things i watched at otakon #2

black bikerSome brief reviews of the marvelous and not so marvelous things I saw at Otakon last weekend.

SPOILER ALERT!

The World God Only Knows:  This anime is about a demon from hell who tricks a high school student into helping her steal the souls of other students.  You might think this would something scary, along the lines of Death Note, until you saw what the demon actually looks like.   Yes, this is another one of those shows in which a bizarrely adorable female character joins forces with a socially inept (and usually cranky) young man for various madcap adventures, usually involving romantic mixups and lots of high pitched squealing.  Sometimes these are good and sometimes they are not.  This  one looks to be squarely in the middle.  Elsie, the bumbling demon, is assigned to capture souls escaped from hell who are hiding inside the hearts of high school girls.  Keima is an avid player of bishōjo games (a sort of computer dating game).  When Elsie, impressed by his skills at winning “girls”, sends him a message asking him to help her,  he mistakes it for a game challenge and accepts.  It turns out to be an extremely binding contract; if he and Elsie do not recapture the escaped souls they will both be killed.  Although Keima has no interest in real women it turns out the only way to force the souls out of the girls is to replace them in their hearts with himself.  So, basically this anime is one long series of this whiny nerd making cute young things fall in love with him one after another.   I watched a few episodes of it at Otakon and it doesn’t look horrible but it’s really not my sort of thing.  I may watch more of; I may not.  If this is your sort of thing, it looks to be one of the better examples of the genre.

Score:  meh.

Antique Bakery:  I slipped into an already darkened room, more to have a place to sit and relax between other things, and found myself really quite enjoying this charming story about four handsome young men who open a western style bakery in Japan.  Three of the young men were childhood friends and schoolmates; the fourth is a former street thug turned boxing champion who loves cakes and wants nothing more than to apprentice himself to the bakery’s master pâtissier.  I watched the first few episodes of the series at Otakon during which the main characters were introduced and found it enjoyable in the way Ouran High School Host Club was enjoyable.  The characters are interesting, there are hints of complicated backstories, and it gains some pluses for having adult characters that actually look like adults and mostly behave like them as well.  (Like Honey-sempai in OHSHC, the boxer character in this anime is bit overdrawn.)   The subject matter, at least from the first few episodes, also appears to be mature, not in the sense of it being explicitly sexual but more in the sense of it not being silly.  I think I will probably check this one out some more.  It looks like it has potential.  (There is also apparently a live action version of this set in Korea that also looks interesting.)

Score:  meh

The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya:  I have a good friend that I sometimes watch anime with and when he first told me about The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya he actually apologized for it at the same time he was telling me to be sure and watch it.  Haruhi is a, well, let’s call her “enthusiastic” high school girl who starts the SOS Brigade, a club to explore unnatural phenomena.  Haruhi openly invites “aliens, time travelers, and espers”  to join her club and after she forcibly recruits one of her classmates (Kyon, who narrates the story), a handful of other students also join.  Unknown to Haruhi herself, she has an unusual ability to alter reality and her three fellow Brigade members are an esper (Koizumi), a time traveler (Asahina), and an alien computer interface (Nagato) sent to keep an eye on her.   Kyon learns their identities pretty quickly but he is enjoined from telling Haruhi because no one knows what will happen if she finds out about her power.    The series itself is very enjoyable.  At Otakon I watched a premier of the new movie. The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, and it was very much in the spirit of the original series, albeit with an unexpected depth and even a bit of melancholy.  One day Kyon wakes up to find that he is the only person in their school that remembers Haruhi.  Her desk at school is filled by someone else.  The SOS Brigade no longer exists, although Nagato still reads books alone in the club room.   She has no idea who he is and neither does Asahina.  Koizumi  is missing, along with his entire class.    The movie follows Kyon’s attempts to find out what happened to Haruhi and his friends and to restore the world to the way it was.  The choice that he alone must make at the end, although predictable, is not without consequences and it is a choice he must make on others’ behalf.  And that’s all I’m going to say about. it.   It should be out just about everywhere by now.

Score:  W00t!

Rurouni Kenshin Trust and Betrayal:  Now and then I get asked what my favorite anime is and in all honesty, Rurouni Kenshin is it. He’s a guy with a sword, what can I say?   I liked it so much I even read the manga all the way through and I tend to not have a lot of patience with manga.   When I read the  manga I realized that the anime followed the storyline until just after the Kyota arc and then veered off into original material.  It probably was also about the time the TV anime showed a noticeable drop in quality.  After the anime was over a four part OVA was released that covered the remaining material in the manga.  The story is actually a prequel, since it tells of Kenshin’s early life as an orphan, and then a hitokiri, and then of his marriage to his first wife, Tomoe, and the tragic events that set him on the road to atone for his life as an assassin.  In the US, the four OVAs were combined into one movie for release and this is what they showed at Otakon.   I’ve seen this before , more than once, and I just dropped in to watch a few minutes of it while I was waiting for something else to start.   I’m glad I did.  It is a great samurai movie.   The OVA is not as cute as the anime series was; the characters are more life-like (as opposed to looking like their manga counterparts) and there is much less of the silliness (Oro?) that lightened the events of the anime.  This is basically a serious movie about how a young boy becomes a swordsman and an assassin, how he finds love and betrayal, how he learns to live with what he is, and how he becomes the man we later know in the anime.   This year is the 15th anniversary of the release of the anime series in Japan and I understand Bandai/Aniplex have a blu-ray box set in the works.  There is also a live action movie coming up in 2012  (being made by the Japanese thank god) and possibly an ongoing TV show.   You know what?  It’s all good.  The more Kenshin the better.

Score:  W00t!

And that’s it!  Otakon was wonderful, not enough hours in the day to watch everything I wanted to see, but thankfully it will all be out on DVD or streaming soon.  And I have an entire list of stuff to watch until this heat breaks.

“”I’m begging you. Establish the context before you start talking.” —Kyon, the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

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~ by gun street girl on August 6, 2011.

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