Friday, April 26, 2013

A Great Big Thankyou!

originally i intended to have this post up last week, but since i was sick/out of it for the week it happens now. i wanted to tell everyone, Thankyou! we hit 500 posts recently, and to celebrate i made some thankyou backgrounds for you all, using the characters from the anime i've watched. imagine my surprise when i looked back and saw that we had surpassed 600 posts!! i guess it makes it all the more fitting that i couldn't make just one, like i had originally intended, so to celebrate this momentous occasion i have a whole bunch for you. hope you enjoy them, and thanks again!!
allow me to also take this opportunity to let you know that from here on out, we will now be operating on a weekly schedule, with a new update each tuesday! make sure to mark the calendar! ^^
much love to Russia, who has the second most pageviews by country, and much love to the other high traffic countries of Germany, the UK, Ukraine, France, Poland, and Romania! ^^
много любви к России, которая занимает второе самое просмотров страниц по стране, и много любви к другой страны с высоким уровнем трафика из Германии, Великобритании, Украины, Франции, Польши и Румынии!  ^^
viel Liebe zu Russland, die die zweite hat die meisten Seitenzugriffe nach Land und viel Liebe zu den anderen stark frequentierten Ländern von Deutschland, UK, Ukraine, Frankreich, Polen und Rumänien! ^^
багато любові до Росії, яка посідає друге саме переглядів сторінок по країні, і багато любові до іншої країни з високим рівнем трафіку з Німеччини, Великобританії, України, Франції, Польщі та Румунії! ^^

beaucoup d'amour à la Russie, qui possède le deuxième plus grand pages vues par pays, et beaucoup d'amour pour les autres pays à fort trafic de l'Allemagne, le Royaume-Uni, Ukraine, France, Pologne et en Roumanie! ^^
dużo miłości do Rosji, który ma drugi najwięcej odsłon w kraju i dużo miłości do innych krajów ruchu Niemcy, UK, Ukraina, Francja, Polska i Rumunia! ^^
multă dragoste pentru Rusia, care are cele mai multe secunde Vizualizări de țară, și multă iubire pentru celelalte țări cu trafic intens din Germania, Marea Britanie, Ucraina, Franța, Polonia și România! ^^
(i ran all those through an online translator. apologies if they came out a little weird. ^^; )

credit for the Alice render goes to SaoriXIII.

i found all the images for these on google.
i adore this Yuuko pic. ^^
i tried to make the backgrounds a resolution that will be easily accessable by everybody. if they don't work too well for you, though, i apologize and encourage you to comment so that if i do this again, i'll have ones ready for all screens. :3
credit for this Menma render goes to therealsin.
some looked better solo, some looked better with others. this is a rare one that was both.
not my favourite of the bunch, but at least i got to use all the characters i tracked down. -w-;
i hope people like these. ^^
sorry Asuna's hand got cut off, but it was the best picture i could find of her. :\
i considered leaving Akari out of this one, but it felt a bit empty in the middle.
i really like the way the text goes with Yarizui. ^^

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Ikoku Meiro no Croisee

Ikoku Meiro no Croisee, otherwise known as La Croisée dans un Labyrinthe Étranger, Croisee in a Foreign Labyrinth, or The Crossroads of a Foreign Maze, is a 12 episode (+1 OVA) anime that aired in Summer of 2011. it follows a young girl named Yune, as she starts a new life in Paris around the turn of the 20th century. bringing her to the new country is Japan-lover Oscar, who brought her there to work as a housekeeper for he and his grandson Claude in their sign shop. though at first Claude is annoyed with this short, black-haired intruder, he eventually grows to accept her as one of the family, as does the entire shopping district where their store is located. through culture clashes, hurt feelings, and the occasional accident, even people regarded as enemies become close friends.
It takes some getting used to on all sides.
following mostly the day-to-day life of the characters without much overarching plot, the story obviously moves slow. those looking for action need not apply, but for those who enjoy stopping to smell the animated roses, this series is akin to a cinnamony-sweet french pastry. the visuals seem to be tinted with just the slighest hint of sepia at times, giving it a warm, cozy, nostalgic feel. the visuals are breathtaking, as Paris is brought to life though the most grandoise of archetecture and the most humble of cobblestones. the characters all fit the bill spectacularly as well, with the only thing hinting that this ISN'T late-1800's Paris is that no one is speaking French!
I wonder if sunsets in Paris still look like this...
as mentioned, the characters fit this series like a fashionable glove. it is easy to tell what one's station is in life, and telling one character from another is for the most part easy, though the secondary characters occasionally run the risk of blending together. the main ones, though, are all fleshed out, with their own goals, motivations, and painful pasts. this is truly a shojo or josei series, and as such a great emphasis is put on the complex relationships between characters, particularly towards the middle parts involving Claude and a certain rich girl. Yune is exactly what you'd expect her to be: innocent, earnest, and sweet as pie.
Mahou Shojo Yune-Chan!
surely one of the most memorable things about this series is its music. composed by ko-ko-ya, every second is an earful of delight, from the sad scenes to the joyful ones. the accordion songs in particular really evoke the feeling of being in classic France, sweeping you up in a flurry of romantic notions without even having to show you anything. this might be the first series i've seen where the background music outshines the OP/ED, which is quite a feat given how seldom that happens. that's not to say, however, that the OP/ED are lacking, both describing the mood of the series quite nicely.
There are so many cats in this series that they're almost part of the music, too.
Croisee was more than an enjoyable watch. i was actually sad to see it end, and when you can say that honestly about a series, it shows how much you liked it. while this show will definitely NOT appeal to everyone (i'm looking at you, giant robot fans), those looking for an anime that doesn't fall into stereotypes will love this one. try showing this to your mom or grandma; i'm sure they'll like it.
With any luck, you'll learn a few things about Japanese and French Culture along the way, too.
Croisee is available from Ayako Subs, IB Subs, DmonHiro, Nemui Subs, Anacronico Fansubs (Spanish), and Seinagi Subs (Spanish). it is also licensed for distrobution in North America by Sentai Filmworks.
Sparkle-Sparkle Bread.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Anohana (otherwise known as Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai) is an 11-episode series from spring of 2011. it follows Yadomi Jinta (aka Jintan) as he tries to get his group of 4 other childhood friends back together at the request of the ghost of the 5th. the others, Anjou Naruko (aka Anaru), Matsuyuki Atsumu (aka Yukiatsu), Tsurumi Chiriko (aka Tsuruko), and Hisakawa Tetsudou (aka Poppo) don't believe that the ghost of Honma Meiko (aka Menma) is there with him (with the exclusion of Poppo, who believes him from the start), but eventually come together to grant her final wish so that she may rest in peace. the 6, otherwise known as
The Super Peace Busters, encounter resistance among each other due to hurt feelings and growing apart, but eventually rejoin amidst tears and intense emotion for Menma's sake.
The friends as Kids. L to R: Tsuruko, Menma, Anaru (top), Poppo (bottom), Jintan, and Yukiatsu.
the overall story is sad. that's a given fact with the basic plot. but the amount of waterworks in this show, both for the characters and the viewer is unmatched by any anime i've ever seen. that's not to say that all this sad is a bad thing; on the contrary, the point of a story is to make you feel something, and this show had such a rich emotional pallet (focusing mainly on sad) that it did its job spectacularly. you can see the guilt and pain written on each person's face as the memories of nearly 10 years ago are brought back to the surface. in the end, though, even after all the blurted out feelings and teeth-gritting anguish, there is a cathartic release of sorts, leaving everyone involved feeling fresh and healthy, if a bit empty and still sad. it's a good kind of sad, though, the kind that comes with closure, which is something everyone in this series desperately needs.
Old Friends brought together by the power of Menma and Nokemon.
the characters, lively and unique, have a human quality to them, perhaps due to the emotional trauma they have experienced. that they can still live, love, and laugh is really comforting, since it shows that even after a horrible winter, a new spring is right around the corner. Jintan is the protagonist of the series, and as a result we see his emotions most of all, his desperation, his defeat, his drive to help Menma. we eventually discover that he has an ulteriour motive (well, doesn't everyone in this series?), but in the end he is working just to help his friends. not everyone starts off so pure in their intentions, but eventually the playing field is leveled and even the most cold-hearted of the bunch has accepted the reality.
Jintan might be a recluse and socially awkward, but he'll go to any length to help his friends.
the setting here works well for the series; an unnamed Japanese town with a lot of surrounding nature. it's safe enough for kids to run and play, but even safety has its limits, with the example of poor Menma. it has a bit of a sleepy feel to it, with little action outside of the years-ago tragedy. perhaps that is what causes the sleepy nature of it all, that no one is ready to move on, all stuck in the past. the series moves semi-slowly, mostly because no one wants to talk about how they feel, adding further to the overall lethargy. the rest of the scenery is quite nice, with the houses looking cozy and summery.
There are a lot more woods around here than what you see in most anime. Please take note of what's above Menma's head.
the music is quite background, excluding the opening and ending, and the occasional insert song. not sure if this helps or not that it's rather unmemorable, but at least the OP/ED were good, fitting the series to a T. the ending is actually a cover version of a song released by girl band ZONE in 2001, called "Secret Base ~Kimi ga Kureta Mono~ (10 years after Ver.)" (Secret Base ~君がくれたもの~ (10 years after Ver.) Secret Base ~The Thing you Gave Me~ (10 years after Ver.))", performed by Menma, Anaru, and Tsuruko. the song itself is about 2 friends saying goodbye after one has to move away, and their final summer together. the opening, "Aoi Shiori (Blue Bookmark)" fits the lighter side of the series, and seems to reference the diary in the show.
Sad and Adorable.
Anohana was an anime i had been meaning to watch for a long time, and while i won't say i wish i hadn't waited so long, i'm glad i didn't wait longer. it was sad, it was emotional, it was really quite beautiful. even if you don't like shojo series, you'll still get something out of watching this one (unless you were born without a heart, in which case, i congratulate you for surviving, you medical miracle). this show is probably a bit too heavy for kids, but teens and adults will enjoy this, if only because it's so real. not the part about the ghost or anything, but all the rest of it.
Time and differences make no matter. The Super Peace Busters will always be Friends.
Anohana is available from Coalgirls, Unlimited Translation Works, Doki Fansubs, and UNC Fansubs (Spanish). it is also licensed for distribution in North America by NIS America.

Sailor Moon Season 1

Released all the way back in 1992 (just 3 days before i was born!), Sailor Moon is a classic anime that every little girl from the 90's is bound to know. it worked its way into the hearts of millions of girls (and boys!) the world over during its broadcast run, and the franchise continues even today. rumours were abuzz about a remake of the series coming about, and it has been confirmed for Summer 2013. no doubt this will spark something big, given that it'll be introducing a whole new generation of otaku to the Big Name in the Little Skirt.
She CLAIMS to be 14, but I don't believe her....
Sailor Moon follows Tsukino Usagi in her adventures as her alter-ego Sailor Moon, fighting for love and justice in the name of the moon. joining her is magical black cat Luna, who granted her her powers, and eventually her friends Mizuno Ami as Sailor Mercury, Hino Rei as Sailor Mars, Kino Makoto as Sailor Jupiter, and Aino Minako as Sailor Venus (with her white cat, Artemis). they spend their time fighting against the Dark Kingdom, namely Queen Beryl and her servants Jadeite, Nephrite, Zoisite, and Kunzite. the show takes on a bit of a monster-of-the-week format as the series picks up speed, leaving a lot of filler episodes. however, by thr end of the 2/3 the plot has gained traction and takes hold, spinning a tale of past lives and past loves. while some scenes were edited for the US audience (episodes smooshed together or deleted entirely), the end had most little girls in tears both out of joy and sorrow. while the older audience might be able to resist this particular charm, the nostalgia factor may have plenty of people reaching for the kleenex.
Never trust charming 90's men with long hair.
Takeuchi Naoko, the series' creator, only intended this series to run for one season, so as a result the characters are fleshed out but not as much as they are in later seasons. this might also explain the monster-of-the-week format (though that might just be the Sentai influence shining through) and the bizarre ending (well, bizarre in context with the rest of the series). if you can bear this in mind, the series makes a little more sense, but otherwise these pitfalls become a confusing problem.
Never trust kids with hooker makeup, either.
the style is pure nostalgia. early 90's means 80's clothes, giant and sometimes odd-shaped eyes, teeny mouths and bold patterns for backgrounds, clothes, and anything else they can think of. the soundtrack is a bit nostalgic too (or is that just because when i watched it it sounded like it was off a VHS?), with the opening theme becoming the anthem of girls the world over. being an early-90's anime, when they imported it they remade the theme song for american audiences, and while this has its own appeal, the original is much better.
Vampire Dolls is probably something America would have edited out.
looking back, there's a feverish loyalty from me and so many others to this series  no matter the form. however, if you do choose to watch it, i'd go for the Japanese rather than the American, if only because you'll get to see the WHOLE series rather than have episodes missing. filler or not, it's your right to watch them. (plus, you won't have to sit through those annoying "Sailor Says" segments. >>; ) this show was enjoyed by so many kids that it became an ambassador for anime of all kinds, so in reality you can show it to all kinds. just make sure they don't start to stereotype anime based on this, too many people already do.
Even THEY can't believe people do that.
you can find Sailor Moon from KAA, SMC, KRT, AWS, Avatar Subs, and countless others on NyaaTorrents. good luck finding a physical copy, though; it was licensed and released as a complete Box Set several years ago, but that Box Set has since been rendered out of print and online resale prices soar higher than a jumbo jet. if you manage to get your hands on a copy, though, you're in for a childhood-flavoured sweet treat.
What are friends for?

Usagi Drop

Usagi Drop (otherwise known as Bunny Drop) is an anime series from 2011. based off the manga of the same name, the series follows Daikichi, a 30-something salaryman who ends up suddenly taking custody of a 6-year-old girl. the slice-of-life series (as well as its live-action movie counterpart) follow the first few volumes of the manga, though not necessarily in the same order.
This One has a Strong Sense of Justice.
after the death of his grandfather, Daikichi and his family learn of an illegitimate child named Rin the old man had. the question is then asked of what to do with her, and after some family members suggest putting her in a foster home, an enraged Daikichi spontaneously claims responsibility for the child. Daikichi, however, is a bachelor with a busy schedule living in a small house, without even another room for the child. the show progresses with the two learning to adapt and to love one another.
Super-short by Comparison.
as is to be expected, this rare adaptation of a Josei series (manga aimed at women 18-30's+ ) moves at a snail's pace. to have anything different however would be so out of place with the context that it wouldn't just be ridiculous, it'd be wrong to watch. this series is about as true a slice-of-life series as you can get, as we follow Daikichi and Rin through such everyday activities as going to work or school and buying things at the store. there are dramatic moments and a few sacrifices (such as Daikichi moving to a lower-pay department so he can have more time to devote to Rin), but overall the series has a very warm feel to it, as a series like this should.
It's the Future Idols of Japan!
the pallet is soothing in that it's pastel and cozy. everything is cast in a shade of cute, and they all have the expressions and mannerisms to match, even Daikichi. the emotion is real, and there may even be moments that you cry; this is normal.
The series starts off sad, but it doesn't really stay that way.
this is not a series for the action lovers. this is a series for those who like their anime contemplative, sweet, and heartstring-tugging. you could also show this to basically anyone (i get the feeling that older people in particular may like this series, as was the case with Yotsuba&!), though there's no guarantee that everyone will like it, particularly children, who may become bored with the series' slow pace. and just a warning, for those of you watching the anime without reading the manga, the series only covers part of the story; i spoiled the ending of the manga to the group i was showing it to once we were done, and their reaction wasn't exactly pleasant, so bear that in mind.
Japanese Stuff is so Cool.
Usagi Drop is available from CrunchySubs, Doki Fansubs, Commie Subs, HorribleSubs, Hatsuyuki Subs, Taka Fansubs, Inshuheki Subs (Spanish), Freedom Fansubs (Italian), Aozora Team (Italian), and Anime Watermelons (Greek). the anime is also licensed for distribution in North America by NIS America, and the main manga is licensed for distribution by Yen Press. (a second manga series spanning a single volume, however, is not.)
Tickling your Baby is a Great Pastime.

Fight Ippatsu! Juuden-Chan!!

Fight Ippatsu! Juuden-Chan!! is a 12-episode/6-OVA anime series from 2009. the series follows Plug Cryostat, a "Juuden-chan" ("Charger Girl"), who, along with her colleagues, use electricity to "Charge People Up" to relieve depression. most of the Charger Girls are only out to fill their quota, just charging up people they find without much thought. Plug, however, is a weirdo among her friends because she chooses to get to the root cause of their depression and tries to fix it. one day, on a job, she encounters a guy, Oumi Sento, who can see her. this comes as a shock to both parties, for Plug because humans aren't supposed to be able to see Charger Girls, and for Sento because Plug randomly floats out of a wall. after Plug helps Sento's sister, the two form an awkward sort of friendship (involving a lot of baseball bat swings), and Sento even helps the Charger Girl out on occasion.
Yeah, this might freak anyone out.
Juuden-Chan, despite its cute-sounding name, is EXTREMELY perverted. to the point where it's less an anime and more an ecchi series. it got so bad in some places that it was censored in order to be broadcast on Crunchyroll, albeit by a different name.  only making it worse is that the pervy scenes are quite fetishized, involving masochism and omorashi (look it up).not to say fetishes are a bad thing per se, but having them in an anime that ISN'T porn was a bit....awkward. especially the extensive use of both.
A Fateful Encounter.
while the overall themes the plot is still rich and meaty, meaning you won't hunger for storyline while watching this (though you may hunger for something mild and innocent, like sherbet or Lucky Star). the characters, while disturbingly fanservicey at times, are well rounded enough that you can relate to them, their thoughts and feelings, motivations and goals. the art style is cute, even on guys, and all the characters have a unique look to them, something their own. adding to the fun here is the light, boppy soundtrack; it really resonates with you, making light scenes light and dramatic scenes dramatic.
Remember Kids: Sticking Your Hands in Electrical Devices is Dangerous.
Fight Ippatsu! Juuden-Chan!! is by no means a series for everyone. DO NOT show this to kids, middle schoolers, or the elderly. don't show this to your mom, for that matter. DO show this to you more liberal high school/college friends. DON'T show this to a high school anime club. DO show this to a college one. and please, PLEASE, DON'T watch this if you're easily offended, by fanservice or otherwise.
Also Remember Kids: Skintight Suits Solve Everything!
Fight Ippatsu! Juuden-Chan!! is available from SHiN-gx, FS, RoFL, Anifecta ReEncodes, and OnF-BFE. it was streamed on Crunchyroll, though in a censored format and under the name Charger Girl, Ju-den Chan.
Yes, they're actually saying this.

Solty Rei

Solty Rei was a 26-episode action anime that ran back in 2005-06. it follows a bounty hunter, Roy, as he struggles with his past and coping with the present, after a city-wide accident claimed his daughter 12 years prior. despite his friend and employer Miranda's best efforts, he remains a gruff, cold man. one day, while on a job, a girl falls from the sky and helps Roy out of a jam. she has no memory of her past or even her name, and follows Roy home, much to his chagrin. eventually he warms to the girl, naming her Solty.
Not quite what he expected.
Solty Rei starts off rather slow, with the characters and setting establishing themselves, going through small one-shot stories to build up some attachment. by the 13th episode, however, the pace picks up like a brakeless steam train, firing plot twist after plot twist to the point where it will leave you reeling, on the edge of your seat. everything happens so rapidly that it's as if the whole world is being slipped out from under you. while that works to the series' advantage, it can make the first and second halves feel like completely separate series (and they're not split into two seasons, either). going in, i had no idea of the sci-fi elements at work here, and even though i somewhat spoiled the ending for myself beforehand, a lot of the events still blind-sided me.
It's always the quiet ones.
furthering this whirlwind are all the elements that come into play. past events such as the Blast Fall are referenced frequently (not unlike the concept of Memories and 40 Years Ago in The Big O), and the corporation R.U.C, a background element at first, is thrust into the spotlight as the series goes on. what results is an ending that one would never anticipate going in. in a way, that makes this series unique.
Here, they use puppets to explain one of the elements of the series, Resemble.
the characters in this series are distinct enough that they aren't easy to mix up, and they don't fall into trope-land. sure, they have their shortcomings, but who doesn't? the R.U.C girls are easy to confuse at first, but over time they develop their own personalities enough that their names can be remembered. the characters are also drawn in a slightly more realistic style than  most series, aiding the serious and sci-fi nature of it.
The CG in this series is really quite tasteful.
the music in this series is key. while the background music is your typical anime sound, the opening, ending, and insert song really resonate within it, being instantly recognizable (especially in the case of the insert song, which becomes a plot point as the series goes on). the english dub was also of great quality, with each character sounding just right.
Expect to hear a lot of one quiet, contemplative Jazz track.
overall, Solty Rei was an enjoyable watch. while it took awhile to get things going, when they did, they did so with a bang (well, many bangs). making it even better is that while the series is action-packed, it's clean. no swearing, no nudity (for the most part), little fanservice (there are some skin-tight suits, but honestly, you can't see that much since they're always in the dark), and not much gore. you could easily show this to a class of middle-schoolers or your 60-something uncle and be just fine. sure, a lot of things get punched, but you know, american tv has a lot more of them than this show.
Solty Rei is available from Exiled Destiny, LIME, and in a joint effort on some websites from Shinsen Subs/Nyanko. Solty Rei was also licensed for distribution in 2006 by Funimation.
The amount of characters can sometimes be staggering, but hey, at least they keep them original. (This would make a great background, btw.)

Taisho Yakyuu Musume

Taisho Yakyuu Musume (Taisho Baseball Girls) is a cutesy series about girls in 1920's Japan learning to play baseball. after one girl, Akiko, is told by a baseball player at a party that women should only be in the home, she pleads with her best friend, Koume, to form a baseball team with her. over time, they gather together more girls and a teacher to help in their efforts.
By far, this is one of the cutest series i've seen in years. sure, there are sugary series like Lucky Star and Nichijou out there, but this is cute with substance to it, a real message. you bond with these girls in their efforts to overcome prejudice among outsiders, and even within themselves. their passion only makes them more endearing. and hey, you feel bad for them when they trip and fall down, but don't they still look adorable?
Small Hand, Big Glove.
the odds are against the girls, not just because of the era they're in (the Taisho period in Japan lasted from 1912 - 1926), but also because of the country they're in. these girls (sadly) have some expectations to live up to and breaking gender stereotypes is not one of them. thankfully, the girls have the Yamato Nadeshiko fighting spirit so highly prized in the early Showa period (1926-1989), and a lot of support from their teacher/advisor. in the end, even some of the boys are on their side, though the anime might be a little idealistic compared to the actual history.
the visuals in this show are just grand. the colours are all warm enough to make it feel cozy, nostalgic, and sepia-toned. true to the time period, they are seen riding streetcars past old-style buildings, a good chunk of them in the traditional kimono from the era. adding to the general nice feeling is the soundtrack, which boasts a collection of tunes worthy of being put on your ipod. the opening, "Romantic Strike", sucks you into a cherry-blossom world of cute smiles and nostalgic feelings, with the rest of the background music putting the cherry on top of this sepia-coloured cinnamon-scented baseball cake.
Even the Title Card is Cute.
my only problem with this series was that the ending was a major let-down. i followed it for so long just to have my heart split in two. still though, that's not enough to sour me on the series, with pleasant sounds, pleasing visuals, and slight undertones of yuri. (the yuri glaze could also be a nod to the timeframe, given that the 20's was when the Japanese "S-Genre" type of books came about, having just the schoolyard crushes and deep female friendships this series has. adding further to this idea is the relationship between Akiko and Koume, who are the pitcher and catcher respectively, a common trope among same-sex pairings.) considering the white washing of cute-without-being-too-cute this series has, you can show this to anyone without fear. let this also smash the stereotypes some people hang on to of anime being nothing but sex and gore.
The Taisho Era was the first generation of schoolgirls to wear the Seifuku, so seeing some wear the uniform to school while others wear Kimono is normal.
Taisho Yakyuu Musume is available from Doremi, Saizen Fansubs, Exiled Destiny, and NanaOne Subs (German). it is also licensed for distibution by Sentai Filmworks in the US.