Saturday, October 31, 2009

You Know That You Watch Too Much Anime...

...when you see the word "Arise" on a flyer for a Christian "Vision Camp" in your college's Campus Center and think that it says "Anime" from a short distance away. (Yes, that really did just happen a little while ago. -_-;) An alternative lesson could be, don't look at fliers late at night... *finally going to sleep*

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Yay, Hidamari Sketch Licensed!!

Good news for Hiro x Sae/Hidamari fans!
Go, go Sentai!! XD

Fandom Origins: Thanks to Takeuchi

Wow. It's a little weird to think that the Sailor Moon manga is celebrating its 18th anniversary this year. ^^; (And with a seiyuu event anticipating the upcoming 20th anniversary, to boot!)

The old PocketMixx edition of Sailor Moon was the first manga I ever read (with the worn copies still sitting on my manga shelves at home), and the SM anime was my gateway to this weird and wonderful hobby. :)

I actually first found out about SM from a girl from Japan who was my best friend in kindergarten. She moved back to Japan after a year. By that point, I was irrevocably hooked on SM, and my proudly geeky obsession eventually snowballed into anime and manga in general- which provided a springboard for hitting it off with some of my later friends, including my current bf. So, thank you Takeuchi Naoko, for years of entertainment and nostalgia-bonding with friends over the campy goodness of Sailor Moon. (And just as many thanks to the girl I knew back then; we lost contact after a little while- being 6 and all- but I really hope that she's doing well.)

And yes, Haruka and Michiru were my first yuri couple. ^^ (Although not the first yuri couple that I consciously thought of as "yuri.")

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

How do you spell no-longer guilty pleasure? G-o-k-u-j-o-u D-r-o-p-s

I need to start a private list of series that I've started out disliking (sometimes intensely) and wound up enjoying (sometimes immensely)- because it's getting to be a pretty large amount. lol ^^; Hazime Mikuni's Gokujou Drops is one such title.

Gokujou Drops boasts one of the more profound manga romance plots. Maezono Komari is a transfer student who managed to enroll into a Prestigious All-Girls' Boarding School (TM), Ohtori Girl's Academy (spelled with a different kanji character than Utena's Ohtori). Once she arrives, she finds that there aren't any dorm rooms available, although the school can arrange for her to live in an apartment nearby. But wait-! There is an open double room in Dorm 3, known as the "Haraiso Yakata"- a dorm exclusively populated by the most cracked elite students at Ohtori. As long as Komari receives permission from one of the residents to live there, she's home-free. (The reason why she won't accept living in an apartment is that her father stipulated that in order to live away from home, she must live in a dorm.) The occupant of the open double, wealthy school idol/ojousama Himemiya Yukio (who I can definitely see being voiced by Kawasumi Ayako), gives Komari permission to share her room- provided that Komari is willing to become her personal servant. (Cue salacious giggling from the yuri fandom.) You know where this is going. (Lesson of the day: Don't say "I'll do anything!!" to anybody who you really need a favor from.)

The first time I read volume 1, I really didn't care for it. I sternly read it as another manga narrative about a f-cked up relationship glossed over with flowers and screentones and SD-expressions, a la Hot Gimmick. But as soon as I reached the end of volume 2, I thought "What happens next?" (And later, while rereading the series: "Haraiso Yakata is the best dorm ever.") The story in volume 2 has a little more focus than the scattershot approach of volume 1- with Komari meeting Sai-sempai, an eccentric, reclusive computer-otaku who resides in Haraiso Yakata, before she learns from one of the other residents, Erika-sempai, that Yukio is leaving for a visit home to attend an omiai. She visits Yukio's  home, they have their first major misunderstanding, and they kiss and make out up and go on their first date to cement their relationship by the end of volume 2. (And the "omiai" was one big practical joke played by Erika-sempai on Komari.) Future chapters will probably deal with Yukio's dysfunctional family (all cool, dark-haired manga and anime ojousamas seem to have that sort of background ^^;) and Komari's vague memory of a mysterious girl who she loved in her childhood. (Who doesn't want to bet that it's Yukio?) Plus, it looks like computer-otaku Sai-sempai has a newfound interest in Komari.

This manga is pure silly/stupid romance novel fodder...but taken for what it is, it's pretty enjoyable. ^^ It doesn't take itself too seriously, and by the end of volume 2, I was really rooting for Komari and Yukio's relationship. (Aided by the fact that Komari grew more of a spine- and proved to be refreshingly sraightforward- and Yukio softened up.)

Update on 12/07/2012: Yes, this is a scanlated page I used to illustrate a moment I liked when I first posted this review. This series has been licensed in English by JManga and ALC, so you should really buy it if you enjoyed the scanlation.

The art isn't bad, but not remarkable either. It works for the story. I still consider volume 1 pretty banal, even for what it is (every girl in Ohtori seems to have a thing for Komari or Yukio), but the only part in it that I really dislike is Mayaa and Miya's kitchen scene. -_-;

Otherwise, Gokujou Drops is recommended for mindless, silly yuri romance.

Story: Volume 1 gets a C-, volume 2 gets a B-
Art: C+
Overall: C- for volume 1, B- for volume 2 (and B for the final chapter of volume 2)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pre-Halloween Giddiness

The final official Aoi Hana wallpaper is out now!! Akira and Fumi look soooo cute together in Halloween costumes! ^^ *squeals* Since Halloween's coming up next Saturday, I'm posting a batch of Halloween fan art here for yuri/yuri-subtext anime and manga.

From Maria-sama ga Miteru (the second pic's my fave :) ):

From Hayate x Blade (LOVE Ayana as Jason):

From Noir (Why is Kirika green in the third pic? o_o; I do technically know why, but it still looks weird...)

From K-ON!:

From Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha:


From Sailor Moon (for the gothic-lolita fans):


 From Lucky Star:

From CANAAN (I know I'm stretching it with this one; let's just consider it "Liang's Halloween Dream-Come-True" :P ):

 And for something completely out of left field, Hatsune Miku and another Vocaloid, named Luka:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

To Aru Kagaku no Railgun Episode 3: A Pleasant Turn Around (Plus, Slivers of Yuri in Seitokai no Ichizon)

Wow. I liked episode 3 quite a bit.

It wasn't deep or anything (not that it tried to be), but it was fun, funny, and had an entertaining self-contained plot that still left a few lingering questions towards the end that probably foreshadow a much larger plot development in future episodes.

Plus, Kuroko came across as more likeable to me (as she always tends to when doing her work in Judgement), Uiharu grew from coming across as moe-moe to simply being a fairly soft-spoken girl with a penchant for dry humor who is very good at her job, and Saten became my favorite character, for no particular reason that I can pinpoint. Her personality reminds me a little of Satou Sei, if that makes sense. Maybe that's why she's my favorite. lol

An unexpected pairing- Saten x Miho ftw!

Or not. lol

But I like the idea of Saten and Uiharu (the Yumi to Saten's Sei) as a dark horse pair,

especially considering Uiharu's reaction to seeing Saten in the Tokiwadai uniform. lol

Mikoto x Kuroko could even work for me if Kuroko learns to express her oneesama-rabu feelings a little more maturely (and burn the stalker-album...not steal any more I reaching for the stars, here? Or am I just being churlish?). (One thing that puzzles me a little: Why does Kuroko's behavior towards Mikoto bug me so much, when I like obsessive yuri characters who have done worse things, like Liang Qi? o_o; Setting aside the fact that Tanaka Rie can voice act circles around Arai Satomi...and Kuroko hasn't yet figured out how to detonate a bomb using a Wii. ...I guess that once a character crosses a certain threshold of evil, I can't help liking her.)

The next episode preview looks pretty good. (Or pretty funny, at least.) The Railgun anime so far seems to going on a different path from that of the manga, based on what I've read of the manga- hopefully ultimately for the better. The anime so far seems to be focusing more on the four girls' lives, and less on Touma randomly popping up and being challenged to psychic battles by Mikoto.

Art: B+
Overall: B-

I won't write any more posts about individual episodes in Railgun until the final review (unless something mind-blowingly amazing pops up in an episode before the end of the series)- just wanted to mention that my opinion of this series doesn't range from "okay, with flashes of cool" to "annoying" any more.


this season's otaku-parody series, Seitokai no Ichizon, has a little yuri. It has a few yuri jokes and service, mostly as a result of Chizuru's hyper-possesive crush on Aka-chan (see: the Marimite parody sequence in episode 2). Imo, Chizuru is meant to be a parody of the tall, cool possesive onee-sama type, like Sachiko, Chikane, Shizuma, etc.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Good news

for people who are fans of Kaishaku's massively enjoyable (well, massively enjoyable to me, at least :D) new Zettai Shoujo Seiiki Amnesian action-yuri manga,

but who don't want to (or can't) spend an arm and a leg to import it from Amazon JP each month. Akadot's carrying Young Ace issue 4 now (which contains ZSSA chapter 1), and, hopefully, they'll stock future issues. ^^ Akadot tends to take longer than Amazon JP in stocking new issues of Japanese magazines (like Newtype), so if you really, really want it (or need it) right after it comes out, Akadot isn't the best option, but if you're willing to wait a little longer (2-3 weeks) to get a copy, it's a good deal. It still isn't cheap, but it's about as good as it gets (in the country where I live, at least; I'm not sure what the international shipping rates are, although Akadot does ship internationally) for buying a Japanese magazine.

Sasameki Koto Anime: My (Late! > <) Early Impressions

Even though the first chapter of the Sasameki Koto manga (the heartbreak-in-the-library chapter, which the first episode covers) is more melancholic than the bulk of the early chapters, I was still a little nervous after watching the tear-drenched- but still extremely good- first episode. (Especially when I read Carl Kimlinger's summation of Sasameki Koto as "steeped in sadness", and thought "Wait! That's not how it really is!! At least not until the end of volume 3!! o_o; And even then there's levity!") Would AIC truly do (consistent) justice to one of my all-time favorite best-friends-in-love stories? *clenches fist* *cue dramatic string instrument music in the background*

But then *music grows pleasantly light and mellow* *hand relaxes* episode 2 rolled around, and brilliantly captured the fine balance of humor and drama that was present in chapter 2 of the manga (the Akemiya-discovery chapter)!! ^_^ Call me a sadist (or masochist, for identifying with both Sumi and Ushio to some extent), but I can't get enough of those humorously awkward, "Sumi's-doing-damn-near-everything-humanly-possible-to-get-Kazama-to-notice-her-but-Kazama-keeps-missing-the-boat" moments, like when Sumi shows up with a frigging bouquet of roses while wearing the exact outfit that Kazama thought looked cute on her the day before. I can give Kazama a pass for not reading anything into the outfit- but I can't think of anybody who would randomly give somebody who they consider a mere friend a bouquet of pink roses. ^^; (Sumi should have gone the extra mile and sprung for a dozen red roses...and a heart-shaped box of Godiva...with a boom box iPod playing "In Your Eyes"- subtlety is lost on Kazama.)


While the anime hasn't reached the part of the manga that made me fall head-over-heels in love with the series yet, it's still off to a great start- perhaps more so, in a way, for people who haven't read the manga and created a very specific vision of what the anime should "feel" like. Myself, I'm just enjoying the ride. ^^

And it's a silly thing to note, but even though the theme song didn't really stand out to me (despite having Kiyoura Natsumi's lovely vocals), it made me think of this quote:

"Love does not consist of gazing at each other
but looking in the same direction together."
-Antoine de Saint Exupéry

Story: B+ (But the series will reach new levels of awesome soon with Tomoe, Miyako, and Aoi being added to the mix.)
Art: Sometimes B, but B+ when it needs to be. Ikeda's distinctive original character designs are captured well, and emotions are conveyed expressively. My biggest nitpick is how the frames of eyeglasses disappear when they cross over the characters' eyes.
And a small oddity I've noticed that doesn't detract from anything- I'll have to check the manga again, but Sumi and Ushio's town in the anime seems to have an awful lot of sunsets.
Overall: B+

Here's hoping that the anime as a whole lives up to the original material! ^^ *crosses fingers*

Oh, and while all of the seiyuu were well-cast, I thought Takagaki Ayaki really nailed Sumi's character. ^^

Plus, here's a piece of fan art from pixiv I thought was cute. :) Sumi trying to score high on the Sasameki Koto kissing app. lol

Note how her lips are bleeding from too many tries. :P

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Now This Is...

a great example of how the mighty otaku dollar- err, yen- can be used for good instead of evil. :) (J/k, of course. But a perfect marketing jingle for the intended audience would probably be:

   "♪ If you bought a dakimakura that makes your body tingle,
    you can definitely afford to buy this single~ ♫"

I know...I suck at composing lyrics. >_>;)

But I really hope that this song raises a lot of money, and massive kudos to the artists and other people who contributed to it. ^^ If it were available on iTunes (or some other legal music download service that I'm able to use- or heck, a physical CD), I would definitely get it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Merry $@#$ Christmas, Indeed

Ooh! The new dubbed trailer for Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne (originally titled Mnemosyne: Mnemosyne no Musume-tachi) is up on Funimation's website! Awesome trailer. :D

I've mentioned it on this blog before, but I actually didn't finish the show when I watched it as it was first coming out, even though I liked the protagonists- the graphic content got to me. But with exposure to Queen's Blade, Butt Attack Punisher Girl Gautaman, Higurashi's nail-pulling scene, and an extra score of B-horror movies under my belt since then, I may be more tolerant (or callously amused by the excesses? ...or able to make it an episode further than I did before?) and ready to face Rin's infamous airplane scene. ^^; It also probably helps that I'm not expecting "Rin and Mimi's Great Yuri Rabu-Rabu Story!!" Simply bloody, mature (in more than one sense) action with yuri-service.

So I'll at least rent Funi's release- and I'll give the English dub a fair shot. Imo, Mimi's voice sounds better (read: older) in English. I was never much of a fan of Mimi's original seiyuu Kugimiya Rie, Queen of Tsundere Voice Acting, although I like her as Touko in Marimite and Alphonse in FMA.

And I've settled on this template as my blog's new look, ^^ along with adding a few new links on the side: Shimura Takako, Kaishaku, Ikeda Takashi, and Hibiki Reine's blogs. (Small aside: I love checking out the bonus character art that mangaka post on their blogs. ^^ Although in Kaishaku's case, it ranges from "aww, cute"

to "wtf- more catgirls?" to "she's going to have so many back problems later on in life." And Ikeda has some super-cute Sasameki Koto drawings.)

Plus, I'm massively happy that I received my Limited Edition Ameiro Kouchakan Kandan volume 1 in the mail today (technically yesterday now)! ^^ It's been out of stock on Amazon Japan...pretty much since its official release day. (The people who pre-ordered received copies.) I initially waited for several weeks to see if Amazon would restock the LE, since Ichijinsha's shop still had it in stock, but it never happened. And I wasn't able to find any Amazon Marketplace merchants who were willing to ship it to the U.S. ;_; Even though I didn't like the idea of using a seller, I began thinking that I would have to (but it would be more expensive, ugh)... Luckily, YesAsia got it in stock (and they still appear to have it in stock), so I picked it up from them. ^^ I'll listen to the drama CD tomorrow- err, later today, but not now. Need sleep...

Edit: Ack, I didn't link to the trailer before!! > < It's been added now.

Meaningless Rambling Post: Blog Under Construction

Because I want to use (another) different look for this blog, since the graphics that I used previously seemed too pastel for my taste. But it's hard to find something that A) looks feminine-ish without being kitschy or having shoes/shopping bags/some Cosmopolitan-esque cartoon woman on it, B) doesn't have something else completely unrelated, like jungle plants or a cat riding in a sailboat, and C) doesn't look emo. (Like the Sylvia Plath template.)

Plus, now for Japanese language class, I'm keeping a blog in terrible Japanese- with posts like "What I Did During Fall Break" and whatever else I want to write about for my classmates to see. I won't link to it here because...yeah... ^^; but it's out there somewhere, floating around the vast expanse of the internet for some poor Japanese-speaking soul to stumble upon it.

Oh, and I love these little CANAAN chibis I found. ^^ *squeals* So cute!!

The same pixiv artist also has super-cute chibi art of characters from several other series, like Saki (too many characters to post here ;_;),


Hidamari Sketch,  

To Aru Majutsu no Index/To Aru Kagaku no Railgun,

and Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha.

Even Higurashi.

(Not yuri at all, but chibi Rena with a cleaver = win.)

English-language instructions for joining pixiv, btw, are here.