MY ANIME SERIES—DOUBLE-SIZED EDITION
Chaos;HEAd—A dark psychological thriller. A reclusive Japanese teen named Takumi just wants to play video games, surf the net, and collect figurines of his favorite anime gal. But then there are these grisly murders, and Takumi, who suffers from delusions, doesn’t even know if he committed them or if he is going to be next to be killed. And then there are all these girls—what do they want with him?
This show is confusing yet fascinating. Side effects may be headaches and bouts of depersonalization. My advice? Don’t worry about trying to figure out what’s going on—just go along for the ride. Although doing so may cause your mind to wander when some character actually does attempt to explain what’s happening and why.
Sword Art Online—This didn’t sound interesting to me at first. It takes place in a MMORPG, so I thought, who cares? We’re just watching kids play a video game? But the twist is it’s a fully immersive virtual reality, and the creator, for a joke, decided to trap everyone in the game so that they can’t log out into the real world until the game is won. And, the video game creator continues, if you die in the game, you die in real life.
Kirito is an ace player and one of the best chances everyone has to win the game. He meets female player Asuna, who is not such a bad player herself. The two fall in love and get virtually married.
Then, a little over halfway through, the game changes, so to speak. There’s this new background and new character designs, plus a new theme song sequence that shows Kirito having fun with this girl who definitely isn’t Asuna. Ack, what gives? They’re not gonna break my heart, are they? Well, I was sort of relieved when I found out who this girl really is, but I’m not going to spoil everything. You’ll just have to see for yourself. Go ahead. Watch.
As a side note, I watched this with subtitles because that’s all that was available. (My preferred choice is dubbed, but I’ll watch subbed if necessary.) I was so pleased when I recognized the voice of a supporting character named Klein—it was Wild Tiger’s voice from Tiger & Bunny. (The actor’s name is Hiroaki Hirata.) You’ll have to excuse me in taking such delight in this; my ear is still untrained in distinguishing Japanese voice actors. Maybe after a few more subs…
Medaka Box—The story starts out simply. Student council president Medaka puts out a suggestion/request box for all students, and helps them with their problems. There is no price to pay; you don’t have to sell your soul to see your prayers answered. Problems include rounding up a lost dog and finding a model for a budding artist to paint. Medaka seems like a magical girl, but really, maybe she just has the spirit to get things done.
Then all the student clubs request an increase in budget, and Medaka just can’t accommodate them all. So she holds a swim meet, and the winning club gets the money. By this time I was yawning. I dislike what I call “tournament episodes” where the stakes aren’t life or death. I couldn’t care less which club won. This story went on for two episodes.
Before the series ended; however, there was a story arc where suddenly, the plot did become a matter of life or death. Medaka proves she has super powers, perhaps making her a magical girl after all.
Medaka’s sexual orientation is up for grabs. She casually undresses before her male childhood friend, Hitoyoshi, as though begging for him to make a move on her. Hitoyoshi and a handsome male, Akune, are rivals for her affection. Medaka tells Akune she is sorry to break his heart, but she belongs to everyone. So is she celibate? Then, to break through to a greedy, female swimmer, Medaka kisses her long and hard on the mouth. So is she a lesbian? The end of the series finds these questions unanswered.
In the end, although boring in parts, I still found the show fun. And it features fan service for both boys and girls.
Medaka Box Abnormal—This series picks up where the original left off, but now, instead of there being simple tales of answering students’ requests, Medaka and her friends are in a deadly battle, the stakes being the lives of the normal students. Abnormals, super-charged students and elitists, want to use the normals as guinea pigs, not caring if it kills them. Medaka herself is an Abnormal, but she won’t have anything to do with their dastardly plan. Unless they can manage to brainwash her…
This series introduces Medaka’s brother and sister. Revealing who the sister is would be a spoiler. Her brother, an incestuous pervert, provides physical training and comic relief, and is perhaps the reason why Hulu gave this series a rating of TV-MA, while the original landed a TV-14 rating.
All in all, this series is more engaging than the original because of the intense danger factor. It leaves on a cliffhanger, though, so I hope there is another “Medaka Box” series coming soon. Note that I use the singular. I don’t want this to drag on for series after series.
Toward the Terra—A mostly humorless, but intriguing tale of war and its tragic effects, with a bit of an environmental fable thrown in for good measure. The human race has had to leave Terra (Earth) because they did not take care of it properly. Now they live outside the Solar System, in rigid lives controlled by a computer overlord (or should I say, overlady?).
Another race has sprung from the humans, and they are psionic humanoids called Mu. Led by Jomy Marcus Shin, who was raised as a human, they simply want the right to exist, but the humans, led by the Vulcan-like Keith Anyan, are determined to annihilate them. So the Mu see no choice but to fight back. One wants to like Keith Anyan; he’s done heroic things in the past, but his plans for genocide make it difficult to warm up to him. It’s like warming up to Hitler. Indeed, watching the human race try to carry out its inhumane plan may remind one of the Holocaust. Or enslavement. Or imperialism, or any other example of man’s inhumanity to man.
I was afraid this tale was heading toward tragedy, but, in spite of some major characters’ deaths, the end was filled with palpable hope.
Bunny Drop—Dear departed grandfather really got around—in his old age, he sired a daughter by his young maid. After the old man dies, Rin’s mother abandons her so she can devote all her time to being a manga-ka. Daikichi, one of the man’s grandchildren, sees that nobody else wants six-year old Rin, so he takes her in. And though he doesn’t officially adopt her, he gets a crash course in learning what parenthood is all about.
Okay, the story’s cute; that’s a given. The plots are mostly “slice of life”. The animation style is unique. It seems to me, though I have no proof, that this anime was designed not for otaku, but for a mainstream Japanese audience. A general knowledge of Japanese culture will help when watching this show, though it probably isn’t totally necessary. After all, the parent-child bond is universal.