Haruka: Beyond the Stream of Time Review

Story:
Haruka used to think she was just an average high school girl. Until she got sucked down a well and found out she was the Dragon God’s priestess. Now she’s stuck in another world where war between humans and demons has raged for years with her only defense being eight young men destined to protect her until her role as priestess is complete.

Violence:
Just what you would expect from a typical shoujo: mostly fighting that implies injury more often than showing it. Once or twice you’ll see a character get cut and bleed, but it remains rather tame. There are a few scenes showing bodies covered in cloths, presumably corpses. It’s not graphic, but it is morbid and thus might shock very young viewers.

Language:
Aside from precious few instances of the “illegitimate son” word, this show really doesn’t get ugly in this area. D-mn is the most common curse and even then it doesn’t happen too often.

Nudity:
Another pretty clean break. This show doesn’t really have a nudity issue. Aside from a dancer/enemy who has a bare torso, we don’t see much skin in this series. Heck, we don’t even get bare chested guys. It’s the one cliché this show dodged. Amazing, right?

Theology/mythology:
Alright, we have various creatures as gods, Buddhist monks, youkai, vengeful spirits (aka ghosts) and demons in this show. Now there are implications that the “demons” are just humans with different hair/eye color that are persecuted, but nothing is explained well in this show so it’s hard to say for sure what they were going for. Even the gods and how they work, the powers connected to them and the guardians is left to speculation, which, conveniently enough, allows the writers to pull out whatever trick they need and just “explain it away” later. In other words, there’s a lot of “religious” name dropping going on, but really nothing in terms of indoctrination, or even a basic explanation.
(side note: What was the point of creating a new world with multiple gods and junk when you’re just going to drag Buddha into it anyway? Honestly.)

Personal impression:
I’m not stupid. I know a shoujo title when I see it. Those images they put up for the shows tell all. One chick and a ton of dudes that, to the untrained eye, could possibly be mistaken for women? Yep, that’s a shoujo title. That said, this is by far one of the laziest shoujo shows I’ve come across. Now I don’t use the word “lazy” due to this show falling for every single shoujo cliché out there (aside from lack of shirtlessness in the dudes. Kinda an odd exception for a shoujo title), even when that includes one of the guardians wearing glasses in a society that can’t figure out how to lock a door (who the heck made those things?). Nope, I saw those pitfalls coming. It was the enemies contradicting themselves every couple minutes that made this show a real drag and a half. They say they need x to do y and then proceed to destroy x in the next scene. It’s almost as if the writers were either drunk or half asleep or both. Maybe both. This series has nothing unique to offer, which probably made it a rather boring show to work on. Then again, add some prankster co-workers and a great restaurant nearby the office and it might not have been all that bad.
But back to the show.
….Well, there’s not much more to say. Some of the piano music in the background is nice enough. That’s probably the only highlight though. The opener, ender, and art all taste like every other shoujo piece ever made (the best part animation-wise were the paper fans. Beautiful folding action. Nothing else, really). If this is your first show in this genre it might not seem so dumbed down to you. But if you’ve seen shoujo before, this title not only fails to do anything new, it also fails in making its overly basic script walk straight. It’d be best to seek a fix for a shoujo craving elsewhere. After all, you know nothing will get resolved anyway. And, unlike most shoujo shows that at least imply a proper couple at the end, this show flat out white washes the male interest leaving viewers with no idea what just happened at the end. If you need a fix, this show isn’t the place to look.

(Note: As with many Bandai titles, while the streaming is still supported legally on Hulu, DVD distribution no longer exists in the US)

Personal rating: 10+

Episodes: 26
Languages: Sub
Official rating: Not rated
Genre(s): Fantasy, romance, drama
Company: Bandai USA
Legal streaming: Hulu
Screenshots:
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Extra: Kids don’t need the culturez

If you’ve been around since the good ol’ Toonami days, back when they pretty much played anime and little else, you’ll get where this article is going pretty fast. For you flesh bloods out there, here’s the low down (and you might be noticing this based on what kinds of streams you watch, as well): Anime that targets the very young, be that All Ages or even some PG works, often get denied a subtitled version.

That’s right. They are denied a sub, the cheapest translation option available to a US company. After all, without the need to hire actors, the company need only focus on the actual translator(s). That’s a heck of a lot cheaper. In fact, more than a a few companies as of late have been offering subtitle only shows as a way to cut costs and get the product ready for sale faster. In light of this, why in heaven’s name would a company go out of their way to create a more pricey dubbed version and exclude any basic subtitled version? The answer links right back into the ol’ localization trap, which I’ve touched on before. Remember Brock’s “donuts?”

There are, of course, practical reasons. Most companies opt for the dub only for kids shows in the hopes that these shows will be aired on broadcast television, making a dub a requirement. These shows usually don’t count on being sold, only televised, making the subtitled version unnecessary. They also count on the fanbase remaining in the young ages the show is intended for, which often end up too young to read at the speed needed for shows with subtitles. That said, I can’t help but wonder if the United States would still have such low reading ability as a whole if we would only stop expecting kids to be idiots and actually challenged them once in awhile. Just as with localizing cultural elements and phrases, forcing a show into a different language it wasn’t intended for and not releasing the original is based on the assumption that the audience won’t be able to handle or enjoy the show in its original form.

And, yes, while there are some that prefer the dub for a variety of reasons (it’s less work, they wish to focus on the show rather than reading, they enjoy English actors/voices, they’re slow readers, etc), more than half of these same dub only shows also experience heavy editing and localization. Considering that most kids today struggle not only with reading their own native language, but also have no idea about other cultures or where Japan is on a globe, I personally think it would do some good to show kids that, hey, your nation isn’t the only one on the planet and, hey, there are languages other than English out there and they’re all beautiful in their own way. Forcing everything down into an English only mold isn’t just more costly for anime companies in the US, it also encourages a rather narrow minded view of the world we live in.

A Little Snow Fairy Sugar Review

Story:
Saga is a remarkable girl and not just because she loves playing the piano and is amazingly good at it. She can also see season fairies, small creatures who can control the weather. Of course, no one else knows this. In fact, she doesn’t even know it herself until a peculiar little snow fairy drops into her life, looking for a “twinkle” that can unlock her real powers and allow her to become a full fledged season fairy.

Violence:
This show is kid’s fare through and through, so the worst violence you can expect to see would be a character tripping and getting a scrape on their knee.

Language:
Another section where one doesn’t need to worry. You might hear a frustrated character say “shoot,” but that’s about it.

Nudity:
Aside from scenes with the main heroine in the bathtub, there’s nothing to say here. Although, as to be expected, you only really see her shoulders and up. Maybe a knee or two (scandalous!). A lot better than most beach experiences.

Theology/mythology:
As the title suggests, there are fairies in this show and they control the weather. If that bothers you, defiantly skip this show as there’s just no way around it. Also, as is common with anime, the main character sometimes talks to her dead mother, almost as if keeping a vocal diary. There’s no religious implications there, though.

Personal impression:
This show is painfully G rated. Every squeaky clean cliché you can think of is in it, poor talented girl with big dreams, rich snob girl who is her rival, little fairies that make her life complicated, but fun, etc. It’s nearly as bad Hamtaro, except this show at least has an ongoing storyline, a goal. Hamtaro was just aimless fun. Cute, but aimless. This show does head towards something. It kinda wraps up and kinda doesn’t, as many anime seem fond of doing these days, leaving a few strands undone just because, well, why not? There was one twist I didn’t see coming, but, overall, this is Disney level (or worse) on the predictability scale. Unique isn’t on the menu here.
The art and music are just as childish as the show, by the way. Actually the art is a bit painful in places, with an over simplified line count and flat faces that sometimes seem oddly shaped, as if the dimensions were more whacked than usual.
If you want a clean show you can watch for a sugar rush, this show fits the bill well enough. Don’t expect anything else though. Just like a spoonful of sugar, this show may be sweet, but there’s really nothing else there.
(It should also be noted that the only version for streaming currently is the dub, which is quite badly done. Ye be warned.)

Personal rating: All ages

Episodes: 26
Languages: Dub
Official rating: Not rated
Genre(s): Fantasy
Company: Sentai Filmworks
Legal streaming: Hulu
Screenshots:
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