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Saekano Flat – 04: why Utaha can never end up with Aki

This was among the best Saekano episodes I’ve seen, not because of the fanservice, but because of the actual plot progress of the series. It’s all the more heartbreaking because the series is supposed to be funny, but that’s the beauty of ‘light’ series: they hit harder because one never expects being hit.

I disagree with people saying that Aki is an idiot. Teenage males tend to have one-track minds. Even men, in general, tend to have one-track minds. Sure, most teenagers would focus into getting laid by a hot, buxom lady like Utaha. Aki isn’t like most guys: his one-tracked mind is focused on creating a successful visual novel. Despite Utaha’s charm, she fails to see what actually tickles his fancy. She relies on her body, on provocation, to lure Aki. But Aki operates on a sensual level, not a figurative one. He’s naturally reclusive by nature, and despite his passions, is respectful to the women he is surrounded by. That’s why most of them are comfortable around him: he’s so focused into his project that he wouldn’t touch them, even despite the fact that they’d want to be touched. We see how the women look and feel as omniscient observers: Aki doesn’t see Utaha’s face when she longs for him, or her crying inside his bathroom. We may think that Aki is an asshole, but he’s not. He just want to finish his VN, and respects Utaha as his senpai to ever think of her otherwise.

The tragedy of Utaha is that she fails to see his denseness because all she sees from Aki is the supportive, caring guy. He is, but he is also aloof because his passion is the completion of the VN. When she discovers his answer (which was, actually) to finish the VN without her, she tries her best to lure him in with suggestion – again, not very effective because Aki never saw her as a sexual being. Aki thrives in VNs because the text isn’t too heavy: he doesn’t need to rely on his imagination as much. Utaha thrives on prose because she is extremely imaginative. She will always be disappointed because parallel lines will never meet.

Katou sees through everything, however. And it’s shaping up to me that she, like Aki, shares his passion in seeing things through. At this rate, with her persistence, she will be the only one who moves his heart because she is the only one who could see what he sees: she wants to finish the VN first, even though she may be starting to like Tomoya. Ironic, right? But I think it’s telling that the second season is called FLAT. Katou’s going to be the most important woman in Aki’s life. That’s why she is the only one who can dance with Aki in the closing scene of the episode: she sees Aki for what he is, and he appreciates it.

Baka-raptor is awesome!

It took me five years, but I actually got the book he sent through Fed Ex as his gift.

Opal Mehta is an okay book, but it fell apart by its end.

Please visit baka-raptor.com for awesome posts. 🙂

Shimoneta: a masterpiece hidden inside dirty jokes

Introduction

Ever since I went over to the dark side, I knew that anime had something more for me than magical fights and Pokemon. I knew it when I became emotionally invested in the heroes of Gundam Wing. However, all my parents saw were robots fighting. I needed to prove to myself that anime was much more than these desultory generalizations.

Guess what? In the next year, I watched Elfen Lied. That in itself was enough to destroy most presumptions about anime: it was visceral, violent, and mature. A few months after, I stumbled upon Koi Kaze.

It’s already been twelve years, and I still haven’t seen any medium with a more realistic and better presentation of incest. I’ve watched the series twice, and the OP remains to be among the best pieces of music I’ve heard.

Thence on, I was attracted to off-kilter, heteroclitic anime. Although I could still enjoy series like Bleach, I would watch a lot more josei and seinen series. I’ve discovered masterpieces such as Tatami Galaxy and Honey and Clover, and great anime such as Kemonozume because of this predilection.

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I didn’t expect much from Shimoneta. I was going to watch a raunchy series, and probably place it at the back of my mind after I’ve watched it.

And I was horribly mistaken: Shimoneta is a great anime.

The World of Shimoneta

One of the best things about Shimoneta is how the author constructed its world. Japan has become the world’s most ‘moral’ country because it has prohibited everything that has anything to do with sexuality. It’s like a reverse Brave New World: instead of bombarding the people with pleasure to control them, everything sexually pleasurable is removed in order to control people.

I honestly thought this would be a good solution to the overpopulation plaguing the Philippines. People think too much with their lower bodies than with their brains, and as a result the country is rapidly being overcrowded with unwanted babies and idiots, while I’ll be a wizard in a little over a year. Part of Shimoneta’s brilliance is that it shows that the removal of one’s sexuality is not the answer: Tsukimigusa Oboro and Anna are even more depraved individuals than the protagonists because their lives are devoid of their sexuality.

In a previous write-up, I wrote that Shimoneta was 1984 meets American Pie. Although that roughly approximates the series, there’s more depth within.

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The whole series starts when Okuma gets admitted into the most moral high school in the country. He sought to be admitted into the prestigious institution because he admired the kindness of his senior, Nishikonomiya Anna. Because he has knowledge about sexuality (since his father was a ‘terrorist’), he ensconces himself in the Student Council with Ayame Kajou, Goriki, and Anna.

Ayame Kajou is the series’s deuteragonist. She saves Okuma from being imprisoned by ‘terrorizing’ the people with pornographic pictures. Nevertheless, she is in the student council because she and Anna are best friends. Her motives are gradually shown as the series progresses (alongside a lot of raunchy jokes), and they are noble.

Commentary (spoilers)

Shimoneta is a brilliant series.

It’s a great series because it creates a dystopia that posits more problems than solutions if sexuality is removed from the world. One of its most tragic victims is Anna.

Anna

Prior to her accident with Okuma, she was a Yamato Nadeshiko: she’s the Student Council President, at the top of her class, and is very attractive to boot. Because she has no knowledge about her sexuality, however, she transmogrifies into a nymphomaniac after being saved by Okuma from stalkers (and kissing her accidentally).

It would be easy if Okuma was also a sex fiend: after all, he’s admired Anna for so long. Because Okuma is, ironically, also a decent guy with a perverted mind, he gets more and more turned off from her advances.

People say that it was improper of Okuma to invite his stalker to his house. There are, however, some sacrifices to be made for the better good: Okuma was already firmly entrenched within SOX and he had to inspire Otome for her to be able to produce erotic art they could use as weapons. If I recall correctly, he also didn’t know it was Anna (since Anna was avoiding him when they were in school).

Anna’s tragedy is the tragedy of not knowing about herself, or her sexuality. Kajou alludes to that by saying that Anna didn’t know how to differentiate love from lust: Anna was lusting after Okuma (and did so unhealthily), but since she didn’t know one iota about her own sexuality, she considered it all as love. And because Anna had a skewed perspective toward righteousness, she merely interpreted that ANY ACTION pursued for the sake of ‘morality’ was the right thing to do.

Her sexual repression also triggered a psychotic streak within her: she wants Okuma all to herself, but doesn’t even know that she’s raped him more than once, all in the name of her ‘love.’

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, indeed.

Kajou

I like Kajou, because she reminds me of myself. I know a lot about psychology and sexuality, but I don’t really have much real-life experience. I have noble intentions, and wish to carry them out, but I also have a potty mouth to go with it.

She’s suffered because her dad was implicated in a crime he didn’t commit, all for the sake of pushing forth the anti-sexuality laws that were to govern Japan. As a result, she has a properly modulated schizophrenia: she appears to be prim and proper while at school, but is actually the terrorist leader of SOX.

I think I loved her epiphany in the 11th episode (the final episode was more of an excursion than anything): when all was said and done, Okuma was always there for her, and she was always there for Okuma when he needed her the most (although she couldn’t do much when it came to Anna). For someone repressed differently, to be able to say she loved someone as much as she loved dirty jokes showed that Okuma also meant the world to her.

I love romances that arise from a story not focused on it. It keeps the romance devoid of too much drama, but actually livens up the story. So I’m a solid fan of Okuma and Kajou. They deserve each other. 🙂

Yeah, she's in love.

Yeah, she’s in love.

Okuma

I won’t comment at length about the daddy issues, or that ostracism. That’s capably tackled in other anime, and by other bloggers.

It’s about his love – and Anna’s toward him, tangentially.

Love is not based on effort.

You want cold water. I fan the cup a million times, but someone walks by with ice for you. You have these expectations, and I work with blood and sweat (and love nectar) to reach them. Someone else came by with what you’re actually looking for, and so you go with them.

This is precisely what happened among Anna, Okuma, and Kajou. Okuma thought that he aspired to moral perfection in order to step out of his father’s shadow. It’s a sort of father complex: all we really see as viewers is Okuma’s father treating him like a father should, but leads to Okuma being ostracized for his father’s beliefs. What he actually desired was to be accepted for who he was, and Kajou did, warts and all.

And no matter what Anna does to show her ‘love’ for Okuma, he doesn’t reciprocate – because Kajou was whom he needed all along. At this rate, they’ll also end up together. Kajou already confessed.

Conclusion

Watch this for the sexually-loaded, promiscuous jokes. Most people would already be content. I hope, however, that with this post, people will take Shimoneta to be an anime much more than that. It may not be as a good a series as Tatami Galaxy, but it’s a masterpiece to me nonetheless.

Watch it, especially if you’re open-minded.

Love in the time of anime harems

I’m going to be 30 years old in a few years. I can no longer call myself young, except with the words ‘at heart.’

I still like anime.

Back when I was half my age, anime was the way I coped with the stresses of high school. I made a few friends by shamelessly bringing series to class, and sharing it with friends. Outside of my studies and anime, however, I was a horrible person. I thought I was really intelligent, and thus had the right to be an asshole to everyone else.

As I grew older, however, my tastes changed, but it was in college when I finally discovered the type of series that I really liked. I enjoyed mecha series, and I occasionally enjoyed shounens, but what I really liked were josei romances.

GAAAAAYYYYYYYYY!

megumi

When I was seventeen, I didn’t really care about women. Coming from a family that’s situated in the lower-middle class, I had to work to maintain my scholarship. Then I discovered Honey and Clover. Even though I watched it ten years ago, I’ll still gush about the series as fervently because it taught me the complexities of being in relationships with people without actually being in one.

I admired Takemoto, who was upright despite all the pitfalls life had in store for him, and tried to be as much as a gentleman as he was (although I failed, because Takemoto is that awesome). But Honey and Clover was the gateway series for me because it paved the way to building up my empathy towards others.

I still have a small amount when compared to most people, but having that seed was a start in order to become a better person. I thought that my fondness for mature romance would end with H&C.

I was wrong. In 2010, Tatami Galaxy was shown, and it remains to be the best series that I have ever seen. Why? Because Watashi was me. I was an asshole to men and an asshole to women, but I never accepted that I was the root cause of the bullshit that happened to my life. I never had the passion for medicine because I didn’t really want to be a medical doctor. Having seen that series, however, made me realize that I have to own up to my past and live in the present in order for me to progress in my life. I’m still far from what I want to be, but at least nowadays I’m earning and helping in the family finances.

I stayed away from anime in the years immediately succeeding that because I had to be licensed as a medical doctor. Two series that I watched this year has inspired me to write a reflection of my life and anime, however. The first was Oregairu, which had reminded me again to be true to myself. (There was also a lot of self-insertion in Hachiman: I was aloof, I didn’t care about society, but I wanted and want sincerity in the few people I consider as friends.)

I think Yukino will probably end up with Hachiman. Because I realized that it’s not just about the female protagonist. There must be cohesion between the two.

It actually surprised me how far in terms of maturity romance/harem anime have arrived. Back when I was younger, there was Love Hina, Chobits, and DearS. They were great anime series for wish-fulfillment. Outside of Chobits, however, they merely pandered to their viewers (who were usually social outcasts and reveled in the idea of being surrounded by attractive women).

Anime has clearly evolved, because even the oft-maligned harem genre has manifested impressive signs of maturity. I’ve already mentioned Oregairu, but I wrote this post because of Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata.

This series actually features a hardcore otaku as the protagonist. He is unabashed and unashamed of his hobbies, leading people to recognize him as the three pillars of their school. (He reminded me of my high school self.)

In subversion to the common tropes in harem series where the girl he ends up with is the girl who has been his enduring childhood friend or the girl with the BIG everything, his heart is with a quiet and unassuming lady who is always there for him.

I admire this direction of harem series, because I believe love is not a competition between the biggest chests. It does not award the sluttiest woman, and clearly some friendships just stay as friendships. Love is cohesion. It is being attuned to the other person’s needs and wants, and them responding to your needs and wants as well, persistently, consistently, and for the rest of both of your lives as well. Both people have to work hard for it to work. Being physically attractive definitely helps, but it is not the be-all or end-all of love. So when I see Utaha or Eriri being shot down occasionally (more of this happens in the LNs), I feel contented because even a harem series has more accurately approximated love in the anime medium. Love is not a one-night stand. It is a constant grind, and from what I can see, only Megumi really put in the work. I’m happy that Tomoya’s slowly seeing that.

And I’m happy that,just like harem anime, I’ve also grown a little bit more mature to see what these protagonists see, too.

Mari x Kiyoshi: pictures paint a novel

I have committed a grave error against Mari in my write-up yesterday. Redditor necktie_13 mentioned that most of Mari’s reactions with regard to Kiyoshi were unspoken, and that led me to a gaffe in analysis. Because I’m very used to textual analysis, I didn’t pay too much attention toward Mari’s facial reactions in regard to Kiyoshi. However, Mari’s interaction with him have gained a considerable amount of softness. Prior to even the incidence between them with the snakes, Mari subtly has already modified her perspective towards Kiyoshi during their conversation in chapter 112.

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Instead of berating Kiyoshi, she understands that he was truly trying to help Meiko as she fell off the ladder without any intention of harassing her.

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Another notable interaction between the two of them occur during the chapter with the snakes (chapter 120): while he was bitten by a viper, Mari was actually reminded of her father with Kiyoshi. Despite the fact that their relations have soured during her time in Hachimitsu, it’s undeniable that her perspective of males is being slowly rehabilitated because of Kiyoshi. Chapter 118 also shows her being visibly flustered at the thought that (surprise!) not all men are out to only have sex with or use women.

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Her flustered appearance is once again repeated in chapter 121, when Kiyoshi vows to save her above himself.

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Her emotional investment in Kiyoshi percolated through the next few chapters until chapter 124, where she slaps him because he wanted to grope her before dying as he believe he was poisoned. This was no longer the distant Mari, aloof from all men. She felt offended — more importantly, however, she asked Kiyoshi for forgiveness because she had started to understand him, not as a piece of garbage, but as a person.

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She becomes more willing to have physical contact with him, even if that were because of a reward.

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By chapter 129, she smiles openly in front of Kiyoshi.

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Later on, in fact, she once again loses her composure when Kiyoshi attempts to send a message to the men.

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She blushes for the first time while asking forgiveness from Kiyoshi a second time in chapter 131. When we are embarrassed with the person we treasure, we blush. People don’t blush towards people they don’t take emotional stock in: people blush towards people they give a damn about.

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And, of course, after affecting her escape, she speaks to Kiyoshi in chapter 166. Her perspective of him has clearly transformed: he is at the very least a good friend, but it seems that he may become so much more. Particularly telling is the ninth page of their conversation: instead of ‘we,’ she rephrases her answer toward Kiyoshi: ‘once this battle is over, take me out to eat some delicious yakiniku, Kiyoshi.’

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When Kiyoshi touches her breast in chapter 204, she doesn’t even react in an overly violent manner. She slaps him, but actually slaps him harder when he was fondling Meiko.

Finally, in chapter 205, both Hana and Mari affect shock when Kiyoshi tells them he’d confess to Chiyo.

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She shows disappointment.

Hers is probably the slowest tale of love to develop among the three characters Kiyoshi has had protracted interactions with, but it’s also equally tragic as Hana’s. They started off being biased against him, yet despite that he proved them wrong and showed them his propriety every time. While she still has to overcome her misandry, it’s clear that the snow queen’s heart has already melted. Sadly, her king is in love with her sister.

Transactional psychology in Prison School, or, why Chiyo will win

I. Introduction

It has been more than six months since my last anime-related blog post. I have as much consistency as a schizophrenic does with his thinking. It’s been a few years since I have written volubly regarding anime. I’m not making any excuses: it’s not as if it’s surprising that working as a medical doctor takes a lot of time away from writing and enjoying anime. I’ve never really stopped watching anime, although I do it sparingly nowadays. I was still able to watch Zankyou no Terror recently, and while I planned a write-up on that one, it never really materialized because of its disappointing ending. I just think it would have been a better anime if it focused on Nine and Twelve and the girl in their quest for truth rather than introduce a confounder into the series which is counterproductive because the series is short at only 12 episodes.

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I wasn’t as passionate with that series as this one that I just finished watching. I have spent the better part of two days devouring everything I could on Prison School. I came for the fun and the tits, but I stayed for the story: I say this with a straight face because the story has great insight on abnormal psychology. I am heavily invested in this series: I recall it was when Tatami Galaxy aired that I was this involved with a series, so it’s been a very long time. My only problem now is that I have to wait for the future chapters of the manga, although the chapter the manga is at during this article’s writing (ch. 208) is a great spot to elaborate my thoughts on the series. Read the rest of this entry »

Death Parade: on Decim’s choice

It took me quite some time before I could even write about Death Parade.

Call me lazy, I guess.

Goodnight, sweet princess.

Goodnight, sweet princess.

I think that Death Parade is the best series to come out this year. Its episodic nature gradually revealed the color and depth of its major characters, leading to its wonderful climax and denouement. I think many people were impressed with its ending.

Do I agree with Decim’s choice at the end?

I do, and I’m going to use a philosophical basis for my answer. Although I disagree with the excessive austerity of Kant, his deontological (duty-based) perspective towards ethics is, I think, applicable to Decim’s condition.

Decim is an arbiter. It was what he was created for, and it is his role. He selects the people who deserve a second chance from the people who deserve to end up in the void. He is able to do it because people come across limbo (the different bars) as tabula rasa. They are devoid of their memories or of what they had done in their lifetime that their personalities can be assessed with little to no obfuscation.

Chiyuki was an aberration because she came in knowing that she had killed herself. In order to properly assess her true personality, he had to create an elaborate ruse where she had gone back to Earth and had a choice to sacrifice a person in order to come back to life.

Kant speaks of actions having moral worth only if they are done in accordance with duty despite the fact that the doer is absolutely against doing what he needs to do. Decim does exactly that, and Chiyuki doesn’t disappoint. He has performed a moral action.

Although the romantic in me wish that they’d end up together (in a psychological suspense anime, yes, I know), what made Death Parade a great show was that it did not compromise with its viewers or its ideals. The series dealt with its aberrations wonderfully, and had a most pertinent ending: Decim learned to understand a bit more of humanity, and Chiyuki understood, finally, the gravity of her past actions – even if they were justifiable.

Subete ga F ni Naru: episode 1 – 4 impressions

I didn’t watch a J-drama for the longest time. The last J-series I completed was Proposal Daisakusen back in 2006. I am, after all, more of an anime and K-drama fan than a J-drama fan. I was intrigued, however, by the poster of this series. It was such a teaser. It hadn’t been anything deep as I didn’t look what Subete ga F ni Naru was about: I just knew I was going to give it a chance, and was going to watch its first few episodes.

I admit, this teaser was what hooked me.

I admit, the teaser was what hooked me.

Since I started working and had gone back to playing DotA 2, I forgot about this series until about a week ago. When I looked up the upcoming series for Noitamina (one of the best anime blocks ever), I saw F as an upcoming series. I then recalled about the drama, and decided to watch its first episode.

True to my intuitive side, I was hooked. The initial interview of a cute Emi Takei (of Rurouni Kenshin) towards a seemingly intelligent and twisted doctor was a bit out-of-place, but was entertaining enough. When the two leads started investigating the first case, I knew I was going to love this series.

When I was younger, I read most of the stories in a short story collection. One of them featured Jacques Futrelle’s The Problem of Cell 13. The story had impressed me a lot that I would often appreciate media featuring locked-room mysteries. Even before Cell 13, I had already read most of Poe’s Dupin mysteries, including The Murders at the Rue Morgue. I was attracted to the cases and their resolution as well, so it was no surprise when I was impressed at how the first case constructed the locked-room murder.

Two colleagues who were about to get married were found murdered in the middle of an experiment, and a locked room mystery was revealed. Like most good cases, there were quite a few red herrings, and the culprits weren’t whom I had expected. It was a good case, with a good resolution.

The second case, however, was more impressive. It was an even simpler locked room, with only one room and no other way to exit or enter. The resolution, however, was a bit more elegant. I was able to narrow down the culprits to two suspects, and I was right with my hunch. How the locked room was created, however, and how the murder weapon was conceived was a lot more creative than the first case.

I also welcomed the interplay between the two major characters, because the lady, despite being intelligent, has an obvious crush on the even more intelligent professor. Both of them have a history, and while the professor cares for the lady, it remains to be seen whether he will realize his emotions by the end of the series. (When Moe solved the difficult math problem mentally, I knew I would have a hard time letting go. Intelligent heroines do me in.)

Some drawbacks of the series include the cheesy multiple-personality synthesis of facts by Professor Saikawa in his resolution of the case, and the occasionally saccharine desire of Moe to be, at least, tended to by her professor. Other than that, the construction of the cases were very well-thought of. The high incidence of suicide among the cases also offer more color to the series, leading to the difficulty of actually guessing the culprits. To be fair to the series, however, careful, analytical viewing leads to results: at the very least, it will help remove the red herrings of the series. Since I didn’t pursue a major in Physics, the science is sometimes beyond me, although I was quite impressed with how the weapon in the second case was constructed.

Fans of quirky detective cases with colorful main characters will probably like this show. I like this show doubly because there is an undercurrent of romance present. As with my favorite anime series, I love shows that have romance as a focus, yet the romance is not its sole focus. That was the case with The Tatami Galaxy, illustrating a bildungsroman with a romance; that was also the case with Steins;Gate, being a science-fiction story with a romance as well.

I hope you guys could give it a shot.

Steins;Gate: Fuka Ryouiki no Deja Vu : time-travel STILL done right

I was in third year of medical school when I first watched Steins;Gate. I recall being delayed with watching the TV series: I watched it during the December prior to my clerkship period.

I'm sorry, just being one of the great anime films of all time.

I’m sorry, just being one of the great anime films of all time.

To be honest, I had many doubts with the series. I have experience that the popular series are most often not critically good. I wasn’t impressed with the first few episodes, however. It all changed during the sixth episode, however, when the series became more and more intriguing. Like a freight train going at full speed, either, it never stopped. It became better and better.

It was late in the series when I realized that I had been watching one of the best series I had ever seen. It was extremely rare that I’d root for the primary couple in any show: whenever that occurred, it would most likely be a very good series as the two protagonists are well-fleshed out. That was the case with The Tatami Galaxy. It was also the case with Cross Game. Steins;Gate was no different.

Okabe took some time to grow on me, but I fell in love with Kurisu the moment she appeared in the series. I’m a sapiosexual, and she was special among anime heroines in that she was very intelligent. When she finally bared all her feelings toward Okabe during the 22nd episode, I knew I had been watching something brilliant. That kiss was scintillating, and despite being bittersweet, it simply congealed the unspoken feelings between the two. She was also heroic in that she was willing to part with him so long as he could save the two people most important to him: on the other hand, Okabe was willing to say goodbye to the world line that had Kurisu fall in love with him. He instead decided to live in a world where despite the fact that Kurisu doesn’t know him, she and Mayushii both live. This world is known as Steins;Gate.

I’d forgotten about Steins;Gate when I started my fourth year in medical school. I forgot about anime altogether. The final years of becoming a medical doctor is never easy anywhere, and I wasn’t an exception. Although I’d still sporadically watch anime series, I forgot about Steins;Gate until a month ago.

It was then that I discovered that the Steins;Gate franchise had released a movie. I let the movie percolate in my computer for about a month, only watching it a few days ago.

After watching the movie, I had re-awakened my love for the franchise. It was just as brilliant as the series, because the movie finally showed the perspective of the other half of the main duo: it showed Kurisu’s perspective. Despite the fact that the Kurisu in the Steins;Gate world line wasn’t familiar with all of Okabe’s sacrifices for her, feelings cross the disparate lines and manifest as deja vu. In short, the other Kurisu’s feelings reverberate through the Steins;Gate world line, and she still has strong feelings for Okabe.

The movie, similar to the series, gradually reveals the depth and gravity of her emotions toward him. She only comes to realize how she truly feels toward him, even in Steins;Gate’s world line, when no one else remembers him except her. She was the very first one to palpably feel his loss, and she was also the one who actively sought him. As if forming a complete circle, she also felt how he had felt after losing him to an accident during one of her time-skips.

To make him remember everyone, and where he belongs, she had also given him his first kiss. This ties into Okabe giving him her first kiss in the original series. Akin to the circular flow of Finnegans Wake, their feelings and love recirculated toward one another, saving the both of them.

It’s an absolutely brilliant movie from an absolutely coruscating series. I highly recommend this film if one’s a fan of the series already.

Hiatari Ryoukou: an underrated masterpiece

I first heard of Hiatari Ryoukou! back in 2006. I had just ended my first year in university, and its first few episodes were released by MJN. I had never heard of Mitsuru Adachi before, but I read its synopsis and was impressed by that enough to try its first few episodes.

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Despite its dated animation (it was originally aired last 1987), I was hooked. I was hooked because the series relied on crisp characterization and sparkling dialogue to make up for its characters’ lack of facial expressions. I liked the frank and upfront nature of its main characters, and I absolutely loved the subtlety in their dialogue. Sadly, MJN subbed only up to the eighth episode.

I never forgot about Hiatari Ryoukou, however. I had been much impressed with its first eight episodes that I looked up Mitsuru Adachi and religiously watched his anime series (except H2, because I heard it was bad). Touch was good, while Cross Game is one of my favorites. I kept on waiting, however, for future Hiatari Ryoukou releases.

I recently resumed my anime watching after I did away with my review and board exams. To my surprise, I discovered that HR had been subbed by ray=out until the 24th episode! I started from the first episode (having last watched the series back in 2006), and I grew to appreciate the series even more. The dialogue between the different characters was absolutely scintillating in its subtlety and suggestion – and that’s just from the first twelve episodes.

Though people are more familiar with Adachi’s later works (except Touch, which had preceded this series), there is a reason why the few who have watched this series feel strongly positive about it. In contrast to his other series that I’ve seen, this has less focus on the sport baseball. This series places more emphasis on its characters’ interactions, and that is why one should watch this with proper focus. Adachi masterfully illustrates and presents to us the slow conversion of Kishimoto Kasumi toward the charms of the equally confident and equally cheeky Takasugi Yuusaku.

And unlike more modern series, its major characters aren’t evil. They are determined to win the person they love, but they are upfront and frank with regard to their actions. For example, Keiko, a character besotted with Yuusaku, reminds the protagonists that Kasumi has a boyfriend whenever the two of them would seem to cross the line. Yet she does this matter-of-factly and without malice. Yuusaku, who is also interested in Kasumi, tries his best to take care of her but never crosses the line: in one episode, he even offered to take Kasumi’s pictures to send to her boyfriend.

I like this series because it is a throwback to the time when love was not adulterated, and when competition between prospective lovers wasn’t a vipers’ tangle. The main characters are sincere with their feelings, and show their love in their own special ways, but never undermine the emotions of others. That’s why I pray that more people should watch it.

It is that good.

(Also, please support ray=out! They’re currently searching for competent QC staff to help finish the series. They also accept donations. 🙂 )