Saturday, March 29, 2014


I’m struggling a little to decide what to blog about, so decided to go with another old one.  Pretear is a series based on a manga.  It is also a combination or re-working of several fairy stories into one basic love story.

The main character of Pretear is a high-school girl named Awayuki Himeno.  Himeno’s father, Kaoru, is a poor, struggling romance author and artist who fell in love with and married a rich woman named Natsue.  Natsue has two daughters Himeno’s age, Mayune and Mawata, from a previous marriage.   Himeno and her father become part of the life of this rich family in their massive mansion.  Mayune actively hates Himeno and goes out of her way to make Himeno’s life miserable.  Mawata is so consumed with her own loneliness and sense of loss from losing her father, that she’s not interested in much around her and mostly ignores Himeno.

This is the state of affairs as the story begins.  And at this point, into Himeno’s life come seven “Leaf Knights”.  The Leaf Knights and their powers are:  Hayate : wind; Sasame : sound; Kei : light; Go : fire; Mannen : ice; Hajime : water and Shin : plants.  The Leaf Knights fight to keep life force (referred to as ‘leaf’) flowing in all living things.  They battle life-force-sucking creatures or demons who are controlled by the Princess of Darkness, Fenrir.   Three of the Leaf knights, Mannen, Hajime and Shin, are little kids because the original three Leaf Knights that held those powers died in their battles to seal Fenrir away.  Now Fenrir is breaking free and the Leaf Knights are looking for the “Pretear”, a girl who can combine powers with them and make both them and her more powerful in their battles against the forces of Darkness.

Himeno, of course, is the Pretear.  Hayate doesn’t accept her at first, feeling that they can fight fine without her, and you find out why he's so against it later.  Also, at first Himeno is unwilling to get involved with them.  So they take a little while to get used to each other and begin working together and combining their powers.  Hayate is the last to accept Himeno.  About the time they do begin melding, Fenrir breaks free and attacks in force.

At this point, Himeno finds out the big Leaf Knight secret.  Fenrir was at one time the Pretear, a girl named Takako.  She fell in love with Hayate, who didn’t return her feelings.  So, spurned, she fell into despair and vowed to destroy everything they held dear – she became Fenrir.   When Himeno learns all this, her own questions and inadequacies surface and she becomes unable to combine forces with any of the Leaf Knights.  They all begin taking a serious beating from the forces of Darkness.  In addition, Sasame admits that he has always loved Takako, even knowing she loved Hayate, so he deserts the Leaf Knights to side with Fenrir and become her right-hand man and a knight of Darkness.  Fenrir of course doesn't trust him and it's not until he's killed that she realizes she loves him also.

At the series climax, Fenrir has won all the battles and come close to destroying everyone and everything, including turning Mawata into a center and force for darkness.  All looks lost, with Sasame dead in the battles and Hayate soon to be dead.  But at the last minute, Himeno gains power from all the Leaf Knights and transforms into the White Pretear, with almost unlimited power.  In the end she saves her family, Takako, and all the Leaf Knights, including resurrecting Sasame.  She herself appears dead but Hayate wakes her with a kiss.  The series ends with a huge happily ever after, Sasame and Takako together and Himeno and Hayate together.  They all live happily with Himeno’s now combined and happy family in the big mansion. 

Yes, this is a harem anime, and a take-off of Snow White and the seven dwarfs and being awakened with a kiss, with elements of Cinderella and her evil step-sisters, but for all that, it’s fun to watch and entertaining.  And best of all, nobody dies.  It’s not at all a bad series to spend some time watching.    

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Eureka Seven

It occurs to me that I posted a blog about the second series of Eureka Seven, Ao, and never posted about the original Eureka Seven series.  I’ve decided to correct that oversight.

Eureka Seven is another mecha series that's done right.  By that I mean that although the mecha is a big part of the series, it isn’t the series centerpiece.   The series survives and thrives on the characters, their development and growth and a really unique plot, not on the splash and glitter of the mecha.  I will admit to some hesitation when I started watching this series.  A mecha series where the mecha surf the skies on what appear to be skateboards or snowboards?  Seriously?!  But it works.

At the basic level, Eureka Seven is a love story, or rather multiple love stories, the primary one being the love between two young people, a boy named Renton Thurston, and a girl named Eureka.  These two live on a planet that has a life form on it called scub coral.  The scub coral’s existence tends to polarize people who either want to study, understand and live in harmony with it, or destroy it completely.  The military and government of the planet take this latter, hard line and want it eradicated.  Opposing them is a group of sky-surfing radicals, who call themselves Gekko State, and live on a jet plane/spaceship, traveling around and surfing the sky.  Sky surfing is possible on this planet because of a substance known as trapar waves, that accumulate in areas and can be used to surf on. 

Renton is a normal teenager who has his own sky board and worships the members of the underground Gekko State.  He lives with his grandfather, a mechanic who raised him after his parents died/disappeared.  One day Eureka and her mecha show up, Renton falls in love, and the rest is history.  Eureka is part of Gekko State and Renton gets dragged, or falls willingly into their lives. 

This is a long series, 50 episodes, but it stays interesting and entertaining throughout.  Renton struggles to fit in with the Gekko State gang at first, and early episodes play on that.  The characters all grow and develop as the series progresses though, and there is a LOT of back story, tying characters together and building a deep level plot that runs throughout the series and does some amazing twists and turns along the way.  Plot lines that seem unrelated often converge as you go.  Some of the plot twists include things like the really big one:  Eureka, as it turns out, is not human but is a Correlian, a creation of the scub coral.  She is human-seeming in the scub coral's attempt to communicate with humans.  At one point she is almost absorbed back into the scub coral when things don’t go well.  And oh yeah, the Nirvash?  The mecha driven by Eureka and Renton?   Also a Correlian and semi-sentient.  Other plot twists include: the leader and also the second in command of Gekko State, Holland and Talho, are ex-military, who rebelled and went their own way, rescuing Eureka from the military and taking her with them.  Holland’s older brother, Dewey, is the general in charge of destroying all scub coral on the planet.   Dewey uses another scub coral human-creation, named Anemone, to fight Eureka-tachi and destroy the scub coral.  At one point in the story Renton leaves Gekko State and accidentally joins up with two people who are undercover military, going after Eureka-tachi. 

One of the things I liked about the series was the fact that a lot of seemingly random elements end up coming together as part of the deeper plot.  And also the large number of love stories embedded in the series.  Among the main characters, besides Renton and Eureka, there's also Holland and Talho and Anemone and her military handler, Dominic. 

The ending is okay.  It felt a little contrived, but there were so many plot ends to tie up, they probably had to do it like that.  The good news is Renton and Eureka end up alive and together, most of the plots are resolved and the good guys on the Gekko State survive and live happily ever after.  Plus the series music is good.  All in all it’s worth watching all the way through.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Nabari no Ou

Nabari no Oh is the story of a teen-age boy named Rokujo Miharu and his friend, Yoite.  Miharu is special because he carries within him a powerful Scroll which happens to be the most secret art of the ninjas, and of course which all the ninja clans are after because it’s so powerful.  Having it within him makes Miharu essentially king of the ninja world, Nabari.    

Miharu doesn’t really care about any of that, having a very apathetic personality, and he certainly doesn’t want to be king of the ninja world.  The story follows him as he interacts with multiple different ninja clans, each of whom wants Miharu and his abilities for their own purposes.  Miharu is left to select between them, in a role he doesn’t care about and doesn’t want.  From fairly early on in the series, Miharu has only one goal, to save the life of Yoite, who actually starts out as an enemy from a different ninja clan.

Yoite also has a special talent, a secret ninja killing art which he can use to inflict serious harm on others in exchange for his own life force.  So he’s doing his ninja work and slowly killing himself in the process.  He tries to hold Miharu’s friends hostage against Miharu granting his wish – which is to cease to exist.  Miharu originally agrees with this but comes to desire to save Yoite rather than kill him.  Plus there’s no need for Miharu to end his existence as he’s effectively doing that himself by using his power.  So Miharu sets out to save him.

Miharu’s personality is weird to me.  He’s mostly apathetic and switches sides readily, even against the advice and wishes of the three people trying with all their might to protect and care for him.   Those three are his teacher Kumohira Tobari, and two class mates, Aizawa Koichi and Shimizu Raimei.  Perhaps it’s explainable since he had no choice in any of it.  His mother disappeared when he was very young, and all everyone ever cared about him was his possession of the Scroll with its powerful abilities and his position as Nabari no Oh.  It’s probably not surprising that he doesn’t care for any of them in turn until he meets Yoite. 

There are several back stories going on here about people’s pasts, including Raimei’s feud with her brother Shimizi Raikou, who seems to have killed off the rest of the Shimizu clan and joined another ninja band, the Grey Wolves.  The Grey Wolves is the clan Yoite is with and is also one on the many clans battling for control of Miharu and his ability.   During the series various ninja clans begin collecting together all the various secret ninja arts in an effort to either control Miharu or find a way of removing the Scroll from him and having it for themselves.  Once Miharu finds out that the Scroll’s primary power is to gift its controller with whatever they most desire, he wants to use it to save Yoite’s life (what he desires most).  From that point Miharu sides with whoever is most likely to help him.
The story here is interesting enough and the animation is good enough to keep me watching the entire series.  But I really disliked the ending because Yoite doesn’t survive the series.   After everything is said and done, all the battles and struggles over and everyone’s basically at peace, Yoite dissolves into dust.  I really hate that in an ending.  Besides that though, the series was pretty good.   

Saturday, March 1, 2014


Claymore is a series with a really unique premise.   It takes place in a world populated with humanoid shape-shifter demons called Yoma that prey on and devour people.   The people that combat and destroy these yoma are women known as “Claymores”. 

Claymores are strong women who carry around and use over-sized swords (thus the name claymore).  Claymores have their own society and pecking order and are ranked by their power level.  Number one is the most powerful Claymore, and so on down to the least powerful, number 47.  The Claymores travel around destroying yoma and are both welcomed and shunned by the human population. 

The secret of the Claymores which you eventually find out as you watch the series is that they were once human women who chose to be artificially combined with yoma material to create a powerful human-yoma hybrid which is capable of using immense powers known as yoki.  A shadowy group called the Organization does this hybridization and then sells the Claymore’s services.  The Claymore’s fatal flaw is that they are partially yoma.  If they lose control of that yoma aspect of themselves and use too much yoki, they become Super-Yoma, called Awakened Beings, and must be hunted down and destroyed by their sister Claymores. 

The story line of this anime series follows a Claymore named Clare.  Clare goes where the Organization tells her but she also has her own agenda, searching for a specific Claymore-gone-bad named Priscilla.  Clare also has a different back story which again you discover throughout the series.  Clare isn’t your garden-variety Claymore.  Clare was created not as a yoma-hybrid, but as the hybrid of a dead Claymore named Teresa who Clare worshipped.  When Teresa was killed by the rogue Priscilla, Clare asked that Teresa’s flesh be used to make Clare a Claymore, and now she hunts for Priscilla while doing her duties for the Organization.

On top of this back story, Clare’s interactions with a human boy who follows her, and with the other Claymores is interesting.  Clare is so non-powerful, probably because of how she became a Claymore, that she is not even ranked, and has the last number by default.  Throughout the series she levels up repeatedly as she meets yoma and Claymores far beyond her capabilities.   

Another storyline that evolves during the series is that the Organization doesn’t always seem to have the Claymore’s best interests at heart and a group of the Claymores, who Clare becomes involved with, finds ways to oppose them.  This group is sent by the Organization to fight an organized and unconquerable group of yoma (who mostly seem to be male) in a not so subtle attempt to get rid of them. 

The premise of this series is unique and the plot is twisty enough to keep me interested.   The overall sense of the series is dark and dismal though, so if you’re looking for light and entertaining, this is not the series for you.  My biggest problem with the series is that they ended it with a lot of hanging story lines and unanswered questions.    Although an ongoing story is a okay ending, I like a little more closure in my series endings than this one provided.  I liked the interesting story, but if you watch it, don't expect a satisfying ending.