Lucky Star Review

Story:
Konata Izumi is a high school student who loves gaming, manga and anime. As she moves throughout her high school life with her three closest friends, they experience everything from everyday discussions on how to eat cream puffs to how to survive a convention.

Violence:
Violence is restricted to slap stick humor in this show. So there’s no reason to fear blood here.

Language:
The worst language you’ll hear in this show is d-mns. Nothing too major.

Nudity:
Breast sizes are joked about. And one character is a Yuri fan (boy x boy), so sometimes she fantasizes about some of her friends. It’s never explicit, though the references made are intentionally easy misunderstandings for comedies sake. Also, Konata is allowed to play Adult games, which is something joked about off and on. Though these jokes don’t happen every episode, they do happen more than once, bunking this series up to Young Adult for references alone.

Theology/Mythology:
There’s no real theology here.

Personal Impression:
This series is almost pure comedy, which isn’t surprising as it started as a four-panel comic in Japan. The artwork is very “cutesy,” which adds to the carefree charm of the show. Though it is difficult to remember that these girls are in high school. They look like they’re in middle school. The music is cute as well, though not distractingly so.
It should perhaps be mentioned that much of the humor is found in cultural jokes, so those new to anime or Japanese culture might have a hard time following many of the references. Thus, while the show is actually pretty clean as far as older audience comedy pieces go, it’s also not something everyone will find funny. Overall this is a very light hearted show to watch that sure to make you smile, even if a few references to an obscure anime go over your head.

Personal Rating: Young adult

Episodes:  24
Languages: Dub and sub
Official rating: PG14
Genre(s): Comedy, slice of life
Website: n/a
Legal streaming: Crunchyroll
Screen shots:
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Extra: Subtle pain

rideback rinDeath is a strange thing in animation. Whether or not it affects you usually depends entirely on your own feelings towards the recently deceased individual. By rule of thumb, even if I do love a character, I end up feeling simply let down or sad by the event. Very rarely do tears come to my eyes.

It wasn’t until I had finished watching Rideback for the first time that I noticed why I have such a shallow reaction to many death scenes. For as much as I liked the character who is, well, for lack of a better term, “beheaded” in this series, she wasn’t at the top of my list. Yet tears poured forth. Why? Well, it wasn’t an immediate action. The tears didn’t come at the death itself, but seconds later as the main character, having seen it happen, slowly begins to shake and then clutch her friend next to her. It was the disbelief at first that tipped me over the edge. This same reaction of mine happens at the burial scene of a murdered military officer in Fullmetal Alchemist as the man’s daughter keeps asking what they’re doing to “daddy.” And as comical as it sounds, I also have this crying issue with Pokemon the First Movie as Pikachu attempts to wake up his master, who is no longer living.

The reasoning behind these instancing being more effective than most animated death scenes is actually very simplistic. It’s more real. When someone dies, the first response for most people is disbelief. We don’t want to believe someone we love is dead. Depending on the person, this initial disbelief can then turn into denial. When the person finally accepts the death, which could take a moment or many years, that is when the grieving can begin. When these same early emotional responses to death are reflected in the characters we’ve come to love in a show, it can make for a very potent event. And ultimately it wins a special place in the hearts of their viewers as well.

Rideback Review

RideBackStory:
Rin Ogata used to be a brilliant ballet dancer, following in the footsteps of her talented mother. However, after a fall damages her leg, Rin decides to return to school as an average student, giving up all her dreams. But when she runs into a school club dedicated to motorcycle-like vehicles called Ridebacks, she discovers that her talents might not have run out after all.

Violence:
Although blood isn’t focused on too much, there is a decent amount of violence in this show. Perhaps the worst instances are a character being suddenly beheaded and a character being tortured to reveal information via electrocution. Interestingly, these scenes don’t show much blood, but they are visually disturbing, especially for young viewers.

Language:
The language in this show is pretty typical for YA titles. A few da-ns, sh-ts and an occasional (though rare) “illegitimate-son” word.

Nudity:
Thankfully this series never attempts to dive into fanservice, even though it certainly has many opportunities to do so. Since Rin often wears a white dress, occasionally you can see a bit of her underwear in high action scenes. However, one would often need to pause the episode to actually see them as it is not focused on at all and goes by very fast. Also, another female character wears tight clothing that often exposes her stomach. Nothing one won’t see at the beach, but worth mentioning.

Theology/Mythology:
There really isn’t anything to worry about in this sector. Typical of science fiction, the concept of what freedom really is and whether someone should fight if they can, even though people may die, are discussed. But no single stance is forced on viewers.

Personal Impression:
I started watching this show out of curiosity and certainly didn’t think it would affect me as much as it did. Re-watching episode one after seeing the whole series brought tears to my eyes, something that isn’t that easy to do. This series may have a pretty simple set up as it focuses on a girl who just wants to find joy in her life again, yet it goes far beyond this goal. Rin experiences the pain of loss in pretty much every sense of the word imaginable, and viewers tag along for the ride. Thus the pain of those close to her and the death of those who have become so loveable, makes for a very strong impression. In fact, when one major character dies, I felt more sadness over her passing than perhaps any other death scene I’d ever seen in a show.
The setting itself is a bit similar to other robot shows like Gundam Wing. There is a world government and various factions fighting against it and the main character ends up getting involved. Which is the perfect setting for character development. Unlike Gundam Wing, however, this series focuses far more on the characters themselves and the issues they go through than on the war around them. In fact, we don’t get a very clear picture of the war and what is happening globally, though we can see glimpses now and again. So if you wish to have any closure on the world itself, this series will disappoint. Instead, the story arc we see is solely Rin and her world. So if you love shows that give you a deep connection with the main character, with some robot fun on the side, this show is a wonderful choice. Just be sure you have tissues on hand for the last few episodes…

Personal Rating: Young adult

Episodes: 12
Languages: Sub and Dub
Official rating: TV14
Genre(s): Action, science fiction, drama
Website: http://www.funimation.com/rideback
Legal streaming: YouTube and FUNimation‘s site
Screen shots:
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Streaming Pick of the Month: Gundam Wing!

gundam bannerBringin’ back the robot wars! This show is a wonderful pick for December for multiple reasons. One of the nerdiest of which is when this story “ends.” It ends on Christmas Eve. Though finishing all 49 episodes on time for this Christmas Eve might be a bit of a challenge…

A classic from the old Toonami days of Cartoon Network (yeah, they used to play anime), Gundam Wing follows the retaliation of the enslaved space colonies as they send their strongest weapon, the Gundams, down to earth. Fighting against Oz, an organization that has embedded itself within Earth’s central government, the five Gundam pilots must take care in how they handle the war they have begun. Oz isn’t known for playing fair and this situation will not prove any different. (Read the full review here!)

All 49 episodes are available via Crunchyroll for free legal viewing. Click here to start watching!

Note: Streaming shows are not always available for free viewing. Be sure to watch the shows of your choice before they’re gone!

Extra: Everyone para para?

lucky star haruhi danceAside from the new form of narration it made popular, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya has one other bragging right. Making US anime fans far more aware of a dancing style much beloved in Japan: para para!

Simply put, para para is a type of line dancing, usually put to pop or techno music. The people in the dance are all synchronized for major movements, though verses often contain position changes and individual “solos” where one person performs a set of moves while their teammates dance a different set. Many para para dances emphasize “cuteness” and a sense of high energy in their movements. While some US fans were aware of the existence of para para previously, the popularity of the Haruhi Suzumiya series greatly increased the number of fans that were both interested and willing to learn para para due to a very addictive dance sequence seen during its first ending theme (years later, Lucky Star would parody this dance during a cosplay cafe episode). In fact, the explosion of anime fans that would perform the Haruhi para para dance was so intense after the series’ release that many US conventions had to outlaw dancing inside the convention hallways as it blocked the flow of their guests.

Though the para para tend is a few years old (the first Melancholy episodes arrived back in 2006), it still runs strong at anime conventions and in the anime community on YouTube. Which isn’t that surprising as it is indeed rather fun. Don’t believe me? Check out the famous Haruhi dance below to see for yourself!