Mayo Chiki 13 (Final, for real this time :3 )

Hey minna,
sorry about the lack of activity this past week, long story short: life sucks, thank goodness for anime, not sure how my sanity would hold up without it. Is it bad that fictional stories (some very loosely based on realistic principles) make more sense than crap in real life? But that’s a different story for a different day, trust me. Back to the good old past time, and the last episode of the Summer 2011 season, Mayo Chiki.

The plot may have ended with episode 12, but episode 13 gives a last taste before leaving us to wait for the (at this point, inevitable) second season.  Chock full of fanservice, but still funny, probably the most comedy driven episode of the series, so far.  Centered around the cat-eared, BL author, Nakaru, the story is rather solid, albeit unnecessary to the series except to show character development.

The story, in a nutshell, is about Nakaru’s complex about her bust, and how she seeks Jirou’s help….by asking him on a date.  (I’m not skipping over the part where she first seeks confidence in Kureha and Usami, I’m just not sure how much of her story was manipulated by her imagination. This isn’t coming as criticism of Nakaru, I have the same problem, believe it or not :3 )  Jirou gets bumped up a few points on the cool-o-meter as he proves to Nakaru that her *ahem* figure isn’t the only good quality about her.  This (I guess) helps Nakaru get past her BL writer’s block, and makes Jirou out to be a real stud at the end of the season.

And, so, Mayo Chiki ends with a laugh.  It’s been a good ride and I eagerly await season 2, mostly just to see Jirou take a beating and not get a nosebleed and to see both him and Subaru finally become an “item” (we all know that’s how it’s going down).  Suspense will only make me want it more, but I hope the hiatus isn’t too long.

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Until next time
– BeldenOtaku

RoKyuBu – Final Review

Hey minna,
back with another wrap up for a Summer 2011 series, RoKyuBu, the loli fest that I decided to stop reviewing, barring this final review.  This series, from the beginning, seemed like a nice inspirational plot of an underdog basketball team and the usual feel-good lessons they learn along the way.  While RoKyuBu definitely was a feel-good story, it didn’t wear out with old plot devices, instead opting to provide fresh and interesting ways to present the trials and accomplishments of the team along the way, as well as the individual milestones.  Though, there’s one thing that really put me off, and actually caused me to no longer want to do a regular review; up to 75% of any episode (with a few exceptions I’ll explain later) was a loli-fest, or at least Subaru insisting he isn’t the dirty-minded pervert he so “unfortunately” gets depicted as.

Even the original premise of basketball seems to get tossed to the wayside 3/4 of the way in, in favor of the (very underage) fanservice.  I personally don’t mind some fanservice in my anime, but when it pushes off actually plot or character development, I get annoyed. This is doubled by the extremely unsettling fact that these characters are (supposedly) elementary schoolers, albeit very very VERY developed elementary schoolers (I’m using sweet, shy Airi as a prime example).

Creepiness aside, there are a few things I think RoKyuBu did very well, namely, the animation. I rarely feel impressed watching anime, concerning the animation, but RoKyuBu does an unexpectedly great job, especially during the games, with very dynamic angled views, realistically operating physics (typically, due to costs, fast, directionally moving objects, such as basketball being passed, can seem to take on an un-earthly law of physics, really only noticeable if you have experience with both physical motion and the animation process), and well-used slow motion shots.  In-game, I never get the interrupting thought that something didn’t move right or how it operated didn’t make sense.  So, my utmost regards go to the animators for a job very well done.

As far as plot, I’d give RoKyuBu a C+, because it is, in essence, an “inspirational” story of an underdog team, but I’ll admit there is a freshness to how events unfolded. But, that being said, if you erased the loli-fests, you’d get maybe 4 episodes of actual plot (I might be making a pessimistic guess with that number).

So, if you have *ahem* “that” kind of interest, these elementary schoolers will keep you entertained, but if you’re a casual viewer looking for something to sink their teeth into, I’d pass on this.  Overall, RoKyuBu had potential to be a rather cute, nice to watch series, but I’m disappointed to see it take, what I think of, as a very cheap route, opting for fanservice instead of substance.

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Overall, Saki was the most refreshing character, as she didn’t typically go all in for most of the loli-fests.

Until next time,
– BeldenOtaku

YuruYuri – Our Warm and Fuzzy Overnighter (Final)

Hey minna,
yet another end to another anime series, episode 12 of the Summer 2011 series YuruYuri sets the bar even higher for comedy series, especially ones with a yuri cast full of lovable and adorable characters.  This was honestly the series I had guessed in the beginning of the season that was most likely to get too eechi and one that I would eventually drop…I’m here to say that, fortunately, I WAS WRONG! YuruYuri is a comedy goldmine and I’m happy that I got to enjoy 12 weeks of coming home to settle down and watch the funniest middle schoolers I’ve ever known.

This final episode was a wrap-up from the very beginning, with everyone being gathered together for an overnighter in the clubhouse.  Amusement (hence the “Amusement Club”, I’m guessing) ensues with a contest between the Amusement Club and the Student Council. Contests of smarts, Othello, skill, Gestures, and stamina, “Experiment”.   But that’s just breaking the ice, even more hilarity is brought forth before dinner, when everyone is taking turns in the makeshift baths…poor Akari, even in the final episode she gets tossed aside.

The overnighter turns into a bloodsport after dinner when Kyoko unwittingly gives Chitose chocolate…which turns her into an unstoppable kissing monster, and the only way to end the horror (horror for some, favorite part of the episode for others, namely me) is to tire her out by causing nose bleeds…Kyoko is quick to volunteer her services, of course.

Once the casualties had ceased, the cast settles in for the night and the episode picks back up seconds before Nishigaki-sensee’s alarm goes off, when Akari hits the snooze button and everyone else gets up and goes outside to brush their teeth.  Akari hits the snooze once again, resuming the clock’s countdown…three…two….one…..Akari would’ve surely been missed, if she had actually died. Even in the last episode, Akari can’t get any love.

The animation stayed good throughout the series, but the jokes are what stood out for YuruYuri, I’ll never look at anything yuri the same way again.   If there’s one thing I would’ve changed, I wanted to see the student council president, Rise, more, I feel like she deserved more airtime (maybe just because I think the quiet, kinda mysterious ones are cute, but, whatever).  An overall hilarious series that I’ll probably enjoy again the next time I have free time and nothing new to watch. Highly recommended to anyone who thinks yuri can’t be funny, they will be proven wrong.

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Not gonna have any more YuruYuri Tuesdays, but it was nice while it lasted. I can’t decide, Yui, or Rise….I’ll settle for both (3

Until next time,
– BeldenOtaku

Ikoku Meiro no Croisee – The Cat on the Roof (Final)I

(Note to self: okay, okay, you can do this, stop crying for five minutes and write the review…)

Hey minna *sniff*,
back for a review of the last episode of the Summer 2011 series, Ikoku Meiro no Croisee.   A final episode that doesn’t disappoint this teary-eyed otaku, plenty of metaphor, plot development, and good story telling to satisfy anyone.  I’m almost too emotionally wracked up to properly do this, but, let’s go…*sniff*…for Yune!

The finale to this great series begins unusually, as it doesn’t open with a small segment of the story then proceed into the opening theme.  It opens up on Yune and Claude going out for groceries, when they pass a shop with a metal sign made by Claude’s father, featuring a cat with a bell on it.  Yune, as we already should know, is quite fond of cats, so this sign and its accompanying story of a real cat with a bell on it that disappeared sticks with her throughout the episode.

[Spoiler, stop reading now if you haven’t seen the final episode yet]

After returning to the shop with groceries, Claude proceeds to go to work in the forge.  Ever sweet Yune offers to help Claude in his work, claiming that she is strong enough to carry tools (in it’s last episode, the comedy stays good).  When this is shown to not be 100% true, Yune sees some rather small gloves hanging on the glove rack, and moves to put them on to help Claude with the forge.  This sets Claude off, who snatches the gloves away from Yune and tells her leave, in not so polite language (How dare he!).

Yune feels a little jilted, but doesn’t take it too hard once Oscar explains that those were Claude’s father’s gloves, and that he never takes them off the rack.  Yune understands what these must mean to Claude, so she quietly forgives him, and proceeds to watch over the shop.  Until she hears the phantom chingling of the bell from the story of the cat she heard earlier.  She ventures outside of the store to investigate….

A short while later, Claude can’t find Yune in the store, so he frantically runs around the gallery, searching for her.  He eventually has Alice and the other shop owners turning the gallery upside down in pursuit of her, until Claude remembers Yune’s fascination with the belled cat from earlier, and asks the shop owner if he’d seen her. He traces her back to the sign and also follows the phantom chingling until he spots Yune on the roof of the gallery through the windows of the atrium.

[Extreme Spoiler, if you haven’t seen the final episode yet, it is highly, highly, almost demandingly recommended that you stop reading now, and finish the episode before continuing]

Claude rushes to the roof to save Yune from the same fate that befell his father.  The final piece of the puzzle that is “Claude Claudel” finally falls into place. His father, while working on the roof of the Grand Magisin, fell to his death, while young Claude could sit helplessly as his father perished.  This is the reason he seems to have been overly-protective of Yune and very closed off when it came to his true feelings.  The metaphor of the cat with a bell was very strong here, as it turns out, the cat left because it hated wearing the bell. While those who liked seeing the cat could now easily find it, this meant the cat couldn’t catch mice, therefore survive. This is symbolic of Claude and Yune, Yune felt she couldn’t do anything for anyone while being so protected by Claude. And, while it was good intentions of keeping Yune safe, Claude realizes how much his own selfishness has affected those around him.  This is when the two make a new start, so to speak, as they look over the gallery from the rooftop, Claude and Yune reach a new understanding of one another.

Because Yune lost her shoes on the rooftop of the gallery, Claude had to carry her back in his arms (I thought it looked a lot like a big brother-little sister moment, very sweet).  Then, a great pose-off started as everyone in the gallery looked, with smiles on their faces, as Yune returned unharmed.  This is when Yune finally comes to understand that she too is a part of this family in the gallery, even Alice seems moved by this touching moment.

By far, my favorite episode, though very bittersweet to admit that this ending doesn’t leave the series very open for a second season, as everything seems to be generally wrapped up with no concrete inkling to a continuation of the story.  It’s sad to see Yune go (but she’ll always be in my heart!).  The animations, backgrounds, and characters stayed beautiful throughout the entire series. The music (sampled here) is very soothing and I enjoyed it very much, not your typically J-pop or rock themed music.

This series was very well done, one of my favorites of all time.  I recommend to anyone who likes more slow-paced, character-driven stories or to someone who enjoys beautifully created artwork as this is a masterpiece if only in visuals.

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Ikoku Meiro no Croisee….Yune….

Until next time,
– BeldenOtaku

Working!! (Season 1)

Hey minna,
just finished marathoning Working!! Season 1, and I’ve got to say, I need to install an emergency phone next to my computer, because I nearly died of laughter.  The comedy is surprisingly fresh, given such a tried-and-true premise.  My satisfaction with this series is nearly doubled by the fact that a second season is soon to start, and, going by the first episode already released, it looks to keep the comedy coming.

The premise of “Working!!” isn’t too complex, rather amazing in it’s simplicity. Takanashi, a high school student is recruited to work part-time at a family restaurant, Wagnaria. There isn’t anything significantly special about this restaurant, except for the staff that runs it.  This motley crew of misfits band together everyday to serve the good people their lunches.  There’s Takanashi, the new waiter who’s about to learn just abnormal these people can be, Taneshima, Takanashi’s sempai who also works as a waitress, but looks like an elementary schooler, despite her age, Inami, the androphobic (afraid of men) waitress who is, more often than not, laying Takanashi out on the floor from fear, Kyoko, the manager, though she rarely does work, Todoroki, completely normal waitress and floor chief…except for carrying around a katana and feeding Kyoko when she’s hungry, Sato, the head chef, typically calm and cool, though sometimes flustered around Todoroki due to his unintentional infatuation with her, Soma, assistant chef who seems to have unending knowledge of every employee at Wagnaria’s, he’s most likely to be where an interesting story is to be heard, Aoi, a stray picked up by the store’s corporate manager and who also lives in the building’s attic, and (finally) Otoo, the corporate manager who is frequently traveling, searching for his lost wife.

If you think the characters are strange, you’d be right, but that’s exactly what helps make this series as funny as it is.  Not to mention, I didn’t even really scratch the surface with those descriptions, each character is deep and multi-faceted (mostly).  Each episode brings a new level of insanity to the restaurant and a higher level of laughter to the viewer.

The animation and character designs are good throughout, and there are a few times where I was on the edge of my seat from the tension. Yes, this series, in fact, has a few good plot and character-development driven episodes that give a bit of substance to chew on, so to speak.

Highly recommended for any comedy enthusiast, or if you just need some relaxing anime to unwind with.  The characters are easy to get attached to and there’s plenty of new content yet to come, with season 2 set to start (regularly) airing October 1st.

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Until next time,
– BeldenOtaku

Mayo Chiki – Nyu!

Hey minna,
here to go over episode 11 of the soon to end summer 2011 series, Mayo Chiki.  It’s the beginning of a new semester for the cast, but, more importantly, it’s the start of a few new things with our trio Jirou, Subaru, and Kanade; not to mention, a twist ending that has me more excited for the final episode than I thought I would be.

“Nya!” opens up with Subaru and Kanade preparing for the new semester, and we see that Kanade has picked up that something is going on between Jirou and Subaru, but is nice enough not to go right to torturing the two to find out the details. Instead, she spikes Subaru’s lunch so she gets drunk (she may not be able to hold her liquor, but she sure is a funny drunk :3 ). Shortly before she starts streaking, Subaru is a breath away from confessing something to Jirou, that is, until she passes out and Jirou takes her to the nurse’s office to rest.

Jirou returns to the classroom to find Kanade afflicted by her one “weakness”, one that causes her to “nya!” (*hiccup*) at the end of her sentences.  As a gentlemen would, Jirou plays off the sound as his own, sparing Kanade until they retreat to the nurse’s office, once again.  Here, Kanade’s true plan comes to light, after dispatching Subaru back the mansion to retrieve “tools” for relieving her hiccups, Kanade pins Jirou to the bed and begins her specialized torture method for extracting information from Jirou about his relationship with Subaru.

Jirou escapes Kanade’s clutches, only to run into Subaru, who made a very speedy run to the mansion and back.  Being disheveled, Subaru wonders what happened… I think, at this point, she knows when Kanade has been molesting Jirou.  But the comedy takes a serious turn when Kanade falls down the stairs, Subaru unable to make the save, and sprains her ankle.  Quickly rushed to the hospital, Subaru is despondent over her failure to serve her mistress, although Kanade plays it down and doesn’t blame Subaru in the slightest. This doesn’t prevent Kanade’s father, however, from firing Subaru, via Subaru’s father, from being Kanade’s butler.  Kanade outrightly rejects this and starts to go to tell off her father, but before she could, Subaru apologizes and runs off, Jirou giving chase.

Jirou catches up to Subaru, and tries to console her, but fails when Subaru pulls (in my opinion) a cheap trick and activates his gynophobia by kissing him on the cheek, thereby rendering Jirou incapacitated.

I’m undecided as to whether I think this series will try to wrap up the story in the final episode, or leave it open for an obvious second season.  The preview definitely leads to think the latter, but the dialogue and title for the final episode ( ) made me think otherwise. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see. (These series endings are going to be very tiring, I think.)

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Until next time,
– BeldenOtaku

YuruYuri – Our Amusement Club

Hey minna,
yet another series coming to a close. This eleventh episode of YuruYuri continues the comedy you know and love, but with a twist. Our gang of girls begin the episode reminiscing of their childhood days, which brings up a theme for the episode, personalities.

As is it turns out, Kyoko used to be a total coward who was always trembling behind Yui (and, to a lesser extent, Akari).  In order to protect her friends from the evil bully, Chinatsu, Yui had to become tough as nails and a born leader (and Akari was there too).  From a comedy standpoint, it’s…better (?) that Kyoko stays they way she’s been throughout the series, being the main driving force for all of the club’s activities.

The twist comes with a surprise when Kyoko seems to have lost her comedic genius after a bump on the head from falling down the stairs.  She takes it so far that the Amusement Club was mere moments from being disbanded (insert *gasp* here).  Fortunately, a second bump on the head set her straight.  But now it’s Akari’s turn, or not. She was quickly restored to her former, background dwelling personality after similarly falling down stairs and gaining a new personality, one that jumps into a room and demands attention, although very annoyingly.

The next episode seems to be an end-all comedy fest, with a nice wrap-up for the characters and a last hooray for the series.  *sighs* It was nice while it lasted.

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(btw, Yui is still my favorite :3 )

Until next time,
– BeldenOtaku