For the past while, I’ve found myself too preoccupied, too lazy, or too weak-willed to write as much as I ought, especially on this blog. Most recently, my move to Alabama provided a good excuse for missing my last installment of “Examining Old School Anime” on Beneath the Tangles. Having recovered from the fourteen hour drive from New Jersey, I feel ready to blog again. However, I have a warning for people passing through Tennessee: the police cars have an outrageous paint scheme. They are a dull brown above and below, a flat, light yellow in the middle, and have a black silhouette of the state of Tennessee in the center. All this considerably breaks up their image and makes for excellent camouflage. Not only that, but they try to pull people over by speed signs so that one cannot argue being ignorant of the limit.
But, you would not be reading my blog if I only wrote about travel. Below, my dear readers will find some succinct summaries of various anime. I hope that these recommendations from my watch list prove interesting to you.
1) Strike the Blood – ★★★½
Some of my readers may be surprised to find such a fanservicey and silly show here. But, I confess a weakness for harem shows and action-packed vampire anime. How can I resist a show which combines the two? Also, the main character, Kojou Akatsuki, has personality, unlike the harem lead of a certain show last season. (*cough*BellCranel*cough*) The ecchi varies between cute, silly, and rather uncomfortable–as may be expected from the fact that Kojou’s vampire powers, which he frequently resorts to, only surface when he’s aroused. This leads to the harem becoming frequently infuriated with him, although Kojou himself does not have any attachment to his powers and has avoided sucking the blood of young maidens until a series of violent and potentially cataclysmic events strike his city.
All the same, the show is rather fun to watch for the variety of the characters’ personalities, the amusing comedy, and the fun fights with fiends and monsters. The likability of the characters makes the viewer all the more invested when he sees the villains holding certain of Kojou’s harem hostage or otherwise using them to further their nefarious schemes. A very fun show, which I recommend to anyone with similar tastes who can take a hefty dose of ecchi.
2) Angel Cop – ★★★
This may be described as an gory, anti-terrorist anime to have come out of the 80’s. (Certain scenes are very difficult to stomach, especially the torture of the captured terrorist.) The action is its strongest suit, and some of the anti-communist lines are priceless. Toward the end of the show, I also developed an appreciation for how it tried to place the local conflict between the good guys and the villains inside of the overall conflict between God and the devil. The antagonist is called Lucifer, and our heroine is given the name Angel, which recalls the war in heaven between Satan and St. Michael.
Yet, the last episode contained a weird conspiracy twist. My brother says that what I’m about to relate actually was excised from the dub, which has much more cursing than the sub. Skip to the next show if you don’t want to read major spoilers. Apparently, America wishes to make Japan the 55th state (what are the prior four supposed to be!?), and the Jews are working to take over Japan, starting with Hokkaido. The woman antagonist named Lucifer turned out to be a Jew herself! You better believe that I nearly fell out of my chair for laughter!
3) Kotoura-san – ★★★
After stalling this show at episode seven some time ago, the decision to pick it back up proved a happy one. Kotoura’s internal battle with the envy eating away at her and her lack of faith in other people as well as the comedy produced by our eccentric heroes made this well worth watching. Though, I would argue that the first episode and the last five episodes are the strongest in the show. It’s middle episodes range from amusing to dull. The final arc proved most compelling because of the villain’s similitude to Kotoura. If Kotoura had allowed the sense of rejection and envy to eat her up, she might have become as evil as the slasher pursued by the police.
While this show can’t exactly be enthusiastically recommended, I enjoyed it. I only wish that Kotoura’s relationship with her mother, which shows signs of healing, had been resolved to a happy conclusion by the end of the show.
4) Tales of Vesperia – ★★★½
This slow fantasy adventure is set in a world somewhat reminiscent of the average fantasy RPG but with enough individual flavor to make it interesting. The overarching theme concerns finding the meaning in sacrifice. Flynn’s father was a famous knight who gave his life in battle. Flynn dearly misses his father and expresses his anger at his father’s sacrifice by strictly adhering to orders, which are often safer than doing the right thing. His comrade, Yuri, shows a lackadaisical attitude and refuses to strictly follow the rules, which bothers Flynn to no end because of this similarity to his father. They make great foils.
Besides the above, all the characters feel rather deep–even the two redhead twins whose only physical difference revolves around their bust size. Action scenes and comedy made the drawn out plot and moral discussions easier to endure until we arrive at the exciting finale. I highly recommend it to my viewers who don’t mind slow moving plots and enjoy fantasy anime.
Stay tuned for part two, covering the shows I’ve yet to finish.