Friday, October 31, 2008

Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-Chan

Overall Rating: A
Summary: Comedy/gore/magical girl/insane anime follows Sakura Kusakabe, a second-year junior hgh school student. From the beginning, it's clear that Sakura has a huge crush on his classmate Shizuki. Unfortunately (or fortunately, Sakura doesn't seem sure himself), he lives with a crazy angel named Dokoro, a cute assassin from the future whose jb is to kill Sakura, but instead drives him crazy and tries to protect him. Oh, and she kills him, a lot, but she always resurects him with her chant "Pipiru piru piru pipiru pi". Did I mention this show is insane?

The show gets its name from the fact that Dokuro is constantly bludgeoning (and by bludgeoning I mean gory decapitation and dismemberment which somehow manages to be hilarious) Sakura with Excalibolg her gigantic spiked bat. Apparently, in the future Sakura attempts to create a "Pedophile's World" which forces all women stop aging after the age of twelve, and makes them immortal, which offends God (shocking, I know). Dokuro believes he can be redeemed and prevented from going down the path that leads him to create the technology that brings about the future she comes from, and so she acts as his protector by constantly annoying him so he can't think about creating anything (yep, wacky).

Unfortunately, more assassin angels are sent from the future to kill Sakura, and Dokuro has to protect Sakura from her former allies and even her younger sister.

As I mentioned (repeatedly), this anime is crazy However, it's also hilarious and awesome. It takes a lot of the sterotypes of anime and adds in ridiculous amounts of gore and plot so absurd that it's amazing. If you like your anime hilarious and with a little more mature themes, then this one is worth checking out. It's also incredibly short (each episode is only about 15 minutes long and there are 8 episodes), so it's a quick watch.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ultra Maniac

Overall Rating: A-
Summary: Created by Wataru Yoshizumi, the romantic comedy series follows seventh-grader Ayu Tateishi, a tennis club member, and her friend Nina Sakura, a transfer student from the magical kingdom who is actually a witch. Ayu is a well-adjusted 7th grade student. She is the best female tennis player and one of the most popular girls in the school, but she has trouble staying cool after she meets Nina.

Ayu and Nina meet when Ayu runs into Nina crying on one of the school benches outside. Nina explains she has lost something very important, and that's why she's freaking out. Ayu, being the nice and awesome girl that many protagonists of shojo seem to be,  offers to help find the item, but Nina is reluctant to tell her what it is and runs off. After school, Ayu stumbles across a mini-computer underneath the bench where she and Nina met, and assumes it belongs to Nina. After Ayu returns the item, Nina is exstatic, and keeps referring to a "big secret" she wants to tell Ayu, but is unsure about.

In order to determine whether she can trust Ayu, Nina begins following her around. Eventually, she decides to tell Ayu that she is a witch from the Magic Kingdom. Ayu is all "Say what?!? I don't believe in magic or fairy tales. I haven't even read Harry Potter!!!" Nina is incredulous and then spoils Book 7 for Ayu. Okay, not really. Instead Nina uses her mini-computer to cast some spells to help Ayu. Unfortunately, they have a nasty habit of going wrong.

For example, when she tries to make Ayu the best tennis player she can be, it turns her into a boy. It turns out that Nina is a failure as a witch, and she has come to Earth to prove to people in the Magic Kingdom that she is worthy of being a witch.

I really enjoyed this one, and highly recommend it. Of course, I'm a huge fan of shojo so it may not be for everyone, but if you like romantic comedy manga with a touch of the supernatural, then this one is great. There are some great scenes where Nina's magic messes things up, and Ayu has to try and deal with them. In the scene I mentioned where she's turned into a boy, she isn't used to being in the body, so even though she's supposedly faster she makes a lot of mistakes. Of course, since this is a shojo, she is very attractive as a boy and all the girls develop a crush on her. Classic.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Gurren Lagann

Overall Rating: B+
Summary: This Shōnen anime takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where humans have been forced underground and live in isolated villages. The villages each have their own leaders and beliefs about the surface world, but few ever venture up to the surface themselves. Due to frequent eartqaukes, which damage the villages, individuals known as "diggers" are constantly digging tunnels to expand the villages.

The series follows Simon, a fourteen-year-old digger from Giha Village whose parents were killed in a cave in. One day, Simon finds a small, glowing drill while digging, and
fashions a necklace for the strange drill. After finding the drill, he runs into Kamina, an eccentric trouble-maker who dreams of finding his father on the surface. After recruiting Simon to help, Kamina tries to get past the village chief to break the ceiling of the village and get to the surface, but the chief stops them and throws Kamina in jail. Simon is let go as he is the village's best digger, so they need him too much to throw him in jail. Apparently, he is the rich, white male of the village.

While Kamina is stuck in jail, Simon returns to digging, only to find a "big face" deep in the tunnel. He breaks Kamina out to show him, but they are interrupted by the collapse of the ceiling, and an enormous robot falling into the cavern.

Yoko, a girl wearing a preposterous outfit consisting of a bikini top, hot pants, boots, and a scarf, appears with the robot and tries to take it down with a HUGE gun, but she misses a one-shot kill because Kamina is an idiot (this is a running theme in the show).

Simon takes Kamina and Yoko to show them the "big face", which is actually a small robot! The drill he found earlier turns out to be a key that he uses to activate the robot, which they name 'Lagann'. Together, Simon, Kamina and Yoko use Lagann to destroy the invading robot and break through to the surface.

The surface is a desolate wasteland inhabited by creatures called "beastmen" who pilot "Gunmen" (mecha like the one they just destroyed and Lagann. Simon and Kamina decide to defeat the beastmen so that humans can once again claim the surface, and set off on a journey to fight as many beastmen as they can find. Yoko and Leeron (your standard gay mechanic whose a friend of Yoko's) join them on their adventures.

This show is kind of hilairous. The more I watch it, the more self-aware I think it is. If you don't mind some fan-service and you are looking for a fun series to follow, then you should check this one out. In fact, I probably would have given the series an "A" if it weren't for the gratuitous fan service in the first few episodes. It seems to get toned down after a few episodes though, so I am looking forward to the next disc.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Plain Janes

Overall Rating: A+
Summary: Written by Cecil Castellucci with art by Jim Rugg, The Plain Janes follows Jane Beckles, a teenage girl from Metro City who is injured during a terrorist attack. After Jane recovers, her mother is too freaked out by the attack to continue living in the city, and so the family moves to the suburbs. Of course, Jane thinks her life is over in the boring town until she finds some true friends; three other girls named Jane.

Adopting the moniker Main Jane, Jane partners up with Brain Jane, Theatre Jane and Polly Jane to form a secret art gang named P.L.A.I.N. (or People Loving Art In Neighborhoods) to make the suburbs less boring and bring art into everyone's lives.

With the police trying to lock them up, some of the community outraged, and others supporting the group, can art attacks help save th girls from high school and the suburbs, or will the land themselves in jail?

I'm not really sure why I haven't reviewed The Plain Janes before now, because I absolutely adore this book. It makes me nostalgic for the days when I was a teenage girl artist, which is weird since I've never been very artistic (or a girl for that matter). I guess that's what really makes me love this book. It drew me in early on. All of the characters, and particularly the Janes, are extremely well-developed and interesting, and I quickly fell in love with it. I highly recommend checking this one out.
Download a sneak peek here