Friday, December 27, 2013

Kyoukai no Kanata

I just finished watching Kyoukai no Kanata, so decided to talk about it in my last post of 2013.

Kyoukai no Kanata is an excellent series.  It’s a short, 12-episode series that is one of those that I really wish they had made longer.  It’s so much fun to watch - great plot, great character and animation style, great music, great interactions among the characters - that it’s really a shame that they only made it 12 episodes.

This series is about two high school students, Kanbara Akihito and Kuriyama Mirai.  Akihito is a boy who is a half human / half youmu (demon) and who also happens to be immortal.  Mirai is a girl who is the last survivor of a powerful clan of Spirit Warriors whose power is in their blood, which they can form into solid objects like a sword, and whose main goal in life is to destroy youmu.   The series starts out with Akihito thinking Mirai is going to jump off the school roof.  He races to stop her and  . . . Mirai does a back flip and stabs him through the chest.  So just as you’re expecting to settle in to a nice, slice of life, high school love story, this series begins as a very different, blood-sword-through-the-chest, right from the start, before you’re even aware of any of the background. 

The basic premise of the world the series is set in is that youmu are hunted down and defeated by Spirit Warriors.  Any defeated youmu becomes a gem-studded stone, which can be taken to a special shop and turned in for money.  Thus Spirit Warriors not only rid the world of bad youmu, they also can get paid for their efforts.  Akihito, as a powerful half-youmu, is under constant watch by a house of Spirit Warriors, the Nase, and especially by a brother and sister who go to high school with him, Nase Hiroomi and Nase Mitsuki. He’s also watched by two good youmu, Ai and Ayaka, who run the shop where youmu stones are turned in.  When Akihito’s human side loses control, his youmu side is insanely powerful and nearly uncontainable, so among others, these four watch him and try to keep him contained.
Mirai begins the series by trying to kill Akihito, time after time.  She’s remarkably unsuccessful about this, and he keeps working to befriend her and include her.  Eventually he talks her into joining the literary club that he and the two Nase sibs belong to.  Along the way, Akihito and Mirai fall in love.  Which is extremely problematic, because you find out later that Mirai came to town specifically because she was hired to kill Akihito.  The demon side of Akihito is a monstrously powerful demon, who everyone wants to either destroy or control.  When Mirai realizes she wants him to survive, she works a deal with the Nase, to separate the demon from Akihito and allow him to survive as a normal human – at the expense of Mirai’s life.  Then when Akihito revives and discovers what she’s done, he’s pretty pissed off because he doesn’t care to survive at the expense of Mirai’s life – he’s willing to give his life in exchange for her survival.  Of course.  After all, it is a love story underneath it all.

It’s touch and go up until the end of the last episode, but, major spoiler here, everyone survives the series.  I’m glad to be able to say that because the series would not have ended up so high on my list of good anime if they had killed off either Mirai or Akihito. Although you kind of don’t expect everything to turn out well, the ending is nice and satisfying.  Everything does turn out well.  In fact I'd have to say that the ONLY bad thing about this series is the length.  There are so many other details that could have been expanded on with side characters, and with the main characters, that I really wanted it to continue.  Like, what’s really up with Nase Izumi, and why did she have to step down in favor of Hiroomi leading the family (other than the comment that she’s carrying a youmu inside her)?  Or, how did Ai and Ayaka end up running a shop for turning in youmu stones?  Or, WHAT is up with Akihito’s mother?!?  And how did Akihito come to be?  See?  So many more things could have occurred.  

Still, the series is well worth watching.  The character interactions between the four main characters alone are often just priceless, with Akihito’s fetish for girls wearing glasses and Hiroomi’s fetish for his younger sister.  There’s even an episode where they become an idol singing group to defeat an odd youmu.  The series is so much more than just a high school love story.  I recommend it highly. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Saiunkoku Monogatari

Saiunkoku Monogatori takes place in a fictional Chinese-like land.  The story is based around the life of a young woman named Kou Shuurei.  Shuurei’s family is one of the eight noble families of the land, but they are from an impoverished branch.  Shuurei's mother died when she was young, so Shuurei is very self-sufficient.  She does odd jobs to get by and her father, Shoka, works as a librarian in the imperial court, a role which is very prestigious but pays very poorly.  Shuurei’s dream is to take and pass the imperial exam and become a court official.  Unfortunately, women are forbidden to take the exam or to be court officials.  So Shuurei and her father live relatively hand-to-mouth.  They also live with a young man named Seiran, who was taken in by Shuurei’s father and who acts as Shuurei’s bodyguard.

Shurrei’s life takes a change for the better one day when one of the high court advisers stops by her house and offers her a job.  It seems the new Emperor, Shi Ryuuki, is uninterested in running his country and spends his time flaunting his preference for men instead of working on getting heirs for the throne.  Because Shuurei is known for her intelligence and teaching, and is pretty as well, the Grand Adviser asks Shuurei to enter the imperial household as Ryuuki’s consort for a few months, and to teach Ryuuki how to be Emperor.  In return for this job, the adviser will give Shuurei an unheard of amount of money.  Shuurei accepts the job and her peaceful life changes forever.

Shuurei brings Seiran with her to the palace, meets Ryuuki and begins the job of turning him into Emperor.   She finds that he’s not stupid or lazy, just unwilling to accept the role that's been thrust upon him.  As the youngest of six imperial sons, he was never expected to rule and was treated badly as a child.  He secretly hoped that his exiled older brother, who he loved as the only one who was kind to him as a child, would return and take the throne.  It turns out that Seiran is in fact that brother, but doesn’t want the throne.  Between that and Shuurei’s teachings, Ryuuki turns around and begins to govern.  Shuurei  also gains Ryuuki’s love and admiration. 

As part of the imperial family Shuurei also becomes embroiled in countless and continuous plots and schemes being run by the eight noble houses.  Politics in the imperial court is incredible and convoluted and Shuurei becomes involved in it a lot of it. 

The under-plots run deep in this series and occasionally it’s difficult to remember who is related to whom and whose House is scheming against the Empire or other House.  Besides Shuurei, Seiran, Ryuuki and Shuurei’s father, the other main characters include Ri Kouyou, Vice-Secretary of Civil Administration who is serving Ryuuki directly and who has a penchant for getting lost in the palace, Ran Shuuei, who is a general and exceptional swordsman, and Ro Ensei, who is something of a vagabond, the former governor of Sa province and a person from Seiran’s past.  This group of main characters is joined by a large cast full of relatives and adoptive relatives and various House connections. 

After meeting and working with Shuurei, Ryuuki straightens up and rules his kingdom.  One of the things he does for Shuurei after she leaves the Palace, is make it possible for women to take the imperial exam, allowing her to follow her dream of becoming a court official.  It’s not easy being the first woman to do so.  She ends up retaking the exam orally in front of all the court and advisers because some of them wouldn’t believe she could pass it.  In addition, she barely makes it to her oral exam since other factions plot to keep her away so she can't pass it.  She manages to overcome all of it and become a court official. 

Ryuuki then posts her far away in problematic Sa province as co-governor with Eigetsu, another candidate who passed the exam but who others are also having trouble accepting because of his extreme youth.  Out in the Sa province Eigetsu and Shuurei overcome lots more political intrigue and deal with a different set of politics and characters.

The plot in this series is occasionally hard to follow because of the interconnections between character families, but overall it’s very interesting and the series is worth watching.  It borders on being a reverse-harem anime, with Shuurei surrounded by lots of attractive men, but that aspect is played down.  There is a love triangle undercurrent between Ryuuki, Shuurei and Seiran which runs throughout the series and Shuurei is attracted to a Sa family schemer once she’s in the Sa province, but Saiunkoku Monogatari is not a love story as such. 

This series is actually two season, each 39 episodes long.  Most, if not all, of what I’ve discussed here happens in the first season.   The second season brings more intrigue and different problems for Shuurei-tachi to solve.  I recommend the whole two seasons, but at least watch the first season.  It’s a good series.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Kyou Kara Maou

Another old series I enjoyed watching was Kyou Kara Maou

This series is a comedy series, which ends up being surprisingly deep.  The story centers around a teenage boy named Shibuya Yuri.  And from the very beginning, it makes fun of many of the stereotypes in anime.  For example, it starts out with the stereotypical, ordinary Japanese schoolgirl who gets pulled into an alternate universe and must go on a quest to save the world.  Oh, Yuri is a pretty ordinary Japanese kid, but he’s a boy for one thing.  Then he’s pulled into the alternate universe by being flushed down the toilet!   The series could also be a harem-type series, with a cast of gorgeous male characters who surround the main female character, except again, Yuri is a boy, and the gorgeous male characters do their best to keep him out of trouble.

The story line goes like this.  On his way home from school one day Yuri interferes when a friend of his is being bullied and the bullies end up flushing him down the toilet and into the alternate world.  The alternate world is a feudal society with two main races of people, humans and demons.  Yuri, it turns out, is this world’s demon-king, or Maou.
Much of the early story revolves around Yuri getting used to being Maou and to using the powers he has at his disposal.  He looks different when using his powers in his Maou incarnation, with longer hair and demon eyes.  And during these early episodes his subjects are also getting used to him and his very human biases.  The main characters surrounding Yuri include Conrad (Yuri’s confidant, friend, godfather and chief protector), Wolfram (Yuri’s accidental fiancĂ© and Conrad’s brother), Gwendal (Conrad and Wolfram’s older brother with a fetish for “cute” things), Gunter (Yuri’s teacher in the demon kingdom who has a serious crush on him) and Ken Murata (Yuri’s friend from back home who was being bullied).

Although this series is funny all the way through, it has a much deeper subplot which starts from the very first episode.   The subplot doesn’t become apparent until much further along, but basically, Yuri is a reincarnation of the very first Maou (Shin Ou) who united the demons and many of the humans and formed the current demon kingdom, and in the course of doing that, sealed away a very evil being who is now getting lose in the current age.  Yuri’s soul is one that belonged to a young woman who believed in and trusted the original Maou’s machinations, and who Conrad loved.  Complex story here, but although Yuri springs from the first Maou, he’s very much his own person and does things his way.  His friend Ken Murata turns out to be the first Maou’s best friend, the Holy Seer, who has lived through all these centuries waiting for Yuri to be born and ready, and waiting to help stop the evil being from escaping its confinement.  Murata occasionally finds himself caught between loyalty to the first Maou and to Yuri. 

Along the way as Yuri learns to be demon king, he befriends humans and demons alike and begins to heal centuries of hatred between the two races, building ally countries and gaining friends as he goes.  All his efforts are supported, albeit often unwillingly, by the four faithful at first and later by Murata also.  Kyou Kara Maou is a long series, 117 episodes and 5 OVAs, with plenty of plot twists and “aha” moments when something from a previous episode (sometimes a long time previous) suddenly slots neatly into the overall plot.   It’s a good series, with lots of laughs and strangeness and plenty of plot twists to keep me entertained and watching.  In the US unfortunately I don’t think the entire second season was released on DVD when Geneon quit doing anime.  If you can get hold of the bittorents though, it’s all
worth watching.    

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Terra e

I’m behind getting a post out.  Since new series have essentially just started, I figured I’d go again with an old one.  Today I’m going to talk about Terra e

Terra e, also known as Toward the Terra is a story about telepaths, and an adaption of a manga that came out in 1977.  The story occurs in the far future where humanity is ruled by computers.  Human babies are born from mechanical wombs and given to selected parents to raise until they reach 14 years old.  Then they go through an adulthood exam, which wipes their brain and memories and turns them into functional adults.  In addition, the exam determines if they are latent telepaths, whether they have the Mu factor in their genes.  If they do have the factor, they are culled.  The computers running the human race are rabidly determined to exterminate the Mu telepaths.   The Mu in turn are a race of evolved telepathic humans, who wish nothing more than to rescue all the Mu children and be left alone to live their lives.  They exist on a giant space ship and are constantly searching for the original Terra as a new home.  Terra was rendered uninhabitable by humans before they left it, and the Mu telepaths want to return there and live at peace.
The anime series story centers around the character of Jomy Marcus Shin and covers a lot of years.  In the beginning of the series Jomy is a normal 14 year old boy facing his adulthood exam.  He fails it since he is also a telepath with the Mu factor.  Jomy is rescued from extermination by  the leader of the Mu, a strong telepath named Soldier Blue who is unfortunately approaching the limit of his life and abilities.  Although at first Jomy denies the whole telepathic thing, he eventually takes Blue's place as the leader of the telepaths.

Another main character in the series is Keith Anyan.  Keith is a human raised completely by mechanical means, never having had human parents.  He enters the story when it switches to the military training that young humans undergo to become functional humans who will be involved in the military.  The story here takes place on a space station, and the computer who runs it, “Mother”, favors Keith and is grooming him to be the military leader responsible for wiping out the Mu.  During this phase of the story Keith is responsible for the death of one of my favorite characters in the series, Shiroe.  

As time passes Keith becomes the primary military leader and begins to go after the Mu, even though he knows his aide, Matsuka, is a telepath who uses his powers several times to save Keith’s life.  Keith is not completely bad though, more of an anti-hero.  He also destroys the “mother” computer and station when he finds out he’s a human who has been created, and for the sole purposes of keeping humans in line and killing the Mu. 

Jomy and the telepaths begin to settle a planet they find and attempt to lead normal lives.  They begin to have children by natural childbirth, the first naturally born humans for millennia.  This generation of kids are incredibly powerful telepaths and are led by the first one of them born, Tony.   They also are much more willing to stand and fight rather than run like their parents.  The planet is located by Keith-tachi and the Mu run again.   

Years pass and the Mu find Terra.  In the final battles between Keith and his computer-led forces and the Mu, Jomy and Keith and Blue all die.  But the Mu survive and begin to repopulate Terra.

Obviously once again I've skipped over the majority of the subplots and some of them are important.  I would have liked this series much better if they hadn’t felt the need to kill so many people off, both during it and at the end.  Still, it’s a good series, and worth watching for the story line, the really nice animation style and the excellent music.  I recommend it.  

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Fall Season 2 - 2013

There are several more new series that I’m trying out so I thought I’d talk a little about them also.

Tokyo Ravens is the next series I’m trying out.  A high school boy named Harutora is a member of the prestigious Tsuchimikado onmyoji family.  Unfortunately, he can’t see spirit energy, so he’s hanging out with friends Hokuto and Touji at a backwater onmyoji school.  One day his cousin/childhood friend, Natsume, who also happens to be the current head of the family, comes to visit.  While she’s there, another girl shows up and uses her spirit power to try to raise her dead brother.  Along the way she kills Harutora’s friend Hokuto.  In order to be able to fight spirits, Harutora agrees to be Natsume’s familiar.  Once she seals that deal, Harutora can see and interact with spirits.  They win a battle against the brother-raising bad girl, and then they go to Tokyo to fight.  It looks from what I’ve seen so far that Harutora will be powerful and will come into his own along the way.  So the plot and relationships are probably going to be pretty predictable.  But it’s pretty and has kept me interested so far.

The next one is called Strike the Blood.  I began watching this because I’m attracted to vampire series.  So far the premise here is that a normal high school boy named Akatsuki Kojou has recently become the most powerful vampire in existence (that’s not fully explained at this point).  He is being followed / monitored / protected / attacked by both groups of people and individuals, primarily a middle school Sword Shaman named Himeragi Yukina and a sensei named Minamiya Natsuki, who looks like a grade-school kid.   It looks like Akatsuki will be frighteningly powerful, but that isn’t clear yet.  The conflicted love interests among him and his keepers appear to be fairly standard.  I don’t know if I’ll keep watching this one or not.

Unbreakable Machine Doll is another I’m watching.  I almost dropped this one after the first episode because it’s a little more fan servicey than I like, but the plot so far has become interesting, and I like the animation style.  This series occurs in a universe where machines and magic interact.  Magicians are also called puppeteers, and they magically control “machine dolls” who are essentially human, although they’re not.   Machine dolls have life via a machine/magic hybrid heart which also gives them personalities and feelings.  The hero in this story is Akabane Raishin, who has come from Japan to a prestigious English school for magician training.  His nickname there is Second Last, due to him being ranked 1375th out of 1376 students.  Raishin’s doll is Yaya, a high-powered combat model who also happens to be seriously in love with Raishin.   Raishin has come to this school for revenge, to learn enough to gain access to the ultimate battle where magicians vie for the title of Wiseman -  the strongest magician.  Riashin’s desire to join the battle is not so much to become Wiseman as to find and kill the magician who killed his entire family.  The series is interesting so far, with characters with personalities that are worth following at this point.
Arpeggio of Blue Steel (Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio: Ars Nova) is the last one I’m trying out.  The premise in this one is that humans have been driven off the oceans by a mysterious fleet of fog-bound, invincible ships.  One man switches sides to those ships and then mysteriously one invincible submarine ship comes to the humans and is captured by them.  That ship has a human-seeming avatar (little girl, of course, named Iona) who controls it and she is programmed to respond only to the son of the man who switched sides.  The series is about the son, Chihaya Gunzou (high schooler) and his friends sailing the seas in the invincible submarine and using it to help the humans defeat the fog-fleet.  I don’t know whether I’ll watch this one more or not.  It probably depends on whether they just do battle after battle, or they do a more interesting plot and some character development. 

So along with last week’s post, those are the series I’ve picked up this season.  We’ll see how many of them I keep watching to the end.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Fall Season 2013

I’ve started watching a few new series which began this month, so here I decided to talk about my three favorites so far.  They are:

Kyoukai no Kanata:  This first one I probably like the best after 4 episodes.  The premise of this series is a world where humans and youma (youkai, demons, akuma, spirits, evil supernatural beings – take your pick of titles) co-exist.  The youma take many different forms, including looking completely human.  They have ways of masking their forms and locations to most humans so normal humans can’t and don’t routinely interact with them.  There are also humans who are Spirit Warriors or Barrier Guardians (depending on your subbing group).  These humans have supernatural powers and use them to destroy or contain the youma that cause trouble.  For every youma they kill, they get paid.  The more dangerous the youma, the higher the pay for killing it.  The owner of the establishment where they go to get paid is herself a youma, so not all youma are bad. 

The story revolves around a special, very powerful Spirit Warrior, who also happens to be a short, cute, glasses-wearing girl named Kuriyama Mirai.  Kuriyama, the last member of her warrior clan, is ostracized by other warriors for being dangerous, and she also seems to have trouble killing youma, apparently because she killed her best friend who had been possessed by a youma.  The other main character is a half human, half youma boy named Kanbara Akihito who has a fetish for girls who wear glasses.   The interactions between these two, and among the other main characters is pretty fun so far.  Besides the interesting plot and nice animation style in this one, it’s also quirky.  Quirky character interactions, quirky things happening that I don’t expect to happen, quirky character personalities.  After three episodes I’m enjoying it a lot.  I hope it keeps it up.

Next in order of how much I’m enjoying it is Nagi no Asukara.  This series has a pretty unique premise.  Humans are divided into two subspecies, ones who live on land like regular humans and ones who can breathe both in air and underwater and live in a village underwater off the coast.  Kids from both groups attend a high school on land.  So far it looks like this series is going to be about relationships, with love triangles/quadrangles occurring between the five main character kids, Hikari, Manaka, Chikasa, Kaname and Tsumugu.  Four of these kids are sea kids.

This series, other than the underwater humans, started out looking like a very predictable plot of high school relationships where everyone is in love with the person who is in love with someone else.  The plot has started to go beyond that basic premise though, so hopefully it won’t get boring.  There are rules around interactions between land humans and sea humans and an interesting sea god involved, so I have hopes for it.   This one is also really gorgeous too, so I’ll watch it for a while.

The next series is called Coppelion.  Coppelion is a post-apocalyptic series.  Some type of major disaster occurred in a major city (we’ll say Tokyo), rendering it unfit for habitation unless you like living in barrier suits to stave off radiation poisoning.  The story revolves around three girls, Naruse Ibari, Nomura Taeko and Fukasaku Aoi, who are created beings.  They have been genetically engineered to specifically be able to withstand the radiation and live in the world without the need of barrier suits, as well being engineered with some special talents.  What the story line is after three episodes is that the three girls are sent into the city to locate and retrieve any humans foolish enough to try to be living in isolated secure locations and moving around in barrier suits.  Their job seems to be locating these humans and making them available for retrieval by the people running things. 

I’m still struggling bit with several issues within this premise. One is, if you were going to genetically engineer and create humans capable of withstanding radiation and you had plans to send them into dangerous, overgrown, high radiation areas, why would you create three young girls?  And don’t even get me started about if you did create three young girls, why would you send them into the aforementioned areas wearing short-skirted high school uniforms?  The whole high school uniform thing is a pet peeve I won’t go into here. Despite these obvious fallacies, the series so far has been interesting enough to keep me watching.  I’ll be  waiting to see whether a deeper plot evolves or whether they simply do episode after episode of rescues or failures to rescue.  I’m hoping for the deeper plot, otherwise this series may become boring besides being borderline depressing.

So those are the anime series at the top of my list so far.  I’ll let you know how they go, and also if any other series catch my attention along the way.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Shingeki no Kyoujin - "ending"

Shingeki no Kyoujin, as expected, ended with a bad ‘non-ending’ ending.  I realize they had to end it that way because the anime series is essentially caught up to the manga, but it’s frustrating to have so many questions left unanswered.   I’ve already given the basic premise of this series in a previous blog post (, so check there if you haven’t watched it, and I’m going to spend the rest of this post doing even more spoilers than usual.

For all my complaining though, the “ending” could have been worse.   The positives on the ending are these:  Eren is gaining more and more control over his Kyoujin (Titan/eotenas/giant) form.  The Survey Corps is alive and well having managed to survive the bad guys’ attempts to disband and destroy it.  The main characters are still alive, which in itself is no small feat in this series.   The intelligent female kyoujin was found out to be Annie Leonhardt, one of Eren-tachi’s comrades, and she was effectively neutralized, even though they conveniently aren’t able to get any answers to the major questions out of her.   The Survey Corp’s Commander Erwin Smith, as well as Levi, Eren, Mikasa, Armin and Jean know that their enemies are among the humans, and the Survey Corps is beginning to find ways to fight those enemies.

The negatives on the ending are pretty significant though.  Soooooo many questions aren’t answered, but then they’re probably not answered in the manga yet either.   High on that list is WHY is someone among the humans trying to destroy humanity?   WHY were kyoujin created, because at this point they seem to be human creations.   Were the intelligent ones created on purpose and the slow and stupid ones are a byproduct of that creation, or were the slow and stupid ones intentional also?
And then there are all the questions around Eren.  How is it that Eren’s father gave him the ability to transform into a kyoujin, and the bad guys didn’t know about it?  Was Eren’s father a part of the group that created kyoujin in the first place, and where is Eren’s father now?  He must have split with them enough to give Eren his abilities, unknown to them.   The bad guys are obviously trying hard to collect Eren, probably partly because they figure he belongs with them, but mostly because he gives the humans a way, and the ability, to fight them.  And the big question:  Who are “they”?!  Who are the “bad guys”?

My only hope is that once the manga gains enough ground, they will produce another season or two of Shingeki.  It would be a real shame for it to end at this point, with no further anime series and only the manga going on.   I’ll warn you again though.  This series has a boatload of death and blood in it, including things like people getting chomped in half, people getting heads and other body parts chomped off, and people getting smashed into pulp against trees and buildings.   The story line and characters and anime style and music make it worth watching for me, despite all that.  Only the non-ending (and probably the massive amount of death) keep it from being a great series.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


Hakkenden is an anime series that comes from a manga series that comes from a novel series about eight dog warriors.  The novel series was made into an anime series previously in 1990.  This current series bears almost no resemblance to the previous series, luckily.  So leaving all that history behind, this post is just about the current, two season series.

The main character of Hakkenden is a young boy named Inuzuka Shino.  The other characters who are dog warriors include Inukawa Sousuke,  Inukai Genpachi,  Inuta Kobungo,  Inusaka Keno,  Inuyama Dousetsu,  Inumura Daikaku and  Inue Shinobu.  Besides having “inu” (dog) in their names, each of the eight dog warriors bears a flower-shaped birthmark and carries a glass bead with a symbol in it.  The symbols are devotion, duty, integrity (faith), brotherhood, wisdom, loyalty, gratitude, and benevolence, in the same order as their holders, above. 

Other main characters include Satomi Riou, Osaki Kaname, Ao, (the series villain), and two females characters, Hamaji and Mizuki Ayane, although those two female characters could be considered minor side characters, for the amount of screen time they get.
The plot in this series is slow starting.  The first 13 episodes don’t even introduce all eight dog warriors, and just begin to hint at the issues surrounding the characters of Ao and Sousuke.  Essentially all the first season does is set the stage.  It covers the story background: that Rio rescued Shino, Sousuke and Hamaji when their village was destroyed and gave Shino the living sword Murasame in exchange for keeping him alive, or in order to keep him alive.  Shino harbors Murasame in his body and can extract it and use it at will.  Murasame can take the form of a large black raven, or a sword, which Shino knows how to use.  Because Shino holds Murasame inside himself, he looks 13 years old instead of the 18 he actually is.

The first season slowly introduces the characters as Shino and Sousuke come across them.  A little background is provided for each dog warrior, including each warrior’s connection to the supernatural.  As the story slowly progresses, Shino and Sousuke help each character solve issues when they meet.  Essentially the first season is the eight warriors beginning to gather together.

The second season is where all the plot lies.  The reasons for Ao’s and Rio’s machinations come to light.  Ao is somehow Sousuke’s “shadow”, which is why he looks just like Sousuke except for a golden eye.  Ao is attempting to steal Sousuke’s life force, and essentially to become him.  Rio is having Shino gather the eight beads and their warriors together in order to prevent their collection by the bad guys, but also because when they’re all together it’s possible to have a wish granted.   At the end, when the eight are all gathered together and it looks like Ao and the bad guys will win, it’s Shino’s wish that is granted, that Sousuke will survive.  So the good guys win in the final hour and life goes on.  Ao is still in play though, so it’s a non-ending ending, but not a bad one.

This series is full of really gorgeous characters and decent music, so despite the plot being slow, it’s very nice to watch.   I would say it’s not one of the great series, but definitely worth watching.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi

Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi is a short series with a really unique plot premise.  Basically, God has abandoned the world.  Yup, just washed his hands of it and disappeared.  The result of that abandonment is that people don’t die.  Or rather they do die, but they continue to function as human beings.  So the world is full of both the living and the dead.   Unfortunately, if the dead keep functioning for long enough, they become very self-centered, leading into insanity, so in this new world there are also hakamori.  Hakamori, or grave keepers, are human-looking creatures who can use a special shovel to bury the dead.  If you are dead and are buried by a grave keeper, you stay dead and in the ground and your soul departs.

The story is centered around a young girl named Ai whose mother was a hakamori and father was a living human.  Ai is a hakamori.  She has grave keeper powers, but she also has the instincts and feelings of a human, unlike most grave keepers who are cold and unfeeling and just do the job of burying the dead.  After her mother’s death, Ai is raised by the members of a small village, who she doesn’t realize are all dead humans until a man comes to town whose mission is to put all dead humans in the ground.   Ai and this man, who goes by the name on Humpnie Hambart, don’t start out well, but because of him, Ai ends up burying the whole town and leaving on a personal mission to save the world that God has abandoned.

The rest of the series is Ai’s travels and interactions with people who become her friends.  Two of them, a man named Yuri and a woman hakamori named Scar, travel around with Ai in a beat-up van.  These two are her constant friends and travel companions, with other characters being introduced as this trio enters their lives and changes things. 

This short series is composed of five short story arcs.  The original arc is where Ai meets her father and is set on her path of saving the world.  The second arc is where Ai, Yuri and Scar deal with an entire city that is composed of dead humans and only allows dead humans to live there.

The third arc is one where Ai helps free a group of school kids with special powers from a restrictive academy, including a kid named Alis who is followed around by a ghost named Dee.  Between this third arc and the last arc is a one episode arc where Yuri and Ai struggle to help Scar deal with becoming more human than hakamori.  The final arc is where Ai and Alis fight to release a time loop that has trapped a class of students and thousands of other people in an alternate reality that resets and loops through the same year forever.  When you think about it, that’s a pretty amazing number of story arcs seamlessly woven together in this 13 episode series. 

I really enjoyed this series for a bunch of reasons.  Obviously I’m attracted to unique environments and story lines and this one has those things in spades.  In addition, the music from it is just gorgeous.   Really, really nice.  Also the animations style is pretty, and the characters are cool, even if they did kill (and bury) my favorite character in the second or third episode.  That’s pretty standard for my luck though.  I almost stopped watching the series there, but I’m glad I didn’t.  It’s well worth watching all the way through.