Haruhi vs Ouran?

Posted on June 29th, 2006 in Anime & Manga by andrija

It seems that Haruhi Suzumiya and Ouran High School Host Club are considered the two best anime shows of the spring season, by anime fandom at large. There are polls everywhere trying to determine which one is better.

It’s funny to hear people saying things like “Haruhi Suzumiya is overhyped”. Haruhi overhyped? Uhm, it’s a show that wasn’t even on the radar. The “hype” comes solely from the word of mouth. Which is the best recommendation something can get. The same can be said about Ouran.

Both Haruhi and Ouran are specialty series that don’t appeal to mainstream so it’s hardly a surprise people are divided. For me, personally, Ouran is the one that has less appeal. Haruhi is just so well done. It’s not an amazing show (compared to say Lain or Gundam Seed or FMA), but it shows what can you get when you take a good premise and polish it to greatness by animators, storywriters, choice of music etc. Craftmanship shows in every frame and many little details.

While Ouran… The biggest problem with Ouran is that the lead character (if the girl dressing like a boy is one, that is) is completely flat. We know next to nothing about her/him after 13 episodes. I can’t recall any series of this quality that had a lead so flat. That’s another reason to rate Ouran lower. You might hate Haruhi Suzumiya – and who wouldn’t? – but you can’t deny her presence on screen.
What really sucked big time was School Rumble 2 though. After amazing first season, the utter lack of focus, story and yes even humour in many of the episodes is appaling. The “survival” episode was terrible, never mind having two of them (people say it’s an omage of Battle Royale but I know plenty of anime funs that haven’t seen BR, including me – make a reference if you must but don’t make two freaking long episodes out of it!). Both other shows are way ahead. The ED was pretty nice though.

The show that I consider a gem of the season (not the best show but most surprising) is Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. That anime is freaky. It’s a horror/mystery, and the horror part is mostly psychological – and extremely well done – which makes it quite scary. And the mystery part is, well, as mysterious as any show I’ve seen. The execution, scenario wise and voice acting wise, is perfect.  The rest of it is serviceable though I agree it could use a bigger budget. And all this after only 4 episodes.

If women like shonen-ai, do men like shojo-ai?

Posted on June 23rd, 2006 in Anime & Manga by andrija

A few months ago there was a discussion between my friends regarding some articles on the web that analyzed the market for shonen-ai manga (essentially gay love) and claimed that majority of those are straight females. Without going into details and all the philosophical justifications, I decided to test whether the reverse is also true. Do straight guys like shojo-ai (lesbian love)?

Fate/Stay Night Finishes Airing

Posted on June 18th, 2006 in Anime & Manga,Video Games by andrija

When I first started watching this anime back in January, I didn’t know anything about its background. Apparently, it is based on a role-playing game. But it’s a hentai (perverse, or more accurately, with sexual content) game – and if I’m guessing it right, it has harem and dating sim elements in it. That might not sound so strange, until you realize that the game actually has considerable depth – as much as any average japanese RPG!

I have only seen the anime, of course, but apparently it is a well-developed story with multiple endings (though for a dating sim /harem it’s a given), a number of well-developed characters, and a large amount of battles between those characters, which are all unique thanks to a plethora of special finishing moves (called noble phatasms) – which is a given for a RPG. As I said, just like any decent RPG. But it has sex in it! That’s not very common at all, is it (it’s not a rhetorical question, I really don’t know anything about japanese games
that are not available in North america)?

But you should ask, how’s the anime? After all, how many people outside of japan will play this game?

The anime is very good. Entertaining to watch, with great character design, good soundtrack and music, usually excellent animation – and there’s plenty of battles to animate. It grabs you right from the start with a mysterious setting and plenty of information to digest: unusual magic, cool and cute characters (after seeing Rin Toshaka, if you’re a guy, you know you’ll keep on watching!), some comedy to spice it up, awesome battles. And plenty of destruction of property going on.

As it keeps going on, the anime does lose some of its edge. It starts as a 4.5 star anime, and falls as low as 3.5 or even 3.0 on occasion due to missteps in pacing and drop in animation quality and plot quality (as well as plot quantity in those wekaer episodes). It has its ups and downs, but final episodes are all good, and the ending itself is great. In the end, I’ll give it 4 stars overall.

Now, people who have played the game – mostly people blogging around the web, as I persnoally know not a single person that plays original japanese games) – were somewhat disappointed with many aspects of anime, including ending. I’d say it is their curse. Remember Lord of the Rings: the Two Towers? If you’re a book fan, I bet you walked out of the theatre at least partially unhappy. This is the same phenomenon – if you haven’t played or read much about the game, but you do enjoy the likes of japanese RPGs, you’ll enjoy this anime.