Category Archives: Anime

Ginga e Kickoff!! (2012-2013)

Hi,

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There’s so much variety and genres in the animation world. One that hasn’t been posted by me is in the “sports” category and I’m going to do that with what I feel it’s a special one: “Ginga e Kickoff!”, produced by TYO Animations, directed by Kōnosuke Uda and originally seen in Japan from 7th April 2012 to 26th February 2013 in a grand total of 39 episodes

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General plot: the story is essentially divided in two phases. In the first half of the series, we follow Shou Oota (the main character of the series)‘s steps in reuniting as many members of the latest Momoyama Predators soccer team as well as getting new ones for the regional championship of their city

Besides him, some of the team members include two newcomers: energetic and full of life Erika Takato, large and kind Reika Saionji, as well as six returners: the “Triplet Demons” known as Kota (the fired up one when it comes to soccer), Ryuuji (the feisty and rebelious one) and Ouzou (the calm and intelligent one) Furuya and the three members with the capital “U” in their surnames: Yuto UkishimaKei Uchimura and Taro Uematsu . And also an ideal coach to set their dreams alight: former professional soccer player Masaru Hanashima

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The second half happens after the regional championship: by this time, the Momoyama Predators team are now reduced to 6 members (Shou, Erika, the Furuya triplets and Reika (the latter undertook a strict diet off-screen and came back to the series, some episodes after the second half begun, thiner) and a new ambition is right ahead of them (a participation in the Galaxia Cup, a 8-player soccer tournament held in Spain, as Japan‘s representants)

After a few episodes of searching new members, two characters completed at last the team’s formation (as seen in the opening of every episode of the show): prodigy Takuma Aoto Gonzalez (formerly a member of Heavenly FC) and his close friend Tagi Sugiyama (who had left soccer due to loss of confidence for his constant errors in terms of goalkeeping movements (when a child becomes a teenager, the body starts to grow, something Tagi felt afraid for). For Takuma, going to the Galaxia Cup and to Spain would be a dream come true (although his number one country is still Argentina (his favourite player is legendary argentinian player Diego Maradona) and also a chance to see his absent father again

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My opinion: one of the strengths of the series is the story. It may not be the dramatic tour de force that “Captain Tsubasa” was or might not have the powered-up visually spectacular soccer as “Inazuma Eleven”, but it’s all handled so beautifully in a realistic way that can be related to people around the ages of the main principal and secondary characters

On this series, it doesn’t matter if they win or lose (although, to a certain point, we root for them to win): what counts the most are the team’s relationships between each other and, to a lesser extent, the strong bond made with their coach Hanashima. Their personal stories, when necessary, are nicely told as well (I liked, for example, Shou‘s story (halfway into the series) in the past when he was actually a shy and crybaby as opposed to the loud and positive character he became)

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The animation is much like most anime series of its light (non-adult or non-mature) type, but doesn’t stop it from being slick and well structured, while the music sets very well the mood of the scenes

A big strength of the series are the characters themselves: it’s one of those series in which we have, for example, a main team with such appealing and likeable characters. My favourite character of the series is, without a shadow of a doubt, Takuma: although he’s small for his age, he’s cool and he’s half-japanese and half-spanish, he had quite a indifferent personality that, little by little, toned down mostly thanks to his interaction with the other Predators members (aside from his longtime friend Tagi). I believe, at least, that he had the biggest development out of the other main characters, psychologically-wise. And, of course, his expertise in soccer is totally skillful

The voice acting sure is an extra strength for “Ginga e Kickoff!!” and it can be summed in just two words: rightful casting. Kudos to Yuu Kobayashi for voicing Shou the main character (in a time when she was voicing Kirino in the sequel of the other soccer anime I was talking about, “Inazuma Eleven (GO!)”. It’s a challenge to make one voice different from another current/a previous acting job, but she did it pretty well); Kenn for voicing one of the Furuya triplets, Kota (a revelation, without a doubt); Mariko Nakatsu for giving an exciting flavour to Erika; Kyousuke Ikeda for his sensitive approach to Tagi… and, of course, to Kokoro Kikuchi for voicing Takuma (totally cute, just perfect for such a character)

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All in all, one of the best “soccer” animes I’ve ever seen since “Captain Tsubasa” and “Inazuma Eleven” (and its franchise). Recommending it to all anime and non-anime fans… and also to soccer fans

A last treat:

Thank you,

LAboy 456
(Rui Craveiro)

Busou Shinki Moon Angel (2011-2012)

Hi,

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Back to the anime departement for one more series to get an opinion for me. And also coming from an originally created series to a promote a toyline in Japan that was created in the mid-2000’s. Talking about “Busou Shinki Moon Angel”, produced by Kinema Citrus, directed by Masayuki Kojima and originally seen from 22th September 2011 to 26th January 2012 as a ONA (original net animation. It later got a Blu-Ray edition in March 2012)

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General plot: the story mirrors the relationship of a boy, Tsubasa, and a “shinki” (tall figure robots meant for combat)Arnval Mk. 2. Tsubasa is a transfer student who has a hard time in making new friendships, eventhough he tries and wishes to have a “shinki”, thus becoming a “shinki” master just like his colleagues wish it so. One evening, he finds a damaged “shinki” wandering in a tree and reflected by the moon

After being repaired, she is named by Tsubasa as Kaguya (a reference from “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter” and the story of Princess Kaguya). From then on, a bond between them is formed

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However, things were bound to get dangerous: during a official fight, Kaguya is suddenly out of control and the truth surfaces: as told to Kaguya by Strarf Mk.2 and to Tsubasa by “shinki” shop owner, Ken, she’s an autonomous “shinki” combat robot that is used by cientists as an experiment in order to create weapons. The next thing we know, both Ken and Tsubasa go to  the same place she escaped earlier in the begining of the ONA and find her when she went berserk (this after the scientists tried to erase her data)

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The final showdown, though, is between Kaguya and the giant robot model created by the scientists known as Athena (with Strarf Mk.2 as her CSC in order to not be out of control). The rest… well, it’s better to watch it in order to not give more spoilers

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My opinion: the story, eventhough the concept of a “shinki” is a novelty, is a bit typical for the “robot” genre with its own dosis of fightings. The focus, for me, is the lovely and tender relationship between a human, Tsubasa, and a combat robot, Kaguya: it was strong and so beautifully handled

The animation is great, with especially attention to the fighting scenes, while the music complements well with the animation and the story. Kudos, by the way, to Marina Inoue and to Kana Asumi for putting her voices into the characters of Tsubasa and Kaguya respectively. In addition to Tsubasa, Marina also voiced the giant combat robot Athena – an additional kudos to her

All in all, a good ONA and totally reccomended to the fans of the animated series that feature any sort or influences on “robots”

A last treat:

Thank you,

LAboy 456
(Rui Craveiro)

Shutsugeki! Machine Robo Rescue (2003/2004)

Hi,

The next anime to be talked about was inspired by a toyline in Japan born in the 80’s (Machine Robo) and it’s its most recent anime series. Talking about “Shutsugeki! Machine Robo Rescue”, made by Sunrise (Code Geass and Tiger & Bunny), directed by Hideki Sonoda and originally seen from 8th January 2003 to 3rd January 2004 on TV Tokyo in a total of 51 episodes + a two-episode special to conclude the series (these two special episodes consisted of knowing the whereabouts of the characters some years after the timeline of the series)

General plot: We’re in Japan, more distinctively in a quite distant future where age doesn’t determine whether an individual can perform a task anymore, only with special talent and training. This is the case with the Machine Robo Rescue (MRR) organization which was established as a way of children and robots becoming partners with each other in order to save people from disastrous events

12 children with different talents were chosen and composed into three different teams:

  • Red Wings (a team who deals with fires and aerial rescues, led by instructor Musashi Miyajima): Taiyou Ozora (the main protagonist of the series, a good hearted but reckless (at times) boy who has the ability of being “survival natural”. Four years before, he was the sole survivor of a plane crash that killed his parents), Arias Hono (more known as “Ace”, a prodigy in fire fighting and prevention, quite knowledgable, but is over-confident, especially when he lets his teammates rely on him), Kai Kitazawa (a calm and smart boy with glasses, although not as smart as Ace) and Rin Haruka (a chinese descendent tomboy-ish girl. She has a crush on Taiyou, eventhough she doesn’t want to reveal that to him)
  • Blue Sirens (a team who deals with police situations, road accidents and situations involving the capture of criminals, led by instructor Koshiro Sasaki)Makoto Aikawa (a “combat natural”, he’s strict but fair and also the son of police officers, eventhough he has a soft spot for women. At one episode, he’d have his first love relationship experience)Susumu and Tsuyoshi Utada (both twin brothers and specialized in mechanic and engineering. Curiously, they are both sons of a wrestler) and Alice Beckham (a former child actress, she’s vivacious and cheerfull. Verbal fights aside, Alice has a crush on Makoto, proven in the moment the latter goes on in a date at an episode when she got jealous)
  • Yellow Gears (a team who deals with extreme rescue situations involving earthquakes, debris, building collapses and underwater rescues, led by instructor Marie Bito, the daughter of the founder of MRR, Brad Bito)Daichi Hayami (the son of a businessman and an actress, he’s a shy but peaceful boy (eventhough his stomach hurts at times when rescuing), but with the “high spatial awareness” talent. It’s assumed that he has a crush on Sayuri (as witnessed in a episode when he got jealous of Sayuri holding Makoto‘s hands), but it was never confirmed)Sayuri Suizenji (a “therapy natural”, she is a loving and caring, but determined person. At one episode, it’s revealed she rarely sees her parents (only once a month) due to the fact their extensively working abroad)Shou Ashikawa (a sea and underwater rescue specialist, he’s the comic relief of the bunch (in a condensated way, as he is determined to “protect the smile” of people he rescues. His famous quote: “Laughter can save the world”. This comes for a reason: his “carpe diem-ish” sister passed away while swimming down under), forming the happy group of MRR with Ken) and Ken Minami (a feminine-like boy due to the fact he has been solely raised by her good looking mother. With Shou, he forms the happy group of MRR)

Besides the main story, a parallel story comes in the shape of villains whose objective is to interfere in the Machine Robo‘s work. At one point in the first half of the series, this was all about Jay, the only survivor of a failed space exploration when he was a baby (he was born there). But in the moment he fell over a cliff in one of his missions as a Disasters member, resulting in him losing temporarly his memory when he was found out alive and brought to an hospital and finally regaining it, he’d join the MRR as the sole member of the MRR Stealth team in the second half of the series

In Japan, the series was a modest sucess, enough to create a series of merchandising that included action figures, DVD, CD’s, etc… However, “Machine Robo Rescue” was only transmitted in a few more countries, including the only european country to transmitt it so far: Italy (on RAI 2)

My opinion: although it’s aimed at young children, this still has quite a mature (for example, some of the characters’ stories such as Taiyou‘s plane accident that took the lives of his parents (four episodes were dedicated to that struggle) or Daichi‘s difficult adaptation in MRR‘s environment early in the series) environemental and civical side to it, making it quite actual for these days. Animation wise, it’s good for what it is, although with some imperfections. The opening and ending songs provided by JAM Project are unforgettable, especially its opening, making the music of the series richer than it could probably be

The best quality of this series are the ecletic list of characters and MRR robots: all the four MRR teams have characters whose opposite really attracts. Not to mention the rich quality of the voice acting cast: kudos to the voice actors who did the human characters belonging to the four different teams

All in all, a pretty enjoyable and originally concieved series. It might not be for all tastes, but anime fans should give it a try

Last thing to do – putting the OP and the ED of the series:

Thank you,

LAboy 456
(Rui Craveiro)

Towa no Quon (2011)

Hi,

Back to anime and to a strange concept of its own. Can you imagine an anthology from a anime movie, divided by six movies and seen on a few japanese cinemas in the same year in the space of 6 months? That’s “Towa no Quon” to you, a japanese supernatural animation film directed by the late Umanosuke Iida (he passed away in 2010 of a lung cancer) and made by Bones (the same animation studio that gave us “Soul Eater”, “Scrapped Princess”, “Darker than Black”, “Fullmetal Alchemist”, etc…) that was released from 18th June 2011 to 26th November 2011 (this in monthly basis)

General plot: Tokyo in a futuristic time. There are two different groups or organizations of people: one concerns specific human beings that have awakened their specific powers and the other one’s concern is to hunt those human beings. The first one is called “Attractors” (the supposed “heroes”), the other one is “Custos” (the supposed “antagonists”)

The leader of the “Attractors” is Quon Mitsuchi, a seemingly normal young man with a certain mature wisdom who doesn’t stop at nothing to help everyone who’s in trouble. He carries, though, an also seemingly dark past: 1000 years ago, he lived in a peaceful village where human beings would awake their specific powers together with his younger brother, Towa (a time when Quon was actually a immature young man rather than the thoughtfull young man he’d become). This was until the day of the festival, where the neighbour village started attaking their village and while Towa sealed himself in a cristal, Quon‘s powers awoke while witnessing his family slaughtered, avenging them while enraged

From then on, lots of situations, either psychologically and physically, come into the way until it’s reached the final climax in a confrotation between Quon and the leader of the “Custos”, Kamishiro, who has the idea of taking over Towa‘s powers in order to become the ruler of the world

Moving on to the opinion concerning the referred animated project: for an antologhy of that type, the animation was very well concieved, flowing intensively in the action scenes and smoothly in some of the more calm scenes, especially the ones from Quon‘s past. The story itself is already a massively intriguing one, quite in the type of famous japanese animated series “Neon Genesis Evangelion”, minus the constant frantic (this is not said in a prerogative way) side, but it’s still quite mysterious and original on its own way, helped by its not quite common approach of the supernatural theme. The sound, as also the music done by Kenji Kawai, also does this project impressive and rightful justice

The strong point of the series, though, are the characters. I’d say Quon (the thoughtfull young man who lived with a dark past for a thousand years), Takao (the quite lazy, but still complacent young guy that has the power of teleportation) and Yuuma (the young and friendly boy whose power is varied and still to be controled effectively) are some of the highlights. Yuri (the flirty friend of Quon whose speed power is tremendous) gives a breath of fresh air in the non-action situations, while Shun (the cyborg that, at the begining was part of “Custos”, but joined the “Attractors” group later on) had probably the best character development besides Quon and Shun‘s younger brother, Towa, was also an important factor for the fluidity of the story

Kudos to Hiroshi Kamiya (Quon), Ryoko Shiraishi (Yuri), Miyu Irino (Takao), Mikako Komatsu (Yuuma) and Hiroki Shimowada (Towa) for their well-stated vocal performances

All in all, I’d recommend this japanese animation project to the fans of supernatural animated series and to those who want to see something original and/or dense from an japanese animated series/movies

Last treat – a two-part trailer of the anime movie project:

Thank you,

LAboy 456
(Rui Craveiro)

Hourou Musuko (2011)

Hi,

Time for another anime opinion, a modern one. “Hourou Musuko (translated was “Wandering son” or “The transient son”) is an japanese animated series adapated from the “slice of life” manga of the same made by Takako Shimura, broadcasted from 14th January 2011 to 1st April 2011 on Fuji TV and produced by AIC Classic

The main premise concerns two characters: the sensistive and feminine boy Shuichi Nitori and the tall boyish girl Yoshino Takatsuki, who both have the desire of being the opposite of their actual gender

From them, plus the secondary characters (whose important characters are female classmates Saori Chiba, Kanako Sasa, Chizuru Sarashina and male classmates Makoto Ariga and Shinpei Doi) a range of topics are discussed: from transsexualism to gender identity and also puberty (well, the begining of it). The final on both manga and anime versions are quite ambiguous, but I prefer to keep that a suprise (especially to those who haven’t heard of it yet or know about it, but haven’t seen it)

When I first heard about this (I did not read the manga before), I just knew this would be on my “plan to see” list for the anime winter season. And no way I was disapointed about this one

Honestly, I hadn’t seen animated series that strongly talked about such difficult issues as transsexualism or gender identity before (I wonder if there was one before this one came out). And suddenly this one comes with a bang…

It might not have a fast pace storywise, but the slow pace gives it a more realistic feeling to a deep story of its calibre. Visually, it’s unlike what I saw on many japanese animated series for its softer animated tone, one that blends very well with the atmosphere of the series and the characters’ designs. Talking about characters, we have a very rich number of interesting characters that give a positive punch into the story. In terms of music, Satoru Kosaki and Keiichi Okabe did a very good job in putting a distinct perspective for and into the series. The opening entry, “Itsudatte” by Daisuke, is nice to hear as well

By the way, kudos to young actors Kousuke Hatakeyama and Asami Seto for their impressive voice acting of characters Nitori and Takatsuki respectively

All in all, I’d totally reccomend for the anime fans. If you’re looking for something original, daring and dense, here it is. For those who’re into fast paced stories and some kind of action, it’ll depend on your disposition

A final treat – the opening of the series:

Thank you,

LAboy 456
(Rui Craveiro)