Archive for May, 2011

“Megane Danshi″
part 6: Kyoya Ootori

spoilers abound. you have been warned.

Kyoya Ootori

Kyoya Ootori

Kyoya is the Vice President and “Shadow King” of the Ouran Highschool Host Club, and he’s my second favorite Megane Danshi of all time. He’s considered the “cool” type when entertaining guests. Though he is only shown with clients a couple of times, most often he is faded in the background with a clipboard or notebook in hand.

He is considered the “Shadow King” of the Host Club, because he’s generally the one who calls the shots, even though Tamaki’s the president. Kyoya’s well versed in legal matters, and is constantly on the prowl to keep the Host Club’s image and reputation clean, despite attempts by outsiders to destroy it (namely the newspaper club).

Unbeknownst to the rest of the Host Club members, Kyoya uses the club as his own personal business, meticulously calculating budgets, income, and expenses. Though he usually gives in to Tamaki’s lavish whims, Kyoya knows how to pull strings and often, uses his own family’s properties for entertainment, such as their personal beach and resort park.

the Host Club's Shadow King

the Host Club's Shadow King

He’s also a master of networking. He seems to know everything and anything about anybody, and he’s always in contact with high ranking people via his family’s business. In flashbacks, he researches everybody he meets for his own personal knowledge and gains. In fact, everything he does is generally for a selfish motive. Whether it is still true or not is put to the test in the episode “Kyoya’s Long Day,” when he prevents the wife of a major electronics company CEO from being ripped off by calling the salesman out on his fake wares. Though he claimed to know all along that it was her because of her large ruby ring, Haruhi realizes that a flag had been blocking her hand from their standpoint. Haruhi voices her thoughts on the real reason he helps people: because like Tamaki, he gains something intangible from it.

For a character that is really only spotlighted in two episodes, his character development (which mostly occurs before the events of the series via flashbacks) is striking and rewarding to the viewer. He overcomes a bleak situation with one of the best comeback I have ever seen.

Kyoya's father and brothers

The men of the Ootori household

Kyoya is generally stone faced, never revealing his true thoughts, motives, or feelings about anything. As the youngest of four, Kyoya was faced with a very adult situation early on in his life. As the third son, it was made clear to him in Jr. High that he had no chance at being the successor of the Ootori business, which mostly dealt in hospital management, alongside manufacturing hospital equipment.

His oldest brother, Yuuichi, only ever named in the manga, and he’s already graduated from his studies and currently working with their father at the main hospital. His second oldest brother, Akito, also only named in the manga, is still in medical school with plans to join Yuuichi in assistance. From the flashbacks, Kyoya accepts that he is destined to work for his brothers, a really heavy burden for a young teenager.

"I will always feel the frustration of not being able to step outside my frame."

"I will always feel the frustration of not being able to step outside my frame."

Kyoya’s father, Yoshio, puts immense pressure on him. He is told during his flashbacks that achieving academically was something that his brothers had already accomplished and it will take much more than that to impress him. Kyoya likens his situation to painting: he’s been given an ornate frame and must paint the perfect picture within it, but not outstep his boundary.

Before meeting Tamaki, Kyoya does his best to please his father and not step on the toes of his brothers. He excels academically and does what his father says. Besides that, he doesn’t try to do anything over the top that might upset the balance. Yoshio has an extremely cold personality, never showing affection or praise. Kyoya’s mother is never mentioned, not even in passing, in either the manga or anime.

Kyoya’s sister seems to be the only one within the Ootori family who really cares about how Kyoya feels. She tries to comfort her younger brother, and is seen in the flashbacks as hanging out with him in his room while he does homework.

Kyoya's sister, Fuyumi Shido

Kyoya's sister, Fuyumi Shido

Fuyumi is only daughter of the Ootori household. She is only seen in flashbacks, and in the manga is revealed to be married into the Shido family. She often visits home, which she is chided for by their father.

Kyoya’s main flashback takes up the entirety of episode 24, “And So Kyoya Met Him.” In it, the entirety of his family situation is explained. Fuyumi tells Kyoya that he can relax a little, because their older brothers have the run of things. Kyoya counters that it’s because he’s the third son that he can’t relax; the pressure on him is the highest of all. She’s concerned for Kyoya’s happiness, and he tells her that him being happy is a mute point.

Upon meeting Tamaki, like the rest of the Host Club members, Kyoya begins a change. He befriends Tamaki on his father’s orders, because Tamaki is the son of the Suou Group’s chairman, a frequent competitor. Tamaki turns out to be a crazy, whimsically minded “fool” in Kyoya’s eyes. Kyoya submits to all of Tamaki’s outlandish requests at sightseeing and starts to realize that he’s hard to keep up with.

Angry Kyoya

Angry Kyoya

Aggrivated, Kyoya is seen for the first time showing a genuine emotion: anger. He rants and raves about Tamaki’s whims that are generally incoherent and almost impossible to fulfill. Fuyumi wanted to tell him that, if he made him so mad, that he should stop hanging out with him. She refrains, because she’s “never seen him so passionate about anything before.” In the Japanese, its translated as “never seen him so happy before.”

Then Kyoya is thrown a curve. Tamaki shows up at his house, and plays the piano for the rest of his family, reducing them all to tears. Without realizing it, Kyoya was also reduced to tears. After that, Kyoya and Tamaki have a conversation that bring about another moment of rage for Kyoya, and he knocks over the coffee table, sending the tea set and dishes crashing to the floor.

Kyoya’s markedly jealous of Tamaki, because, as the illegitimate child of the Suou CEO, and the only child, Tamaki became the heir to the company overnight. Though that’s not actually true (as I’ve mentioned in a previous post about Tamaki), Kyoya can’t stand to hear Tamaki say that he doesn’t want his father’s company.

Kyoya Laughing

Kyoya Laughing

Tamaki is the only one who was able to see through Kyoya, telling him that if he really wanted his own father’s company, he could do it. “The only one who’s given up here is you, Kyoya.” The switch is flipped. Kyoya is seen in the only other emotion he displays in the entire series: he laughs. One of my favorite lines comes after. When Kyoya realizes that Tamaki is right, he makes a face, and Tamaki says, “Oh, man, what an evil face. So you’re finally showing your true colors.” The painting scene is shown again (below), and Kyoya really does paint with his true colors. Tamaki asks Kyoya to help him start the Host Club, to which he accepts. He tells Haruhi in the series that the reason he started the Host Club with Tamaki was because it was such a crazy idea. Neither of his brothers had done extra-curricular activites, and he used the Host Club to his full advantage.

Yoshio Ootori

Yoshio Ootori

Toward the end of the anime, Ouran Academy hosts a family day festival. Kyoya’s father arrives and slaps the glasses off of Kyoya’s face. Yoshio tells his son that he’s never been so ashamed. I felt for him so badly. Tamaki’s father even tells Yoshio that he went too far, and asks him if he’s taking out his company’s failing on him.

That’s when it’s revealed that the medical equipment branch of the Ootori company is being bought out French conglomerate. Yoshio reveals that he was going to give that branch to Kyoya. After seeing his duties in the Host Club, he says that it serves Kyoya right that he’s going to lose it anyway.

Like I had said before, Kyoya turned the Host Club into his own personal business. What his father didn’t know is that Kyoya amassed a sum of money in the Host Club. Before the French company could buy it out, Kyoya, under the guise of KO (or OK in the Japaese version) bought it out from under the both of them. I thought either portrayal of his initials was fitting. The English way means “Knock-Out” and the Japanese means “Okay” if you didn’t pick that up.

Kyoya's true colors

Kyoya's true colors

This is where Kyoya’s true colors come out. Yes, he surpassed his father’s expectations by planning far enough ahead to eventually buy it out before a competitor could. But, he subsequently turns over the entire management rights of it to his father, basically saying that he doesn’t want it and shoving it back into his face.

Haruhi’s assessment was correct. Tamaki’s impact on him was far reaching. Once only thinking of himself and what he could gain from everything, Kyoya put aside his material success for something much more rewarding in the process. He also rose from the chains of “the third son” to be a well respected member of his family by his father in the end.

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Anime Review: Trigun

Posted: May 7, 2011 in reviews
Tags:

no spoilers here.

Vash the Stampede

Vash the Stampede

This is a pure anime classic. Honestly, I have no idea what took me so long to actually look this one up and watch it. It has a brilliant mix of action, heartfelt scenes, tear jerking deaths, and extremely lovable characters. With only 4 regular cast members (one of which doesn’t even start appearing until episode 11, and then takes another few episode hiatus), the rest are introduced and gone within 1-2 episodes, including the villains. They don’t necessarily die, they just aren’t shown or involved in the story line anymore.

Trigun is about Vash the Stampede, an ace gun man with a vow to never take the life of another person, however evil he or she might be. In most cases, he comes across as a total carefree, klutzy dimwit. But, when someone’s life is on the line or he has certain things to come to grips with, he completely changes face.

Vash is called the human typhoon, because he’s known as the man who completely obliterated the city named July and leaves destruction in his wake whenever he appears. Though he has no memory of July, he knows he’s responsible. He spends most of the anime hunting down the main antagonist, Knives, and his lackeys, Legato and the Gung-Ho-Guns. Knives has made it his personal ambition to wipe humans off the face of… whatever planet they’re on.

The anime also follows two insurance representatives, Meryl and Milly, who’ve been given the task of tracking down Vash and making sure his resultant damage is minimal. Meryl is a logical thinker and a diligent go-getter. Milly is the quint-essential air head, but underneath she’s extremely intelligent. The pair make a remarkable counter cast to Vash and Nicholas D. Wolfwood.

Wolfwood is by far my favorite characters in the series. He’s a priest and orphanage owner with a mysterious back story and an awesome gun. He wields a cross that’s taller than he is and extremely heavy. The triggers are in the center, the bottom is something of a machine gun, the top is a rocket launcher, and the cross bar can be unfolded, containing a rack of several hand guns. Unlike Vash, he’s okay with killing under a certain moral code.

The chemistry (not romantic!) between Vash and Wolfwood is insane! In a good way. They are both extraordinary gun men with a will to protect the innocent. In episode 10, Wolfwood and Vash sign each other up for a shoot out contest, and I laughed so hard I could have died. Their differences in moral code make for some seriously heated scenes, but eventually they both change each other. If you become a Wolfwood fan, tissues are necessary for episode 24, which reveals his past and his changes.

In general though, depending on how much you connect yourself with the main characters, you may need those tissues from episodes 15 and on. That’s when the main plot of the story reveals itself and the characters are really put through their paces. If you don’t love Vash after the humiliating and crazy things he does to protect even the most evil of human life, then you have no soul. Some of you might be okay with that, and if that’s true, well, then, alright.  But for everyone else, Vash is the glue that binds all of the awesomeness of Trigun together, making a series worth watching.

5/5

honorary megane danshi badge“Honorary Megane Danshi″
part 4: Death the Kid

spoilers abound. you have been warned.

Death the Kid

Death the Kid

From the anime Soul Eater, Death the kid is the only son of the Grim Reaper himself. Even though he’s also a grim reaper and doesn’t need to train as a weapon user, he asks his father to enroll him in the school. The school, DWMA, is a training academy for weapons (people who turn into weapons) and meisters (people who use those weapons).

Though Kid has no need to train weapons, because he has fighting and magic abilities of his own as a grim reaper, he actually uses two. His father gave him lots of weapon options, but he declined all of them on the basis that they would make him unsymmetrical. Then, one day he has a run-in with two gangster sisters who can both transform into pistols. They try to rob him, but instead become his weapon partners.

Kid shoots upside down

Kid shoots upside down

One of the most kick ass things about Death the Kid is the fact that he not only dual wields pistols, but dual wields them upside down. He shoots with his pinkies. Awesome, right? Can you pull triggers with your pinkies? I didn’t think so.

He is also incapable of using one gun without the other, because it makes him unsymmetrical. Kid has a crazy OCD when it comes symmetry. Despite being an excellent marksman and an intelligent fighter, the presence or absence of symmetry can affect his ability. On a mission to kill a witch in Egypt, he wont shoot at a sarcophagus because of the beautiful symmetry it possesses.  Its not until the mummy comes out, with a disfigured face, that Kid goes on a blind rampage because he’s not symmetrical and therefore, ugly.

Death the Kid

another photo of Death the Kid, because I feel like it

He’ll also halt a mission or refuse to continue a fight if he sees something break symmetry, changes the symmetry of his body, or if he thinks he forgot to fold the toilet paper into a triangle (yes, I’m serious). When Kid is kidnapped (horribly sad, I know…), he’s incapacitated by the enemy (who knows his OCD) by ripping off one of his sleeves. He also bails out on a fight with Black Star, because a near miss with the swing of an axe chopped an inch off of his hair on one side.

The first episode that he’s introduced, the OCD with symmetry got extremely annoying. His target escapes because he gets worked up over a symmetry break in his partners’ stances. But, the symmetry obsession becomes both an interesting fight mechanism and huge comic relief. One of the most hilarious scenes is the big written exam. Kid spends the entire duration of the exam writing his name. He has a short monologue while he obsesses over why he can’t draw a straight “k.” Then, as he tried to erase it again, he accidently rips the paper, has blood expel from his face, and passes out on the floor. Needless to say, he failed the exam. Not that he needs to be in school anyway. Video’s below or here.

Lines of Sanzu connecting

Lines of Sanzu connecting

But aside from his OCD, he’s actually a very smart kid. He spends most of the anime on his own adventure looking for the connection between an ancient scientist/ inventor and his father, the Grim Reaper. He questions his fathers motives and plans and does his own investigation. The near-end battel between the Kishin (main antagonist) and the Grim Reaper (his father) ends in a heartbreaking reaction from Kid, who jumps in after to pick up where his dad left off.

Something else thats striking about Kid is his Lines of Sanzu that only encircle half of his head. Kid’s tried on several occasions to dye his hair black to hide them, to no avail. In desperate situations, the lines start to connect and insane power starts to unleash. Each time this happens, a crack appears in his father’s mask. It’s still early in Soul Eater, so there’s no explanation as to why that happens yet.

Another awesome thing about Kid: his English voice actor is Todd Haberkorn, who also does voices for Hikaru Hitachiin from Ouran and Natsu from Fairy Tail.

There are a number of couples in various anime who have canon building for them, either to end the series with inference, or leave you guessing. I personally ship these five couples and hope that they will end up together as their series continue to progress.

There’s one anime in the countdown that has already ended, but there’s enough canon to confirm their feelings, even if they never confess. That pair is #5 on the countdown, so let’s kick it off.

Luke & Tear

Luke & Tear

5. Luke Von Fabre & Mystearica Grants

This duo, from Tales of the Abyss, has a chance meeting when Tear interrupts Luke’s training in order to kill her brother Van, Luke’s trainer. In defending his trainer and clashing with Tear, the pair have a fonic resonance that send them flying into the enemy country.

Luke at this point is a bratty, self absorbed protagonist who goes through a huge learning process and emotional struggle with Tear by his side. He learns that he’s a replica of the real Luke, and has a hard time figuring himself out after that. Then he makes a brash decision to follow Van, who unfolds as the main antagonist, and ends up destroying an entire city.

Once he’s able to come into his own, and gain everyone’s trust back, Luke becomes a fascinating hero of the story. There is a lot of emotional tension between the pair through the series, especially when Luke makes a sacrificial choice that is slowly deteriorating his body. They have several encounters when they mean to confess their feelings, but it never happens. After one such encounter, when Luke is saying his goodbyes, she whispers back as he’s leaving, “I love you.” The final battle ends with Luke presumed dead and gone. I yelled at my screen after that, probably for an hour. Why couldn’t she just tell him?!?!

The end of the series brings the main cast of protagonists together two years later to celebrate Luke’s coming of age, even though he’s gone. Then a mysterious stranger appears who just happens to look like Luke and his original, who was definitely dead by that point, combined. And they left it at that; the series ended. I straight up cried. I’m am in full hopes that if the episode were a minute longer, she would have confessed, or him, or both.

Kyoko and Ren

Kyoko & Ren

4.  Ren Tsuruga & Kyoko Mogami 

What I love about this pair from Skip Beat is the evolution of their relationship throughout the series and their connections when they end up working on acting projects together. Ren is a twenty year old ace actor, already at the top of the A-List. Kyoko is a renegade 16 year old who broke into the acting business after her long time roommate and “friend” confessed to solely using her for his own gain. She dropped out of highschool to work several jobs and housekeep for Shoto while he launched his own music career. Blindly in love with him, she was mortified and sought to get revenge by becoming a bigger star than him.

Ren learns of Kyoko’s motive for getting to acting, just the revenge part, not on whom she wants the revenge. Their relationship is really abrasive at this point, as he frowns upon her method of using acting for revenge. Kyoko quickly learns that not only is she good at acting, but she actually loves doing it.

Ren carrying Kyoko

Ren carrying Kyoko

When she starts to get acting jobs, the pair tend to connect just by watching the other act. She got her first acting role because the previous actress was too much of a diva to take direction. Kyoko was, afterall, supposed to be that actress’assistant. Kyoko actually broke her foot, carrying her to the shoot after the van broke down and she refused to walk. Ren went back to find Kyoko and carried her to the shoot. That was when I knew there was something there for this pair.

With the role, she did a tea ceremony scene where she knelt down the entirety of it with her broken foot. She showed no sign of pain in the filming. It really impressed Ren. That’s kind of how the anime plays out, but there’s a deeper emotional complication to it. Ren has been chided for not being able to act in roles that involve being in love, because he has no experience to draw on it from. He begins to realize that he’s starting to have those feelings. Kyoko herself is in such a blind hatred because of the betrayal that she forgot how to love.

It also unfolds to the viewer that there is a good chance that the pair met when they were younger, and he had given Kyoko a fair bit of hope in the form of this Corn stone. I think Ren realizes it, but Kyoko still seems to be oblivious that he knew what the stone was called and where she was when she got it.

Then, there’s a string of episodes in the middle of the series in which Kyoko is Ren’s assistant. She nurtures Ren, making sure he eats (which he often doesn’t do when he’s busy) and admiring him on set. Then he falls ill and Kyoko does everything in her power to care for him.

Ren’s assistant, Yahiko, megane danshi and comic relief, is fully aware of their feelings for each other and often prods Ren into seeing it, but Ren denies it. Though they are getting closer in the manga, neither of them are any closer to realizing their feelings.

Ulquiorra and Orihime

Ulquiorra and Orihime

3. Ulquiorra Cifer & Orihime Inoue

From the anime Bleach comes probably the most controversial couple on the list, because though canon exists, its tough to read and could swing either way. Also, there’s been a number of inference toward Orihime and the title character, Ichigo, especially her confession toward him before she’s kidnapped. Ulquiorra is also an antagonist, which puts another strike in. And Ulquiorra also dies, so there’s another. BUT! There’s still some lingering hope!

Orihime has a spiritual ability that can reverse damage on allies by “reversing time” on their bodies, a power said to be greater than god’s. For this reason, the main antagonist, Aizen, tasks Ulquiorra with kidnapping her and being her keeper while she is Hueco Mondo. He gets pretty possessive over her. And I’m not sure if their little spat over making her eat is out of concern for her or as a prerogative to keep her alive for Aizen’s sake.

Later, Ulquiorra has the infamous “are you afraid?” chat and the “heart” questions, about whether or not she has one of those that all humans have. He doesn’t believe in human emotions of the heart, because he can’t see them. (Granted, if he just opened up one of the bodies of his victims, he could see it, honestly.) But instead he inquires as to whether or not he should crack open her body to see it. He doesn’t.

Then it starts to get interesting. Ichigo even comments that Ulquiorra appears to be more human, and that Orihima might have had that impact on him. Ichigo and Ulquiorra have their fight, and as Ulquiorra dies and disintegrates in the process, he reaches out to Orihime. He asks her if she’s afraid of him, to which she says she’s not. Then he realizes he has a heart; it was in his hand all along, and Orihime was at the other end of it.

So now there’s the question. Is he really dead, and is there more in store for the pair? My sister is a die hard shipper of these two, and she’s horribly upset that they aren’t #1 on my countdown.

Haruhi and Tamaki

Haruhi and Tamaki

2. Tamaki Suou & Haruhi Fujioka

Tamaki is the president of the Ouran High School Host Club from the anime of the same name. He is also the illegitimate child of the school board’s chairman. Haruhi on the other hand is a commoner who got into the elite Ouran Academy on scholarship. Since Haruhi finds herself mixed up in the Host Club, the two begin to expand their worlds into each other’s.

Haruhi, looking like a boy, accidently knocks over an 80 million yen vase that was in possession of the Host Club. She is then forced to join the Host Club to get 100 customers to request her in order to free her of her debt. Eventually they all figure out that she’s a girl, but they still go on with it, continually masquerading her as a boy in school.

When Tamaki goes below his status to help Haruhi dig through the fountain for her lost food card, it reveals a side of Tamaki that most “stuck up rich kids” don’t have. He’s very down to earth, albeit a little crazy, but he has an enormously generous heart, a genuine demeanor, and an infectious personality. He gets very upset with Haruhi for doing things on her own, but comes to realize that she’s been alone her whole life and manages to do everything growing up on her own. Her mother died when she was ten, and her father is always working.

The best scene ever is when Tamaki finds out about Haruhi’s fear of thunder and lightning. He crawls into a closet, and when he inquires as to why, she tells him that she’s always used to getting over stuff like this on her own. He throws open the closet doors, and she embraces him while he consoles her. He tells her, gently, that she never has to do anything alone. (Then the scene is kind of ruined with a whole S&M inference by the other Host Club members, because he gives her ear plugs and a blindfold to help. He’s then chided the whole rest of the episode. They should have just cut it after the embrace.)

Since Haruhi’s involvement in the Host Club, Tamaki took a genuine interest in “commoner” things such as stuff they eat, games they place, and even a products expo that he convinces the Host Club they need to take a field trip to. He’s also extremely overprotective of her, attributing it to his fatherly duties over her as her mentor. The rest of the Host Club think he’s an idiot, because he still hasn’t realized he’s in love with her, even though the rest of them have.

At the very end, I think Haruhi comes to realize how much he means to her as well. When Tamaki was set up by his loathing grandmother to take off to France as the fiance of some rich, snotty chick, Haruhi collapses and exhibits similar habits from when her mother died. Eventually she takes off in a rampaging horse carriage to stop them before going to the airport. While on a bridge, she loses control and falls out of the carriage while side by side with Tamaki’s car. Tamaki jumps out of the car to grab her, and pulls her into an embrace (which should have been a kiss scene!!!), before they land in the water (photo above).

The anime ends, after dancing with all the Host Club members, with her in Tamaki’s arms. In the manga, it continues, and Haruhi has come to full realization of her feelings. Tamaki, meanwhile, is still an idiot. It’s just a matter of time.

Temari and Shikamaru

Temari and Shikamaru

1. Shikamaru Nara & Temari

From the anime Naruto and Naruto Shippuden comes, hands down, my favorite couple who isn’t together (yet). Shikamaru is a Leaf Village (Konoha) ninja, while Temari is from the Sand Village (Sunagakura). The pair first meets in the Chuunin exams when they are put against each other. Though Shikamaru actually wins the fight, he forfeits before claiming victory.

Their relationship really gets bumped up when Shikamaru is put in charge of a squad to bring Sasuke home. Shikamaru ended up in a battle and was having trouble trapping her, because she could easily fight from a hiding spot. Then Temari shows up and shatters all the trees with her wind technique, which also deflected the music, easily defeating their enemy. After the battle, they return to Konoha find several of his subordinates in near death condition, including his best friend Choji. He blames himself for it, vowing to step down from being a ninja. Temari has a serious conversation with him, and Shikamaru accepts what happened and agrees to move forward. Then when he sees her and her brothers off, they have a quick exchange of words, after which he half smiles and she has a gleam in her eye.

After the time jump, Naruto returns to Konoha to see the pair walking around together. Naruto makes a comment about them dating, to which they deny. (It’s okay, we all know the truth!)

Shikamaru's proposed title screen

Shikamaru's proposed title screen

Shikamaru’s relationship with Temari is very much like his father’s relationship to his mother, which bodes favorably for them. There is a running gag that Shikaku, his father, is whipped, and that his mother is a force to be reckoned with. Shikaku says , “no matter how strong-minded a woman is, she will show kindness to the man she loves.” Which is funny, because Shikamaru mention that Temari is “as subtle as a Rhino” and is “scarier than his mom.” I think its fate.

And to stir the pot further, in an OVA at the end of episode 75 of Shippuden, we see something strange. Asuma talks about having the show named after him, and shows the title screen with the silhouetted of him and his lover, Kurenai. Shikamaru says that the show should be named after him, and as you can see to the right, the title screen features him and Temari silhouetted. Awesome, right? Shikatema ftw!

“Everything you need to learn in life, you learn from Anime”
Part 3: Moon Phase Tsukuyomi

spoilers abound. you have been warned.

Moonphase Family

The Mido Family

The theme for Moon Phase takes a little digging to get at. It is really only obvious if you pay attention to the internal dialogue from the heroine, Hazuki, and the reassurances from the other cast members. You can also see it if you look at the bigger picture to the structure of the family itself.

Hazuki (purple hair, center in the photo) is a vampire, confined to her father’s castle. Her mother’s whereabouts are unknown, but its presumed that she’s dead. She is released from her captivity by biting the main character, Kouhei, while he was on a photoshoot at the castle. Unbeknownst to Kouhei and his family at first, he is the “Vampire’s Lover.” Instead of making victims their slaves after biting them, a vampire is released from their own servitude instead. Hazui ends up joining the Mido family, Kouhei’s family and an elite line of spirit fighters and mages.

The anime chronicles the events of protecting Hazuki from the other vampires that seek to return her to the confinement of the castle again. On multiple occasions, she seeks to runaway, because she feels guilty for having to put them through all of the trouble and grief. Toward the end, she even gives in and agrees to go back in order to spare Kouhei from suffering.

Each time this happens, she is reminded by the grandfather or Kouhei himself that she is a part of the family, so they will go out of their way to protect her. So there it is; that’s the theme. Family is not where you’re born or raised, its where you call home. Hazuki’s half sister and fellow vampire (pink hair, bottom right) is awakened to this notion, and it takes her awhile to warm up and be a functioning member of the household after being isolated for so long.

Prior to Hazuki’s sister moving in, Elfriede (blonde, left side), a renegade vampire, also joins the family as the grandfather’s love interest (trust me, she’s actually older than he is, by several hundred years). Kouhei himself was adopted by his grandfather after his father left and his own mother disappeared (also presumed dead). Kouhei’s cousin Seiji (megane danshi, top right) and twins Hikaru and Kaoru (short haired, at the bottom) frequently drop by the household, and even live with them for a time at main family estate during the second half of the anime. The random giggly brunette in the photo is Kouhei’s best friend and coworker who also drops by often, mostly to provide tons of clothes for Hazuki.

Though they are not a typical family, with no mothers or fathers, they look out for each other and protect each other with their lives. Built upon extended family and three vampires, they couldn’t be happier. Family is more than blood, and yes, the pun is totally intended.

“Megane Danshi″
part 5: Franken Stein

spoilers abound. you have been warned.

Franken Stein

Professor (or Dr.) Franken Stein

Franken Stein is a protagonist in the series Soul Eater and a chronic smoker. When he is introduced, he appears to be an antagonist, but it is soon discovered that he was fighting the main protagonists (who are all students) as a remedial lesson on behalf of Lord Death (the Grim Reaper and headmaster). After the lesson, he begins to teach their class as their full time professor. He excels in the role and is very good at being a mentor to the students.

Here’s a little background on the school set-up. The DWMA is a school for weapons (people who can transform into weapons) and meisters (people who can wield those weapons). Weapons and meisters fight enemies who are on the verge of becoming completely evil to keep the balance in the world. Weapons can consume the souls of these monsters to make themselves more powerful. 99 of those souls plus a witch soul makes a weapon powerful enough to be able to be used by Lord Death himself. Stein was the most powerful meister to ever graduate the academy.

He’s practically like the Dumbledore of Soul Eater; he knows everything about anything and is an extremely powerful meister. But Stein has an incorrigible dark side, or madness. He is the epitome of a mad scientist and loves nothing more than dissecting anything and everything. Nothing is off limits, as he’s even done experiments on and dissected parts of his own body. His previous weapon partner, Spirit Albarn, is still terrified of him for having done experiments on him while he was sleeping, even though they are still very good friends. Even as a child, he was fairly gruesome, beating up, torturing, and threatening to dissect even the most distant of passersby. Spirit usually came to the rescue and admonished Stein for his behavior.

Stein as a child

Stein as a child, adorable, right?

Eventually Stein was able to curb his tendencies on the basis of right and wrong, but he slowly cracks along the way. One of the reasons Stein is such a fascinating character is the madness that eats at him through the duration of the anime. You’re constantly wondering when he’s going to snap. I really felt for him whenever he would have his solitary moments of madness and have to snap himself out of it.

Then episode 41 hit, and I spent the entirety of the episode yelling at my screen for him to listen to his conscience and go home! It broke my heart to see Marie have to fight him in his maddened state, but then she is finally able to reach him and stop the radio noise in his head. It was beautiful.

marie and stein

Marie and Stein

Marie and Stein had a relationship in the past, and Marie even refers to Stein as her first love.  It isn’t known if they were actually dating, or if it’s just a onesided thing. Stein seems to be oblivious to her feelings, and she seems to be afraid to admit them. I’m still banking on hope for the pair.

Though, on multiple occasions, Stein makes references to the fact that he has no emotional capacity and no understanding of love. That makes me horribly sad, and also a bit curious. Yes, Stein is an extremely lonesome guy, mostly it seems to be a chosen lifestyle due to his obsession with science. He also seems to have a compassion for his students and a definite bond with Marie. He even berates Medusa for calling her own son (or daughter?), Chrona, a failed experiment to be disposed of. Perhaps he just needs a little bit of a push to understand love more fully?

At certain points in the anime, his loneliness is almost palpable, and it really makes you feel for him. Case and point: his near kiss with Medusa. I can’t believe I admitted that scene actually exists, but unfortunately it does. Anyone thinking that there were romantic going ons with Stein and Medusa, I have to vehemently disagree with you! Though I believe Medusa definitely has a thing for Stein, I don’t think the feelings are mutual. The two have an extensive scientific background in common, and madness was already taking a toll on Stein, as well as the loneliness. It appears Stein  had a weak moment, and then was quickly snapped out of it. He tells Medusa during the Kishin revival arc that he’s not able to return his feelings to her, and he even kills her in a maddened blood bath. He laughs as her blood rains from the ceiling. That’s surely not something you would do to the woman you love, right?

Following Stein in Soul Eater is a definite emotional roller-coaster. And it was well worth the ride. As bizarre as it sounds, he’s half comic relief and half of the extreme emotional struggle.

stein's first day of teaching

Stein's first day of teaching, after his entrance

Also, his voice actor, Chuck Huber, is the voice of Android 17 from DBZ as well. He’s another future honorary Megane Danshi post, as is Trunks, but that’s another post for another time.

And I’m not completely sure how I forgot to mention the absolute best part about Stein until now. It’s probably because it’s past 3am. Anyway, he’s sitting in a chair and wheels around in it, kicking off from his desk. Once he hits a doorway, he topples over and proceeds to have a conversation, laying on the floor, like nothing happened. I laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe the first AND second time he did that. Hilarious.

Blonde Puppy Brigade

Posted: May 1, 2011 in random articles
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Tamaki Suou

Tamaki Suou

spoilers abound. you have been warned.

For those of you who don’t know, Ouran Highschool Host Club is my favorite anime to date. The president of the Host Club is Tamaki Suou. He’s a second year highschool student at the elite Ouran Academy, a school for the children of extremely wealthy families. From the time Haruhi Fujioka, a commoner who gets into Ouran on scholarship, gets mixed up with the Host Club, Tamaki becomes obsessed with learning about and doing things the commoner way.

Tamaki is the illegitimate son of Ouran’s chairman to a French woman whom he fell in love with. His father’s family, especially his grandmother, is not fond of Tamaki’s mother and pays her off to have Tamaki live in Japan with his father. As his father has no heir at this point, it was the only choice they had. Part of the deal includes that she never see her son again. Tamaki’s mother is frequently ill, and he agrees with the terms so that his mother can have a comfortable life for herself. Despite his past, Tamaki is an extremely positive and cheerful young man, is genuinely caring and enthusiastic, and has insane piano skills.

Vash

Vash the Stampede

I am almost half way through Trigun, and will probably have it finished here in the next few days. It is quickly becoming one of my top 5 favorite anime, especially after the introduction of Nicholas D. Wolfwood and the shoot out contest episode. Because I don’t know Vash’s full story at this point, this will be short.

Vash the Stampede is an ace gunman and vigilante for peace and love. Though he has exceptional shooting and dodging abilities, he never shoots to kill. Snuffing out even one human life would mean the end of the world to him. Most often, he appears to be a klutzy goof ball with an infatuation for beautiful women. Most people don’t believe that he’s the renowned gunman with a 60 billion doubledollar (their currency) bounty on his head. But when it gets down to business, he can be super serious.

He seems to have a fair bit of a tragic past, and I’m still waiting for it to reveal itself.

Vash's puppy face

Vash's puppy face

Now, the whole point of this post is to compare these two. When I was watching episdoe 6, Lost July, of Trigun, I witnessed a scene that made me double take. This chick hired Vash as a body guard, and she says, “come, Spot!” to order him to follow her. Subsequently, he makes a puppy face, barks, and proceeds to follow. Immediately, I thought of Tamaki Suou from Ouran who is know in the Host Club for his infamous puppy face that allows him to get his way. Specifically, he uses it to get the Host Club to get in the same boat about saving the Newspaper Club from being dismantled. As soon as the rest of the Host Club relent, he lets out a loud bark.

This got me thinking about how similar these two characters are. For the most part, both characters appear silly and ridiculous and are often chastised for not being or taking things seriously.

Tamaki's puppy face

Tamaki's puppy face

In reality, both of them are extremely talented, Vash with guns and Tamaki with the piano, and can be very down to earth and serious.They use their talents in these serious situations for the benefit of others and learned their respective talents for selfless reasons. Tamaki initially started playing the piano to keep his ill mother company, while Vash learns to became a gunman to protect others.

Despite their tragic pasts, both characters continually look forward. Even though neither of them are my favorite in their respective anime (for obvious reasons, Kyoya wins out in Ouran, while Wolfwood wins in Trigun), their personalities make them very lovable characters whom I hold a great deal of respect for.