Friday, September 26, 2008

Aria the Animation

Aria the animation

Aria the Animation

Length: 13 Episodes

Rating: 7.5/10

Genre: Slice of Life, Comedy

Plot: come and observe the life of Akari, an undine working for the Aria Company in Neo Venezia, on the planet aqua. Aqua is what’s formerly known as Mars, after humans managed to pull up water from the surface and make the planet one that of water. Earth, known as Man-Home, has become an almost impossible place to live.

Akari came to Aqua a year and a half ago and started working as an undine, or someone who steers gondolas. Join her as the makes new friends and learns more about Aqua. That’s really it. It’s the ultimate slice of life anime. There’s no suspenseful plot, you watch it to observe the lives of those in it.

So that you don’t get confused by what’s going on sometimes, I’ll explain a bit about Aqua.

There are four key jobs that are essential to Aqua. They are the Undines, Sylphs, Moles, and Salamanders. Undines are responsible for piloting gondolas, and there are three main companies – Aria Company, Himeya, and Orange Planet. They transport many people from place to place, and also serve a s a major source of tourist income. There are three levels to being an undine – the two apprentice levels, which are Pair and Single, and Primas, who are the professionals. You can differentiate between the ranks by the gloves on their hands – a pair has two gloves, a single one, and a prima none. It is the want of all Pairs and Singles to become a Prima, because they can then take around customers on their own and mentor other pairs and singles.

Sylphs are the package deliverers. While there still is a ‘traditional’ mail system, most of the mail is done through the sylphs, who ride around on hover-bikes transporting the goods.

Moles and Salamanders make Aqua inhabitable however. Moles live underground, and they control the planet’s gravity. Its very important to do so, because the strength of gravity is about 1/3 that of earth, which would make things very uncomfortable for humans to live on. Salamanders all live in the sky, in a hovering system known as Wikijima. They are responsible for controlling Aqua’s climate, and making it habitable. The reason that they are called salamanders is that Mars’ nature by default is to be very cold – therefore, the salamanders main job is to make sure that there is enough heat in the atmosphere to survive. That being said, there are still the four traditional seasons.

Analysis- Contrary to what you might think, its actually a good anime. When I first heard of it, I thought ‘this is going to be really stupid. It’s a show about gondolas for crying out loud.’ after being prodded by a friend, I decided to watch it.

Whats great about this anime is that, as I said before, it truly is a slice of life anime. Its very calming to watch this and become immersed in the characters lives. The characters are instantly lovable, and each have distinct personalities just like many people in the real world have, not just the cookie cutter personalities that you find in many anime and manga. These characters are all real people. I think that that is what make this anime so great.

My only downside to it is that it is slow paced. Because theres no plot from episode to episode, there isn’t a lot of suspense contained there. Sometimes it was a force of will to watch them when I was bored, when I could have gone for something with a little more action. This anime you probably should watch when you’re content with everything and you’re not just watching anime because you’re bored and have nothing else to do.


Akari: She is a very loving girl, and also very innocent. She takes everything sentimentally, and feels obligated to help others at most chances. However, she is prone to panic if something starts to go wrong. She is a single for the Aria Company.

Trademark Phrase: Ehh??

Aika: Heir to Himeya she takes everything seriously. She isn't one for touchy-touchy feelings, but if theres someone that she really likes, then she becomes pseudo-obsessive. She treats everything as though it were a contest, and as such mimics her instructor, Akira. She has a crush on Alicia She is a single for Himeya.

Trademark Phrase: Hazukashi serufu kinshi! [Embarrassing remarks aren't allowed!]

Alice: A prodigy undine at Orange Planet, she is a naïve, closed off girl. She treats everything apathetically, and first time that we see her, she doesn't know how to smile. Because she is a prodigy, she was treated differently by the girls in her school class. She is the only pair of the group, yet she is as talented.

Trademark Phrase: adding Dekkai to everything [which means something along the lines of big, extreme, very]

Their mentors are the Three Water Fairies, or those who are said to be the greatest undines that are currently working.

Alicia: She is a very light natured girl, much like Akari. She loves people, and she never sees the bad side to anyone. She's best at her social skills, and as such is much wanted by the tourists. She is a prima for the Aria Company

Trademark Phrase: Ara Ara, *giggle [Ara means My, so she's saying My My]

Akari: Much like her apprentice, she deals with everything seriously. However, beneath it all, she's really nice – the rough exterior is her way of trying to properly train whoever is underneath her. However, even with that, she still has a mean streak, which is apparent whenever someone insults her, however jokingly she meant it. She's best at controlling the gondola out of anyone. She is a prima for Himeya.

Trademark Phrase: Unfortunately, I can't find one.

Athena: She is a big ditz head. She is clumsy, silent, and prone to making mistakes. However, she is remarkably perceptive, and helps usually from the shadows. She doesn't make much of an appearance, so I can't say much more. Her best skill is that of canzone, or singing [which, is quite frankly, quite amazing]

Trademark Phrase: Again, can't find one.

Other Characters

Ai: A little girl from Man-Home, she became friends with Aria in the first episode, after which they became pen pals. Every episode starts off with a conversation between the two, which foreshadows/concludes the episode in some way or another. In the two episodes that she appears in person, I really don't like her. I can't really explain why though.

Now, before you all yell at me for this next part, let me explain. On Aqua, blue eyed cats are considered to be lucky, for they embody the water goddess. Because of that, all gondola companies have a blue eyed cat as their president.

Aria: A big, fat, Martian cat, he is my favorite character. He can understand human speech, and loves having fun. He is curious, as all cats are, and he likes to help out other people.

Trademark Phrase: Pyun nyan nyan nya! [Ok, its basically the only thing he says. He's a cat. But i love his voice].

Hime: A Persian cat [I think], like her name suggests, she has a very regal manner to her [Hime means Princess in Japanese]. She is president of Himeya.

Maa: A ... weird ... cat ... who loves to bite Aria's stomach. He is president of Orange Company.

Music: The music in this anime is very calm, very relaxing. Something thats unique is that there is no opening sequence - rather, the song is played in the background while we watch the characters do stuff.

Akari, who is the Main Main Character of the show.

The three main characters from right to left - Aika, Akari, and Alice

Akari, Aika, and Alice, all with their 'reaction' face on, which they make whenever they're having a reaction to something or talking in a certain way. I rather like these faces.

Aika steering the Gondola, with Ai and Akari as the passengers.

Alicia, who is the water fairy that we see the most.

The three water fairies, from right to left - Athena, Akira, and Alicia

Aria, the martian cat and president of the Aria Company. He is rather intelligent for a cat. On his head, beneath his sailors hat is another cat, Pete, who only appears for one episode.

Aria attempting to help out with an injury that Alice inflicted on herself during the 'Left Hand Punishment' episode.

A landscape shot. There are a couple every episode, and they're all done really well. The three apprentices are all in the gondola, taking their practice together as they usually do.

Now, let me make note that this is the first of 3 series. The total episodes number of episodes is 52. Because they're all called different things, I decided to do each of them as I watch them.

Congradulations if you noticed something weird with the names. They all begin with A!! There are only four main characters in the series that don't: The mailman, who never gets a name; Woody, who is a sylph, and the two cats mentioned above.

There were a few characters I skipped over, like Woody, because even though I could tell you their personalities on the spot, they don't play a major role in the show. Their names are, so that you don't yell at me, Al, Akatsuki, Woody, the Mailman.

I just barely made it this week. I'm probably not going to be able to post next week, but when I next post its probably going to be a manga.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Double Arts

Double Arts
Mangaka: Naoshi Komi
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Length: 23 Chapters, due to Cancellation
Rating: 7/10 [Would be higher if it was longer ...]

Plot: The world has been plagued with a deadly sickness, Troi, for 700 years. The Sisters are the only ones who can treat it – women who have a high immunity for the sickness, they absorb some of the poison from the patient, prolonging their lives. However, in return, eventually they will succumb to it too.

This fate is happening to Elraine, who after treating a patient, starts having the seizures that are unique to the disease. She is saved by Kili, a young boy who was able to stop the seizures by grabbing her hand. While the Sisters all have high resistance to the disease, Kili is the one they've been searching for – the one person in the world who is fully immune to it.

After realizing this fact, Kili and Ellie go to travel to the Church's headquarters, so that Kili can be studied for a cure. However, the assassin's organization, Gazelle, is hot on their trail ...

Analysis: If you ask me, this is a totally awesome manga. Unfortunately, it was canceled after 12 chapters, which made me pissed when I found out. This manga probably would have been about 150+ chapters, with the way that it was developing [Yes, I'm so totally awesome I can predict the lengths of mangas]. Because of the short length, there are a lot of open threads left at the end of it, which is rather annoying.

The idea for this manga is interesting. I've never seen one like it. A sickness that infects everyone it touches, with a certain group of people that can heal it temporarily? It sounds really cool [not that I'd want to have it ... but you get what I mean]. Its one of the most original things I've heard [Well ... Read ... but you get my point].

The name Double Arts [which i feel is why the manga was canceled .. would you honestly read something called like that? I read it through my random search ...] comes around in one of the last chapters. Because Kili and Ellie have to constantly remain in contact with each other, they require a new way of fighting. Martial arts is the way of fighting for one person – Double arts, therefor would be for two.

This manga also has pieces of comedy built into it. How can you not, when two people have to remain in contact ... for every waking [and sleeping] moment of the day?

The fights are also well done, although not on the epic proportion. It has the ability to do that however, and it would have undoubtedly done so as the manga increased in length [like I said ... I can predict the lengths of manga. This is one of the ways to do so – if the fights in the beginning are short, and serve to show part of a character's skills, there will be without a doubt a point later in the series where the fights are much much longer and more exiting].

Character Summary:

Elrain Figarte: One of the most widely known sisters, she has cured many patients over her short lifetime, only to succumb to Troi at age 18 [or so]. After discovering Kili, she is forced to stay with him for practically forever. She is a very kind person, and her entire life is dedicated to helping others, even at the cost of her own life [in more ways than succumbing to Troi]. However, she is a very bright and happy girl, if a bit innocent.

Kili Luchile: He is a man of many talents, only one of which is complete immunality [I don't think thats a word] to Troi. His other ability is that of Flare, in which by joining hands with another person, they share strength – in other words, if five people were all touching, then each of them would have the strength of five people. He was taught how to fight by Sui, and is by nature a very artistic [if immature] person. He can carve anything extremely fast and to extraordinary detail. He has a very strong moral code, and hates other people getting hurt. He also has a sunny disposition towards life.

Sui: A pure blooded Nagin, a warrior race, she loves to fight. She would fight anyone to show that she's stronger, and she never loses. She is also a playgirl, and dates many men at once, constantly fooling with their emotions. She's even dated Kili thrice, dumping him each time [which is very funny to watch]. Her weapon is, surprisingly, a metal hula-hoop. However, even with her strength and her playgirl mentality, she is a very immature person, who loves taking risks just to see other people's reactions.

Fallan Denzel: A genius fighter, he is the one to teach Kili and Ellie how to fight. He knows all of the martial art styles in the world, even though he is a teenager [about 19 years old I think]. He has taught many an apprentice, each of them learning a different style. He is feared by many, and there are a great many rumors about his feats. However, he only fights for himself, never to protect others [which, quite frankly, is unique. I have never read another manga character who does so – most of the time, they fight to protect SOMEONE].

The rest of the characters, as important as they might become, I cannot tell you ... because its CANCELED!!! [And I'm still very sad about that ...]

Kili [on the right] and Ellie [on the left] being told by one of the heads of the Sisters that they will have to hold hands forever.
Fallan facing an opponent, who is only able to fight after being told that the opponent's main target is him, instead of the kids.
Sui riding her metal hula-hoop on the wall, using the speed to attack the opponent.

Anyways, this is an example of something that is really good, but canceled before its time [much like Firefly. Its also one of the reasons I was able to get this out so quickly - Because there's no ending to it, I didn't have to spend much time either reading it or trying to avoid spoilers.

I'm going to try and get it at a review a week, maybe 2 if I'm lucky. I can't guarantee anything though.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

One Piece

One Piece

One Piece

Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy

Mangaka: Eiichiro Oda

Length: 514 chapters, compiled in 51 volumes [So far. This manga has been going since 1997, and it shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.]

Rating: 9/10

Plot: It is the grand era of the pirates, brought upon when the great Gold D. Roger was executed 22 years ago. Pirates from all over search for his great treasure, the One Piece, hidden in the treacherous waters of the Grand Line.

Our adventure begins when an 8 year old boy, Monkey D. Luffy, eats the Gum Gum Fruit, one of the many Devil Fruits – a mystical fruit that will give you supernatural powers, while robbing you of your ability to swim. He gained the ability to stretch any part of his body, as he is now, quite literally, a rubber man. His dream is to become a pirate – and he does so, 10 years later. He travels the seas, picking up crew members, fighting against evil pirates and the Shichibukai, the pirate slaves of the government, and then facing the dangers of the Grand Line in order to capture One Piece and become the king of all pirates.

Analysis: It’s a fun manga to read. When it started, it was only supposed to go on for 5 years or so – you can tell this just from the way the plot works out in the beginning. It moves along a lot faster and the fight scenes aren’t as long as they get.

The characters are more loped on than anything – they aren’t given much of a background before joining, and there isn’t much reason for them to do so. However, later on, the manga gets very exiting. Characters are given a lot more depth before we even know that they’ll be joining the crew – sometimes we don’t even know if they’ll be joining at all.

That being said, the plot of the manga is very good. Because its such an open ended dream – become king of the pirates, get one piece – there are many things that can happen in between. This is furthered by the grand line by itself – its made of up many islands, each of which has their own magnetic pull – you need a special device, called a lock post to navigate through the islands. In order to get the lock post to lock, you have to stay on each island for a specific amount of time, which can vary. Its basically an excuse to have an adventure, and it works out really well.

As the manga goes on, the characters start to reveal themselves more fully. It’s the great part about having such a long manga, that you can develop the characters a lot. It also leaves room for very long fights, most of which are really well done. They’re fun to watch, and they’re filled with suspense. My only problem with them is this – the protagonist, Luffy, is extraordinarily strong, all due to his self training that was done during the 10 year time skip in the first chapter. We never actually see him training for anything. He gains one technique in one of the last arcs, and he made it up kinda spur of the moment. It just seems very unlikely that he can beat some of the strongest pirates in the world without training.

Finally, there is the matter of the grand line. Ignoring the sheer impossibility of the entire place, in the first part of the manga, the grand line is described as a place full of horror, fear, death, and destruction. Now, while the latter two might be true [there certainly are a lot of fights there], it doesn't seem like something very scary. The only real big deal are the pirates who you can circumvent [or fight – if you're too weak, then shame on you]. Everyone makes a big deal about how scary the grand line is, but i just don't see it. Now, it is dangerous mind you – the weather patterns make it almost impossible to navigate, which makes for very scary waters to travel through. But nothing as to the extent that you are made to believe.

Now, for fun, I thought that i would compare the pirates of one piece to the pirates of the real world [Yes, there is such a thing]

For the first part, the pirate ship does not work as it does in the manga. Its not a matter of who is the strongest in terms of fighting ability – rather, for the most part, it was done democratically, with the crew electing who the captain is. Their targets would not be a treasure, whether by following a map [of which the idea entirely came from Treasure Island], but any passing merchant ships. Most of the time, pirates would be working for a government – these were called privateers. It was often hard to tell the difference. Fights were not decided by who was the stronger fighter. They were usually decided by who caused the biggest amount of damage to the other ships. In most cases pirates would win without a fight, due to their fearsome reputation.

Next is the pirate flag. The jolly roger as we know it, and as every pirate crew has [although edited some per crew] in One Piece, wasn't prominent in a lot of ships. Often it would be a black flag for fight to the death, or red flag for fight with mercy. If it wasn't this, then it would be a national flag to try and lure prizes [ships] into a sense of false security.

Pirates were not respected by most people. They were seen as barbaric brutes who only were out for themselves. This is almost the exact opposite as the manga – pirates are often seen as a hope for people, while some people hate them.

The fact that there are women pirates in One Piece is astounding. Now, i don't have anything against women, but in history there have only been 5 reported cases. There might have been more, but either way it is a very rare occurrence. The women pirates in One Piece are often very important members of the crews, and in some cases lead them as the captain.

Finally, the last thing that I can remember is the noted lack of ships on the sea. Even before making it to the Grand Line, the only ships that you see are either pirate ships or marine ships. Its as though boats only exist for those two purposes.

Character Summary:

Please note that I'm only going to do the first 5 crew members, who are the ones that appear before the Grand Line. I'm doing this in order to avoid spoilers to the maximum, because generally a character joins at the end of an arc. I'm also not covering the villians, because they are usually arc specific. Secondary characters are not being covered as well because, even this far into the manga, we don't know alot about the important ones.

Strawhat Luffy, AKA Monkey D. Luffy: The hero of the story, he ate the Gomu Gomu Fruit [Gum Gum Fruit] when he was eight years old. Upon doing so, he gained the powers to stretch any part of his body to any length imaginable, however he gave up the ability to swim. He gained his nickname, Strawhat, from the straw hat that he always wears on his head. It was a gift from Red-Haired Shanks, a pirate whose crew used Luffy's town as base when he was young. It is his most treasured possession, and it becomes the symbol for his pirate crew.

Luffy is a very simple boy. He has a strong moral code, and he's not too smart. However, he is a very strong fighter. He has high agility and strength, which he calls out to its fullest when used in combination with his rubber-stretching powers, which usually consists of him flinging his arm back, then letting it snap forward to hit his opponent. Its more complicated than that, but its hard to describe in words. He LOVES meat - it is the only thing that can give him enough energy to do anything.

Roronoa Zoro: The second person to join Luffy's crew, and its 1st mate, he is a master swordsman. There is one difference between him and normal swordsmen however – he uses three swords [He places the third in his mouth]. He made a promise to a childhood friend/rival to become the greatest swordsman in the world, and as such whenever facing a swordsman he tries his hardest never to lose, even if losing would mean walking away alive. His strength is amazing [and his teeth are most likely made out of diamonds, as well as having a mouth as dry as the desert], and before joining the crew, was feared as one of the best pirate hunters. He has a fierce rivalry with Sanji [Look Below]

Zoro is a fun guy. Like Luffy, he isn't too smart, but he is very loyal. He has a terrible sense of direction, and as such usually gets lost. His skills, as mentioned, are very good. While he has not eaten any Devil Fruits, he can beat most of them. Fun fact about his attacks – most of them are named after food, and are puns. For example, one of the first 'special' attacks that he uses is Oni Giri. Oni means demon, and Giri means slash, so therefor it would mean Demon Slash. However, an Onigiri is a rice ball thats often eaten as a snack. The same is true for his swords – the kanji for them can be read multiple ways, mimicking food or something deadly.

Nami: The third to join the crew, she serves as the ship's navigator. Before joining them, she introduced herself as the pirate thief, stealing treasure only from other pirates. She is really one of the only ones with any brains in her head. She acts as the ship's conscience for a good part of the series, and while to start off she didn't have any fighting skills, they grew later on as a result of her feeling weak and helpless.

When Nami first shows up, you don't know whether or not she is going to join – she disappears for a while, then shows back up. She is the first one to have a real strong plot and back story appear, and as such is very memorable.

Usopp: The fourth to join the crew [Gee, I wonder if I'm going in some sort of order here ...], he is the ship's sniper. He has a very big head and is full of himself, often calling himself the captain before being shot down [Get it? He's the sniper and he's being shot down ... Ha ha ha ... Punny ... :(]. His father is a part of Shank's crew, and its partly for this reason that Luffy takes a liking to him. He's also a very big liar, and he loves making up stories to impress other people with his amazing, but very fake, deeds. For a lot of the series, he is a gag character, but he gains a lot of strength later on.

Usopp is mostly used as comic relief. Until one of the arcs, he is not too strong, but his attacks are always fun to watch. He uses a slingshot to do his sniping with, and he has an assortment of bullets, ranging from explosions to hot pepper. Contrary to what it appears, he can analyze situations very easily. His most defining feature is his nose ... which sticks out a foot in front of his face. He is also a big coward.

“Black Legged” Sanji: The fifth to join the crew, and the last to do so before the Grand Line, he is the chef of the ship. He was taught how to cook and fight by Red-Legged Sef, and as the name suggests, only fights with his legs. His dream is to find Deep Blue, a place where all of the oceans in the world intersect, that contains every species of fish imaginable. He loves women of all sort – except if they're ugly. But, even if they are, he will never hit a woman. The only times that he gets angry is when food/cooking is insulted, or if a woman is harmed. That, or any time that he is in the same room with Zoro, who as mentioned before, has a rivalry with.

Sanji is a good character. After Nami, he is the most level-headed of the crew, but he can still be an idiot sometimes. He is the third strongest in the crew, and like the first two, he has a strong code of honor. He constantly smokes a cigarette, which was changed to a lollipop in American versions of the manga/anime.

Overall, I really liked this series. Its quite addicting, even though it is rather long. I read it in a week, which was only possible because I was under a bet and I kinda forgot about doing everything else during that time. I highly recommend reading this [But definitely at a slower pace than what I did. Maybe do like 2 volumes a night]. I wish that i could have written a better summary, but its hard to do so with this manga without giving anything away. Maybe in a bit I'll go back, look it over, and rewrite it. Here are some pictures depicting some of the fights – these aren't the best in the series, nor are these comedy shots. Like I said earlier, the manga gets a lot better as it gets on, in terms of fights and comedy. I tried to not go too far into the manga so as not to ruin anything, but these pictures don't fully represent how good this manga is. Not only that, but the quality of the manga increases - another good part about it being so long is that you can see the artwork change over time.

Luffy fireing off a Gomu Gomu Pistol [Gum Gum Pistol - you'll see it alternate in the different scanlations]attack at a sea king, a monster that inhabits alot of the oceans. This is only one of his many attacks.
Zoro with his three swords [His fights are some of the best in the series, they're really cool].
Sanji kicking around some opponents after they insulted chefs, cooking, and food in general.

Usopp using a fire shot fired from his slingshot on a merman.

A picture of their Pirate Flag on the Going Merry, the ship that they aquired. Its mostly for this that the crew was called the Strawhat crew. [I know that it says Rufi in it, but that is because in japanese, R and L sound the same, so some people translated it as Rufi. However, the majority of the scans are done Luffy, and that is how it was translated into english.]

Again, sorry that it took so long. My Internet has been out of wack lately, so it was hard to keep working on this. I just read another series so I'll have that review up within the next few days.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Kaze Hikaru

Sorry for the lack of updates - I had a very hectic schedule. I was going to post a review for One Piece, but I decided to read up about the history of pirates first. So here is Kaze Hikaru

Kaze Hikaru
Rating - 5/10
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Shojo

Plot Summary: Kamiya Seizaburo joins the Miburoshi. When she was younger, her father and brother were both killed, and she hopes to use the Miburoshi in order to take revenge and restore her honor. However, theres a slight catch - Seizaburo isn't really Seizaburo, nor is he really a he. In fact, its Tominaga Sei, a girl masquerading as a boy. Her skills parallel that of most males however, and she is able to pull it off ... that is, until she thinks that she can't stand it anymore and tries to run away. She finds a spy and in the process of defeating him, it is revealed that she is a girl to Okita Soji, another member. Soji promises to keep it a secret, and a romance starts to bloom.

Analysis: Its an iffish manga, although it is very true to the Historical Fiction genre. The plot of the manga is basically as follows - open up a japanese history textbook, add a girl masquerading as a boy, and there you go. The Miburoshi are more commonly known as the Shinsengumi, an army for the government that was later used as a scapegoat in order to escape promises. However, its good if you want to learn something about japanese history, as it doesn't change it too much. Part of the manga is dealing with historical events, part of it is slight comedy, and part of it is just girl/romance stuff. Again, as I say with stuff that I rate 5 or lower, read it if you want, but only if you're bored.

Characters: Well, I said who Sei was, and you know the name of the organization ... Everyone else in the manga is a real historical figure. Look it up.

Hopefully later this week I'll have the One Piece review up.