GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class Review

Story:
Five friends are working through their days at their school, Ayanoi High School. Together they learn about the arts, goof off and interact with the many “chicken lords” on the grounds.

Violence:
There’s really no violence in this show besides slap stick. Although there is one episodes where some upperclassmen create a haunted house, complete with corpses with nails through them and such. It’s actually kinda scary looking at first and thus bunks this show up to a PG rating.

Language:
Nothing really to say here. There are a few d-mns, but since this show is a light comedy, there’s not much to say.

Nudity:
Art. That’s the only reason there’s any nudity at all in this show. In one episode they go to a museum and there are nude artworks there. To be honest though, this is true to life. I’ve never been in a museum before that didn’t have nude art. So it’s not like it was thrown in for no reason. And the characters do discuss that it’s awkward for them as students and also why it’s considered art.

Theology/Mythology:
Not much here besides the reference to Greek deities and such in art. That’s it really.

Personal Impression:
This is a cute show and quite funny in places. If you couldn’t already tell, it’s based off a four panel comic. It’s not as funny as Nichijou or Azumanga Daioh, but it has its own charm. And as I’m a writer, not an artist, I can only imagine that it’s more hilarious to art students (some of the jokes and references are specific to that art form). In any case, I actually learned a little about art through watching this, strangely enough. And I think I’ll stick to writing. It’s cheaper.
The art and music all fit the light hearted and comical tone of the show, soft colors and chibi-like character design with gentle or plucky music to match. Overall, this show is a nice watch for some cute comedy. Especially if you’re into art.

Personal Rating: 10+

Episodes: 12
Languages: Sub
Official rating: PG
Genre(s): Comedy
Website: n/a
Legal streaming: Crunchyroll
Screen shots:
 photo ga1_zps6fccbb31.jpg photo ga2_zpsa5ecacbb.jpg photo ga3_zps404e98f2.jpg

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Extra: Everybody dance the Deus ex Machina

Whether you understand the term or not, you have indeed run across this little plot vortex at some point. Everyone has. And there are few things as frustrating as coming face to face with it after battling through a long show, filled with hope that the script writers won’t stab you in the back. Unfortunately for you, we writers aren’t as put together as we seem. And there are times when we write ourselves into a deep, dark, hole. And when that happens, when the characters are too weak, the enemies too strong and the deadline is sharpening his scythe, we resort to deus ex machina.

So, just to be clear, what is deus ex machina? It’s Latin for “god in the machine.” Wow, so that doesn’t really help much either, does it? Well, if you know your literature history, it does. Way back in the day, books were really expensive. There was no printing press. Books were written by hand. Only the rich could afford books. Thus stories were told verbally, or in their most popular form: theater. Plays were open to all walks of life for many decades and the most popular topic for some time was mythology. People loved seeing the epics of Hercules and the wit and brawn of Athena. Of course, as newer works were made or old stories adjusted, playwrights kept running into problems. What does one do when the mortal hero can’t defeat the immortal enemy? And that is where the “god” comes in. Literally. A god would suddenly descend from the sky via a “machine” of some kind (often a pulley system) and they would right all the wrongs and reward the hero and such. Because, obviously, a mortal is no match for a divine.
Today, we use this phrase to describe when a writer clearly wrote themselves into a hole and thus used some form of mythology, magic or other rather unbelievable plot devise, to get out.

Unfortunately, this happens a lot in the world of anime. Shows like No. 6 even utilize it so brazenly, it’s downright laughable. Other shows wisely use it for comedic purposes, such as seen in School Rumble. But trust me when I say that regardless of its form, you do know of this god in the machine. And unless it’s used for comedy, you’re probably readying your rotten vegetables for trowing as soon as it shows up.

No. 6 Review

Story:
Sion is an excellent civilian of the human settlement No. 6. Until he houses and mends a wounded criminal named Rat. Years later he is working a menial job, having been dropped from higher programs for his disregard for law enforcement. But when strange parasites arrive and he’s carted off for isolation, he runs into a face he never thought he’d see again.

Violence:
This show comes close to a warning zone because of this section. The parasite bees nest inside humans and when they grew… well, let’s just say the humans turn into mummies and the bees just fly out. In one scene a parasite is removed from someone before it hatches. Although not everything is shown, the sounds are pretty bad all by themselves. If these kinds of things make you uneasy, skip this show right away. There’s also the usual violence in action shows: gun wounds, punching, stabbing, etc. While not on the gore level, it’s still blood, so go into this well warned.

Language:
The usual TV14 stuff abounds here. You got the d-mns, sh-ts and even the occasional b-words. It’s not every line or anything, but it’s typical YA fare.

Nudity:
There’s really not any straight up nudity. Instead, there’s some awkward situations. Sion’s friend asks him if he wants to have sex with her. She’s relentlessly blunt about it. In another scene one character is posing as a female “slave” and their neck is licked. Then there is the confusing “relationship” between Rat and Sion. On two occasions one kisses the other as a “farewell.” But their relationship is never entirely clear in this show. I’ve seen some places categorizing it as yaoi and others saying it’s not. It seems that whatever was in the original manga was “toned down” and thus here we are with the Kirk and Spock syndrome. Personally I’ll take it for what it is: complicated, and leave it there.
Also, Rat cross-dresses on occasion. Although this is really not seen for more than one scene.

Theology/Mythology:
This show was doing so well on its Scifi angles. Then they threw in a “forest god.” Why? See below, but to the point, there are these people in the forests that used to worship some deity that had some power others wanted to use for evil or something. This part of the story is quite rushed so it’s hard to figure out exactly what’s what. Suffice to say that it does play out until the end and affects the story in a big way, so if this bothers you, skip the show.

Personal Impression:
This show had promise at first. It really did. Most science fiction shows (and books) focus on the world itself and the science horrors (which isn’t bad, just rather predictable). This show was starting out looking far more at the characters and what they were going through. In other words, a more character focused science fiction. Good, right? Well, they kinda veered off course rather quickly, sad to say.
About halfway through, this show decided things needed to speed up and the relationship between the two main characters got even more awkward and a bit unbelievable to boot. Thankfully the plot kicked into gear around this time as well and the final fight was on the horizon. Of course, that means they had to get their heroes to the battleground, right? Well, this is where the plot also fell to pieces.
Question: Why would a society go outside its walls to kill some people and then take a ton of others captive, drive them all the way into the city and then just dump them in a death room where they instantly die? No experimentation or anything, just instant death?
Answer: They wouldn’t. This is a plot hole. And a very large one at that. There are also flashes to Safu, Sion’s childhood friend, that give no real info and thus just break up the episode’s pace, things explode at the end for no real reason and, the worse of all, a deus ex machina ending. Suffice to say that those that had no right being kept alive end up standing on a hill overlooking the “new world” thanks for a deity that shouldn’t even exist. Yeah, it was frustrating.
As for art and music, they aren’t bad. The opener is surprisingly interesting to listen to, and some of the insert songs are pretty enough. But it’s nothing to be wowed over, that’s for sure. Overall, this show, like so many others, had potential. But I think it tried to do far too much and wrote itself into a hole.

Personal Rating: Young adult

Episodes: 11
Languages: Sub
Official rating: TV14
Genre(s): Dystopia, action, drama
Website: n/a
Legal streaming: Crunchyroll
Screen shots:
 photo n61_zps07875251.jpg photo n62_zps35af66e5.jpg photo n63_zps48ea754f.jpg

Extra: The jerks of showbiz

The brats of showbiz. It’s nothing new to hear about someone in the entertainment industry flipping out and throwing a fit. It happens commonly enough. And when one stops to think about the conditions stars are under, it makes some amount of sense. Many are in a position where hundreds, if not thousands, of people are praising them daily. Even people who are naturally inclined to be humble admit to feeling the affects and needing to catch themselves and readjust from time to time. And most people in this world are not inclined to be humble (myself included). Then you toss in the stress of being criticized over everything you do and say at all times and, well, it’s a recipe for disaster and eternal bad attitude if I ever saw one.

So, yes, bad attitudes and outright jerks are all over the entertainment industry. I’ve seen it here in the States, even in smaller bands and conventions (which is really pathetic). But when encountering characters like Sho in Skip Beat, it helps to know a bit more about Japan’s cultural take on showbiz jerks. Because it’s not quite the same as out own.

Here in the US, people are not only aware that jerks are in showbiz, they pretty much expect it (not that it’s excused, just expected). Polite stars stand out like beacons. In Japan, polite stars are the only ones that get fans. No, really. In Japan, politeness is so required that even if a person is atrocious personally, they must -I repeat- must be polite to the public and in any public and professional settings or risk abandonment. In America, a star can be extremely rude to her audience in a live performance and make a vague apology online days later to get off the hook. That doesn’t fly in Japan. Politeness is professionalism. To be unable to be polite is to be amateurish and unworthy of one’s status.

And that’s where a line is set between opposing characters, like in Skip Beat and other shows featuring showbiz. The characters that are more naturally prone to rudeness? They won’t last and are almost always the enemy. They will either 1) get converted to the “good side” or 2) fail boat epically by being “unmasked” for the jerk they are. The idea of them continuously getting away with their act is usually not even considered. Which is just as well as it happens enough in real life.

Skip Beat Review

Story:
Kyoko would do anything at all for Shotaro. In fact, she already is. She pays for his living expenses, working nonstop, has quit school and caters to his every whim. All with a huge smile on her face. That is, until she finds out that he’s only using her and plans to do away with her as soon as he can. Full of rage, she vows revenge, but with Shotaro’s popularity as a star protecting him, she’ll have to really go all out to do any damage. She’ll have to become a star herself!

Violence:
As comedy is a natural part of this show, you can expect slap stick to be the main dish in the violence category. But rest assured that this heroine does want her vengeance and her words can get pretty dark. Nothing too grotesque, but she’s out for blood (she nearly chokes a guy multiple times). and, for the record, there are a few serious overtones in a few episodes. One in which a child is seemingly blamed for her mother’s death and her father is heard saying he can’t stand her. Although it may not technically be violence, they are serious topics and surprisingly dark, so be warned.

Language:
Nothing that bad in this sector. Some d-mns, and such. Nothing worse than that, though.

Nudity:
We’re spared anything in this section, too. Aside from Sho’s occasional comment on Kyoko lacking sex appeal, there’s not much to note.

Theology/Mythology:
Not much here either (this show is pretty straight forward). Kyoko does have an odd ability that impedes others whenever her anger and malice reach a certain level. They look like little ghosts and symbolize her hate. There are also a few episodes where she plays the role of an angel that commits a sin and becomes a devil. The reasoning is that she only turns evil after killing (although, logically, wouldn’t it be the mere thought and in-action that would be enough?). It’s for a music video and so there’s not much to it besides entertainment, but its there.

Personal Impression:
I found this oddly entertaining, considering the genre. Very possibly because the heroine is so very set on her vengeance, which is pretty justified considering her enemy’s attitude towards everyone, and because of her personal growth. She gets so wrapped up in getting higher in stardom that she comes to find what she truly enjoys in life. Her pursuit of the things she’s come to love and her nearly idiotic excitement over making friends, made her quite loveable. And, thankfully, the romance aspect took a back seat more than once, allowing these other aspects to shine brighter.
That said, the romance is very much present. And the art and music really don’t stray from the typical genre fare either. So if shoujo isn’t your thing, this might be tedious for you. Kyoko’s consuming rage may be entertaining, but it’s no Death Star trench run.
(Hang tight guys. A less “girly” show is on the way for next week. Stay frosty!)

Personal Rating: 10+

Episodes: 25
Languages: Sub
Official rating: TV14
Genre(s): Comedy, romance, drama
Website: n/a
Legal streaming: Crunchyroll
Screen shots:
 photo sb1_zpsdf214a99.jpg photo sb3_zps45d5cb28.jpg photo sb2_zps5390cece.jpg

Extra: Wrapping up some streams

As fall comes ever closer, I’m finding myself nearing the end of a few streaming shows. And I must say that I’m quite surprised by them. They were not what I expected. And seeing as how they’re almost wrapped up, now’s the time to jump on in yourself.

The Eccentric Family
If you like the more artsy/contemplative shows, this one might be for you. It feels laid-back on the surface and its pace largely fits this bill. But what some of the characters face are not black and white issues, but complicated messes of human nature, animal nature and why one might someday transform into a frog and never transform back. It has heart, but it also has quite a bit of philosophical and theoretical discussion, so if you like clear cut stuff, this might not be your cup of tea.
New episodes posted every Sunday on Crunchyroll

Gachaman Crowds
Oh, hey, it’s our Streaming Pick! Well, if you hadn’t noticed, this is quite the classic brought back to us. It seems Hollywood isn’t the only one with the reboot bug. In any case, this kind of show usually isn’t my thing, but thanks to such a refreshing main character, I’ve come to like this show well enough. Only issue is: will it wrap up nicely? I’ve seen far too many shows start with promise and end in a compromise between cliche and attempts of uniqueness cut short by a rush of plot in very little time. I hope the pacing remains consistent and the ending makes sense. As it stands, the enemy may be a bit too strong for a proper conclusion…
New episodes posted every Friday on Crunchyroll

Rozen Maiden Zurückspulen (2013)
This was very unexpected to me. Rozen Maiden? That show that was so big all those years ago and then sunk along with its US company Geneon (formally Pioneer)? It was the biggest illegally downloaded anime of the year and, naturally, sales sucked. And then the series ended on a cliff hanger (although the cliff hanger in the original manga was far worse). Years passed. Everyone assumed it was over. It had been abandoned.
Then, out of the blue, this appeared.
If you didn’t read the manga, I’m afraid such reading is pretty much a requirement to understanding this as the series immediately picks up where the manga left off (the original anime adoption is an unwanted sibling, I suppose). Although episode one is a recap of sorts, it speeds through it so fast that even fans of the manga, such as myself, were dazed. Nevertheless, the beginning was very promising. Twist upon twist. Unfortunately the latest episodes have become quite unruly. The enemy seems to have all strength and no real weakness, making the rules unclear and explanations reek of an excuse for characters to do whatever they want. A real shame as the start was so strong. Oh, well. There’s still time for it to get better. Let’s just hope it does so instead of driving itself into the ground as was the case all those years ago….
New episodes posted every Thursday on Crunchyroll