Fuse: Memoirs of the Hunter Girl Review

fusetitleStory:
A young huntress from the mountain journeys to the city to find herself unwillingly roped into chasing and killing the Fuse, supernatural creatures that can look human and suck the life out of others. But the Fuse might not be nearly as different from humans as they are said to be.

Violence:
The worse part of this show is probably sitting right in this section. The hunt of a wolf at the very beginning of the movie is pretty graphic for a PG13 title, but it’s a good indication of the violence levels for the rest of the show. The Fuse are often beheaded, the heads displayed for all to see, complete with flies buzzing around them. If the violence levels of Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex really put you off, this is a title to skip for sure. Also, there’s a bit of a trigger warning concerning the mention of babies and female prostitutes being killed in a ditch in the red light district, often as suicides.

Languages:
The classics are all here, the d-mns, sh-ts and b-words. Not every word, but not non-existent either.

Nudity:
Another trigger here is the red light district, where prostitutes sell themselves. We don’t see too much actual nudity, but a lot is implied (for obvious reasons). We see shadows of two people coupling for a few seconds and the presence of children in these places is very unsettling.

Theology/mythology:
Gods aren’t discussed much in the show, but the Fuse are indeed supernatural and human hybrids. There are implications that they were born of a super wolf and human coupling. This isn’t confirmed, however. Also, the Fuse seem to live off the souls of humans. Take from that what you will, but if these things bug you, this movie isn’t for you.

Personal impression:
I enjoyed this movie quite a bit, oddly enough. The violence is a bit much, even for me, however, which keeps this show from the top anime slots in my mind. Also, as some reviewers have mentioned, this show is pretty blunt on the idea of not killing animals for sport and such. The agenda to show how human animals are (and how animalistic humans can be) is pretty blunt.
Even so, the ending isn’t cliche, though I feared more than once that it would be. The characters are interesting enough to hold interest and you honestly root for the heroes to win out in the end.
The art is a bit odd in places, but fits the show well. As does the music. My only serious critique being that the characters aren’t really explored as well as they might. But considering this is all crammed into a single movie, I’m willing to give quite a bit of leeway there.
If you like fantasy and action, with quite a bit of social commentary drama along the way, this movie is a great watch. Just don’t expect a perfect ending here. Or too much historical accuracy, come to think of it (feudal Japan didn’t have hand cannons for hunters).

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: Movie
Languages: Sub
Official rating: PG13
Genre(s): Fantasy, drama
Company: TMS Entertainment
Legal streaming: Hulu
Screenshots:
f1 f2 f3

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Extra: If it was reversed

Angelic LayerReviewing shows like The World is Still Beautiful is a tad awkward. I mean, we’re talking about a supposed romance between a late teen/early twenty year old chick and a boy who is around fourteen or fifteen (ages are hazy in most shows these days). Even though nothing really happens, it’s still weird, uncomfortable and yet… surprisingly acceptable by most anime fans’ standards (very few commentors, for example, seemed that concerned about this point). Which is worrisome. After all, it’s not just about age laws. If it were, people could try defending it by saying the worlds in the shows are fiction or a different time, ect (a shaky argument in attempting to “ok” something most find instinctually wrong). But the real issue comes down to mentality/life goals. And that doesn’t just mean maturity, either. Most people have very different life goals at various stages of life. A teen, for example, is going to be interested in very different things than a late twenty/early thirty year old. One might be looking forward to adventures in a state they’ve never been in. The other might just want some days off to take some naps and get more reading done (ps – I have indeed noticed that the way people react to these things in anime is worlds apart from how they react to it in real life. That is a separate issue).

While the sun king often acts like a young man in a child’s body, having conquered and destroyed entire kingdoms during his short reign, it’s still an odd situation. Both come from very different places, both physically and emotionally. Although it’s not impossible for a healthy relationship to be had through this, is does put a huge block in the way.

But this all got me thinking. What if the roles were reversed? Like, what about far older guys going after (and marrying) younger girls? The idea itself tends to be more repulsive to anime fans, yet anime itself has tooootally crossed this line before. Let’s look at two of them.

Angelic Layer
Y’all have heard some manner of this rant somewhere on this site. Nearing the end of the show, the lead male Angelic Player (the only one you see more than once, really), falls for the heroine. Which is to be expected, right? Expect that he’s a high schooler and she had just started middle school. Meaning she had just left elementary school. Plus there was the very real possibility of his brother marrying her sister. Which would make this guy her uncle. Uuuuugh, so many levels of NO. And yet, I rarely see anyone commenting on this oddity. In fact, most fans just pair them up like it’s no big deal.

Sailor Moon
You smelt its approach, right? Now in the old school English dub, a looot was changed to make the show more easily acceptable. One of those things was to make Usagi (Serina in the dub) a high schooler. This made her relationship with Mamoru (Darien in the dub), who was assumed to be in his last year of high school heading towards college, a bit more reasonable. But that’s not the original ages. As the re-release subtitles of the old show reveals (and lovers of the manga should already know), Usagi is really a middle schooler around fourteen or so (what’s up with middle schools?) and Mamoru is… a high schooler going onto college? Ok, so this guy’s every day life doesn’t seem to be very well explained, but the point remains. He’s just too old for her. He’s looking forward to study abroad and she, well, she’s still not even sure how to pass her classes, let alone what she wants to do with her life. When you really think about it, Mr. Darien is a total creeper. An adult creeper going after a middle schooler. NO!

Of course, I realize that once one does the math, three or four years, in the long run, doesn’t usually affect things too much. A thirty-one year old and a thirty-seven year old have enough in common to perhaps make it work. And you could always say that personality has more to do with compatibility than anything. And that’s not untrue, but that certainly doesn’t override all the factors a serious age gap brings up either. It’s just a bit unnerving to see that these relationships doesn’t really make many think twice.

And I still wonder how well The World is Still Beautiful would have done were the genders reversed…

The World is Still Beautiful Review

world is still beautifulStory:
Princess Nike may belong to a vastly poor country, but she has some amount of pride. Enough to know that if her country needs an ally, she’s more than prepared to give everything she has to secure her nation’s future. Even if that means she must be married off to the Sun King, whom she has never even met. With her power of rain as her only defense, Princess Niki travels to the land of the sun, praying for the best and expecting the worst.

Violence:
There are some assassinations, planned murder and cuts with blood. But that’s as bad as it ever gets. Black Cat has more violence, so this aspect isn’t all that bad.

Language:
Aside from the usual d-mns and shits (with one or two instances of the b-word), this show doesn’t have anything to worry much about.

Nudity:
This is the part that ranks this a 10+ instead of all ages (beside the one instance of the b-word). You have a few “jealous of your larger chest” jabs, the young king sleeping in the nude (“supposedly,” as we never see lower than the stomach), a court member who is known for being a womanizer and is actually shown in one scene naked in bed (again, only the stomach up).

Theology/mythology:
The two kingdoms we see in the show have very different world views that hinge on what they are known for. The rain kingdom is known for.. that. And The Sun Kingdom is known for, well, the sun. We don’t know much on the religion of the rain kingdom, but the sun kingdom seems to worship the sun (big shock). The “how” isn’t really explained at all, but there is a temple, priests and theology on whether rain does or doesn’t disrespect the sun.

Personal impression:
I was honestly surprised a bit by this title. Sure it still follows the major shoujo lines, but at least the heroine has a bit more to her than the last few shoujo shows have had. She doesn’t fall for drama instantly like most heroines do these days and she has a habit of cutting straight to the point. Which quickly takes care of most silly shoujo plot points in record time.
That said, this show in and of itself isn’t that unique. The parts that are, such as the political maneuvering and finding ways to both honor Nike’s traditions/powers and the sun king’s authority, are never pulled to their full potential. A shame as those parts were pretty interesting. But, alas, the art, music and story are rather bland overall. In fact, the music is very bland. Nike “sings” to bring the rain, but her music is traditional pop with random English thrown in for no good reason. Which really takes away from the feel of the show. Badly.
Again, this show is decent for a shoujo title. The heroine has a personality and there’s even actual character development by the end. So if you like romance titles, this is a good one to try out. Especially if the reign of wimpy, spineless shoujo heroines is getting you down.

Personal rating: 10+

Episodes: 12
Languages: Sub
Official rating: PG
Genre(s): Fantasy, romance
Company: NTV
Legal streaming: Crunchyroll
Screenshots:
wsb1 wsb2 wsb3

Extra: Knee deep in summer 2014

Other anime bloggers gave fair warning and boy were they ever right. This summer streaming line up is packed with quite a few decent titles. Unlike the leaner winter and spring, this summer has some decent shows in the running. And considering that we’re now a few episodes in, let’s see how many I’ve gotten roped into this time.

glasslipGlasslip
I honestly believed right off the bat that this show was going to end up as a drop as the first episode is one of the slowest I’ve seen in a long time (and that last few minutes at the end sounded more cliche than tantalizing). But, low and behold, it actually picked up a bit from episode two onward. Although the pacing is still a bit too laid back for the subject matter (seeing the future and such? Didn’t see that coming), the unique twist on romantic slice-of-life is just enough for me to be curious to see what happens next. Which is important in keeping me coming back for more when the characters themselves are a bit bland.

hanayamataHaNaYaMaTa
This show is almost exactly what it first apears to be. Cute girls being cute. Moe and little else. However, again, I was a bit impressed. Not by bucketfuls, but enough to keep the ball rolling. The story is of an over zelous Japanese culture lover dragging a native around to dance and said native figuring out, slowly, what she wants out of life and who she is. Simple set up, but the characters thus far are decent enough. They are stereotypes, but at least they aren’t shadow characters that just barely tick off the stereotype checklist and little more. They have personality and legit opinions. It’s not my top show this season, but it’s fun enough to take off the edges of more serious shows.

bakumatsurockSamurai Jam – Bakumatsu Rock
Is this a hopelessly ridiculous idea? Pretty much. Samurai using idol pop music to “fight” (seriously Japan. This is pop, not rock, but thanks for playing) instead of swords? Sounds just crazy enough to be entertaining. And while it is a bit amusing, I’m sad to say the cliches aren’t joked on nearly as much as I originally hoped, making this show a walking stereotype depending entirely on it’s basic set up to carry some of the most lackluster characters ever created to the finish line. Suffice to say that I’m an episode or two behind on this one. It’s just not entertaining enough. Not when there are far better shows airing this season. If this show ends up finished at all, it’ll be simply due to my boredom between air dates for other titles.

sabagebuSabagebu! – Survival Game Club! – 
I fully admit to jumping onto this show two weeks late as, quite frankly, the art and premise sounded just so lackluster I couldn’t bring myself to try it. Then, one bored day, I did. And let me tell ya, I’m no gun maniac, but the main character in this is actually… interesting. She’s a complete sadist, a welcome surprise considering my fear during the first half of the show that she’d be just one more personality-less heroine dragged around by an eccentric club president character. But her revenge loving personally paired with the off-beat side characters has made this a fun ride thus far.

bluespringrideBlue Spring Ride
I was expecting, from the art and tone of the premise, that this show was going to be a sweet, slow romance. And, largely, it is, but blissfully that isn’t all it has going. In fact, the show thus far is more focused on character depth, showing us various characters and their realistic struggles as the main story, with romance only a side result. This is a formula I vastly prefer and I certainly hope the serious elements, such as the love interest’s broken family relationships and world view, are continued and get proper conclusions by the end. Few shows look at the effects of divorce realistically and I would love to see one that really takes this task seriously and doesn’t just treat it as a cheap plot device and little else.

aldnoahAldnoah Zero
I’ll admit that I have lowered my standards of mecha shows over the years. Although the philosophical dialog ran heavy at times, Gundam Wing was honestly the last full-on macha show I really adored (Rideback was good, but it was a bit… different. I’m not sure it really fits into the mecha section all on its own). The characters and story were just flat out well done. It was interesting, fun, hard to predict and complex. The fact that this anime here takes a ton of cues from the Gundam series is something that is both a boon and a serious crutch. The good part of that is, quite frankly, as flat as a few Gundam incarnations have been, the majority of the classic ones were actually solid shows. So even a shaky imitation will have more life than half of the “original” mech shows that have been coming out lately (I’m looking right at you, Captain Earth). The problem is, of course, the show can never really claim true originality as it preeeetty much just stole all its main plot elements from other shows.
The biggest fall of this show thus far, however, has been the characters. The show is posing as if these characters have distinct personalities, but largely they have just ended up looking dull, lifeless or just dazed by everything. I’m waiting for someone to break down in a mess of crying goo, as would naturally happen when a friend just got killed right in front of you. But… no dice. Unless this show’s characters start pulling their weight, instead of just standing around looking lost, what little potential this show had might end up down the toilet.

monthlygirlsMonthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun
I jumped on this show as soon as I heard the idea behind it was a shoujo show that makes fun of shoujo shows. I was all on top of that. Even so, I didn’t expect it to be quite this much fun! By far and large, this show is my favorite this season. The main character is sweet, but no idiot. She is in love, but not blinded. She knows BS when she smells it and her comments and timing can be gut busting, to say nothing of all the crazy characters surrounding her. It also helps that the romance aspect of the show is sweet and not forced, with Nozaki being clueless, but in a easy going, lovable way. This is a keeper for me this season.

smcSailor Moon Crystal
You had to know this was coming. Who isn’t watching this show? Oh yeah. Probably quite a few people who never watched the first anime version and are scratching their heads as to how it’s such a big deal because, quite frankly, these first few episodes kinda just… sit there.
See, as someone who got into anime because of shows like Sailor Moon, I fully admit that the appeal of this newest take is largely due to that wonderful feeling of nostalgia. But no nostalgia is heavy enough to keep me from noticing that, as one blogger put it, the guardian of love and justice hasn’t really aged all that well. Sure you could say that the show created the very cliches we see so much in magical girl shows now and thus it was fresh when it was made and can’t be called cliche in and of itself, but come on. Everything comes down to characters and, as of yet, this new version does nothing to make these characters shine, meaning they were pretty much flat to begin with. In fact, the sped up storyline and rushed character intros are making things worse this time around, losing new fans and making most of the largely stereotyped characters even more two dimensional. It doesn’t help that the art is… well, it’s kinda lame. Oh sure, still frames are nice enough, but the movements are horrendous. I feel like I’m watching a visual novel play out instead of an anime (don’t even get me started on the transformations. Ugh).
Considering how many years went into this new version, I’m quite disappointed with how it’s started out. Then again, we’re only three episodes in. I’m willing to give it a few more tries, if not continue on to the end. I can only hope things get better. Because if they get worse… well…

 

Wow. Eight shows all at once… I feel like I’ve bitten off far more than I can chew, but I’m also pretty happy about the line up overall this time around.
What about you guys? What shows are you into right now? Anything catch your eye?

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