Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Again, I haven't had much time for watching anime, so I'll fall back on posting about an older series I watched some time ago.

Durarara!! is quite a unique series.  On the surface it's the story of a boy named Ryuugamine who comes to Tokyo and goes to school.  It follows his interactions with his best friend Kida, who has been in Tokyo for awhile, and the girl Ryuugamine likes, Anri.  So ostensibly, the plot is about the three friends shown in this picture.  The subplots in the series are myriad though, and it did take me awhile to figure out what was going on beyond the friend story.  Which of course is one of the things I like in a series.

Besides the three friends, one of the main characters is the series is a headless horsewoman named Celty.  Celty is a durahan, a type of supernatural, Irish fairy-type creature who has lost her head and rides around on her horse searching for it.   In the modern era, Celty's horse takes the form of a big black motorcycle, and she wears a motorcycle helmet with cat ears so she doesn't look headless.  Celty is loved by and lives with a very wacko doctor named Shinra.  Celty is shown in the background of the first picture and Celty and Shinra are in the picture below.

Two other characters of note in the series are Shizuo and Izaya.  These two guys hate each other and attempt to kill each other whenever they come into proximity.  Izaya is an underworld plotter with his fingers in everything, and Shizuo is an immensely strong bouncer, who is generally good-natured but when he loses his temper, his destructive abilities are impressive.

So those are the main characters.  As it turns out, each of the three friends is the leader of a gang, unbeknownst to each other.  Ryuugamine leads a group known as the Dollars, Kida leads a group known as the Yellow Scarves, and Anri can pull a sword from her own body and commands a group of red-eyed followers who are under her control.  Under the machinations of Izaya, a gang war gets started, which each of the three tries to stop or control in their own way.  Celty helps them variously with this effort.  Shizuo wanders into and out of the battles, mostly just by virtue of being in the wrong place at the right time.

The story delves somewhat into the background of the main characters and develops them as the plot goes along.  The story ends up being incredibly satisfying, although I did find myself wishing Shizuo would take Izaya out.  Besides a good story line the series has great random moments that make you laugh and keep you interested.  Several of these are related to an otaku girl's comments about other anime series.  On top of that nobody dies - a definite plus.  The series is overall well put together and fun to watch.  I highly recommend it. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Scrapped Princess

Let's see if I can get a blog post in while waiting for the tilers to finish my floors.  Once again, this is a review of an older series.

Today I decided to talk about Scrapped Princess.   I really like this series.  The story is about a young girl named Pacifica Casull.  Pacifica was born a princess and a twin of the country's prince, however, at the time of her birth there was a prophecy that if she lived, on her 16th birthday she would destroy the world.   Thus her mother was imprisoned and sh e herself was 'scrapped', thrown away to die. 

Pacifica was rescued and raised by a former priestess and her husband.  At the time of the story, she is 15 years old, approaching her 16th birthday and is traveling with her adopted brother and sister, Shannon and Raquel.  Shannon is a warrior and Raquel is a weapons-grade magician, and they protect Pacifica  - essentially from the whole world - as they travel.  

Pacifica, Shannon and Raquel travel by covered wagon, and later on foot, through their rural, feudal world.   Along the way they meet people who become their friends, people ordered to kill Pacifica, and eventually they run across automated systems - both systems trying to kill Pacifica and systems trying to protect her.  It becomes clear that the society wasn't always feudal-level.

The official religion of the country is behind the prophecy about Pacifica, and they are the most adamant about destroying her.  The church is headed up by demi-gods who work hard to finish Pacifica off.  They appear human-seeming when interacting with humans, but they can transform into massive flying weapons who can both control peoples thoughts and actions and destroy whole populations.  Pacifica is inimical to them because she has the ability to break their control over people.  They cannot harm her directly, but must control or convince people to do so.  

In the process of protecting Pacifica, Shannon comes into contact with a system that takes the form of a small girl child, named Zephyris.  Zephyris has the power to transform Shannon into a fighting dragon, considerable leveling the playing field against the flying destructive forces of the religious figures.  Zephyris takes Shannon as her master so he can better fight to protect Pacifica.

Multiple people help the trio along the way, including Christopher, a warrior and friend of the crown prince, who decides on his own that Pacifica should live.  Since he leads a special ops group, his help is not insubstantial.  Another character who helps Pacifica is a young man named Fulle.  At one point in the story after the an attack by the enemy, Pacifica is separated from Shannon and Raquel and loses her memory.  Fulle takes her in and protects her at the cost of his own life.

In the end, this story is about whether a gilded cage is still a cage or not.  Basically in the far distant past, humans were battling a galactic civilization.  At a critical juncture, the aliens met with one of the human leaders and they made a deal.  Humans would be allowed to survive as long as the aliens could place them under house arrest on their planet, with systems in place to insure humans never left their planet.  Those "systems" took the form of a religion that had the capability to "reset" the human population.  At any time the humans began to learn too much or become too advanced, they were decimated by the system, back to the feudal age.  The human leader took the bargain in order that humans might survive.

Pacifica was born with the ability to counteract the alien system, and at the critical moment, when the system has decided it's time for a reset and has begun destroying everyone, Pacifica meets the computer-generated image of the leader who betrayed the humans originally to save them.  Pacifica must then make essentially the same decision: to keep humans safe but prisoners on their own planet, or to decide whether to destroy the system and set humans free to grow.  Pacifica chooses freedom.

The story line is quite well done in this series.  It's pretty tense at multiple places, but it ends well.  Plus most of the cast survive.  My single biggest complaint about the series is Fulle's death.  It was very much a token death, as if they couldn't do the series without killing off at least one character, which I hate!  Other than that, the ending is very satisfying, although right up until the last episode I was convinced it wouldn't be.  The characters and style are great and the interactions between them are good.  The music is wonderful.  Overall, I would call this a 'yes, watch' series.