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Sailor Moon

It takes a special kind of book to make me read it more than once. The Count of Monte Cristo for example, is one of those rare examples of literary work which somehow strikes home?and delivers something unexplainable that compels me to relive the adventures and personal stories of my favorite characters. And even as good as Monte Cristo is I have only read it twice. In fact, I can count on two hands the number of books I have read more than once and can count on one hand the number of books I have read more than twice. So, a week ago, when I put Usagi is Dead down for the twelfth time, I decided that maybe I should devote some time to writing a review for it.

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Site Revival

I think it’s fair to say that it has been a while since I last wrote on this site. To be honest, there hasn’t been a lot in the anime world in the last three years that really interested me. The tastes and styles of shows that I prefer have somewhat changed in the time since my previous post and as such, most of the shows that Japan was putting out were, for lack of a better word, trite.

Things changed over the last few months. In January, I decided, on a whim, to watch the most ridiculous anime to have yet come out: Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt. Expecting it to be complete and utter trash, I found myself bemused by the statements the creators were making with their art, as horribly obscene as it was. This bemusement confused me as the show was obviously just a mass of crass and juvenile humor that was marketed towards adults.

In answering these questions about anime as an artistic and cultural expression, I chose to watch some of the series that have come out recently. Not only that, but I started viewing media as a whole in a new light: not simply as “was this show entertaining to me”, but as a medium for conveying thoughts and ideas, or telling tales, that surpassed simple surface acknowledgment of it’s perceived entertainment value.

As such, I have decided to revive this poor, dilapidated site, to serve as a sounding board for me to explain my thoughts on some of my favorite shows and other works I feel are of significant value (positively or negatively) to the community of story tellers and story consumers. I also do not think that I will constrain myself to simply “anime”, but will open the site up to be more accepting of media of any source. Books, movies, TV, western, eastern, if I consume it and have a strong opinion on it, I plan on conveying it here.

At any rate, some other news. Given the above, I am not going to review every single thing I watch. That would be silly and a waste of both our times should the series be mediocre or bleh. Thus, if you would like to see what I’m watching and perhaps how I’ve rated it, visit My Anime List site which will give you some updates. I also created a twitter account to live tweet things I am watching. You can view it at @tsunaminoanime.

So, I have a view reviews that I hope to have up soonish. This site will start moving again. I hope that I can at least share my silly view points with someone out there and put a smile on their face.

Bubblegum Crisis 2040

There are few times when I watch a show that I sit there and think to myself, “Am I honestly watching this?” To which I answer, “Yes, I have no idea why but I also don’t really feel like stopping.” Bubblegum Crisis 2040 is one of those shows. I can’t think of a better show to watch and feel a constant bang of wtf-itis than this one. Spoiler: No, Silya will never get a grip (and she gets laid so don’t bother thinking that she needs to).

The Cast of BGC2040Bubblegum Crisis is a remake of an OVA done in 1992 and can best be described as an excuse to put naked girls and mecha in the same show. The story is that after a major earthquake in Megatokyo (the real one, not the pedo one), robots called Boomers become a common place necessity around the world as replacements for manual and dangerous labor. Having rebuilt Megatokyo and made it into a colossal economic hub, boomers are heralded as both great helpers to man and also as subhuman trash. Little does the populace know that boomers can go mad and start killing for no reason. A small group of women, in “hard suits” known as the Knight Sabers, fight to defeat these mad boomers and protect the citizens.

Of course, thats just the first half of the story. There’s also a lot of butt rock, some badly thought out conspiracies that never fully materialize, constant PMS, random singing that can best be described as an alto cat being strangled, and a technological singularity. But really, the only reason to watch is girls with boobs in mecha outfits.

Priss (n): See BitchThe characters in BGC2040 are all one dimensional. The moment you mean the character and note their peculiarities they will not change for the rest of the show. Silya will always be a fruit cake. Linna will never be sure what to do. Nene will be cute and a 5th wheel. And Priss will be a bitch (though she gets a soft side eventually, but you see it coming from a mile away). The men in the story either get killed, fall for one of the chicks, or run away so they don’t matter.

The realism of this show is hardly worth mentioning. At every turn there is something so impossibly ridiculous that even the best of us who can suspend their disbelief will, at least once, go “wait a minute, thats not possible!”. Thousand of gallons of liquid nitrogen freeze an entire building and its contents at one point in the show.. that is, the entire contents, minus the 5 humans who were directly below the tanks when they burst… Yeah. But to be fair, the whole concept of humans creating artificial intelligence that becomes its own species and finds itself into the world is pretty interesting and they pull it off quite nicely.

Nene is a good reason to keep watchingHonestly though, the show isn’t as bad as I make it out to be. Remember, this show was made in 1998 when cyberpunk was the style to have. BGM2040 is probably the definitive anime series of that era (the pinnacle being Akira). THe band, the bad music, the bad computer graphics, the annoying sound effects, the retarded episode titles and name plates, and the open, ambiguous ending they all make sense when you stop and think what the date was. I thought to myself at least once, “Were we really this weird 9 years ago?” And the answer is yes, yes we were. So taken in context, BGM2040 is actually a pretty good show.

Overall, even taking into account the context, concepts, and the amount of boobs, the show falls short of overcoming its mediocrity. But thankfully for people who love 1998 it just evened out. I am thereby giving Bubblegum Crisis 2040 a 2.5 out of 5 stars. “technological singularities are fun! so is impending nene + boomer rape” – From my notes on the show

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Pani Poni Dash!

Wow, its taken me a week to write this review. In that time of procrastination I kept thinking one thing: What in the world can I say about Pani Poni Dash? There’s just so much.. stuff in it but at the same time a whole show about nothing. So here is my attempt at reviewing one of the most hilarious and ridiculous animes ever. Spoilers: lawl.

Parody is what Becky is all aboutThe plot of Pani Poni Dash is best summed up as such: Genius Becky, an 11 year old graduate from MIT, teaches a high school class in Japan fully of weirdoes. Hilarity ensues. Really, thats the plot. Nothing else of significance happens in the show. There is no plot, at all. However, what it lacks in plot it makes up for in sheer amounts of funny.

Chuck Norris would roundhouse kick BeckyThe humor of this show is hard to pin down. Most of it comes from three sources: 2chan, anime and manga references, and obscure cultural references. All three of these make the show extremely unfriendly to people who have either never been near something like 2chan or 4chan or have little experience with the Japanese geek culture. There are so many of these references that there are whole wikis and documentation devoted to explaining them to the viewer. (some subbers put the notes at the top of the screen so have the pause button ready) Even so, there are enough weird antics to go around even for the connoisseur of pratfalls and bad puns.

Himeko expounds some philosophyIf nothing else, this show has some great characters. Each main character has a unique trait that they keep through the whole show. There is no development to speak of, but this doesn’t mean you cant like them anyway. The traits all come into play in the seemingly weirdest places and add much hilarity to whatever situation the cast is in. Here are my favorites. Becky is a precocious preteen who is extremely tsun-tsun (look it up) but very cute. Himeko is a complete airhead who likes crab and saying “Maho!”. However, I would have to say the best character for me at least was Ichijou. Im a sucker for non-sequiturs and Ichijou is probably the queen of the unexpected. Her quasi-insanity coupled with her serious expression and calmness no matter what happens crack me up something fierce.

Obviously this is not a normal review because of the lack of normal things I focus on in anime: story and characters. But that doesn’t mean that a show lacking in either or both of these areas cant be great. Pani Poni Dash! is something that every anime lover, internet fruit, or culture otaku (yes the descriptions are intentionally jumbled) should probably watch. Sure, you wont get half the references even if you are told what they are, but you will still laugh. I did, a lot. Therefore, Pani Poni Dash! receives a prestigious 4.5 out of 5 stars. MAHO!

Rating: ★★★★½

Jigoku Shoujo

If there’s one thing I learned from watching Jigoku Shoujo its that persistence pays off. After seeing the artwork and reading the premise of the show, I watched a few episodes and almost dropped it. I’m so glad I didn’t. After watching the entirety of the first season I can honestly say I loved the show despite its obvious repetitive nature. Hooray for Ai! Spoilers: There are recurring characters in the show besides Ai.

Ai and her helpersJigoku Shoujo is a traditional Japanese ghost story with circumstances beyond anyone’s control but yet still under the control of other humans. There is a website, accessible only at midnight, called the Hotline to Hell. If someone who feels like they are a victim goes there, they can type in the name of their antagonist and to have sent to hell. Enma Ai then appears and tells them that they must untie the red string on the straw doll she gives them for the contract to be complete. However, should they untie it, besides their antagonist being taken immediately to hell, they too will be condemned to hell when they die.

Perhaps I should point out now that this show is extremely repetitive. The above scenario plays out in basically every episode. Victim shows up and feels wronged, they contact Ai, they wrestle with whether or not to pull the string, then they pull it anyway. Seriously, this happens in every episode. Even I, who ended up loving the show, almost quit watching at episode 3. It wasn’t until I made a crucial change of perspective in episode 5 that I began to love the show.

Ai’s emotions are the core of the storyThe real story in this show is not the people who appear for only one episode and act out their vengeance. The story in Jigoku Shoujo is all about Ai. From the start it seems she is an emotionless girl who just keeps doing the same thing over and over. However, this is her job, her duty, and her curse. Once you realize that, you begin to understand the gravity of the repetitiveness. It has a purpose: to make you empathize with Ai. In every episode you see something new about Ai, something subtle and small. Sometimes her eyes get big, she betrays a tiny bit of emotion, or she says something with a slight inflection that wasn’t there before (like when she asks the person if they would like to see death). In the wake of the overwhelming repetition of vengeance, the tiny insights into Ai’s feelings make her all the more mysterious and intriguing. When she does finaly display emotion explicitly it is powerful, beautiful, and terrifying. I personally began to question why Ai would follow her contractors around silently, why she contacted the Shibatas (the recurring characters who show up in episode 8), and why she seemed so sad all the time. Her character became an all encompassing mystery that I wanted to solve.

Ai betraying a tiny bit of concern.Ai’s sadness, and the overall theme of the show, is simple: the human desire for vengeance. Every episode you see the same tragedy play out even though you think “this time maybe they will see the error of their ways.” Before they are left to decide, Ai always shows the victim a taste of what hell will be like when they die. Despite this, they always pull the string anyway to exact vengeance on their antagonist. Trivial matters like stealing or betrayal seem to be far worse than an eternity in hell. Some victims are relieved of abuse for one lifetime to be carried to hell when they die. This trade off is a result of the delusion of vengeance, that nothing could be worse than the situation at hand. This is the driving force behind everything you see and everything Ai feels.

Ai being subtly out of characterIs it right to send someone to hell when they have done wrong? This drama plays out between the Shibatas through the series. The daughter believes that the antagonist probably deserves it and that being sent to hell in the long run to be relieved of a temporary pain is worth it. The father disagrees and wants to stop Ai from continuing her work. Ai all the while stays silent about her feelings but betrays them in her actions. At the end of the season the point is made: no one is immune from feeling vengeance but we all have a choice to act on it or not.

Overall, the unraveling of the mystery of Enma Ai is what makes this show so good. Granted there is a fiercely repetitive nature to this show, but if you can get past that in get into the heart of the story there is a hidden jewel in the silent red eyes of Ai. The emotion and drama of Jigoku Shoujo (as well as the 2 nights of constantly restless sleep due to my mind trying to decipher Ai) garner this show a 4 out of 5 stars. Heres to an equally Ai-filled second season. いっぺん、死んで見る?

Rating: ★★★★☆