but because part of Sidonia’s computers and memory systems could only be accessed through his brain, he was kept alive.  His clone is working with Kobayashi.

Hoshijiro’s gauna form that was brought back to the Sidonia by Nagate after her death is taken by Kunato and impregnated with human DNA in order to create Tsumugi, a gauna-human hybrid that has the shape of a young woman in a dress and is the size of a mecha.  Tsumugi can be ridden like a mecha and is an expert at fighting gauna, rivaling or exceeding Nagate’s abilities.  Her personality is child-like and sincere and she develops feelings for Nagate.   Nagate for his part, likes her and accepts Tsumugi's affection even though she's not human.  In addition, although Tsumugi is huge, she can interact at a human-sized level by extruding a tentacle that the show’s producers managed to make amazingly expressive and cute despite being alien.   Tsumugi, Nagate and Izana quickly become friends.

In this season, Izana is almost killed in battle and loses an arm and leg which are replaced by prosthetic ones which give her special abilities.  Izana and Nagate decide to share quarters and find housing in some of Sidonia’s nice older dwellings.  Midorikawa moves in with them when she find out, as she is also attracted to Nagate.  Tsumugi’s tentacle can reach the dwelling also, through Sidonia’s ventilation system, so the series becomes somewhat of a harem series at times, and it's fun to watch almost always. 

Captain Kobayashi’s plan is to attack and take a planet called planet 9, ostensibly in order to set Sidonia up for an effort to completely destroy gauna.  To do so, she falls in with Ochiai's plans to use gauna as weapons.  The last several episodes of this season are battles to take planet 9.  Izana goes out with a reconnaissance squad as Sidonia approaches the planet, and the squad is essentially destroyed when Hoshijiro’s other gauna form (the red battle form) shows up again and takes everyone out.  

Tsumugi and Nagate come to the rescue.  Tsumugi is better than the Hoshijiro gauna and bests it, but then is taken by surprise and most of her life force is absorbed by the gauna.  She is then rescued by Nagate after he rescues Izana and another pilot.   So they win the battle for planet 9.

This season didn’t disappoint me and I find myself hoping they will do another one.   Besides the unique universe they created for the series and how much I like the character style, the interactions between the characters are really good and lots of fun to watch.  They take the time to develop the relationships, between Nagate and Izana, as well as with Tsumugi and Midorikawa.  It’s just a really good series that’s creeping up toward my all time favorites list.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Owari no Seraph

Owari no Seraph is a really pretty anime with great character design that’s based on a manga.  So far it’s also fairly predictable, plot-wise.  Despite that, I watched the first season and will pick it back up when they bring out the next season.  And not just because I’m something of a vampire fan.

The premise here is that a human-created virus got loose and catastrophically decimated all of the human population over 13 years old.  Vampires have taken over much of the world and keep human children “safe”, using them as food in return for their “protection”.  The story centers around two of those human children, Yuuichirou (Yu) and Mikaela (Mika).   With several other children they consider “family”, these two boys attempt to escape the vampires.   All of them but Yu are killed by one specific vampire.  Mika sacrifices himself so that Yu can escape.  Yu does escape and discovers that humans are still around and are fighting the vampires for control of the world.  Yu vows to destroy all vampires who held and then destroyed his “family”.

Most of the first season is Yuuichirou learning to fight and learning to get along with other humans.  The other main characters are introduced, including the captain of the Moon Demon Company, Guren.  Yu’s classmates and fellow vampire fighters are also introduced, including the girl who helps Yu cope among the humans, Shinoa.    Yu-tachi aspire to fight as members of the Moon Demon Company, and train toward that goal.  They learn to work together and all of them gain demon-weapons during training.  These are weapons powered by demons, that must be controlled be the wielder.

It turns out that during this time that Yu has been growing up, so has Mika.  Mika wasn’t killed, but was turned into a vampire by the vampire Queen and has become her aid.  Despite his human beginnings, Mika has sided with the vampires.  This has got to be a plot device because it’s hard to imagine him siding with the vampires who killed his “family”, but he also blames the humans for the original destruction of everyone’s way of life and seems to believe that the vampires are better equipped to rule the world.  So of course, Yu and Mika care for each other, and are on opposite sides of the conflict. 

They discover this fact during a raid/battle between the human and vampire forces.  They find out that each other is alive when Yu stabs Mika, and then both try to “save” the other.  During the battle, as Yu’s friends are out-numbered and getting beat, he loses control and becomes a monster and begins killing everyone/everything around him.  It turns out Yu is himself a weapon of sorts, with demon-based powers even his own demon weapon is afraid of.  Both humans and vampires retreat from his monster presence.  Guren tells Shinoa that she can stop Yu from his rampage, and she does manage to bring him back to himself.   The first season ends with a break as Yu recovers and apologizes to his friends for his loss of control.

 All this with Yu and Mika happens late in the series first season, so the first season is kind of setting the stage for the future.  Both Yu and Mika are alive, and on opposite sides of the conflict.   It will be interesting to see if one or the other convinces the other to their perspective, and one of them switches sides.   Or if the next season will be all cross-purpose battles.  Or if they’ll eventually decide they must all work together.   That last option is probably the least likely because there’s really very little common ground between the two groups. There are also hints along the way that Yuuichirou and Mikaela are “special” – meaning their physiology has been messed with from early on.  Yu already demonstrated that with his demon powers.  It will be interesting to see where this all goes in the next season, and whether Yu can control his power. 

Long gap aplogies

“Long gap” is putting it mildly.  I haven’t posted since late June and here it is the end of September.  Life gets in the way sometimes, and that probably will not get better.  I’m traveling a lot for my job and professional work, so this poor blog falls by the wayside.  In fact, anime-watching has been falling by the wayside.  Despite that, I enjoy anime too much to stop watching, and so slowly but surely I’ll finish series and then blog about them.  Hopefully I won’t have many more 3 month gaps in posting to this blog.

I began this blog in April of 2009 because I enjoy “talking” about the anime I watch.  Since then I’ve posted 162 times to this blog – averaging 27 posts per year or just over 2 a month.  Not great, but not too shabby either.  So now, I’ll try to get back to posting at least that often. 

Stay tuned . . .  

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Spring Season 2015 - new and finished serieso

I’m struggling a bit for something to write about because I haven’t been too impressed with anything I’ve been watching lately, and am a little behind in getting into the series that started in April.  So this post will cover the series I just finished and the new ones I’m beginning.  First the finished series – which are all second seasons of previously watched series.

I watched season 2 of Kamisama Hajimemashite (Kamisama Kiss).  I expected to like this series since I liked the first season, and it didn’t disappoint me.  The really nice thing about the second season is that Nanami is no longer the totally helpless human god-wannabe.  She gains powers and strength and begins not only fending for herself but also looking after other people.  She still is a little quick to rush into things but overall does well.  The thing I didn’t like about this second season - Nanami’s and Tomoe’s relationship, which was going so well at the end of the first season, is relatively non-existent by the end of the second season.  That’s kind of unsatisfying.  But maybe they’re setting the stage for a third season.

And speaking of stage-setting, another returning series I watched was the second season or Durarara!  This season brought in all the old gang with Celty and her doctor lover, Masaomi, Ryuugamine, Anri, Shizuo and Izaya, and all the minor characters, and then introduced an enormous cast of new characters.  So basically the 13 episode season was entirely spent on introducing all the new people, involving them in the plot and positioning everyone for another new season.  At the end of this season, Izaya, who was the master-manipulator in the original series, discovers that he’s being manipulated himself.  That of course sets the stage for a continuation in another season.

I also watched the second seasons of Aldnoah Zero and Soukyou no Fafner, but I’ll save them for perhaps their own posts.

The new series I picked up in April include one second season and that’s Knights of Sidonia.  I really enjoyed the original series, so I’m also really enjoying the second season.  This is a short series, the first season being 12 episodes and the second only 11 episodes, but they manage to cover a lot of ground.   This is another one I’ll hold off posting much about, so I can do its own post later.

Another series I picked up in April is Owari no Seraph.  This is a vampire series so of course I’m enjoying it.  It occurs in a world where vampires have taken over much of the world and are raising humans for food.  Those humans who have escaped them and/or live outside their jurisdiction are fighting to destroy them as well as of course the vampires fighting to destroy any humans not docilely living as food.  Lots of elements of this series are a little predictable, like its two main characters and best friends ending up on opposite sides of the human-vampire war, due to one of them being changed into a vampire, but overall it’s fun to watch so I’ll keep watching it.   

And the last one I’ll write about today is Kekkai Sensen (Blood Blockade Battlefront).  This series is set in a future world where monsters-aliens-demons co-exist with humans in a city within a barrier that they have co-opted, called Hellsalem’s Lot.   The monsters are policed as much as possible by a gang of super-human fighters called Libra.  The main character is a boy named Leonardo Watch, who comes to the city to join Libra.  He has eyes that are “All Seeing Eyes” allowing him to see things not visible to normal humans.  This is a kind of freaky, really out there series, that I’m watching because it’s fun, and because I haven’t figured out everything that’s going on yet.  I’m thinking there’s a bunch of back story, under-lying plot that will be revealed along the way.  So it’s keeping me entertained and interested so far.   Hopefully that will continue.

So that’s it for today.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Death Parade

Death Parade is a unique series.  The basic premise is that when people die, they are transported two at a time by elevators to a bar, where they play a game against each other with their lives at stake.  The people don't remember their pasts or their deaths, so they think they are playing with their lives at stake.  The choice of game is decided by a roulette spin, so many different games are played during the series.  The fact that the participants’ lives are at stake brings out all the hidden intentions and flaws in their personalities.  The bartenders judge them based on their responses to the extreme games, and then one participant goes to hell (the endless void and becomes nothing) and the other participant goes to heaven (is reincarnated back into the world).  The bartenders refer to themselves as arbiters, and they have no human feelings or emotions, being essentially puppet judges.

The story follows a few of the different bartenders, most specifically Decim, the tender of the bar “Quindecim”.   Decim is new to his arbiter position and just learning it.  Assisting Decim in his work is a black-haired human woman named Chiyuki, although she doesn’t remember her name or past until very late in the series.  Besides assisting Decim, Chiyuki is learning how the arbiters judge humans by observing Decim, and seems to be there because Decim could not judge her.
The person in charge of Decim and several other arbiters is a senior arbiter named Nona who looks like a little girl.  And the being in charge of the entire afterlife system is an old man figure, or alleged god, named Oculus.  Oculus spends his time playing galactic pool and keeping an eye on the system.  The background story that you pick up as the series progresses is that Nona has decided that the arbiters need human feelings and emotions in order to judge humans.  Oculus is completely against this, stating that arbiters must be non-feeling puppets.  

So Nona has been secretly creating her arbiter puppets with the ability to have human feelings, including Decim and Ginti (another arbiter in another bar).  Oculus doesn't know, but Nona talks about it to other senior arbiters, including one named Quin, who was the original arbiter in Quindecim before Decim came along and now runs the afterlife information bureau, supplying people’s memories to the arbiters.  Nona is also responsible for Chiyuki being present with Decim in his bar.

As the human feelings and emotions take hold in Decim and Ginti, they start having difficulty making judgments, as they begin understanding human foibles and feeling human emotions.  Chiyuki exacerbates this in Decim, by herself judging on the basis of her own human feelings and emotions, and questioning his judgments.
Eventually Oculus discovers Nona’s plans, but then he tells her to go ahead because it won’t make any difference.  Decim struggles with judging Chiyuki until the very end, but he must judge her because being a dead human she cannot survive forever in the afterlife setting.  The arbiters can survive because they’re non-human puppets.   Decim gains enough human emotions to understand Chiyuki in the end and to send her to be reincarnated, even though it turns out she killed herself in life.  So the series leaves you feeling that even though gaining human emotions may make judging harder, it probably makes the arbiters better judges, and that Nona will continue with her experiments.

I wasn’t sure about this series at first, mainly because the first couple of episodes I totally disagreed with who went to heaven and who went to hell.   But I stuck, and began to realize the back story and what was taking place.  Overall, I liked the series a lot, and the OP is awesome.  Even though it started out confusing, I recommend it.