Blue Spring Ride Review

bluespringrideStory:
Tanaka Kou disappeared from Futaba’s life in middle school, just as it seemed she might begin to have a deeper relationship with her crush. After being stood up, Futaba enters high school committed to not being girlish to avoid bullying and possibly being hurt by boys again. Until Kou reappears in her life. At her school. And calls out her fake life and shallow “friendships.” So much for keeping a low profile.

Violence:
The violence in this show is pretty non-existent as it’s a slice of life. So besides a character scraping a knee, nothing here to fear.

Language:
Some average stuff here, like d-mns and sh-ts. A few b-words, but only once or twice. Most of this show is free of coarse language.

Nudity:
Another area you need not fear. A few implying jokes and one character brings up how girls shouldn’t walk around alone at night. But no nudity is shown and the above points are very light.

Theology/mythology:
Aside from the tradition of having a picture and memorial cabinet dedicated to passed away family members, there’s not much to put here. Like many Japanese traditions, it’s not explained, just seen for a few seconds.

Personal impression:
Aside from the last two episodes feeling a tad rushed, this was a pretty amazing show. I’m not overly fond of shoujo, but I did enjoy this due to it having a common bond with another solid title: Kimi No Todoke. Both shows focus far more on the main characters forming healthy relationships with others first, before diving into romance. That said, due to one of the main characters having so much emotional baggage, there was even less romance in this title. I have to say I was indeed impressed with how they handled most of Kou’s issues, which are heavy topics anime usually shies away from (honestly, how many titles handle divorce? Most just kill parents off). Although the last two episodes were rushed, it kept focus on where it was most needed, instead of tumbling off into half-hearted romantic drivel and ending up in the Confusion Blender (*cough*OneWeekFriends*cough*).
The art and music are all pretty average for today’s standards. Nothing really strands out much, but it’s not bad either. Just decent. Thankfully the characterization makes up for that a bit.
So while this isn’t the most action-packed pick, nor the most deep, Blue Spring Ride is a solid drama that has heart. A healthy one too.

Personal rating: 10+

Episodes: 12
Languages: Sub
Official rating: TVPG
Genre(s): Slice of life, drama
Company: Toho
Official streaming: Crunchyroll
Screenshots:
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Extra: Where, uh, WHEN are we?

f1If I have to give Japan credit for anything, it would be for putting a unique spin on a story’s setting. Especially when it comes to nailing down an era. In American cartoons, and even most movies, it’s pretty clear that the setting is Anywhere and Anytime, USA. Occasionally a few old re-runs will show their age with tape cassettes (remember those?). And some very old shows will have a record player or two. But generally not much thought goes into spicing up the timeline. Japan, on the other hand, tends to be a bit more free in spicing things up with their animations. Let’s look at three of my favorite examples.

Samurai 7
When I watched Fuse, I remember being pretty struck with the impression that they had taken a similar route to Samurai 7, abit a toned down version. In Samurai 7, you had all the trappings of feudal Japan, swords, kimonos, and those strange hats that actually work really well (not every country in the world has managed to make practical hats, so that’s an achievement). But it also has mechs, tanks, guns, lasers and pretty much any other high tech gizmo you might want in a science fiction. All said tech isn’t odd to the residents. It’s all very integrated, but also occasionally makes one wonder why swords and the like are still so favored when guns can be had by simple backwoods hunters… Regardless of it not making too much sense logically, it’s still very stylish and gives off a unique flavor of both old and new. And anime these days tend to need flavor. A lot.

Last Exile and Steamboy
Steampunk as a genre is known for its unique take on history, but Last Exile and Steamboy are the only anime I know that handled this setting alteration most consistently. Most other shows trying to be “steampunk” only have a few costume changes and call it good while the history, technology and social constructions remain modern.
That said, there is a bit of a difference between Last Exile and Steamboy in tone. Where Last Exile focused mostly on airships and had a bit more of a mythical/fantasy version of steampunk, Steamboy was more realistic, staying on earth and utilizing steam alone as an energy source of the “future” (aka ‘what would Victorian times have looked like if steam was all we had?’)

Howl’s Moving Castle
This one is an odd one as we never really know what era we’re in. From the clothing we can make quite a few guesses, but due to the fantasy setting and machines, it’s extremely ambiguous “when” we are. But the colors and places are held so consistent that the oddity seems normal in the world itself. The boats pulling into harbor and the carefree parade boast the same bright colors as the military airships overhead, making everything feel far more natural than it should be. To say nothing of the moving castle itself and the presence of magic in the world. This gives the whole setting a familiar, yet fantastical feel. We see clothing of the past, yet as Howl’s castle clunks by we are reminded that what we’re watching is not in our world.

Pokemon Origins Review

ptitleStory:
Red, a new pokemon trainer, sets out on a journey to help Professor Oak complete the pokedex. But he’s not alone. His rival, Blue, is out there for the same reason and he’s not an easy opponent to beat.

Violence:
Oddly, this little series has generally more violence than the first TV series. In only four episodes we see pokemon truly tackling and biting each other and the prospect of pokemon actually dying is addressed (to some extent). It’s nowhere near FMA levels, but it’s a tad darker than the Indigo League, that’s for sure.

Language:
Pretty clean overall here. Although the violence is higher, the language is like the first show. Pretty nonexistent.

Nudity:
Just like the language, this section really doesn’t have much to report. In fact, there’s really nothing at all to report here. A nice break, if you ask me.

Theology/mythology:
If the idea of ghosts isn’t your thing, it’s best to skip this little series. An actual ghost of a pokemon is heavily featured in one episode (and I don’t mean ghost “type” pokemon. I mean a pokemon that died and became a ghost. Which, when thought about too much, raises some disturbing questions about “ghost” types…).

Personal impression:
As someone who has never actually played the classic Pokemon console games before (I did play the TCG so lay off), I probably missed more than a few references to the original stories/missions. That said, I was surprised by how many in-jokes I did understand. Though likely that is due to how heavily internet memes feature Pokemon game jokes. Regardless, it was an interesting take. There was enough of the old series to make it familiar and yet plenty of new tones and elements to feel quite different. The music is decent, not quite as good as the first, but solid enough. The art is, understandably, better. Smoother and with far more detail. The only real downside? With only four episodes this series speeds by at an intense and pretty ridiculous pace. The last episode is especially rough and rushed. All in all, it’s far more of an ode to older fans of the games than it is a ply to bring in new fans.

Personal rating: 10+

Episodes: 4
Languages: Sub
Official rating: TVPG
Genre(s): Fantasy, adventure
Company: The Pokemon Company
Legal streaming: Hulu
Screenshots:
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