Archive for the ‘anime’ Category

Anime Review: Clannad

Posted: November 24, 2011 in anime, reviews
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Nagisa and Tomoya

Nagisa and Tomoya

Do you like sob stories? How about a sub story, within a sob story, within a sob story? If your answer is ‘yes,’ then Clannad is for you. Sure, on the cover it looks like a routine “feel-good following of highschool friends” anime like Azumanga Daioh. It’s not. 

Clannad is actually broken into two sections: the main 24 episodes and a 22-episode After Story. Really, they make up a 46-episode complete anime, as separate arcs.

The story follows Tomoya Okazaki, a senior and a “delinquent,” and the students he ends up surrounding himself with, starting with Nagisa Furukawa. In fact, the main plot of the first arc revolves around Nagisa coming out of her shell and starting up the drama club with Tomoya’s help. Nagisa missed her actual senior year, due to a recurring illness, so she’s actually repeating. Tomoya, with delinquent in quotes, cuts class a lot, but rarely does he actually make trouble for anyone, even himself. Honestly, his character is just like putting a rat poison label on a jar of artificial sweetener, it’s not exactly sugar, but it’s definitely not rat poison either.

Within the first arc are mini-arcs, in which Tomoya and Nagisa reach out to a couple of different students and help them to make friends and complete desired goals. Then tragic things happen or are revealed. Really, it’s like a buzz kill. It’s like rescuing a puppy from a fire in order for it to get hit by a car a few short days later. Seriously, watch this anime with a box of tissues.

Now, I’m not really going to get into the After Story. Frankly, I didn’t watch it, but you don’t really need to. See, here’s what happened:

After Story

After Story

Within the anime are a few clips about an alternate story that has (seemingly) nothing to do with the main story at all. There’s a robot and a girl, and they’re all alone in the world they’re in. The story is referenced by Nagisa way late in the first arc, and Tomoya claims that the story sounds vaguely familiar. When the main anime arc ends, the only question that doesn’t get answered is where that story came from and what it has to do with the main plot. So, I did what any curious person does: I googled it. I ended up reading an entire synopsis, with a box of tissues, only to discover at the end that it was the “After Story” arc. Now that I know what happens, it’s kind of pointless to watch it, especially with the circumstances that unfold. It follows Nagisa and Tomoya into the future and the events that surround Tomoya in dealing with yet more tragedy.

Don’t believe me? If you don’t mind the SPOILERS BELOW, then keep reading.

Tomoya past/present: His mother died when he was a child, sending his father into a permanent alcoholic and gambling binge. Tomoya attends the school that he does on a basketball scholarship. A fight with his father in which his father got physical, put Tomoya permanently on the bench. He can no longer lift his right arm above his shoulder. Tomoya cuts class frequently, labeling him as a delinquent, and subsequently, easily blamed for anything that goes amiss at the school.

Nagisa: This isn’t discovered until literally the last quarter of the first arc. Nagisa’s picturesque family as a dark secret, which is kept locked in the shed behind their house. As revealed to Tomoya by Nagisa’s father, both he and his wife had their dream jobs: he was an actor and she was a teacher. Nagisa is plagued by a recurring illness, which hit her pretty hard as a child one winter day. Nagisa’s parents left her home alone for 2 hours while they went to their jobs, and her father rushed home as soon as he could. He found her passed out in front of the house, in the snow, close to death. Her parents gave up their jobs to open a bakery and be home with Nagisa, keeping that secret from her. She suspects there’s something hidden in her childhood  that she should apologize for, even though it wasn’t her fault.

Fuuko Ibiki: One of the first side characters that Tomoya and Nagisa help is Fuuko, rumored to be a ghost student. Her older sister, a former art teacher, is getting married at the school, and Fuuko creates star fish out of wood as wedding invitations for all the students. Tomoya and Nagisa discover Fuuko was in an accident on her way to school and currently resides in a hospital, in a coma. She is the spirit of her real self, trying to get things together for the wedding. But slowly, the students at the school don’t remember her, and can’t see her anymore. Come the day of the wedding, even Tomoya and Nagisa start forgetting she exists. But everyone suddenly remembers about the wedding and show up for a beautiful day. The following day, Tomoya and Nagisa, along with everyone else, have completely forgotten about Fuuko.

Kotomi Ichinose: She’s a brilliant student who isolates herself in the library everyday and devours book after book. Tomoya tries to get her out of her shell and be more sociable. Then, when she witnesses the wreckage of a bus accident (even though no one got hurt), she has a psychotic break and barricades herself in her house. Tomoya tries to help, only to discover that her parents both died in a plane accident over the ocean on their way to America to give a lecture. She received this news on her birthday.

Tomoya and Nagisa in After Story: They get married and have their first child, a daughter. Nagisa falls ill again and dies. Tomoya goes into a depression, forcing Nagisa’a parents to raise his daughter. After five years, a talk with his grandmother gives him enough strength to live again, and he gets his daughter back. He discovers that she has the same recurring illness as Nagisa, and she soon dies too. Tomoya has a psychotic break and ends up in the alternate reality as the robot from the story. Then he wakes up and Nagisa and his daughter are both alive again. But the damage it did to my psyche is done. Now it feels like a “oh yeah, we messed up. Just kidding.”

the big dango family

the big dango family

So that’s it the SPOILERS END HERE.

It was a good anime, but you’l find yourself going “NO WAY” in a stream of tears at the end of every mini arc, and definitely for sure several times during the After Story. Definitely keep those tissues handy.

And one last note, let the episode play into the closing credits. The Dango Family song is worth a listen as a running joke in the anime itself.

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Sket Dance

Sket Dance

I feel like a kid in candy store, with the promise of as much candy as I could possibly eat for free. Problem is, I don’t know where to turn first! I know it’s just an analogy, but the candy store I’m speaking of here is Crunchyroll, a pay by month, all you can watch anime (and drama!) site that’s trusted amongst anime goers. My friend Racheal sent me a “48-hour access pass,” because she can gift those as a paying member. Now I’m staring at a list huge list of anime, most of which I’ve never heard of, and I don’t know which to watch first.

On the downside, it doesn’t have any of the anime that I’ve started watching and haven’t finished yet: Samurai Champloo, Outlaw Star, and Clannad. But! It does have a large selection of other anime that seem really interesting.

SKET Dance is the first one I came across, which piqued my interest for the fact that it appears to be an Ouran knockoff. I watched the preview video, and it is focused around the stereotypical trio, two guys and a girl. This trio has their own club that is focused on helping people with their problems, hence the Ouran knockoff part. Also, it does have their own megane danshi (Kyoya, anyone?), a character who appears to be technologically minded. It seems to be an awfully predictable anime, but the 4.5 star rating (with over 700 votes) means I might just give it a watch.

Usagi Drop

Usagi Drop

When I’m looking for an anime, one of the tributes that makes me more likely to watch is the length. I’m more likely to watch a quick 12 episode anime over one that is still going. I keep up with Naruto, and that’s enough of a long-runner for me. Eleven episode Usagi Drop, rated 5 stars by over 900 people, is a new anime about a 30-year old single man who ends up raising a little girl. The watercolor styled animation is beautiful, but unfortunately, there’s no English subtitles. I was really looking forward to watching it too.

The Place Promised

The Place Promised

But, I think I might start with The Place Promised in Our Early Days. It’s an award winning movie, only available on Crunchyroll until October 22nd. It centers around three teens who grew up together, and keeping the promise they made to each other despite a war torn world. Unknown promise? Mysterious place? Beautiful cover with violins involved? Yeah, this is a winner. I’ve never seen a Makoto Shinkai movie, but I’m excited to get my first taste. I’ll let ya’ll know how it is. If it turns out to be anything like the end of Full Metal Achemist, though, I’m going to be miserable for a few days.

I think I’m going to get a membership. There’s just too much I want to watch! Anyone have a suggestion for a good anime on Crunchyroll? Characters with glasses are a guaranteed watch!

spoilers abound. you have been warned.

No. Really. HUGE spoilers here. I read and am completely up-to-date on the Naruto Shippuden manga. So, if you’re strictly an anime watcher, you won’t get to this part for awhile. Tobi has been a mysterious figure since his first appearance. The most popular speculation are Obito and who he actually claims to be, Madara Uchiha.

First, I’ll explain the “Obito is Tobi,” or OiT, theory. It’s pretty self explanatory. People who champion this notion do, in fact, believe that the main antagonist of the Naruto series, Tobi, is none other than a side character from Kakashi’s past, Obito Uchiha. Tobi started off as a goofball member of Akatsuki, a group bent on retrieving all nine of the tailed beasts to resurrect the “ten tails.” Eventually, he became the last man standing in the group and revealed himself as Madara Uchiha.

Now, this is bizarre, because Madara was friends, and eventually enemies, with the first Hokage who was rumored to have destroyed him. That was like, over a hundred years ago, so speculation started to swirl on how he could still be alive so long.

As far as Obito goes, he was a former team mate of Kakashi’s who was very much like Naruto. He valued friendship and the safety of team members over the success of the mission. Obito and Kakashi’s third team member, Rin, was kidnapped during a mission, and the pair ended up saving her. In doing so, however, Obito was crushed by a giant boulder. Before he died, he had Rin, a medical ninja, transplant one of his Uchiha eyes into Kakashi (who had previously suffered an eye injury) as a thank you for going along with him to save Rin.

Tobi and Obito

Tobi and Obito

To sum things up, both Madara and Obito are dead. In fact, every member of the Uchiha clan is presumed dead at this point except for Sasuke. Sasuke’s elder brother, Itachi, wiped out all the members of the Uchiha clan, except Sasuke, several years prior to the start of part 1 on orders of the third Hokage. Itachi later dies in battle with his younger brother. But, even after Tobi reveals himself as Madara, the OiT theorists have remained ever vigilant. Here’s why:

1. Obito and Madara are both Uchihas, a clan of people who are able to wield an eye power called the Sharingan. Tobi is also a Sharingan user, as seen through the one eye hole of his mask.

2. When Obito died, he had given his left eye to Kakashi. Tobi has a single eye hole in his mask, over his right eye.

3. Both have similar spikey haircuts, and Tobi appears to be too young, and his hair far too short, to be the wild Madara.

4. Their names are very similar.

As convincing as this is, there’s a problem. Obito was just like Naruto, ultimately good and valued friendship. What could have possibly happened, if Tobi is Obito, to have turned him into the picture of pure evil?

And, another hole in the works, during Tobi’s fight with Konan, his mask breaks and though you don’t see his whole face, he is shown to have both eyes. Both Sharingan eyes. So is he really Madara then? And here comes the major spoilers: according to the newest chapter of the Naruto Shippuden manga, perhaps not. Unless, of course, there’s other unforeseen circumstances at work here that we are unaware of yet at the present.

Madara Uchiha

Madara Uchiha

Kabuto finally reveals his trump card, the body in the casket that made Tobi nervous, Madara Uchiha’s body. It is made clear that it is, in fact, Madara, and he is unmistakably dead.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Naruto plot line from the past couple of months, here’s a short recap. All the major ninja villages have banned together to form the joint shinobi army against the forces of Tobi and Orochimaru infested Kabuto (it’s a tender subject. Look for my other posts on Kabuto). Kabuto has perfected the Impure World Ressurection Jutsu that allows the user to utilize dead bodies with all their powers. The bodies are back “alive,” but they have no control over their actions and are bent to the will of the Jutsu user. Madara is being used under this Jutsu.

So if that’s the real Madara, then who the !@$% is Tobi?! Sure, the OiT theorists are probably celebrating right now, but I’m not convinced for the reasons I’ve already mentioned. Then what’s going on? Your guess is as good as mine, and I invite you to share your thoughts. But, here’s what I’m leaning toward. Tobi is probably someone related to Madara, such as a son we don’t know about, or his younger brother Izuna. Maybe Madara wasn’t the strongest son after all. Again, this is just a guess here. It could be something completely out of left field here for all we know.

Now that the real Madara has stood up, I can’t wait for Tobi to be completely unmasked.

First off, I must apologize for the lack of posting over the last week or two. I’ve been interviewing at a company to be a web designer, and they had me create a website from the ground up as part of the process. Though I thoroughly enjoyed sinking my teeth back into the wonderful world of CSS and wordpress manipulation, I’m glad to be back to spending my free time writing and watching anime. I’ve also seemed to have run the well dry on Criminal Minds episodes.

Mugen, Fuu, and Jin

Mugen, Fuu, and Jin

I started watching Samurai Champloo tonight while hanging out with a friend of mine on our day off. For some reason, I either forgot about this anime, or I subconsciously ignored that I knew about it. Samurai Champloo was the ultimate favorite anime of one of my best friends who passed away in 2008. Perhaps, for that reason it took me so long to get into it. I’d also venture to guess that it’s due in part to the airing of it on Cartoon Network, and therefore, I’ve only seen a few, random episodes. I tend to not get into anime in which that happens… ie. Cowboy Bebop, Kekkeishi,  Inuyasha, and Ruoni Kenshin to name a few. Thanks Cartoon Network!

My friend Lena and I decided on Samurai Champloo after perusing the various anime on her Netflix (I’m convinced I need Netflix now), and we were riveted from episode 1. I was surprised that it was only 26 episodes, as I had been convinced it was one of those anime that seems to go on forever. So far, we made it through to episode 15 in one sitting, and this is my reaction to what we’ve seen so far.

First of all, we’re half way through, and I find it COMPLETELY bizarre that the character who talks the most (Fuu) is the one that we know the least about. Weird, right? And the whole objective of the plot is Mugen and Jin helping her to find the samurai who smells like sunflowers. We’re at the middle of the series and know absolutely nothing about who this guy is, what he means to her, and why she wants to find him. My best guess is that it’s her father, considering she mentioned that he left a long time ago, and her mother passed away just about a year prior to episode 1.

Jin, who will have his own Megane Danshi post in the future, is almost even with Fuu on how much we know about him. He generally does not say a whole lot, but it is known at this point that someone betrayed the dojo, and Jin himself killed his own master. Again, I can venture a guess, and I think Jin is above blatant murder for no reason, so the guy must have had it coming to him. I’m thinking the master was the rogue.

And Mugen, his entire backstory was revealed in episodes 14-15, and that was probably the most powerful thing I’ve seen in awhile, when Mugen leaves his childhood friend alive after killing everyone she depended on. And by awhile, I mean since episode 7 when Fuu witnesses the unnecessary murder of a new friend who was just trying to make enough money to help his sick and dying mother.

I think this anime has all the makings for a very intense and sad ending. All three of them seem to revolve heavily on their secret pasts, and I’m insanely curious as to what they’ve all got hiding, especially Fuu. I wouldn’t be surprised if either Mugen or Jin bites the dust at the end, for some reason I don’t see that happening to Fuu. Those two seem to have much to atone for in their lives, even though they’re still extremely young, and Fuu seems to have been innocent in her upbringing.

I can see why my friend loved this anime so much. The main characters are interesting, and their dynamics play off each other extremely well. Their secret pasts keep you glued to find out how it unravels. And this mysterious samurai who smells like sunflowers is driving me crazy. We still don’t know anything about him. I look forward to having all of these questions answered and secrets revealed, and I hope I don’t need a full box of tissues.