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Archive for the ‘Anime’ Category

(Left to Right): Guano, Lily, Mitsuki, Gonard (in the back), Mikey, Ozu, and Yes Man

Don’t you see the man is Kappa Mikey?

 

This show has nothing to do with anime or furry or tokusatsu.  Okay it has a little to do with anime.  If you’re not familiar with the series, it was a parody series that ran on NickToons Network from 2006-2008 about a young American kid named Mikey Simon who is having bad luck trying to become an actor.  He finds a the winning ticket (or whatever the object was) to a Japanese series called LilyMu and the show’s all about him living in Japan and being the star of LilyMu.  The premise is simple enough, but the execution is atrocious.  And nearly everyone who’s seen the show can agree on that.  Low brow, gross out humor and terrible Flash animation is really all the series had going for it.  As much as I consider this series to be one of my guilty pleasures, this show was bad.  And that disappoints me…

 

I think the show had something.  It had a decent premise as a parody series.  The problem is that the series was targeted for the wrong audience and made by the wrong people.  Most people will only insult Kappa Mikey as I did in the first paragraph.  Bad humor, horrendous animation, so on and so forth.  No one fails to mention how much fun the premise of this show could have been if in the hands of the right people.  Perhaps no one cares.  Everyone’s quite content with the fact the show’s been canceled for years now.  I’m not willing to let it go so easily…

 

While watching a countdown of the top 11 American made anime series by Suede the “That Guy with the Glasses” site, he mentions (using video and not so much talking about it) Kappa Mikey as a horrible example of American anime.  Well, I agree.  It’s a horrible anime series…if were actually trying to be an anime series.  The deal with Kappa Mikey is that it’s a parody show.  Or rather it’s supposed to be one.  But Suede’s right for listing it as an American anime because it’s attempting to cash in on the growing popularity and appeal of Japanese animated media in the US…but it does it horribly.  The problem with the show is that it doesn’t do what it sets out to do.  You can clearly tell it’s supposed to be a parody of the differences between Japanese animation and American animation.  That gets across just by looking at the style differences.  Since the majority of the characters are from Japan, they’re drawn looking like stereotypical anime cliches (thin lines, less “stylized” anatomy, big eyes).  Mikey’s drawn according to American animation cliches (thicker lines, more stylization with anatomy, etc.).  But that’s as far as the parody goes.  It tries to do silly things like adding in characters that look like anime characters either in the background or as a main character.  But they don’t push the concept far enough.  Here’s what the show should have been…

 

Kappa Mikey should have been a series that parodied the differences and similarities between Japanese animation and Western (American) animation in story and style.  The basic premise can remain.  But do something more with the LilyMu series.  If it’s going to parody a specific series or genre, make it parody that series or genre.  Currently it’s all over the place and other that it being a parody of the entire shounen genre, I can’t pin point a specific series it’s trying to parody.  At times it could be a mech series.  Others it seems very DragonBall Z like.  It even got into parodying Yugioh and other such series that uses cards as a motif.  This should have been a show made by people who know exactly what they’re parodying for people who’ll understand the references.  It tried to do that but it only stuck to things that every person in America has seen and it did the references way too obviously.  Their driver was a Speed Racer parody.  Guano’s a Pokemon parody.  The episode dealing with cards is a Yugioh parody.  The rarest the references got were Yubaba from Spirited Away or a persocom from Chobits.  Sticking to popular/common series isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  But it’s just boring when it’s everything you expect and nothing new or clever.

 

The key to success for this series is quite simple.  1) Better animation and art.  None of this Flash stuff.  While it can be good, most times Flash products are stiff and lifeless.  They don’t move like people or creatures should move.  Redo the show with regular 2D, hand-drawn animation.  Flash is cheaper, but better to have a quality looking show than something quickly thrown out there for profit (especially when it clearly wasn’t going to make much anyways).  2) Have the humor pertain to the subject at hand and not focus on gross out humor.  Toilet humor is cheap comedy.  Cheap, disgusting, unfunny comedy.  It’s for little kids who are easily amused and adults who just never grew out of that liking toilet humor phase (the only series I’ll allow for gratuitous toilet humor aside from South Park is Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt…the title tells you what you’re getting pretty much).  Plus the show had a topic at hand.  Use that for the humor.  And in case you don’t know anyone who knows how to properly parody anime (due to a lack of knowledge about Japanese animated series/movies), find people who do.  It’s not that difficult.  For example…the theme song for Kappa Mikey was sung by the Beat Crusaders.  Even though the reference would be obscure, do some sort of nod to them in the show.  Or just in the theme animation.  If a nod to Puffy Ami Yumi (at least the cartoon they had for a while) could be made, why not one for the people that made something for your show?

 

For what it’s worth, the small parody elements that they did have were fun.  For example the title of the series is a play off of “Kappamaki” which is a type of sushi and the show is set in Japan and had that dancing sushi bit.  Apparently the “kappa” part of the title is also supposed to be referencing that Mikey’s like a fish out of water but that doesn’t really work considering what a kappa is.  Regardless, I’m well aware that people hate this show so I’ll just open it up to discussion.  Even if you don’t like what Kappa Mikey was, what did you think about the basic parody premise (the mixing of the art styles and the concept of making a parody of Japanese and American animation)?  If better people made something similar but really thought about what they were doing, would you give the show a shot or dismiss it as exactly like Kappa Mikey?

 

(Side note:  I have nothing against using Flash as a medium for animation.  When people put in the effort in Flash it can really pay off.  But many of these animated series on TV done in Flash have little to no effort put into them and make Flash look like a cheap product which it really isn’t.  I’ve seen some independently made Flash works that are incredible.)

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Okay, so I’m going to try something a little different and review a few anime songs.  Well maybe a few, maybe a lot…depends on how well it goes.  Personally I find the music key in a series.  Especially the opening and ending songs.  I’m a little more forgiving with background and insert music, though insert songs are rather important as well.  Opening songs are especially important because they set the tone for the series you’re about to watch.  Does the music match the mood of the show?  Do the lyrics reflect anything that have to do with the series?  Admittedly it’s a little difficult to judge anime songs based on that due to the fact that most of them are in Japanese, but for the majority of songs, you can find English translations for them.  But for this first song up, it isn’t that difficult to judge it because the entire song is in English.  Poor English, but it’s still completely in English.  So without further ado a review of the 4th opening for Bleach, Tonight, Tonight, Tonight by the Beat Crusaders.

Let me preface this by saying 1) I really like the Beat Crusaders and really wish I could see them perform in person.  However the band has broken up and that isn’t likely to happen unless they do some sort of reunion tour and 2) I really like this song.  It’s one of my favorite openings for Bleach.  That being said that doesn’t mean that I can’t be critical of the music because there is quite a bit to be critical of when it comes to the actual lyrics.  I already wrote up my little discussion on “Engrish” so you can read my rant on that at that link.  This will just be centered around this particular song, it’s connection to the series, the musicality, and the lyrics.

First up, lyrics.  What does any of this song mean?  Really, what does it mean?

Woke up with yawn. It’s dawning, I’m still alive.
Turned on my radio to start up new day
As goddamned DJ’s chattered how to survive
Amazing news got over on the air wave

My basic guess is that this verse is just talking about getting up in the morning and getting the day started.  At least that’s what the opening line suggests.  But…It’s dawning?  What’s dawning?  It’s dawning on you that you’re still alive?  If that’s how the line’s supposed to be taken I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean.  Is the person in the song happy or sad to still be alive?  The basic gist of the song is really gotten with the first half of the first line, the second line, and the third line.  The person woke up, the turned on their radio and heard some amazing news.  And if I have to try to make sense of why he/she’s alive, I’d say that they’re either very grateful for life and are happy to live another day or that they’ve potentially gone through some terrible ordeal and their life has become something that is getting risked everyday so they’re happy to still have it.  Either way I don’t get the feeling that they’re sad that they’re still alive because the last line of the verse is about amazing news that they heard.  So what is that amazing news?

Tonight, love is rationed
Tonight, across the nation
Tonight, love infects worldwide
Almost another day

I think the chorus is the part of the song that makes the most sense.  At first I was sort of confused to what the “love is rationed” line means but when I thought about it a little more it started to make more sense.  Just because something is rationed doesn’t necessarily mean that the resource is limited.  In theory you could also ration out something that is plentiful.  So love is a resource/concept that is being “rationed” out worldwide.  People across the nation are learning to love and live with each other.  The only part that throws this off is the last line.  “Almost another day”.  The rest of the chorus, while confusing, at least made grammatical sense.  It’s about love spreading out around the world and everyone being touched by that feeling.  I feel like adding that “almost another day” at the end makes it seem like the news is something for the future.  Something that hasn’t happened yet, but will happen at some point in the future.

At this point, the song just repeats itself again until it gets to the bridge.  While I can just guess at what most of this song means, the brigde means…nothing.  It means absolutely nothing.

She’s a shooting star, good night, good night
She’s a shooting star, good bye

Admittedly I like this part of the song.  But I like it because it’s different from the rest of the verses.  It feels like this verse doesn’t fit at all with the rest of the song.

The last verse of the song is just the chorus again with a small twist.  There’s an extra little line added on at the end.  One that sort of sounds sweet but somber at the same time…

See you some other day…

Even the music quiets and slows down right before this line which is why I feel it sounds somber.  After all this good news about love spreading around the world at some point in the future, the singer then seems to be saying that they’ll see us then.  They’ll come back to us when that time comes.  It’s bittersweet.

So, is this a good song.  Yes.  Lyrically it’s confusing, but there’s a slight message there that got across.  And the actual music is wonderful.  Is it a good song for Bleach?  Musically, sure.  Lyrically, it doesn’t seem to go with any of the themes of the series.  Aside from maybe the first verse.  Once it starts getting into the talk of love, then it doesn’t fit with the series anymore.

But what do you all think?  Any different interpretations of the song?  Or anyone else think this is a good or bad theme for Bleach?  Why or why not?

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Pictured above: Shinichi, Ran, Sonoko, Eri, and Kogoro

Well the full title is Detective Conan: Challenge Letter to Shinichi Kudo.  Initially I wasn’t going to check out this drama series.  Some shows are better left to their anime/manga counterparts and rarely can they translate well to live action.  Detective Conan is a show that can translate well to live action, but in the way it’s been handled in previous specials wasn’t done well.  So I was skeptical about watching this new live action drama but eventually I caved in an watched the first episode.  (For anyone who was planning on checking this show out later on, I’d advise you read no further due to spoilers.)

 

Right off the bat I have to say I was hooked.  It starts off with a dark screen with minimal lighting.  You hear people talking but you have no idea what’s going on.  Slowly lights start turning on in the room revealing that Shinichi, Ran, and Kogoro are trapped in a white square room and Shinichi and Ran are handcuffed to one another.  They don’t know how they got there or why they’re there.  They just know they need to find away out.  Shinichi finds a note on the wall from what I can only assume is some sort of stalker and when he turns around there’s a platform on the floor with a sort of computer in it.  On the screen it shows a date which corresponds to a case that was solved on that day.  It’s then when the episode goes into flashback mode and we’re shown the case that Shinichi had to solve.

 

The case opens with a man and a woman making out in an apartment.  The woman (Momoko Aida) breaks off the kiss saying that she can’t do this anymore and she tells the man (Yuuhei Tsubouchi) that he can take his camera back.  She’s feeling guilty for having an affair with her sister’s husband and she doesn’t want the relationship to go any further.  Yuuhei is noticeably angered by this, possibly believing that Momoko had another man.  He questions her on this, but she denies that she does.  But he doesn’t believe her.  He takes to empty grocery bags that were lying on the counter, comes up behind Momoko, and strangles her.  While she’s lying on the floor, he ransacks the apartment to cover up his crime and leaves to meet with his assistant.

 

He and his assistant (Kousuke Kishi) were suppose to meet with Momoko for a photoshoot so playing like nothing happened, Yuuhei goes back to the apartment with him.  Momoko isn’t answering the door and they realize that the door is open.  As they open the door, they see a flash and scream.  Meanwhile, Ran and Shinichi are a few floors below the apartment at a nail salon.  Ran’s getting her nails done and Shinichi’s…just there to carry her bags.  After hearing the scream, Shinichi and Ran run upstairs where they find Kousuke and Yuuhei on the ground with head injuries.  When he asks what happens they say that a robber came out the door and attacked them with what they perceived to be some sort of pipe or tire iron.  They’re also worried about Momoko since she’s inside the apartment.  When they find her, Shinichi announces that she’s dead and thus the investigation begins.

 

I must admit I was pleasantly surprised by the series.  The way it opened took me by shock and I just needed to know what was going to happen next.  Or why they were trapped in this room.  While the formula for telling a story solely through flashbacks can get a little annoying, I think it works for this show.  You already know the set up.  You know that there’s a device in the middle of the room that won’t allow for them to pass unless they put in a codeword that pertains to the case.  You just don’t know what the case is.  And the audience can have a little fun trying to figure out what the codeword is supposed to be as well.

 

The part I was most worried about was how they were going to treat the characters.  Detective Conan’s been around for 15+ years (counting the manga) so the characters are very well established.  We know their personalities fairly well.  I believe the actors do a very good job of portraying their respective characters.  Ran is obviously not that difficult to portray.  Aside from her “strong” streak, she’s a fairly typical “damsel in distress” type.  I’m afraid most women can pull off that character since it’s a rather stereotypical one.  I have to say my favorite character is Kogoro.  While he’s not my favorite in the series (those would be Conan and Heiji), Takanori Jinnai does a near perfect job of portraying him in both attitude and looks.

 

I think I’m more apt to call this drama a more grown up version of Detective Conan.  While it retains the same spirit and characters as its source material (okay I realize that the source material for this series is a book but the material for the book was the manga/anime), you can feel that this isn’t really for children.  And it shows a bit more in the next few episodes.

 

So far I only have two problems with it.  First, this one’s strictly about the episode itself but the motive for murder seemed amazingly weak to me.  There’s been a couple manga and anime related cases where betrayal in the relationship lead to the demise of either the man or woman involved.  But usually there’s something there that drives that person to the point of wanting to kill the other.  Either one partner is very manipulative and controlling, or there’s blackmail involved.  Here there was nothing.  The woman just wanted to break off the relationship because she admitted that she was feeling guilty about cheating with her sister’s husband.  She told him the exact reason that she wanted to break it off.  For him to invent this other reasoning in his head and pretend like she didn’t tell him the reason she wanted to break it off was unnecessary.  And second, I’m very confused about when this is taking place.  While it’s said that this drama is taking place before all the events that transpire in Detective Conan, the one thing that throws me off is Kogoro.  There’s no hint that he believed he was this great detective before he started becoming famous.  And there’s no hint that anyone even knew who he was aside from close friends and previous co-workers.  In fact you get a glimpse of Kogoro’s life before becoming a household name.  He was just a drunkard who sat at home, watched Yoko-chan on TV, and slept most of the day while Ran handled most of the household chores.  And while he’s still a drunkard, at least he gets work.  The show almost mixes these things together.  It takes place before the events of the manga/anime because Shinichi’s the main character, but Kogoro is still a well known and respected detective.  I suppose you could argue that he always felt he was superior to Shinichi due to age and experience so that’s why in the series he addresses himself as the great detective Kogoro Mouri.  But even then he was never that cocky about it even before the series start.  And even then he didn’t seem to be involved with too many cases until Conan joined his family.  It’s a little bit of a nitpick but something that bothered me about the series regardless.

 

Either way, the series is off to a great start.  Nice story and set up.  It hooks you quickly and that’s something that’s rare with movies and TV shows.  I love the suspense.  The characters are true to form.  And I particularly love how they work the main theme song of Detective Conan into the series.  If you’re a fan of Detective Conan, I suggest you check it out and see if you like it.  Even if you don’t know about Detective Conan and you just like crime dramas or mystery shows, I recommend it.  You don’t need to really know any back story on the particular characters.  It’s a separate case on it’s own and you’ll get a good idea for how each character relates to one another fairly quickly.  So far I’m giving this show two thumbs up and can’t wait to watch more.

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After finishing my whole review about Detective Conan, I realized I’d forgotten to revisit one particularly interesting aspect of the show for either the “bad” or the “ugly” section.  But while thinking about it, I realized that this isn’t a problem that is singular to that series.  Other shows have issues with this as well.  And what’s this problem that I’m talking about?  I’m talking about characters who are supposed to know English, speaking horrible English.  Also known as…”Engrish”.

 

And this one might be the worst offender of them all...

Meet Jodie Starling.  She’s American.  She’s an FBI agent.  She’s also posing as a high school English teacher in Japan so…no one knows she’s an FBI agent?  I don’t really know how that one works but oh well.  Unfortunately for her, she must not have gone to a very good school in America (or any good schools actually…) because her English sucks!

 

At least have some effort be put in.  If you want to have an American living in Japan that’s fine.  But when you cast for voices, you should make sure that the person you cast can speak with some sort of American accent.  Doesn’t matter if it’s Southern, Midwestern, Texas, Boston…who cares.  Her American accent comes first, then the Japanese one.  She isn’t a Japan-born citizen living in America.  She’s an America-born citizen living in Japan!  Was it really too difficult to find one person in Japan who was born in America and is fluent in Japanese?  Was it?

 

At least it's better than "A secret makes a ooman, ooman"...

But the “Engrish” doesn’t stop there folks.  Usually I can take a little bit of Engrish in songs.  A little bit.  It can be funny.  Rarely can a stand a full song of Engrish.  Red Fraction by Mell is pretty much as close as it gets to an Engrish song that I can take seriously.  The top offender in this category is the songs of Beck Mongolian Chop Squad.  At least the ones that are in English anyways.

Out of anything, I wish they explained the franken-dog. They need a spin-off about him.

The worst offender has to be the song “Moon on the Water: Full Moon Sway”.  The version that Sowelu sings anyhow.  Now Sowelu is a gorgeous singer and I’m not faulting her for her voice in any fashion.  This song has the potential to be very gorgeous and lyrically it’s made more gorgeous in the English version (actually singing wise…it’s horrendous) because at least the effort was put forth to try to make sense of the song.  Now I understand poetry is supposed to be symbolic and metaphoric.  But symbolism and metaphors are no excuse for poor grammar.  And being from another country is no excuse for it either, especially when you’re working in a profession or on a project that calls for you to know what you’re doing.  I understand having a character mess up on words if they’re a student in an English class and I understand having a basic non-English speaking characters speak poor English.  Those are deliberate choices made for those specific people.  But if you’ve got songwriters writing a song completely in English I’m pretty sure that a line like “I was fool, I couldn’t let myself to go…” would get corrected somewhere along the way.  I’m pretty sure the line is supposed to be “I was sure, I couldn’t let myself go” but what do I know…?  I’m not a songwriter.  What’s worse is that the series the band is marketed to an American audience and is apparently popular in America.  In the real world this just wouldn’t be possible.  Because most people would laugh at the blatant “Engrish” and pass it up for your basic song that actually make sense.  Let’s face it…even the theme song to this show doesn’t make sense.  I love “Hit in the USA” and I love the Beat Crusaders but really…can someone just tell me what any of these words mean?

 

“I never dreamed before

I’m gonna knock the door

Into the world of perfect free (you ain’t no lonely)”

Really?  No one has a clue?  I’m not surprised.  Though if I’m going by the context of the series my best guess would be that the song is about following your dreams, breaking down barriers, and making it big (specifically in America).  But there wasn’t anyone who could’ve written that song with better grammar?  No one?!

 

Look, this doesn’t only go for anime.  If you want to feature characters that speak various languages in your shows or write a song using a different language, by all means go for it.  But people aren’t stupid.  You’re show is going to hit another audience and having a native English speaking character speak broken English shows through.  Or a native Spanish character speaking broken Spanish with a French accent.  Those things make a difference.  Take the time to learn a proper amount of grammar before you decide to write a character that speaks a language that you don’t know.  Or better yet, hire or find a person that will be willing to help you out with your scripts and/or casting.  It’s not a difficult task.  It just takes a little more effort and if that means that your product is delayed a bit then so be it.  Better a delayed product with clear effort put in it than a haphazardly done finished one.

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I’ve mentioned before that Detective Conan is my guilty pleasure series.  It’s fun, weirdly logical and illogical at the same time, and I love (most of) the characters.

 

The series centers around a high school detective, Shinichi Kudo.  While on a “date” with his childhood friend, Ran, he encounters some shady looking men in black.  Unable to ignore is detective instincts for one day, he decides to follow them and sees one of the men making an illegal deal.  Unfortunately he’s not paying close enough attention to his surroundings, thus allowing the other man (or rather giving the other man the chance to) over power him.  The shady characters force feed him a drug that’s supposed to kill him without leaving a trace of itself in the body.  This, though, backfires as the drug instead displays a rare side effect which changes poor Shinichi into a child.  Through out the course of the series, Shinichi disguises his true identity by assuming the name “Conan Edogawa” and continuously solves cases in hopes that he’ll find the men that poisoned him, bring them down, and get his regular body back.

 

Although this series is nowhere close to being finished, since there’s over 600 episode, it’s fair to say that the show deserves the full review treatment.

 

The Great:

 

The premise.  I described the basic premise of the series above so I don’t think I have to restate it right here.  Off the bat, you already know who the main villains are, what the conflict is, and how awkward the character relationships are going to get in future episodes.  And it’s all relatively easy to understand.  Of course it’s simple to say there’s going to be moments where the story breaks from this premise.  You can’t have every little moment be about the Black Organization.  But watching the various non-Black Organization oriented cases can be fun as well.

 

Speaking of which, the insane and elaborate ways criminals commit their crimes.  It’s absolutely laughable how detailed some of these plans are.  But it’s plain fun to watch each case get solved and learn how the criminal did it.  Clearly these people always commit a premeditated crime and clearly these people have way too much time on their hands to set up such elaborate plans.  I’m always surprised that no one ever catches them setting up their traps, but apparently in this universe there just aren’t that many people in the world perhaps.  There’s no way if someone attempted to recreate one of these plans in real life that they could ever get away with it.  Either they would be caught red handed while they were attempting to set the trap up or the physics of their plan would fail miserably.  Regardless, you keep coming back to episodes of the series to see how each plan will unfold because it’s just fun.

 

Conan Edogawa.  Not Shinichi Kudo (though I do like him as well), but I’m specifically talking about his child alter ego, Conan.  What can you say?  You have a 17 year old high schooler who has to readjust his entire life so that it reflect that of an elementary schooler.  Not only that, but he physically lives with the girl he’s had a crush on for basically his entire life and he has to pretend day in and day out that he’s 7 years old…and he’s pretty good at it.  I’ll have to give all the credit though to his voice actress, Minami Takayama.  When Conan needs to sound like a detective…like he’s being serious, her voice really reflects that.  And when Conan needs to sound very child-like, she makes it happen.  She’s the perfect person to play the role and she plays Conan flawlessly.  That’s not the reason I love Conan so much though.  Conan’s such a creepy character.  Now I’m pretty sure someone would disagree there.  Drawing wise, he’s really adorable especially when he’s embarrassed or really trying to play the part of a 7 year old.  But just imagine that adorable 7 year old twisting your words around, or talking in detail about the details of a murder.  Really?  You’re not going to be even a little creeped out by that?  My all time favorite creepy Conan moment has to be when he and this art teacher are alone.  Conan’s working on a sculpture and while playing the part of the innocent 7 year old he pretends to show off his cup to the teacher.  Impressed, the teacher congratulates Conan for his work but then proceeds to do a bit of fortune telling with the sculpture.  There’s apparently lines in the clay that say that Conan’s hiding something.  While that’s true, the teacher doesn’t know that.  The teacher also doesn’t know that Conan switched the cups when the teacher wasn’t in the room.  So the cup Conan was working on…it was the teacher’s.  Still playing innocent Conan looks at the teacher with those big, blue eyes of his and says “Hmmm, but sensei…this was your cup.  So sensei, that means you’re hiding something…right?” and at the end of that phrase give that teacher a glare that I’m sure sent shivers down his spine and gave him nightmares forever.    There’s nothing creepier than a genius child who knows he’s got the upper hand…except maybe a genius child who knows he always has the upper hand and also happens to be a miniature version of the grim reaper.  Did I mention Conan’s also that too?

 

Heiji Hattori.  Aside from Conan/Shinichi, Heji is my other favorite character and it’s a shame that we don’t really get to see him as much as we probably should.  I know.  He’s not the focus of the show but as one of the few people who know who Conan really is, it’d be fun to see him more often that we do.  Every time Heiji’s involved in a story, you know it’s going to be good.  He’s not only a good comic relief character but he’s the perfect partner and friend for Conan/Shinichi.  And it’s always fun to see the two competing with each other.  Shinichi basically comes out on top every time but that doesn’t diminish Heiji’s work.  He’s still a brilliant teenager who’s solved plenty of cases in his life time (even though he admittedly counts finding lost pets and objects as “solving cases”).  Not to mention he’s literally the only character in the show that can speak any good English.  But that’s a rant for later on.

 

The Good:

 

The music.  Most of the songs are either complete hits or complete misses so I couldn’t leave this section to “great” or “bad”.  Most of the older songs worked better for the series.  There’s nothing like listening to Giri Giri Chop or Shoudou by the B’z to get you pumped up for an exciting case.  And a song called Nazo (Mystery) is a perfect song for a series about mysteries.  While many of the newer songs are good, their themes are basically centered around romance.  Which I suppose is okay because a good portion of the series is about the relationship between Ran and Shinichi.  But lately it seems like the majority of the songs only focus on this aspect which while it’s an important part of the series, it isn’t the point of the series.  The show is about 1) finding the Black Organization so they can be defeated and Shinichi can be changed back to normal and 2) solving mysteries.  So far I’ve just talked about the opening songs.  The endings are a little bit more touch and go.  Either they’re good, or they’re not.  As for the background music in the episodes, it fits the mood just fine and most of it is very beautiful.  Or very cutesy whenever they’re dealing with the “Shounen Tanteidan”.  It’s not the best of music though this is going to fall under personal preference again.  I dislike the emulation of real instruments when you can just as easily find a real person to play a real instrument that will drastically improve the quality of the song.  A good example would be Kimi ga Ireba, an insert song that frequently played throughout a few episodes and the movies.  Has the potential to be a really good song.  The synthesized instruments ruin it a bit though.

 

Shinichi Kudo.  Well you’re probably curious why I separate out Conan and Shinichi considering they’re the same exact person.  And while that’s true that doesn’t mean that I don’t like one over the other.  You get to know the alter ego more than the real person.  So it’s only natural that you’ll have a stronger connection with Conan than with Shinichi.  Since he can only change back for short periods of time you don’t get to see him all that much except on rare (and I do mean rare) occasions.  Usually his changing back into himself has been used as a plot point though in recent cases I believe it’s used more for comic effect than anything.  But as a character I still like Shinichi.  He’s just your regular (albeit famous) teenage kid who was thrust into a situation that he would never ask for in a million years.  So you’re just rooting for him to be the victor in the end.

 

The Bad:

 

Ran Mouri.  Her character had so much potential to be a strong female lead.  She’s a champion in karate so you know she’s tough.  And in the beginning of the series this was how her character was developing.  Of course things like a dead body would freak her out but in situations where she or her family or friends could potentially be injured she could easily defend herself without turning into a sniveling crybaby first.  In more recent episodes, she’s seen as completely reliant on other people, especially Shinichi.  In rare instances when she desperately needs to protect someone she’ll still show off her karate prowess.  But usually she’s a useless crybaby and her sole purpose in the series is to be the damsel in distress or the “love interest”.  Her character’s actually developed for the worse over the course of 620+ episodes.  She’s nothing but a stereotypical female character who’s scared of everything and completely infatuated with and tied to “her man”.

 

The relationship between Ran and Shinichi.  Now unless you’re an avid fan of the non-canon pairing of Conan x Ai, you’re probably rooting for the happiness of Ran and Shinichi in the end.  But let’s be realistic about this pairing.  It can’t work.  It won’t work.  If anything Ran should be infuriated with Shinichi.  Not only for lying to her, but also for manipulating and drugging her father numerous times, confiding his secret in a person they’d only met one time prior, and seeing her naked on a few occasions.  But in order to make this scenario of “childhood friend turned romantic interest” work, all logistics of how the reality of this relationship would work have to be thrown out the window and be replaced with this fairy-tale like notion of what a real relationship is.  But of course when is this not a problem?  Let’s say that Ran and Shinichi don’t have the whole issue of Shinichi being turned into a child in the way.  Their relationship is still less than ideal.  Ran might be Shinichi’s crush but investigations are his mistress.  His calling to be a detective is stronger than his love for Ran.  While he wishes to love and protect her, his love of mysteries and justice is still stronger than his love for her which could cause drastic problems down the road for them.  Yet we’re hardwired to feel sympathetic towards the two of them and wish the best for them and their relationship.  They’re fictional characters anyways.  Why do we really care (oh wait…that’s what we’re supposed to do…)?

 

The inconsistent changes from Conan to Shinichi and vice versa.  So you have the major component that serves as an antidote to the poison.  Yet he can only change back for a day or so.  Even worse, the more he uses the antidote, the weaker the effect on him becomes.  So that means that eventually even the antidote won’t work on him.  Well…what?!  So you have a cure for something but it’s only a temporary fix for the problem.  Yet you don’t really mess with the formula to make it stronger.  You just keep it as is and let Conan keep using it knowing full well that it will only work for a day at most.  Firstly, why is this fix only temporary?  Why isn’t the ingredient strong enough to warrant a permanent fix?  Or even a partial cure?  Meaning he’s normal Shinichi most of the time but sometimes he’ll turn back into Conan sporadically, perhaps when his body is weak from illness.  Was this too difficult to conceive?  The idea for the partial cure works well the first time it’s used.  But when it’s used over and over and over again, the concept gets very old very fast.  Speaking of the changing back and forth from Conan to Shinichi…

 

The under use of Shinichi as a character.  As the main character of the series, he sure is underused.  I find myself “forgetting” at times that Conan is Shinichi until something happens that reminds me.  Such as a case with Heiji or some weird flashback.  Conan almost becomes an entity on his own that’s separate from Shinichi and that’s not the case.

 

And last but not least, Kogoro.  While he’s a decent enough comic relief character the “Nemuri no Kogoro” (Sleeping Kogoro) gimmick is getting stale.  While it’s necessary that Conan does this so that he can conceal his own identity, that doesn’t take away from the fact that the bit is old.  15 years old to be exact.  The gimmick is so old that it’s even hinted at once that Kogoro has grown a partial “immunity” to the tranquilizer darts from having so many of them used on him.  And that was the last time that Sleeping Kogoro was truly interesting.  I wish the Gosho Aoyama explored the possibilities down that road.  That could make for some extremely interesting character interactions and unique ways that cases could be solved.

 

The Ugly:

 

The length.  Not so much that the show is clearly and obnoxiously long, but that it’s long and it goes nowhere.  As I’ve written up an entire post that deals with this I won’t go into the details of it so much.  I’ll just link to the post so you can see what I’m talking about.

 

Suicide is never an option.  It sounds cold to put this under the ugly.  I’m not talking about criminals committing suicide because they regret what they did or don’t wish to be caught.  I’m talking about suicide as an option to an actual “murder” case.  This is always hinted at as a possibility but through some illogical twist of events it turns out that it in fact was a murder and not a suicide.  Well, how many people live in this area that so many are just murdered on a daily basis?  I know this is a show and everything and to make an episode where someone offs themselves would be dark but if you can do it with criminals why can’t you do with a regular person?  Yes I know there’s the one episode where the man almost commits suicide.  Since he didn’t follow through, that doesn’t count.  Couldn’t there just be one episode where a body is discovered, they go through an entire investigation and it turns out it was just a suicide?  Sure it won’t be nearly as interesting.  But it would be a different venture than the rest of the other episodes which read the exact same way.

 

Series Rating (so far): 3.5/5

 

For as much flack as I give this show for being obnoxiously long and repetitive, I’m hooked on the series.  What can I say.  I’ve invested quite a bit of time in the series and I’m not going to stop watching it now.  All I can hope is that the ending will not be a disappointment.  When the series end comes, there’ll be a part two to this review with just the ending.  Let’s just hope I remember to do so as I’m fairly sure the end is quite a few years away.

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Now this isn’t going to be a full series review as Nekogami Yaoyorozu is a relatively new series.  Anime wise.  The manga’s been around since 2007 but I’m only reviewing the anime here.  Crunchyroll so far has two episodes up but without a premium membership to the site, you can only watch the first one.  So here’s a basic rundown of the show.

 

Nekogami Yaoyorozu is about a young cat goddess named Mayu who is banished the realm of deities called Takamagahara.  The series picks up as four years after this point in time and Mayu is currently living in an antique shop.  She’s been stripped of most of her abilities as a deity as well.

 

This show is a comedy and stylistically it feels like yet another cutesy, Lucky Star type series.  So if you like a show like that, you might be interested in Nekogami Yaoyorozu.  The comedic style also runs similarly to Lucky Star.  It feels slightly sporadic and silly and very little of what’s going on makes much sense.  I love comedy, but my personal choice of comedy usually isn’t the Lucky Star brand of works.  While it’s cute, there usually isn’t much substance.  So it’s a good thing to watch if you’re in a down mood or had a stressful day.  It’s a type of show where you don’t have to think much about what’s going on.  Just accept that you probably won’t understand all the scenarios and you should be fine.

 

The one thing that stuck out to me as interesting were the various gods presented and the relationship between them.  You’ve got Mayu, a cat goddess, and her fiance who’s another cat goddess (Sasana).  Yes.  Cat goddess…their parents apparently arranged for their marriage without checking the gender of each others child.  It’s a relatively quirky moment in the series.  Not a “laugh out loud” moment, but definitely one you’ll at least chuckle at (and possibly face-palm as well…because both children were clearly female and it’s weird that the fathers would set them up without knowing the other child was also female).  The god of harvest, Gonta (a fox god), the granddaughter of the god of darkness, Meiko, and the goddess of poverty, Shamo.  And the one who has to put up with the insanity between all of them is Yuzu.  Now I claim the relationships between all the characters are interesting for a few reasons.  The “romantic” relationships are fairly funny but the way they relate to each other as deities is just fun.  The rest of the deities act as protectors over this town and so when Shamo (goddess of poverty) shows up, they feel that their sole duty is to throw her out of town.  There are many rumors that surround her about her abilities such as she can make a stock market crash just by passing by it, or by being in your presence she can cause you to feel lethargic or to lose track of your money or possessions.  And it’s even rumored that she was the cause behind the Great Depression.  So when the other gods confront her they can only think of fighting and getting rid of her.  All in all this leads to an adorable scene where Shamo shows the level of authority she has.  She even has the other gods and goddesses bowing to her.  Though she sounds stern at first she then reveals that she’s actually proud of the work that they’re doing and that she’ll leave the town…only to then decide to stay because she wants to beat the video game she’s playing.

 

This series is definitely adorable and the comedy isn’t the funniest, but it has it’s moments.  If cute and quirky is something you like in a series, you’ll most likely enjoy this one.

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We’ve all heard of ’em and we all (whether we want to admit it or not) are a part of one or more.  In conjunction with the furry fandom, you have the anti-furries.  In conjunction with the anime fandom, you have the anti-anime crowd.  In conjunction with the Twilight fandom, you’ve got the anti-Twilight crowd.  Need I say more?

 

Anti-crowds are rather popular.  They mysteriously pop up whenever a subculture, form of media, movie, book, series, etc. becomes a major focus of attention at some point.  These sorts of crowds have always been around.  When rock and roll first was created, the movement against it was very strong.  Same for jazz, and rap.  I suppose the music today that get’s this kind of flack is the “teenybopper” music.  Those songs sung by the likes of Justin Bieber, and anyone else in his age range.  But doesn’t it strike you as odd that anti-fandom fandoms get so riled up over such miniscule things?  What is the purpose of hating someone for liking anthropomorphic animals?  You probably liked them as a child and still do to an extent.  Winnie the Pooh, Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse…I suppose you hate them too.  Or what’s the purpose of hating people who like media from Japan.  While you may want to claim that it’s really the “weaboos” that you hate, you’re reaction towards the whole fandom (from the people, the cosplay, and the art styles) tends to say otherwise.

 

The ironic thing about these anti-crowds is that they tend to think more about what they hate than the people who actually like such things think about.  Deviantart is a great example of this.  And for this I’ll use the example of sparkle-animals again.  This is one of those anti-groups within the furry fandom.  I’ve touched base on it in a previous post but to summarize, sparkle animals are animals that are given unnatural colors and markings not only for their species but for animals in general.  Some people love them, some people hate them with a burning passion.  There is no in-between.  And anti-sparkle animal crowds devote a large chunk of their art to mocking (or “satirizing” as they like to say) people who create these creatures.  Never satirizing the mild sparkle creations.  Always the rare, obnoxious ones.  The one some 12 year old who’s new to character design created with way too many colors, markings, and accessories.  Those kinds.  They make them and have all their other sparkle animal hating friends praise them.  Bringing them much e-fame in the deviantart realm.  Or the anti-Twilight crowd…ever notice how they’ve got a ton of Twilight related submissions just about how much they hate Twilight?  While people are free to express themselves in anyway they want to, why would you devote so much time and effort towards something you hated?  You can’t change the minds of people who like those things, and those who are moderate will remain moderate.  The only people you’re pandering to are…others that hate the subject?  But in order to do that, don’t you have to have this subject that you hate on your mind as much if not more than the people who actually like such things?

 

There’s a number of reasons anti-crowd members can give for why they’re a part of the anti-crowd.  But really it only boils down to 4 points (Credit for a few of these points goes to Cracked.com.  I can’t remember the name of the specific article but it was about why it’s better to be a conformist rather than an anti-conformist):

 

1) The desire to rebel.  Everyone does at some point in their lives.  Particularly against your parents.  Some people take that to a grander scale and want to rebel against “the man” or “the system”.  You rebel against the mainstream.  So you see that anime’s become the new it thing.  As a rebellious person you don’t want to join that crowd so you go against it and you find reasons that you hate it.  Regardless of if you’ve actually seen any anime series or not.  Or you can just go from what you remember of DragonBall Z, Pokemon, Digimon, or Yugioh as a child and claim that it’s all for children.  Or the opposite route if you’ve been mentally scarred by something you’ve seen, claim it’s only for perverted adults.  You don’t know this as a fact as you’ve never really watched much anime since you were little.  You’re just going to do all you can to rebel against what you perceive as popular.

 

2) The desire to belong.  It’s a basic human need.  Everyone wants to belong somewhere.  You don’t want to feel like you’re all alone in the universe.  And thus you have anti-groups.  Deviantart again is the perfect example.  Go to their groups menu and search “anti”.  What do you find.  Lists upon lists of clubs whose sole purpose is to come together over what they hate.  Sounds like a grand waste of time to me.  Especially since these things are so petty.  Why not come together over the hate of…I don’t know…racism?  Sexism?  War?  Things that if you put effort into you can actually change something in the world.  Instead this effort is being put towards hating certain fictional character pairings or Justin Bieber.  But if the only thing you wish to put effort into is hating on people for liking something, more power to you then?  Hopefully one day you’ll grow up and see how childish things like this really are.

 

3) The desire for stereotypes to be the full truth.  While a grain of truth lies in a stereotype, it’s a stereotype for a reason.  And that reason is because the truth is so coated in this cover of lies that it ceases to be true anymore.  The stereotype for furries is that we’re all these depraved perverts who want nothing more to either have sex in animal costumes or have sex with animals.  While the furry fandom seems like a haven for people who are zoophiles, the majority of furries are very much against zoophilia…with a burning passion.  Why?  Because 1) it’s illegal, 2) it’s disgusting, and 3) it gives all other furries a bad name.  But for some reason, despite knowing that stereotypes aren’t even remotely always true, some people still believe the stereotype about furs.  Though to play off what I said in my previous rant, if you’re going to be prejudice, display equal opportunity prejudice.

 

4) The non-desire to listen/learn.  Anti-fandom people don’t want to understand why this person over here likes this, or that person over there likes that.  They want to remain ignorant of any sort of facts.  Or just the fact that it’s impossible to lump a bunch of people together even if they share a similar interests.  There’s an anime fan over there that doesn’t ramble on using “kawaii!” or “desu!”?  “Nonsense!  We can have none of this!  They must do it even if they won’t show it.”  Or a furry who’s a virgin?  “Blasphemy!  All furries are sexual deviants and I know this as fact!”  You see, that’s the sort of commentary you get from those who wish to remain ignorant.  And sadly you can do nothing for people like this.

 

The point here isn’t to say that it’s wrong to not be a fan of something.  You don’t have to be a fan of everything and in fact that is an impossibility.  But don’t go so far off the deep end that you become a part of these nonsensical “anti” crowds.  Just as you don’t have to be a raving lunatic fan girl to be a fan of something, you also don’t have to be some dark, depressing moron who spends all their time hating on stuff for the sheer purpose of hating on stuff.  These people are the equivalent of the raving fan girl only more obnoxious and more annoying.  Because if there’s anything more annoying than talking about what you like all the time, it’s talking about what you hate all the time.  At least we know the reason why talks about something they like.  As for why people devote their time to something that they hate…that is a concept, my friends, that is beyond me.

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