SSBS – Cardfight!! Vanguard Episode 12: Aichi vs. Kamui

SSBS CFV EP12

Plot: It’s the Card Capital Tournament semi-finals! Aichi is facing off against Kamui while Misaki faces off against Kai. Aichi’s definitely holding his own a lot better than he was the last time he fought against Kamui, but can he manage to pull off a win?

Breakdown: This episode focuses almost entirely on the match between Kamui and Aichi because, let’s be honest, Misaki is just not going to win her match. We all knew this the instant the lots were drawn. She’s inexperienced and Kai’s a ruthless powerhouse. I was impressed by her strategic thinking in the short bit of the match we were able to see, but of course she loses.

Aichi’s match against Kamui definitely shows how much Aichi has grown, learned and improved as a Vanguard fighter. He was getting absolutely mauled by Kamui last time and now they’re neck and neck. And it’s not just because he has Grade 3s now, either. In fact, most of his best moves have come from his Grade 1s and 2s, proving that it’s more about having balance and knowing your cards well than it is about having powerful cards. It’s a fantastic fight, and I’m really starting to love watching Kamui battle.

There isn’t really much to say about this match besides that because this is our second cliffhanger. Their match was getting right down to the wire when they were interrupted by Kai finishing off Misaki. I was about to ding Aichi for yet again losing focus in his match just to focus on Kai (Seriously, dude, TCG etiquette), but Kamui was doing the same and this is a major match ending so I’ll let it slide.

Other than that, we have another nice added tidbit of realism in Morikawa and Izaki running around the Vanguard tables acting like idiots and Shin needing to tell them to stop their horsing around. This is a room filled with kids in what is essentially a toy store. Of course that is bound to happen. I’m not even mad that the scene was completely pointless because it just peppers in that feeling of realism and nostalgia.

Also, we get this exchange during that scene.

Taishi: “Word of advice – You’re never going to get a girlfriend acting like that.”

Morikawa: “Whatever, man. I’ve got Vanguard – the best girlfriend ever.” My stomach hurts from laughter at this line. Morikawa is starting to be less annoying to me because he gets such ridiculously funny (and stupid) lines.

Rating: 9/10

Next time, the match between Kamui and Aichi concludes. Who will win? And who will face off against Kai?

….Previous Episode

SSBS – Cardfight!! Vanguard Episode 11: The Ninja Fighter Withdraws!

SSBS CFV EP 11

Plot: Aichi’s match with Ninja Master M concludes, and he’s moves on into the semi-finals. Kamui and Misaki also win their matches and move on. It’s time to draw lots for the semi-finals!….After lunch!

Aichi is matched with Kamui, and Misaki and Kai get paired up. Who will get to the finals?

Breakdown: Ladies and gentlemen….our first truly disappointing episode.

I mentioned in episode ten that time management seemed to be an issue and that the battle with Ninja Master M didn’t need to be a cliffhanger. This episode truly exemplifies that point. The match against Ninja Master M only takes one more turn, as predicted, yet it takes up the entire first half of this episode – in spite of the fact that the next episode preview and title spoil the whole thing. It was a great final turn, but it was drawn out for no real reason.

We see a few minutes of Misaki completely destroying some sniveling 30-something woman, which was nice to see as a preview of how much she’s improved in the few weeks she’s been actively playing.

And that’s it. The rest of the episode is a lunch break where 90% of the scenes are Kamui drooling over Emi and fantasizing about the two of them eating lunch together. It was a little funny for a short while but got old real quick. They obviously just didn’t want to put any of the actual semi-finals into this episode, so they had to dump in some filler until we got to the last few minutes where they at least draw their lots.

I would’ve preferred if they at least spent the final half on Misaki’s match.

Some other things were that Kai’s assessment of the tournament so far was that everyone was weak and not worth playing against….Dude, it’s a small-town rinky dink shop tournament. Why would you ever think you’d find a pro or the like here? Get your head out of your ass.

We also got a painfully unfunny return of Kamui’s running ‘joke’ where he gets common sayings wrong. This one doesn’t even make sense. He’s last to pick his lot, so he says ‘Saving the best for blasts, huh?’ What the hell does that even mean? The point behind the saying is IN the saying for God’s sake. There’s no way he knew it’d be appropriate to say that unless he knew the saying was ‘Saving the best for LAST’

But that’s not all. Izaki, Morikawa and Taishi have to spend about 30 seconds explaining why what he said was wrong. Thanks. We. Got. It.

Let’s not stop there. Let’s have him do another in the next episode preview. He tells Aichi to fight it out ‘bears and bears’ and Aichi, of course, has to correct him to ‘fair and square.’ Again, why the hell does he believe that saying is correct? Is he suggesting Aichi and him fight so fiercely that they maul each other?

In regards to short moments, Misaki got a pretty funny one where she yells ‘Bite me!’ to Taishi when he calls her cute for blushing as her name is listed off.

This episode is the first one I’ve seen so far where there just weren’t a lot of shining good moments to direct attention away from the problems.

Rating: 6/10

Next episode, it’s Kamui vs. Aichi, and we might get a glimpse of the match between Misaki and Kai.

….Previous Episode

SSBS – Cardfight!! Vanguard Episode 4: Assault! Twin Drive!

SSBS CFV EP4 TITLE

Plot: Aichi is itching for a rematch with Kai, but is never able to find him. He believes that Kai was just going easy on him during their first match, but with all of the experience he’s gained from playing so often at the card shop, he believes he can face Kai seriously.

Shin tells him that he’ll give Aichi a surprise if he beats Misaki in a Vanguard fight. Problem is, Misaki’s never played the game before.

Aichi, at first, sees Misaki’s clumsiness during the game and believes he needs to go easy on her, but quickly realizes that, having watched many cardfights and learning a lot about the game in order to do her job properly, Misaki is actually very good at Vanguard.

Utilizing the power of a Grade 3 card, Amaterasu, she manages to take Aichi down after a long and tough fight.

Throughout the fight, Aichi realizes that there is much more to the game in terms of strategies and effects than he ever realized, and he was presumptuous to believe he had gotten to Kai’s level so quickly. He decides to buy some new cards and work out some new strategies for his deck so he can continue battling, learning and growing as a Vanguard fighter.

Shin reveals that this lesson was the surprise all along. Newcomers are always eager to take on the tough veterans after they believe they’ve found their groove in the game, but they need to realize that there’s a much wider world of strategies and cards that you have to learn. Then he may be able to finally face Kai again.

Breakdown: Contrary to how this may sound, this isn’t an episode where Aichi suddenly grabs his main character powers by the balls and grows an ego-beard so he needs to be beaten in order to knock him down a peg (thank god.)

While Aichi does believe he’s ready to take on Kai again, and, admittedly, does state that he might want to take it easy on new-fighter Misaki, he never gets any sort of ego and never actually goes easy on Misaki. He takes her just as seriously as he does any opponent.

I was disappointed that Misaki was a rookie to the game, but she definitely showed that even on-the-field experience isn’t the end-all solution to being better at something. Learning about it on your own and watching other people do it can be just as powerful. She doesn’t wipe the floor with Aichi, in fact, at the start, he’s winning by a large margin, but Misaki was essentially taking necessary hits until she could get Amaterasu out.

This fight shows us another important aspect of the game – utilizing more complex strategies and Grade 3s properly. While we have seen some basic strategies, effects, drive triggers and damage triggers, this episode steps it up with even more card effects, draw triggers, and the benefits to drawing more cards….the last one being a lesson I kinda rolled my eyes at.

In what TCG is drawing more cards not beneficial (not counting situations where you might be forced to draw until you run out of cards in your deck, making you lose by default in some games)? And in a game where cards in your hand are used for defense and building up stronger summons, why the hell is Aichi questioning why draw triggers are beneficial?

In this situation, she was using draw triggers for an effect of Amaterasu, but this lesson was also reflected in the scene where Aichi runs out of cards in his hand to defend his Vanguards against her attacks.

Might I also applaud this episode for not taking the obvious and ridiculously annoying route of having the guys all point out her gender? I was worried about this episode slightly because I thought we were in for a bunch of ‘Fight her? But-but, she’s a girl!’ ‘Pfft, what’s she going to play with? A polly pocket deck?’ ‘Won’t her estrogen get in her eyes and make it impossible to see the cards?’ I’m exaggerating, but would you really question it?

They never bring up her being a girl at all—okay once. Aichi’s friend from episode one, Taishi, who is here for absolutely no reason other than to remind us that he exists, says ‘I think this girl knows more about the cards and rules than most of us guys.’

This was a good episode because it helped Aichi learn a bit more about truly improving in anything you’re passionate about, it gave Misaki some time to shine, it allowed the audience to learn more about the game and we got to see a pretty great battle, even though, surprisingly, not much of it took place in the imaginary world. I did enjoy the chibi nun with the minigun though. That was funny.

Rating: 8/10

Next episode, a cocky gradeschooler named Kamui is blowing away all of the middleschoolers at Vanguard. Does Aichi have a shot at breaking his winning streak?

….Previous Episode

White Album Season 2 Review

Rating: 3.5/10

Plot: Same as the first season, only with more sex and drama.

Breakdown: (Spoiler alert: Also, this is not to be confused with White Album 2)

Nihon rater, I apologize. You had perfect reason to name Touya on the same level as Makoto. He didn’t leave a pregnant girl on her own so he could bang other girls, but I can see why you’d put them on the same level.

Touya’s upped the assholery 1000 fold in this season. The first one only had him cheating on Yuki with Yayoi. He seemed to feel guilty about it, he kept pretending Yayoi was Yuki because he missed her. Okay, somewhat understandable, I suppose. Cheating’s still a major dick move, but it is slightly understandable here. Understandable, not excusable. He also kissed Misaki and proclaimed his love for her….okay that’s much less understandable. Especially if his one ‘love’ is Yuki.

In this season he continues to sleep with Yayoi until about three episodes from the end, sleeps with Haruka, makes out with Misaki (again), has sex with Misaki, almost has sex with Menou, makes out with Rina, goes out on a date with another woman (whom he later ditches from said date to go with Yayoi for no reason whatsoever. And when I say “ditch” I mean he said he needed to go to the bathroom and never intended on coming back. She was a nice pretty girl and Touya just ditches her in the middle of a date for no reason. What’s worse is that the final shot they show of her is her waiting in the restaurant saying she’ll never date again. Touya, you’re a dick. At least say something came up and you needed to leave. Don’t act like you’ll be right back and then ditch her. What’s even worse is that he strung her along first by calling her a savior goddess. Jeez.) and strings along Mana.

All without remorse and eventually even becoming blase about his relationship with Yuki – the one he still won’t friggin’ end.

This season also brings up a lot of confusing and pointless moments. Like, though I don’t mind the thought, why did Akira get hit by a car? It added nothing, he suffered no actual injuries besides a scratch on the head and he was back to work days later. I’ll tell ya why. It got you to watch the next episode because that was a cliffhanger moment. So useful!

I could’ve done with White Album if they left it as it was in season one, but no…

Characters

Touya: You can basically understand my thoughts on his character already. He turns into a super-ultra ass in this season, yet still holds his relationship with Yuki for no reason. Did you know they barely ever have screentime together? Ever.

How can you root for a couple that we hardly ever see together? We see him with the other girls a lot more than Yuki. Again, I honestly don’t understand why he never dumped her. Why pretend you guys are in love when you barely even like each other by this point?

In addition, in the scene where Akira gets hit by the car, all he’s worried about when he gets to the hospital is how he’ll handle it if Haruka’s upset with it. Nice. Some friend you are. He’s completely unlikable, boring when he’s not being an ass and I wish HE had been hit by a car at some point.

Akira: Like Touya, he’s upped the assholery quite a bit this season. He’s still an angry jackass, only now he’s a sex hound. He tries to sleep with Misaki in Touya’s father’s house (right after he came home from having a heart attack!) and then gets pissed because she doesn’t want to do it, justifying it by that they’ve been dating for a month (a whole MONTH! Wow, why aren’t you married yet?) and it’s time that they did. Feh.

Also, he states that if she ever had tea with Touya, he’d dump her in a heartbeat. True love right here, folks. I mean, I wouldn’t trust Touya to be alone with my shoes, but that’s a complete lack of trust in Misaki as well. He also seems barely bothered after she broke up with him. He was even on a date with Haruka smiling a few days later…

Eiji:
Eiji didn’t have that much of an impact on the first season, but he was a jerk there and he’s still one here. Also, he’s out of his damned mind. I’m dead serious. The reason he’s a jerk is that he basically treats his sister, Rina, as an object. He believes Rina has overstayed her welcome in the music world and keeps trying to replace her with his new star, Yuki, despite the fact that Rina is still a huge sensation.

The reason he’s insane is because he’s completely obsessed with this painting he saw when he was a musician. It was so amazing that he was moved to tears whenever he saw it. He was so obsessed with it that he tried to obtain the painting for years, but kept getting ‘copies.’ However, he was just under the delusion that they were all copies of the same painting, when, in reality, the paintings were all drastically different and he was just imagining that they looked exactly the same.

He has a mental breakdown and it’s revealed that he doesn’t even remember what the painting looked like. So impacting that he doesn’t even remember what it looked like….just that it had a girl and a lily. Wow.

Yuki: Yuki’s even more of a doormat in this season. She actually finds out that Touya has been cheating on her and lying to her along with a bunch of other people, yet she still doesn’t dump him or even confront him about it.

Yuki wants the best of both worlds by trying to maintain her relationship with Touya and staying as a pop idol, but she makes little to no effort to see him or make time for him. The most conversations they have is by phone tag – just leaving messages for each other on the answering machine.

It’s obvious that she cares more about her career than him, yet she still won’t let him go. I questioned many times whether or not Yuki actually loved Touya at all during this season. Their relationship has the emotional depth of a sippy cup. Why are they the main couple?

Oh and, get this, she won’t make an iota of effort to see Touya because she doesn’t want to hinder her career, but she says she’ll quit her career because Rina said she was leaving the record label. LOGIC.

Also, when she finds out that Touya’s a lying ass, she bites into her hand so hard that she creates a puddle of blood on the ground….Ya know what? Maybe they deserve each other…

Rina: Rina was the one character who I still pretty much liked in the end. However, she does make out with Touya. She owns up to it with Yuki immediately, though. And she still shows that she’s a strong character and a good friend.

Misaki: Misaki turned horrible in this season. She makes out with Touya, later sleeps with him (granted, he was grieving, but still.) takes a job from an old boyfriend who apparently got her pregnant and wouldn’t support the baby. Then he became a huge dick to her and tried to stab her later.

By the way, I have no clue what happened to the baby, if there was one. She willingly creates a trashy article for him as well. It’s a side plot that seems unfinished and sloppy. She’s also not being fair to Akira by being with him. It’s obvious she went with him because he loved her and she couldn’t have Touya. She dumps him, which is more than I can say for Yuki, but geez.

Haruka: Haruka also lost her likability in this season. Not terribly much, but she ends up practically throwing her(naked)self at Touya and then sleeps with him. Also, we have no clue what happened to her brother, nor why she stopped playing tennis because of it. In addition, I really got sick of her monotone personality….

Yayoi: Still a whore. Next.

Menou: Not much comes out of the new character of Menou. We find out that she’s Mana’s older sister that their mother uses as a singing icon, she was Touya’s first savior goddess and…she’s pretty…what’s the word….sleazy? I don’t know.

Mana: Mana’s still a brat in this season, but she never kisses or makes out/sleeps with Touya. Her affection, what she chooses to show of it, remains stilted and one-sided. However, she does have a complete and utter flip out mid-season. Destroys her entire room for very little reason.

Misc. Issues

There’s no couple that you really want to root for…in this romance anime. There are three main guys in this series, Touya, Akira and Eiji. I’ve already explained why they’re either assholes or jerks plus insanity. Most of the girls also become very unlikable.

If you root for any pairing, you will definitely find a reason to not want them together. At the beginning, I wanted Touya to go with Haruka, but seeing what an ass he was to her this whole series, I believe he didn’t deserve her and she didn’t deserve to be with an ass. Later on, I rooted for Rina and Touya, but again I liked her too much to encourage her to go with Touya. So I figured, screw it, let him go with Yayoi. They’re perfect for each other. Both heartless sex fiends.

If anything, the best pairing in this series is Rina and Yuki. They have a really great relationship where both would gladly sacrifice everything for the happiness of the other and they get along really well. I usually don’t purposely make yaoi/yuri pairings in shows unless the characters themselves are solidified as being gay, but tell me this relationship wouldn’t work.

In a show that is based off of a dating sim, especially when you go the extra mile to try and explore every avenue, you have to have at least one pairing that you can root for. Even if it’s not the main pairing.

School days even had me rooting for Kotonoha and Makoto to some extent, even if he was major assholedickjackass who didn’t deserve her and likely would’ve kept up his cheating ways—okay I’m starting to regret this one now. Rumbling Hearts had me rooting for Haruka. I rooted for no one in the end of this. I hope he ended up alone and so did Yuki….

Let me try to explain the actual ending. Touya flashes back to when he really first met Yuki. Apparently he saved Haruka and Yuki from bullies by pissing his pants, putting it on his hands and chasing the bullies away by showing them his hands.

“If only a boy with piss on his hands wasn’t here” Wow writing staff, did you write that as a serious line? Like, really?

Afterward, Yuki is prompted by Touya’s father to encourage him or whatever so she gives him a medal made out of a piece of wood. He throws it into the woods. His father yells at him to retrieve it, but he never does. The emotional trauma from that string of events (that’s actually how they describe it) made him seal off his memories………..Does anyone need to fertilize about 300 gardens because that is a massive pile of bullshit.

Also, the reason he never found it was because Haruka took it and hid it. Don’t ask. I don’t care and they barely explain why.

The end is a big mystery. Rina and Yuki sing together on stage and apparently become a duo act now being handled by Frankie. Someone (either Rina or Yuki) writes a goodbye note to Touya on the mirror of the dressing room. Yuki leaves Touya a note that doesn’t say anything. Then Touya waves to someone as we fade out for the last time and hear all the girls (and guys, because…..I dunno) say Touya’s name. Basically, though the writers seem to want to point to one couple the entire series and this episode, the ending is left ambiguous to please any fan of any other pairing. Or please none of them. Take your pick.

Art and Animation: Same quality level of the last season.

Voice Acting: Same.

Music: Didn’t like the music as much in this season. The final song was fairly nice, though.

Bottomline: If you, for any reason, liked the first season, leave it at that. This season will make you hate almost everyone. In addition, if you do root for any pairing, there’s no real satisfying ending to any pairing. Even his relationship with Yuki amounts to little to nothing. I guarantee that you won’t find happiness over the horizon.

If you do like it, stop at the end of season one. Still no happiness over the horizon, but it’ll likely save you from hating practically every character and pairing.

Additional Information and Notes: White Album season 2 was produced by Seven Arcs. The second season was directed by Taizō Yoshida. It was written by Hiroaki Sato.

Episodes: 13

Year: 2009

Recommended Audience: More sexual situations and fanservice shots than the last season. Also more mature themes. 15+?

White Album Season 1 Review

Rating: 6/10

Plot: Touya Fujii has been dating Yuki Morikawa since they were in high school. However, when Yuki wants to pursue her dream of becoming a singer, she puts her relationship with Touya on hold because she can’t balance her career and dating him. This leads Touya through a tough time trying to continue at least keeping in contact with Yuki, but failing numerous times. Luckily, he has plenty of ‘goddesses’ to keep him company and help him through his troubles one way or another.

Breakdown: (Spoiler warning) I haven’t had such a love/hate relationship with an anime since Fushigi Yugi.

Let me get the ‘goddess’ thing out of the way. Touya basically lists one woman a day as his ‘goddess of the day.’ Criteria for this is being female and seeing him on a day. Yuki is supposed to be special because she was his ‘everyday.’ This doesn’t matter. At all. But the show keeps pointing it out, so there ya go.

One of the reasons I was so interested in this show was that I read on Nihon anime reviews that Touya was seen as being more despicable than Makoto of School Days. Not as hated, but more despicable. That’s a pretty bold statement seeing as how Makoto was complete garbage.

I haven’t seen season two as of this initial writing, but from what I gather of season one….he’s not as bad as Makoto by a long shot. Makoto was a heartless sex fiend who cheated on about five different girls, one claiming she was pregnant, without any remorse or caring whatsoever. The only time he ever showed an iota of caring is when he got caught doing something bad and even then it wasn’t much.

Touya….is an ass. I won’t deny that. He’s an ass to Hakura for no reason even though she is nothing but nice to him, he admits his love for Misaki even though he knows his best friend likes her and he’s supposedly in love with Yuki, he makes out with and sleeps with Yayoi, Yuki’s manager, as a replacement for Yuki (even though Yayoi’s one of the main things keeping them apart) and he’s incredibly difficult to like as a main character.

However, unlike Makoto, he actually shows remorse for cheating.

….Sometimes.

He doesn’t use the girls he knows for sex beyond Yayoi. In fact, he only kisses one other girl besides Yayoi and Yuki for the entire show. And, being partially fair, Touya actually has somewhat of a reason to cheat (even though I think cheating is horrible no matter what reason, and I find it damn near impossible to forgive, personally, at least Touya had a reason beyond Makoto’s ‘I WANT SEX!’ reason.)

The anime pulls you into so many directions that it’s exhausting at times. Why? Because this anime is based off of a visual novel. More to the point – a dating sim. He has six, count ’em, six different girls to choose from. However, unlike a lot of visual novel based anime (Like Rumbling Hearts or even School Days) this anime wants to travel down every romance path possible. It wants you to root for way too many pairings. Focus on Yuki, Rina or Haruka, some mixture of those. We didn’t need Yayoi, Mana or Misaki’s relationships with him muddling it up.

In addition, their relationship is so flimsy that they should’ve just fully broken up with she became a singer. If you still want her to remain as a romantic interest, make them miss each other. Try to get back together. Keeping them together only highlights what an ass Touya is and what an idiot Yuki is. None of this would’ve happened otherwise, and I was never really rooting for him and Yuki to begin with.

Characters

Touya: He’s in love with Yuki, but is willing to cheat on her and declare his love to other women. He never seems to try very hard to see her or do stuff with her etc. He’s also a doormat. Besides Haruka, he does what everyone tells him to do with little fight.

Speaking of Haruka, I’d really like a reason as to why he’s so cold to her. She does tons of things for him, and he barely acknowledges her existence, which is odd, considering they’re supposed to be childhood friends.

Yuki: Yuki’s not terribly likable either. Her personality is fine, but she chose her career over her boyfriend, which would be fine if she actually fully chose one of the other. Things don’t always work out, and they could’ve had a very civil break. But she still tried to string him along without really trying that hard to be with him.

Lots of singers and actresses can still live their lives and have relationships. What makes Yuki so special that she can’t date Touya anymore?

Akira: He’s the token ‘best friend’ but he’s almost as annoying as Touya. He’s always angry, hardly ever smiles and his only real character point is that he likes Misaki for no given reason whatsoever.

I love this scene where he and Misaki spot Touya in a library. Touya’s just staring out the window, he sees Akira and Misaki together so he quickly waves and goes back to staring. Akira says with a snarl “What does HE want?” I think he wants to look out the window and mind his own damn business, Akira.

Even after he gets together with Misaki, he’s an angry whelp. He’s constantly making unprovoked comments about being jealous of Touya, and it’s obvious, even when he’s with Misaki, that he’s being treated as runner-up.

Rina: Rina is Yuki’s mentor and best friend. She is also a pop idol who has taken Yuki under her wing to help her career. I really liked Rina, especially towards the end, but before the actual end.

She finds out Touya’s cheating on Yuki, so she does the logical thing and asks if she can date him too….Right. I will never understand that logic. Rina doesn’t seem like the kind of person who would be in it for the sex, so why try to build a relationship with a guy who nonchalantly admitted he was bonking his girlfriend’s manager behind her back? However, she is likable, and I liked watching most of her scenes.

Haruka: Haruka is Touya’s childhood friend and is treated like crap by him. According to a line of dialogue in episode one, she had some sort of accident in tennis and we never hear of it again. Haruka is extremely quiet and softspoken, but she enjoys biking and going for walks. She frequently asks Touya to go with her, but Touya almost never goes with her. Haruka obviously likes Touya, but claims she just likes him as brother. Oh and as a final “screw you, Haruka” before the second season, Akira runs over her bike…

Misaki: Misaki is good friend of Touya because they relate to each other with books and poetry. There’s not much else to say about her besides she’s in love with Touya, but knows she can never be with him because he ‘loves’ Yuki. She knows Akira loves her, but ignores his feelings. Misaki’s likable but boring.

Yayoi: Yuki’s manager, Yayoi has an amazing character design. Seriously the colors, the design, the eyes, they’re all great. The art’s great in this show, but her character design is very well-made. I guess that’s to ensure that she’s a good seductress.

Yayoi’s a whore, essentially. She does everything in her power to keep Touya away from Yuki and vice versa because she doesn’t want anything distracting Yuki from her singing. She knows this hurts Touya, so she jumps him every chance she gets to be a replacement for Yuki. It should be noted that he does fight this at first, but not much and not for long. She hardly ever cracks a smile and she’s not likable at all.

Mana: A girl Touya happened upon at a train station, then came to be her tutor. Mana just started following Touya, even though she seemingly hated him from first sight. She started screaming “MOLESTER! PERVERT!” just because he bumped into her. She does this twice and each time she’s by a security guard or cop and each time she has her mouth covered by Touya who promptly drags her away….Good job cops. You hear and see that and don’t move a muscle. Nice.

Mana’s annoying. She’s a brat who also has a thing for Touya (School Days effect will kill you in this series.) She’s also on a crusade to find who ‘Yuki’ really is because she believes he’s simply under the delusion that he’s dating Yuki and knows Rina. Every girl he sees her with she accuses of being Yuki. It stopped being cute the first time she did it.

Art and Animation: The art and animation are really great. Nothing spectacular, but still high quality.

Voice Acting: Japanese – The voices are very well done, and none of them got on my nerves or seemed flat.

Music: Being rooted in a lot of pop idol culture, there’s obviously a focus on music in this series. The music is okay, I guess. The vocal songs in the series are forgettable except “White Album” itself. The opening and ending are bland, but fairly memorable. The background music is bland and forgettable.

Bottomline: Focusing on just season 1, it’s a confusing mess at it’s worst, keeps your attention at best. By the end of the series, you’ll feel like you went through a blender. I had no clue who I was supposed to be rooting for, and to make things worse, the season ends on a cliffhanger. There was hardly a happy moment throughout the entire show, and, when there was, it was almost always followed up by a dark cloud.

If you like a lot of possible pairings, this is a decent anime to go to. The technical quality is good, but don’t expect great things from this.

Additional Information and Notes: White Album season 1 was produced by Seven Arcs. The first season was directed by Akira Yoshimura, who also did episode directorial work on Witch Hunter Robin, Gundam 00, Rurouni Kenshin (TV) and Zegapain. It was written by Hiroaki Sato who also wrote the screenplay for….Fushigi Yugi: Eikoden….That…explains…a lot.

Episodes: 13

Year: 2009

Recommended Audience: There’s sexual situations, but no nudity. That’s about it for questionable material. However, considering the tone of this show, I’d recommend 14+

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.