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The school where the series takes place has an interesting custom where an upperclassmen, the grande soeur, will present a younger student with a rosary, making her the "petite soeur." This relationship is a promise to take care of the younger girl and watch over her. This comes into play when the main character, a first-year named Yumi, is approached by a second-year named Sachiko, one of the members of the Yamayuri Council. There's some complexities involved, but ultimately, a friendship develops between the two that culminate in mixed emotions regarding Yumi's acceptance to be Sachiko's petite soeur.
I use the vague word, "complexities," because I feel like it would take too long to really describe the plot points that lead up to it, and I feel like I'd be shortchanging the reader. It's really something that involves so many emotions that it can't adequate be described.
Unfortunately, this is also where some of my misgivings about Maria Watches Over Us come into play. I may be in the minority here, but I guess I couldn't really wrap my head around all the soeur drama. I appreciate the different relationships between the girls, and the bonds and trust that bring them together, but I don't really see why there had to be such a fuss over being someone's petite soeur. Luckily, once that gets resolved, the series, at least for me, really springs to life. The viewers really get to fully understand the growing friendship between Yumi and Sachiko, and what they bring to each other's lives.
It's also worth mentioning that the series is quite aesthetically beautiful. The art has a very innocent feel to it, and imparts an almost calming effect. The orchestral soundtrack is relaxing, and overall, really helps lift viewers into the show to forget any real-life problems. It's easy to see how the show developed such a strong fan gathering. These types of slice-of-life shows are always calming and interesting to watch, and I recommend it to anyone who wants something to take their minds off the real world.[TOP]
Rumbling Hearts is ridiculous and over-the-top, to be sure, but it's also strangely addictive. There are so many romances out there that are filled with so much giddiness and slapstick comedy, that it's almost nice to see one that's so heart-wrenchingly dramatic. Every possible bad thing that could happen to these characters happens, and yet they find ways to work through them. Like watching a soap opera in which everyone is dead or dying, it has that same kind of attraction. Only, it does so tactfully, and with regards to the characters' emotions (unlike some other romances [Shuffle, for instance] that use tragedy as nothing more than a plot device).
If you love to wallow in drama, then Rumbling Hearts is right up your alley. There were several times where I wanted to slap every character on the screen for emo-overload, but it's a nice change of pace from some of the more sugary series out there. Just prepare for an emotional rollercoaster of monster proportions.[TOP]
The story focuses on an impossibly cool trio: Revy, Dutch, and Benny. They do whatever jobs people hand to them, and more often than not, it involves plenty of violence. Their missions can range from anything like retrieving stolen goods, or cracking down on terrorists, but each one is executed in style. After one of their jobs, they meet a business man who eventually goes by Rock. He ends up being one of the more interesting characters, since he has a more openly sordid past, but he adds to the group dynamic very well.
Seriously, Black Lagoon isn't really for people who are expecting a masterpiece of storytelling and human triumph. It's just a show that's all about kicking ass, and looking good while doing it. The characters do have some interesting pasts that are revealed throughout the first few volumes, but for the most part, it just has a lot of fun. The series is packed with excitement from the very first scene, and I can't wait to see the second season. If guns and glory get you hot and bothered, then check out Black Lagoon, if you haven't already.[TOP]
Now, I don't want to spend too much time on the following releases, but if you happened to wake up this morning and think, “Gee, I really wish ADV would release some of their mediocre, older series in thinpak form”—congrats! Your dream came true! Just recently, ADV released gems like Rune Soldier Louie, and the almost unheard of Hakugei: Legend of the Moby Dick.
That's it for this week. I'm still waiting for the onslaught of resurrected Geneon titles, so hopefully the next few weeks will be flush with excitement. Thanks for reading!
It's modest, but it's packed with love.
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