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.