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.