GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class Review

GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class

Rating: 7.5/10

Plot: A slice-of-life comedy anime about a group of girls in a school that specializes in art students.

Breakdown: Slice-of-life comedies have to be one of the hardest genres to review, especially when they have no real story to them beyond what the plot gives us. The genre is fairly saturated as well, in addition to shows like Azumanga Daioh being the frontrunner for quality in the genre.

GA does a very good job at both being funny and entertaining as well as being a neat feature for artists along the way. Despite a good chunk of the art related information given in this show being pretty basic, I still learned some stuff, and it was cool to see an anime that talks about so energetically.

Character-wise, we have two groups of characters; our regular group and a side-group of older students who are in an art club. (GA has both a regular school and an art school, so I guess the art club’s meant for people who like art but not enough to be in the other part of the school.)

Main Group

Kisaragi: Kisaragi is a naïve worry wart who has a thing for cats. Practically everything that she draws has something to do with cats and…and…..I’m sorry, but there’s one detail about this girl that annoys me to hell – her glasses. Her glasses are HUGE and they’re so far down her face that, most of the time, it seems like they cover more of her cheeks than her eyes.

GLASSESSSSS

I thought the Chief from Beyblade’s glasses were annoying…

Tomokane: A hyper and very physical tomboy with short hair and a boy-ish voice. I actually thought Tomokane was a guy for the first half of the series, and I constantly kept calling her ‘him’ afterwards on accident. Tomokane frequently causes a lot of trouble with….

Noda: An equally hyper and extremely random girl who likes to cause trouble. Her older sister is a model whose face is masked for the entirety of the one episodes she’s featured in.

Kyouju: A dark and constantly straight-faced girl, Kyouju frequently freaks out the rest of the group with her deadpan delivery and dark style.

Namiko: Seemingly the oldest one of the group, Namiko frequently acts as the responsible one. She works hard to ensure that everyone’s working on their assignments as well as keeps the fun-loving group in check (especially Noda)

Side Group

Club President: Also energetic and random, the club president really loves her club and is always eager about making club activities and getting new members to keep the club alive.

Bucchi: Kisaragi’s friend who introduced her to GA, Bucchi I think is part of the art section of school. She also acts as a responsible member of the group.

Orange haired guy: He’s random and energetic but more down to earth than the club president.

Blue haired guy: The straight-man of the group for the most part.

Older Tomokane: Younger Tomokane’s older brother, he’s constantly ill to the point where he spends most of his schooltime in the nurse’s office and frequently faints. However, he loves nothing more than playing pranks on his younger sister.

You may notice something with the side group – I couldn’t remember most of their names. They’re a really forgettable bunch. The main reasons I remember Older Tomokane and Bucchi was because they were connected in one way or another to characters in the main group. They come in halfway through the series, and they don’t do much. Their segments also weren’t very funny barring maybe the Club President’s box.

The OVA isn’t really anything different from the regular series, except, I guess, we have more of an interaction between the two groups, and we learn why Kisaragi wanted to go to GA in the first place.

Art and Animation: The art and animation were bright, colorful and a joy to look at. It’s not amazing, but it’s pretty unique in its style and coloring. Also, I should note that these girls are supposed to be 15-16 years old, but they look and act like they’re about seven barring Namiko and Kyouju.

Music: The OP, lyrically, is weird, but it’s a catchy and cutesy theme. The ED’s okay, and the BG music is also good.

Voice Acting: Japanese – The voice acting was great. Everyone had plenty of energy and fit well within their roles.

Bottomline: If you’re looking for a lighthearted SoL anime and don’t care much about linear storylines, this is a good one to check out. It’s also a cute show for anyone interested in art even as a slight hobby.

Additional Information and Notes: GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class was directed by Hiroaki Sakurai and was produced by AIC.

Episodes: 12 plus a one episode OVA.

Year: 2009

Recommended Audience: There’s no questionable material. Rated E for everyone!

 

Angelic Layer Review

Angelic Layer

Rating: 7/10

Summary: A girl named Misaki Suzuhara has recently moved to Tokyo to live with her Aunt when she gets entranced by a game playing on a big screen near Tokyo station. The game is called Angelic Layer – a game where two players (or Deuses) utilize the powers of their minds through use of a high-tech headset to move small custom battle dolls called ‘angels’ in a special battle arena.

The dolls each have their own powers and looks, but it’s up to the deus to figure out how to use them in a battle in order to win. Playing in the match is a very popular angel named Athena, and Misaki is so amazed by the battle that she quickly goes out to a store to buy and customize her own angel. While trying to figure out the game and customize her angel, she meets a weird man named Icchan, also known as Ichiro Mihara, one of the creators of Angelic Layer.

Once she finishes her angel, she names it Hikaru after her favorite doll and soon gets into the world of Angelic layer with Icchan and her friends, but there’s a secret behind the game that connects right back to Misaki.

Breakdown: I have some guilty pleasures when it comes to anime – gaming anime is one of them. Beyblade, Yu-gi-oh, Duel Masters and more have all caught my eye at times. I have no clue why. I guess I just like games as a whole. However, if there’s one stigma that’s always been attached to the genre it’s that most gaming anime are aimed at boys. Hence why gaming anime is typically called ‘shounen’ gaming anime. The girls equivalent is typically magical girl anime. There’s just not a huge market of shoujo gaming anime.

But there is this – Angelic Layer. While boys do play the game in the show, it is very much a female dominated sport with only one or two notable guys taking up the higher ranks. Probably because the battle dolls are called angels and the game is called Angelic Layer. Even if you take the name off, they’re still battle ‘dolls’.

The sad part of this is that while I can, to an extent, play the games in most shounen gaming anime, I can’t very well go out and buy my own angel and battle it….but dammit all, that would be amazing. I’d play that game so hard.

The game itself does look really fun. Using your mind to control a small battle doll and fight other battle dolls with cool power? Awesome!

I also noticed something not really present in a lot of gaming anime…most of the battles, while being suspenseful, were very obviously played for fun in a relaxing atmosphere. In fact, the deuses don’t really move much while battling, unlike in a lot of similar anime where the player is almost always making grand gestures and yelling for no real reason.

There is more to the story than what I’ve presented in the plot summary, but I didn’t want to spoil it too much. A lot of the series is Misaki learning how to play the game, and, more or less, it was a problem-of-the-week-ish thing going on with practically every episode after that. Misaki would battle someone who would seemingly have some sort of issue. Getting beaten by and talking to Misaki, who may as well be T’ea lite (now with 75% less annoyance) with her various speeches that instantly solve the problem.

While I’m on the topic, let me address a problem that I really don’t like in any gaming anime….Misaki’s nickname is “The Miracle Rookie.” Yeah, she’s one of those protagonists who, despite being new to the game, always seems to pull off incredible feats to win, some of those feats being pulled straight out of her ass. Misaki’s barely learned how to play the game properly before she’s entering a tournament for God’s sake.

While that may all sound bad, none of this ever got to a point where it was irritating to me. The show pulls off even annoying stuff so well that I didn’t pay it too much mind.

One more thing I should address is that the show is somewhat like Fruits Basket in that it is a very light-hearted anime with tons of gentle moments and friendship, but it skews from that tone sharply towards the end and becomes fairly dark for a couple of episodes. The final episode, however, is much lighter in tone to bring it back up.

Also, Icchan is awesome.

Art: Wonderful. Have no qualms whatsoever with the art. Very well done. Clamp always has a nice and gentle style to its designs. Unlike a lot of other gaming anime, the animation is very fluid and nice to watch.

Music: Not really memorable, but they flow well with the show.

Voices: English – Other than Misaki’s voice being slightly irritating, no qualms. I basically expected her voice to be somewhat annoying anyway.

Bottom line: This is a cute, well made, very interesting and sad anime. Probably the best gaming-centric anime I’ve ever seen.

I have my own personal issues with a couple of the aspects of the show such as the relationship between Kotaro and Tomayo, and the final battle, which, from a logical standpoint, makes no sense and really shouldn’t have turned out the way that it did.

However, I would gladly watch this series again a few times over. The characters are mostly likable, the story’s relaxing and nice to watch, barring the second to last episode which gets a little heavy, (but to sate your worries, there’s no “the fate of the world relies on this children’s game” stuff) the game is fun to watch and it’s a cool anime for lovers of gaming and shoujo anime alike.

Additional Information and Notes: Angelic Layer was based on a manga by Clamp. In fact, this series supposedly takes place a few years before Chobits, and Icchan also plays a role in Chobits.

It was directed by Hiroshi Nishikiori, director of Azumanga Daioh and Jyu-Oh-Sei, and was written by Ichiro Okouchi, writer of Azumanga Daioh and Code Geass.

Angelic Layer was produced by BONES, makers of awesome things like RahXephon, Fullmetal Alchemist, Wolf’s Rain and Ouran High School Host Club.

Episodes: 26

Year: 2001

Recommended Audience: There’s nothing that bad to note here. The ending is pretty sad and dark in tone, but everything else is peachy. Any and all violence is kept to the layer, except a few wrestling moves by Tamayo. I’d say, beware of the ending, but E for everyone overall.

Yu-Gi-Oh Episode 2 Sub/Dub Comparison

EHH?!
I lost to Anzu? Wow, I do need help…

Plot: Jounouchi is training with Grandpa to be in an upcoming tournament. He comes in eighth, but still has a lot to learn. After watching the finals of the tournament on TV, Yugi gets a mysterious package containing a glove, some stars and a videotape. As he pops the video in, he sees the creator of Duel Monsters, Pegasus Crawford, on the screen proposing a duel to Yugi.

He drags Yugi into a strange shadow world to play a Yami no Game, a game played with real monsters and real consequences. Whoever is ahead within fifteen minutes wins. If Yugi wins, he’s left alone. If he loses, he has to go to Duelist Kingdom for a tournament being held by Pegasus. Will Yugi win or will he lose something precious to him?

————————————————–

Weevil and Rex have much better voices in the Japanese version. Rex’s voice in the dub is insanely nasally and it sounds like he has a throat infection. Weevil’s voice is horrid in the dub. He sounds like a cartoon weasel. Rex’s voice in the Japanese version is very plain, but much less grating than the dub. Weevil’s voice is incredibly fitting in the sub. It’s a very soft and methodical voice that leads you to believe he’s hiding something. Weevil’s not a kind-hearted person and you can tell he’s not trustworthy just by his eyes, but his voice adds some degree of mystery about his true intentions.

Name changes: Dinosaur Ryuuzaki is changed to Rex Raptor and Insect Haga is changed to Weevil Underwood. I find no reason to prod 4Kids about this since they were just taking Japanese lame pun names and changing them into English lame pun names.

The poster for the upcoming Duel Monsters tournament is completely redone for the dub. However, the Japanese poster was incredibly lame IMO and the dub one is far superior. Grats 4Kids; I complimented you.

Subbed:

Dubbed:

….HOWEVER, as you can see, there’s no text on the dubbed poster, so there’s no real reason why he’d be so entranced by it. It’s also an awful advertisement for the tournament. There’s no information written on it at all, so it doesn’t even really count as an advertisement for the tournament. Since 4Kids is so paint-edit hungry, you’ll eventually see that practically every sign and advertisement in their shows is useless.

There’s no real reason given in the dub as to why Joey wants to join that tournament. In the sub version, it’s heavily hinted that it’s because there’s a 3 million (?) dollar reward. Grandpa says he wants to cleanse Joey of his impure intention of simply getting money from dueling by teaching him the heart of the cards. Then Joey screams as they fade out. In the Dub, Grandpa basically starts grilling him about all sorts of Duel Monsters questions.

In the original version, Jounouchi makes it to the final eight in the aforementioned tournament and most of their conversion on the couch includes mentions of it. In the dub, they act as if he never even competed. I do have to say, it’s incredibly impressive that Jounouchi made it that far just by a few weeks of training. He really sucked at the game before. As for why this is changed from eighth place to never competing in the tournament at all, well, I really believe they wanted Joey to be almost a complete rookie out of the gate so they removed this small plot point.

Pegasus in the original is very entertaining to listen to. He constantly switches back and forth between English and Japanese. I don’t mind Pegasus’s dubbed voice at all. In fact, it’s pretty fitting, but he does sound immensely creepy sometimes.

I understand Pegasus’s power to see other people’s cards and read their strategies, but he can’t always have the right card in his hand to counter whatever the other player is planning.

The duel between Pegasus and Yugi is heavily changed, at least dialogue wise. In the dub, Pegasus takes this opportunity to tell Yugi all about the story of Duel monsters. He explains that they’re in a shadow game in the shadow realm and how the game was made using real monsters in ancient Egypt blah blah blah. They even put the final winning attack in the Pegasus vs. Yugi battle in there for no good reason besides it’s the one in the first season that looked the most Egyptian-y.

In the original, they only talk about Pegasus’s upcoming tournament and how he’s using his Millennium Eye to win.

In the original, Yugi seems very honorable in that he wants to destroy his controlled Devil Dragon instead of the Piper, which has lower attack points, thus would suffer the most damage. He wants to destroy the dragon first because he has a duty to his cards to not allow them to be under the control of a malicious being. In the dub, Yugi just gloats and mentions nothing about duty. He just attacks the Koumori Dragon and moves on.

Yugi mentions that he could win if he stalls until the time runs out when he’s ahead in life points. However, he doesn’t want to because that wouldn’t be a legit win to him. Dub Yugi makes no mention of this ‘loophole’.

Next episode, it’s off to Duelist Kingdom!

…Previous Episode

Rumbling Hearts Review

Rumbling Hearts

Rating: 7.5/10

Plot: Takayuki, Shinji, Mitsuki and Haruka were best friends in high school. Haruka had a crush on Takayuki for a long time, and she eventually gained the courage to confess to him. Takayuki didn’t want to hurt her feelings, so he accepted her confession and they started dating. He eventually grew to love her and their relationship eventually became more intimate.

Everything seems to be going great until tragedy strikes. Haruka was hit by a car and fell into a coma. The accident greatly impacted Takayuki who basically became a semi-mute mess. He was taken care of by Mitsuki for a handful of years, and they eventually hooked up and start dating. However, everything changes once again when Haruka suddenly wakes up…..

Breakdown: This is another anime that I had to rethink after re-working my old review of it. This was one of the first 10 reviews that I ever wrote, and I think I got a little too carried away with it, mostly because I really wanted a different pairing in the end.

Now that it’s been a few years since I watched this series and, thinking back on the facts….this anime wasn’t as great as I first believed it to be. It’s still great, but I really endorsed this thing too hard.

I should weed people out now, if you can’t stand soap-opera drama, you might wanna leave this alone. This is the most soap-opera-y anime I’ve ever seen. It’s better made and acted than soap-operas, but the tone and story are just covered in drama.

You also might think that I put too much information in the plot summary. What, did I summarize half the series? Well, fear not because that’s just from the first two episodes.

The main reason why I decided to dock this some points in my rework (it was previously 4.5/5 when I used to do ??/5, which basically equals 9.5/10 here) was because I thought about the entire story, barring my love of Haruka, and…well….I was basically right before, but even more.

Takayuki and Mitsuki, to me, have no chemistry. You know Mitsuki has a thing for Takayuki early on, but you never really felt like the feeling was mutual. The only real reason that they get together is because Mitsuki was fed up with vegetable zombie Takayuki and decides to snap him out of it by confessing to him, stripping naked, and then jumping his bones. Despite the fact that Takayuki went along with it, I never felt like he was as in love with Mitsuki as she was with him.

My major problem is that both Takayuki and Mitsuki are kinda difficult to like. Both Takayuki and Mitsuki, one being her boyfriend and the other her best friend, fail to visit Haruka in the hospital once in three years. For no good reason.

Yes, it might be awkward despite the fact that she can’t see or hear you or even acknowledge your presence, but she’s still your friend, dammit. You don’t have to constantly hold vigil at her bedside, but a quick visit like once a week wouldn’t kill you.

Once Haruka wakes up, things really start getting unfurled, starting with shaky waters between Mitsuki and Haruka’s little sister, Akane, who accidentally walked in on Mitsuki naked in Takayuki’s bed early on in her and Takayuki’s relationship. Now she hates Mitsuki for betraying Haruka but has an okay relationship with Takayuki because of how much he means to her sister.

Haruka doesn’t realize it’s been three years since the accident and hasn’t been caught up on anything for fear of her going into shock and making her severely ill. She still believes Takayuki’s her boyfriend, they’re all still in high school, Akane wears her old school uniform around her to further the illusion etc.

Takayuki’s relationship with Mitsuki is severely shaken after this, especially when he seems to start spending more and more time with Haruka. Eventually, he even starts getting romantic with Haruka again.

Mitsuki is so depressed by losing Takayuki that she….well, I don’t want to go so far as to say ‘rape’ but she drunkenly pushes Shinji into having sex with him despite him stating that he has a girlfriend. And that’s basically Shinji’s only real purpose in this anime. I guess they didn’t want her having sex with some random stranger, but I really can’t remember him doing anything else. He is a nice character, but that’s it.

On paper, this might reek of melodrama and it does, but it is also well-written and well executed. The characters are fleshed out and have believable personalities, especially given the situation that they’re in. While I find it to be a dick move for both Takayuki and Mitsuki to hook up then basically ditch Haruka, I can, sadly, totally see that happening in a real situation.

Now I won’t lie, I, myself, didn’t care for the ending. The ending was…unexpected. It was sweet, but not the ending I personally was rooting for and has a major problem given the information I’ve already presented.

SPOILERS FOR ENDING

Haruka and Takayuki are seemingly happy together, and Haruka has even come to terms with the fact that three years have passed and Takayuki and Mitsuki hooked up while she was in a coma. Shinji tells Takayuki of how Mitsuki was acting, and Takayuki actually seems like he doesn’t care. Shinji punches him and tells Takayuki off.

Later, Haruka tells Takayuki that a lot has changed over the past three years and that she wants to step aside for him to be with Mitsuki.

See, I don’t get this. This is a great gesture by Haruka. It’s extremely selfless and sweet, albeit sad. But it really seems like all of this is happening purely to make Mitsuki happy again.

As I said before, I never got the vibe that Takayuki was all that much in love with Mitsuki. It really seemed like he was trying to fill the hole in his heart from losing Haruka, and Mitsuki was there and loved him, so why not? We got to see Takayuki go from dating Haruka to avoid hurting her feelings to him legitimately loving her. And just because Mitsuki’s going on a self-destructive bender because she lost her boyfriend, Takayuki should feel more obligated to be with her than Haruka? And Haruka ends up with nothing? That just seems…awful.

And to answer your question, yes, he does actually go to her and they live happily-ehhh ever after.

END OF ENDING SPOILERS.

Art and Animation: The art and animation are fantastic. However, I really feel like, if they wanted a realistic feel, they shouldn’t have gone for the bright blue and pink hairstyles.

Music: Good, but not particularly memorable.

Voices: English – The voices were actually great, though Haruka’s and Akane’s were sorta too high pitched for my tastes.

Bottomline: Though it may be too soap-opera-y for some people, it’s still an enjoyable romantic drama. No matter if you dislike certain characters or not, you do connect with all of the characters on some level and feel bad for their situation. The ending may be disappointing or great depending on your opinions on the situation.

Additional Information and Notes: Rumbling Hearts was based on eroge game, Kimi ga Nozomu Eien (which is also the show’s original Japanese name). It was produced by Studio Fantasia, and is currently licensed by Funimation in North America.

Rumbling Hearts has a sequel OVA and a spin-off show centered around Akane called Akane Maniax, which is a comedy. I may review these in the future. I started watching the OVA, but never got around to finishing it. I do remember the art being even better than the series, through. It was gorgeous.

Episodes: 14

Year: 2003-2004

Recommended Audience: Mild swearing, mild violence, some mature situations, severe levels of drama, partial nudity, mentions of sex, non-graphic(though there is a nipple or two…haha, get it? Or two?…ahhh..) depictions of sexual encounters. 14+

Yu-Gi-Oh Episode 1 Sub/Dub Comparison

YGO Ep 1
Permanent marker smiley faces create a bond that not even the forces of darkness can break!…..Literally..But that’s later.

Plot: Yugi and his friends love playing the card game Duel Monsters, but when the world champ, Seto Kaiba overhears that Yugi’s grandpa has a super rare card at his game shop, he believes it to be the card he’s been searching for for ages. When he arrives, lo and behold, it’s the Blue Eyes he’s been looking for. However, Yugi’s grandpa, Solomon, won’t sell it or trade for it because it’s so precious to him.

Kaiba later kidnaps Yugi’s grandpa (because logical reactions) and duels him for the card. Solomon falls ill after losing to Kaiba and Yugi goes to save him. Kaiba rips up the Blue Eyes to prevent it from ever being used against him since Kaiba already has three Blue Eyes and Duel Monsters’ decks can only have three copies of one card in a deck. He challenges Yugi to a duel as his grandpa goes to the hospital. Yugi struggles with Kaiba for a long time, believing he’ll lose. Will one card be the difference between triumph and defeat?

——————————————–

I don’t completely understand Kaiba’s reasoning for kidnapping Yugi’s Grandpa. I know he wanted the Blue Eyes, but why did he want it so badly?

1) It’s pretty clear his Grandpa was never going to sell it to anyone or trade it.

2) He also didn’t show a desire to use it in a duel.

3) Even if it was ever used against him, he has three Blue Eyes – he has a huge advantage. In addition, tearing up a card doesn’t mean it can’t be used in anymore duels. I mean, maybe in duels using the holograms (because the system probably couldn’t ‘read’ the card that way) but it’s still usable. If you wanted it gone so badly, you should’ve burned it.

Why does Joey mention that Yugi has the Millennium Puzzle when he’s listing off reasons as to why he can win? He doesn’t know at this point that that thing has magical powers to help him win duels, so basically he’s saying “Hey Yugi, you can win this card game because you have a giant necklace!” In the original version he just talks about how Yugi helped change him from a fight-loving thug.

In order to make it a surprise that Kaiba has the other three Blue Eyes, they omit the part of Kaiba’s speech before the duel where he mentions that a deck can only have three copies of the same card and he destroyed the fourth because he couldn’t use it and didn’t want it used against him.

This season is well-known for the utmost disregard of the rules of the game. In the Yu-Gi-Oh game, each player starts out with 8000 life points. What you can summon depends on how many stars the monster has. If a monster has 4 stars or below, it can instantly be summoned. If it has 5-6 stars, it requires one monster to be sacrificed from the field. If a monster has 7 or more stars, it requires 2 sacrifices. In this season, incredibly powerful monsters can be summoned from the start and each duel requires only 2000 life points on each player. You’d think this would make duels go faster…..Silly you! :3

To be honest, though, I prefer this season. Sure the rules are used as toilet paper and a lot of the moves make no sense, but that makes duels more exciting. In the following seasons, practically everything is about rules and regulations. It makes it pretty boring.

You also hardly ever see direct attacks in this season. In the game, if you have no monsters on the field but your opponent does, they can attack your life points directly causing damage equal to the number of attack points a monster has.

Take the duel in this episode for example. Surely Kaiba has other monsters that he can summon from his hand when Saggi is on the field. If he did, Yugi’s one monster per turn defense would fail and he’d win in a matter of a couple of turns, yet he doesn’t. In addition, it doesn’t seem to matter if you have more than one monster out. If your opponent has one defense monster, I guess you’re barred from using the other monster to attack.

Kaiba states that the Swords of Revealing Light card only affects monsters that are currently on the field during activation. A new monster won’t be under the same spell. This is entirely wrong – new monsters are just as affected by Swords as the others.

Subbed, dubbed, that friendship marker smiley face thing is still uber cheese.

Exodia comes out of a pentagram in the original. They added more lines in the dubbed version to avoid controversy, though it makes more sense to use the regular star design since it has five points and Exodia uses five cards/parts….Also, technically, that’s far from a Satanic pentagram, but whatever.

Subbed:

Dubbed:

Name Changes: I honestly don’t understand why they chose to change only some of their names. 4Kids changes names a lot in order to Americanize their shows, but only a handful are changed in Yu-Gi-Oh.

Jounouchi is changed to Joey, Honda is Tristan and Anzu is Te’a (I’ve never even heard of that name before. Why change her name to sound just as foreign?)

Pegasus also had a slight name change. In the original, he’s Pegasus J. Crawford. In the dub he’s Maximillion Pegasus. This is yet another name change I just don’t get. Why change it so that his first name is his last name? Either way, both the sub and dub characters call him Pegasus. Though, I do have to say, at least the dub makes Pegasus’s parents look better. Max is a fairly normal first name and you can’t do much about your surname. His Mom and Dad must’ve hated his guts to name him Pegasus….

Entire Show Edit: The dubbed version never shows the title cards. Which is weird. I’m sure 4Kids could’ve come up with all sorts of puns.

Entire Show Edit: The opening and ending themes have been replaced for the entire run and the next episode previews have been removed……Though, the be completely honest, I prefer the dub version’s better at least for this season. Later seasons get better themes.

Entire Show Edit: All of the cards had to be edited for the American release to not look like the TCG cards (Trying to avoid product placement in kid’s shows and whatnot, though I could never make heads or tails of the actual rules involved with that.) Instead of showing them as they look as the real-life TCG cards, they only show the picture, color, attack and defense points. This causes a lot of confusion during the series as the characters seem to read cards several times, but there’s no text to read. It also makes you wonder how anyone knows what these cards do.

Entire Show Edit: Though Kaiba is still an asshole in the series, he’s is much more respectful in the original version. Dubbed Kaiba slings insults and treats people like crap while original version Kaiba is more subtly condescending and uses honorifics.

Entire Show Edit: As typical 4Kids fashion, a lot of the music is replaced and there is hardly ever any silence.

I’ve brought this up before and I might as well do it again, dubbed Yugi never sat well with me. I can partly understand if his friends don’t realize his eyes, demeanor and height change when he duels, kinda….But Yami’s voice is so deep compared to Yugi’s in the dub that it’s completely unbelievable that they wouldn’t notice that.

In the Japanese version, Yami sounds just like Yugi only using a deeper, smoother voice. It’s a very subtle change.

Don’t get me wrong, Dan Green does an incredible job as Yami and I commend him in his range because he does not sound like Yugi at all, but the change is too drastic for me …Also, why is it they all seem to notice when Yugi gets encompassed by light but no one bothers building on that?

Next episode, Pegasus and Yami have a showdown through a video tape. Will the tracking need to be adjusted during the duel!? Tune in and find out!

Maburaho Review

Rating: 2/10

Plot: Shikimori goes to a school filled with magicians where your worth as a magician is measured by how many times you’re allowed to use it. You see, a magician only has so many times they can use magic in their lifetime. If they use it all up, they instantly die.

Shikimori’s worth is pitiful as he can only use his magic a handful of times. Thus, he’s known throughout the school as a loser. However, one day, three girls suddenly appear and lust after him wanting to marry him. They don’t want him – however, they want his genes. Shikimori’s bloodline is incredibly powerful, but it ends with him. Girls all over the school now want to bear his child so they can claim the power of his bloodline.

Breakdown: Geez, this sounds like every guy’s dream. The underdog suddenly has every girl after him, but they only want to sleep with him no strings attached. And, hey, if you want more to your relationships, there are also several who want to marry him.

Maburaho is just bland. It’s not even really good at fanservice. I only watched two episodes and I can basically predict what’s going to happen. There will be a ton of episodes focusing on just the girls lusting after Shikimori and Three’s Company moments stemming from it. We’ll delve a bit more into the character’s backstories, but none of it will matter much. Shikimori will probably use up his magic on stupid stuff, verge on dying, big moment happens and he ends up with Yuna because obviously she’s the main love interest and it would be dumb to have him go with the girl who 100% wants nothing more to do with him than sex and the monotone samurai girl who wants the same thing.

Shikimori’s boring, the girls are boring, the side characters are boring, the art’s boring, it’s just blah.

I will admit that this series actually has somewhat of new premise with the whole limited amount of times they can use magic and if they use those shots up they die thing, but that’s not much to cheer about.

Then there’s the fact that I have to, yet again, ask the audience to switch the genders to see how creepy this really is. Imagine a bunch of guys viciously pursuing a girl just because they want her genes to bear a child for them.

Then they wag their fingers at him for blowing up at them because none of them really care about him, they only want his baby juice, but Yuna really does like him. Sure it may not be what every teenage boy would do right then, but he has every right to feel that way. No matter what gender you are, getting attention for the sheer sake of obtaining your genes must seem somewhat insulting.

It’s also pretty sexist to the girls. I know that Japanese history is littered with marriages and arrangements that are made purely for the benefit of the family name, but these girls don’t want to marry him or honor their family, they just want to bonk him so they can mother magical nukes.

Bottomline: Unless predictable and boring harems are your forte, avoid this one.

Additional Information and Notes: Maburaho was directed by Shinichiro Kimura and was produced by JC Staff.

Episodes: 24

Year: 2003-2004

Recommended Audience: Typical harem fare. 13+

G Gundam Review

G Gundam

Rating: 7.5/10

Plot: In the distant future, earth has been essentially abandoned for established space colonies. In order to maintain peace and control between the various colonies, a tournament was created to choose the colony that would reign over the others for a year. This tournament is called the Gundam Fight. One person from each nation is chosen to pilot a mobile suit and is sent to earth. There, they must fight other Gundam fighters from other nations using earth as a battleground. Because of this, earth has become a desolate wasteland, supporting only handfuls of people across the globe with many dying.

Our main character, Domon, has only one goal for being Neo-Japan’s Gundam fighter – to find and confront his brother Kyoji, whom he believes killed his mother and was the cause of his father being imprisoned in a comatose state. He knows Kyoji has fled to earth with the terrible Dark Gundam, and he’ll do whatever it takes to find him.

Breakdown: This is a slap of nostalgia, huh? I used to love this show, but it is unbelievably cheesy at times. Basically, the entire series is laid out for us in a nutshell – Domon is obsessed with finding his brother and he has to fight other Gundam fighters to find him. I don’t really have any qualms about the story. In fact, I find it to be quite good, if not somewhat cliche. However, I do have some significant issues with the series as a whole.

1 – Domon is not very likable. He’s constantly moody, mopey and angry. On the rare occasion where he’s not being moody or angsty, he’s actually very enjoyable to watch. I’d say only about 3% of his screentime is him being happy and the rest is him being miserable when he’s not fighting.

Not to say that he doesn’t have a reason to be a little upset. Taking this off of the illusion episode, he seems to have been a very happy person in the past and also seems that way when he’s with Master Asia, but that doesn’t mean it’s enjoyable to watch much of the time.

2 – The acting’s frequently very corny. Rain has an especially lame voice actress. When she’s not acting terribly, she’s annoying the hell out of me and/or yelling “DOMON!” Granted, at least her non-yelling voice sounds okay – it’s not grating or super high pitched – but the acting gets on my nerves. I don’t expect masterpieces out of a show this aged, but still.

3 – The art’s blah and the animation’s fairly cheap unless they’re in a super important battle. Even then, it’s not great. Lots of animation is also recycled over and over, mostly in terms of attack animations and when the fighters are getting suited up in their Gundams.

Gundams are piloted in a weird way in this series. There are no real controls. The Gundams are operated through use of a full body skin-tight rubber/latex outfit that is always custom fit to the fighter upon entry. This is not only for functionality, but also so that the fighters, for whatever reason, can feel the blows from the enemy and actually get physically wounded when their Gundams are damaged. I know they did it this way to showcase the fighters actually fighting with their Gundams instead of just pressing buttons and triggers and whatnot, but surely there’s a better method to this.

4 – The ending is the cheesiest cheese ever cheesed. (Spoilers, obviously) I’m still debating which is more cheesy, this ending or Eureka 7’s. It’s a tossup, but I’d have to lean more towards this. Just slightly.

The ending is cheesy enough with the declaration of love and Rain jumping into Domon’s arms as his cape (which seems to become insanely big during this scene for some reason) flowing gracefully around them without them riding off into the sunlight with Domon holding Rain wedding-style as they ride off through a rainbow heart while riding on a Pegasus. I am in no way, shape or form kidding. End spoilers.

5 – Shining and Burning Finger have to be the two stupidest attack names I’ve ever heard, barring magical girl anime. I was actually hoping the dub was to blame for this and that the actual attack names were like Shining Hand or the God Hand/Hand of God (His Gundam was called the God Gundam in the original, hence the name G Gundam) but nope. That’s a completely accurate translation. Also, the speech he always gives before he makes the move is unnecessary and corny, but I guess that’s what makes it so quotable.

6 – The shuffle alliance thing seems tacked on. Domon constantly spouts out that he’s the King of Hearts, but the other shuffle alliance members get no real focus on their titles. In fact, spoiler, but the original shuffle alliance only appears in one episode before they die and pass on their titles. The new shuffle alliance members hardly ever get any spotlight on their titles. End spoiler. I watched this series all the time when I was younger, and, rewatching it, I couldn’t remember who got what title until the actual episode, and I still have trouble remembering. Even if they did, what good is it, and why do holographic-esque icons appear on their hands because of it?

Other than that, though, the other characters such as Allenby and Sai Saichi are great, there are numerous tear-jerking moments and it’s a pretty enjoyable ride. Some Gundam fans may not enjoy the tournament setting, but I found it to a welcome change from the constant Gundam series that are just wars between two factions. All of the different nations coming together to fight the Dark Gundam was also pretty damn cool.

The music is also very memorable and great. The OP fits the theme perfectly and it’s great to get you hyped up for action. The ED is just okay, and the background animation for it is repetitive. It is literally nothing else but the same picture of Rain repeated over and over by zooming in on the reflection in her earring.

Characters

Domon: He’s not a horrible main character, but he’s not all that likable either. When he’s actually relaxing and not being an angst ridden scowl face, he’s a pretty likable character, but, sadly, these moments are few and far between.

Rain: Rain is Domon’s crew for the Gundam and his love interest. She’s a lot more useful than most women in these kinds of anime, but that, by no means, means that she’s not annoying. She’s kidnap fodder/damsel in distress, her dialogue gets annoying sometimes, she gets knocked out more than an Ultimate Fighter and her particular brand of emo-ness causes her to be the crux in the ending. Also, their relationship just bugs me. They may be childhood friends, they may banter, but they don’t seem to have good chemistry in my opinion.

Allenby:
Allenby is Neo-Sweden’s fighter, pilot of the Noble Gundam and Rain’s only romantic rival in the series. Allenby is a very independent, spunky girl (also she seems to be the only female in the entire Gundam Fight. Rain has used Shining and Burning Gundam on occasion, though.) I really liked her character. In fact, I wished Domon would’ve gotten with her instead of Rain. I don’t know why, but it looks like it’s hinted that Allenby ended up with that blind Gundam fighter in the end? Her and Domon have such great chemistry together, and Allenby is a much more interesting and likable character than Rain, to be honest.

Sai Saichi: Neo-China’s fighter, Sai Saichi seems to be the youngest Gundam Fighter in this year’s tournament and perhaps ever. He can’t be more than 12 or 13. Despite his age, he’s noted as being the first person to ever legitimately force Domon into a draw. He pilots the Dragon Gundam and is fighting for the revival of the dying Shaolin Temple. He’s a very energetic, yet focused and strong kid with a heart of gold. I really like Sai Saichi. He’s one of my favorite characters. His crew is made up of his two mentors/guardians who are also monks of the Shaolin temple.

Argo Gulskii: Argo is Neo-Russia’s fighter piloting the Bolt Gundam. He is fairly unique in that he’s a prisoner during the entire Gundam Fight. He used to be a space pirate before he and his friends were caught and imprisoned. His reason for fighting is to earn the freedom of him and his friends.

Argo’s a pretty stoic character. He doesn’t talk much, but he’s still a really cool guy. He’s very honorable and wise for a former space pirate. His main crew member is the warden of his prison, a woman named Natasha, whom I’m convinced was designed after one of the artists watched a prison porn…Seriously, she has a whuppin’ stick and everything. She’s also Argo’s love interest throughout the series.

Chibodee Crocket: Neo-America’s fighter and the pride of both Neo-America and earth’s America, Chibodee is a boxing champion and pilot of the Gundam Maxter who is the embodiment of the American dream. Chibodee’s not terrible, but he’s a bit annoying. He’s a loud mouth who calls mostly everybody by their chosen nation affiliation (He usually calls Domon Neo-Japan etc.) and he’s a bit of a lech too. His crew is made up of four attractive ladies who also double as his cheer squad.

George De Sand: Neo-France’s fighter and pilot of the Gundam Rose, George is the epitome of a knight. He’s also is incredibly boring. (Also, what is up with his hair?) He’s a cliché on top of a cliché. He’s a knight whose only goal is to fight for his country, his pride as a knight and his love interest, the princess Miss Marie-Louise.

This pairing is pretty lame to me. Watch the first episode with his debut and you’ll see why. She’s way more into him than he is into her. She even fakes her own kidnapping to see if George will fight for her. Pretending that you’re in danger to see if your man will fight for you isn’t horribly uncommon, but usually those fights don’t involve giant robots, guns, lasers swords, bombs and the huge possibility of death. Remember, even though it’s frowned upon to kill another Gundam Fighter in battle, it happens all the time. Even if it doesn’t, there’s a very very very high risk of severe injury.

His crew consists of his butler, Raymond.

Master Asia: Neo-Hong Kong’s fighter, Master Asia is the former King of Hearts, the previous Gundam Fight’s champion and is known as the Undefeated of the East. He is Domon’s martial arts master and basically raised him from about 10 or 12 into his twenties. Master Asia is a pretty good character, but I never understood his intentions.

He has no crew to speak of.

Schwartz Bruder: Neo-Germany’s fighter (Considering who he really is, don’t you have to be native to the nation you’re representing in order to be their Gundam Fighter?) Schwartz is masked throughout most of the series, but his identity is essentially revealed in his name. Also, his voice, in the dub at least, is too notable to not guess who he is the instant he appears. Also, also, there’s no other reason for him to be masked if he just up and hands out his name.

Sure, masked people are a staple in Gundam series, but he had no other reason for wearing one. However, Schwartz appears mid-way through the series and essentially becomes Domon’s replacement mentor for Master Asia. He’s a pretty cool character and is on par with Master in terms of skills. He has no crew to speak of either, and pilots the Shadow Gundam (Gundam Spiegel in the original. Spiegel apparently translates to “mirror” so I don’t understand why that needed to be changed.)

And that’s about it. Despite not being as–…..What? ….I don’t see any elephant in the room. ….Okay, okay.

One of the things that puts people off of this series is the slew of racial stereotypes. Domon, Neo-Japan’s fighter is a master martial artist who is all about pride and honor as a fighter.

Sai Saichi dresses in very monk-ish style clothes and is also all about pride as a fighter. His main reason for entering the tournament is to save a martial arts temple and honor his country. Also, his Gundam is the Dragon Gundam…

Argo’s got huge-ass eyebrows, is incredibly stoic and seemingly cold, but Natasha is moreso the stereotype, in my opinion.

Chibodee is almost insulting just with his name. (“Hey guys, what’s something American-y-ish?” “….Uhhh…Davey Crocket?” “Brilliant!”) He’s very loudmouthed, surrounded by pretty girls, wants nothing but money, fights and pretty girls, and all of Neo-America and earth’s America is obsessed with watching his boxing matches.

Probably the worst of these offenders is George. Like I said, he’s a (bishounen) knight who fights for his honor as a knight, the pride of his country and his princess. (Yes, I’m being serious, she’s an actual princess.) His manner of speech, mannerisms and everything screams French stereotype (I’m honestly surprised we never see him wearing a beret and eating cheese) If you wanna go further, look at his Gundam. It’s called Gundam Rose, looks like a giant knight and uses roses as his main attack. Also, he fences.

And that’s just the main characters. There’s also Andrew Graham from Neo-Canada who pilots Grizzly Gundam (Lumber Gundam in the original…both are fairly stereotypical) Unsurprisingly, he wears plaid, has a big burly beard, suspenders and lives out in the woods usually chopping wood with his axe. (Sorry if you were hoping he worked in a maple syrup factory between hockey games.) His Gundam also uses two axes as his weapons.

Neo-Egypt’s Gundams are the Sphinx Gundam and the Mummy Gundam. Also, the first debut of Neo-Egypt, the pilot was a mummified version of the previous pilot. Yeah, someone tell the writers that mummification hasn’t been used in Egypt for thousands of years?.

Neo-Greece has a Zeus Gundam, because Greek gods and all that.

Neo-India uses a Cobra Gundam.

Neo-Kenya has a Zebra Gundam.

Neo-Holland’s Gundam is called the Hurricane Gundam and is a giant windmill.

Neo-Spain uses a Matador/Toro Gundam which looks like a giant bull.

Neo-Mexico’s original Gundam name was Tequila Gundam (Again, not kidding.) The dub, however, changed this to Spike Gundam. Still, the Gundam looks stereotypical. It looks like it’s wearing a sombrero and has cacti all over it. But hey, if that’s not stereotypical, the pilot of Spike Gundam was named Chico Rodriguez. I don’t think you can get more ‘Mexican’ than that name.

Despite these stereotypes, however, not one person speaks with any sort of an accent, and that is just really freakin’ weird. Maybe the dubber didn’t want to instill any more stereotypes than the anime already does, but not one person, not one, has any sort of accent. Natasha has the slightest of accents, but that could just be her voice.

Whether or not you’re offended by these stereotypes depends on how easily you’re offended. You really start feeling the stereotypes when the finals start and all of the Gundams show up. Sure, they’re stereotypes, but none of them seem inherently bad. One could argue that all stereotypes are bad stereotypes, but I see it as long as the character is good person, I’m not that offended.

If anyone should be offended, it’s Italy. Their Gundam is called Neros Gundam, named after a Roman emperor who committed various atrocities in his reign including setting fire to a village to make room for a palace, and its pilot is a raging asshole lunatic too. Also, apparently, there’s a Gundam for Neo-Italy called the Ferrari Gundam and it does seriously look like a robot Ferrari…whether or not that is offensive is up in the air.

Art and Animation: Like I mentioned before, the art and animation are pretty rough and dated, but it could be worse.

Voice acting: English – Most people are voiced alright, and it never seemed like anyone was bored with their roles, except maybe George’s VA, but that could just be George. There’s a bunch of cheesiness in the acting, and Rain annoys the hell out of me sometimes, but nothing really horrible.

Music: The music is really good and I love the opening themes. The final song in the series is an uncut version of the second season’s opener and I really love it. In the original run on American TV, they just kept editing in the old theme song for some reason so I always supposed this was just a song made for the ending. Now that I hear the cut version at the beginning of the episodes I get disappointed that it stops so abruptly.

Bottomline: This series has some intense action, great characters and touching moments. If you can stomach some serious amounts of cheese and aren’t easily offended by various stereotypes, check it out. There’s even a moment or two when you might feel like crying.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go eat a cheeseburger in my pickup truck while singing The Star-Spangled Banner.

Additional Information and Notes: G Gundam was directed by Yasuhiro Imagawa who also directed Berserk. It was written by Fuyunori Gobu, and produced by Sunrise.

Bandai currently holds the licensing rights to G Gundam in North America.

Episodes: 49

Year: 1994-1995

Recommended Audience: There isn’t really too much to write home about. There’s no swearing, but there’s a lot of violence and fighting. Various people do get killed, but I don’t remember seeing much blood or anything. No sex, minor nudity. 10+

Fruits Basket Review

Fruits Basket

Plot: Tohru Honda is an incredibly polite and kind girl. She’d never want to bother anybody or impose. That is why, when her mother died, she decided to live in a tent in the woods instead of bothering anybody for a place to stay. That is until a boy named Yuki Sohma and his cousin Shigure found her and decided to take her in.

She accidentally discovers the Sohma family secret – they have been cursed with the animals of the Chinese zodiac. Whenever they get hugged by a member of the opposite sex or if they fall under a good deal of stress, they transform into an animal of the Chinese Zodiac. Only 13 members of the family have this curse. Yes, 13. 12 of the regular zodiac plus the cat from the stories.

Usually they have a person’s memory erased when they discover the secret, but the family leader, Akito, has decided to leave her be as long as she promises to keep their secret. Now living with Shigure, Yuki and the cat Kyo under the condition that she be their housekeeper, Tohru does everything she can to help them while learning of the darker side of the curse.

Rating: 9/10

Breakdown: If you want a feel-good anime with tons of comedy and touching moments, watch this show. It’s hilarious, it’s emotional, it has plenty of good life lessons and advice, and, if you’re into it, it’s technically a reverse harem. Hooray!

I love this anime with all my heart. It’s definitely one of my absolute favorites. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s without its flaws, most notably with the ending.

The last two or three episodes take a really drastic turn in mood. Kinda like how Angelic Layer was really bright and happy-go-lucky until the final two episodes. Fruits Basket has plenty of drama, some of it stemming from the Sohma family curse and some from other sources, but, for the most part, it’s a really lighthearted comedy show. The final three episodes, however, are much darker compared to the rest of the series.

I won’t spoil anything, but let’s just say there’s a bigger secret beyond Kyo’s chosen zodiac animal that changes the entire game.

The actual show ends on a light note, but not before a ton of very heavy scenes.

Now, if the change in tone doesn’t bother you, the actual ending might.

Spoilers

We end with Akito confronting Tohru and he starts assaulting her until she talks him down. She’s allowed to stay with the Sohmas despite now knowing all of their secrets and accepting Kyo for who he is.

The problems are as follows – 1) We never get a resolution to the curse. The curse never gets lifted from the family. Thus it kinda ends on a cliffhanger.

2) We never get to meet the other members of the zodiac that are, as of now, manga exclusive. We never meet Rin (Hatsuharu’s girlfriend. She’s the horse of the zodiac) or Kureno (The rooster of the zodiac. However, some have speculated that the little bird that’s always around Akito is actually Kureno, but that’s debatable. Why would Kureno be transformed all the time? What would trigger the transformation anyway? And, even if it was, we still never get to meet the actual character.)

I’m really not one to harp on differences between manga and anime. Even if I prefer one medium’s version over another, I realize that some stuff has to be changed because of the shift in medium. However, completely cutting two major characters and leaving us hanging, even if there is a slight resolution with hope for the future, just seems like a bit of a rip off.

Another moderate issue is the fact that Akito got a gender change for the anime. In the manga, Akito’s a woman who is forced to grow up and act like a man so that she can be the head of the family. In the anime, Akito’s a guy.

I’d really like to see a season two of the show where we get to continue on alongside the manga, maybe a semi-short OVA, but I doubt that’d ever happen….Well, Inuyasha eventually continued so maybe there is hope.

END OF SPOILERS

Let’s run through the characters before hitting the bottomline.

Tohru Honda: Tohru is an incredibly nice and caring girl who never does anything in her own interests (Even to the point of making herself so stressed that she makes herself sick several times). However, this makes her a tiny bit annoying as she’s pretty much a doormat. She never sticks up for herself and never gets angry. Ever. This is why I dislike her pairing with Kyo. He may get nicer as he goes along with Tohru, but Kyo still yells around and at her constantly, and he’s even physically hurt her on occasion. Not on purpose, of course, but still. She never defends herself, so it really seems like a slightly abusive relationship.

Still, I love Tohru, and I always wished I could know someone like her in real life.

Yuki Sohma: The rat of the zodiac, Yuki is incredibly smart, kind and gentle. Because of this, he is loved by all of the student body at his school and is hailed as “Prince Yuki.” He even has his own fanclub called the Prince Yuki Fanclub. I really like Yuki even if he seems somewhat blunt sometimes. I much prefer pairing him with Tohru over Kyo, but that’s just my opinion.

Shigure Sohma: The dog of the zodiac, Shigure is a published author who’s as goofy as he is perverted. I adore Shigure. He’s such a fun character, and he’s another one of those characters that you’d love to know if they actually existed.

Kyo Sohma: The cat of the zodiac, Kyo gets treated like crap in the family (but at least better than the previous cat who was basically imprisoned) because the cat is seen as the outcast in the zodiac and not even an official member. Because of this, Kyo’s a bit of a defensive jerk.

He’s loud, mean and rude, but can be nice when he actually tries. He has a long standing rivalry against Yuki. It seems like he hates him, but he’s actually fairly jealous of him and vice versa.

Kagura Sohma: The boar of the zodiac, Kagura is deeply in love with Kyo and wants nothing more than to marry him as he ‘promised’ when they were younger. She seems to have two sides to her. One that is incredibly shy and kind and another that is basically like a rampaging boar. I really liked Kagura and would prefer her with Kyo over Tohru. At least Kagura would be able to deal with him if he went off the rails.

Momiji Sohma: The rabbit of the zodiac, Momiji is an energetic and spirited boy who gets excited over practically anything. Despite his child-like appearance, he’s actually 15 years old. Momiji actually has one of the sadder pasts in the series, but that doesn’t stop him from making the most out of his life. I really love Momiji even if he doesn’t get to be a little too much sometimes.

Hatori Sohma: The dragon of the zodiac, Hatori actually turns into a seahorse when he transforms (this is because a seahorse is called the dragon of the sea) Hatori is seen as evidence that the curse is slowly fading because he doesn’t turn into an actual dragon (I guess that means that the dragons before him were actual dragons. That must’ve been a lot more awkward…)

Hatori is the family doctor and also possesses the ability to erase the minds of anybody that learns of their secret. Hatori also has a pretty sad backstory and is a really likable character. Poor guy, though.

Ayame Sohma: The snake of the zodiac, Ayame is a flamboyant man with long silver hair and bright yellow eyes. He’s Yuki’s older brother, but Yuki doesn’t really like him much. Ayame was best friends with Hatori and Shigure in high school and they still very much hold their dynamic. Ayame’s a fun character, but I don’t much care for his loud background music.

Hatsuharu Sohma: The cow of the zodiac, Hatsuharu also has a bit of a dual personality problem, only much worse than Kagura. He has two sides to him, white and black. When he’s white Haru, he’s very mild mannered and kind. When he’s black Haru he’s very loud, rough and blunt.

Haru’s my favorite character. His character design is really cool, his personality’s awesome and Justin Cook plays him so well it’s amazing. I can’t watch that scene where he turns black in episode 13 enough.

Kisa Sohma: The tiger of the zodiac, Kisa is an incredibly quiet girl who is SO ADURRRRABLLLLLLLL. ❤ Not much to say about her but she’s SO KYUUUTTT….*cough*

Hiro Sohma: The ram/sheep of the zodiac, Hiro’s a brat. He’s even more annoying than Kyo. Hiro’s only at his nicest when he’s around Kisa, whom he has a crush on, but even that’s not really nice. Again, this seems like an abusive relationship waiting to happen. Hiro’s even more of a jerk than Kyo and Kisa’s more quiet and reserved than Tohru…

Ritsu Sohma: The monkey of the zodiac and the final zodiac member we ever meet, Ritsu is a crossdresser that has no self-confidence. No matter what he does, if something bad happens at all, he flails around the room going crazy asking for forgiveness and saying he’s sorry. Ritsu’s okay, but he gets annoying after a while. He’s best in small doses. I guess it’s a good thing he’s only in one episode.

Uo: Uo is one of Tohru’s best friends. She really looked up to Tohru’s mom and even sometimes takes the guise of her mom’s old gang uniform mask. Uo is very much a tough girl who keeps the bullies, such as the Prince Yuki Fanclub, away from Tohru. However, she’s still incredibly kind and a great friend to Tohru.

Hana: Hana is Tohru’s other best friend. She’s a monotone psychic who is also incredibly protective of Tohru and will send out her psychic energy to any that threaten her. Hana’s actually very funny because she keeps bringing this creepy deadpan monotone humor to this otherwise lighthearted show. Despite seeming creepy to many, she’s very kind and loving.

Akito Sohma: The ‘god’ of the zodiac and the head of the Sohma family, Akito has caused more than his fair share of despair across the family. He’s an incredibly skinny and frail person who likes keeping his family under his thumb. Akito’s a bit of a psycho, bit of a jerk and pretty scary, but that’s his purpose.

Art: The art is great and pretty unique. Both the character designs and the backgrounds are wonderful to look at. The animation is also fluid and lovely.

Music: The music, for the most part, is lighthearted and cheerful. It’s very calming and fun, even if Ayame’s is just a bit too annoying. The soundtrack is great and yet another CD I’d gladly own.

Voice acting: Dub wise, I’m not much of a fan of Aya’s or Ritsu’s voices, but that might just be me. Everyone else is spot on and perfect for their roles. Sub wise, Yuki’s voice always seemed way too girly and high pitched for me. I get that he’s a gentle boy, but he has gone through puberty, people.

Bottomline: Most of the characters are really likable in some way and many are so likable I wish I could know them in real life. The story is very engaging and entertaining, and I wish it continued. This is one of those anime that I could watch over and over again and never get tired of it. I recommend everyone to give it a shot, but don’t get your hopes up too high about the ending.

Additional Information and Notes: Fruits Basket is based off of a manga by Natsuki Takaya. The anime adaptation was directed by Akitaro Daichi who also directed Kodomo no Omacha and Animation Runner Kuromi. It was written by Higuchi Tachibana and produced by Studio Deen.

Funimation currently holds the licensing rights to the English Dub in the US.

Episodes: 26

Year: 2001

Recommended Audience: There are some hints of nudity because the zodiac members don’t transform back to humans with their clothes on. However, you honestly can’t see anything. Kyo swears a bit and the ending is pretty heavy in tone. 10+

Final Notes: This review was written long before the 2019 version of Fruits Basket was announced. To put it in perspective, this is one of the first reviews I ever wrote. This page will be updated when I have fully watched and reviewed the reboot……but I am so excited to see it!

Canary Review

Rating: 3.5/10

Plot:
A teenage band loses their keyboard player because he doesn’t want to play anymore. The group laments over this as they prepare for a concert in a local park. However, their spot is soon canceled and wacky hijinks ensue.

Breakdown: This 30 minute OVA is the epitome of meh. Some of the jokes hit with me, most fell flat. It’s like this show couldn’t decide if it wanted to be insane and unrealistic or a slice of life show.

The story is convoluted and forced. There’s no real reason, given anyway, why they had to try so desperately to be in that park show, especially not to the point they went to, which is faking a terrible accident to hijack the park organizer’s car to stop her from getting to the show because of some bet the leader made with her in order to ensure a spot in the show again.

Then there’s somehow setting up a motion-activated perfectly disguised kite that latches on to people and flies by someone, pulling them by bicycle to basically kidnap their keyboardist to get him to the concert. Right, because if there’s one thing I’D like to do after being kidnapped and flown dangerously through the air against my will, it’s play keyboard in a concert with the people who did that to me.

Why are they so dedicated to this band or the Canary (never figured out if that was a song or the name of the group)? Especially the leader. I know they like playing music, but why does it mean so much to them?

The characters are incredibly forgettable. I can’t remember anyone’s name except Jun’s (the keyboardist) which is odd because he hardly gets any screentime. I also remember that one of them was bald and wore a bandanna on their head. There’s way too many of them to be shelled out at all in a 30 minute OVA, which means none of them are. There’s also some sort of backstory between the park organizer and a famous rocker. They talk about it like it’s something we should know already.

The music is….alright. It’s not something I’d go out and buy, but it’s okay.

The art is meh and the animation is meh.

Bottomline: You’d be missing nothing if you watched this. I give it points for making me smile sometimes, but it’s confusing, boring and just there, really.

Additional Information and Notes: Canary was directed by Keitaro Motonaga, who also directed Digimon Adventure: Tri, Jormungand and….School Days, and it was written by Naruhisa Arakawa, writer of Blue Seed, Spice and Wolf I and II and Elemental Gelade.

Canary was produced by Frontwing, and it is not currently licensed in English.

Runtime: 30 Minutes.

Year: 2002

Recommended Audience
: Nothing offensive. E for everyone!

Wild 7 Review

Wild 7

Rating: 6/10

Plot: Seven ex-cons have been released from death row on the grounds that they become an elite crime fighting squadron, the Wild 7. They have no limits, and no laws apply to them. The only thing that they need to do is follow orders. However, when the world around them become increasingly corrupt, the line between criminal and officer gets blurred beyond recognition. Are the Wild 7 truly nothing more than brutes needed to weed out the worst criminals, or are they truly the only ones who care about true justice?

Breakdown: By all intents and purposes, this is a mindless 80’s action flick plain and simple, even though it was made in the mid-ninties. However, I will gladly give it more credit than that.

Granted, many 80’s action heroes never seem to have laws or rules applying to them (Most of the time it just seems like a “You got the job done? Well, let’s forgot those 67 felonies that you just committed then!”) but these guys actually are criminals from drug runners to murderers, and they do anything possible to get the job done. This includes blowing the heads off of numerous people and bombing the living hell out of a building.

Despite their harsh manner of crime fighting, they do everything that they can to ensure that innocent bystanders don’t get hurt.

The plot is interesting, but the delivery falls flat in several areas. Also, there are several instances where I was very confused. For instance, one character puts a gun to his head and insinuates that he’s going to kill himself, but we cut away to the villain getting away and it’s never shown or mentioned again. He appears shortly afterward perfectly fine.

Another part that bothered me is that this is two OVAs split into two fifty minute volumes. So, about 80 minutes, not counting credits. This is barely enough time to get in-depth into one character, let alone seven or more. Because of this, none of the characters are really fleshed out beyond maybe Hiba, the leader.

In fact, I barely remember any of their names. I’d recognize a couple of their character designs (The big burly guy with red hair and the explosives expert) but mostly they’re complete strangers. The most insight we get into them specifically is an 80s-esque freezeframe and a small clip of what they did in the past with their name and a snippet of their criminal record at the bottom. They all seem to have a good sense of loyalty, though.

Art and Animation: Art and animation are certainly dated, but the art never looked particularly bad to me, and the animation was never jarring.

Music: The music’s actually pretty nice and definitely nostalgic for old 80s action movies.

Voice Acting: English – Being an old 90’s English dub, I wasn’t expecting miracles and I definitely didn’t get them. Not all of the acting was bad, but a good chunk of it was. Oh and Joshua Seth and Wendee Lee, who would later play Tai and TK respectively in Digimon, are in this. Wendee Lee only gets a very small part in the first volume, but it was still cool to hear them back in the day.

Bottomline: There’s not much in terms of substance here. The plot is pretty original, and the story’s fairly good, but the characters never really get fleshed out much and it’s very much an old action flick. I love old action flicks, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

Additional Information and Notes: Wild 7 was directed by Kiyoshi Egami and produced by Animate and Studio Senkan. It was based on a 48 volume manga of the same name by Mikiya Mochizuki. A 13 episode series proceeded this in 2002 called Wild 7: Another, but I’ve never been able to find it anywhere, and a live-movie was released in 2011. Wild 7 is currently licensed on the US by Enoki Films.

Episodes: 2

Year: 1994

Recommended Audience: No sex or nudity, but there is gore aplenty (including one laughable instance) and many instances of violence. Also, it might glorify ex-cons, if that bothers you. 15+