Shounen Step-By-Step: Yu Yu Hakusho Episode 1

snsbs yu yu hakusho 1

Plot: Yusuke Urameshi is a punk. He frequently skips class, doesn’t try in school, gets into street fights all the time and has run-ins with basically every type of authority figure that exists. His home life is no better with a drunk lazy mom who seems to pay him no mind at all while loafing about the house. He does have friends, the model student Keiko and the fellow street punk Kuwabara, but they seem to have just as poor of a view on Yusuke as everyone else does.

One day, Yusuke sacrifices his life to save the life of a little boy by pushing him out of the way of a speeding car and getting hit in the process. Yusuke appears near his body as a ghost and is quickly greeted by a flying girl on a boat oar named Botan. She is a shinigami or grim reaper, but she’s not greeting Yusuke to take him to the afterlife, she’s there to give him one more chance to live. See, he was not set to die that day and no one in the other world believed Yusuke would ever risk his life to save a child, one that would’ve, ironically, not have died or even been hit anyway. So, Yusuke is getting a second chance to live due to the error.

Yusuke, however, is not sure he wants to return to his life since he believes everyone dislikes him and everything seems to dump more crap on him. In an effort to get him to see the true value of his life, Botan gives him some time to think about the decision.

In the meantime, Yusuke visits his wake and sees how utterly devastated most of the guests are from his mother to Keiko and even to Kuwabara and one of his teachers. He even sees the grief of the mother of the little boy he saved.

After visiting his wake and taking everything into consideration, Yusuke meets with Botan again to agree to her offer, and Botan starts setting everything up to bring him back to life.

Breakdown: This has been my favorite pilot episode to an anime for a long long time. It is just so wonderfully written, so heartbreaking and so gripping that you can’t help but care for each character, even Yusuke, deeply from the get-go.

It’s also a shining example of how English dubs can really be just fantastic. There’s so much passion and emotion put into their line-reads here that it is just one of my favorite dub jobs ever.

The only negative I really have about it is the fact that two of Yusuke’s teachers really seem like they’re over the top. I mean, one has a character design that just screams ‘weasel’, the other looks like a serial killer and they’re both such complete assholes that they’re at Yusuke’s wake being thankful that he’s dead and even making jokes about how he probably died on accident while trying to steal the boy’s lunch money.

While Kuwabara makes the most impacting scene here, you really have to appreciate the subtleties of Yusuke’s mom’s short scene. She’s just sitting on the floor not saying a word or even showing any real emotion for much of the scenes, almost like she really didn’t care, and then suddenly she just says Yusuke’s name and bursts into sobs. Even the short scene with the little boy and his mother was very well done. It reflected the kid’s inability to really process the death of Yusuke and the gravity that the entire situation had on the mother. She’s both incredibly happy that her boy is alive yet devastated that another kid had to die to save him.

I will say that, while this is just an amazing opening episode, they don’t delve at all into the actual plot of the entire series yet, that being Yusuke eventually becoming a spirit detective and this show becoming essentially a tournament fighter.

The main characters were all very well-established from the start, the atmosphere was great and this really does seem like a pretty original story.

The art basks in that lovely 90’sness that makes me smile and while the animation isn’t amazing it’s still pretty damn nice for its time, the music is wonderful and the OP and ED for this season stay very near and dear to my heart.

This was a great way to start off this awesome show, and I definitely look forward to going over this series again.

Next episode: Yusuke is brought to the spirit world to meet Koenma, ruler of the spirit world, in order to get him started on the task that he will need to complete in order to be brought back to life.

H2O Footprints in the Sand Review

Rating: 3/10

Plot: Takuma Hirose has recently moved to a small village to rest due to his blindness. He soon meets a girl named Hayami and wants to befriend her. However, she rejects him. He is confused by her actions until he learns that everyone in the village treats Hayami like garbage and no one bats an eye at it. She’s regularly mocked, bullied and beaten by her classmates while none of the adults do anything about it; hell, some actually partake in it. Why is this? And why does Hayami feel that she deserves it?

Reasons for Rating: WARNING: I AM GOING TO BE SPOILING BASICALLY ALL OF THIS SERIES BECAUSE THE ENDING IS A PIVITOL PART OF THE FINAL RATING. SCROLL DOWN TO THE BOTTOMLINE IF YOU WANT TO REMAIN UNSPOILED.

Wow. Just wow. I haven’t seen an anime blow it so badly since….I dunno what. I was somewhat excited about this series because I had heard that it was even better than Air. I was also somewhat dreading this series because the THEM review shot this down to their lowest rating for the final four episodes due to a drastic change in the series….And I can pretty much understand why. But let’s rewind a bit because the final four episodes are more about Hirose. Let’s tackle the Hayami angle, shall we?

Well, like the plot says, she’s basically treated like garbage by the entire village. She’s regularly called a monster, a roach, basically a lot of vile insults, she’s constantly the target of terrible bullying like ruining her lunch or pouring toilet water on her head and she’s regularly beaten by her fellow classmates. In addition, she lives in two cable cars up in the mountains alone. It’s so bad that I’m really left wondering why she doesn’t just leave….That’s never answered. Yay.

The reason for this and the reason why she thinks she deserves all of it and doesn’t fight back is because her family apparently had a lot of power in the village and it caused a lot of pain and suffering for many of the villagers. Eventually the village got sick of it and torched their house and drove her family out of the village, leaving her as the sole survivor. Why she stayed and didn’t leave with her family is never explained. Yeah I didn’t really understand if her parents were dead or ran out of town. They never make it clear.

Then Hirose comes into the picture and stirs up the village by standing up for her every now and then. And when I say that, I mean he stands up for her when boys are bullying her. When girls are, he never pipes up, which is annoying. This plotline is solved rather suddenly….The kids basically suddenly stop abusing her and even become good friends with her just because Hinata told them to stop. The other villagers take a lot longer to stop, but it was so jarring that they went from turning their heads when she’s being beaten and bullied to going shopping with her in mere days.

I do have to say, this is somewhat stupid. She can’t control what family she was born into. She did nothing whatsoever to cause any heartache. Are the villagers really so stupid and cruel that they’d abuse a young girl just because she’s related to the family that was so mean? They don’t see it at all hypocritical that they’re being no better if not worse than her family was by treating her like that? It’s a wonder anyone in this show grew up partially normally with parents who all have that mindset.

Hinata’s plotline is that she’s basically scared to death of her grandfather who is the village elder. I won’t spoil much of her plotline because it’s the best plotline in the series, in my opinion, but let’s just say her grandfather is messed up; bad.

Hirose’s plotline is where things really start unraveling. The THEM reviewer said that episode seven was the perfect ending to the series and that they would easily give the series a moderate rating if was left at episode seven, which finishes up Hinata’s storyline, but leaves a chunk of Hayami’s and all of Hirose’s in the balance. To its credit, episode seven DOES seem like a series finale. I mean it had credits over actual scenes and included a vocal song, a big reveal, a big inspiring moment, a bunch of tie-ups, it’s almost like that WAS the series finale, but they realized they still had to do four episodes by contract or something.

Episode eight was noted by the same reviewer as being a big chunk of randomness. Otoha, who had been seen throughout the anime as a spirit that only Hirose could see, was suddenly a magical girl and everything around them was going nuts due to something in the spirit world. In order to gather magical energy, Hirose had to take charge of the situation and try to literally smack everyone back into reality. In the end, this is revealed to be an illusion that Otoha made for Hirose to see a book world that Hinata had made up when she was a child. Due to the connection between Otoha and Hinata, she thought that would be a good way to say farewell.

I wasn’t bothered by that episode. It was a final tribute to Hinata’s book that Otoha wanted to share with Hirose. Despite the randomness, it was kinda sweet.

Then we get to episode nine, which basically solidifies a relationship between Hirose and Hayami. That episode was also pretty sweet and cute.

Then we get to…….episode ten. Let’s backtrack; remember how I said Hirose was blind? Well Otoha grants him sight at the end of episode one or two. No one questions why he suddenly has sight, but there it is. In episode ten, since the Village Elder doesn’t want Hirose with Hayami, he reveals to Hirose that the Kohinata family, Hayami’s family, is the reason that Hirose’s mom killed herself.

The Kohinatas had set up an arranged marriage between his mother and a member of their family, but she met someone else, ran off and eloped and soon had Hirose. However, the Kohinata family soon found her and started pressuring her daily to divorce her husband and marry into their family. Details on what exactly ‘pressure’ means is beyond me. She couldn’t take the pressure anymore and jumped in front of a train one day when she was out with Hirose.

It is never, ever adequately explained, but I guess the emotional and mental trauma from that event caused him to go blind?

After Hirose learns of this, things seemingly go back to normal, but it’s soon obvious that Hirose can’t separate Hayami from her family and soon begins having nightmares and hallucinations of Hayami dragging his mother in front of the train. This causes a few spontaneous emotional outbursts toward Hayami, which is unlike his gentle and quiet nature.

He drives Hayami away and she becomes so angered that she starts beating a dam that was made to stop the water during the current rainstorm. Two of the harsher bullies from her school walk up and she eggs them on saying that she’s going to destroy the town just like their parents said she would. The two bullies then beat the crap out of her and she continues to egg them on until one of them tries to strangle/drown her in the water.

She’s saved but walks away from the scene before she can get any medical attention.

She runs into Hirose, who doesn’t even ask her if she’s okay when she’s obviously been beaten to a pulp, and tries to apologize for what happened and says that he doesn’t blame her. But she prods and says that she is responsible and he snaps and starts beating the crap out of her as well while blaming her for his mother’s death. He stops his frenzy when he realizes that she’s unconscious and he falls unconscious as well.

This is basically where I fell off the wagon.

Hirose yelling at Hayami and having nightmares would be partly understandable. I mean, it has to be confusing to find out that your girlfriend is related to the people who drove your mother to suicide, so that might drive up bad memories and maybe a nightmare or two, but she had nothing to do with it! Just like she had nothing to do with anything else that she’s taking abuse for. In addition, it’s not like her family actually killed her or anything. They just pressured her to marry into their family.

So, Hirose’s essentially a big fat hypocrite. He was on everyone’s asses for blaming Hayami for the pain and suffering caused in the village when she was just a child who had nothing to do with it, yet here he is doing exactly that. This entire show is built around the premise that Hayami is and must be a martyr. She must pay for her family’s sins and take all of the flak from the villagers despite being innocent for everything. It really gets stupid after a while.

Hayami wakes up and, despite being badly hurt, she is not in any life-threatening danger. Hirose, however, has yet to wake up. When he does wake up, he tells them that he’s gone blind again.

But hold on! We have a plot twist!

It turns out that Hirose had never regained his sight to begin with and that he had fooled himself into thinking that he had. This is proven by mistaking details in a photo that he’s supposedly seen and showing drawings and writing that are scribbles. So, yeah…..Hirose’s insane. He eventually gets so bad that he believes Hayami is his mother and that he’s a small child again.

After a big climax in which Hirose saves Hayami’s life from the villagers (They were going to kill her because she was going to leave…Yeah, make sense of that), he says he’ll protect his mother, Hayami.

Hirose’s uncle (Hirose’s father is never seen by the way. Which is incredibly weird. He’s all you have left now, he’s blind, yet you can’t even visit him? Jackass.) decides that it would be best to move him back to the old apartment that he and his mother used to live in in Tokyo and that Hayami would go with him to act as his mother until he was better.

Hayami and Hirose move and they go through a few months with Hayami working as a paper-girl (those still exist?) and Hirose I guess just hanging out because he’s so mentally ill. One day, as they’re out shopping, Hayami tells Hirose that he has to believe that his mother loved him and didn’t abandon him like he thought. She had actually sacrificed her life for him after he tried to catch his ball that bounced across the railroad tracks.

To push the fact even further, I hope you’re sitting down for this, Hayami kills herself by throwing herself in front of a train just like his mother did. And just as she does that, his blindness is cured and he’s mentally sound.

No, I’m not kidding. In essence, to help someone get over a traumatizing event, just traumatize them again with something else. It’ll even clear up their physical disabilities!

He gets over his blindness AND gets over his crazy-ness by watching his girlfriend kill herself in the same way that his mother did? Just….just….wha–it….

Wouldn’t that just make him MORE crazy!? Also…..hey, wait a second… If Hayami knew that, why did she let Hirose believe that her family drove his mother to suicide? Ugh, nevermind.

I’m not a doctor, but I believe I could find it plausible that someone could lose their sight after watching something particularly terrible and traumatic. At the very least, in an anime. I can even believe that he tricked himself into thinking that he had his sight back when he really didn’t, even if that does raise a crapton of questions (Like, how was he walking around town just fine? Why didn’t his friends think it was weird that Hirose was acting like he could see if he clearly couldn’t? If he never got his sight back, was Otoha just screwing with him? Just how?!) But him being cured of his supposed blindness AND mental illness by watching Hayami kill herself?

Oh and that’s not all. The end credits show everybody about….eh 6-7 years in the future where Hinata is now the village elder (Where are her parents exactly?) and a baby is there too. (No, it’s not Hirose’s kid. It’s actually Hamaji’s, but it’s a long story…Dunno why they had that weird plotpoint in there. Hamaji was a really minor character…)

Hirose, full with sight and mental soundness, and his uncle have built a windmill where Hirose met Hayami because she loved pinwheels and windmills. All’s fine and dandy until a little girl runs up to Hirose while being chased by a boar and she looks shockingly like Otoha and is even named Otoha. She was reincarnated as a little girl and said that she pulled a lot of strings in the spirit world to pull it off for him and ran away when he sees, yes, you guessed it, Hayami.

She was actually brought back to life thanks to Otoha. Because that won’t shock the living crap out of everyone in the village, will it? Then again, seeing as how his blindness being cured by Otoha wasn’t real, she could be an illusion for all we know too.

They could’ve completely avoided that if Hayami hadn’t been stupid enough to do that. The train sounds and alarm were enough to shock Hirose back to reality, she could’ve just pretended to kill herself and that probably would’ve worked to get him back to normal. Gah!

I could’ve said “give this show a higher rating if you stop at episode seven” like the THEM review, but I can’t do that because episode seven would just leave you hanging on both Hirose and Hayami’s stories, so I’m kinda stuck.

The tone changes are also jarring. We can go from goofy and playful to sad and depressing to dark in mere minutes.

Hirose is a welcome change from your average harem main guy (even if we do have the mandatory beach episode where every girl is all over him and making him uncomfortable.) but he’s such a pushover when it comes to the girls. He’ll let them all push him around and he won’t say a thing about it. And like I said, if females were the ones doing the bullying to Hayami, he won’t say a word. He just watches with a frown.

It’s also really difficult to like any of the other main or side characters beyond Hirose and Hayami because despite how they seem all cheery and happy, there’s this constant nagging in your head that these supposedly nice kids treat Hayami like complete garbage and don’t bat an eyelash at it. How can you like any of these characters when you know that they’re like that?

Art:
The art in this series was fairly good, but the girls are designed oddly. They have normal sized heads, but these insanely thin stick bodies. It makes you wonder how their necks support their heads.

Music: The music is wonderful and fairly unique. The OP is good and the ED has become one of my personal favorites.

Voice Acting: Japanese version: The voices and acting are all wonderful. Hirose in particular has a very fitting voice. It’s very kind and gentle, much like what I would picture for Yuki from Fruits Basket instead of the girl voice they gave him….

Bottomline:
I enjoyed this anime for a while, but the ending really does kill it, and I mean it’s mercilessly bad. Some people seem to really enjoy it, but I think they’re just overlooking the glaring flaws. The main characters, by that I mean the main three, are usually likable. The story, at least up until episodes seven and eight are great if not somewhat frustrating at times, but the ending three episodes were just so bad and I must reiterate that it’s really hard to like any of the side characters considering how they act around Hayami.

It’s a ball of wtf wrapped in huh? and dipped in are you kidding me? It’s not a complete waste. The story between Hinata and Hayami, while being somewhat stupid at points, is nice. Hinata’s story is actually very interesting, and there are some heartwarming moments. If you’re a big fan of visual novel dramas and want something different than your usual fare, go right ahead and be very wary of the ending, but for anyone else, I’d say skip it.

By the way, H2O doesn’t stand for water, it actually stands for the three main characters’ names. Hinata, Hayami and Otoha.

Additional Information and Notes:

H2O Footprints in the sand was based on an eroge visual novel of the same name by Makura. The anime adaptation was produced by Zexcs and was directed by Hideki Tachibana.

Episodes: 12

Year: 2008
Recommended Audience: There is some predictable blindness fanservice in episode one (Whoops I can’t see, I’m gonna fall down a lot while girls fall with their butts on my face…I still don’t get how that would ever happen, logically. I mean, how would you have to fall in order to achieve that kind of position?) and mild fanservice throughout. There’s also some heavy themes and ‘scary’ moments. I’d say…..13+

Blood Reign: Curse of the Yoma Review

Rating: 6.5/10

Plot: Two ninjas, Marou and Hikage, are best friends. However, one day, in the wake of war, Marou suddenly turns on him and his ninja clan, injuring Hikage with a shuriken in the process. Hikage sets out to find him, but soon finds out that he is the leader of newly respawning Yoma who have been awakened and empowered by the blood, death and hatred of war. They call him Kikuga no Miko, and he plans to destroy the world with his army of yoma. Hikage is the only one with a chance to save him or kill him.

Reasons for Rating: This is a pretty ‘meh’ feature for the bulk of the first half. Two ninja who are best friends from childhood. At least I assume as much. Quite literally the only evidence towards this is constant clips of them running through a field of flowers as children. One of them betrays the other and their ninja clan with only the other best friend able to stop him. Really a cliché plot point, even in the 80’s, but the show does a pretty good job of keeping you interested and entertained throughout it all.

Hikage’s a bit of a bore. Another common trope of ninja shows are main characters who are stoic and silent, and while this can be fine and badass, Hikage kinda gives off a more ‘not talking because I’m rude’ and ‘I’m very boring’ vibe. He’s not an awful main character as we can see that he does truly care about the people who get close to him, but for most of the OVA he’s pretty boring. His English dub voice actor doesn’t help at all. He sounds so bored most of the time.

Marou’s also a bit of a problem. Like I stated, we get no real insight in his and Hikage’s friendship outside of a constant scene of them running through a field of flowers as children. While they do a fairly good job at making us more emotionally connected to this character towards the very end, you feel no real emotion about his and Hikage’s situation for most of the show because we don’t know Marou outside of him being evil. The first scene in the series is him attacking Hikage and leaving the village.

Inuyasha did the same thing. Remember, the very first scene in Inuyasha is of him wreaking havoc in the village, stealing, possibly killing people, pretty sure he maimed Kaede and basically painting the picture that he was a bad guy and Kikyo was the hero. Despite starting off rocky, through character development and backstory, we learned why he did this and that he is actually a good guy at heart. This series either didn’t have the necessary amount of caring to bother showing such background or development. He’s evil but we’re supposed to care about him because Hikage basically tells us to.

As another means to get us emotionally connected to his character, we have a bit of a plot twist near the end of the movie. Her name is Kotone and she was Marou’s wife before she was slain by Marou. She wanders the earth as a spirit after her death and meets another character named Aya whom I’ll get to in a few seconds. We can emotionally connect with Kotone because her story is quite sad, but she does come right out of nowhere. She also serves as a bit of a weird plot device at the end of the series that I won’t spoil but it doesn’t make much sense to me.

Aya is actually two different characters over the course of the series. She’s a woman that Hikage meets in the first episode who takes him into a village made up of travelers who live their lives getting drunk and partying and pretty much just ignoring the harshness of the world around them. It’s later revealed that she along with everyone else in the village had horrible pasts that made them want to commit suicide, but a yoma created a village where travelers like her who have lost the will to live get to live relatively in peace until the yoma decides to eat some of them. I would suppose the other villagers don’t question this either because of the spell by the yoma or because they’re all travelers and thus don’t find it odd when someone suddenly disappears. Hikage develops a bit of a thing for her, but she’s not the character who meets Kotone.

Aya #2 is a konoichi from a ninja village that Hikage meets in his travels. She’s being chased by ninjas from her village claiming that she killed their master. She denies this, but we never find out the story behind this nor whether or not she actually did it. I’d say ‘no’ considering her demeanor and the fact that she doesn’t seem all that skillful as a ninja to kill a master of all people, but we never learn for sure. Aya’s….okay. While she has an interesting weapon (razor sharp wires that she can shoot from her hands) she doesn’t get to do a lot with it. She accidentally blinds one of her comrades and manages to hit a demon horse, but her attack actually ends up backfiring on her.

She’s not….annoying per se…She does fall in love with Hikage faster than a Disney princess, but I do give her props for being practically the only one with a voice actress who seems to actually give a crap. She does get slightly annoying when captured, though, and seems to suffer from the same speech impediment as Miaka, Kagome, Tamahome and Inuyasha. She constantly yells Hikage’s name and can’t seem to save herself for the, no pun intended, life of her. Damn shame too, since she’s the only female fighter in the entire OVA.

There is plenty to like about this OVA, though. The atmosphere is fairly creepy, and there are some moments that are legitimately frightening. The yoma, while having a very common theme of bugs such as spiders (okay, arachnids) and moths along with snakes as the enemies, were pretty good in design and fairly intimidating. Oh and did I mention there’s a werewolf-centaur in this movie? That’s either incredibly awesome or Mad Libs yoma edition.

While you really only watch this for creepy scenes and fairly cool fights for a bulk of the OVA, the relationships are usually fairly sincere. I just wish we had gotten a bit more development for them to feel more emotionally connected.

Art: The art and animation are pretty dated. It was never distractingly bad, but it definitely showed its age. While many of the visuals were creepy and the character designs were okay, it still seemed quite rough and not quite fluid. It’s alright, but not that good. Also, it kinda bothers me that Hikage wasn’t injured more than he was. He wears an eyepatch for the bulk of part 1 and we see that he didn’t even lose his eye; he just got a small cut under his eye from Marou’s shuriken. Wouldn’t bother me as much if the scar were actually noticeable. For a good chunk of part 2 I kept forgetting that he had that scar.

Music: Ehhhhhh. While not being particularly bad either, the music is also dated. And when I say that, I don’t mean it’s old traditional Japanese music to fit the era, I mean it’s really energetic synthesizer music. Sometimes the music does get distracting, for the most part the score is okay.

Bottomline: It’s a short, fairly decent watch for any fans of the genre. I see that people are actually quite mixed in their opinion of this show. Some say it’s awful, others say it’s okay and some say it’s awesome. I guess it’s not a taste for everyone, but you be the judge.

Additional Information and Notes

Blood Reign: Curse of the Yoma was produced by JC Staff and Toho.

It was directed by Takashi Anno, and it was based off of a manga written and illustrated by Kei Kusunoki.

It is/was under an English dub license by ADV Films.

Year: 1989

Runtime: 80 minutes

Recommended Audience: LOTS of blood, gore, guts and dead bodies. A couple of scenes are pretty damn gross in their graphic nature, and there’s never a shortage of blood flying around in battle. In terms of sex, there is none, no nudity either (well, there’s a naked baby at the end if that’s really offensive to you) some swearing peppered throughout, Aya #2 has a swearing streak for a bit. 16+

13 Club (Manga) Review

13 Club (Manga) Review

Rating: 7/10

Plot: The 13 Club is a website run by a mysterious man named Kudan and his associate Kasuka. The website is dedicated to exploring and spreading weird stories from true stories to urban legends to possibly supernatural tales. The manga is basically a collection of various stories making up a sort of anthology.

Reasons for Rating: While I did really enjoy this series both for its intriguing stories and the plot twists, I do have have to say that it felt very disjointed.

The first chapter, for example, is much more detailed in in its art style. It goes for a much more realistic look only shifting to a more traditional anime style when it came to the girls. It was also most notably fully shaded, offering a feeling of great depth and detail in the scenes that I adored. However, after that, the realistic style and deep shading were gone and we shifted back to a more traditional style, which isn’t that bad considering that the manga is still very detailed, but why make the first chapter so beautiful when other chapters weren’t going to stand out as much?

Next, while this is an anthology of sorts, the third story goes on for way too long in my opinion. It spans over six chapters in this 11 chapter long series; over half the series is just this one story. It’s a good story, but it definitely didn’t need to go on as long as it did.

Finally, there’s no real theme with the stories. Some are supernatural based though we’re given no explanation as to what is going on with the stories, magic-wise, some are merely urban legends, and one’s a murder mystery. I guess that fits with the fact that their website covers all of these, but reading the stories in succession makes for a slightly weird read.

All of these factors made it sometimes feel like I was reading a different manga. For instance, the final story feels so much more different, almost a Zekkyou Gakkyuu vibe over the murder mystery.

I also don’t know who or what Kudan and Kasuka really are. They obviously have some form of supernatural capabilities, but they’re not explored at all.

Those complaints out of the way, as an anthology/short story lover, these stories do have a lot going for them on their own. Kudan is a pretty interesting character that I wish we got to see more of, and while the twists for some of the stories were predictable, they were still really fun rides. Even if the execution could use some work and I feel like it should’ve gone on for longer, especially since there’s no real ending, it’s still a fairly short and pretty cool read that I’d recommend to pretty much anyone.

Additional Notes and Information: 

13 Club was written and drawn by Tatsuya Shihira and it was published by Ultra Jump.

Recommended Audience: There’s some brief nudity and some pretty damn freaky concepts. One little tidbit by Kudan actually made me pause my reading to cringe….Uegh….god, why did he have to say that?

There’s some mentions of sex, but none actually shown. The language is also a bit coarse. 14+

30DAC – Day 8: Favorite Anime Couple

This one was pretty interesting because I have shipped many pairings in my day. Most canon, some not. Obviously I’m not including non-canon couples here, but my decision ultimately rested with who I most enjoyed seeing on screen and which relationship I think works the most.

In the end, I had another tie on my hands, but I’m justifying it by separating the two choices into a romantic couple where the show focuses on their romance and a romantic couple where the show has nothing to do with their romance (but they obviously remain main characters).

There.

Overly specific cheating justification engaged!

My first choice is in Isaac and Miria from Baccano!

This is one of my favorite shows, as you’ve probably guessed by now, but it does get pretty dark and insane. Some good and consistent comic relief is needed, but it definitely shouldn’t be annoying. Cue Isaac and Miria, the best comic relief duo ever.

It takes talent to do comic relief correctly in a way that’s not stupid or grating over time, and these guys pass that test with flying colors. These two are crazy, but in a funny sense. Their banter and shenanigans are just so unique and enjoyable to watch, and who doesn’t love seeing these two get all dressed up in various costumes that don’t really help them with their crimes, when you think about it. They obviously love each other very much, and if not in a romantic sense, despite the fact that they’re canon lovers, then definitely in the vein of the best of best friends.

Not to mention that they’re just overall really nice people. They may be thieves, but they don’t really have malicious intentions. Their influence on the rest of the characters in the cast also can’t be ignored as they tend to bring out the best in everyone that they meet. These guys aren’t just one of my favorite anime couples, they’re also two of my favorite anime characters ever.

In more of a focus on romantic anime, I chose Chihiro and Renji from Ef: A Tale of Memories.

I have a bit of a love/ha–….err, alright, dislike with this show because while I love this pairing, the show also shares its focus with an annoying as hell and stupid love triangle, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to the actual review. For now, let’s focus on Chihiro and Renji.

For the most part, they have a pretty cut and dry relationship at first. He meets her at an abandoned train station that he likes to frequent and they hit it off pretty well. However, the drama starts the next day when he discovers that she doesn’t remember who he is or what happened the day before. See, Chihiro only has a 13 hour memory span due to an accident she had when she was a kid that also took her eye. She goes through the day relatively normally, but forgets the events of the previous day when she wakes up in the morning.

And before you say anything, yes and no to this being like 50 First Dates. It is in the sense that….well, its basically the same concept, but it’s not handled in a comedic manner at all. It’s just as tragic as it seems.

To combat her memory loss, Chihiro makes entries in her journal every night about the day’s events, and Chihiro reads these entries when she gets up in the morning. So, in a sense, she is aware of certain things that happened the previous day, but she doesn’t remember them.

Renji grows to care about and love Chihiro so much that he’s more than willing to stay with her even through this debilitating memory problem, but their relationship is still tried severely in various ways. Despite this, they do their best to stick together time and time again, and I loved watching every minute of it.

Honorable Mentions: Keiichi and Belldandy from Ah, My Goddess! (Very nearly made it), Yuki and Tohru from Fruits Basket (isn’t entirely canon, so blah), TK and Kari from Digimon (Completely unclear whether it’s canon)

30DAC – Day 6: Anime You Want to See But Haven’t Yet

I don’t keep up with new anime, and I hear great stuff about new shows all the time like Kill la Kill, Space Dandy etc. It’s not that I’m some anime hipster who refuses to watch new stuff, it’s just that my method of selection in terms of my watch list is almost entirely random so I can watch a good variety of shows both old and new.

There are both older shows and newer shows that I’m excited to watch, but I think the one I’m most looking forward to is Durarara!

WHAT DO YOU MEAN THERE’S NO ORANGE SODA?!

After enjoying Baccano! So much and knowing that this is both a spiritual successor and takes place in the same universe, I am really looking forward to watching it. Plus, the clips I have seen of it are just insanely awesome. The art is great and really stylized, the animation is very fluid and the characters look very interesting. Plus, it just looks like just as much crazy and dark fun as Baccano! Was, so I can’t wait until I finally get a chance to watch this. Plus, there’s a guy who seems to rip stuff like street signs and cars off the street like they’re pillows and fights with them.

I hate trying to park, too.

As some runners-up, I’d say Code Geass, even though practically all of the show’s been spoiled for me in one way or another, Kanon, Clannad and the Black Jack series.

11Eyes Review

11eyes Review

11Eyes

Plot: A boy named Kakeru and his childhood friend, Yuka, suddenly get transported to an odd version of their world where the sky is red, the moon is black and no one else but a select group of people seem to exist. While they have no idea what’s going on, they manage to survive the ordeal and even believe that the event was merely a dream.

Until, however, the ‘Red Night’ appears again and launches them into a dangerous situation. They soon meet the master swordswoman, Misuzu Kusakabe who ends up saving them with a magical sword of her ancestors. They join up to try to find out what exactly the Red Night is along with Yukiko Kirohara, a really innocent girl whose power is to turn into a nearly perfect emotionless killer when she removes her glasses, Takahisa Tajima, who controls and creates fire at will, and Kukuri Tachibana, a mute girl who looks exactly like Kakeru’s dead sister. And a girl named Shiori who doesn’t do much over the course of the series.

Rating: 6.8/10
Reasons for Rating: This show really gives me mixed feelings, but really veering towards anger.

All you need to know is that two orphans, Kakeru and Yuka get dragged into a world called the Red Night. Basically the Red Night is a world in which time stands still, the sky is red and monsters roam. Apparently getting transported to the Red Night happens every so often and usually without warning. Five other people get transported into the Red Night with them everytime they go.

 

Misuzu, a master of ancient sword arts passed down from her family that employs the use of six different mystical swords, Yukiko, an immortal super warrior who has dual identities. There’s the happy peppy Yukiko that is seen as regular Yukiko and the emotionless alter-ego of herself which focuses on nothing but killing. She changes between identities by taking off or putting on her glasses (Cuz prescription glasses are apparently magic)

 

Takahisa, a–Can I just take the time out to ask you guys something? Does he or does he not look like Inuyasha? He even acts like him too. Look.

Takahisa

 

 

 

 

 
Anyhoo, Takahisa, as you can guess from the picture, controls fire.

 

Kukuri, seemingly Kakeru’s dead sister’s doppelganger (Same looks and same name, only difference is she can’t speak.) controls chains made of light.

 

And Shiori who seems to employ the same magics as the Black Knights who are the main antagonists.

It’s very obvious, even before anything happens that Kakeru’s power comes from his eye. No anime character I’ve ever seen has had an eyepatch that either didn’t come with a terrible backstory or a power (barring Roy Mustang from FMA, but I don’t even know how he lost his eye there) He is the vessel of the eye of Aion, an eye that allows the user to see the future.

 

Yuka possesses the ability to nullify powers within her vicinity. However, the bad side to this is it nullifies everyone’s powers. So, even if she does weaken the enemy,her allies can’t do anything about it.

The story was very interesting and original. I really liked the concept of the Red Night and a seemingly random group of people getting seemingly random (barring Misuzu) powers, but it went down so many wrong roads.
For instance, Misuzu goes from being a strong warrior to being a self-pitying lump.

Yuka goes from being an average damsel in distress female protagonist to a FREAKING PSYCHO. See, 11eyes has this dumb Three’s Companyesque “doing something innocent but looking like something bad to anyone watching” BS running fairly frequently throughout most of the show.

 

This starts when Yuka catches a naked Kakeru and a naked Misuzu in each other’s arms. Thing is, she was healing him because he had overexerted himself using his powers and they both had to be naked to transfer life force. Even before they even did anything, even before they started ‘going there’ I had that gnawing feeling in the back of my mind that this was going to happen. She hugged him after he woke up because she was happy that he was going to be okay and that healing worked. Innocent, basically.

After that, though, Yuka just goes insane. She can’t stand to be in the presence of Misuzu and Kakeru at the same time and then throws herself at Kakeru.

 

Now, I should mention that the reason that Yuka and Kakeru are such good friends is because they’re both orphans and they really only had each other while growing up. Thus, when Kakeru seems like he’s abandoning her for Misuzu, it’s supposed to be excusable that she goes Looney Tunes. Okay, yes, to a degree. She has the right to be upset, but definitely not to the point that she got to.

 

After Kakeru refuses to kiss Yuka (I’m guessing he said no because he didn’t want their first kiss to just be some random occurrence because she was upset) Yuka goes even further off the deep end. She runs away from him and starts talking to her stuffed penguin like it’s Kakeru. After a conversation with Yukiko I thought she’d be okay, but damn it all she just got worse. Whenever Kakeru would say Misuzu’s name she’d flinch. Whenever she’d see the two of them together she’d glare. She started correcting Kakeru by saying calling her by her first name (Misuzu-senpai) was wrong and that her name was Kusakabe-senpai.

 

She eventually gets so obsessed she starts not giving a rat’s ass about anything going on with the Red Night or caring about anyone’s lives.

Shiori told Yuka during a battle outside that Kakeru would be fine but she could not guarantee the others safety. Yuka responded by saying that was fine as long as Kakeru was okay….Even going this far, this would’ve been most understandable if it had only been Misuzu and Kakeru out there seeing as how she hates Misuzu at this point yet is consumed by Kakeru. The others did nothing to her but protect her and be nice to her yet she couldn’t care less about their safety.

I haven’t even told you the top three weirdest things.

At a point Yuka just starts throwing herself at Kakeru whenever she can. She asks if he wants to go sleep with her, walks up to him in her underwear while he’s just sitting outside and asks if they can sleep together. Just overall trying to whore herself out to him.

After seeing Kakeru kissing/sucking on Misuzu’s arm to drink her blood to gain her power (yet another, I knew this was going to be bad before we even hinted at going there moment) Yuka bursts into the room, seemingly offering a handkerchief to wipe off a wound on Misuzu’s forehead, then Yuka licks Misuzu’s forehead of her blood……….

 

1She didn’t even know why Kakeru was doing that or what Misuzu’s blood would do to her.

 

2You see Kakeru getting all cozy with Misuzu and you’re insanely jealous so you lick the forehead of the girl you’re jealous of?

 

3 – She obviously realized he was drinking her blood since she started doing it too…..so what exactly was her perception of what was going on there? Did she think that was a normal form of intimacy and was jealous?

Finally we have THE most screwed up thing this chick has done. As she was making some tea for the others we see that Yuka put a FRIGGIN’ RAZOR BLADE IN MISUZU’S TEA! Misuzu doesn’t drink it and she doesn’t even bring it up, she just asks to drink it in the other room and I presume she dumps it out, but what the hell!? This is actually seen as an excusable act by fans because she’s sad at the thought of losing Kakeru? That makes no sense to me.

Off the subject of Yuka for now, we also have episode 11 which (SPOILAHS) is the most interesting episode I watched. Not only does Yuka die (YAY), but the pairing I actually wanted to happen kinda happens as Kakeru and Misuzu have sex to dramatically increase their powers through the Kusakabe blood they now share. Despite agreeing to it, Kakeru constantly tells himself that it’s just a ritual and he would never betray Yuka (he believes she’s still alive). Listen up everyone, this is the greatest cheating excuse ever! If your significant other find you cheating on them just say you were doing it to gain massive power to save their lives. Works everytime. ;)

Seriously though, the only way for them to gain enough power to even hope to win is to have sex? And the reason this will work is because they share Kusakabe blood now? Does that mean that the Kusakabe clan is a bunch of inbreeds?

At the end of the episode Kakeru and Misuzu find out that the battle that was going on in the Red Night as they were giving each other major power boosts (I can make up so many jokes like this) went terribly. Liselotte, the main baddie, later masquerades as Yuka and proceeds to kill Kakeru by stabbing him through the chest with his broken sword. He disappears and Misuzu is eaten by the darkness.

OMG Everyone’s dead! How will episode 12 pan out? Will it be some post-apocalyptic epilogue? Will their spirits meet up and somehow beat Liselotte? Will it all turn out to be a premonition from Kakeru’s eye and make episode 12 a massive SCREW YOU?

If you guessed C, you’re right! That’s right, the bulk of episode 11 was a freakin premonition from right before Yuka gets attacked to the ending. So, let’s recap.

-Yuka’s still alive 😐
-Everyone else is too. :)
-KakeruxMisuzu never happened :(

What’s even worse is that, even though you get stung from the whole premonition thing, they do you one better. See, many characters died before the ending. Kaeko (Takahisa’s adoptive ‘mother’) got killed by a black knight. Takahisa gets killed by Yukiko after asking her to kill him since the ‘demon’ of his fire powers was taking him over. Yukiko gets killed by a black knight after trying to avenge him since it was them killing Kaeko that triggered the demon.

So, how do they handle this? See, there’s six different worlds and all of them seem to be carbon copies of the others. The characters all have the same lives barring or including the Red Night. So, after all is said and done, Kakeru, Yuka and Misuzu go to one of the worlds that has a brand new Takahisa, Kaeko and Yukiko in it. Basically it’s rebooting the world with a backup copy. The only difference is the Takahisa and Yukiko from this world know nothing of the Red Night, have no powers and don’t know the others.

Cop. Out.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I really liked Yukiko, Takahisa and Kaeko, but if you’re going to go to the trouble of making dramatic and emotional death scenes, leave them dead. Even if they’re not the ‘real’ characters, it still drastically takes away from their deaths.

And what’s even worse is that Yuka seems to be a fairly normal girl again after that, even accepting Misuzu as a friend. (And after one of the black knights makes the observation that Misuzu loves Kakeru too) So WTF? She didn’t have an alter ego or anything, it just like the creators of the anime just up and forgot what an insane bonkerbitch she was.

Oh, I skipped this part but, what exactly was the point in Yuka throwing one of the fragments to Liselotte so she would be awakened? That had NO POINT! Seriously, what benefit would doing that possibly give Yuka? She wants to kill all the fragments AND Yuka’s little boyfriend that she’s obsessed over. But no, she’s all like “Derp, I wanna throw this fragment to the imprisoned witch. Durrrr”

It seems like this anime took what could’ve been something awesome and just managed to screw everything up while throwing in cliches and annoyances.

There are some cool plot twists (even though I basically ruined the best ones for you) and for all it’s worth, it is only 12 episodes and it seems to be fairly worth the amount of episodes it has. There’s also a one episode OVA that I will be posting the review of after this.

One final note before I get to the individual points are, during the first half of the series, there’s a problem with panty shots. They seem to take any and every opportunity to get a panty shot in, even if the scene is particularly tense or dramatic. It tends to take away from the story and makes it hard for you to take it seriously. In a weird twist, though, later on the panty shots all but disappear, though that might be because Yuka and Misuzu both go down to their underwear at certain points, and almost takes itself too seriously.

Art: The art is actually great, barring the kinda oddly proportioned girls, and the animation is pretty well done. I will say that, despite this being an action anime, there’s a shortage of epic battles. Fighting does go on, but nothing particularly memorable. As another reviewer on myanimelist stated, I was expecting some epic awesome battle between Superbia and Misuzu, but it’s like they fight for a second, cut away, some time has gone on in the battle and Misuzu just says she’s too weak to beat her.

Music: The BG music is great and the OP and ED are awesome. I’d definitely buy the soundtrack.

Characters:

Kakeru: He’s too gloomy, but he’s not the worst male protagonist I’ve ever seen. He never laughs and hardly ever smiles. His only driving force is protecting Yuka at all costs. In that respect, he’s rather cookie-cutter. There’s really nothing about him that’s all that memorable. In fact, I can see myself forgetting his name in a couple weeks. I’ll just remember him as that anime character with two different colored eyes and a funny looking eye patch.

Yuka: I already explained Yuka. However, she has the same speech impediment as Miaka and Tamahome from Fushigi Yuugi, because if she said “Kakeru-kun!” one more time I was gonna smack someone.

Misuzu: A character who started out as stoic and badass turned into a self-pitying lump who relied on Kakeru through her battles and just through the rest of the show, tbh. I like Misuzu a hell of a lot more than Yuka and wish Kakeru had gone with her, but dammit all if she just didn’t lose her edge entirely.

Yukiko: Yukiko’s rather annoying in her first few episodes. She has this weird habit of grabbing a girl’s boobs for no reason which has sadly become a trope in anime, and she’s really happy and peppy. I like her better later on after she explains her backstory and I like her alter-ego a lot better as well. I just will never understand why it is those glasses are the reason she changes.

Takahisa: He’s basically Inuyasha if he was a high school student. Seriously, it was one thing to look like him but he acts just like Inuyasha too. Rude, likes junk food and snacks, has a temper, prefers to be alone, but his weaknesses are the women in his life. His adoptive mother Kaeko and the girl he likes, Yukiko. I really liked Takahisa and hated that he had to die.

The Black Knights: Your average group of antagonists. Again, nothing special or memorable about any of them. Barring that one of them, Superbia, who is actually Misuzu’s idol Misao from the Kusakabe family who was banished many years ago. Their situation with the fragments (The main characters) gets complicated when they find out that the black knights are actually the good guys, and they’ve been killing them. (To quote Angel from…. Angel, they should really start wearing lapel pins or something) Apparently the black knights never bother to just explain the situation to the fragments instead of all-out attacking them in hopes of killing them)

Shiori: I really like her character design and she’s the one girl fragment that actual seems to be focused on nothing but the task at hand. However, she doesn’t appear as a fighter until it’s so late in the series, you don’t care.

Kukuri: What’s there to say about her? She’s mute and apparently there’s three of her. It’s too complicated and insane to go into details, but she is Kakeru’s dead sister, yet she’s not, but she kinda is, but not from this world, and oh dear I’ve gone cross-eyed. She never talks so I never got annoyed by her.

Liselotte: She’s basically nothing until the last three episodes. For a villain she’s okay, but it’s hard to be scared of someone who looks like lolicon fodder. What’s even more confusing is she seems to be doing all of what she does for her old love, Verard, but even after he randomly appears for 10 seconds to tell her to stop she just brushes it off and continues without any more words from him.

Bottom line: It’s not terrible, in fact it’s pretty interesting and entertaining, but it is a shame that so much potential seemingly went to waste. They ruin most everything halfway through, turn what were once awesome characters into shadows of their former selves, turn Yuka insane, and make a plot that’s too complicated and just plain WTF worthy at some points. I mean, what exactly is the point of having six worlds that are exactly the same barring which one keeps the fragments? It just seems like a plot device to excuse the ending. I do believe it’s worth the watch since it’s only 12 episodes and it is something somewhat different than the norm.

 

Additional Notes and Info:

 

11 Eyes was directed by Masami Shimoda, created by Studio Dogakobo and is currently licensed by Sentai Filmworks.

Year: Entire run played out in 2009

Recommended Audience: Let’s see. Some violence, gruesome scenes, one sex scene, implications of sex, some nudity (I have to ask, though. Yuka gets sealed away in a container similar to that of Liselotte’s, she’s clothed when she gets kidnapped, but in her underwear and bra when she’s in the container. Is there any point in that? If she needed to be without clothes she’d have to be fully naked, there’s no point in stripping her of just her uniform. Just seems like the biggest not-even-excuse for more fanservice) dark scenes. 14+