Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ahhh.. Ramona Flowers.. (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World)

This movie in particular was recommended to me by my brother most likely because of my personal interests are very evident in this awesome live-action graphic novel adaptation. Music, specifically playing the bass guitar (there are band battles and Scott Pilgrim is in a band and plays bass), Games (the movie runs like a video game with video game SFX, and enemies turning into coins when stamped out) and a lot of Game-based awesome action scenes. To be exact, the Universal Studios intro playing on 8-bit music and the short Zelda track at the beginning of the movie instantly got my "gamer blood" raging. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. What really kept my eyeballs glued to the screen was the movie's lead female, Ramona Flowers... ahhh.. <3

Hey, what's that look for? mufufufufu.. :) The hot and cool (pun not intended) babe Ramona Flowers as played by the lovely Mary Elizabeth Winstead. She plays the role of Scott Pilgrim's dream girl (literal) and love interest in the story. Her dyed hair reminds me of Clementine from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Well, I think she's too sexy for the role. (or maybe I just think I should be playing Scott Pilgrim. LOL)

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World's theatrical poster. "An epic of epic epicness." Oh, and yeah, this movie, I must say, is definitely EPIC. 'nuff said. :) Also, I love his Rickenbacker 4003 bass. Reminds me of Haruko from FLCL. Now I'm starting to think the 4003 is really made to pwn villains.

Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is 22 years old, plays bass in a rock band called Sex Bob-omb with his friends and is dating a 17-year old high school girl named Knives Chau (Ellen Wong). Pretty cool if you ask me, but later on he meets a mysterious girl, Ramona Flowers, who has appeared a couple of times in his dreams and instantly fell in love with her and reluctantly dumps Knives (uh-oh..). As he continues to win the heart of Ramona, something unexpected happened as he was challenged by a weird guy named Matthew Patel (Satya Bhabha) in a duel to the death while in the middle of a band contest for the G-Man record label. Strangely too, he was able to give the guy a good beating and defeat him in the end turning him into a bunch of coins (insert Mario coin sound effect here). Turns out, Matthew is one of Ramona's "evil exes", and in order for him to date Ramona he still has to defeat the remaining six of her so-called "seven evil exes". Wow. So Ramona is THIS popular. :)

The totally awesome Scott Pilgrim as portrayed by Michael Cera. Although I believe could've made it more awesome if I was the one paired up with Mary Elizabeth Winstead, but I digress (still sour graping). He's perfect for the role. :)

Scott Pilgrim's rockin' band, Sex Bob-omb. Stephen "The Talent" Stills (Mark Webber) on the guitar and vocals, Kim Pine (Allison Pill) on the drums, and Scott on bass. They play pretty awesome rockin' tracks throughout the movie.

Despite his friends' protests, Scott dated  a 17-year old high schooler, Knives Chau (Ellen Wong) who's head-over-heels in love with Scott. Too bad she got dumped later after Scott dated Ramona and her at the same time. Lucky bastard.

Scott didn't know what he was getting into and was creeped out by the fact that Ramona's seven evil exes are out to beat his ass to a pulp.

Scott's in for some real hell as he tries to defeat (or at least save his ass) from Ramona's evil exes out to get him. Ramona gave him a list of her seven crazy exes revealing at the same time how weird her love life (or preferences) has been. There's Matthew Patel who dresses up like a pirate and summons voluptous demon girls. Lucas Lee (Chris Evans) who was a famous skater, now a famous actor and brags, he's nothing without his stunt team (acting doubles). Eh? Todd Ingram (Brandon Routh), the bassist for "The Clash at Demonhead", where Scott's ex, Envy Adams (Brie Larson) is the lead singer whom Todd is currently dating. Todd is vegan and has cool "vegan powers" that gives him an extreme advantage against Scott in battles. There's also Roxy Richter (Mae Whitman) who Ramona claims to only have dated her at a time when she was a bit "bi-curious". Roxy is capable of teleportation and uses a bladed chain-sword (similar to the one Ivy from the game Soul Calibur uses). If dating someone from the same sex isn't crazy enough, how about twins? Sex Bob-omb went against the japanese Katayanagi Twins in an amp versus amp battle of EPIC proportions. Scott summoned a gigantic sasquatch from his bass guitar to go up against the Katayanagis' twin dragons summoned from their synths. Last but not the least the final member and perhaps the leader of the league of evil exes, a mystery guy whom they only knew by the name Gideon. Turns out later, he's someone bigger than they'd expected.

Lucas Lee, one of Ramona's evil exes kicks the crap out of Scott Pilgrim. One great thing about the movie is the way the action scenes are portrayed. Greatly executed, incorporates fighting game stuff like combo numbers and stuff and gives you that comic book-like feel of explosive action.

One of the parts I've enjoyed watching in the movie is this bass battle between Todd Ingram and Scott. Scott got pwned since his bass playing, compared to Todd's was meh. LOL

Ramona pulls out her weapon of choice: a huge hammer, as she lashes it out with her evil same-sex ex, Roxy Richter. Cool enough, it came from her small bag: a hammerspace.

A battle of literally epic proportions, Sex Bob-omb battles it out, amp versus amp against the Katayanagi Twins. Their sasquatch against the twins' dragons plus rockin' music gives you one awesome fight scene.

Scott levels up as he earns the "Power of Self-Respect". The best thing, for me, about this movie is its game-related effects and features. Scott levels up, gets 1-ups, enemies get owned by multiple hit combos and turns into coins and shows score points. Plus the cool SFX from old video games makes this movie very unique and awesome.

Hardcore gamers, especially those who still love the classic ones and graphic novel enthusiasts will definitely enjoy this movie for it's computer game-esque feel and the explosive, comic book like action of the fight scenes. Combined with witty comedy, rockin' band tracks, action-packed scenes with awesome and flashy special effects definitely makes this one an EPIC movie experience.
Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tiger versus Dragon! (Toradora!)

Toradora! is one of the most memorable, and one of the best romance series I've ever watched. Though romance really isn't my thing, Toradora! gave me a far different and permanent impression. The progression of the storyline, the timely execution of the plot twists combined with the characters' dramatic outbursts and a perfect dose of comedy definitely had me going on a roller-coaster of  emotions.

Thus begins the crazy romance series that is Toradora!

The story starts out as Takasu Ryuuji enters his second year of high school and tries his best to clear his image of all misconceptions about his personality by altering his "yankee" (delinquent)  looks (which his mother, Yasuko - who claims she's eternally twenty-three, is so proud of, having Ryuuji inherit his real gangster father's looks). Obviously, a little hair gel didn't do the trick and his eyes still give off an aura of trouble causing fear among other students. Luckily, he's classmates with his old friend Kitamura Yuusaku who's willing to help him clear up again his image in the new class and his ultimate crush, the cute and hyper airhead Kushieda Minori. But the misconceptions of his personality blew off unexpectedly quick after his first encounter with the infamous "Palmtop Tiger", Aisaka Taiga whom he accidentally bumped in the hallway, taken an instant dislike to his disgusting "yankee" face and sent him face flat on the ground with a single knockout punch. Turns out Ryuuji wasn't that tough after all. What's worse is Taiga also happened to be in his class and is Minori's best friend. Way to go Ryuuji.

Crazy romance ensues as Ryuuji found out Taiga coincidentally lives next door after a violent, late evening encounter regarding a misplaced love letter for Kitamura and an exchange of secrets on who their crushes are. They then settled on an agreement to help each other out in winning the objects of their affections. Ryuuji also found out that Taiga lives alone due to family issues, doesn't know domestic chores and lives mostly on convenience store food. So, Ryuuji being the nice and helpful guy he actually is, cooked good food for Taiga and even cleaned out her messy apartment (not to mention her hellspawn-ridden nasty kitchen sink). Taiga, taking advantage of the fact that Ryuuji would do absolutely anything in order to get closer to Minori and would even follow her like a loyal dog to do so, turns it into a master-slave relationship and decides to spend most of her time at Ryuuji's enjoying free meals and the warmth of a real family.

As they try to help improve each other out for their crushes, the more they were seen together, and the next thing they knew, rumors spread like wildfire that they were a couple. Well from there on, things began to move in a different direction as the two slowly got along more and more with each other.

"Wanna taste my knuckle sandwich?!"
Toradora!'s petite and feisty tsundere, Aisaka Taiga. Her courtesy of greeting everyone with a piercing stare and a clenched fist earned her the famous albeit dreaded title of "Palmtop Tiger".
"Whatcha lookin' at punk?!"
Takasu Ryuuji's eyes speak in a far different tone than his regular kind and reliable self causing other students to give up their wallets the instant they bump into him and teachers to sink in their seats every time they had to talk to him. Dreaded albeit unfortunately misunderstood.

Taiga and Ryuuji's first meeting ended with a bang just as quick as it was accidental. Apparently, Ryuuji had no idea who he was dealing with and exclaimed a "Naruhodo!" (oh I see!) after seeing Taiga and finally figuring out the moniker of "Palmtop Tiger", then pop! goes the weasel.

The lovely yet cute and athletic airhead of the group, Kushieda Minori. She is Oohashi High's girls' softball team captain and simultaneously works at a number of part-time jobs. An extreme workaholic. She is my personal favorite. Why? Simple. She's just so kawaii. :)

Ryuuji is taken aback and dazzled by Minori's cute smile, wide tantalizing eyes, contagious laughter and the wafting aroma of her sweat after a day's softball practice. Evidently, Ryuuji's got the hots for her.

The rich princess with a gorgeous smile and a dynamite bod, Kawashima Ami and the outspoken, intellectual and overly popular, soon-to-be student council president, Kitamura Yuusaku. Two good friends caught up in the mix of this crazy love polygon.

Ryuuji's buxom and endearing, twenty-three year old mother (as she herself claims but actually she's thirty three. Quite believable though.) Takasu Yasuko. She works nights at a local hostess bar under the name "Mirano". Though childlike and airheaded most of the time, she is a very responsible and loving mother to Ryuuji but can get really tenacious especially when roused while having her beauty sleep.

Toradora pretty much has its own dose of good comedy and hot stuff as well. One of Ryuuji's classmates had this awesome dream of Christmas with sexy bunny girls and Taiga with only a long ribbon to put on. *drool*. Well, the Christmas episodes in my opinion is where things start to snowball downhill with revelations, emotions and drama. Better watch out. Better not cry. :) 

As the story progresses, more characters are thrown into the mix, revealing each one's troubles in life and love as they try to lean on each other for support. Misunderstandings and fights between friends, developing certain love triangles, or better yet, polygons, and life's vicissitudes dealing with personal issues involving family, friends and self-improvement. Life lessons conveyed beautifully in an anime wrapped in friendships, hearts and tears, and how love can be found in places where you least expect it.

 This episode in particular really gave me that twisting, wrenching feel in my chest. Taiga, on her knees on the freezing ground, barefoot and cries alone outside her apartment building. Well, I won't spoil the rest so.. :)

There's something in this world nobody has seen yet.
And if you had been able to put your eyes on it, then you would yearn for it.
For this world has hidden it quite well, so that it is difficult to obtain.
But at some point someone will find it.
And only those who should obtain it will be able to find it.
That's just how it is.
Saturday, September 4, 2010

Youkoso! Hikikomori-san (Welcome to the NHK!)

I chanced upon Welcome to the NHK! (the anime series that is since there's a manga and a light novel) in a very unusual manner. I happened to be looking at some anime terms and japanese jargon (since I'm learning Nihongo) in Wikipedia when I found the term "Hikikomori". Basically it means a "shut-in" kind of person with some social issues. Upon reading further it references to some anime characters as examples. Nakahara Sunako from "The Wallflower" (its Shoujo. Personally I'm not into Shoujo) and Tatsuhiro Satou of this anime. I'd admit this touches a personal side of me thus, my curiosity in taking a peek at Satou-kun's life. Truth be told, It was way better than I expected and I was in for some reality shock.
Tatsuhiro Satou, 22 years old. A hikikomori for nearly four years. On top of that, he is also a college dropout and a NEET. (Not in Education, Employment or Training) A victim of the notorious NHK's conspiracy (as he believes he is).

Welcome to the NHK! is a dark albeit comic series about the unchanging and miserable life of a certain hikikomori, Tatsuhiro Satou and his struggle to escape the clutches of what he believes is the reason for him becoming a hikikomori, the NHK which stands for "Nihon Hikikomori Kyoukai". (Japanese Hikikomori Association, not the japanese cable TV channel) He meets Misaki Nakahara, a young girl who happened to be doing religious rounds of solicitation in his apartment building. Misaki assured Satou that he can escape his miserable hikokomori life through her help and wanted Satou to become the subject of her "project" of hikikomori recovery support. Misaki hands Satou a contract regarding their daily counseling sessions and other things in relation to his hikikomori recovery and also indicates the fine of 1 million yen in case of a breach in the contract. With some trouble though Satou did sign afterwards in hopes of its success in relieving him from the clutches of the NHK.

The cute yet mysterious Misaki Nakahara. She seems to know many things about Satou-kun yet Satou knows absolutely nothing about her except that she goes on religious recruiting much to Satou's doubt and curiosity. She claims she is able to cure Satou of his hikikomori ways only if he signs the contract in becoming her "project".

Tatsuhiro and Misaki's nightly counseling sessions. Misaki discusses various subjects mostly on human psychology in nature. (which I find quite educational myself) Tatsuhiro made fun of Misaki's Freudian psychoanalysis of his dreams by giving her false ideas which had sexual references.

Satou also meets people from his high school. His former high school junior Yamazaki happened to have been living next door to his apartment room and quite similar to Satou is living as a hardcore otaku. He also happened to come across his former senpai (senior) Hitomi who is responsible for introducing him to the thought of conspiracies. Like Satou, Hitomi has been emotionally troubled. She admitted to Satou she had been relying on some drugs to inhibit her depression and anxiety and even recommended some to him. Satou, still in his right mind, promptly declined.

Ever since that new neighbor moved in beside Satou's apartment, he has always been bugged by the same loud anime music playing nonstop almost everyday. Satou, finally at his limit decides to confront the annoying aniota (anime otaku) next door and to his amazement, sees his high school kouhai, Yamazaki in tears. He seems to be having social issues as well.

As part of Satou's escape plan from becoming a NEET (and proving a lie he told Misaki that he is not one), he aims to become a game creator and joins the super-otaku Yamazaki in a project to create the ultimate galge. (erotic game)  Though initially uninterested, his hormones respond with gusto as Yamazaki opened the heavenly gates of the world of galge to Satou.

Hitomi was as beautiful yet odd in high school as she is when Satou met her again. She and Satou were the only members of the literature club and their club meetings were usually spent on playing cards and Satou listening to her lectures on the conspiracies responsible for ruining people's lives. Again, she drags Satou into trouble with her unstable and conspiracy-ridden mind.

As the story progresses, Satou discovers many life lessons and insights as he deals with the sad realities of life, not only in his personal problems as a first-class hikikomori, but also the intense emotions and different problems of the characters and other people which eventually lead to bigger ones and drastic measures of escape.

As most likely, an effect of being a social recluse for almost four years, Satou usually speaks with his furniture. He believes that they are with him against the organization that conspired to make him a hikikomori. In the novel though, it is revealed that Satou uses drugs and his furniture coming to life was an effect of it, though this fact is downplayed in the series.

What made Welcome to the NHK more awesome is it's perfect mix of comedy, sarcasm and irony. Satou joins Yamazaki in shouting loudly, "To hell with women!" to voice out their hate for real women (as opposed to women in 2D) which Yamazaki claims to be less of a human and more of a monster. Suddenly Yamazaki's crush called and asked Yamazaki to go out and Yamazaki, without second thoughts, immediately leaves. Satou, left stupefied, dumbfounded and more depressed after the quick change of events, says to himself "To hell with everyone."

One of the most highly-rated and acclaimed anime series out there, I couldn't agree more. Like many critics say, this is fitting enough to become than just a TV series and is on par with J.D. Salinger's "Catcher in the Rye" with Tatsuhiro Satou comparable to Holden Caulfield of the said novel. Without a doubt, it perfectly touches the events surrounding the life and thoughts of a hikikomori. (from me who experienced the same stuff firsthand) This definitely deserves my praise (for giving me extreme emotional highs and lows, cries and laughs) and being my number one and most favorite anime series of all time.
Oh yeah, the opening theme "Puzzle" by Round Table ft. Nino is cool too!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Vengeance + Massive Swords = Gorefest! (Claymore)

Female knights galore! Well, my fetish for ladies clad in knight's armor got the best of me the instant I saw some images and background description on this anime series. True enough, the numerous blonde babes in medieval armor, wielding large swords, each with her own unique identity and awesomeness really gets me excited. Though I make it sound like a harem, its totally different and way deeper than that. Claymore is a classic tale of revenge mixed with a bit of romance and tons of bloody action. Somewhat along the lines of the popular movie series Kill Bill but in a medieval setting where demons, called Yoma, abound, terrorizing humans and an organization of exterminators-for-hire comprising of blonde, silver-eyed female warriors wielding huge swords, called Claymores exist to protect humans from Yoma.

Aside from the name "Claymore" given by humans (they are actually a nameless bunch) based on the huge swords they wield, these female warriors are also called "Silver-eyed Witches" because of their eyes, their inhuman strength and their cold nature.

Fugly Yoma. Yoma are strange, demon-like creatures who thrive on eating human innards and usually camouflage themselves by resembling regular humans. Regular Yoma, like this musclebound guy, are small fry compared to "Awakened Beings" - Claymores turned Yoma - which are usually hunted by groups of Claymore and takes more different and far grotesque forms.

The story revolves around Clare, a Claymore and Raki, a boy whom Clare took under her wing -which is unusual for Claymores who are usually cold towards humans- as a cook after being abandoned and thrown out of his village because his brother turned into a Yoma. Unlike normal Claymores, who are half-human and half-Yoma, Clare had another Claymore's flesh and blood infused in her body thus making her quite an incomplete fusion of Yoma and human.

Clare, the story's main protagonist. like other Claymores. Clare wears this cold killer-like nature but eventually she warms up to Raki. Tsundere anyone? Claymores are also distinguished by their unique emblem (as seen on Clare's neck-thingy) usually found on their uniforms and engraved on their swords.

Raki is the human kid whom Clare took under her wing as a cook after being thrown out of his town and abandoned by people. Eventually, Clare warms up to Raki as he reminded her of her dark past.

What makes Claymores more cooler than they already look is that their eyes turn from silver to golden whenever they fight Yoma. This is due to the release of their Yoma powers, their physical features undergo changes ranging from eye color to changes in their skin and physique. A side effect of this though is they are prone to becoming a real Yoma if they push their powers to a certain limit.

When Clare was still a young girl, she had requested the organization to turn her into a Claymore using the severed head of a fallen Claymore. The head of the  previous number one and the strongest Claymore in the organization's history, Teresa of the Faint Smile. Teresa saved the life and took care of Clare and even went against the organization just to do so but was slain in battle by the current number two, Priscilla who in the heat of the battle became an "Awakened Being", a Claymore turned Yoma with powers far greater than a normal Yoma. Clare travels along with Raki from town-to-town on her Yoma hunting jobs all the while, waiting for the time to come when she'll finally be able to meet face to face Priscilla and avenge Teresa's death.

My personal favorite, Teresa of the Faint Smile. The strongest Claymore that ever lived. Having a doll-like face, she cuts down Yoma with ease and simplicity like a hot knife through butter all the while wearing a cute smile, thus her title.

Claymore is definitely not for the faint of heart. Clare slices off the top half of a Yoma's head while the Yoma's severed hand is stuck in her stomach. And that's just a taste of tons of limb-ripping, head-rolling bloodbath action this series has to show.

I should say, this is one of those titles that kept me glued on my seat until I've finished watching every arc. The story is very commendable and really gripping especially the character development on Clare and the story's progress on each arc. I really hope a second season would be made as the ending feels open-ended, not to mention, the series isn't even half the story on its manga.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Speed of Falling Cherry Blossoms and Moving On (5 Centimeters per Second)

I happened to chance upon 5 centimeters per second while I was browsing for some new animated movies to watch. The wonderful artwork, CG rendering and the Studio Ghibli-esque (I am a huge fan of Hayao Miyazaki's work) rendition of its characters instantly captivated my lenses and made me decide to pick this one up. I admit though, being somewhat uninterested in the romance genre of movies, not to mention the drama that goes along with it, but being one critically-acclaimed anime and receiving lots of positive reactions and high ratings in anime sites, I really ought to give this one a try.
5 Centimeters per Second's DVD cover
5 centimeters per second is a collection of 3 short yet touching episodes that chronicles three chapters in the life of a young boy, Tohno Takaki and his continuing love for a girl, Akari Shinohara. Tohno and Akari have been very close friends since childhood and eventually their friendship had blossomed into something greater at a very early age. Unfortunate for the two, fate seemed cruel that both their families had to move slowly drifting the two apart. As time went by the two lost communication between each other yet Tohno still held on the hopes of seeing Akari again.
Episode I: Cherry Blossom. The last life-changing meeting between Tohno and Akari. Tohno took a supposedly 5-hour train ride (which became 7 due to extreme weather that day) to meet Akari before he and his family moved further away, thus the slow yet inevitable parting of the two.
Episode II: Cosmonaut. Tohno, now in high school walks home with Kanae, a classmate who has fallen in love with him since middle school. She gives up on letting Tohno know how she feels, knowing, and seeing from Tohno's actions that she is incapable of giving him what he is searching for. Tohno, after years, still longs for Akari.
Episode III: 5 Centimeters per Second. Akari is about to get married and Tohno is now working as a computer programmer. Despite more than 10 years and past relationships, he still longs for Akari. Later, on the verge of a breakdown, he quits his job and sooner, after an incident where presumably he saw Akari once more, he realizes its about time he moved on.
This movie, in my opinion definitely catches the sad reality of the slow pace in which some people who have started together but due to the inevitable, drift apart from each other. The slow yet painful realization and process of moving on in life and leaving the past behind, hence the title 5 centimeters per second.
The speed of falling cherry blossoms in spring which is 5 centimeters per second is used as a good metaphorical contrast to the slow process of separation and moving on between Akari and especially, Tohno.
Tohno, presumptively, recognizes Akari as she passed by him on a train crossing. Both of them looked back to see each other when a train passed by and cut off their views. Tohno waited for the train to pass and after seeing Akari didn't wait, finally realizes its about time.
Hats off to its director and writer Makoto Shinkai for such a wonderful yet somewhat a tearjerker of a movie. Though I don't usually go and pick up titles of this sort, I'm definitely adding this to my favorite movies of all time. Great storyline and majestic artwork and animation, not to mention the great ending song which landed the final blow and made my eyes go watery, it really kept me glued to the screen 'till the end and made me realize again that I had a soft spot too for some drama since Grave of the Fireflies.
Yesterday I had a dream.
A dream of long ago.
Within the dream, the two of us were still thirteen.
Standing upon the vast fields blanketed in snow as far as the eye could see.
In the distance, the lights shimmering in houses were set sparsely, far and wide.
All that was left upon the newly fallen snow were our footprints.
Just like that, we wished without hesitation that one day the two of us would be able to see the cherry blossoms once again.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I-ta-da-ki-maasu! ♫ (Hyakko OVA)

 Interestingly different, Hyakko OVA doesn't seem much of an OVA, in my opinion, as much as I would expect an OVA to be some sort of a short movie. Running for about 10 minutes, this OVA could only pass as a short special or as one of its regular series episodes showing a very different side of Kazamatsuri Touma since in this one she hangs out and gets infected with her wild opposite, Torako's antics.
Things begin to heat up as Torako slowly infects the solitary and reserved Touma with her usual tomfoolery.

What makes Hyakko OVA seem more like a regular episode is that it chronicles another crazy day in the lives of Kamizono Gakuen students, much like how a regular fun-filled episode of the Hyakko series would go, only in this one, It's just Touma and Torako trying out a bunch of different sweets.
Say "Aah".

Touma's favorite café has closed down and apparently she is looking for another quiet spot where she and her reading fetish could hang out. Torako happened to overhear the situation and impulsively pounced on the chance to catch Touma's friendly side. With Torako's legendary persistence, Touma unwittingly, and just as to shut Torako up, accepted the offer. But it isn't just the quiet café, the weirdness of its "master", or the mounds of pastries and sweets. It's more of Torako's crazy and infectious antics.

Torako decides to try each piece of pastry and sweets sold at the café, never missing out on making fun of each one before they eat it. Torako sings "Itadakimasu" in a strange yet funny operatic voice before eating a chocolate pastry called "Opera".

It appears Torako has lots of spending capacity on sweets after taking advantage of Suzume's unparalleled luck and winning a huge amount of gift certificates on a local lottery.

The soothingly palatable, Sacher Torte. A perfect substitute for every Japanese word depicting goodness.

I have read some reviews about the OVA mainly showing the disappointment of some fans, perhaps due to its length or the lack of a better and proper story, yet in my opinion, its not that bad or perhaps it could have been released with other, maybe similar, story shorts although I would say, this is better than nothing. Still, I had a good laugh.
Thursday, August 19, 2010

Saving the World with Paper (R.O.D. the TV)

I remember watching this television series from ANIMAX years back when we still had cable TV. Being one such action-packed show with the heroines' amazing power to control paper and use it as weapons, shields and summoned creatures really astounded me. But what really made me remember this awesome anime is its cool opening theme. Really funky basslines, jazz horns and that cool guitar vibe (combination of tremolo-delay-wah effect for those who have technical know-how on guitars) gives you that super-agent, James Bond-esque kind of feel. Not to mention, its similarly cool ending theme with its relaxing, feel-good reggae beat and that smooth sultry singing voice which is Kazami, one of my favorite singers in anime music.

ROD The TV is a sequel to its three-episode OVA, Read Or Die. The TV series' story revolves around three sisters who are, like Yomiko Readman from the OVA, are papermasters (not to mention bookworms with an exception to the youngest sister) - wielding the power to manipulate and control paper and turn it into weapons and tools of sorts - and Nenene Sumiregawa, a prodigy writer and novelist and is a close friend of Yomiko Readman. She has been unable to produce new material for some time due to Yomiko's sudden disappearance which happened after the destruction of the British Library (where Yomiko worked as a secret agent) 5 years prior to this series.

Nenene Sumiregawa has been suffering from a serious writer's block ever since her friend Yomiko's sudden disappearance and hasn't been able to produce new material for a very long time. Although Nenene tends to be brash, uptight and hot-headed (perhaps due to her already failing job as a writer) most of the time, She can be very kind and sympathizing to the people closest to her as she has shown to the three "paper sisters" later in the series. 

Having a keen and extraordinary talent, the three paper sisters have formed an agency called the "Three Sisters Detective Agency" and have been doing odd jobs requiring their unusual skills and have been working as super agents for Dokusensha, a company similar to the British Library (from the OVA) with underlying shady businesses regarding collecting books which are said to contain unimaginable powers.

 The three "paper sisters" (left to right) Maggie Mui, Anita King and Michelle Cheung. Like Yomiko from the Read or Die OVA, they too are paper masters and each of them has a specialty on using their powers.

Michelle wields a bow and arrow made from paper supporting her sisters in combat with ranged attacks. Among the sisters, she plays the role of the eldest and most composed one albeit her ditzy and sometimes airheaded personality. She is also one huge bookworm and buys a ton of books wherever she goes.

Maggie is the second eldest among the three sisters and my personal favorite. She is very tall yet despite her size she is very gentle, soft-spoken and introverted. Being used to wearing men's clothing (e.g. tuxedos, trenchcoats, pants) she is always mistaken for a boy. Her specialty is summoning familiars (ranging from tiny bats to ferocious wolves to gigantic dragons) and protecting her sisters in combat. In my opinion, she is the strongest of the three.

The cute, petite and youngest of the three sisters, Anita King. Don't be fooled by this brat's cheerful smile though. With her lightning-fast agility, "paper blade"-throwing skills and expertise in martial arts, this spunky kid is unmatched in close-range combat. Similar enough, like Nenene, she is also one heck of a loudmouth.

Eventually, the Three Sisters Detective Agency was hired out to protect Nenene Sumiregawa during her trip to Hong Kong where her latest novel was to be made into a movie. During an autograph signing, as expected by Nenene's managers, an attack threatening Nenene's life was executed by a local novelist who was extremely envious of Nenene's achievement. Lucky enough, Nenene escaped certain death having hired the paper masters as bodyguards. With her life under constant threat, her paper master bodyguards, had to stay in her apartment as part of their job of protecting her. Although it was a bit too much trouble for Nenene having to put up with the sisters' eccentricity - especially with the spitfire, hot-blooded Anita - eventually, they formed a bond of friendship.

Sparks begin to fly as soon as Nenene arrives and meets her mad match, Anita, at the three sisters' apartment along with a literal avalanche of books which broke through the front door. Later on, the three sisters move to Nenene's apartment after they return to Japan, as Nenene's bodyguards.

Later on in the series though Nenene's faithful manager, Lee Linho, abducted Nenene. Apparently he was with Dokusensha and taking Nenene for her talents was part of their plan for some kind of world domination. The three paper sisters though at that time were unable to help Nenene since it was Lee who hired them in the first place. But they know that it falls into their hands to save a friend and along with it, protect the world from catastrophe.

 Lee Linho, Nenene's once kind and loyal manager reveals himself as an agent of Dokusensha, a publishing company having ulterior motives of world domination. Although later in the series, Dokusensha seems to be smaller fry as compared to the main antagonist of the story, Dokusensha's rival, the British Library.

Most of the familiar faces from ROD OVA returns in this follow-up series with some role-switching of villains-heroes. (this time the British Library, where Yomiko used to work, plots to conquer the world.)  Yomiko Readman, still on the good side, plays a supporting role being Nenene's old friend who returns to help them save the world from the British Library's plot to dominate the world through books which contain enough power to do so.

If you haven't watched the OVA of Read or Die, you might get lost on some of the episodes with references to the events prior to this series, although it might not be too much of a problem since the series has a good story of its own complete with twists and turns that'll surely get you hooked. Definitely one of the best action anime series I've watched.

From The Idiot Box

From the screen to your lenses to your brain to your nerves to your heart, lungs and muscles and out. Its a compilation of my take, thoughts and impressions on straight up, good stuff (mostly japanese, anime, music and geek-related) from the idiot box that I like and you might like.

... and idiocy. :)

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