Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"Cryin' Right Now" - Asura Cryin' (Season 1) (anime) - 4/10 Leprechauns

The mind, that ocean where each kind / Does straight its own resemblance find; / Yet it creates, transcending these, / Far other worlds, and other seas, / Annihilating all that's made / To a green thought in a green shade. ~Andrew Marvell

Genre: Mecha/Action/Supernatural/Ecchi

Review Status: Complete (13 Episodes/13 Episodes)

Licensed: Yes, this anime is licensed in the US

Art/Animation: The character designs are rather bland. In some scenes, they actually seem deformed. The animation is sub-par for when it was made.

Summary: Natsume Tomoharu is a normal high-school student in every way with one exception: he’s being followed by the ghost of his best friend, Misao.

After moving into his brother’s old house, Tomoharu expects to continue living his normal life but is one day left with a mysterious and locked briefcase without any instruction. At first he plans to leave it in storage, however his house is soon invaded by multiple groups of people after the briefcase. Although still not knowing the purpose of the briefcase, Tomoharu and Misao attempt to escape with it.

From there on, Tomoharu tries to learn the secrets behind the briefcase, the connections between it and Misao and why it has the power to change the world. (

Review: You don't necessarily have to know what's going on to enjoy a show. Asura Cryin' takes that idea and runs with it. For the first episode, you have Tomoharu getting a mysterious package, dealing with having a ghost floating around him, and having two factions fight over him.

Then it starts falling apart. Unlike Darker than Black or The X-Files, where you may be drawn into a story along different arcs but never get a sure answer to the mystery that they're solving, the story is choppy and haphazard that most interest is lost in it.

Half the epsiode is filled with lighthearted comedy that involves partial nudity, sexual innuendo, and boob jokes. Usually, it's completely unnecessary to any character development. Then you have some action. Someone attacks Tomoharu and his harem that seems to grow with every episode, after that there might actually be some plot or you learn a fact about the Asura Machines, and then there might be some more action. I can even tell you about how much of every episode each part will take up.

Part of the problem with this is that the plot is driven by the mystery and purpose of the Asura Machines- so to only get one piece of information an episode, and then have no plot to back up the story being told is very frustrating. With X-Files, for instance, you had a plot (ex.- to get the kiler), and pieces of the puzzle were scattered throughout the episode(s). When there is no purpose to half an episode for Asura, there is little reason for watching at all. It's even worse when the fact that they reveal was already told in a different episode, which makes the entire episode rather purposeless.

To top it off, there is little explanation to all the rest of the elements. What is the purpose of the Science Club? Why are they at odds with the Student Council? Why is there more than one Student Council? Doesn't anyone find it wierd that the student council president has a really funny robe that he wears out in public?

Some things just make absolutely no sense when put into the context of the world this anime occurs in. For instance, why is everyone okay with Misao being a ghost and attending classes? Most people can't see ghosts, presumably don't believe that they don't exist, but when Misao shows up out of nowhere, floating, it's totally accepted and okay.

The other problem is that they continually add more and more elements to this, making it confusing to follow. I actually needed to make myself a list of terms and ideas so that I could keep track of who was who, their backstories, what the deal was up with contracts and handlers, and why I should care about them. When you need to be reminded of why you should care about someone after 13 episodes of watching about them, it's a bad sign.

This anime just tries to do too much with too many characters. Having a billion characters that show up with little to no explanation, and trying to be a mystery and action and ecchi.... it's too much. And they spread it over too many episodes to make a compelling, coherent story.

Overall, while this has some interesting aspects to it, I wouldn't watch it again.

Recommended: No. But 16+ due to the nature of the humor- much of it is sexual, having to do with sex, and in one case comes within a hairsbreadth of porn. It highly rembles it, at the very least. And there's at least one risque joke every episode, in addition to the bouncing ladies' chests.

Other titles you might enjoy:
Eureka Seven (anime)
Code Geass (anime)
Darker Than Black (anime)
Escaflowne (anime)
Full Metal Panic! (anime)
Heroic Age (anime)
Xam'd: Lost Memories (anime)

Monday, March 14, 2011

"A Dying Dream" - Eden of the East (anime) - 9/10 Leprechauns

Genre: Action/Comedy/Mystery/Sci-fi/Drama/Romance/Josei

Review Status: Complete (11 Episodes/11 Episodes)

Licensed: Yes, this anime is licensed in the US

Art/Animation: Very lovely. The CG work is great, the backgrounds realistic and occasionally breathtaking, the artwork and animation top-notch.

Summary: On November 22, 2010 ten missiles strike Japan. However, this unprecedented terrorist act, later to be known as "Careless Monday," does not result in any apparent victims, and is soon forgotten by almost everyone. Then, 3 months later... Saki Morimi is a young woman currently in the United States of America on her graduation trip. But just when she is in front of the White House, Washington DC, she gets into trouble, and only the unexpected intervention of one of her fellow countrymen saves her. However, this man, who introduces himself as Akira Takizawa, is a complete mystery. He appears to have lost his memory, is stark naked, except for the gun he holds in one hand, and the mobile phone he's holding in the other. A phone that is charged with 8,200,000,000 yen in digital cash.(Production I.G website)

Review: This anime certainly has a way of getting your attention. From the very beginning, you're introduced to the conspiracies and intrigue that surrounds Akira. Little by little, the story unravells around the main characters- the main mystery is what happened to the 20,000 NEETS that disappeared near or on Careless Monday.

Around that are smaller mysteries. Who exactly is Akira? What exactly is Saki's mysterious power? Who are the Selacao? Who started Careless Monday? Why was nobody injured? And how can they save the world while saving their own skins? Who is the 'supporter', the hidden person among the Selacao who will kill them should they violate any of the 'rules' of using the money or use every last yen?

Every episode gives a little more information on most of these, interweaving pieces of their lives as Saki and Akira are drawn together. Not everything is related to these mysteries. Saki is attempting to be a college student, while dealing with friends that crush on her, a final project that uses her mysterious abilities, and unrequited love for her sister's husband.

Unfortunately, while this still is an involving and overall an amazing show, some of the threads are left unresolved. This can be somewhat frustrating. Thankfully, there are two movies that help complete the story.

This anime has a lot going for it. The voice acting, for instance, is great for both the Japanese and English voice actors. What's particularly nice for the Japanese voice track is that the Americans they talk to not only speak English, but speak it well. No Engrish to be heard here! The art and animation is top-notch and beautiful. And the story is compelling, enough to keep you watching eagerly for each episode.

Overall, this was an exciting show about conspiracies and romance.

Recommended: 18+. In the first episode, Akira shows up naked in front of the White House. Whenever he's naked, you might see his butt, but his "johnny", as he prefers to call it, is blanked out. He shows his johnny to a policewoman to shock/embarass her into letting them pass. He also jokes about it occasionally. There's a picture of him overlooking a bunch of other naked men (nudity is implied). When some men get offloaded in one episode, they are naked and run around getting clothes on. There's a woman in the series that kills men by cutting off their johnnys. She has some shots in nothing but her underwear. There is also some blood spatter, both from one of her killings and from another that occurs within the series. The only gorey death is offscreen, though it's not the only death. There is some minor fighting- some punches thrown, and Akira does get knocked out. There's some language, but it's not often. Maybe twice an episode.

Other titles you might enjoy:
Eden of the East Movie I: The King of Eden (anime)
Eden of the East Movie II: Paradise Lost (anime)
Dennou Coil (anime)
Summer Wars (anime)
Bokurano (anime and manga)
Doubt (manga)

"Beyond Death Itself" - The Laws of Eternity (anime) - 1/10 Leprechauns

If death meant just leaving the stage long enough to change costume and come back as a new character...Would you slow down? Or speed up? ~Chuck Palahniuk quotes

Genre: Sci-fi/Spiritual/Fantasy

Review Status: Complete (1 Movie/1 Movie)

Licensed: This anime is unlicensed in the US

Art/Animation: It looks older than it is, with outdated clothing and ridiculous special effects. But the animation is fairly fluid.

Summary: Ryuta and his friends from the science club visit a museum exhibit on Thomas Edison and it's there they learn about one of his proposed inventions called the "spirit phone" which would enable communication with the deceased. Later that day they bump into a shaman who claims she has a message from Edison. In an instant Ryuta is given the necessary knowledge he needs to construct the device and decides to go for it, so beginning a spiritual adventure.(Source: ANN)

Review: Sometimes you watch something, and aren't quite certain what you've just seen. This happened to be something that astounded me and made me laugh- but not exactly for the right reasons.

I want to say that the plot could have been decent if it hadn't been executed so poorly, but I'd be lying. Using a "spirit telephone" in order to gain access to The Great Beyond is a little silly. Then you have all the things that they add onto that, from the Native American who fortells their journey (in a teepee in the middle of New York, nonetheless!) to the great Spritual Revealings that occur when they've made their journey.

This is a mishmash of New Age and Pagan beleifs, given a whitewash with unicorns and sparkles, and then given a splash of Christianity with beliefs of Heaven and Hell. I can't decide if the average viewer will be offended by this or set laughing by how ridiculous it all is. There's reincarnation, alternate dimentions, Spiritual Leaders (mostly Christian and Buddhist), Atlantis, and a tiny hint of romance.

I don't feel I can give too much away about this without spoiling the movie- although I doubt most people would want to watch it anyway- but there is the typical story of a guy who is tempted by evil and the dark side, and is put at risk of being lost to it forever. This movie just adds the threat that his soul will be cast into hell forever.

Overall, this was a silly romp into spiritual beliefs.

Recommended: Ummmm.... Depends. This was actually a movie created to be a vehicle for the teachings of Ryuho Okawa, head of the quasi-religious sect 'The Institute for Research in Human Happiness'. If you take your religion/religious beliefs seriously, then I don't think you'd find it very amusing. But if you think that you can handle how they're twisted and mixed together and not take the whole thing very seriously, then go for it. You might be amused.

Other titles you might enjoy:
Ah! My Goddess (anime and manga)
Haibane Renmei (anime)
Spirited Away (anime)
Ballad of a Shinigami (anime and manga)
Kamichu! (anime and manga)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

"The Tall And Short Of It" - Lovely Complex (manga) - 10/10 Leprechauns

Happiness makes up in height for what it lacks in length. ~Robert Frost

Genre: Comedy/Romance/School/Shoujo

Review Status: Complete (16 Volumes/16 Volumes, + 1/1 extras volume)

Licensed: Yes, this manga is licensed in the US

Art/Animation: It's fairly recognizeable as shoujo, but it's not deeply toned or dramatically shaded. It also looks very pretty in general.

Summary: Risa and Otani are in a similar predicament. Neither is dating anyone, they are both continually being laughed at as a comedy duo (courtesy of their loving sensei), and they both have height problems! Risa is taller than the average girl, and Otani is shorter than the average guy!

Determined to be in a relationship, they both decide to cheer each other on in the war of love. However, along the way, Risa begins to develop feelings for Otani... are these feelings mutual? Can love win, no matter what the height? (Source: Manga-Updates)

Review: Can someone who seems so wrong, be so right? This si the question explored when Riza and Ootani come together. They start off as awesome friends- they love the same obscure singer, adore ordering fruity, exotic-sounding drinks, and have a chemistry that sets their classmates into riots of laughter.

So it comes as a total surprise when Riza finds that her feeling for Ootani may be a bit deeper than she had suspected

Height is something that people who date are very aware of. Guys are afraid of being too short, girls are afraid of being too tall. And so when you have a tall girlfriend and a short boyfriend, there's going to be a lot of tension and misunderstandings when navigating that relationship.

You do have some typical shoujo situations- childhood friends that want to come between them, and crushes that are into eachother instead of the mains. But then you have atypical shoujo situations, such as a former love rival not only turning out to be a guy, but becoming one of their strongest supporters! And the humor and wit turns this into a riot to read.

What I loved was being able to see their relationship go from the awkward first stages into a lovely, steady and stable relationship as they grew up and became people in their own right. While the relationship continues to have issues throughout the series, they are ones that come from growing up and the security issues that come with going from the safety of high school into the world of college and being in different schools, with different dreams.

And even though there does end up with some dramatics, it does it with a humor that is uplifting.

Overall, this is a hilarious look at an unusual problem- that has a happy ending.

Recommended: YES! Um... 14+, as one of the girls is actually a cross-dressing boy. You do see some shirtless guys. There is some slightly sexual content in the last two volumes, as they go on a trip and rooming together (girls with boyfriends) comes up. It's only hinted at, though, and if anything sexual happens, then it isn't shown. There is also some comedic violence (cheek-pinching, one or two punches thrown).

Other titles you might enjoy:
Lovely Complex (anime)
High School Debut (manga)
Kimi ni Todoke (anime and manga)
Toradora! (anime)
Special A (manga)
Ouran Host Club (anime and manga)

"Taking To The Skies" - Air (anime) - 8/10 Leprechauns

Love is stronger than death even though it can't stop death from happening, but no matter how hard death tries it can't separate people from love. It can't take away our memories either. In the end, life is stronger than death. ~Anonymous

Genre: Drama/Romance/Supernatural

Review Status: Complete (1 Movie/1 Movie)

: This anime is licensed in the US

Art/Animation: Very nice, though perhaps a little strong on the CG effects. But the movement is fluid and the colors are bright. There is also a fondness for contrasting overly bright scenes with darkness and shadows. The one thing that got rather annoying/frustrating was the use of split-screen and various other techniques, which in some places was constant and unnecessary. It's mostly very nice to look at- after all, it is KEY!

Summary: Young Misuzu, despite her innocent cheerfulness, is a very sick little girl; a victim of a curse. She befriends Yukito, a traveler on a journey in search of the legendary Girl With Wings. As a school assignment, Misuzu decides to study the heart-wrenching story of Princes Kanna, a prisoner who longs to find her lost mother.

In this cinematic retelling of the award-winning television series, past and present become inexorably linked, while Misuzu and Yukito discover how the struggles of history have shaped their individual journeys of today. (Back of DVD cover)

Review: "If you know where you came from and where you're headed,you are not on a true journey. When you're on a true journey, you've long forgotten where you came from, and you have no idea where you're going." Everything is coincidence, according to Yukito, our protagonist. But when he meets a young High School girl, things start changing in his life.

This story makes use of parallel storytelling to give the past and present of the romance that's happening. Long ago, a young maiden and a guard fell in love. Due to her curse, she ends up dying. It seems that Yukito and Mizusu's relationship is going the same way. It switches between the stories to show where they are similar and how they develope.

The stories themselves are very beautiful and tragic. The lovers from history who were forced to stay on the grounds of the castle, with the winged woman trapped, plays out like a fairytale. There is gentle laughter and small joys, even with their tragedy. The present one feels more like a modern love story, but contains elements from the other that tie them together and make it more emotional than I suspect it would otherwise be.

The storytelling isn't as refined as it could be. You're given brief glimpses of Mizusu's personality- childish antics, a happy face, but very little depth is given to her other than she is trying to put a brave face on despite her tragic illness. Yukito and the others are much the same, with superficial personalities. Any side characters are glossed over.

The music is very nice- some very nice orchestral music is used in it, The VA's did a wonderful job in the Japanese version. And I have to say that the English dub was also very nice. Honestly, you couldn't go wrong listening to either version.

Overall, this is a very beautiful love story that will leave you with a bit of a bittersweet feeling.

Recommended: Sure. 16+, for a little play one the puppet going poo, and a mother that walks around for a bit in some underwear and a see-through negligee. Without a bra. This mother drinks and drives. No one gets hurt from it, thankfully. 2 or 3 use of the d-word, and some slight non-sexual nudity, that is for the most part covered up by light effects. There is also a brief scene of two characters becoming intimate, and you do see some of the girl's chest in the scene. It shows up twice. There's also a little more language in the dub, the worst of it being a 'son-of-a-b*word'. There are two fight scene where soldiers are obviously dying, but there's no blood- just holes and light flashes where gore would otherwise be.

Other titles you might enjoy:
Air (anime)
Kanon (2006) (anime)
Clannad and Clannad Afterstory (anime)
Romeo x Juliet (anime)
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (anime)
Watashitachi ni Shiiwase na Jikan (manga)
The Music of Marie (manga)

Friday, March 11, 2011

"Somewhere Far Away" - The Place Promised In Our Early Days (anime) - 9/10 Leprechauns

Enjoy the Spring of Love and Youth, to some good angel leave the rest; For Time will teach thee soon the truth, there are no birds in last year's nest! ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Genre: Romance/ Drama/ Sci-Fi

Review Status: Complete (1 Movie/ 1 Movie)

Licensed: Yes, this anime is licensed in the US.

Art/Animation: Gorgeous. The animation is very well-done, while the art is breathtaking- you can see the light sparkle in the ice and water, the gleam of reflections in the glass, lightning flashes in distant clouds. This movie is total eyecandy.

Summary: In school they were best friends. And they shared two passions: the plane they built together, christened Bela Cielo, and a girl, Sayuri.

Oblivious to the tense international environment, the three form an indelible bond and it seems nothing can ever come between them and their dreams. The boys believe that someday they will reach the distant tower- and touch Sayuri's heart- however far away it may be.

But time passes. War escalates. Alliances are changed. Friends become enemies. And Sayuri falls into a dreamlike state that seems inexplicably linked tot he mysterious tower of their youth. At the brink of a World War, Sayuri seems to be the key to a new world peace... or a frightening and bitter end to life as we know it. (Back of the DVD cover)

Review: Two friends, as thick as thieves. Determined to fly and see the Tower that has overshadowed their lives.... Who are drawn to the Tower in ways that are inexplicable. Takuya, a boy that is popular among the girls, but refuses them all. Hiroki, who is attracted to one girl in particular, but she might not be attracted to him the same way.

But with her coming into their lives, they are drawn into a world of politics and potential war.

This is a story that unravels itself a bit at a time, building upon itself. The firesndship is focused on in the first part, where you see them dreaming and working towards their goals. In the background are radio reports of tense relations between the Union and the rest of Japan. And Sayuri has a vision of horrible things to come.

This movie mad an effective use of a time jump, with things leaving off on a good note for the first part, but three years later, there is a melancholy tone to most of the things the boys are doing. They lost their passion for their plane. While one is now working for the government, discovering alternate universes, another has taken himself away from the little town on the border to Tokyo, where he is haunted by the sudden disappearance of Sayuri.

Little pieces of what happened over those three years are revealed through different viewpoints. No one has the full picture of what's happening, and the viewer can only watch as it comes together bit by bit. The connections made between the friends and the events that come around them are astounding, creating a story that truly comes full-circle.

To see the change in the characters is both haunting and familiar, as many friendships in real life come fall apart or become distant. To see how they deal with the loss of their friend also seems familiar. And all through this, you wonder, 'can they meet again?'.

The way this brings together the threat of war, the dangers that Sayuri herself represents, and the way the friendship is torn apart over this is done very powerfully and well.

There are other things that made this a delight to watch, from the gorgeous art, to the lovely instrumentals chosen as background music and the effective use of silence and background noise in contrast to it, to the excellent voices for both the dub and sub version. I will say here that the dub is definitely one of the best I've heard, starring Jessica Boone (Rue from Princess Tutu, Chiyo from AzuDi, and Misaki from Angelic Layer, among other roles) and Chris Patton (Sousuke from FMP!, Greed from FMA/FMA: Brtherhood, Yuuichi from Kanon (2006), and Fakir from Princess Tutu among other roles). The story was nicely and deliberately paces, with each bit bringing more story to light and none of it seeming excessive or out of place.

But while these things added to the movie, it would have been good without them- it's a story about love and the choices we make in life, the importance we place in eachother, and the dreams that we have.

My only regret is that, as beautiful as the movie is and the relationships are, the relationships feel ever so slightly underdeveloped- enough to bump down my score from a 10.

Overall, this was a beautiful story about love and distance, where two souls could cross time and space to find eachother.

Recommended: YES. Makoto Shinkai is considered one of the best anime directors out there, with Miyazaki and Satoshi Kon. 12+, for one instance of a shirtless man (it's the summer and it's hot out), one use of the h-word. There is also some blood spatter when one of the boys gets shot (doesn't die)- it's brief but could frighten the younger viewers. There is also some blood that gets splattered on the Bela Cielo goes through the war zone. There's also a brief shot of Sayuri changing, you get a very short glimpse of her in her bra.

Other titles you might enjoy:
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (anime)
Voices of A Distant Star (anime)
Macross Frontier (anime)
Alice 19th (manga)
Romeo x Juliet (anime)
Air (movie and anime)
Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle (manga)
5 Centimeters Per Second (anime

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"I'm Going! Or Maybe Not... Redux" - Heaven Bound (manga) - 3/10 Leprechauns

The best way to get to heaven is to take it with you. ~Henry Drummond

Genre: Christian/ sci-fi/ drama

Licensed: Licensed in the US

*NOTE- This is a Redo of my original review, which I have left posted here

Review Staus: Partial (1 Volume/ ? Volumes - only 1 published so far, but it's been cancelled as of April 26, 2010:,1259.0.html, so there may ever only be one.)

Art: Decent. Not as polished and professional-looking as most mangas out there, but decent doujin quality. Characters all look very individual. Backgrounds are pretty much nonexistant, and very plain when they are drawn out. Occasional hispans when drawing characters- one occasionally has his mutation forgotten.

Summary: Getting everything you want isn't akways as great as it seems...and young Elijah Worthy found this fact out as a child. Subjected to experiments said to make him and many other people live in a perfect dream-state on the intergalatic space station "Heaven Bound", they would be able to pierce through the edge of the universe and find true heaven...and God. But when things have gone awry, and the implants cause them not to go into a deep, blissful sleep, but to gain awful, life-changing mutations, their sight of God has been all but lost. Now, everyone with the mutations is forced to live on Heaven Bound, because the normal world completely rejects them. Can Elijah keep his secret of being a Christian from the rest of the ship? Or will he befall the same fate of others like him? (From the back cover of Heaven Bound, Volume 1).

Review: I had a talk with my mother on this- she's known about my anime/manga review blog, and we got to talking about the Christian manga that is coming out, and a few titles I have read. When I expressed dislike for this particular title, she mentioned that I might have been unnecessarily hard because it's Christian, and that I read anime/manga with more implausible plots.

So I've come back to re-assess, and where necessary, justify my opinions about this series.

If I were basing my opinion simply off the sci-fi and drama, then I would still rate this a 4/10. Why? Because after thinking deeply about this, I realized that unless this were written before the discovery of DNA, none of the science aspects of this are valid in any way, shape, or form.

Sci-fi is written to be believable. It should fall in line with the scientific knowledge of the day, even if it is an incredibly far-out theory, because those have turned out to be truer than we suspected. The aspect of the mind devices has been used for decades. You can find it simply by searching for 'cryostasis' or 'suspended animation'. Being put into suspended animation does require manipulation of the brain functions. However, anyone with a basic knowledge of Biology knows that the brain does not control or influence your DNA. In fact, it's just the opposite. But the mutations that occur with the characters can only occur with DNA manipulation- they are physical, body-wide changes. A simple brain implant to slow down your body's metabolism and put you to sleep would in no way be able to cause that. If these mutations had been mental, such as giving them telepathy, psychokinesis, or even the ability to start fires with their minds, this would have been okay. As it is, the author clearly has no idea what she's writing about. It falls directly into 'Fails Biology Forever' and 'Did Not Do The Research'.

My second qualm: The people who join the space crew are smart enough to build a spaceship, but stupid enough that they are willing to get brain implants without having seen any sort of testing done. It's a brain implant. Who knows what the effects would be after immediate implantation, let alone the effects after a few years! If you're dumb enough to play in the highway, maybe you deserve to get hit by that truck.

Which also brings up (again) the issue of blaming God for the mutations. They don't bother to see that any testing is done to see if there are any side effects, and then blame God? I would be blaming the scientists for lying and taking advantage of me. And then I would blame myself for being an idiot. Another reviewer stated that maybe it was to show that people would blame God for allowing it to happen. I still think that makes no sense, since God did not force them to use the implants. God did not make the implants- the scientists did. I feel that if some of the people felt that God was at fault, it would be the minority opinion. Why? Well, it's like those people who believed that the world was ending in 1988- they expected something to happen, God didn't deliver. How did they react to it? Not by blaming God.

Now for the abortion aspect of it- whether or not you agree with abortion, this is perhaps some of the most callous, uneducated handling of it I have ever seen. It's clear that the pregnancy/abortion is used simply to emphasize that the woman is evil (because not only does she have to sleep with him, she has to laugh about getting one). It's given no good reason for happening in the first place, and her clear manipulation of the main character is given no justification, either. Not to mention that, after doing many days of research, reading, and talking to women, I know that this character in no way represents the vast majority of women who have had to go through that.

As for the Christian aspect of the story, I have to rate the manga still lower. This falls into so many Christian cliches and stereotypes I almost had to laugh. For instance, the bad girl has horns. It's not like horns represent the devil or anything like that. Nor is it like in any of the hundreds of Christian fiction that you pick off the shelf, where the bad guy has horns and likes to dress in dark colors. Or has tatooes. Or dresses in a sexy manner.

Another reviewer and I had a small back-and-forth about what might have been with this manga. I cannot rate on what the mangaka might have done with it- I can only rate on what she did with it. And what she did was terrible in all aspects.

Overall, I don't recommend this to anyone.

Recommended: No. Not unless you're desperate for manga with a Christian message to it (and even then I would only recommend it to the more conservative Christians out there)- there are other, secular mangas that do clean romances better. There are other, secular manga that do sci-fi far better, too. 14+ due to some light violence and implied sex.

Other series you might like instead:
Shelter of Wings (manga)
Searching for the Full Moon (manga and anime),
Hotel (manga),
To The Terra (anime series and manga)
Escaflowne (anime series)
Planetes (anime and manga)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

"The Dog Days Of Summer" - Summer Wars (movie) - 10/10 Leprechauns

Nobody has ever before asked the nuclear family to live all by itself in a box the way we do. With no relatives, no support, we've put it in an impossible situation. ~Margaret Mead

Genre: Sci-fi/ Action/ Romance

Review Status
: Complete (1 movie/1 movie)

: Yes, this is licensed in the US

Art/Animation: Fabulous. The colors are bright, the animation top-notch, the people all individual and recognizeable (and with a cast this size, that's very important!), and the scenery and background gorgeous.

Summary: When timid eleventh-grader and math genius Kenji Koiso is asked by older student and secret crush Natsuki to come with her to her family's Nagano home for a summer job, he agrees without hesitation. Natsuki's family, the Jinnouchi clan, dates back to the Muromachi era (1336 to 1573), and they've all come together to celebrate the 90th birthday of the spunky matriarch of the family, Sakae. That’s when Kenji discovers his "summer job" is to pretend to be Natsuki's fiance and dance with her at the birthday celebration. As Kenji attempts to keep up with Natsuki's act around her family, he receives a strange math problem on his cell phone which, being a math genius, he can't resist solving. As it turns out, the solution to the mysterious equation causes a bizarre parallel world to collide with Earth, and it's up to Kenji and his new fake family to put reality back in order. (

Review: I'm finally writing this review after waiting quite a few months for the official release. Yes, I watched the fansub WAY before this came out on dvd! Comparison reasons, you know.

In any case, I hadn't heard about Summer Wars before I saw the torrent of it. A brief look over the synopsis didn't give me much on whether it would actually be good.

Joy of joys, I found one of the best anime movies out there! Where do I even begin? Okay, the world itself. OZ is a fascinating place, and quite realistic in function. With the advent of internet sites like Second Life, an all-purpose internet world seems less and less far-fetched all the time. Not to mention that the internet is important- even vital- to many companies and corporations, and if something that were to go wrong, things would quickly go haywire all over the world. OZ seems to be in direct contrast to the low-tech, very traditional Japanese home that the characters inhabit for the summer. The home is wide, spacious, old, disconnected from the world at large except for a few phones, tv, and a laptop.

The characters that inhabit these worlds are as varied as the worlds themselves. The main characters are all, well, characters! From the impulsive, in-love Natsuki, to the meek and upright Kenji, to the family matriarch that holds everyone together with love and a firm hand, everyone breaths life and personality. The family dynamics are also fascinating to watch, with the men who are often dominated (or at least put into a slightly lesser place) than the women of the family, and the men eventually doing what's right with or without the women's blessing.

The story itself is simple, with some surprisingly complex themes running through it. Something evil is taking over OZ. Kenji and the Jinnouchis must stop it. With it comes hard loss, coming to peace with it and celebrating life, people coming together under adverse circumstances, the importance of family, and forgiveness of those whom we love.

This anime does many, many things right with the story and characters, and I love it. Even so, I will say that there is one thing that brings it down. The dub. Why? Because the people who rewrote the script saw fit to add in outdated slang and changed the lines where it wasn't necessary (including adding in more swearing than in the original- almost unheard of!). And while the dub had very, very good acting, it didn't match up to The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.

Overall, this is a fabulous title and I am proud to have it on my shelf.

Recommended: 13+. This has some minor violence, some swearing (more in the dub than the original), a bit of sexual innuendo (an uncle asks whether Kenji and Natsuki have had sex), and some partial nudity (important bits are covered up, and it's non-sexual)

Other titles you might enjoy:
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (anime)
Eden of the East (anime)
Dennou Coil (anime)
Spirited Away (anime)
Fractale (anime

Thursday, March 3, 2011

"A Wish Come True" - Yume Kira Dream Shoppe (manga) - 6/10 Leprechauns

The greater the risk, the greater the reward. ~Anonymous

Genre: Fantasy/Romance/Shoujo

Review Status: Complete (1 Volume/1 Volume)

Licensed: Yes, this manga is licensed in the US

Art/Animation: Typical shoujo art- lots of flourishes, big eyes. Pretty, but nothing special.

Summary: Rin is the mysterious shopkeeper of the Yume Kira Dream Shoppe, a magical storefront shop which flies through the sky at dusk. With a store filled with unusual and rare items, Rin listens for wishes that travel on the wind and, aided by an assistant named Alpha, offers magical wares to grant these wishes at the cost of something dear to the customer. (From Wikipedia)

Review: What would you give for the person you loved? In this short one-shot, that question is explored through the eyes of four characters- a tree that longs to speak to the music-maker that brought it hope, a stuffed toy that wants nothing more than to see his owner happy, a girl who's lost her memories, and a girl that doesn't have the courage to be herself around the guy she likes.

All come to the Shoppe to have their wishes fulfilled, but in exchange for this, they must give up something precious to them.

There's suprisingly little sacrifice in here- only one story ended up bittersweet, while the rest had fairly typical happy endings. Even so, the stories presented and some of the unusual ways that the wishes were granted were decently entertaining.

This does suffer from a lack of creativity on the part of the author. The stories play out like you would expect from a shoujo. The idea of wish-granting is one that I've seen played out before, with less-predictable results.

The second chapter is what I feel pulls this just above mediocrity, with the character not wishing for love for themself, but for the happiness of the one they love with someone else. Not the usual way things play out, that's for sure!

What also is disappointing is that the manga ends with having pulled in some new minor characters and gives hints at the world that the Dream Shoppe inhabits- tantalizing clues that there is more to this than what appears. Unfortunately, the series was cancelled, so I will just have to imagine what else lies there and what the relations are between the new characters and the owner.

Overall, this was a nice, short read.

Recommended: 8+, as there is some talk of death and dying.

Other titles you might enjoy:

Ballad of a Shinigami (anime or manga)
XXXHolic (anime or manga)
Time Stranger Kyoko (manga)
Someday's Dreamers (anime or manga)
Kobato (manga or anime)
Kamichu! (anime or manga)
Someday's Dreamers ~Spellbound~ (manga)