24 Feb 2015

Horimiya Manga review

Type: Manga
Volumes: Unknown
Chapters: Unknown
Status: Publishing
Published: Oct 18, 2011 to ?
Genres: Comedy, Romance, Shounen
Authors: Hagiwara, Daisuke (Art), HERO (Story)
Serialization: GFantasy

Horimiya may look like your average shoujo romcom manga but its not! Horimiya is the shining light amongst the excessive flood of rehashed high school romances. There, I said it! So pick it up and read it cause this manga is very special and unique. But what makes this manga so special? It has the same cliché scenario, after all: a popular female lead, a shut-in otaku male lead, high school setting; the list goes on and on. The premise may be unoriginal, but Horimiya excels greatly in the one aspect that most romances fail to deliver.
The amount of intimacy that can be felt between our two lovers, Hori-san and Miyamura-kun, never ceases to amaze me. Unlike most romances, their love for each other never feels forced. Author did a delicate job of developing the relationship between Hori and Miyamura so that their romance doesn't seem strained but rather genuinely real. 

Horimiya's story  has refreshingly fast pacing, unlike other romances where it seems to take forever for the main couple to realize their feelings for each other. The moment from when Hori and Miyamura meet to when they start dating moves along without any conflicts that feel stretched out into many chapters. The drama of the series is dealt with immediately and any misunderstandings aren't painfully drawn out. Hori is a very popular girl at her school, so she has to face the doubtful and negative reactions from people discovering that she's dating a "closet otaku." Miyamura, who had been ostracized all of his life, struggles to gain the self-confidence to see himself as someone who can make a great girl such as Hori happy. The story brings in a fresh air through Hori and Miyamura overcoming their individual flaws and the problems that arise from an odd couple such as theirs.

The characters are what makes this manga above average. Especially Miyamura Izumi. In school, he is seen as a shady guy with glasses and a possible otaku. Looks can be deceiving though. Miyamura is in fact, not a otaku and looks like a a punk rock kind of guy with 9 piercings and a bunch of tattoos. In reality, he is actually an airhead that only excels in physical education and health despite his looks in school. Hori Kyokou is the MC  of the manga. In school, she is cute, smart, and popular. After school though, she goes straight home and becomes similar to a housewife. She is also a sadist. Despite the uncertainty Hori and Miyamura have about their relationship, Horimiya is a very lighthearted and sweet read. The interactions between not only Hori and Miyamura, but also the rest of the cast feel very natural and often caused me to grin or chuckle. 

Every character is distinguishable from the others and the designs are simply eye-candy. Yet, even though Horimiya's characters look great, its background detail isn't anything special. The school windows, desks, and so on are average in terms of how high school settings go. In many panels, it's even just the characters on a white and gray background. Despite this flaw, I find the characters' designs to make up for the lack of detail, especially Miyamura's transformation from his school image to his true image.

One notable fact about Horimiya is that author continues to develop Hori and Miyamura's relationship past the confession scene and shows the hurdles they must cross to maintain their romance. Horimiya is a fresh read among the many romances who call it quits after their main characters finally start dating. Horimiya is the manga that kicks clichés to the side and stands firmly atop

22 Feb 2015

Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou Anime review

English: The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behavior
Type: TV
Episodes: 12
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Apr 4, 2014 to Jun 20, 2014
Producers: Brains Base, TBS, Sentai FilmworksL
Genres: Comedy, Romance, School, Slice of Life
Duration: 24 min. per episode
Rating: PG-13 - Teens 13 or older

What is love? The Oxford English dictionary defines the word "love" as: a strong feeling of affection. However is it really just that? The definition for love is different for everyone is it not? It's complex, it’s unique, it’s a roller coaster and above all love requires time and work. And with that resonating definition, we have Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou. It is a good light romantic and little comedy themed anime. The story is very unoriginal, stereotypical and blatant. Nonetheless it's a good romance anime that people can enjoy watching, get a good giggle out of, and feel happy about. Of course, I love almost all romance anime, so if you don't like romance anime, then this anime probably isn't going to be that appealing to you.

Anyways, the plot is very simple. It's about a high school freshman, Kazunari Usa who movies into a boarding house and it turns out that the love of his life, Ritsu Kawai is living there too. The story focuses on the development of the relationship between these two. Basically Ritsu loves books (a little too much), and is easily bothered/annoyed with other people, especially those that talk too much. She really doesn't show any kind of emotion towards other people, and doesn't show any sign of "love" towards Usa. Usa basically tries everything he has to get Ritsu to notice him, but sort of fails due to his shyness. But that's where the other fun characters who also live in the same boarding complex come into play! 

In terms of character development, we have Ritsu as our pupil. Her development is based off the main plot of this anime, which is flowering relationship between herself and Kazunari. If I were to use the caterpillar, cocoon, butterfly analogy; I would say that Ritsu evolved from a caterpillar to a cocoon by the end of the series which I find perfect because it just makes the concept of love more authentic and leaves an air of mystery for the audience. .Of course you have to deal with stereotypes for the most part, but they are overall a good relatable cast, which have their flaws and never feel too one sided.It's also funny how characters become more likable the further the show progresses. It is evidence of character progression.

The art in the anime is nothing special, nothing that stands out particularly.he sound is perfect; everything from the pedalling of the bikes to the rustling of the bed sheets when someone wakes up is heard, it’s all there. The opening was nice to listen to; I watched/listened to the opening every episode. The voicing didn't disappoint either, each character's voice fit their personalities. 

 I was going into this series expecting two people to eventually fall in love, confess to each other and by the end have their first kiss and that would be the end of this anime; just like and typical romantic comedy. To my surprise, it was the complete opposite of what I thought. If you like romance comedies, then this anime is one that you might want to check out. I enjoyed it despite it's obvious, unoriginal plot. Kind of a relaxing anime, that isn't very serious, and there's absolutely nothing scary or confusing about the anime. 

Opening titles:

Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou Manga review

English: The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel
Type: Manga
Volumes: Unknown
Chapters: Unknown
Status: Publishing
Published: Apr 30, 2010 to ?
Genres: Comedy, Romance, School, Slice of Life, Seinen
Authors: Miyahara, Ruri (Story & Art)
Serialization: Young King Ours

Bokura wa minna is not anything spectacular, in fact, in five years when I've read more this and that, I'll come back and call it slightly generic. But in a industry that thrives on re-using scenarios and ideas, you always have to have something special to succeed. Some cases it's a twist that has never been seen before  and for some cases it's as simple as a well written story and characters like this one.

Driver on the story is romance, seen mainly from the focus point of Usa Kazunari, the male lead. The struggle for the attention of Kawai Ritsu is full of embarrassment, hardship and heart-warming moments. I'd call it basic moe, if not for the realistic way it is presented. The series does give you a scent of comedy from the very beginning, but you'll be surprised just like I was. At times the comedy goes deep, and for many beyond the borders of their comfort-zone.

Naturally, the comedy comes mainly from the characters and their interactions. The small community of the Kawai complex includes two males and four females. And in my eyes, every single one of them deserve the title of a main character. The adult trio that is tasked with the dirty jokes and being a nuisance to Usa, the lovely but surprisingly scary grandma, and our main character couple that are in charge of the awww-moments. They all play a significant role in making this manga what is is, and their chemistry is either freakishly good luck or work of a genius author. 

Usa Kazunari is not a main character who would be in the finals when world championships are held, but he is a likeable and not in any way a bland boy, who's job is to be the foundation of the romance and a gear in the comedymachine. Kawai Ritsu / senpai / Rit-chan is a female lead that can be described with one word: absolutely adorable. She is the quiet type with character, in other words a bookworm with cool personality. 

The overall quality of the art in the manga is high, and when the artist goes for the close-ups on characters showing various emotions, I froze and stared at the screen for a moment in awe. 

 Bokura wa Minna is different. There is no need to rip your hair out out of frustration, no need for unnecessary screaming at the monitor for not giving us what we want, because the progress is smooth and natural. Yes, the story has a slow pace, but that comes as a given when one of the tags is Slice of Life. I encourage you to pick it up, and witness the joys and horrors of living in the Kawai complex.

21 Feb 2015

Sket Dance Anime Review

Type: TV
Episodes: 77
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Apr 7, 2011 to Sep 27, 2012
Producers: TV Tokyo, Avex Entertainment, Dentsu, Tatsunoko Productions
Genres: Comedy, School, Shounen
Duration: 24 min. per episode
Rating: PG-13 - Teens 13 or older

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain."

There are some stories that end up having a lot more to them than was initially expected. They aren’t perfect, they might not even be completely logical – but they’re something that managed to catch you off guard in the best ways possible. Take a look; there’s a chance that SKET Dance might blossom into such a series for you…

The core plot is just a simple, mainly episodic story about a quirky trio of friends that solve problems and help people out. But there are also some very tightly written and amazingly powerful (multi-episode) storylines within it . Just know that they don’t come off as abrupt, but rather fit smoothly into the ‘narrative’ and add a lot to it. Don’t let the comedy-oriented episodes fool you into thinking that that’s all the show has in store for you. The overall tone you are first introduced to is that of a school-life comedy. The drama picks up slightly near the beginning, but truly picks up a little farther in. The balance struck between the two is well-done, as neither overwhelms the other. They work together to create a fantastic atmosphere. One thing should be noted though. When the show ends, there’s no solid culmination for the characters. It just kind of... ends. So be prepared for that. (or continue the manga of sket dance for more of it)

The main three characters are pretty unique and unconventional, having a lot of depth and personality. Switch, the genius otaku, who talks through his computer… Himeko, the occasionally violent Okinawan “Yankee” with a soft-spot for cute things… And finally the leader of the SKET club, Bossun. He's a rather interesting choice for a main character, as at times he’s almost completely inept and useless - but at other times he really shines. It’s actually quite refreshing.  Interestingly, these aren’t the main character’s real names, but rather their nicknames. They go almost entirely by those nicknames - each of which has a story behind it.  There are also almost too many side characters to mention (which can be a good thing or bad thing depending on your tastes). Most of them are great, having something of worthwhile value to contribute. A few serve almost no purpose – but they don’t overstay their welcome. The characters are the true heart and soul of this anime. 

The art is very high-quality. Frenetic motion (due to the fast-paced comedy within the series), facial expressions, backgrounds and lighting are all above par. Character designs have had a lot of thought put into them – almost everyone is unique. And the best part is that the quality stays consistent through all seventy seven episodes.

SKET Dance utilizes music in a very effective way. It plays songs that match the current scene. If it’s comedic, the music will be bombastic and crazy. If it’s serious and dramatic, the music will fit that. It helps enhance the presentation. But it also does one thing that is greatly appreciated: it shuts up when it needs to and lets what’s happening play out with no influence from the music at all. 

This was, honestly, one the funniest anime series I’ve had the pleasure of watching. It was also very emotionally powerful at times. That experience being the character interactions, and also the lessons the show teaches. Almost everyone can find something of value in this anime. If the comedy doesn’t do it for you, the serious bits of the show probably will, or vice-versa.

Opening titles

Sket Dance Manga Review

Type: Manga
Volumes: 32
Chapters: 288
Status: Finished
Published: Aug 28, 2006 to Jul 8, 2013
Genres: Comedy, Drama, School, Shounen
Authors: Shinohara, Kenta (Story & Art)
Serialization: Shounen Jump (Weekly)

This manga is a great choice if you want to relax from your busy time or when you want to read together with your friends. This is the manga that can make you laugh as hard as you can and also teach you many things. However, the characters themselves are what truly make the manga. The way the characters and stories are panned out is really great. And there's a depth to this manga that no one would see coming and really gives it a powerful feel.

Sket Dance has no all consuming story with a beginning and an end, rather it's composed of episodes. Each chapter chronicles a new case for the Sket Dan and occasionally certain arcs (which can span up to 3-6 chapters) like the: "Sket Dan vs. The student council" arc. The cases are most of the time nonsensical and random: Like the chapters in where they have to deal with the Roman, the girl who sees everything in her 'otome filter' (in short Shojou manga vision). However they may equally be touching and at times sad and very deep. The most touching arcs in my opinions are the ones that explore the pasts of the three leads and how they came to join the Sket Dan. For spoiler reasons i wont explicit on the content of these chapters. Just know that you are guaranteed to get teary-eyed at  at-least one of them.  The story mixes ridiculously funny humor with ,at the same time, drama and suspense worthy of a shojou manga. 

The three leads are: Fujisake Yusuke otherwise known as "Bossun" (the protagonist), Kazuyoshi Usui or "Switch", And Onizuka Hime a.k.a "Himeko". Obviously these three characters receive the most development of the cast. Bossun acts rather childish and hot-blooded and in one chapter is even made out to be a "useless shonen hero" by an amateur manga artist. However it's thanks to his talents that the Sket Dan is able to solve many cases. In a way you could describe him as being a sort detective because he is able to analyze, and logically solve most dilemmas that come his way. Then we have Himeko the "straight-man", who ironically used to be a Yankee so feared that she was nicknamed "Onihime" a name which she she, nowadays, rejects. And finally Switch, the apparently good-looking otaku who uses a voice synthesizing software on his laptop to speak.He is stone faced but often willingly gets involved with the nonsensical situations of the show.  The supporting cast equally receives varied levels of development. The most notable being Tsubaki, the student council vice president and possibly Shinzo the phony Samurai.

Sket Dance's art is generally varied in terms of quality. It ranges from a little below average to holy-shit-that's-freaking-godly. But the most notable instance of absolutely mind blowing art is arc which explained Bossun's past. IYou really connect with the characters regardless of who they may be. Not to mention certain expressions can just make you laugh so hard. 

Overall Sket Dance is an extremely good and cleverly written manga,definitely one of my favorites . I enjoy it very much, most notably ,of course, because of it's comedy but also because of the characters and it's ability to have "a different and truly unique approach to the same idea".  There are no overly negative aspects to the manga. However some may argue that the humor can get a little repetitive, i personally love it.  Definitely recommended.