Sunday, March 02, 2008

Idolm@ster Live For You! OVA

Well, after much hype and excitement ever since it was announced in fall of last year, it's finally here -- Idolm@ster has finally gotten its first anime adaptation!!!

....what are you talking about, of course this is the first one.

...Xeno...Xenoglo-what? Sorry, no hablo espanol.

As much as I'm sure that ruse fooled no one, I too watched some of 2007's Idolmaster meets Gundam adaptation, but quit very early on due to lack of interest and time, and due to genuine frustration from the character rapage. Though maybe I'll finish watching it eventually; I've heard it's really not that bad.... if you're not really an Idolmaster fan at all.

However, this OVA, that came with the new Idolm@ster: Live For You! game, is definitely the real deal -- no swapped professions, new character designs or different seiyuu (though at the same time, no awesome action scenes or SUPAR SUNRISE BUDGET).

Though to be honest, overall I didn't think it was that bad. The art wasn't great (despite it being a one-episode OVA...(;´Д`) ), but I didn't think it was nearly as bad as a lot of people are complaining about it to be. I'd put it roughly along the same lines as what we got in MagiPoka or something. Also, for nothing more than a 15 minute episode, there really isn't that much to look forward to in terms of story, but it wasn't terrible. Here's a rundown..

All of the idols are getting ready for an event for fans to take place tomorrow evening. On the way home, Haruka tags along with Chihaya who's decided to stay late and do some last minute warm-ups. A little later, Miki comes with drinks. (<-- this is important)

The girls wake up after oversleeping on the train they were supposed to take home and are now at a train station in the middle of nowhere, with no way to get back. Miki sees a taxi (<-- also important). But, their luck gets even worse when the taxi they were riding breaks down and they're forced to stay at a creepy old mansion for the night. The three girls take a bath (A bath in the large, frightening, and unfamiliar house filled with strange men. Brilliant.)

A little later, Miki wakes the other two up to tell them that their housemates don't exactly seem the friendly type (they've apparently beaten the crap out of the taxi driver), and without delay, the girls are off running for their lives. They (illegally) hitch a ride on a truck and try to make their way back to Tokyo...however, they're caught and are forced off, leaving them again in the middle of nowhere.

Apparently, this had all been a stunt for some sort of "Punk'd"-esque television show (Haruka and Chihaya were drugged into going to sleep by Miki, and the taxi driver and men from the house were all actors). However Miki is quite shocked to wake up and find out that things didn't go as planned (they actually got on the wrong truck). With only hours to go before the fan event, the girls call home and find out they must bus-ride their way to a train station to make it to Tokyo in time. How they manage to do so without any money is a mystery.

Unfortunately, the girls are too late and the train leaves without them! (aww..) But Haruka taps into that place all innocent anime main characters have and swears to keep going despite all of these obstacles before her -- their fans are counting on them after all! In the end, Miki nudges at the fourth wall a little in mentioning that it would be great if a giant robot of some kind would come down and rescue them. There is no robot, but instead Iori's father's helicopter comes to the rescue, and the girls make it in the nick of time. The three girls happily run to their friends. Haruka falls down (<-- important).


Why would they plan this on the day before such an important event?
Where the hell was the staff in this production supposed to be??

These are among some of the things I would have wondered while watching this, if I wasn't so fucking stoked at the very fact that I was watching it in the first place. Being the huge Idolmaster fan that I am, getting to see these girls do their hijinks in something other than a drama CD was a treat all on its own. Not to mention that since it's so short, I've been able to watch it over a number of times now -- probably around 10, in fact (not including my most recent viewing to take screenshots. Either way, I wish I could stop...)

Of course it would have been nice if the episode wasn't necesarrily so Haruka-Miki-Chihaya centric, but those three do seem to be the defacto main heroines.
But really, probably only 2 of the other characters had more than 30 seconds of dialogue. What a waste..(´・ω・)

By the end of the credits roll, however, I was almost half-expecting a next episode preview or something. Everything about it seemed so much like it was a pilot episode to an actual TV show, what with the focus on the 3 main girls and all. Focus on the many relationships between the other characters could be left for later episodes, and I wouldn't at all mind 12 more episodes of this. Hell, I'd even stick around for another 25.

...but probably no more than that.



Saturday, February 23, 2008

Shigofumi ep. 7 & 8

Remember when I wondered if these folks could die after already being dead?

Well, I guess these two episodes answer that question.
Yes, that, and many of the other questions I posed in my last post have been answered in these two crazy, disturbing, violent, crazy, well-acted, and ultimately crazy climactic episodes.

Wait, ...."climactic"? Aren't there supposed to be four more episodes after this..??

Read the rest!

Sorry if the hidden post makes it look like this was going to be a long entry -- it was mostly just to hide the oncoming spoilers, I really don't have that much to say.. (^^;

While I don't plan on doing a complete play by play like with episode 5, I will mention a few important things.

Important things like how stark raving mad Fumika's father is.
You see, in episode 7 he gets a home visit from the young lady newly placed in charge of his work, Natsuka's (Fumika's old middle school buddy) elder sister. And after he notices that it's started to rain, he thus proceeds to quite flamboyantly lose it. Though not at all in a bad way. It in fact made him endearing, I'd say.
Of course, disregarding the creepiness (that was there already, anyway).

Endearing I should say, until Fumika arrives to hand him a shigofumi from a former fan, and he in turn shoots her with her own gun.

And so ends episode 7. It was an ending that had me punching things and going "what the hell!!?"

But in order to save you the same frustration of having to wait a week to find out what happens next, here's episode 8 right now!

So how is it, one may ask, that Fumika is able to work as a deliverer of shigofumi, while at the same time residing at a hospital, perfectly alive? Well that's because it's just her sister that's dead.

...her made up one.
....that lives inside her head. (still following?)

We see that Fumika was certainly a happy child, and that Kirameki was pretty great dad. Except for the times when he'd write the drafts to his novels, using his daughter's naked skin as a canvas. It doesn't help that most of the time he was venting his rage toward his ex-wife (Fumika's absent mother), and causing Fumika intense pain.
And so Fumika split into Fumi and Mika, Mika always bright and cheery, there to cheer her sister up when things got hard, and when things got really hard, she was of course also there to shoot people.

Taking a short time-out here, I have to say that this is a very interesting and well done take on the issue of split personalities. Sure the good girl/nightwalking bad girl scenario has been done before, and at times done quite well, but this one I think hovers closer to reality, in dealing with the reasons why and times Mika emerges. But enough of this Psych 101 jibber jabber.

Needless to say, the Fumika we know today is of course the stronger Mika, who has perished along with the real Fumika's ability to think entirely (for now).
We find all this from Fumika herself, in fact, after she eventually ejects the bullet her father shot into her from her body (why did Kanaka make such a fuss if she knew she was going to be OK..??).

But there's no time for this -- we've been flashbacking so much there're only 5 minutes left in the episode! Fumika pins her helpless father, in a final attempt to kill him and protect her real half. However, she cannot bring herself to it.
Or rather, Natsuka's sister doesn't let her. And with her calming big sis words, she makes everything better.
The authorites will not be notified, Kirameki will work on a new novel, start paying for Fumika's hospital care, and we'll all act like none of this ever happened!

And just to prove that we're serious, next week will be a hot spring episode! happy anime, happy anime~

Heh, I may sound like I'm making fun of the whole thing, but this was a very good pair of episodes. Did I mention the acting? Because it was really good. Perhaps most notably on Kana Ueda's part -- GJ, her.

I'm glad they didn't kill Kirameki. He's awesome.

Natsuka and her sister (why can't I remember her name?) make for two very enjoyable characters, as well. I especially like the way Natsuka caught on with the whole "giant talking stick" deal pretty quickly.

Sometimes I wish Kanaka had a face...

So all in all, this series hasn't let me down at all yet. Though there still exists that question of what the climax of the show will be, with so much divulged and resolved already, and with so much room to spare.
I guess next we'll have to deal with the whole problem of Fumika's fate (and right now, things aren't looking too good for our gun-toting, silver-haired version of her..). But as I said before, best not to speculate and just enjoy the ride.

Next ep, we'll likely be getting some backstory on our ol' pal Chiaki. Or something like that. Either way, she's got a prominent role again, and that makes me so happy I won't even punch anything this time!



Sunday, February 03, 2008

Shigofumi ep. 5

Shigofumi is by far my favorite anime to come out of this current season.'s also the only anime to come out of this current season that I happen to be watching. (^^;
However, I don't particularly mind -- I have a pretty good feeling that I'm at least following one of the better ones. (To be honest, over the past year the amount of currently airing anime I choose to watch in any given season has really begun to hover from 0-3 for some reason...)

But I didn't want to blog about Shigofumi immediately -- mostly because I don't think I would have done a good job at blogging about episodes 1 and 2, since I'd have to steer clear of the massive spoilers. And besides those two're probably best experienced first hand anyway.
Episodes 3 and 4... I probably was just too lazy to talk about. (it happens..)

However, there's nothing stopping me from blogging about ep 5, which has turned out to probably be my favorite episode of this show since the first two. Granted, it's for completely different reasons. Most of those reasons centered around the fact that this ep was filled with hefty amounts of.. (though I try not to use this word too often) moe~

Like episode 4 before it, ep 5 features our heroine Fumika teaming up with her polar opposite of a coworker, Chiaki, who up until now had been the only reason I'd sit trough that terrible, terrible OP theme by Ali Project -- I knew I'd like her character (she reminds me of Touhou's Marisa...).
Also, this episode deals with quite a large amount of adorable cats (moe count: 1!). Why? Well because this ep's shigofumi just happens to be addressed to a certain little kitty named Schrodinger. Chiaki and Fumika are to deliver letters to him from the old couple who he used to live with. However, delivering a letter to a cat has been proving to be a little difficult..

So Chiaki has the brilliantly cartoonish idea to use catnip in order for lil' Schrodie to come to them instead. After a failed attempt to steal the catnip on Chiaki's part (see!? there's that Marisa thing again..!), the two girls get accosted by two overly friendly gentlemen, which leads us to see a side of Fumika we've never seen before -- that side being the top of her head, when one of the boys knocks off her hat after they're berated by them (moe count: 2! <-- don't ask how).
Fumika thus quite violently returns the favor and in the process of doing so, acquires the money they were carrying with them (you can almost hear the RPG victory music play..).

Also, while this is going on, Kaname (the young man from episode 3 who knew the real Fumika in middleschool) is contacting old friends in hopes of finding her whereabouts. We find out that he actually once confessed to Fumika (but was turned down), and that Fumika is currently in a hospital. Hnnn...

But as Chiaki brings up in one scene where she and Fumika are in the midst of Operation Catnip, deliverers of shigofumi are chosen only from people who have died. Why is it that Fumika, however, seems to be growing older? (I think we can guess..) Unfortunately, this serious conversation is cut short as we soon find out that Fumika has quite the cat phobia (moe count: 3!!). And we really get to see a new side of her this time -- in her squeaks and squeals you can really hear Kana Ueda's voice come out (I sometimes forget that she does the voice of her...)

This scene is perhaps only topped by a few moments later when Fumika wakes up quite flustered in Chiaki's lap (she fainted??) and Chiaki offers her a drink of water. Though she also rather awkwardly brings up the common anime adage of it being an indirect kiss. However if they're both girls, as she goes on to explain, there really should be nothing to worry about right? (yeah right. moe count: 4! ( ´∀`)ノ)

In one final attempt to capture Schrodie, the two girls don their wings and fly to a demolition zone where a building is to be torn down. Chiaki follows Schrodie into the building only for the time limit on her wing use to run out. Fumika thus uses her expert knowledge of machinery operation (and handy ability to turn invisible) and saves Chiaki from going down with the building (can she die....twice..?).
Apparently, Schrodinger had traveled all the way to the building simply in order to go home. And both shigofumi addressed to him included nothing more than the key to the door of the apartment so the little kitty could go inside and sleep in his own bed once again, if at least for a little while... (*sniff* moe count: 5....!)


There are a couple other things I could talk about concerning this ep (such as the perils of the real Fumika, the appearance of her father, and of course, the flat-chested exchange between Fumika and Chiaki), buuuut I think I've said enough already.
This ep does however bring up some great speculation opportunities. Such as what will become of Fumika in the end? Will she return to the world of the living, finally completely die, or perhaps stay in this limbo she's currently in?
Well, I've been quite content with how the show's going so far, so I think I'll just be happy seeing what road the show ultimately takes without trying to spoil myself.

Oh yes. There was one bad thing about this ep -- from the next episode preview there looks like there'll be no Chiaki! RAAAAAGE!! ヽ(`Д´)ノ