Archive for November, 2011

Lobster Quadrille Anime Review: Chobits

Chobits

Genre: Sci-fi/Romantic Comedy

Studio/Creator: Madhouse/Clamp

Distributor: FUNimation, streaming on FUNimation’s website, Hulu.com, and youtube.com

No. of episodes: 26 (if you count the exclusive DVD-only episodes, which I was unable to watch)

Age Rating: 16+

My Rating: 8/10

Summary: Hideki Motosuwa is a prep school student who wants tow things: a girlfriend and/or a “persocom”, an android that acts as a personal computer.  On his way home one evening, he stumbles across a female persocom thrown in the trash.  He takes it home and inadvertently turns it on. She’s had her memory wiped and can only say “chi”, which Hideki calls her. And thus our story begins.

Review: When I started this show, I almost thought I wasn’t going to like it.  Hideki is quite perverted and he got on my nerves quickly.  So what changed my mind? Chi. Chi is such an adorable character, I fell in love with her.  I loved her cherubic face, her super-long blonde hair, and her child-like personality.  I laughed at how she constantly mimicked Hideki in attempts to understand him. And I laughed at Hideki’s attempts to educate her. It was just so much fun to watch the two of them interact.

The art style for this story is quite soft, especially for a sci-fi story.  I’m used to a grittier approach, but I liked this style, as for the most part, this is a much more light-hearted story than say Ghost in the Shell.  It really fit the story well.

Another thing I like is that the show explores one of my favorite themes: if we create artificial humans like Chi, can they still be human?  Can Chi learn to love?  And how does this affect her as a person?

Music/Score: Chobits’ opening, “Let Me Be With You” is a very funny song and fits the show. The three ending themes also reflect the mood as well, with the first having a cheerful approach and the second having a more somber feel.

Sub/Dub: Either version works, but I like the dub best. Crispin Freeman and Michelle Ruff really show their ranges as Hideki and Chi, especially since they usually play more serious characters. [for instance, Freeman’s role as Alex Rowe (Last Exile) or Michelle Ruff’s most recent role as Rukia (Bleach)]. Sandy Fox really steals the show as the precocious persocom Sumomo.

Violence: (1/10): mild slapstick

Language: (5/10): A few curse words and some slightly sexually suggestive wordplay here and there.

Nudity: (3/10): When Hideki first turns Chi on, she’s covered bandages and they fall off, slowly revealing her naked body.  Hideki also has some porno mags.

Sexuality: (4/10) SPOILER! In one episode, Chi decides to get a job in order to pay the rent.  She meets a rather sleazy man who tricks her into working at his peep show. When she gets confused and doesn’t cooperate, he accidentally touches her power switch, which is located right where her vagina would be. Yeah.

Religion: (0/10)

Drugs/Tobacco: (0/10)

Related Media: This is based on the Chobits manga created by CLAMP. It supposedly ties in to their Angelic Layer anime and manga. Having seen both Angelic Layer and Chobits, I really don’t see the connection.


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Lobster Quadrille Anime Review: Big O

Big O

(Note: This review covers both season 1 and season 2 of the series. Both are available separately)

Genre: Sci-fi/Mech/Mystery

Studio/Creator: Sunrise

Distributor: Bandai

No. of Episodes: 26 (13 from each season)

Age Rating: 10+

My Rating: 8/10

Summary: No one in Paradigm City has no memories of the past. Megadueses (mechs) appear all over the city, deepening the mystery of what happened forty years ago. Roger Smith, an expert negotiator, protects Paradigm City along with Big O – a giant mech. Roger and friends keep searching for the truth behind all the strange events.

Review: The Batman parallels are part of the reason I like this series. Roger Smith is Batman, R. Dorothy is Robin, Officer Dastun is Commissioner Gordan, Norman is Alfred, Gabriel is Joker, Angel is Catwoman, Beck is the Riddler, Schwartzvald is the Scarecrow. It’s great for those who were fans of the anime or are fans of Gundam and/or Batman (my fave superhero!)
Music/Score: The music’s kind of cheezy, but it suits the series pretty well for the most part. The only bad part is the music we hear every time Big O starts a fight. I much prefer the drumbeats in Evangelion better.


Sub/Dub: The subtitled version’s okay, but I found Norman’s voice too deep for my taste.
Violence: (4/10) This series has a lot of your typical mecha style violence.  Additionally, in episode 12 there are a string murders, in which we see some murdered characters with a fair amount of blood. Later on there’s a bit of blood on some of the characters during intense action scenes, but there’s really no gore or extreme violence in Big O.
Language: (2/10) The first “season” of Big O (episodes 1-13) contain no coarse language, in the dub. The second season, however, does contain a small amount of language. Nothing beyond PG-13 level, though.
Nudity: (2/10)We briefly see Angel’s back in episode 7 but there’s no actual nudity in Big O– just a bit of fanservice from Angel. Still, I wouldn’t say it’s something to be concerned about
Sexuality: (2/10)In one episode Roger and Angel are trapped in a building together. They make a few tame jokes that reference a bit of sexuality, but it’s nothing raunchy. Also, in this scene Angel is in some skimpy clothing. Throughout the series she tends to show some cleavage, and wear some short cut clothing, especially in the “second season”.
Religion: (3/10) To be totally honest, there is a LOT of religious material in Big O that most tend to overlook. It’s similar in a way to Neon Genesis Evangelion, with some Judeo-Christian symbolism, but wouldn’t really be considered offensive (to some) like NGE.
The recurring phrase that is shown on Big O’s (and other mech’s) screens is “Cast in the name of God, Ye not guilty.” While the meaning of this is never actually stated, it can be debated. In one of the early episodes, the giant serpentine mech is considered an “electric god” by the city it invades. Also, during the murders in Act 12, the murderer leaves the “Cast in the name of God…” phrase at the crime scenes. There’s not very much religious symbolism in the first season, but it starts to get pretty heavy in the second half. In the second season we see a lot of symbolism, like Alex Rosewater becoming a sort of “anti-Christ” and proclaiming to be the “Son of God”. His father seems to take a sort of “God” role himself. There are some references to the number of the beast, 666, near the end. Roger in a way becomes the savior to the people. If you look, you’ll notice a lot of symbolism. All of the “Big” robots are designed after creatures from Jewish mysticism. There are various other things one could analyze, but they really shouldn’t be a turn off, nor considered offensive in any way.

Review Queue 11/27-12/18

11/27: Chobits

12/4: Last Exile (original)

12/11: Cowboy Bebop Top 10 Best Songs

12/16: Legend of the Millennium Dragon

12/18: Azumanga Daioh

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Lobster Quadrille Anime Review: Whisper of the Heart

Whisper of the Heart

Genre: Slice of Life

Studio/Creator: Studio Ghibli/Aoi Hiiragi

Distributor: Buena  Vista/Disney

Running Time: 1 hr, 41 minutes Age Rating: 5+

My Rating: 10/10

Summary: Whisper of the Heart is about a girl named Shizuku, who falls in love with a boy named Seiji, who wants to become a violin maker. His passion inspires her to try her luck as a writer, and she writes a story about a girl and an English-accented cat named The Baron, which is also shown at times.

Review: This is another one of Ghibli’s more “quiet” titles. Because it’s a drama, it will probably bore young children, which is why “5” is the age rating I selected, rather than “any”. I found this film to be enjoyable and poignant, and consider it among Ghibli’s best. The only reason I don’t really call it a romance is that, to me, there’s no obstacles that stand between Shizuku and Seiji getting together. Both their families seem to approve of their relationship, which is handled very innocently. The parts concerning the Baron are surreal and beautiful. The music is a pleasant surprise (see music), and I think it’d make a great live-action piece, although I doubt anyone’d be able to find a clock like the one in the movie. I also liked the view when Seiji showed Shizuku his place of inspiration. The sunset was breathtaking.

Music/Score: The John Denver song, “Take Me Home Country Roads”, appears in the film. It’s actually somewhat of a surprise, as I was unaware that John Denver’s fanbase had extended to Japan.  The music itself has a cheerful feel to it, as if celebrating the innocence of youth.



Sub vs Dub: 
The dubbed version has a great singer for Shizuku. It also features Cary Elwes, one of my favorite actors, (You may remember him as Wesley in The Princess Bride) as The Baron.

Violence: (0/10): None.

Language: (0/10): None.

Nudity : (1/10): Shizuku’s older sister takes off her shirt, revealing her bra. This scene isn’t particularly procavative, but it was worth mentioning, in my opinion.

Religion: (0/10) none.

Related Media: This anime is based on the similarly-named manga by Aoi Hiiragi. Ghibli also made a movie called The Cat Returns, which also features the Baron.

Review Queue:

Big O (11/21)

Chobits (11/27)

Last Exile (12/4): note: this is the original, not the currently airing sequel Last Exile: Fam the Silver Sky

Cowboy Bebop Top 10 Best Songs (12/11)

Howl’s Moving Castle (date unknown)

Legend of the Millennium Dragon (date unknown)

Gundam Wing (currently rewatching at episode 16)

Ouran High School Host Club (currently watching at episode 10)

Slayers Try (currently watching at episode 4)

Tenchi Muyo GXP (will be starting on 12/4)

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How I rate and review

A reader asked me what my scale means. Here’s how it lines up:

The content ratings:

Language: 1-5: mild PG level swearing. 5-7: PG-13. 8-10: F-bombs
Violence: 1-5: slapstick/comedic/fantasy. 4-6: sci-level. 7-10: gory.
Sexuality: 1-4: sexually suggestive language. 5-6: off-screen rape or inappropriate relationships. 7-10: borderline hentai
Nudity: 1-4: Swimsuits that show more skin than they should and some shower scenes. 5-7: beach episodes with mild fanservice. 8-10: are these people nudists?
Religion: 1-4: magic is present. 5-10: Negative views of Christianity
DAT: 1-4: mild drug usage. Casual levels, such as part of ceremony (like how Catholics drink wine at Mass) 5-10: Lots of wanton drug abuse, like we’d see in Pulp Fiction
The overall rating:

1-3: ugh. I want all that time I spent back.
4-6: It was okay at best
7: I didn’t waste any time. I might even watch it again.
8-10: very good here. Highly recommended.

Hope that helps!

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Lobster Quadrille Anime Review: Tenchi Universe

Tenchi Universe

Genre: Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Romantic Comedy

Studio/Creator: AIC/Kajishima Masaki

Distributor: This anime has been relicensed by FUNimation as of July 2010

No of episodes: 26 Age Rating: 13+ Rating: 8/10

Summary: Based on the OVA series Tenchi Muyo!  Tenchi Masaki may be a 17-year-old young man in rural Japan, but little does he know how bad his day will be getting. When a space pirate chased by a pair of Galaxy Police officers crash-lands at his grandfather’s temple, Tenchi is sucked into a new adventure that will literally blast him off into outer space and beyond.

Review: Tenchi Muyo is what started what is known as the “harem” subgenre of anime, including such titles as Negima, DearS, Ah! My Goddess, and Sekirei. They’re known for being comedic and having varying levels of fanservice. Simply put, Tenchi Universe is a guilty pleasure. However, it’s not without substance. What makes the series work is not the fanservice but the comedic elements. The girls all have diverse personalities and not all of them are romantically interested in Tenchi.

Tenchi is a basic kid. He’s quite clumsy and unlucky. Despite the annoyances caused by the girls, he manages to keep a somewhat firm grip on his sanity.

Ryoko is flirtatious, rowdy, alcoholic, lazy, and untrustworthy. And those are her best qualities! She has a soft spot for Tenchi and can be seen to have a heart…somewhere.

Ayeka is your typical princess, charming and dignified…as long as Ryoko isn’t around. Ryoko just loves to push her buttons and it’s fun to watch them fight.

Sasami is Ayeka’s sweet little sister. She sees Tenchi more like a big brother and spends most of her time helping with the housework. Ryoko’s pet cabbit (half cat/half rabbit/100% spaceship) Ryo-ohki quickly takes a liking to her and you can often see her resting on Sasami’s head. Washuu is a mad scientist. Her experiments do all kinds of logic-defying goofiness and it certainly doesn’t help that this version of her has two puppet cheerleaders to encourage her.

Mihoshi and Kiyone are Galaxy Policewomen. Mihoshi is inept as can be (and very annoying), while Kiyone is obviously the smarter and more business-minded of the two. She and Mihoshi seem to see Tenchi only as a friend.

One big flaw is that the show thakes a pretty long time to get an actual plot–in fact, it’s not until the show is halfway through that we actually get one.  For those who can’t stand that much filler, it will certainly annoy you.

The plot of Tenchi Universe can be divided into three sections:
1. Section I–introduces the characters and some early filler. Very amusing, but gets into “status quo stablization” territory.
2. Section II–Washuu invents a machine that creates parellel worlds based on the programmer’s desires. It goes haywire and creates random worlds, meaning the show goes into parody mode. One of the parodies is the setup for the spin-off/magical girl parody Magical Girl Pretty Sammy.
3. Section III–The villain Kagato (who’s the main villain of the OVA version) attempts to create a coup on the planet Jurai, the home of Ayeka and Sasami. Ayeka is framed for conspiring to rebel. Tenchi and company decide to take the fight to Jurai in an effort to defeat Kagato.

Music/Score: The music’s not great, but I enjoyed it. The opening is quite catchy.

Sub/Dub: The sub is better in this case. Ayeka’s original VA does her noblewoman’s laugh better than the dub version does and in general it feels easier on the ears in Japanese this time.

Violence: (3/10) Until we get to the second half, there’s quite a lotof slapstick. Later, we get typical sci-fi style violence.

Language: (4/10) Ryoko has quite the potty mouth.

Drugs/Tobacco: (5/10) Ryoko gets drunk very easily. There’s also a scene where Tenchi’s father and grandfather drink to the memory of Tenchi’s mother.

Sexuality:  (3/10) Aside from the cohabitation factor, there’s also Ryoko’s rather flirtatious attitude towards Tenchi.

Nudity: (3/10) Early in the show, Washuu creates an interdimensional bath for the girls, but in most cases the girls are wearing towels.

Religion: (2/10) Tenchi’s family owns a Shinto temple, but we don’t see any rituals performed.

Related Media: There’s the original OVA and three movies: Tenchi Muyo In Love, Tenchi Muyo: Daughter of Darkness, and Tenchi Forever. Of the two, only Daughter of Darkness doesn’t tie in to the TV show and has its own separate approach.  There are also three spinoffs: Tenchi Muyo GXP, Pretty Sammy,  and Sasami Magical Girls Club and a second TV series called Tenchi In Tokyo.

Favorite Line: “It doesn’t work like it does in the cartoons!”–Washuu, explaining her new invention.

Review Queue

Whisper of the Heart (11/14)

Chobits (11/28)

Last Exile (12/4)

Cowboy Bebop Top 10 (12/11)

Big O (12/18)

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