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Away From the Editor’s Desk June 6, 2008

Posted by BrikHaus in : Site News , 1 comment so far

Things have been a little crazy lately. I’m currently nearing the second week of a month-long out of state trip. Unfortunately, it’s not a vacation, but rather school-related. There’s a big exam thrown in the middle, for good measure. I’ve tried to keep this blog updated during my time away from home, but it has just become too difficult. I don’t have any free time to watch anime this month, let alone write posts about it. So, for the remaining two weeks of my trip, I will not be updating my blog. My apologies to all three of you out there who read this site. ;) Don’t worry, this is not the dreaded “hiatus” that usually kills anime blogs. I will be returning to watching and reviewing anime as soon as I return home near the end of June. Thanks to everyone out there who follows this site. I appreciate your support.

L/R: Licensed by Royalty Eps. 11-13 May 29, 2008

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Final Series Score: 7/10

Ambiguous Anime Ending Strikes Again! L/R wraps up all the plot points rather neatly in a final three episode story arc, however, it still manages to leave us hanging at the very end. The DTI Corporation turns out to be the main villains, and have a diabolical scheme to assassinate Noelle. Through some trickery, and Mission: Impossible stunts of their own, Jack and Rowe manage to thwart the plan. Although it’s a little obvious how they are going to do it, there still is a little tension as to whether or not they’ll pull it off successfully. Finally, at the end of the series, the writers managed to throw in some much needed suspense, and it paid off. (more…)

Black Heaven 課長王子 Eps. 5-6 May 28, 2008

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The story of Black Heaven has gotten a lot more interesting. They have started to really explore Ohji’s character, and there is a lot of depth now. The other title “Section Chief Ohji” makes sense now, too. Through his return to playing guitar, he feels a newly found lust for life, an energy he hasn’t experienced in years. He is happy for the first time in recent memory. He uses all this happiness and energy to work hard and propel himself up the the ranks in his business. In his zealousness, he decides to return to his on-stage persona of “Gabriel” Tanaka. He write a new song, gets some leather pants, and a blonde wig. He prepares to rock out, but doesn’t get the opportunity because there is no battle currently being waged in outer space. The other thing that happened in this episode was the big reveal. The reason why he is being used by the aliens is finally told to Ohji, and he is naturally saddened. Not only do the people not care about his music, they are using it as a weapon of war. That would be enough to make anyone go over the edge. Ohji rejects their desire to have him play, and smashes the Flying V. He leaves, dejected. This was a wonderful episode that deftly blended humor and drama better than most anime out there.

In the next episode we see the aftermath of Ohji’s decision to stop playing guitar. Things are continuing to go well for him at work and at home. His marriage is doing well, his relationship with his son is good, and he is very successful at his job. However, all is not as well as it seems on the surface. Ohji is secretly mourning the loss of his place to play guitar, and is constantly reminiscing about his days in Black Heaven. The longing he feels resonates well with me, as a viewer. This is a sign of very strong story telling. I imagine it would hit even harder for anyone who has ever played in a band. The episode ends on a cliffhanger of sorts, not a huge one, but one that leaves me wondering where Ohji will go next. Since this only the halfway point of the series, I’m fairly certain he’ll pick up the guitar again before long. I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

Le Chevalier D’Eon シェヴァリエ Eps. 5-6 May 27, 2008

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Well, the good news is that this series managed to break out of its repetitive streak. Perhaps the writers noticed the formula they had been following for four episodes, and decided to put a stop to it before things got really out of hand? Even if it wasn’t a conscious decision, I’m glad to see it go. This pair of episodes wrapped up what appears to be the first arc of the story. King Louis disbands the group as official servants of himself. However, they are still meant to be working for him secretly. They head toward Russia in an attempt to track down the perpetrators of the bizarre happenings in Paris. Other things that happened were the main bad guy was revealed (the Duke of Orleans), and D’Eon dressed up like a girl in order to invoke the spirit of his sister. He even put on some lipstick. This allowed Lia’s soul to come out and speak to him. This entire scenario was a little ridiculous, if you ask me, but I guess they need to fill the running time with something. Now that they are moving on to Russia, I’m interested to see where the show goes from here.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind 風の谷のナウシカ May 24, 2008

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Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is a 1984 film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. He stands as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, and is certainly the best director in the history of Japanese cinema (Akira Kurosawa fans, be damned). This is an older movie, and only the second to be directed by Miyazaki. The story is based on a long-running manga that was also written by Miyazaki over the span of 12 years. This movie, however, only covers the first few volumes of the manga. The movie was incredibly popular, and its success was one of the factors that led to the creation of Miyazaki’s famed Studio Ghibli. Today, this movie is considered by many anime fans to be a classic. Even so, it is not without its flaws.

The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic future. Most of the world has been overrun by a dense poisonous forest, other parts contain a harsh desert, and only a small fraction contains land that is suitable to sustain human life. The major inhabitants of the world are many new species of insects, most notably the giant, vicious Ohmu. In the Valley of the Wind, there is a race of humans, ruled by a kindly king and his beloved daughter Nausicaa. They live a hard, but peaceful and honest life. Unknown to them, two neighboring countries are about to attempt to reclaim the rest of the planet. These actions cause a great upheaval in the world, and things spin quickly out of control. The only hope they have is the ancient legend of a hero who is foretold to save the world from chaos. (more…)

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya 涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱 Ep. 12 (10) May 23, 2008

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I probably sound like a broken record every time I say, “This was another great episode.” Well, I can’t help it if it’s true. This is one of funniest episodes of the entire series. While it doesn’t do much to advance the plot, it has tons of laughs, and gives us a little more insight into Yuki’s character. The computer club returns for a third time, and challenges the S.O.S. Brigade to an online duel using a game they designed. Essentially, they want revenge for how Haruhi blackmailed them earlier in the series. They accept the challenge, and spend a lot of time training for the big day, as Kyon refuses to let them cheat. The computer club decides to win by cheating, but Yuki makes sure that doesn’t happen. In the end we learn about her interest in computers, and decision to spend a little time with the other club. A funny episode, with most of the jokes coming from Kyon’s hilarious observations. Even though he narrated this one (as always), Yuki really stole the show.

L/R: Licensed by Royalty Eps. 8-10 May 22, 2008

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Jack and Rowe are on the trail of Angel, the mysterious bomber who has been terrorizing Ishtar. They use a few nifty tricks to track the terrorist group down. Meanwhile, Noelle is dealing with life as the new 15-Year-Princess. She is clearly uncomfortable with the idea of being royalty, but she does feel safe under the protection of L/R and Cloud 7. One of the episodes dealt with Rowe stuck on a cable car with a diabetic man, and a ticking time bomb. The episode was fine, but the medical terminology was a little…. off. They go from hyperglycemic to hypoglycemic, and probably would have killed the guy if this was real life. Anyway, that aside, this was another good trio of episodes. (more…)

Black Heaven 課長王子 Eps. 3-4 May 21, 2008

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The story has taken a dramatic turn, and it’s still the beginning of the series! We are given a nice chunk of the back story, specifically the reason why the mysterious women all want Ohji to play his guitar so badly. It turns out they are aliens, and the power of his hard rock is what they are using to fuel their weapons in an intergalactic war. Nobody understands how it works, but they are determined to make sure he keeps on playing. It sounds a little ridiculous, but it works extremely well within the confines of the established story. So, this is more than just a music anime, it’s a music/comedy/sci-fi anime. Also, that ROCK HARD save the SPACE subtitle makes a lot more sense.

In this pair of episodes, the girls try their best to keep Ohji’s wife away so he can play guitar. They try to make him more excited by dressing up in sexy lingerie, but that plan doesn’t quite work out as they had hoped. These events only go further to support Ohji’s wife’s fear that he is having an affair. To make matters worse, this all occurs on their anniversary, and things are so frantic, Ohji forgets it. In a last ditch effort to salvage their marriage, his wife uses nearly all her savings to buy him a new Flying V guitar…. a pink one. Fortunately, it worked. Actually, I am starting to warm up to the wife. At first I didn’t like her because she didn’t seem to give a crap about Ohji. But now it is apparent that she really does love him. The fourth episode featured more elaboration on the back story, and showed some bonding between Ohji and his son. So far Black Heaven is filled with great stuff, and I’m really enjoying it.

Le Chevalier D’Eon シェヴァリエ Eps. 3-4 May 19, 2008

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After having watched 3 episodes, this series has already become formulaic. That’s not really a good thing at this point. Here’s an example of a basic show: 1) Good Guys try to figure out Bad Guys’ next move, 2) Good Guys forced to fight a horde of Bad Guys, 3) Repeat. It’s not really imaginative, which is a big let down from such a powerhouse first episode. Regardless, the show manages to stay interesting. It gives us enough questions and hints to the answers to keep things moving ahead quickly. Who is the mysterious Russian? What is going on with these zombie people? What is the significance of the Psalms? Why can Lia inhabit D’Eon’s body? I’m sure all these things will be revealed in due time. The fourth episode progressed the story a bit further, and had a cool fight scene. The one nice thing about this series is that the action sequences are well animated, and bloody and frantic enough to give them a sense of realism.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya 涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱 Ep. 4 (9) May 16, 2008

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There was a lot of awesomeness to be found in this episode. The main storyline was fleshed out a bit more. Kyon received a mysterious message in his locker telling him to meet up after class. He finds a pretty young girl there, and it becomes apparent to the viewer that she is going to confess her love for him. However, that isn’t the case at all. She reveals she is an alien life-form like Yuki, and has decided to kill Kyon in order to elicit an emotional response from Haruhi. A battle ensues, with some of the coolest animation, not to mention superpowers, I have ever seen. Later on, Kyon meets up with the future version of Mikuru, and she gives him a hint he will use later on to save the world. She also mentions that this is before the time they did something together. What did they do? Kiss? Date? Sleep together? I wish it was revealed! Well, this was an amazing episode. It moved the plot along a lot, had a great action sequence, had tons of hilarious jokes, and also formed a little love triangle featuring Kyon, Haruhi, and Mikuru. We know Haruhi likes Kyon, and Kyon likes Mikuru, so where this goes from here is anyone’s guess. I know it doesn’t really get resolved in this series, but with the second season on the way, let’s hope we get some more answers.