Thursday, May 31, 2012

Schedule-June/July 2012

Hello out there

Here's my schedule for next  2 months, and it's back to being random reviews.

June 3 Anime Review No. 33: Nodame Cantabile Episode 1/First Impressions

June 10 Anime Review No. 34: Rizelmine (one-shot manga)

June 17 Anime Review No. 35: Virgin Fleet (90s OVA)

June 24 Anime Review No. 36: Birth, A War of 2 Worlds (80s movie)

July 1 Anime Review No. 37: UltraManiac First Impressions (Eps. 1-3)

July 8 Anime Review No. 38: You're Under Arrest (90s OVA)

July 15 Anime Review No. 39: Nyarko-san: Another Crawling Chaos (General Impressions)

July 22 Anime Editorial: TBA

July 29 Anime Review No. 40: GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class Episode 1/First Impressions

This summer, I plan on doing a mix of stuff I own as well as stuff I've come across on the web/friends of mine recommended to me.

See you on Sunday ^_^

The Eclectic Dude

Monday, May 28, 2012

Anime Review No. 32 "I Dream of Mimi"

I’m the Eclectic Dude and I review it for the lolz (especially this week).

Sorry, this review is up a day late-it’s a holiday weekend and I got sidetracked a little from the relaxation. Anyway, I’ll make an effort to post on time from now on that’s for sure.

DVD Cover Note the 17+ recommended. It's not a joke I'll tell you
Guilty Pleasures Month closes on “I Dream of Mimi” or Buttobi CPU as it is known in Japan. This 1997 OVA is strikingly similar to another OVA from that same year that I’ve looked at earlier this year. That would be My Dear Marie, an OVA deals with the relationship between a young man and his robot female companion/girlfriend. I reviewed that in February, so check that out for details, but for summary, it is a rather good if criminally under-rated OVA from the 90s, touching on a lot of issues like love, nature of humanity and reality, etc.

What is “I Dream of Mimi” about? Well, none of that interesting stuff. Instead, it’s a soft-core erotica masquerading itself as a sci-fi romantic comedy. Yes, seriously. Not surprising, since the company who made this OVA is Pink Pineapple, notorious for producing hentai (the animated equivalent of porn), though they apparently got some help from Oriental Light and Magic, who are most well-known for Pokemon. Take that what you will.

The premise of “I Dream of Mimi” is as follows: Akira, the male geek and audience stand-in, comes home one day with a box supposedly carrying a new computer. Except it’s not; it’s a young naked woman! He’s very confused, as is the audience (yours truly) and then she turns on. It is revealed that she is a biomechanical computer, state of the art (from 1997!). She then requires ‘memory’ in the form of ‘active molecules’ from her owner. They do make a cute couple, to be fair.

If this sounds a bit familiar, well minus the sexual part, congratulations: You have seen/heard of Chobits, another anime that has a couple consisting of a young average male schmoe and a robot girlfriend. I am convinced that the girls at CLAMP (who are really great mangaka) at some point must have watched this OVA. Granted, I haven’t seen much of Chobits so can’t really say how much it’s different than “I Dream of Mimi”. Then again, one guy on the web says that this is the “R-rated Chobits”, so what do I know?

Sounds like fun, eh? Yeah the stuff in ‘ ‘ stands in for stuff that I shall not mention-draw your conclusions there, just take my word on it. The 3 episodes of this OVA follow Akira and Mimi (the android/bio-computer) as they deal with everyday life juggled with well having Mimi around. The first episode has them dealing with an out-of-control bio-computer in addition to introducing the characters of this little romp. Besides the main couple, there’s Shimada, Junpei and Futoshi. Of course, they have very little to no impact on the storyline, hence why just one statement on them.

This being an erotic piece, one would expect/assume a lot of sexual scenes in the style of a typical romance novel one find at the local grocery store (I don’t read those by the way). Not true here, for you see, the editing has a weird habit of either taking out the critical parts or substituting it for symbolism/convenient censorship. The result is that any sexual scenes aren’t really titillating but are rather unintentionally hilarious. There are also not a whole lot of them, so calling hentai doesn’t do it justice.

The science fiction is nominally better. It is severely dated, as evidenced from the loads of information on computers dispensed within the other 2 episodes. That’s because the other two episodes take place largely in ‘cyberspace’ or the inside of a computer network. I actually like this as the erotica blends well with the comedy. You see, Akira and Mimi end up going there since Mimi isn’t really a person (duh!). So, they are going to hack into a government site and insert false info about Mimi to elude suspicion. But, they ran into Forte, a high-grade bio-computer who doesn’t take kindly to our couple sneaking into her database.

But before punishment happens, another nemesis appears, the Nakinotsh sisters (pfft hahahaha xD). Seriously, I get the feeling the writer of this was a huge Microsoft fan, not that I’m complaining though (been a Microsoft user since childhood). They plan on doing something nefarious to the Japanese market of bio-computers, similar to taking over the world. Oh, and they are stereotypically Amero-centric (God Bless America!). Two of them (Quadra and Centris) show up in episode 2, with a third one (Performa) shows up in the third and last episode. All of them are dealt with by end of the last episode, but promise that they will be back. Haha, fat chance xD.

So, some other things of note for “I Dream of Mimi”: The English dub is absolutely hilarious. And quite a surprise too, as it features V.A.s like Angora Deb, Megan Hollingshead and Jessica Calvello (under a pseudonym-odd).    For the DVD, they include a outtakes track, which is very funny. The animation and music are stock-standard 90s with some neat early CGI, and very high quality more so then really necessary. Finally the opening is the best earworm of music you’ll ever listen to.

Now, I have a problem with recommending “I Dream of Mimi”. You see, it is very hard to find nowadays.  I managed to find it at a local video store (now a dying out species) for about five bucks last fall. Later, I checked to see if it’s available on DVD online. On, last time I checked, the VHS for it was available for about nine bucks (currently unavailable). Thankfully, someone posted them up on Youtube for anyone truly curious to watch this. It is very funny and entertaining, yet doesn’t take itself too serious. It is also fairly short, running a bit under 90 minutes with only 3 episodes. The manga that this is based off of hasn’t had an overseas release, and I doubt it ever will. Good luck finding it!

Well, that’s all. I am still sticking to the Sunday release schedule, as much as I can. Expect a schedule for next month on May 31.

The Eclectic Dude

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Anime Review 31: Golden Boy Part 2 (Episodes 4-6)

Well, continuing from last week, I shall finish up Golden Boy with its last 3 episodes. Will it be good, or be bad? Let’s find out. Like I said last week, the OVA episodes are based off of the first volume of the manga of the same name. Why just the first volume? Well, after the first volume, the content gets very adult in nature, being a few steps short of full-on hentai. Trust me, I’ve read it. Well, up to the sixth volume then gave up, it got a bit much even for me.

He's floundering lol (Sorry)
Anyway, let’s move onto the rest of this OVA. The fourth episode takes place in winter, with Kintaro working as a swimming instructor at an indoor pool. There he meets the head instructor, a rather hot babe who is a bit of a bitch, to be honest. She seems a bit uncaring at Kintaro’s antics, which seem dialed up to 11. His antics reach the peak of annoyance in the ‘swim race’ scene, and he gets kicked out. However, much like the first episode, he ends up revolutionizing the teaching method at the indoor pool: Get the kids to like the water, and they will swim. Genius! /sarc. Though, the head instructor ends up, well, in love with Kintaro, but doesn’t go after him…just yet.

I like this episode a lot. Yeah, Kintaro’s antics are ramped up to levels not imagined, but I can somewhat understand that. He is basically an everyman, with all his strengths (good-natured, smart, lot of heart etc.) and his flaws (yes that includes his hugging of toilets and finding the need to ‘satisfy’ urges). But that makes him a great character, the fact that you simultaneously want to root for him and also slap him in the face.

What he's watching is very much NSFW to be sure 
The fifth episode, titled “Balls to the Walls!”, is perhaps the most insane episode out of this OVA series. I won’t say much on it, if you have seen it, then good on you. It is one of those episodes in anime that, quite frankly, has to be seen to be believed. I will say it involves motorcycles as metaphor for well, ‘urgings’ and some other adult material masked oh so subtly. 

Kintaro busy at work. Note how realistically detailed the desks behind him are 
The sixth and final episode is titled “Animation is Fun!”. Kintaro is working at an animation studio, helping out with odd jobs. He meets Chie, a female animator who works there. The studio is working on a movie based off of a story by, get this, Tetsuya Engawa. That’s right, this episode is rather meta-fiction as the author of the Golden Boy manga makes a cameo. This episode is also a tremendous love letter to the art of animation, with Kintaro’s speech about why he loves animation being the high point of the OVA, for me at the least.

Unfortunately, production difficulties mount, as the director ends up in the hospital and the schedule gets shrunk down. But, Kintaro to the rescue! He calls up all his potential love interests from the other 5 episodes to assist with the production. I really like this part, as it brings in all the loose ends and finally everything is connected. Also, it gives an interesting life lesson: Networking will help you out someday! The movie is done on time, though Kintaro runs off at the end with the other women chasing after him. But, Chie doesn’t follow. When asked about it, she states “I will, but first I got a job to do”. Chie represents the well-adjusted woman, hard working, kind and yet open to a potential relationship.

Well, final thoughts: A really good OVA series, great on comedy and yet still has human drama to it as well. From start to finish, it is a great and funny ride. This is further enhanced by the English dub, done by ADV Films. Yeah, Doug Smith’s performance as Kintaro might seem inconsistent at times, but it fits the character very well. The other voice actors are very much standard 90s era ADV dub cast, with V.A.s like Tiffany Grant, Allison Keith, Laura Chapman, etc which are fairly consistent, given the material.

Overall, a great series and despite being a guilty pleasure of mine, I would recommend this to another fans of anime. It is one of those ‘Must-see’ anime series. So, yeah, Golden Boy deserves that “Essential Anime” title bestowed upon it by ADV. Good job, ADV!

Until next week,

The Eclectic Dude 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Anime Review No. 31, "Golden Boy" Part 1 (Introductions, Episodes 1-3)

Well, Guilty Pleasures Month continues with Golden Boy, a 1995-96 OVA of 6 episodes long. Based on the manga by Tatsuya Egawa, this OVA animates the first volume of that manga series of the same name. It was directed by Hiroyuki Kitakubo and produced by Production IG, so you know that some talent went into this. Also, this OVA is more well-known due to some rather infamous scenes/characters, which I’ll explain later.
The DVD cover  
This is also another anime series I discovered online before purchasing the DVDs for it. I bought the 2 disc DVDs on the ADV Films ‘Essential Anime Collection’ line. I’ll see if it deserves that distinction.

The basic premise lies in the character of Kintaro Oe, who is a freeter or someone who goes around and do part-time jobs. He apparently went to Tokyo U but left before graduating, even if he did all the requirements to do so. He is well, an interesting person. A slacker it seems, at times, but he does seem a bit smarter than he lets on. The OVA chronicles his adventures through Japan in the world of part-time work. But, will things go smoothly or will hijinks ensue? Let’s find out.  
The Madame President (nice office clothes there, lady xDD)
Episode 1 has Kintaro Oe going to work for a computer company, who are developing software for American clients. There, he meets the Madame President (a very attractive blonde) who at first seems disinterested in Kintaro. But when a power failure (caused by Kintaro) sends the office in frenzy due to loss of computer software, he ends up saving the day by giving them his own version. In the process, the Madame President’s heart is taken by Kintaro as she goes off to track him down (he left mysteriously).

I really like this episode, possibly one of the best first episode in an anime.  Egawa gives Kintaro a very good introduction, as a simple everyman wandering through life. He does the best he can, though he isn’t a saint (toilet hugging notwithstanding). His ability to fix a problem that he made himself does seem a bit improbable, but then again it is clear that isn’t meant to be realistic at all. His catch-phrase “Life is Study” is very much in tune with what the series is about: Education is more than the stuff one learns at school. I also like the details given, especially about the yakuza, computer science, etc.
Though, the rest of the characters in this episode are somewhat one-note (mostly being eye-candy), with the exception of Madame President. She comes across as an ‘ice queen’-cold and distant at first, but warms up a bit. It very much tells what to expect: a slacker goes from place to place and meets very attractive girls.
This trend continues in Episode 2, with Kintaro working for the election of yakuza-backed Mayor of another town. Though, that’s not the focus, as that would be interesting. Instead, Kintaro has to contend with the Mayor’s high school daughter Naoko who is a bit of crush on our intrepid hero, even when he is supposed to be tutoring her. He manages to evade her advances, but then gets placed in an awkward situation. Despite that, he still gets away with it by professing his love for Naoko which sets her heart a-fluttered.   It ends with her basically willing to have Kintaro take her virginity when he gets back.

I am a bit put off by this episode, even if it is entertaining. Granted, it does have moments of great hilarity like the first episode, but it just seems a tad unsettling. The plot boils to this: A High school girl is teasing a guy a good 7-9 years her senior. Granted, Egawa turned their tables by making the girl a sexy tease instead of the guy, I’ll give him that. Kintaro, despite his pervert urges, manages to resist Naoko’s sexual advances. Still, it seems the story starts off one way, then verves off to another story. I mean the whole mayoral election elements are dropped mainly through the first third, in favor of developing the actual part. One could take that out as it doesn’t factor into the overall episode at all.
Noriko, who has a thing for flower arranging, apparently
Episode 3 has Kintaro working at a family noodle shop, filling in for the father/owner who got involved in a recent accident. He then gets embroiled with a suave pimp/hustler who’s gunning for the noodle shop’s owner daughter named Noriko. It turns out he has a scheme afoot in marrying Noriko, then selling the noodle shop and then kicking her out afterwards. The plan is foiled and Noriko gains some affection and respect for Kintaro.

This is a far better episode then the second episode. It is a well-adjusted version of that episode 2, without the unnecessary plot elements. Kintaro is at his most likeable here, as I get the feeling he really wants to help Noriko out, even if she doesn’t want him to (which happens at one point by the way). I rooted for him to go so far as beat up the bad guy that when he did, he was pleasantly surprised when he reacts to this by saying “… my Kendo training was put to waste. I have so much more to learn” (paraphrasing). Even he is aware of his shortcomings, and that I can relate to. Also, Noriko is more likeable since she is the ‘naïve maiden’ type, as opposed to the sultry ice queen of the Madame President or the walking sex-tease of Naoko. The pimp-hustler is the first actual villain Kintaro has come across and comes across as a very unlikeable and slightly hammy villain.

So, 2 very good episodes with one not so good episode, I have to say that is very even so far. I’ll see about the other 3 episodes next week. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Anime Review No. 30, "Magical Witch Punie-chan"

Hello, I’m the Eclectic Dude and I review it for the lolz.

I’ll start off “Guilty Pleasures” Month with a short series that I came across a few years back. I first saw this on Youtube, then later at anime club at university. The title I am talking about is “Magical Witch Punie-chan”.

Done by Studio Barcelona back in 2006, it was released subbed only by Media Blasters/AnimeWorks in 2007. Last summer, they re-released it with a dub track (actually it was my birthday). This show has the distinction of being a parody of magical girl genre. Granted, it is more of a bittersweet satire then a funny comical parody (a la Detatoko Princess).

The titular character, Punie-chan, is the Princess of a Magical Land. She is sent by her parents to Earth in order to pass some vague test or something (not really explained). Once at high school, she meets up with some other characters, some friendly and some not so much. Teamed with her animal mascot Paya, she proceeds to beat the living crud out of everyone and everything within close range, or be conniving as all heck. That’s about it, oh and the series is 8 episodes, each 12-15 minutes long. 

So, what makes this a guilty pleasure of mine? Well, it boils down to the fact this has to be one of the most insanely awesome series I’ve seen. Well, until I saw Panty and Stocking, but this show is still quite insane nonetheless. There are a lot of the moments in the 8 ‘half-episodes’ are truly WTF, with even more insane moments succeeding.

Also, the main cast is also insane or not quite right in the head. Punie-chan and Paya-tan are quite the most destructive pair of anime characters in recent memory. The path of destruction and mayhem rival that of similar escapades of Excel Saga. Punie-chan, at first, seems like your typical magical girl: kind, gentle and likeable girl. But, it turns out she is very much a hard-nosed, merciless, fierce, and determined to beat the utter crud out of everyone. This is due to the fact that not only is Punie a mahou shoujo (magical girl) she is also a martial artist specializing in submission holds.  Same thing can be said with Paya, a cutie one moment then a bad@#$ the other.

The rest of cast though is basically an ensemble of rather flimsy stereotypes. Anego-san, the first episode antagonist, is a gangster girl with her own group of tough and mean girls at the school. However, after the first episode, she gets sidelined. Tetsuko, who becomes Punie-chan’s only friend at school, is a railroad train aficionado so expect some railroad references sprinkled in throughout the series. Punie-chan has two little sisters, Pyun and Potaru, who just seem to be there to grab fans of moe anime. Yeah, really, that’s all.

The story and animation are very standard. Striped of all the insanity and eccentricity, and it becomes a bittersweet satire of the magical girl genre. As expected, the animation is wonderfully clean and crisp, owning to the fact it being a digitally animated product. Even Punie-chan’s transformation sequence is surprisingly safe, without an ounce of fanservice (her tagline is "Lyrical Tokarev, kill them all" which makes sense). But, don’t worry, the creators make up the lack of fanservice with blood, guts, and hyper-violence. I do have to admit the fighting scenes are very well done. Though, they do have those “so impressive it has to be shown off-screen” moments but overall entertaining.

So, is it all good? Well, not really. MWP has two main problems, apart from the obvious one: being too short. I’ll settle that by saying I think it’s the right length of time. This level of insanity couldn’t be sustained past 2 hours, let alone 3. OK, the problems are linked to what I mentioned previously. Well, this show has a tendency of placing scenes of hyper-violence with scenes of anything else but. It is a bit jarring upon first viewing but after a while it’s not as noticeable. In addition, there are scenes that are crazy/insane that are followed up by even more crazy/insane stuff. I call it ‘WTF ratcheting’.

Another thing I like about this is the English dub. Granted, in the original subbed version it is very good. The English dub, done by AnimeWorks, is not that bad. Some of the references get lost in translation, but what can you do about that? Not much. It does feature Veronica Taylor and Dan Green as Punie and Paya (bad!@# version). It’s good to see them still working even if it’s just AnimeWorks releases. Past that though, the rest of the dub cast aren’t particularly well-known, but they do a great job. Some of them do overdo it sometimes, but considering how crazy this show gets can’t you expect a little ham?

Anyway, would I recommend this? Yes, definitely. It has the right mix of crazy, insane and surreal entertainment that works well. It’s a nice 2 hours of fun. Though, it has to be seen to be believed.

Next week is Golden Boy Part I.

The Eclectic Dude  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

May 2012 Announcement

Well, I am on Maybreak from school and so I decided to do another themed month. I mean, why not? It’s been a while since I did a themed month, by that I mean two months.

This time, the theme is “Guilty Pleasures”. Now, in anime, there are those titles that are either infamous for some reason and/or so out of bounds in terms of mainstream standards that it’s hard to get into. Titles like that include Panty and Stocking w/ Garterbelt, Queen’s Blade, Ikki Tousen, Elfen Lied, and others. You know, those shows that when you mention liking them in conversations with your anime friends, they give you weird wide-eyed stare like ‘what the heck is wrong with you?’.

Granted, I haven’t watched much of Queen’s Blade of Ikki Tousen as they seemed too much for me (too much as in being too stupid). Eiken I would consider a 'guilty pleasure' if it wasn't so dull, boring and insipid, so I don't.  Elfen Lied I watched all at once and that was it. Panty and Stocking I watched around the time and enjoyed it quite a lot and hope on getting the collection on DVD this summer, perhaps reviewing later in the year. Not at this moment, unfortunately.

Of course, being a personal blog of written anime reviews, I have chosen three titles that I consider ‘guilty pleasures’, at least in my opinion. Here’s my schedule, returning to Sunday releases:

May 6th Anime Review No. 30: Magical Witch Punie-chan

May 13th Anime Review No. 31: Golden Boy Part I

May 20th Golden Boy Part II

May 27th Anime Review No. 32: I Dream of Mimi  

Once again, I am doing a two part review on Golden Boy as I own it on a 2-DVD collection.
If you haven’t heard of any of these, then prepare for it. If you have heard of one of these (and you probably already know which one that is), then still prepare for it. It is going to be interesting.