The Fall 2009 Anime Preview Guide
by Zac Bertschy,
Rating: screw this
Review: You know how in the grocery store cereal aisle they'll have the name brand cereals like Lucky Charms and Cocoa Puffs and then there's also a series of bins that has generic off-brand versions of those cereals that come in resealable bags instead of boxes and it's just Lucky Charms except it's called “Leprechaun Gems” or “Choco Balls” or whatever they have to call it to escape brand infringement?
Fairy Tale is the “Leprechaun Gems” version of One Piece.
Now, the similarities between the two are probably a little overplayed – most of the comparisons came about because of Hiro Mashima's wholesale plagiarism of Eiichiro Oda's art style in the manga version. Indeed, it's tough to really compare the two on any substantial level, given that even in its early episodes One Piece was a well-written Top Shelf work executed with finesse and Fairy Tale is a big ugly pile of generic shonen clichés that does not have one speck of creativity in it.
The story is set in a world populated by wizards who form guilds, and the big impressive guild is called Fairy Tale. Natsu is a travelling warrior looking for a dragon, and he has a zany blue cat sidekick named Happy. They run in to Lucy, a busty sorceress who summons
Espers “Celestial Beings” in battle. It's her dream to become part of the Fairy Tale guild. They eventually have a showdown with a guy calling himself Salamander who's using a charm spell to lure the town's ladies onto his ship where he will presumably sell them into slavery. Natsu shows up and in the ensuing battle it's revealed that he's a powerful wizard and a member of the Fairy Tale guild who eats magic and redirects it. He and Lucy and Happy team up for amazing adventures you've seen countless times before in other shows exactly like this one.
The characters are super generic – Natsu is a super-powerful hero with some comic foibles (he gets nauseous on any moving vehicle! Oh ho!), and Lucy is essentially a spell-casting version of Nami. The show is also trying really hard to be funny, and it goes about it in the laziest possible way, relying on the old “everyone overreacts to everything and yells at eachother all the time” trope that I guess passes for comedy for some people.
The animation is garbage, the spell-fighting at the end is boring and chock full of really crappy CG effects, and all in all this is a big steaming pile of who gives a shit. Watch One Piece or Naruto or Bleach or any of the other shonen series out there that are executed a million times better than this falderal.
Oh also, any manga author who uses the “hero character comically overeats!” thing should be dragged into the town square and pelted with spoiled produce.
Review: Sasameki Koto is a pretty standard-issue high school drama, except it's about a girl who really likes other girls. I mean, really.
Ushio is a polite, well-meaning girl who is pretty open and fairly aggressive about being in to other chicks, and she's accompanied by her introverted, bespectacled best buddy Sumika, who is pretty obviously in love with her. Then there's a third wheel named Hiyori (who gets hilariously smacked down by Ushio for not being cute enough for her).
Ushio naturally isn't aware of Sumika's hidden feelings for her, and starts going on about this cute girl she's working with at the library, who probably isn't a lesbian but that doesn't deter Ushio from developing feelings for her. Naturally, that doesn't work out, and Sumika gets kind of passive-aggressive with Ushio, scolding her for falling in love so easily (when really she's just pissed that Ushio isn't coming on to her instead). All in all, it's pretty decent melodrama.
The show is utterly pleasant; it's all slow, soft piano tunes, sunsets and lingering shots of leaves fluttering in the breeze. The character designs are pretty good; the girls aren't just the same head with different haircuts, there's some real effort to make them look like individuals. The animation is swell enough for what it is, although this show by its very nature doesn't demand a lot of the production staff. It doesn't look cheap, and that's enough.
Now, I should say up front I am not particularly familiar with the yuri genre, so I have no idea if this is all super clichéd or boring or whatever, but speaking as someone who hasn't really explored the genre at all, I found this show to be appealing, unoffensive, pleasant and pretty interesting, and I'll be watching more. It's hard not to feel as though it is just a tad exploitative – the audience for this series is clearly not the LGBT crowd, but rather otaku. At the same time, it remains fairly dignified about its subject matter and is about relationships rather than sex, so that's cool. Give it a shot.
Sasmeki Koto is currently available streaming on Crunchyroll.
Rating:it doesn't matter
I think this pretty well sums it up:
InuYasha: The Final Act
Review: Man, I don't remember jack squat about what happened at the end of InuYasha.
I mean, I saw the entire show, and I remember yelling at the TV when in the last episode after like 48 billion episodes they STILL didn't manage to kill Naraku, but beyond that, it's kind of a blur.
So InuYasha: The Final Act is kinda like when you get about 10 hours in to a roleplaying game and then put it down for a year or two and then when the itch strikes you pop it in and have absolutely no idea what's happening in the story or what you were doing when you last left off.
The show makes no real attempt at recapping – it just drops you right in. There aren't even any character reintroductions. They expect you to know everything, all the details of this giant cast of weirdos (or remember it all if you once knew but years and years went by and other generic shonen stuff pushed all the InuYasha knowledge you'd built up out of your brain and all over the floor like a spilled milkshake). I don't remember who the little white-haired mini-So.. ser… Sesshomaru! That's his name. I don't remember why there's a miniature version of him antagonizing Inuyasha, though. Why are a bunch of Naraku's minions in jail? When did that happen?
I also don't remember everyone in the modern day world being totally cool with Kagome's relationship with Inuyasha to the point where they let him hang around her school. But hey, that happened, apparently.
This particular episode is, I guess, meant to get you up to speed on what the show's gargantuan cast is doing, and it jumps around from character to character willy-nilly, often finding them in the middle of a battle. They're all trying to find Naraku's heart, I guess? Hey, whatever.
The show's production values are just fine – standard “good episode” animation (meaning it doesn't look like a filler episode farmed out to a Korean art school) and the opening number by Do as Infinity positively reeks of upbeat, catchy late 90's J-pop. If the character designs are different at all, I sure as hell didn't notice. But then again I couldn't remember who half of these freaks are.
So, in short, if you're planning on checking this one out, refresh your memory of the original series first, otherwise you're going to sit there with a giant question mark over your head, struggling to remember what all of this nonsense is (or vaguely remembering that you were never that impressed with InuYasha in the first place, like I did, mostly because it just gets tiresome after a while).
InuYasha: The Final Act is available streaming on Hulu and ShonenSunday.com.
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