Saturday, October 24, 2009


After some dissatisfying attempts to change the blog a little, I noticed I would need to change all previous posts. Just out of curiosity I signed up for a Wordpress blog. Fast and easy, I tested it making the same post as the one below. Loved the wide main body available to post. Hm... guess I'll be moving.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Favorite TV Series in 2009

Finally got some time to travel around. Consequently this sedate blog will once again freeze for indefinite time once again. Last time it hibernated for 3 years. Just so that the two or three persons who check to see if I update have something to do, I'm posting the Japanese animations from 2009 I relished.

Years ago, a guy asked a female friend of mine, Jessica, if I was seeing anyone. She confidently told him that I was straight. After telling me about it, I haven't questioned my masculinity ever since. However, when it comes to romance in anime and manga, I prefer stories directed to women. Male-oriented anime of this genre tends to be drenched in "fanservice". From Wikipedia: Fanservice explicitly refers to material that is designed to amuse or excite the audience with sexually-derived content. The tendency of sacrifing plot for the sake of gratuitous content drove me away from romance for men. In contrast, love stories directed towards women usually are more realistic, metaphorical, subtle, and introspective. Thinking about it, maybe existentialism made me gay.

Aoi Hana (Sweet Blue Flowers) is an eleven episode TV series directed by Kenichi Kasai and produced by J.C. Staff. Together, Kasai and J.C. Staff can be linked to extremely popular animated TV romances like Honey and Clover, Kare Kano, and Nodame Cantabille.

Plot summary from ANN: Fumi Manjoume, an introverted, bookish teenage girl, is beginning her first year of high school at Matsuoka Girls' High School. She enters the school year with her heart broken by a previous relationship. At about the same time, she reconnects with her best friend from ten years ago, Akira Okudaira, who is now attending Fujigatani Girls' Academy as a first-year high school student. As they reconnect, they both deal with their own respective romantic problems, and help each other get through them.

Both friends attend girls only school, meaning that the affairs occur between girls. Lesbianism is usually used just as bait to attract the audience due to curiousness, but in this case it is done with lots of finesse. The focus isn't on the fact that there are homosexual relationships. This is just the story of people falling in love.

Exceptionally elegant, Aoi Hana has a very gentle pacing. Beautiful water-colorish backgrounds and impressively discreet and clever use of CG. Definitely a good pick if you enjoyed Emma: A Victorian Romance. Although the manga proceeds the story, the TV show gracefully concludes itself.

I'm uncertain if Jessica would assuredly confirm my virility today or if existentialism actually distorted my tastes toward a girlish spectrum, but I'm sure that Aoi Hana will delight anyone seeking for serious romantic drama independent of sexual preferences.

Two other great titles from 2009 that are still being aired are Cross Game and Kimi ni Todoke.

Cross Game is a baseball TV series adapted from the manga of a famous Japanese author called Mitsuru Adachi. He is probably best known for being the author of the manga タッチ (Touch). A recent poll in Japan asked the question: "What manga made you cry?" and Touch attained 3rd place. The 1985 TV series, which I previously made a post about, retains the 7th highest average TV viewership of an animation in the country.

His new show tells the story of Koh Kitamura and Aoba Tsukishima. The death of young Wakaba, Aoba's sister and very close friend of Koh, devastates both. Besides memories, Wakaba leaves the dream of seeing Koh
pitching at the legendary Koshien Stadium, site of the national high school championship finals. What is really interesting in this show is that it's not just the campaign of the team as it tries to reach the finals, it's the personal struggle of Aoba, a girl in the boys' realm of baseball. Prodigious at the sport, she can't participate in official games as she begins high school due to national tournament regulations.

The visuals and animation may be very simple, but what impressed me the most in this series is the concern of continually starting and concluding smaller stories within the plot while keeping a continuous narrative. It may sound simple and commonplace, but it's remarkable how natural this particular story flows and how rewarding most episodes are.

While I've seen 30 episodes of Cross Game, I only watched 3 episodes of Kimi ni Todoke. Regardless, it is a safe bet that this show will be one of the best of this year. Like Aoi Hana, this is also an adaptation of a manga directed to the female crowd. The protagonist is straight though. Her name is Kuronuma
Sawako. She is nicknamed Sadako due to her resemblance to the girl from the Japanese horror movies The Ring. Shunned by her classmates, her life starts to change as she befriends Shouta Kazehaya, a very popular boy in her class.

Nothing revolutionary plot-wise. It's a romantic drama about teenagers who act as teenagers. Maybe it's the abundance of male oriented anime that makes KnT so refreshing. From what I saw until now, I can safely say that it is as good as Kare Kano and Bokura ga Ita. Besides having a great cast of characters, I must point out the charming colorful visuals. The studio behind this title is the prestigious Production I.G which is probably best known for the Ghost in the Shell movie, the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex TV series, and the animated part in the Kill Bill movie. I'll end this enormous post with the opening just so you can understand what I'm talking about.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tokyo Marble Chocolate Logo

Gorgeous logo of the 2007 OVA Tokyo Marble Chocolate. Extremely clever way of using the kanjis and katakanas which normally look like this: 東京マーブルチョコレート. Even horizontally it's still very charming and still very easy to read. The image above comes directly from the video where it continually floats over the rolling background of the cityscape. Below, beautifully applied to the drawing.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Aim for the Ace (1973)

When I started to watch Ace wo Nerae! I was intrigued by the color of the balls. A little research led me to the International Tennis Federation webpage.

From the link: Historically, balls were either black or white in colour, depending on the background colour of the courts. In 1972 the ITF introduced yellow tennis balls into the rules of tennis, as research had shown these balls to be more visible to television viewers. Meanwhile Wimbledon continued to use the traditional white ball, but eventually adopted yellow balls in 1986.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Harmagedon (1983)

Bob Dylan poster found inside the main character's room.

Two posters of Harmagedon spotted in Harmagedon. Nope, I'm not spelling it wrong. It's Harmagedon with just one d.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Eden of the East

2009's Eden of the East has several references to popular and obscure movies. I'm no cinephile so I probably fail to notice most. The DVDs should definitely have some really interesting director's comment track. Mentioned directly or indirectly by the characters til now: Kate and Leopold (2001) on episode 2 and Quadrophenia (1979) on episode 4. There is a scene in episode 6 where the character Haruo Kasuga talks to his friends while inside a roll-top desk which I suppose is a reference to His Girl Friday (1940). Below are the posters that appear on screen. First one is an altered version of Le Grand Bleu (1988).

Below are four posters seen on episode 6. I can't identify the ones in the left, but the two to the right are Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and Full Metal Jacket (1987).

On episode 7, the hall with the posters is shown from another angle. It shows the Full Metal Jacket once again and another poster I'm not able to recognize.

Lots of images of altered posters from episode 11. Rear Window on the left and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid once again to the right. No idea of the middle one.

I'm unable to identify any of the posters below.

This is a reference to Truffaut's Les Quatre Cents Coups.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Izumo Fire Department

Recently I learned that one of the guys who posts at the forum I frequently drop by is married to a firefighter. How cool is that? While searching for a Japanese animations that feature firefighters to give as present to his wife, he was surprised to only find one: Megumi no Daigo.

This reminded me that back in 2004, the city of Izumo invited foreigners for a volunteer training in case of a natural disaster such as an earthquake, tsunami, or typhoon. Really fun day. Learned a lot thanks to the super nice firemen from Izumo.

Below is a demonstration of their special camera to search for victims below debris or any other hard-to-reach location.

I was impressed by these two buildings they use to train.

Never forgetting the basics, all volunteers had a chance to experience how to handle a chemical fire extinguisher. First time I actually used one.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Angel Cop: Brand Advertisement

A long time ago, way back in the 90's, I recall my dear friend Daniel telling me that he had seen a Japanese animation called Angel Cop. Never had heard of it before. I don't know if he was being polite to the owner of the VHS fansub, but his impression was sort of positive. Daniel, WTF? When you're young, many times you enjoy bad stuff for lack of reference. He still hadn't begun his love for trash media while being brainwashed by hours of the most ridiculous infomercials selling stupid Ginsu knives, Vivarina pantyhoses, etc. Fucking Tony Little. Anyway, I also hadn't seen much anime, but I already thought that stuff like Genocyber and M.D.Geist were extremely lame and stupid.

I recently watched Angel Cop for the first time. My impression was that someone was trying to rip-off Ghost in the Shell in the most imbecilic possible way. For an entertaining review, checkout episode 57 of the AWO podcast. Daryl Surat suggested watching it with subtitles once, then with the dub, and then with dub + subs to compare. I really don't have the guts nor the time to try them all, so I watched just the dub with the subs on. OMFG. This anime already has one of the stupidest plots ever made, the dub manages to somehow make it even worse.

Angel Cop has one of the weirdest brand advertisements I've ever seen in my life. Raiden is a special agent turned into a cyborg. During a fight in the fifth episode, he takes this laser shooting device from within his metal hand. There is a quick close-up as seen below. What the hell?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Detroit Metal City

Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amelie Poulain poster featured on the episode 4A of Studio 4°C's comedy, Detroit Metal City. Link to the original poster.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Summer of 42 (1971) poster found on the sixth episode of Touch, a 1985 romance/baseball TV series. Asakura Minami asks if Uesugi Katsuya, her childhood friend, wants to watch the film with her. Unfortunately he already has a date. Below is a quick montage for a better view I did. This is the original poster.

On episode 44, Tatsuya and Minami are going to a movie theater together. On their way, there is a billboard of Cocoon (1985). Link to the original poster.

On episode 54, classes end for that year. Tatsuya and Minami agree to watch a movie that just premiered, The Natural (1984). In front of the theater, a poster of Roman Holiday (1953).

Below is an image from the 1998 movie Touch: Miss Lonely Yesterday. The outdoor on the left named River is a reference to Six Days, Seven Nights (1998).

Another image from the Miss Lonely Yesterday movie. It's written Summer of Angels, obvious reference to City of Angels (1998). The drawing of Nicolas Cage looks like Thom Yorke.

On episode 33, the new transfer student, Yoshida Takeshi, lends Uesugi Tatsuya an LP. Released in 1985, Half Time was Yoshimi Iwasaki's 13th album. It contained Touch's first opening (タッチ) and ending (君がいなければ) themes. Jacket of the album.

On episode 35, Tatsuya goes to Yoshida's house where he spots what I believe is Iwasaki Yoshimi's 20th single, タッチ.

On episode 45, Yoshida is talking to some girls about a record he is holding. It's Yoshimi's 14th album, タッチ.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Gattai!! AWO x Mazinger

The image on the left is just a silly thing I did while brainstorming Anime World Order logo options. Usually all models are done on paper first, but at that point I had already conveyed all my ideas into bits. The original idea came from this link. Apparently the AWO crew are enjoying the new TV show, Shin Mazinger Shogeki! Z-Hen.

On their show they once questioned why is anime directly associated with mecha, a genre not so popular nowadays. Giant robots are to anime what western is to American cinema. While American animation has an incredibly strong link to slapstick humor, Japanese animation has a powerful bond to science fiction. Even if moe dominates the market today, over 50 years of mecha won't be forgotten so easily. We hope.

Nothing related, but did anyone ever notice a similarity between the opening of Cyber City Oedo 808, Burning World 〜追憶のコマンド〜, and Flashdance's What a Feeling?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Anime World Order: Character Design

I drew Daryl, Clarissa, and Gerald to compose the mock business cards for the logo proposal I sent them. They are all big fans of Osamu Tezuka so I used his character design as basis. Well, at least I tried. My biggest problem was that I couldn't find a character that matched Gerald. I ended up not basing him on anyone of Tezuka's Star System.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

臀撃おしおき娘 ゴータマン

I wrote a plot summary for ANN of an animation called Dengeki Oshioki Musume Gōtaman which sort of translates to "Butt Attack Punisher Girl Gotaman". Hopefully no one will write an alternative overview to substitute this one:

Mari Amachi is a new student at the Perfect Religion Academy. When her roommate Saori Minami is kidnapped by the Black Buddha gang, Buddha himself appears before Mari. He offers her the opportunity to become Gōtaman in order to save her friend. Mari accepts the proposal and becomes Gōtaman, a sumo-belt-clad hero who fights to protect freedom of religion.

Torrent here. The guys at #anime-classic are awesomely insane.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Amuro Ray and Lalah Sune

Below are pictures from episode 41 of the original Gundam series. Last year I watched the trilogy that summarizes the entire 43 episodes of the 1979 TV series. My absolute favorite scene was the battle between Amuro Ray and Lalah Sune. I liked it so much that I ended up looking for the particular episode in which the confrontation occurred in the TV show just to compare with the trilogy version. It wasn't as impressive as the movie, but it was still very good. I can't even imagine watching this back in 1980. It must have been mind-blowing.

I prefer the movie version because the dialogue flows better. This type of scene just can't be rushed. You have to let the story breathe. The moments of silence or no one talking need to be more valued. Below are images from the third movie of the trilogy.

It's really silly the idea of rival pilots arguing with each other as they fight inside giant a mechanized armor and a spaceship, but this one is different. Not simply because both are espers, thus making sense that they are able to communicate with each other. Amuro and Lalah are definitely connected in a higher level. Maybe spiritualy is the adequate word. It's so odd that a series that tries to embrace a more realistic portrayal of war in space, displays such a romantic ideal in a glorious and elegant way. The animation in this particular scene becomes much more imaginative and metaphorical. Such tender and melancholic script. Amazing voice acting performance by Tohru Furuya (古谷徹) and Keiko Han (潘恵子). I've seen many couples in anime, but this is - without a shadow of a doubt - an affair that should not to be forgotten.