Special A Review

Story:
Hikari has always been second best compared to Kei and she’s so concerned with this endless competition, that she doesn’t realize it when Kei falls in love with her. Thus begins a constant struggle for Kei to show he loves Hikari and for Hikari not to get the wrong idea. But she probably will. Where else would the comedy come in? PS – Don’t touch the sloth.

Violence:
Most of the violence in this show is slapstick, but there are a few tense parts later on. One character seems super dangerous at one point and there’s some dramatic fighting. Not much blood besides a few cuts, though.

Language:
Aside from some tense moments where the “illegitimate son” word is used, not much to say. A few d-mns and such, too. But it’s rare.

Nudity:
Again, not much, thankfully. There is one scene in which a character becomes intoxicated. She nearly removes her clothing from feeling too hot. She never ends up doing so. Also, one female character is obsessive over another. It’s strange at times, but clean overall.

Theology/Mythology:
I’m not sure what to say here as there’s really nothing to say at all. Aside from some thinking they are cursed or have bad luck, nothing that controversial is brought up.

Personal Impression:
This is supposed to be a romantic comedy, but often times the comedy takes the first seat. Which is just fine with me as I prefer comedy to romance. But don’t worry. Unlike other shows *cough*SchoolRumble*cough* this one does close with the main character’s love story “wrapping up.” So those that hate ambiguous endings, breathe easy.
Putting this aside, there were some interesting elements to this show versus others in the same vein. For one thing, the side characters seem a bit more full. They has a few stories of their own, and while not every single one gets their own story played out, they each add to the comedy element significantly and a few are even necessary to the plot.
Even so, the plot itself isn’t deep. And the art and music is mediocre. This anime, as funny as it can be in places, isn’t ground breaking. And it’s not the most memorable either. Still, if you want a dash of romance with plenty of comedy, this is a fun show to check out. Just don’t expect it to be any deeper than it first seems. Because it’s not.

Personal Rating: Young adult

Episodes: 24
Languages: Sub
Official rating: TV14
Genre(s): Comedy, romance
Website: n/a
Legal streaming: Hulu
Screen shots:
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Extra: Save the sea?

squid girlSo one would think, from reading the story synopsis, that Squid Girl would be rather heavy handed with the “protect the oceans” and “green earth” themes. Interestingly enough, it really isn’t. Now while the argument can certainly be made that this occurs because the show is mainly a comedy, there is another possible reason. And, yes, it’s a cultural one.

Japan is a nation that is pretty slow to change. At least when it comes down to deeply rooted traditions, many often leading to habits, it is. Plus Japan doesn’t like confrontation. At all. Ever. Put these things together and you get a recipe for one of the hardest sales for environmentalist pitches (unless it looks really snazzy tech-wise). Although, amazingly enough, Japan still has far more conservation efforts in effect than other nations, though this is primarily out of necessity as their land is too small to afford messing it up. Regardless, unlike American films that often push their agendas bluntly, Japan favors the more roundabout roads.

Squid Girl, for example, only has a handful of words to give viewers about the ocean. On the one hand this means the audience isn’t forced to endure endless lectures on nature. Instead they are trusted to be able to think for themselves on the matter. There are also a few more subtle tie in, such as the fact that so few people seem to understand Squid Girl and her abilities, drawing attention to the fact that those who live next to and depend on the ocean know precious little about it and the life that exists in it. And on the other hand, of course, it’s a comedy and conservation is serious. Or is it? The fact that Squid Girl goes to such extremes for the sake of her home can be a commentary itself. Yes, it’s ridiculous, but aren’t most conservation efforts in the end? Big talk and little action, most of which is fail-boat worthy?

In any case, Don’t expect anything heavy-handed from Japan in the green earth department. At least, no day soon. For Japan, it’s better to sneak such idea into the audience’s head than to attempt pounding them in. And, hey, it might actually work better.

Squid Girl -Season 1- Review

Story:
Squid Girl is from the sea and dead set on conquering all of mankind. In her mind, it’s the only way to protect the ocean, which humans have been polluting and abusing for centuries. However, the first spot she chooses to conquer is a beach house owned by two sisters with strong wills and a little brother who just wants to play. And they aren’t giving up their claim of the beach easily.

Violence:
There’s pretty much no violence in this show as it’s pretty much entirely slap stick at worst. That said, there is a pretty spooky episode concerning broken dolls. It’s clearly a joke episode on horror anime. All the same, small children would probably be scared by it. Oh and one girl has a nose bleeding issue and gets beat up. It’s slapstick humor, but there is a bit of blood.

Language:
It’s pretty much nonexistent, but one might make an argument that all of Squid Girl’s “squid talk” is a replacement for cursing. It’s hard to say for sure. She says “kraken” and such a lot. It’s clean on the surface, although, again, one could make an argument that it’s cursing in disguise.

Nudity:
This show is a comedy and one source of that comedy is a female character who is extremely obsessed with Squid Girl. She has nose bleeds thinking of her and even says some pretty crazy stuff clearly meant to be taken the wrong way (like “I wish she would squirt sticky substances all over me.” Item in question being squid ink). It’s all a joke, but it could end up uncomfortable pretty easily. Other than that, the show is clean. Of course, nearly every episode takes place on the beach so there are a lot of people in bikinis and tanks. Nothing too over the top, but one or two girls have a decent… figure.

Theology/Mythology:
Squid Girl is… well, a squid girl. She has many squid abilities and yet is also human. This is never really explained. Also, one or two people imply evolutionary theories as they talk about Squid Girl’s origin and humans, but it’s only in passing.

Personal Impression:
This is a fun, though short, show (there is a second season, but it is done by a different company). It’s clearly based on a four panel comic from the way the episodes are segmented. However, it’s not quite as funny as other four panel based shows I’ve seen, such as Azumanga Daioh and Nichijo. Even so, it’s entertaining. It even turns sweet a few times as Squid Girl begins to desire family, something she had not experienced before.
If you like plot and deep character development, this show probably isn’t for you. But if you’re just fine with surface character progress, a few laughs and a genuinely bright show, give this one a go! Just remember when watching the dub, a “lifesaver” is a beach lifeguard. Not a fruit flavored candy.

Personal Rating: 10+

Episodes: 12
Languages: Dub or sub
Official rating: TVPG
Genre(s): Comedy
Website: n/a
Legal streaming: Crunchyroll and Hulu
Screen shots:
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Extra: Just do whatever y’all want

Fullmetal Alchemist MovieFull length animated movies are not really the norm for Japan. They like their TV series far more, though for what reasons it’s hard to say for sure. Be it funding, or marketing or even reasons of plot, the point is that Japan makes far less movies than series. And what movies are made don’t all get the chance to see the dawn of international sales. Most stay right where they are in Japan.

However, from what few movies do make it to the US, there’s little doubt that when it comes to ratings, movies have far more free reign than their series counterparts. As seen in the Air movie version, more nudity is included, and there’s even a huge shift in tone from the original series. Other movies, many of which begin as OVAs, such as some of the Sailor Moon features, the Kaleido Star specials and even the Fullmetal Alchemist movie contain more fanservice and/or violence. Without the pressure of meeting the demands of a particular TV station, movies can often veer where they will, sometimes increasing inappropriate content in spades (such as is the case with the Revolutionary Girl Utena series and movie).

Thankfully this is not a sure cause and effect. While some movies do their own thing, not all do. A few movie features keep pretty close to their original series versions in respect to content, such as is the case with the Gundam Wing movie. However, it is something to be aware of when planning on watching a new movie version of a show you love and considering to bring in family members to the viewing experience. Often we think that “re-telling” and “continuation” mean just a shorter version of what we already saw in the series, but with Japan that’s not always what you get. What may have been PG in series form might end up as M in movie form. And, no, the “M” does not stand for movie.

Air -The Movie- Review

Story:
Yukito and Misuzu. Both are awkward, although for different reasons. Yukito is a traveler and not used to getting attached to much of anything, while Misuzu can’t afford to attach herself to people as it makes her illness worse. Falling for each other was perhaps inevitable, but beating the odds may not be possible.

Violence:
Violence is more implied in this show than shown. We know people died in the legend, but nothing graphic is ever revealed.

Language:
As with the TV series, not much here really. Maybe a b-word once or twice, but nothing any stronger and nothing at all frequent.

Nudity:
This area is worse than the TV series, but still nothing all that bad. Some “artistic” nudity when going over the legend of the star-crossed lovers is shown briefly and it’s so “artistic” that it’s actually hard to tell what it is. In another scene a woman surprises a young man by walking outside in underwear and a see-through nightgown. No details are seen in both cases, but it wasn’t really needed either.

Theology/Mythology:
Ideas such as fate are presented and it is even implied at times that the two main characters are reincarnations of previous lovers. Nothing is straight forward, however, and it’s easy enough to disregard the “legend” aspect of the story entirely as it’s only there in brief bursts and nothing is ever confirmed in the show.

Personal Impression:
To be clear, this movie is a retelling of the anime version and thus you don’t really need to watch the TV series to get it. However, this movie tries to cover a lot of ground with precious little time. Which means that the emotional punch is far lighter in this version and the back story is difficult to follow.  It’s also not held back by needing to be aired and thus, like many movie adoptions, pushes the PG13 rating a bit more. It also focuses a bit more on romantic interests, like the original (and very much M rated) game did. Which, considering that the series made the main relationship platonic, kinda creeped me out. My brain doesn’t switch gears from “family-like” to “let’s be a thing!” easily. Especially when one person seems to be so much older than the other.
Relationships aside, this movie does try hard to be visually stunning and all that. It even has a few scenes that almost make it. But trying too hard to be on award winning grounds with only subpar plot planning, doesn’t quite pan out. The story feels rushed and so do the relationships. The animation is good enough, but nothing groundbreaking for a movie. The music is also just kinda there, most of the better tracks taken from the first TV adoption. Like many movie retellings, this one just tries to do far too much with far too little time, especially as the legend of the lovers that parallel the present day plot is rushed to such a pace as to make it largely unnecessary.
If you like sad stories, you might enjoy this film version, especially as it does (thankfully) whittle down the cast to only three. But if you enjoy getting to know characters a bit better or just having a clearer idea of what’s going on, this movie might be trying a bit too hard.

Personal Rating: Young adult

Episodes: movie
Languages: Sub and dub
Official rating: PG13
Genre(s): Drama
Website: n/a
Legal streaming: n/a
Screen shots:
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Extra: War in the distance

gosick endConsidering some of the more recent shows, such as The Devil is a Part-Timer, it’s clear that subtlety doesn’t come too easy to the anime industry at large. If they bring up anything, anything at all, it will be a big deal. If it’s some character already having a girlfriend to equipping a Gundam with nuclear warheads (goooood thinkin’ guys), all that is mentioned in passing is used later as either a two-part drama-rama or the main plot catalyst that changes everything.

Thankfully for those of us that get tired of always seeing all the cards before they’re even played, a few shows have been opting for a far more subtle track, especially with war. In Gosick, for example, the idea of war being an issue around that world is dropped in a few conversations and is even shown a bit at the very end. But never is it focused on. Not once. In fact, the only reason we see anything of it at all is because one character joins an army and has to fight. But, again, his service time is all that is thought on and only when connected to another character and their relationship. The whole point of the show was about that relationship and thus the war aspect was in the background only. Other shows, like Rideback and the classic Howl’s Moving Castle also feature “wars” that are in the distance and never brought fully to the front.

Why? Easy. The purpose of these stories wasn’t war. It was the characters and those characters were not soldiers, thus war was never a part of the picture. A larger picture, perhaps, but not the one being looked at by the audience. And this is quite true to life as well. Wars are happening right now in some places around the world. But not everyone is involved in them. Not everyone even knows of their existence. Everyone has their own story to live and those stories don’t always interact with the “larger” stories happening elsewhere in the world. As selfish as it may sound, often a person’s life is not defined by a world event. It’s defined by individual events, by individual lives and the choices they make during those moments, not by wars happening between politicians and power-hungry tyrants.

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