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Ms. Answerman
The Grudge

by Rebecca Bundy,

The new anime season is in full swing, and I'm happy to report that there's a nice variety of shows for everyone. So what are my impressions? I'll start us out with two and continue with a few more in the coming weeks.

Admittedly, after watching the first episode I was torn. The setting and atmosphere were absolutely stunning, coupled with characters that seemed to draw you quickly into the story. The colors or fabrics, however, really made it difficult to watch at first. It looked like the artists had just discovered how to use layers in Photoshop and thought it'd be cool to include it in the series. By the time I started watching the second episode, however, the initial distaste had faded and instead I found that it really add depth to the overall feel of the world these characters live in. This series is definitely not meant for kids, but everyone else should definitely check this title out.

Harukanaru Toki no Naka de
Two years ago at AnimeExpo, I stumbled across a number of incredibly beautiful pencil boards depicting gorgeous men. After debating between a few of them, I settled on one that had a purple-haired swordsman and green-haired bowman. I asked around and got a translation on the board, but lost the translation in one of the numerous bags I had. Since no one recognized it, we knew it had to be from a Japanese video game.
When I sat down to watch this series, I was shocked to see the purple-haired man appear on the screen. You know how I knew it was him? He was wearing a leopard-printed top. In feudal Japan.
As much as I love having eye-candy to spare, that is all this series has going for it. The animation is top-notch, making the guys even easier on the eyes, but the plot and story had me bouncing between laughter and total frustration. The story is pretty simple; have you seen Fushigi Yugi? It's exactly like it, complete with celestial beasts, simpering annoying priestess/schoolgirl, tons of male guardians for said girl, and villains who are intent on controlling her. This was the funny part. The annoying part came when you realized that at least Fushigi Yugi managed to give their characters some interesting personalities and these were apparent as soon as the characters were introduced. These guys? Using their hair color to define them is fitting since putting a name to them would be insulting to oh, let's say a mountain. A mountain has more personality than all of these characters combined. Perhaps this series just needs a few more episodes to get going, but with shows like Kyou Kara Maou! (which was actually trying to make you laugh) still fresh from last season, there's very little reason to give it the time to prove itself.

Hello Ms. Answerman
I have a few questions that have pondered my mind while watching many
animes during the years
1. What the deal with the drop of water or whatever liquid (blood, a tear, etc.) falling into more of the water or liquid and making the constant rippling? In almost any anime I've seen, there was a part where this occured.
2. ACHOO! Guess someone is talking about me.....how did that come about?
3. Five. This seems to be the number of team members in some shows.
Ronin Warriors and Sailor Moon are a few examples. Is there more of a better teamwork structure with five? Why not 4, or 6?
Thanks in advance!

1. This is a universal theme that you see in other forms of media as well. The single drop into an otherwise still body of water represents change (the ripples changing the naturally calm state of the water). Sometimes, if the character has some latent power within them, a tear can heal whoever it falls upon or awake the power within them (so the surface of the water would be the powers and the ripple would be those powers waking up). Tears are thought of as clean or pure, while blood (which has always been impure or dangerous in Japanese culture/religion) generally signifies a bad change or the realization that the person's world/life has been shattered by their actions.
2. I actually cannot pin down where this comes from exactly. “Bless you” or “Gesundheit” came about when people thought that your soul was trying to escape every time you sneezed. In Japan, people used to believe that a living person could set their soul upon another and curse, torture, or even kill them. This belief was especially prevalent among the aristocracies where it was common practice for a man to have multiple wives, mistresses, and concubines. It was thought that miscarriages and/or the death of the woman who was trying to give birth was caused by the spirit of another woman (or even multiple women!) who was jealous that another wife/etc was giving birth when they were not. The sneezing, followed by “someone must be talking about you” is most likely a toned down version of this belief and that, by talking about someone, the person is actually cursing them with a sneeze. Either way, its a commonly held superstition in Japan, that when you sneaze, someone is talking to you.
3. The number five actually has some meanings in the Japanese culture. Shichigosan (7-5-3) is a festival where parents bring their children (girls when they're 3 and 7, boys when they're 3 and 5) to local shrines to have them blessed with good luck and fortune. It's also symbolic of when the children come of age and are no longer children, but for the children generally it's just a nice time for them to dress up and enjoy themselves. Odd numbers are also considered lucky in the Japanese culture, so that would explain why a group would be comprised of 5 people instead of 4 or 6. The four directions on a map, which are each represented by numerous things (celestial beasts, elements, etc), always have a center (or heaven) location with its own fifth beast/element to represent it.

Elfen Lied has to be one of the best anime that I've seen. It's sad that it was only 13 episodes. I've heard rumours of either a season 2 or an OVA. Seeing on how the anime departed from the manga, it seems plausible. Any truth to these rumours?

I can guarantee that ANY time a series ends, rumors will pop up about a second/extra season. With blogs as popular as they are now, an anime fan's wish can easily snowball into “I read online that they're going to make more of... ”. While is is common for an OVA/Movie to pop up if a series is extremely popular, it is extremely rare for subsequent seasons to be announced after the first season finished. If a series is popular enough to warrant subsequent seasons, the decision to produce them is generally made pretty quick, and the announcement made before the end of the previous season. Some exceptions do exist, but as I said... very rare.
This series is fortunate enough to have been licensed (by ADV) early on, so there's a good chance that fans won't have to wait too long to own the series. If you want to see the manga translated, try writing to ADV and let them know that you're interested in having the manga translated and released here.

I just have a quick and easy question for you. What is the difference between the ani-manga Viz has been coming out with and the regular manga? I'm collecting Inuyasha amongst many other titles and I've noticed that they keep coming up with new editions of the story. I'm wondering is it the same old manga with different cover art or is it a retelling based on the anime?

Ani-manga basically takes images from the anime, puts them on paper, and adds speech bubbles so that the readers can read along with the screencaps. Some people seem to like this format, but if you've seen the anime then you're really not missing out on anything the ani-manga has to offer. Similar things have been done with American cartoons to comics, generally with similar results. Personally I think it's slightly wasteful (why read it if you can watch the exact same thing) but if you're really tight on money and can't afford to buy a 167 episode series with only 3 episodes per disk, this would be a great way to save money. If you're only interested in buying the manga (or are buying both the manga and DVDs), skip the ani-manga and save your money for the regular manga.

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