What has been rumored for awhile now appears to be confirmed. The LA Times report Hayao Miyazaki is slated to appear at Comic Con 2009 to promote his newest film, Ponyo. Miyazaki’s previous films that had made it to the big screens in the US, Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle, were both criticallyacclaimed but did poorly in the domestic box office, only taking in $10 million and $4.7 million respectively. Both have grossed over $200 million internationally.
It seems that Miyazaki is trying to combat this but not only appearing a major pop culture event, but also by casting many top names for the English adaptation. The voice talent features Matt Damon, Tina Fey, Cate Blanchett, Liam Nesson, Betty White, Lily Tomlin and Cloris Leachman. Will it be enough to make Ponyo a domestic hit after it has already grossed $182.1 million internationally?
From the Unwound archives. This was one of those series that had been sitting on my hard drive for a while. I’m not sure how anyone else watches anime, but I tend to be a collector of digisubs. I’ll download a metric ton of anime and then get daunted by the fact that I have a metric ton of anime to watch, until one day I’ll be bored or someone pushes me to watch something. A majority of the first season was generally: “Oh, you have to watch [title X]. It’s awesome.” “Oh, yeah, I downloaded that like a month ago. Haven’t gotten around to watching it, yet.” “Why not?” “I don’t know. It’s never come up.” When Jesse said we were watching Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, I was like, “Oh, yeah, it’s on my hard drive, but I only watched the first episode and it didn’t seem like much.” He told me, “You have to watch the second episode. Trust me, man.”
Holy crap. The second episode owned me.
And then the third and fourth, until the end.
Kimi ga Nozomu Eien is a story of a group of three friends. I say three, because the fourth friend is really just background noise. A lame attempt at a comedic foil that failed miserably. But anyway, the story centers around a love triangle. Two girls and a guy.
The basic recipe for Kiminozo is: Guy dates Girl. Girl’s Friend also likes Guy. Girl gets hit by a car, goes into a coma. Years later, Guy and Girl’s Friend get together. Girl wakes up. Add drama liberally and stir until angst is thick enough to be used as molasses, unable to be cut with a damned lightsaber. If you make it all the way the last episode, feel free to reach for the tissue, because you’ll need it.
The whole series is a mere fourteen episodes long, but they manage to pack enough angst into each episode to make you think it was twice as long. I realize that may not be appealing to some, but the fact is that each episode felt more like it was an hour than twenty-six minutes. I don’t mean to say that it dragged, but more like that there was so much going on in each one that there was no way it was that short after getting to the ending theme. I kept having to check my computer clock to make sure I didn’t accidentally hit daylight savings time or something. Needless to say, each episode had something of a hook at the end, and I was firing up the next one almost immediately. Note to self: never try to watch a gripping series as a means of falling asleep. I just won’t sleep until the series is done!
Sleep is for the weak, anyway.
Overall, Kiminozo is for anime fans who thought Kimagure Orange Road was lacking in drama or Maison Ikkoku didn’t have enough angst. Be prepared to get sucked in by the end of the second episode, and be prepared to rip your own heart out over it. I nearly did.
The romantic comedy genre in anime has been stagnant for a very long time. Although we’ve seen a few breakout hits recently with Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid and School Rumble, the rom-com genre has seen better days. In the summer of 2008, J.C. Staff, the prolific studio that brought us crazy comedy series Excel Saga and Hayate: The Combat Butler, hopes to reinvigorate the rom-com genre with the insanely popular manga series (and a title that is a pain in the ass to type), ToLOVEru. Did J.C. Staff succeed? (Spoiler Alert: No.)
As the name suggests, ToLOVEru’s premise is all about trouble — you see what they did there? The story revolves around Yuuki Rito (Watanabe Akeno), yet another normal Japanese high school boy and the trouble (or more like catastrofuck) that follows his otherwise mundane life. For most of his adolescent life, he has a crush on Sairenji Haruna (Yahagi Sayuri); he wants to confess his feelings for her, but whenever he musters enough courage to do so, practically everything including the kitchen sink gets in his way. Now in his second year in high school, Rito tries to confess his feelings for Haruna once more. However, on that fateful day, divine intervention struck again, when a UFO crashed between him and Haruna. If that wasn’t incredibly cliched enough, later that night, a despondent Rito was taking a comforting bath when suddenly a pair of bewbs appeared in front of him, and he accidentally grabbed them. The pair of knockers just happens to belong to the voluptuous Lala Satalin Deviluke (Haruka Tomatsu), or Lala for short. Unbeknownst to Rito, by fondling Lala’s naughty bits, he entered a marriage contract and must marry her on some predetermined time (essentially whenever Rito is unguarded).
ToLOVEru tries to be all of the rom-coms in anime history, but practically ripping them all off at once, from old school series like Urusei Yatsura, Ranma 1/2, Tenchi-Muyo! to newer series such as Girls Bravo, DearS and School Rumble. There’s just too many ingredients in this anime series, all you get from watching ToLOVEru is excruciating constipation, which is trouble in itself — you see what I did there?
The only saving grace in this series are the character designs and the opening theme song. The illustrator and character designer Yabuki Kentarou, who also designed the characters for Black Cat, created a nice and rather provocative cast of female characters for the series. The band THYME performed the opening theme song for ToLOVEru, “forever we can make it”, is the only legacy the series will be remembered for. While the opening theme song is the standard pop rock you’re accustomed to on the radio, it is both appropriate and catchy enough that attempts to hook the viewer to watch the series.
Like I’ve mentioned in the radio show, ToLOVEru is probably better off as a hentai series. The entire series is essentially a bunch of individual vignettes where the hapless Rito gets into various relationship and sexual misunderstandings that eventually goes nowhere, leaving this reviewer frustrated in every possible way. Though it contains a lot of sexual innuendos and themes, ToLOVEru is ultimately juvenile; this may as well be called “Date Movie, the Anime Version.” Unless you want more cliched, mindless and unentertaining rom-coms and you couldn’t buy hentai, do not watch ToLOVEru ever.
It seems that JRPG’s just aren’t content to stay on onesystemnowadays. Joining the ever growing list of RPG’s going multi-platform is former PS3 exclusive Cross Edge. The game features popular characters from Nippon Ichi, Capcom, Gust, Idea Factory and Namco Bandai franchises. According to the latest issue of Famitsu, the game is heading to the Xbox 360 under the title of Cross Edge Dash.
The game will also have its share of new content such as new missions and a coliseum mode. The game is scheduled to release in Japan in October. No word on any of English release as of yet.
From the Unwound archives. Suzuka was simply a disappointment all around. One of the most frustrating aspects of reviewing anime for this show is the fact that we cannot just turn it off after two or three episodes; no, we must sit down and take in the whole thing, be it good or bad. And this was plainly bad. At no point did it redeem itself or alter my opinion, or even give me something to point out as the only good thing about it. Suzuka was just a craptacular series from top to bottom and not even the music or subplot could save it from being labeled as ‘run, don’t walk’ away from this pile of steaming horse-dung.
Basically, you have yourself a kind of love story the likes of which you’ve seen many times before. A guy moves from the country to the city and upon his arrival becomes very interested in a girl he sees doing the high jump on his future school’s grounds. It’s love at first sight and so far I was buying into the premise. Until they started talking and interacting, and then it was like I was watching someone rip off three great romantic comedies all at once. Within the first episode alone, I groaned at how the writer seemed to rip whole plot elements from Kimagure Orange Road, Maison Ikkoku, and Love Hina right before my very eyes… and not even with any sense of flair. Most romantic comedies nowadays find it difficult to be original, but the fact is that most of the best series out there take an unoriginal idea and make it their own. Suzuka managed to simply adopt those concepts and executed them with all the finesse of open-heart surgery with a rusty chainsaw. I didn’t think the series could get any worse, but then the main “male” character, Yamato, apparently uses his audacious tenacity to pursue a girl, the eponymous Suzuka, in spite of the fact that she thinks he’s a complete moron and doesn’t want anything to do with him. By the way, this all takes place in a bathhouse attached to a dormitory for girls. It’s like Love Hina and Maison Ikkoku, except both of those series were actually good. Kimagure Orange Road’s comparison lies in the fact that Suzuka is like Super Madoka, only I actually liked Madoka… oh, and KOR was actually a good anime.
Twenty-five damned episodes of this bullshit! Don’t get me wrong, I like a good strong-willed female character just as much as the next guy, but this one kind of took it to an extreme and after then fourth episodes, I was like… c’mon Yamato, there are other girls out there for you to fall for. No need to waste your life trying to get this bitch to fall in love with you. I mean, for shit’s sake, man… grow some balls. By the twenty-fifth episode, I was convinced I was watching two women and not a guy and a girl… or quite possibly, Suzuka was carrying enough balls for the both of them, because Yamato had to be standing behind the door when they were passing out balls and spines. Possibly brains. And guts. I find it very difficult to like a character or even bother caring about what happens to him when in the end, I have no respect for him. It’s called piss-poor writing, or quite possibly, how to screw up a story in a hurry.
Use Suzuka if you need to forcibly extract information from someone. Do not look directly into the screen or else your soul will ache.