Archive for April, 2013

Anime Review: Wolf’s Rain

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Genre: Fantasy/Sci-fi

Studio: Bones

Distributor: Bandai

No of Episodes: 30 (note: 26 TV episodes and 4 OVA)

Suggested Age: 13+

My Rating: 8/10

Summary: Kiba is a wolf who has the ability to pass for a human.  He meets several others and together they form a pack with one goal: to find paradise.

Review: Wolf’s Rain was one of several titles I caught when Adult Swim was in its heyday.  I think it’s one of Bones’s best titles. In fact, Bones is a studio that I have yet to be disappointed by.

Kiba is a great hero. I love how he inspires others to follow him. The others often bicker, but they stay together. He’s practically their glue.

Tsume is the resident lone wolf (sorry, I had to). He actually had a pack of his own at the start, but there was something he saw in Kiba that made him decide to leave it for his. He’s not even sure Paradise even exists.  He’s the one who seems to cause the most trouble.

Hige is the wolf who seems to function the best among humans.  He tends to joke around a lot and fancies himself a ladies’ man.  He’s often criticized, especially by Tsume for thinking with his stomach rather than his head.

Toboe was raised by humans and still harbors affection towards them, much to the chagrin of his peers, who often chastise him for not being a true wolf.  He seems shy at first, but has courage underneath.

Finally, there’s Blue. At the start of the story, Blue is actually owned by a hunter named Quent.  Her village was terrorized by wolves, and she wants revenge. She is one of my favorite characters. I like how unsure she is of herself.

Perhaps the most interesting character is Chesa, the literal “flower girl”.  She speaks cryptically, and in third person. However, she doesn’t refer to herself by name and instead calls herself “this one.”  She has a sympathetic connection to the wolves. They are ecstatic when in her presence. (in one episode, Tsume says he “just want(s) to howl his head off”) Like flowers, she doesn’t eat and instead receives nourishment from the sun. She’s another favorite character just because she’s so odd.

The show has some flaws.  An outbreak of SARS hit during part of the show’s production and delayed episodes.  To compensate for this, four recap episodes, each from a different POV were made. The additional four OVA’s were made to give the show a more proper ending. Other than that, the show is worth a look.

Sub/Dub: The dub is one of the best ever.  Kiba is one of Johnny Yong Bosch’s best roles (he cited it as a favorite in an interview with Internet reviewer JesuOtaku).  Crispin Freeman is at his usual best as Tsume. Wendee Lee plays Blue very well, capturing her uncertainty perfectly. And Steve Blum is deliciously suave as the evil Darcia.

Music/Score:Yoko Kanno composed the music, so how can it be any less than awesome? But seriously, the opening and closing are very good and among my favorites. I also like the song “Heaven’s Not Enough”, which is heard several times in the show, so I’ll share that one as well.

Violence: (6/10) This is a somewhat bloody series. But then, wolves are by nature a rather violent species.

Language: (4/10) Tsume loves to use sailor talk.

Sexuality: (0/10)

Nudity: (0/10) Well, the wolves are naked when in their “natural forms”, so yeah. But I’m not counting that.

Religion: (3/10) It’s implied that the Paradise could be Eden.  The anime itself has a spiritual feel to it, but doesn’t seem to favor a particular religion.

Related Media: Viz published a manga based on the series.

 

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Anime Review: Samurai Champloo

samuraiGenre: Historical/Comedy

Studio: Manglobe

Distributor: FUNimation, also streams on Hulu.

No of Episodes: 26

Suggested Age: 17+

My Rating:  9/10

Summary: A waitress named Fuu hires two samurai named Mugen and Jinn to protect her as she looks for the “samurai who smells of sunflowers.”  There’s a small problem: They both can’t stand each other!

Review: When I first saw this series on Adult Swim, I did not get what I expected.  I expected a typical samurai-themed anime and I was way off.  As they warn you in the first episode this is not an accurate representation of the feudal era.  In one episode, we see a swordsman whose attendants actually rap about his prowess (he even uses his sword like a microphone.)  Another episode has the main trio participate in an eating contest, complete with commentators acting like modern sportscasters.  There’s even an episode with a baseball game!  I doubt very seriously baseball was even around in the US back then.

Fuu is a great woman.  Yes, she does occasionally fall into the perpetual damsel in distress trope, which normally annoys me profusely. But here, I can tolerate it because she has backbone.  She doesn’t take crap from anyone.  She’s certainly not as good a fighter as Mugen or Jinn, but she can hold her own.

Mugen is both funny and awesome.  He’s often down on his luck, and when Fuu finds him, he’s penniless.  He’s unruly, uncouth, and just generally a jerk.  But you definitely don’t want to fight this guy. He can fight just as well with his feet as with his sword, even if his technique seems more like breakdancing than actual fighting.  He’s the denser of the group, but he’s still pretty good.

Jinn is the brains of the group, complete with glasses (tiny spoiler: They’re just for show).  Unlike Mugen, Jinn is more reserved.  He’s mostly a silent type, preferring to let his sword speak for him.  But his harshest actual words are towards Mugen.  He’s quite brutal with his wit. Of the three, I like Jinn best.

Overall, this is one of my all-time favorites.  The action is well-choreographed.  The characters are believable, even with the intended inaccuracies.  If you like Saiyuki or Rurouni Kenshin, check this out.

Sub/Dub: The dub is fantastic.  Steve Blum plays Mugen, and is again in top form.

Music/Score: I love both themes.

Violence:  (8/10) Being a samurai-themed story, expect some blood.

Language: (2/10) Mugen curses a lot!

Nudity: (3/10) There’s a hot springs episode and an artist tries to con Fuu into posing nude for him in the second episode.

Sexuality: (4/10) In addition to what I mentioned in the nudity section, there are also a few scenes where Fuu is molested.

Religion (1/10) SPOILER! In a late episode, Fuu meets a woman who belongs to a hidden Christian society. (Turns out the anime actually got this one right, including the location.) She is quite kind to Fuu. Later in the same episode, a con artist is masquerading as a priest.

Related Media: There is a manga based on the show.

 

 

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