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Feasting on the "Fruits Basket"

26 Sep
Fruits Basket, also called Furuba, is a fantasy, slice of life manga by Natsuki Takaya. Now don’t be repelled by the fact that it’s just-another-shoujo-manga because it’s not. This one’s for those who love manga that tends to lean towards the philosophical side of life and is the best example of one of those life-lessons kind of manga that deals with some serious life issues in an intellectual way.

So here’s what I think of the manga, along with a brief description of the story.
Plot: The story revolves around a young high school girl Tohru Honda (Don’t worry, this is where the cliché ends.) who, after losing her parents, lived in a little tent on the outskirts on the city and tried her hardest to support herself without anyone’s help. Her life, which was already out of ordinary, takes another turn when she finds out that her classmate, Yuki Sohma, is actually a part of a strange family that is possessed by the spirit of the 12 zodiacal animals; and every time they are hugged by the opposite gender, they transform into their zodiacal animal. 

Tohru also finds out that the place where she lived actually belonged to the Sohma’s, but being the kind Sohma’s they are, they allow her to use the space. That doesn’t turn out to be of much help as the tent gets blown away by the storm and Yuki offers her to live with them in their house.
As Tohru continues to live with them and meet new members from the Sohma family, she slowly begins to understand the family’s inner turmoil and quite unexpectedly becomes the biggest strength of a family that is at the brink of breaking apart.

Story: Now if you happen to dig for meaningful stories with life lessons while managing to keep the story light and humorous, this is the story for you!

The 12 Sohmas you come across are more like 12 different personalities you’d probably come across in life and all of them happen to have various problems ranging from rejecting or being rejected by the family to having to grow up being wilfully forgotten by their mother or forcefully make the one they love forget about them. And each character’s story has something to learn from, and I doubt you could ever forget them.
The story carefully deals with various issues of life, one by one, without mixing them all together to turn it into one big mass of confusion. And what makes it better is how the author strings it all together in the end into one precious story that you’d treasure for the rest of your life.
The pacing of the story is great; a bit slow sometimes but quite addictive if you have the patience to give it a chance and give yourself some time to adjust with its pacing.
The romance part of it is just a classic type of a warm hearted girl accepting a boy who has been rejecting and hating himself all along. But in Furuba, this case is blown into an issue so big that it needs a level of maturity greater than just accepting someone because you’re oh-so-kind. And that’s what makes Tohru stand out. She decides to walk the thorny path together with him rather than conveniently pulling him towards the brighter side. And there’s a love story in all the 12 cases and like mentioned before, none of them could have been handled with maturity any lesser than what the characters have.
Characters: Like mentioned before, Furuba has all sorts of characters – literally all sorts! You have a hot headed boy who just wants to be loved, a cute kid who looks like a typical pampered kid but has the worst past you could ever imagine, a girl who’s in denial of herself but trying her hardest to keep the family together and an immensely optimistic girl who becomes the back bone of the Sohma family, all thrown in together to one big messy family that’s overflowing with problems.
I also like how the story doesn’t exactly have a bad guy – just a bunch of troubled people who like to mess things up.
I think the level of maturity that the characters portray is what makes it a refreshing and a sensible read that you can actually relate yourself with (even without being possessed by zodiacal animals) compared to other generic stories.
Art: Natsuki Takaya has a very distinct style of drawing that could be noticed throughout the story – especially the glassy effect of the eyes or sometimes the whole body that never fails to portray the turbulent emotions perfectly. You could say, that’s her signature style that made her art stand out so much from other mangaka. Throughout the story, the art is simple, which fits the simplicity of the story; no matter how complicated it is on the inside, the style is perfect for slice of life.
So that’s about Furuba! Let me end it with a few excerpts of the critics the story received that might give you a deeper insight about the story. (Courtesy: Wikipedia)
As this title progresses the fact that this title was one of the more popular series in Japan becomes clear. The characters get a lot of love. You get to experience them when things are good, as well as when they are struggling. The pacing is perfect. There is a good mix of comedy, fun filler, drama and action (something for everyone). In addition Fruits Basket is easy to relate to. With all the different personalities and the different signs of the zodiac, there is always someone to associate with. There are few titles that can do all that well, Fruits Basket puts all of these aspects together and makes a tasty treat…
Eduardo M. Chavez,
The real strength of Natsuki Takaya’s artwork isn’t that that it looks good—though it definitely does, from its beautiful characters to the intricately rendered textures of their clothing—but how well it communicates mood and emotions. Not content to rely on facial expressions, though she does them well, Takaya is particularly apt at using shading and shadows to indicate character’s mental states… The details of character’s emotions—the disparity between Tohru’s private emotions and her public front, the punishing intensity of Kyo’s feelings for Tohru—are not only discernible but tangible, all without a word being spoken.
Carl Kimlinger, Anime News Network
The entire series of Fruits Basket proves to be a true emotional roller coaster, hiding truly deep and heartfelt drama behind a candy coating of fun and humour. Deep down, it explores many aspects of emotion as the various characters search for their place in the world, gaining strength from each other.
Allen Divers, Anime News Network
Signing off for this week!

Shugo chara – Manga Review

5 Sep

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Shugo-Chara seems, at first glance, like a cross between Cardcaptor Sakura and Gakuen Alice, with the main Tsundere heroine Amu Hinamori being quite similar to Sakura with her job of cleansing the “bad eggs” – much like how Sakura cleansed the cards in Cardcaptor Sakura; and her main rival Ikuto Tsukiyomi being a perfect rip-off of Natsume Hyuuga. Really, there’s absolutely no difference! 
And yet, there’s something about it that draws you in – be it the goth-punk-tsundere lead girl or the emo and flirty Ikuto. The manga has a nice blend of comedy, action and fantasy without anything blindingly ‘shojo’ in it.
The story of Shugo-Chara revolves around Amu Hinamori who is, as earlier described, a perfect tsundere goth-punk character who has a reputation of being ‘cool and spicy’ in the middle school she studies in. However, this is not her true character. Her true self happens to be an extremely shy girl with absolutely no talent in socializing which she covers up perfectly with a cold exterior demeanor. Tiring of this duel personality, one night she makes a wish to give her enough courage to be her true self. 

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As a result of this, three eggs are born the next day, each of which hatches into little fairy characters called ‘Shugo-Chara’ who represent her inner desires: Su, who represents her wish to be good at cooking; Ran, who represents her wish to be good at sports and Miki, who represents her wish to be artistic.

The fact that she owns them is however discovered by the four guardians of the school, who are basically students with their own shugo-chara taking care of the schools administration. They request Amu to be a part of the guardians and ask her to help them find the ‘Embryo’ – a mythical egg that fulfills the owner’s desire. This gets Amu involved in a lot more than she bargained for as she is assigned to be a cleanser of the ‘x-eggs’ which are eggs that represents the wishes of children who have given up on it and not to mention, fight against the evil organization ‘Easter’, that is set out to look for Embryo too.
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This introduces her to the character Ikuto who is sent by Easter and is also after the Embryo for his own personal reasons. As the story unfolds, Amu begins to discover the true nature of the organization and also the mysterious character Ikuto, who strangely seems to be helping her more than going against her. 
But the beauty of the story lies in the intricate manner in which the author has slipped in the situations that we face in real life, that bring us down and force us to lose our true self and cast away our dreams. This, being the central theme of the entire story, is given extreme importance. The author continues to play with the same issue with different personalities who have different priorities and the various methods they resort to in order to deal with their problems and in the end find their true self in their own way.
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This is not the only concern it deals with though. As Amu continues to cleanse each egg, a new problem and a new concern is brought into light with the appearance of each egg and the cleansing indicating that there is always a way out of any tribulation or concern as long as one believes in himself/herself.
As I mentioned before, the most refreshing thing about Shugo-Chara is the fact that the lead girl is not the usual happy-go-lucky and super optimistic hyperactive girl. Instead, she has her own confusions about what she truly is – she is bratty, she can bad mouth anyone if she wants and she’s an imperfect and insecure girl who is still looking for her true self and has a lot more crushes on her classmates than she can handle!
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Apart from her, most of the characters are the usual kind and sweet supporters of the main girl, always guiding her from the sidelines. Be it the Prince-Complex Tadase or the cross dresser Nadeshiko or the baby of the group, Yaya, they never fail to keep you entertained.
And another interesting character is Ikuto, who, like I mentioned before, is a perfect rip-off of Natsume. He seems like someone who’s forced to be bad for some of his own personal reasons and is fighting to free himself from it. And thus, he finds a strange solace in Amu who can strangely see right through him and believes that he might not really be as bad as he looks. 
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Art style of peach pit seems to fit the shojo feel of the manga perfectly. In case you happen to be a girl who is an ardent shojo fans, you would immediately fall in love with Amu’s goth-punk style of dressing. The character designing is quite unique, with each character having their own distinct style and look that sets them apart.
Shugo Chara might seem like a typical shojo at first glance, but I guess it all depends on the way you perceive it. It remains as an entertaining shojo if you don’t bother to look much into the story and it seems like a life lesson if you try and figure out the subtle messages hidden throughout the story. 
If you don’t mind the slight childishness of the story (apart from Ikuto who easily makes you forget that the story is originally for young girls) this is something that is sure to keep you entertained!
– By Seema Kakade
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A Quick look at "Level-E" The Anime Series

2 Sep

Level-E, the series delivers a highly entertaining mix of comedy and storytelling with an original, creative story and a lot of witty, loveable characters a perfect package.
The series is adapted from the original manga series released back in 1995 by Yoshihiro Togashi – the same Mangaka who also wrote Hunter × Hunter and YuYu Hakusho.  It can best be described as a Sci-fi-Alien-Comedy split into several small story arcs spanning a total of 13 episodes. The concept behind the show has some similarities with the Men In Black movies/series in which several species of extra-terrestrial (E.T) aliens live amongst us and we are not aware of their presence.

Every story arc has its own unique story and they are all very different from each other. However in each one the story always revolves around the main character that everyone calls “Baka Ouji” (Idiot Prince) – a blond haired extraterrestrial being from planet Dogura whose ship crash lands on earth.  The best way to describe Baka Ouji’s character is an intelligently-lazy arrogant person who enjoys playing gags on people around him; the other supporting characters are as good and have an amazing chemistry between them, especially the prince’s bodyguard named Captain Kraft whose job is to keep track of the Idiot Prince.

What really surprised me about Level-E is that fact that it delivers a really engaging story in spite of all the humor thrown into it with several plot twists throughout the various arcs. The 3rd episode was one of the best Anime moments I have encountered!! – an ending with a major twist that really changes the whole setting of what this show is all about! (If you find the beginning of the show slightly slow…. Wait till you finish the first arc!)

The presentation of the show is top notch as the animation is by Studio Pierrot – the same studio responsible for Bleach, Naruto and other popular Anime series.  The character design and art style are well executed with really good voice-acting, backed up by great music and a very catchy title-song that really goes well with the theme of the show.

If you are in the mood for a fun, short and witty series with a great ending and many surprises, Level – E is right down you’re alley!

La Mangafique presents: "Anime Species 2"

1 Sep

Hellodarlings, remember me? I wouldn’t blame you for having forgotten,but even drama queens like me need a vacation now and then. Though I don’t knowif checking up on one’s minions really counts as a vacation. Haveyou all been well? Entertained by everything on offer during myabsence? Ready for fresh doses of my insanity?
Then let’sstart with part two of our feature on major anime categories. Whilethe earlier edition dealt with, for lack of a better word, tamergenres within the animeverse, this time we delve into the darker,edgier sides of anime!
Shoujo:Easily one of the more popularcategories, Shoujois a heavyweight in the animeverse and tends to dominate both mangaand anime alike. Heavily characterized by multiple bishounenheroes and villains (allof whom fall for the heroine); ugly ducklings turned into maidensfair (usually but not unhappily in distress); romantic settings;obstacles to the lead pair in the form of disapprovingparents/grandparents/uncles/aunts; and the couple’s best friends whojust about lay down their lives to help in the name of true love. Theterm Shoujoitself translates to ‘young woman/girl’ and denotes the 10 to 18year age-group this genre caters to. Popular examples include KaichouWa Maid Sama, Vampire Knight and SkipBeat. One of the latest to join thegenre, Uta no Prince-sama ~Maji Love1000% is still airing, and has all thegirls swooning. Did I mention rabid fan-girls are a special, freepart of the package? Be prepared to fight for your favourite guy.Sometimes I wonder what it would take to buy my way into one of theseseries.
With so many cute guys to choose from, ofcourse there’s going to be a 1000%love!

Shounen:The second heavyweight contender inanime/manga, Shounenencompasses the boys and their toys. Shounenrefers to boys ages 10 and over and into the grade school years.Anime/manga in this category is essentially enjoyed for it’s crazy,over the top adventures, typical superhero-like protagonists, andconstant battles and challenges that keep one’s adrenalin pumping.Popular hero breeds include ninjas (Naruto),pirates (One Piece)and magicians/wizards/alchemists (FullMetal Alchemist), accompanied by long,ongoing storylines. Another popular example, Bleachhas been selling like hotcakes since it’s inception in 2001, andcontinues to do so till this day with multiple movies and OVAs onlyfuelling the rabid fandom. Merchandise originates mostly from Shounenmanga and anime, with spin-offs providing fans with something to bragabout. This lady does not quite understand the craze, not being ateenage boy herself, but will admit to taking some pleasure in someof the less graphic ones.

What do those faces tell you?This is srs bsns!

Josei:Coming onto the more serious genres,Josei -Japanese for ‘woman’ – is essentially anevolution of the Shoujogenre. Like growing up and dealing with the lesser pleasantries life,Joseidoesn’t cloak the ups and downs of reality, bringing togetherelements enjoyed by mature women into overall realistic storylines.Not as big as Shoujo,but big enough to make an impact, this genre is mostly sought out bythose who seek enough emotional baggage to fill an airport. Tears anddrama aren’t held back, and if you see a glimpse of your lifewithin the manga you read – well then, that’s the mangaka’sintention. Ai Yazawais a known name in this field with two famous titles, ParadiseKiss and Nana, under her belt. Anotherclassic is Honey and Clover, its characters dealing with thevarious issues like friendship, love and life as they mature throughtheir college years.
Fashion, the lowlife, friends, the works.

Seinen:The male counterpart of Josei,Seinen isalso about grown up life – with extra large doses of sex, violence,maiming, rape – you name it. Meant for adult males, anime and mangain this category aren’t for those with tender stomachs or fragileminds. Innocent and likable characters suddenly morphing intopsychopaths and gore galore are pretty much the order of the dayhere. Psychological issues are also deftly dealt with – ever constant,ever biting and may leave you reeling more often than not. You havebeen warned. Popular examples include Monster,Basilisk: Kouga Ninpo Chou, and DeathNote.

Caution! Thatgood looking dude is a psychopath.

Hentai:I’m sure a number of you just scrolled right down to the bottom forthis. Hentaicovers, to put it briefly, everything perverted. And I meaneverything perverted.Sub genres includes Ecchi, Yaoi, Yuriand tons more. This genre covers anime and manga ranging from brieffan-service (cleavage flashing, and so on and so forth) to full onhardcore sex. It rakes in the most moolah for obvious reasons. Guysmay deny it but they watch it, and therefore hentai is the animeequivalent of Playboy (I kid – it can be so much worse!). If you wereexpecting examples, you have another thing coming.

.Ikid. Golden Boyis one such example – and the lady’s not telling you why.
Did my pearls of wisdomenlighten your journey into the world of anime? In other words, areyou there yet? Do comment with what you thought, and what you’dlike to see!
See you next week,with more anime/manga madness!
The Resident Drama Queen
Calyptra Oujo Sama

Gintama – A 2nd Movie Announced!

26 Aug

 There is no shortage of Samurai Themed anime’s out there, but one in particular stands out from the crowd for being bold and different: Gintama.
Gintama has grown in the past few years from a manga to a prime-time weekly show with over 220 episodes and counting (no fillers !). If you are in a mood for a Samurai-related-comedy-themed anime with many parodies and pop culture references, Gintama is your best bet! There is no other show like it… Seriously!!
 That being said… Greetings Gintama Fans – I bring great news!!
Everyone’s favorite naturally-permed, silver-haired samurai – Sakata Gintoki – is all set for his return to the big screen for the second time. Warner Brothers Japan recently announced that a second feature film will start its production soon. As for the release date and the movie title, they are still to be decided.
If you have not seen the previous movie, Gintama: Shinyaku Benizakura-Hen, it was a story-arc from the anime series (Benizakura arc) which was released on the big screen featuring a higher quality of animation and better visual effects than the original series.
Although the first movie was not an original story, its limited theatre release in 90 screens across Japan ended up earning 1.07 billion yen at the box office (not counting the DVD sales).

There is no word yet if the next movie will feature a new untold story, however, I am sure we can expect only good things from it.


– By Sanjay Ramjhi

Anime’s Impact on Modern Entertainment

25 Aug

Looking at the headline, I can’t help but marvel at the oxymoron overshadowing this piece. 
It’s not simply because “modern” entertainment is a forever changing reality. 
Forget what new terrible reality shows TV will cough up next – what I refer to exists especially within the confines of anime. 
Do you break out your imagination and create a macabre yet emotionally murderous cult classic like Elfen Lied? Do you cater to your built-in audience of adult-rated graphic novel games? The cute ‘moe girls‘ from static screens of the past (see Clannad, Kanon, etc) can do all the work. Would you turn a long running manga series into an anime and provide fans their weekly dose of debates on which medium fits the property better like One Piece, Naruto, Bleach and more? The questions are as endless as they are insignificant – because as far as Japanese media outlets are concerned, anime is a dying industry.
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However, anime as a culture, an idea never really created a huge impact at first. It didn’t suddenly decide that it would crash into the Earth from out of nowhere and kill everyone because, Bruce Willis be damned, Japan had had enough. Rather, several small servings arrived in various countries and corners of the global entertainment scene. It wasn’t a sudden and immediate change, as much as it was a small yet rapidly expanding influence. A lot of us around the world had our first real taste of anime with Akira Toriyama’s iconic Dragon Ball Z, brought to English-speaking audiences by FUNimation in the 90’s. Despite the almost universal effect it had on creating new anime fans, people weren’t jumping on the bandwagon en masse. The animated Pokemon series became extremely popular as well. Compared to the success of the video games, however, it simply pales in terms of success. However, they’re contributions paid a humongous part in cultivating a base of loyal anime fanatics (maybe a little too loyal to Pikachu).

Before we knew it, our “normal”, sociable friends were talking about Cowboy Bebop and how it was, like, “totally awesome man”. Slowly but surely the girls began squealing over Inuyasha and not only the robot obsessed but even fans of drama found solace in the multiple iterations of Gundam and Robotech. Vash the Stampede was suddenly the guy to be (at times, literally, with all the cosplay). In 2002, Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away won an Oscar for ‘Best Animated Feature’, becoming the only anime film to do so since the medium’s inception. In fact film legend Quentin Tarantino contracted Production I.G. to create all the anime sequences in Kill Bill – which in turn found their way into Bollywood’s Karam.

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A large number of next generation video games flaunted the anime style in their graphics. Be it the Tales series, .hack, Final Fantasy – hell, even The Legend of Zelda got into the act with Wind Waker. Though the game didn’t do as well as previous Zelda titles at retail, it’s style stands as a testament to the “anime game” genre. 
And that’s not even mentioning XenoSaga. It was divided into three games or “episodes”. It featured long, drawn out cut-scenes between an anime-like cast, Evangelion-like nods to Catholic imagery and symbolism, humanoid robots, and a highly convoluted plot spanning several planets ending in epic battle of the Mecha.
And lest we forget the legions and legions of fans online, dedicated to subbing the latest series from Japan for their English-speaking brethren – even if it’s been attributed to the decline of anime sales worldwide.
However, these ripples throughout our global culture were present even before anime was suddenly the “in” thing. Ghost in the Shell challenged audiences worldwide with its complex approach to human identity. “How human are you when everything can essentially be broken down into information?” Sound familiar? It should – the Matrix series (the one good film in the trilogy, that is) took inspiration from GitS in the creation of its culture. What is real? What is the truth? What is the answer to it all, and how many of us will simple “wake up”? Granted, GitS didn’t have such clean cut moral issues as it did deep-seated philosophical musings. But it gave the same message 10 and 4 years earlier in the manga and anime, respectively: You’re more than the sum of your information and there’s a whole wide world out there to explore.
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This is probably the purest form of how anime is affecting modern entertainment – the very idea, the very essence of an anime, incorporated into a live-action, special effects blockbuster. For everyday, English-speaking cinema going folk.
So what is the final word on the impact of anime on modern entertainment? 
The final word is that there may never be a final word – anime has come forward so much within it’s own right that it’s become almost indispensable. Every company has to have an “anime” style title, somewhere in their comic line-up. An American TV show has to outsource to Korea to give their show that “anime” look they know people crave, even if it doesn’t suit the property. Anime – like animation itself – has become deeply ingrained in our global culture. There will always be trading cards and toys and action figures and cosplaying, even if the anime icons change again and again. The one thing to be hoped for then, is that anime continues to break out and try newer things to appeal to not just today’s fans, but tomorrow’s potentials as well.
– Ravi Sinha

La Mangafique: Anime species: Part I

20 Jul

Anime species: Part I

Yep. This Kind of species.
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So last time was a tentative toe dip into the anime world, and today I’m going to keep myself from shoving you right in. I’ll allow you to test the waters. In a different spot though. Today I will point you newcomers to this fascinating land in the direction of the different genres found within anime.

In addition to the traditional categories found in media: Romance, Historical, Sci-fi, Adventure, comedy etc. there are genres that are unique to anime. Detailing on those genres, I will be educating you all on a few anime that fall into those categories. Hopefully you will learn something. Keep in mind, anime always fall into more than one category. For instance, an anime may fall into the romance, historical, and comedy genres simultaneously.

Without further ado, here’s the list:

Sports: As the name suggests, anime where the main focus is some or the other sport fall into this category. Moral(s) of the story are generally depicted through a certain player/team struggling against obstacles, overcoming them and rising to become the best. Watching may be accompanied by hysteria, excitement, and the kind of whooping usually reserved for rabid sports fans. The author will deign to point out that anime like Hungry Heart: Wild Striker excited her far enough so as to make her forget her lady like behaviour and display symptoms belonging generally to the audience in a sports stadium.

Soccer – Japanese Style
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Gender Bender: Anime that fall into this species are one’s where males dress as/pose as/become females, OR females dress as/pose as/become males. No make sense? The protagonist is forced into a situation where his or her own gender comes in the way of solving a problem. In some cases there is a case of a misunderstanding, which may develop into a full-blown mistake that compels him/her to dress up a person of the opposite gender. Contrary to all the lurid thoughts that are probably running wild in your head right now, such anime is packed with comic scenario’s and topsy-turvy (pun intended) situations that will have you forgetting any cross dressing phobia’s you may have had. Haruhi, from Ouran High School Host Club, is an example of a girl forced to dress up as a boy to help repay her debt.

That dark haired boy up front? Isn’t a boy. You’ll get used to it.
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School Life: Again, as the name depicts, anime in this category is centered on school life. There may be multiple protagonists, or at the very least characters on the side are given more attention. Typically depicted are the ups and downs of school life: grades, first love teenage crushes, best friends, school festivals and parents as obstacles. More often than not, these anime are in the feel good category that transport you back in time to your own school days (for all you doddering ancient people out there) or even makes you look forward to high school yourself! (For all those pipsqueaks yet to enter the realm). Perks include cute school uniforms, lots of leg show (short skirts FTW!), teenage hotties and the occasional school bully getting beaten up.School Rumble is one of the more popular anime in this category with 2 seasons and 2 OVA’s all of its own!

Ahem. Cute girls in short skirts, anyone?
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Mecha: is a science fiction term for a large piloted walking vehicle, including ones on treads and animal shapes. (Courtesy Wikipedia) Need I say more? With robots right out of your shiniest fantasies, the core of mecha anime consists of gigantic machines controlled by humans directly or indirectly that engage in battles. Goals include world domination, prevention of the same, saving some sort of maiden/princess (the mecha becomes the knight’s horse and armour all rolled into one) or even PROTECTING THE UNIVERSE. With some really old anime in its kitty (The whole Gundam series and Ninja Robots to name a few), this species is often gory, but may include fights with futuristic laser guns or good old-fashioned swords. The Vision of Escaflowne is one such popular anime with the hero’s personal robot boasting the ability to evolve into a dragon shaped one!

So who doesn’t want their own personal robot dragon?
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Slice of Life: This is one category that in a sense defies what anime is essentially about. Slice of life anime depict realistic characters and scenarios, with the trials and tribulations of the protagonist(s) matching incidents that may be seen in one’s own daily life. Additionally, the backdrop is identical to or is modern day earth. Typical plot devices may include unemployment, romantic dilemma’s, inability to overcome obstacles and even unhappy endings. At times depressing, but also at times refreshing, this kind of anime typically caters to a more mature audience. Emma is a fantastic example of series in this genre, where the protagonist is a maid in the Victorian era who constantly faces upheavals, and isn’t always able to conquer them.

Not all of us are born with Cinderella’s luck.
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Part 2 of this list will be lying in wait for you next week. Till then check out the anime already recommended!

The resident drama queen,

La Mangafique

13 Jul

Anime: The who, the what, and the where (and other nitty-gritty’s)

It’s out there and it’s coming to get you.
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So, sometime in the past 10 years or so, you must have noticed this craze going about infecting young and old people alike, called “Pokemon”, which seems to consist of absurd fantastic creatures, a parallel reality and the ability to capture said creatures and battle with them. (If you really still don’t know what I’m talking about, you’ve been living under a rock). Ever scratched your head and wondered just what it is and why people are crazy about it? Some if not all of those questions, can be answered if you delve into the world of anime.

Out of pets to collect? Start collecting these.
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Anime, is essentially defined as animation created specifically in Japan. Ask a fan and they’ll tell you there is a world of difference between the animation that pours out of Japan and that which is made in the rest of the world. So much so, that anime is now more than just a term to define a certain kind of animation. It is now a phenomemon, a movement, a cross culture ideology that has managed to cut across barriers of race and language to bring together followers from across the world. Cult much? Hell yes.

Though the origins of anime lie buried somewhere in the 1910’s , anime as we see it now didn’t hit the globe till the late 60’s. Osamu Tezuka, popularly known today as “The God of Manga”, adapted western techniques of animation and applied them to his own project, “Astro boy”, which took the world by storm and is still much loved today. Pokemon, Shin Chan, Sailor Moon and Gundam have become some of the biggest symbols of anime culture.

What came first, The transformers or Gundam?
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Anime in itself can be made from scratch or adapted from manga. Most anime is adapted from manga series, allowing a larger audience access to work that may only have been available in Japanese in the manga form. One of the biggest debates among fans of Japanese animation is that of the superiority of one form over the other. Manga fans claim that the anime destroys the authenticity of the storyline to make it more appealing to a mass audience, while anime fans argue that anime is easier to watch for those who don’t have the patience (and of course money!) to acquire and read manga.

Of all the features that draw the line between animation and Japanese animation, distinct characteristics include hair in the most impossible shades, disproportional bodies, eyes that would make your own bulge, out of the world scenario’s and a dollop of fantasy the size of the sun. So, if cute little girls with squeaky voices who save the world isn’t your cup of tea, you can always turn to anime with a slice-of-life scenario, or even some apocalyptic set-up, where contrary to expectations, the world DOES come to an end.

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The image courtesy Akito Maru:

Does anime have any after effects? Of course it does. In some cases symptoms of excitemet, exhilaration and ultimately addiction may be seen in some of the test subjects exposed to anime. Others may be found instantly allergic and essentially form a part of the anti band wagon. Though admittedly, the former outnumbers the latter by figures you couldn’t calculate if you were anything less than Einstein. Cosplay, figurines, and special edition collector’s items form the main chunk of anime spin off merchandise. Anime conventions worldwide becoming the gathering place for fans who want to invest in the same, alongside showing off one’s cosplaying skills.

So now you know what anime is. Just to summarise, in case it still went over everyone’s head:

  • Pokemon and Shin Chan are anime
  • Power Rangers is not an anime
  • Anything made outside Japan is NOT anime
  • Anime does not always make sense
  • Green/Red/orange/Purple haired people are normal in anime
  • Greeting other people in Japanese is not completely out of the place among anime fans.

And most importantly,

  • The phenomenon is here to stay, so go with the flow, or get swept away!
And in case you were wondering – this is just the beginning of La Mangafique! Pop by every Thursday for your weekly dose of anime news, reviews and madness!

Ja ne!

Calyptra Oujo Sama

Monday Manga Madness Redux: Aishiteruze Baby

12 Jul

– A review by Seema Kakade

Genre: Shojo Manga

Aishiteruze Baby, a.k.a. I love you, baby is one of those rare manga you come across that manages to portray the beauty of the father and child relationship perfectly. As misleading as the title maybe, which, I believe, is the reason why half of the shonen manga lovers might have shunned away from it, the manga isn’t much about what it appears from the title.

Story: Aishiteruze, Baby is a story about Kippei Katakura is a high school boy, who, not so surprisingly, is a perv and spends most of the time goofing around with girls. His peaceful life is suddenly turned upside down with the arrival of a 5 year old child, Yuzuyu Sakashita, who is, apparently, his cousin. Since her mother fled home leaving the child under the care of her relatives, Kippei is assigned the task of babysitting the girl. Kippei is beyond confused as to what to do with her since he doesn’t know squat about taking care of a child, but decides to go with the flow.

The story weaves in beautifully from here, with each incident marking a slight change in Kippei’s personality, as he transforms from a carefree guy to a responsible father-figure, almost to the point of not being able to stay away from her.  He gives up his licentious ways and decides to dedicate all his time to taking care of the child, even to the point of waking up early in the morning and taking special care to make lunch for her. And that is not the story is all about. The manga also manages to capture the insecurities of the child, since she thinks the reason why her mother abandoned her was because she wasn’t good enough, which makes her want to be as less of a bother as possible and also the fear of being abandoned by Kippei as well. Even though it seems a little unnatural for a five year old to be so mature regarding relationships or even know what is happening around, it perfectly captures the emotional turmoil, the burden and the fears of an abandoned child. Kippei understands this and acts as her protective shield giving her all the support she needs to keep faith in herself and keep moving ahead.

The story may not be one-of-its-kind, but this is probably one of those rare father-child kinds of stories where you can really see the relationship building from scratch. And of course from all the lessons learnt from various situations the duo has to deal with.

Characters: There are no out-of-the-world characters, which keeps the story on a realistic level. Each character has their own background which makes them react to situations in different ways and yet understand and support each other. Character design might not be so unique you could tell them apart instantly, but the style of drawing them is definitely unique to the author.  There may not be extreme variety of characters but the manga does not bore you with monotonous personalities. The characters range from the cute and bubbly Yuzuyu, to easy going Kippei, who seems to have heard of the word ‘responsibility’ only after the arrival of Yuzuyu, and the unfathomable personality of Kokoro, who is Kippei’s girlfriend.

Art: Art is good for a slice of life story. They are not gorgeous but good enough to maintain the feel of slice of life. The backgrounds are simple and so are the characters. At this point, yes, I’m totally tempted to write an essay on the unexplainable cuteness of Yuzuyu, but I’m going to refrain myself for now.
The manga is a good read if you are looking for a change from usual romance, but don’t want to try something as serious as shonen. 

Monday Manga Madness: Tower of God

4 Jul

A review by Seema Kakade

It’s not always I come across a story that is something different from a 16 year old high school teen doing everything to find a boyfriend for herself and when she does, the guy turns out to be a vamp or a monster etc. OR a 16 year old high school teen that is suddenly bestowed with a supernatural power and now has to save the world. So, well, you get the idea how cliché most stories are getting lately. But, Tower of God, here, blows the mountain of cliché stories up in the land of cliché-ness to win itself the title of the King of Originality hands down!

Tower of God

Summary – Tower of God is an action and adventure story by Siu, which is basically about a young boy called Twenty-fifth Baam (yes, the name is so unique too that it totally throws you, but you get used to it) who is stuck in this dark world, which is actually a strange tower full of strange creatures and a strange world of their own, that he knows nothing about, only to be saved by a young girl, who quickly becomes his one and only friend and the most important person in his life. So after a few years, when she suddenly decides to climb up the tower to see the sky and a whole new world of its own, as it is rumored, Baam is less than disappointed. But before he gets a chance to speak his opinion, she disappears. Having no other reason to continue living, he decides to dedicate the rest of his life to find her. And the only way to do that is climb up the tower and hope to bump into her on the way. So, the story is all about the trials and series of tests he has to pass to clear each level of the tower and keep climbing up. And since there are a lot of different paths to climb up, his only hope to meet her is through coincidence or a rare stroke of luck, which doesn’t stop him from giving it a try.

THE Tower of God!!!
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Story – Tower of God is an extremely engaging story that is full of twists that leaves you either gasping with surprise or jaws dropped at the end of almost each chapter. And the plot only gets thicker and more complicated as you move on. I can guarantee there wouldn’t be a single moment throughout the story where you’d want to quit or wonder how long it’s going to drag on. You have everything – well thought characters, a very original story with twists that seem to never end, intelligent dialogues, sensible scenarios that sometimes almost make you go what-crappy-mangas-was-I-reading –until-now! And that is not an exaggeration. This is a must read if you are looking for something other than a 16 year old teen fighting off evil with his super powers, really!
Sample Page 1
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Characters – As I said before, the characters are quite unique (no typical tsundere, yandere, kawaii etc. characters – AT ALL!). The characters are smart, which you can tell from the intelligent conversations they engage each other with. There is also a pretty wide variety of characters you come across too – ranging from a completely idiotic monster alligator (yes, he’s an important character there!) to an almost invincible lizard warrior who is desperate to claim her position as a princess of one of the kingdoms inside the tower (yes, they even have towns and cities inside the tower) to our hero, who’s naïve but quite sensible and extremely cooperative kid stuck in the middle of the never-ending absurdities of the tower. Overall, I’d give an 8/10 for originality, personality-wise, apart from considering the fact that most of them are not really humans.  Even the lizard princess looks really cool when you see her actually get down to business.  The names are quite original, but I wouldn’t give the manhwa much credit for its character design.
Sample Page 2
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Art – Art is not exactly wow, but not something that would make you wish you were blind. It’s average at best, but good enough to pass. The movements of the characters are fluid (unlike the stiff movements you see in Hwang Mi-Ri’s manhwas) and drawn quite well. I wouldn’t rate it much for the expressions and originality in the outfits either. Most of them wear plain outfits – nothing out of the world, and places are, well, let’s just say they are either open fields or an ordinary four-walled room or a dueling room. But, since the story is good, I’d let the plainness of the background and the characters pass. Don’t expect the art to get any better as the story goes, either. But the best thing about this is how each chapter is completed in a single page, which is SUPER long and all of them are colored. This is one unique part about the manhwa that I’m sure you’d enjoy. I’d give it 10/10 for story boarding! It truly is exceptional! I especially loved how certain scenes are broken by just plain dialogues or thoughts that only intensify the moment.
Overall, it’s quite a good read and a good break from the usual cliché mangas. I’d recommend it at least for the originality of the story that the author has come up with. It’s like a breath of fresh air in a room that is stinking with over-used plots and characters! Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.