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Anime Wrap Up Winter 2010

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Another season of anime has past and it was a surprisingly good one. Some of the seasonís best shows were simulcast on CrunchyRoll, a feat which hasnít been repeated for the following spring season. The likes of Durarara and the cheesy but fun Cobra the Animation meant I strongly considered buying a CrunchyRoll membership. I can only hope future seasons have a core group of quality titles like Winter 2010ís lineup.


Date: 15-4-2010
Subject: Anime
Article By: Bradley Beeck


Nodame Cantabile: Finale
Genre(s): Romance, Comedy, Drama, Music
Description: Chiaki Shinichi dreamed of learning to conduct from Viera, a famous European composer, so he traveled to Paris. Megumi Noda, Nodame, traveled with Chiaki to be with him and to further her piano studies. However Nodame never really wanted to play the piano seriously, she wanted to be a kindergarten teacher. Will she be able to keep facing music whole heartedly, or will Chiaki lose his guardian angel? The Nodame Cantabile story is brought to a close in this final season.
Opinion: Unlike the Paris-Hen season which ended as it was starting to get going, this season ploughs forward right from the start. Thereís a lot of development between Chiaki and Nodame, and other characters like Tanya and Rui also get expanded upon. Consequently thereís less music this season but Nodameís terrific debut makes up for that. Ultimately it was a pretty good ending as far as anime goes, even if it was a tad rushed and even if Nodameís actions were fairly incomprehensible. The series as a whole was good enough to make my recent Top 45 Recommendations from the Last Decade.

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Durarara!!
Genre(s): Drama
Description: Mikado Ryugamine yearns to live in the big city and following an invitation from a childhood friend he finally moves to Ikebukuro, Tokyo. There he learns about the dangerous people walking the streets of his new home: Izaya Orihara, the information broker, Shizuo Heiwajima, the brawler, the colour gangs and the headless rider. Many mysteries and dramas await Mikadoís discovery.
Opinion: I think the best way to describe this show is that itís an urban fantasy. Different groups of people with extraordinary abilities interact in suburbia. I didnít like it at first, itís meandering with seemingly no point and I didnít care about the characters. However that changed as the characterís stories became linked around Celty (headless rider), and we got to see just how insane some of them were. The show found its point and it was all the better for it. The music was also excellent and the ED song is especially catchy and easy to listen to. Durarara was made by the same people as Baccano, which should be enough incentive to check it out on CrunchyRoll. After a small break the series is still ongoing, and I'll stay watching.


Soranowoto
Genre(s): Slice of Life, Drama, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Description: Kanata joined the army to learn the trumpet after an unforgettable childhood experience. She is assigned to the far flung fortress in the town of Seize. There she meets the other maidens of her unit and what follows is a collection of stories as she learns about music, the town and the people of her unit.
Opinion: From the Anime no Chikara(The Power of Anime) project, a collection of Ďspirited creatorsí, I had a pretty harsh reaction to the show. After seeing the first episode I retorted: ďIf thatís the power of anime, weíre f**kedĒ. The main character is annoying, being a know-nothing flake with a high pitch voice, and the character designs are generic. They also removed all the distinguishing features of the military Ė discipline, homogenizing, hierarchical Ė so it was a case of why bother if youíre going to do that? However itís not that bad. Itís very slice of life, focusing on little stories with the characters, occasionally revealing something about the world. Just enjoyable relaxing entertainment. Thatís until the last part of the series anyway where it takes a turn for the serious. Unfortunately the showís style wasnít suited for the shift, and the world setting hadnít really been expanded enough to carry it. Still there are far worse shows you could watch on CrunchyRoll than Soranowoto, just donít expect to get much out of it.

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Dance in the Vampire Bund
Genre(s): Drama, Action, Supernatural
Description: Mina Tepes is the Vampire Queen. Vampires have been hiding from humans for generations but now under the Queenís authority they claim an area of land in Japan. Akira has lost his memory and attends a highschool close to this area. Soon after the Vampire Queenís appearance in Japan she turns up at Akiraís school, but what could she want there?
Opinion: I hated Kiddy Girl-And last season but this show is just plain terrible. Where should I begin? Well the first episode was boring, featuring a bunch of random morons discussing whether vampires really exist on a TV show. Of course vampires turn up, specifically the Vampire Queen who announces sheís going to establish a town (a bund?) in Japan. Itís also revealed that she can literally command other vampires to die, thus removing any dramatic tension from the ensuing fight with another vampire. This being anime the Vampire Queen has the appearance of a 9 year old girl, which is given no explanation. Also because this is 2010, a time when anime has long since plumed the depths of creepiness, sheís exploited for all her fanservice worth. It even goes so far as to show a scene of her having sunscreen rubbed into her bare childlike chest. Granted this scene was fairly incidental, and was censored by Funimation in their stream, but her exploitation continued long after that.

As bad as that is, this train wreck isnít over yet. The show features the same directorial style as Bakemonogatari, which shouldnít be a surprise because they have the same director. Now that style kind of worked on that show because it was mostly talking, but this show has far more plot and action. So random cutaways to irrelevant things (like windows, skirts fluttering), people flicking their heads back in awkward ways for no reason, and sweeping pans into peopleís eyeballs is only going to irritate me. At times I felt like slapping the director for his sheer insanity and telling him to FOCUS ON THE STORY. This brings me to my final complaint: the plot. It has numerous holes to the point where it seems like weíve missed entire scenes and some things just donít make sense. The horrible directorial style only makes this worse with itís refusal to focus on the action/characters. I honestly couldnít believe Funimation licensed Dance in the Vampire Bund, and I wondered if theyíd actually watched any of the series (I managed 7 episodes). Itís garbage, and not in the absolute-mediocrity-way of genre shows.

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Hanamaru Kindergarten
Genre(s): Comedy, Slice of Life
Description: Tsuchida is starting his first day as a male kindergarten teacher. On his way to work he comes across Anzu, a kindergarten aged girl, who mistakenly thinks Tsuchiís hitting on her when he talks to her. From this point on Anzu decides she will marry Tsuchi, even if he has eyes for his follow teacher Yamamoto. Anzuís friends, Koume and Hiiragi do their best to support her.
Opinion: Hanamaru Kindergarten is an innocently funny show, even more so than last seasonís Kobato if thatís possible. Itís mostly about the antics the three main children get up to, like faking a shark attack to get the teachers attention in a swimming pool. They also know a lot more than they should, so theyíre not child like in that sense but itís never taken to a creepy place. Thankfully. Surprisingly thereís actually more to it as Tsuchiís interest in Yamamoto is explored through the series and Tsuchi reflects on his life Ė it has character development. That plot thread is not resolved by the end of the series but thereís definitely more room to expand should Gainax (Evangelion creators) do another season. Another interesting feature is the different endings for each episode. Each one has its own song and each tells its own little story, some referencing things like horror movies or noir films. The tenth episodeís ending particularly stands out in my memory. Hanamaru Kindergarten is very light and happy and as long as youíre not jaded thereís some entertainment to be had with this CrunchyRoll title.

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Cobra the Animation
Genre(s): Action, Science-Fiction
Description: Cobra is a notorious space pirate, famous for the gun attached to his arm, the Psychogun, and for his reputation as the unkillable man. He hates the pirate guild and will never leave a woman in distress.
Opinion: Take James Bond, give him a gun for an arm and then put him in the future; thatís Cobra. Heís a smooth, carefree ladies man who kicks ass and smokes a cigar while doing so. Heís a manly character and a blast from animeís past when characters like that were common. Itís the same for the whole show, it has a distinct oldschool feel but with modern day animation, CG included. Thatís what I love about it, itís just cheesy adult fun (thereís an occasional naked woman). Itís perfect late night viewing, with interesting small adventure arcs with a variety of one off characters. If this sounds appealing itís free to watch on CrunchyRoll.

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