There exist acquired tastes in life. Flavors you might not have liked before but now feel an urge to experience from time to time. And they grows on you, like that itch for spicy food or the craving for just on more cup of coffee. Such is moe – an acquired taste for some and that piece of dreaded spinach for others. There’s no denying that moe is a money-printing machine that will continue to play a big part in the visual styles of anime in the years to come. But is moe contributing to anime? And where exactly do we draw the fine line between suggestive moe and outright hentai? Continue reading
A new year brings with it a new review! The Welcome to the NHK review has been added to the reviews section. Here’s a direct link.
Welcome to the NHK was the first SD series I reviewed. As a rule of the thumb I won’t lower grades of series that have visual issues on modern HDTVs if they were created in SD and don’t have an HD master or upscale available. That is, unless they look outright awful today.
Here’s an interesting bit of trivia I found while watching the series that didn’t quite make the cut for the review: the three alien-like baby creatures Sato keeps imagining are refered to in the English credits as Hikikomorians. All three Hikikomorians have different voice actors despite the fact that the only audible thing they do on the show is laugh sinisterly or cry out in fear.
If you are interested in the light novel that inspired the anime series you might want to check Brian Ruh’s article on it. He also addresses the notion of hikikomori in general.
It was recently announced that Bakuman is getting a 3rd anime season, and this is a good opportunity to discuss the uprising popularity of Bakuman as a Weekly Shounen Jump manga. Bakuman is a very popular manga which runs neck to neck with manga giants like One Piece and Naruto. It has managed to claim itself a place among the top 5 most popular Jump series, which is why a 3rd anime season is being announced for it even though the 2nd season is still currently airing. And yet Bakuman is not your run-of-the-mill Shounen Jump manga.
A small introduction to the series is due. Bakuman is a series about several aspiring manga artists. In the beginning it only focuses on an aspiring manga artist named Mashiro and his aspiring writer friend Takagi. They decide to combine their talents and make a great manga together. After a while more characters (and manga artists) are introduced. The series shows how the manga artists struggle to enter the tricky business world of manga and what hurdles are thrown in their way as they enter it. In a nutshell it is a manga about making manga. Bakuman is well grounded in reality and doesn’t have all the aliens/monsters, super powers and special moves that are staples of typical Shounen Jump series. Moreover you won’t find any villains in Bakuman (unless you count grumpy editors as villains), there is only a small pool of characters to follow and these characters never battle each other or have any physical confrontations. Heck, even fanservice is kept to a nil!
Have no misconceptions though, Bakuman is 100% Weekly Shounen Jump material. The series maintain a constant feeling of advancement and achievement. The main characters strive to create a manga, fail, rise again and learn from their mistakes. They have dream and act to achieve them. Does having no battles mean having no tension? Hell no. Bakuman is rife with cliffhangers. Will the main characters’ manga succeed or flunk? Can they make the deadline in time? What happens when one manga artist collapses due to overwork? What is the best trick the artists can come up with to attract more readers? Bakuman can deliver tension when it’s due. I find Bakuman to be a very mature and refreshing series. Any unnatural occurrence or mystical powers would have just watered-down the experience. I expect realism from Bakuman. When I watch the Bakuman anime I watch it to see believable human interaction, intelligent human thinking and a decent paced plot. It also helps that this series has zero fillers. It probably won’t be remembered as one of Shounen Jump’s greatest series of all time, but future Shounen Jump series should learn from Bakuman. Learn to be fresh, break the mold and appeal to new audiences.
The Itsudatte My Santa! DVD review is up in the review section. Here’s a direct link.
I’ve always loved Akamatsu Ken’s manga. Love Hina was one of the first manga I read and to this day I regard it as a masterpiece and a milestone in the harem genre. I’ve since read Itsudatte My Santa! and A.I. Love You and found both to be decent. Today I follow the Negima! manga as it comes out in the U.S. and am quite enjoying it.
It is because I hold Akamatsu’s manga in such high favor that I find the anime adaptations of his titles to be so disappointing. The anime adaptation of Love Hina really turned my down and the Negima! series and follow-up OVAs felt really corny. I did find the Negima!? series to be an interesting experiment, but that is because it presented an alternative version which I couldn’t compare to the original manga material. How come the anime adaptations of Akamatsu Ken’s works tend to be such a letdown? Perhaps Akamatsu’s manga are too detailed for their own good? Or are his character reactions, which never cease to surprise me, unfit for animation? Maybe it’s the animation studios’ fault for not capturing that magical Akamatsu feel?
Either way if you’ve only seen the anime adaptations to Akamatsu’s manga and felt disappointed I urge you to pick up the manga and give them a second chance. Kodansha’s upcoming Love Hina omnibus releases seem like a good place to start.