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willag
Crazy FangirlCrazy Fangirl


Joined: 21 Apr 2010
Posts: 2143

PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:58 pm Reply with quote
Whelp, I was in the mood yesterday to type my impressions on how the 2nd season of Chihayafuru was holding up, which I posted in my journal to convince some of my friends to pick up the series. I also went ahead an cleaned up some of my original review for Chihayafuru.

Needless to say, there are spoilers though I'm still vague enough.


Chihayafuru 2

So since this series is currently ongoing (6 episodes out) this review will be a bit incomplete.

For all the strengths the first season had, this season continues on in style with even more breathtaking matches and moments for characters to shine.

The first few episodes are dedicated to the club trying to recruit new members. And though the final results are way underwhelming to Chihaya's expectations, the new members look like they're going to be worthwhile additions to the cast. Sumire joined simply to get close to Taichi in hopes to snag him as a boyfriend, but over the course of the episodes she is able to form her own connection with karuta that makes her appreciate the game and become a more serious player (never has a fingernail clipping scene been more inspiring, lol). Akihiro is struggling because he took pride at being a master at playing second verse karuta using two hands, and now he's trying to learn to become as good in first verse karuta.

The second season is already foreshadowing Chihaya's development in terms of prioritizing her goals. She has been mostly static in terms of character development, which if you love her (as I do) is fine but may be frustrating otherwise. Most of her development has been in terms of competence and skill level in karuta rather than character improvement, though she has come away with more confidence in herself and acceptance of her faults. Otherwise, after meeting Arata and discovering her passion for karuta, her dreams and goals have mostly stayed the same. She has a single-track mind on being able to play Arata in the future and becoming Queen. This season is starting to set up her change in priorities though (which I know about having read the latest chapters of the manga when she finally figures out what exactly she wants to do in the future). Vague manga spoilers: spoiler[Unsurprisingly, it still revolves around karuta, but it shows a mature growth in character finally being able to make a long-term future goal and career choice. What's more impressive is that this career choice ends up conflicting with one of her other goals (at least in the short term), but she still chooses to go with it crying about how important it is for her. She's finally able to prioritize her goals. It is easy to pick out what it is if you watch the first few episodes of the second season. Even her teammates argue that she's taking on too much responsibility by wanting to train the new recruits on top of her other goals, but more than anything she wanted to share her love of karuta.]

She's also becoming more aware of those around her. The show often mentions how oblivious she can be to even her own teammates. In the first season, she overhears Porky talking to Taichi at how he dislikes being referred to as Porky by Chihaya, and she takes it to heart feeling guilty about disregarding his feelings. Since then, she seems a bit more receptive of her teammates and their ongoing games. And now, this season, a romantic rival has been introduced (not that Chihaya realizes she's a romantic rival for Taichi's feelings, lol). Taichi has made it clear to Sumire that he would rather pursue someone he loves than to have a guaranteed chance at love, and Sumire fumes over why he would go after someone who's always oblivious to him.

And then the following scene occurs in episode 4. (Cue fangirl squeals in 3, 2, 1...).


And they're thrown even before he can finish his sentence.


Haha, Taichi's fangirl squad. But none of that really matters because...


I feel a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in happiness and were suddenly silenced due to heart attacks.


Goddamnit, Taichi, stop making it look like it matters so much to you, my heart can't take it!


And here's the final nail in the coffin.

The karuta matches have been top notch this season as well. No previous episode tops episode 6 in terms of intensity (and that's not a minor accomplishment). Holy shit. I was on pins and needles the entire episode. The matches in episodes 4-6 are some of the best.


Chihaya is fired up.


And so are the others, for different reasons, Laughing


The intense conclusion to the match in episode 6.

To sum up, the second season is shaping up to be just as good as the first, if not better. If you haven't yet started the series, you should seriously reconsider.

And let's end this with a gorgeous shot of Chihaya overlayed with appropriate words.



Is it Friday yet?
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ManOfRust
Village ElderVillage Elder


Joined: 08 Jan 2006
Posts: 1935
Location: Seattle, WA

PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:47 pm Reply with quote
Nice summary of things so far in Chihayafuru 2, willag. It took this show a while to grow on me in the first season, but I'm a total convert now. I so hope this gets a Bluray release here. It will be a for sure purchase for me.

I like that in this last episode we start to see that the almost simplemindedly determined Chihaya actually has a plan and a strategy for how to achieve it, and she is steadily working towards her goals. Up until now, thinking things through thoroughly hasn't really been one of her strong suits and she's been learning by making mistakes and powering through with her unquenchable enthusiasm and love of karuta. She is certainly learning as she goes, and it's nice to see her progress not just in karuta but in general.

This show is doing a very nice job with character development not only for the main characters, but also for the supporting cast. It's definitely one that I look forward to every week. I was spoiled a bit with the first season because I started it after it had aired and didn't have to wait for each new episode. Now that I'm caught up with the show, the wait between episodes can be excruciating.

I feel bad for poor Taichi... The end of the last episode was just harsh.
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willag
Crazy FangirlCrazy Fangirl


Joined: 21 Apr 2010
Posts: 2143

PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:16 pm Reply with quote
I agree, MoR. During the first season she was learning more about her strengths and faults and observing the strategies of others. This season she's putting her knowledge gained to improving her karuta style. She's strategizing on how she's actually going to reach her goals rather than just steamroll through on enthusiasm, hard work, and determination. She's able to plan and set priorities, not only in her game play but in her life. I think the major arc that just finished in the manga would be the perfect stopping point for the second season, because it really demonstrates how far she comes (and it's such a cathartic experience for her to realize what she wants to do in the future).

It's almost always a "Poor Taichi" day. We should start calling it "Poor Taichi Fridays."
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bonbonsrus



Joined: 15 Oct 2003
Posts: 1278

PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 12:04 am Reply with quote
I just watched Natsuyuki Rendezvous, and was so much more delighted with it than the description on the show would have made me believe possible.

Description - Ryosuke works part-time as a florist where he begins to fall for the owner, Rokka. Eight years ago, Rokka decided to give up on love but one day, due to circumstances, Ryosuke ends up in Rokka's apartment where he runs into a half-naked man. Having mixed emotions, he realizes that this man is her late husband's ghost. However, Rokka is unable to see him. Will Ryosuke be able to pursue his love despite the presence of her late husband?

Now, this just sounded not that exciting to me, but the first episode aired OnDemand, and I quickly found myself hooked and searching for the rest on CrunchyRoll where I watched it in a day since it was only 11 episodes.

There aren't enough josei shows imo, so finding this one when I wasn't expecting it was a pleasant surprise. Now, I will say, I found all the character designs to be a little...not as attractive as they could have been, but this is very quickly over-looked as the story is so compelling. A ghost husband getting in the way sounds more comedic than dramatic, but that wasn't the case here. As Ryosuke woos Rokka, you can't help but wish that annoying ghost was out of the way, just like he does. I enjoyed seeing Rokka decide if she wa ready to move on, and if so, with a younger man. Watching their interactions were pleasant and sometimes frustrating, but felt fairly realistic, despite the otherworldly apparition.

If you like josei anime, check this one out!
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dtm42



Joined: 05 Feb 2008
Posts: 12020
Location: NZL

PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 1:24 am Reply with quote
^
I like Josei Anime, but Natsuyuki Rendezvous was extremely disappointing. It dragged massively in the middle, the laser focus on just three characters was off-putting, and the characters themselves were poorly handled. I gave it a rating of So-so and I was probably being generous.
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kaemiko chan



Joined: 18 Feb 2013
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 3:04 am Reply with quote
I'm actually watching Amnesia, CØDE:BREAKER, Psycho-pass & JoJo's Bizarre Adventure !

CØDE:BREAKER, Psycho-pass I started to follow since last month and am really fascinated by the stories!

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure was instroduced by my friend but by watching only animes I'm a little bit confused... maybe I should start by reading. Razz
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errinundra
Enjoying the time of EVEEnjoying the time of EVE


Joined: 14 Jun 2008
Posts: 2419
Location: Melbourne, Oz

PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 5:53 am Reply with quote
The Twelve Kingdoms

Reason for watching: The main character is a leading contender in the currently running Most Improved Character tournament.

Synopsis: (Apologies for the lengthy summary.)

In a parallel world of twelve kingdoms there is an intriguing way of trying to ensure that rulers govern well. A wise, compassionate and sacred being known as a Taiho, who can appear as either a human or a Kirin (think unicorn meets My Little Pony), selects someone deserving to be ruler of one of the kingdoms. If the Taiho cannot find a suitable candidate within the realm they can search elsewhere, even the schoolyards of modern Tokyo. Once a monarch is chosen the Taiho will thenceforth acknowledge no other master. The ruler is rewarded with immortality although they can be killed by decapitation. So long as the kingdom prospers all will be well for the monarch. Should they rule poorly the Taiho will fall ill and die, leading to the death of the monarch very soon afterwards. Should the monarch be killed, the kingdom falls into chaos until the Taiho can select another. Should both die, the kingdom must wait until a Taiho is born, grows and selects the new monarch. There are four story arcs.

Shadow of the Moon, Sea of the Shadow (episodes 1-14): Follows the tale of Youko Nakajima, a timid Japanese schoolgirl who is selected as a queen by a Taiho and, with two school mates, is whisked to the world of the Twelve Kingdoms only to be abandoned upon arrival. Youko must overcome her timidity and establish her credentials as queen of Kei.

Sea of the Wind, Shore of the Labyrinth (episodes 15-22): Follows the life of a Taiho from his first appearance as an egg on a tree (!) to his selection of a new king.

A Great Distance in the Wind, the Sky at Dawn (episodes 23-39): Realising that she is but a puppet in her kingdom, Youko Nakajima visits a remote village to learn about life in Kei. There she unwittingly finds herself caught up in a rebellion against corrupt and violent local officials. Joined by two other young women, Youko struggles to convince herself she has the credentials to bring peace, prosperity and justice to the kingdom.

Sea God of the East, Azure Sea of the West (episodes 40-45): Disatisfied with the decisions of his king, a provincial lord in one of the kingdoms kidnaps the Taiho to force the king to bend to his will.

***

Despite an unpromising start, the Twelve Kingdoms gives us one of anime's great adventure heroines in Youko Nakajima, who makes the journey from hesitant schoolgirl to magisterial leader in a sequence of events that is utterly convincing and, which, for the most part, make compelling viewing. If there is a caution in my praise it isn't the fault of Youko but, rather, it's because the story telling falls flat at times.


Left: Youko, queen of Kei, at her most commanding, surveying the opposing armies upon her kirin / taiho.
Right: the king of En (standing) with his taiho in human form.


In its defence it must be said The Twelve Kingdoms isn't an action adventure yarn, preferring instead to concentrate on world building and character development. There is little action and, what there is, is animated economically. It also means that the viewer may find, as I did, the terminology, the characters and customs of the parallel world quite bewildering until well into the series. Thanks to the initial confusion and Youko's two unappealing school mates, Sugimoto and Asano, it's not until Youko begins to earn our admiration that the series begins to hit its stride. Once it does, though, be ready to be ensnared by one of the best heroines around.

But there's yet another catch: of the four story arcs, Youko has no meaningful role in two of them (see synopsis above). The second and fourth arcs tell the tales of two taiho / kirin. These creatures, while fascinating in concept are invariably dull when it comes to personality. It's the humans, with their capacity for development, that make the series as interesting as it is. The supernatural characters add to the flavour and to the concepts but little else. With Youko playing only a minor framing role in the final arc, the series ends on a disappointingly flat note. I would much rather have spent more time watching Youko at work in her court. Likewise, the motivations of the various villains aren't always convincing, but they are usually intricately woven into the plot and often raise interesting questions about power and responsibility.

Having got most of my criticisms out of the way, it's worth returning to Youko and some of the other memorable characters. As a Japanese schoolgirl Youko is so cowardly, so socially inept and so self-pitying she had me cringing inwardly. Faced with mutlitple challenges in the new world, including a magical sword that constantly deceives her and a magical scabbard that torments her, she slowly but surely finds her own voice and the means within her to cope with her tribulations. She also makes valuable allies in Rakushun, a creature who can shape change between giant rat and human, and in Shouryuu, the king of En, who assists her in gaining the throne in Kei. Shouryuu appeals with his simultaneous insouciance and hardheadedness but Rakushun, as the human rat, almost steals the show with his idealistic innocence, unbounded generosity and vaguely comic persona. (Mmmm. Could you imagine the queen of your nation marrying a rat? Oh, don't mind me. I'm just indulging in some shipping.) He also has the most memorable voice among the seiyuu.

In the third, longest, and easily the best, arc Youko is joined by two other female characters who also start out unsympathetically but gained my admiration as the tale unfolded. Suzu is a Japanese girl unwillingly brought to the Twelve Kingdoms and granted immortality but forced to live a life of servitude and humiliation. Shoukei, the daughter of a puritanical, violent king who was assassinated in an uprising, must come to understand the suffering of ordinary people and accept that her compliance with her father's regime carries a burden of guilt. Both women, bewitched by the notion of a teenage queen, journey to Kei to meet her and to indulge their fantasies but, unknowingly, hook up with the incognito Youko. One of the great pleasures of the arc lies in the irony of Youko mingling secretly with the very people who are desperate for her to intervene. She has very good reasons not to, but, as she comes to understand the real power she wields - the loyalty of ordinary people - we see how she has the strength of character to lead them. The moment maketh the woman, you might say. In like manner, Suzu and Shoukei grow as they journey. They make a terrific and formidable trio by the end of the arc.


Left: Youko, Shoukei and Suzu. Yes, The Twelve Kingdoms does get a tad earnest at times.
Right: rheiders and Youko... I mean Rakushun and Youko.


The steady development of the character of Youko reaches its climax in episode 39 when, standing on the ramparts between two armies, she is greeted by her kirin and acknowledged by all. It is one of the most stirring and magisterial moments in the 300 or so anime I have seen. All the world building, all the character development, all the diversions have led to this magnificent moment. Youko has come a long way from her life in Japan but the real strength of the series is that her journey is so convincing...

...and then we have six more episodes of vaguely related side story. Sigh.

The Twelve Kingdoms is very pretty to look at, although the backgrounds become a bit generic after a while. I particularly liked the way they did the facial close-ups, being highly attractive while giving the characters strongly drawn personalities. The animators frequently moved the characters' heads as they talked. That may seem simple but most anime close-ups have a static frontal or profile perspective. (Perhaps it's just that I've watched too much Koichi Mashimo in my time.) If more time has been spent animating the faces, then the makers more than made up for it with, again pretty, but limited action animation. The occasional fight scenes are invariably resolved on the first blow. Typical of its time, the CGI effects are poorly integrated into the animation.

The incidental music is low key, highly atmospheric and usually apt. One Flamenco styled piece came across as outlandish, even if its mood was appropriate to the scene. The opening theme was suitably expansive while the ending theme was more challenging with its slightly jarring vocal harmonies.

The Twelve Kingdoms is always at its best when it follows the story of Youko, embedding her tale into its intricate world building. It falters when it strays into other stories and when it spends too much time on characters that don't warrant the close examination. I imagine it would offer up further rewards on a re-watch, when I will have a much better grasp of the terminology and customs that seemed so confusing on first blush.

Rating: very good. At its best it's as good as anime gets, but its shortcomings are significant.

***

I've also finished Blade of the Immortal via the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's iview streaming service. The picture quality of the stream is dreadful on my PC (it's meant for iphones) while the American dub is excruciating. Despite that, I found it intriguing enough to watch it under more favourable circumstances, so I've placed an order with Madman. When I've seen it with Japanese dub and a decent picture quality I'll report on it here in more detail.


Last edited by errinundra on Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:30 am; edited 1 time in total
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rheiders



Joined: 05 Jul 2011
Posts: 955
Location: Colorful Colorado :)

PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 2:43 pm Reply with quote
@errinundra
I'm glad you enjoyed Twelve Kingdoms! ^^~ I've shown it to a few friends since I finished it (all of them are very much enjoying it), and I'm always shocked by how utterly unlikeable Youko is at first. It's hard to get people to want to watch a show with the condition that they'll want to strangle the protagonist for the first seven episodes or so! xD

I think it's very strange that they ended on Enki's arc, since that book actually comes before Skies of Dawn, but I guess they didn't want two "side stories" (Taiki actually kind of shares the protagonist role with Youko) in a row. It's a shame, since I think Enki's arc would have been a lot more enjoyable if it hadn't come at the end, since it's not exactly climactic xD I remember finishing the third arc and being confused that there was still another disc in the set. Personally, I think Taiki's arc in the anime doesn't do him justice, since most of his conflict is internal (even more so than with Youko).
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Wooga
SubscriberSubscriber


Joined: 22 Jun 2007
Posts: 797
Location: Tucson

PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 1:09 am Reply with quote
Just finished Gauche the Cellist, well now I know where spastic minnow's avatar is from at least.
It was a pretty cute and simple movie, made me wish talking animals would come to my house and encourage my art. I was pretty confused at the beginning, when the cat walked into his house and gave him a tomato and started talking, I would have flipped out but Gauche was just annoyed haha.
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CrowLia



Joined: 24 Feb 2012
Posts: 1785
Location: Kyoto, Japan

PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 2:53 am Reply with quote
Well, now that school is back on my time to marathon anime is severely reduced (I can barely keep up with the streaming series). But I still manage to squeeze an extra episode or two every week, so I finally managed to finish Beelzebub.

I really liked how this series never takes itself too seriously. I was pretty bummed by how the ending was completely rushed in a ridiculous fashion, but the overall show was so funny I didn't care. Especially once Oga develops his secret technique, it was hilarious. Not much to say, other than Baby Beel is super adorable and the series is very very funny. Some jokes get old quickly, but it's still OK for a light watch.

Now that I'm done with that I've started Saikano. It's not like I don't know what I'm getting into, even though I don't know the full details, I already know I'm in for heartbreaking despair and tragedy. But I think that, even if I didn't know it, the mood of the series gives it away. Even though the first half of episode 1 is sweet and innocent enough, once Chise's nature is revealed, you get that sense of dread like there's no happy ending possible. I didn't manage to finish episode 2 because spoiler[Shuji decided to grope Chise's boobs] right when Mom walked through the door, so I had to stop and leave it at that -__-U.

I'm very drawn to the story -or more like, the characters-, for reasons yet unknown to myself, so I hope I can squeeze some more episodes this week
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-whistle



Joined: 20 Feb 2013
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 3:04 am Reply with quote
I'm catching up on Gintama! It's one of my favorite animes, because it plays with your feels, but is insanely hilarious. Doesn't even give me time to dry my tears ^^
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DuskyPredator
It...it's not like I post for you or anything!It...it's not like I post for you or anything!


Joined: 10 Mar 2009
Posts: 6791
Location: Brisbane, Australia

PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 10:13 am Reply with quote
I thought I might do a totally unnecesay update that over the last two days I caught up on the shows that continued from last year (Ixion Saga DT, Little Busters, Fairy Tail, Blast of the Tempest, From the New World, Robotics;Notes, Psycho-Pass, Magi, Sakurasou pet) which has added up to a wopping 43 episodes over the last *does calculations* 38 hours.

Ahh this is unhealthy, but now I have to move onto the shows that started this year, which is like another 23 or so shows, I should take it slowly, but I want to keep up, at least the spread sheet I made can help me keep track, and my internet plan seems faster compared to where I used to live. Very Happy

Day 3 will begin with *looks on roster* 5 episodes of Maoyuu. But sleep now as I digest today's 23 episodes.
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getchman
He started itHe started it


Joined: 07 Apr 2012
Posts: 5632
Location: Cheshire, CT

PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 10:19 am Reply with quote
DuskyPredator wrote:
I thought I might do a totally unnecesay update that over the last two days I caught up on the shows that continued from last year (Ixion Saga DT, Little Busters, Fairy Tail, Blast of the Tempest, From the New World, Robotics;Notes, Psycho-Pass, Magi, Sakurasou pet) which has added up to a wopping 43 episodes over the last *does calculations* 38 hours.

Ahh this is unhealthy, but now I have to move onto the shows that started this year, which is like another 23 or so shows, I should take it slowly, but I want to keep up, at least the spread sheet I made can help me keep track, and my internet plan seems faster compared to where I used to live. Very Happy

Day 3 will begin with *looks on roster* 5 episodes of Maoyuu. But sleep now as I digest today's 23 episodes.


I with you the best of luck on your noble endeavor
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xFiveBoltMainx



Joined: 24 Sep 2007
Posts: 28
Location: St George, UT

PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:15 pm Reply with quote
I spent my three day weekend watching Is This A Zombie and C. I started with Is This A Zombie. I saw the first two episodes on Funimations Youtube channel and fell in love with the series. Who doesn't like zombies, ninja vampires, monsters, and a girl who doesn't talk Very Happy It's a great series and made me laugh a lot. By the end of the series I was left wanting more. So I went to their wiki page and saw that Funimation has the rights to the second season, I can' wait for that.

I was feeling good and upbeat, so I started to watch C. The first half was really good. Lots of action and the animation was amazing. But then the second half kicked in and it got more serious. The ending is an open ending and I don't like that. I like being told how it ends. Plus the ending was kind of depressing too. It reminded me of Angel Beats. It's still a good series and I'm glad I bought it. I just wish there was a second season in the works Sad
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cydarius



Joined: 17 Feb 2013
Posts: 13
Location: BC, Canada

PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 12:34 am Reply with quote
I was planning to watch The Record of the Lodoss Wars. The reason that is after I did watch the Hobbit(couple months back) and then watch Lord of the Rings, I was getting that mood of watching fantasy genres that I hooked into. They do have Dwarfs, Elves, different light and dark religion. When I looked at the continent island of Lodoss(image on top), that makes me feel that's defininty almost the same as Tamriel from Elder's Scrolls game(shown at the bottom).

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