Sunday, January 9, 2011
Also known as "Ookami and her Seven Companions", this short 12 episode anime is a Romantic Comedy between Ookami Ryouko and Morino Ryoushi.
I decided to watch this because of the rather unique setting. At first, I thought this was going to be a high school splice and life + romance like Toradora!, but it proved to be rather different. So without much more of my ramblings, here is the basic synopsis of the show:
The main character is Ookami Ryouko (naturally), a tall, flat-chested (as occasionally pointed out by the narrator), tsundere with a lot more 'tsun' than you would like. Hiding her cuter 'dere' side is a character that acts like a delinquent, fights thugs, trains in boxing, and is overall quite 'manly'. She is a member of a club at her school known as the "Otogi High School Bank" where they take requests of students in return for a favor (a debt), much like how loan sharks work. Oh she looks a lot like Taiga from Toradora, just that she is way taller.
The guy chasing her is Morino Ryoushi, a shy guy trained as a hunter since he was a kid. He usually hides from the crowd but manages to confess to Ryouko despite his shyness. He loves her so much that he is willing to change and overcome his fears for her. Etc etc, you know the stuff.
The anime is told much like a story, with a narrator constantly filling comments as you watch on. This is probably because the anime parodies fairy tales (most of them japanese) like 'The Little Red Riding Hood', 'The Tortoise and the Hare', 'The Ant and the Grasshopper', 'Tarou Urashima' (you know, the guy who rescues the turtle), 'Yuki-onna', 'Snow White', 'Aladdin' and so on.
Like most Romantic Comedy, and the fact that most characters are somehow alike to a fairy tales, they usually have sad background stories (in which most ended well...most...). In this anime, it deserves more praise because they are tied to fairy tale characters and we can see how they managed to twist it in such a way where only setting changes but the plot remains the same.
For example, it can be inferred that Ryouko is the wolf and Ryoushi is the hunter that manages to get the wolf in 'Little Red Riding Hood'. Also a side male character named Urashima 'saved' Otohime. Otohime represented the turtle because she USED to be fat, slow and ugly. This is the same that happened in the old japanese tale 'Tarou Urashima'.
Because of that, this anime is rather character driven. The plot, however, is still fairly decent. It's better in my opinion because every subplot resembles a fairy tale, so it's better to watch this anime whilst looking out for that. Otherwise it'd just be a shortened Toradora. So here're some of the the major side characters, mostly taken from wikipedia since they already pinned down what I thought and more:
Akai Ringo - A petite red-haired girl who has been longtime friends with Ryōko. She is the one who recruits Ryōshi into Otogi Bank. She is a close friend of Ryōko Ōkami, and is always trying to involve herself with her best friend's love life. Like Ryōko, she tends to smile to hide her true feelings, and admires Ryōko for trying to become stronger. She is based on the Little Red Riding Hood from the book of the same name, though some aspects of her scheming, manipulative personality closer resemble the poisoned apple ("Ringo" means apple) of Snow White, a fact which is occasionally referenced by the narrator and other characters. She is also the half sister of "Snow White" Shirayuki Himeno and feels responsible for her past. However,thanks to Ryōko she moves on from the past.
Kiriki Liszt - The president of the Otogi Bank. His skill is cross-dressing, which he uses to gain information normal men can't obtain. He is almost never seen working. He is most likely a parody of the Aesop's fable The Ant and the Grasshopper as during the opening and ending scenes he is shown playing a violin while his usual pairing, Alice, is working on her computer, and in the closing sequence he is further shown buried under snow while Alice is in an underground "nest".
Kiriki Alice - Liszt's cousin and secretary in the club. As said above she most likely fits the ant description in Aesop's fable The Ant and the Grasshopper as she is shown working and usually in a serious manner. Also, her hair's front resembles the antennae of an ant, and the first two syllables of her name, "Ari", is the Japanese word for "ant".
Tsurugaya Otsuu - The club's maid who has an obsession for returning favors. When she was young, she was saved from a car accident by a boy who died before she could thank him, resulting in her having a fear of not being able to return a favor. She is based on the crane from the Japanese tale Tsuru no Ongaeshi.
Tarou Urashima - A first year transfer student who is a year older than everyone else. He shows no interest in men but goes completely amorous towards girls. Although he is very flirtatious, he seems to have special feelings of love for Otohime. He is based on Urashima Tarō from the Japanese tale Urashima Tarō. It is heavily implied that he is in an intimate relationship with Otohime, and he occasionally enters a "gentleman mode" after Otohime drags him off and "extracts various things" from him.
Otohime Ryūgū - A girl with an obsessive crush on Tarō, who cares for her greatly but on some occasions, is scared of her. It was thanks to Tarō's motivation that she changed from a chubby bullied elementary student to a thin beauty. She constantly grabs Urashima and drags him into the closet, and the narrator remarks "I'll let your imagination figure out what they're doing", giving hints that they have some kind of sexual relationship. Although Tarō often runs from her advances, he does have special feelings for her, and can even be considered her boyfriend. She is based on Princess Otohime from the Japanese tale Urashima Tarō. The reason she is called turtle is because Otohime from the legend was a turtle on land when she met Tarō.
Majolica le Fay - Called Majo for short, she is a self-proclaimed mad scientist who builds various devices such as Ryōko's Neko Neko Knuckles. She is based on the sorceress Morgan le Fay. She also takes the role of a "fairy godmother" at times.
In conclusion, this is quite worth the watch and I would definitely recommend it to everyone. It'd be better to read up on fairy tales beforehand though. Otherwise, not a bad way to spend your time.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Angel Beats try to be a lot of animes at once. It touched on a wide array of genres all within 13 episodes; comedy, drama, tragedy, splice of life, girl bands (K-On), shonen action, the list goes on.
The main character is Otonashi Yuzuru who wakes up finding this crazy girl named Nakamura Yuri with a sniper rifle aimed at a girl aptly nicknamed "Tehshi", japanese for "Angel". She reveals to him that he is dead in the real world and is now in afterlife. In this strange world, everyone but souls who could not rest in peace is an NPC, the same NPC term we use when we play games.
This big question is whether this anime is an "Type-A" anime or a "Type-B" anime. It does have a plot and character development similar to sadder tragic animes (like Clannad) and the action of shonen animes (Naruto/Bleach), but it also does have very irrelevant scenes of randomness. The comedy sections does not really help. Sure, "Type-A" animes have comedy too, but this time it was done almost everywhere when they get the chance and it switches from being funny to being dead serious in an instant in many instances. First you see a "Type-B" anime scene where everyone is just being funny and retarded and suddenly you get thrown into the "Type-A" scene with its moments of silence, nostalgic flashbacks and facial close-ups and back to being retarded again.
Because of this attempt at mixing, there exist many paradoxes and confusion. I know that some details with certain animes can be overlooked despite the contradictions, but with Angel Beats!, I'm not too sure. I think it's best to watch this much like how one watches Clannad/Da Capo-like shojou animes, since it seems to be the more prominent direction they are taking; don't take the shonen action parts and details too seriously. I think it's the best way, especially since it's mostly written by the Clannad author. The style of storytelling is very much alike.
But despite that, I think it's a rather decent anime. I wouldn't call it a waste of my time like some blogs do. Since I cry or laugh at everything decently sad or funny (respectively) thrown to me, I easily accept it. Although on a more serious note, this anime could've really gone a hell lot further as a Clannad/Phantom/Air-type anime. The setting, no matter how lame it might sound, IS a very suitable setting and seeing the more serious scenes in this anime proves it. Then again, I guess "Type-B" animes are a hell lot more popular so maybe that's where they are targeting at.
In conclusion, Angel Beats is a rather mixed anime. To me, it is neither here nor there, but I think they have done a rather impressive job pulling this anime through considering all the genres they try to put together. I mean, they tried to put Haruhi, K-On, Kanon, Clannad all in one anime.
Inserts are not bad for the first few episodes though :)