Saturday, January 28, 2012

Nanatsuiro Drops

We are all victims of circumstance. Whether we like it or not, we are all drawn into circumstances that we originally had nothing to do with, and for better or worse we stick through them. In anime, these circumstances usually have magical properties and usually involve the main girl changing into a mahou Shoujo and her partner collecting something needed in order to accomplish a great task. In the story of Nanatsu-Iro Drops, or Seven Colored Drops, Akihime Sumomo strives to save the little stuffed animal that she met.

The story is a basic mahou shoujo with a bit of the twist: The main boy, Tsuwabaki Masaharu, accidentally takes a magic potion that turns him into a stuffed animal by night. In order to turn him back into a human, he has to go to the chosen girl and she must collect the seven moon drops and if he takes it, he can return to normal. Also, Tsuwabaki can not tell the chosen girl his identity.The girl, is Akihime Sumomo, a shy girl who has a fear of water and cries easily. With Yuki-chan's help, Tsuwabaki's identity when he is the stuffed animal, they gather the Seven Drops, and hopefully return him back to normal.

The characters were very well done, and the main cast was very well done. The main characters are very distinguishable from each other, and well developed  and the relationships between the characters was very well done. You can sort of feel the akward love between Akihime and Tsuwabuki and the closeness between Akihime and her best friend, Nako. Also, you can tell the competitiveness and jealousy Aspalas, Akihime's competitor in getting the Seven Color Drops. The side characters I will admit, kind of blend, and the kind of just are there for filler. They just sit there and try and push Akihime and Tsuwabuki together, and yes their plan succeeds, though I think with out them, the story would have gone on just fine.

Another thing I would like to note is the magical element. Until about episode 3 or 4, she really didn't have a set transformation sequence, and she had to manually change into the outfit. Also, it wasn't until the latter half or so of the series that magic started playing a major role in the hunt for seven color drops. Though the constant use of magic allowed for some interesting circumstances, and the gaining of the recipes leads to some amazing development of Sumomo. But for some reason, I feel like the magical girl element was not fully there, but still prominent enough to call this anime a magical girl anime.

The art in Seven Colored Drops is very shoujo like, i.e. the big eyes that take up half their faces, and the girls usually came off as lolis. It was fluid and smooth, and there was a bit of derpy-ness in the eyes sometimes, but that is normal. The magical girl outfits of Aspalas and Sumomo were well done, and the main cast was distinguishable. The side characters on the other hand looks like they were just cookie cutter characters, and, honestly, they just sort of blended

Overall, this anime is decent. It has its ups and downs, and when you think that's it, there is more. It almost makes you wonder why the magical girls go through so much, though it doesn't explain it all the way though. I reccomend this to any mahou shoujo fan, and even to those that aren't, this would make an excellent first mahou shoujo anime for the fact that it isn't overly drawn out like Tokyo Mew Mew and Sailor Moon. So in your search for a good anime, may you find the Seven Colored Drops.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Red Tails

World World II was  a dark and fearful time for the United States. We were fighting a war on two fronts: Germany and Japan, and we were in need of the best of the best soldiers. Though we were craving the best of the best, we still limited our forces to white men only, leaving women to work in the factories, and the African-American soldiers were forced to serve behind the lines, and stuck doing the grunt work. However, the 332nd Fighter Group, as known as the Tuskegee Airmen, were the first African-American fighter pilots in US Army, and were allowed to pilot fighter planes. They were unique; painting the tails of their plane red, giving them the name " The Red Tails." More than half a century later, a full length movie is being made about their story.

The plot line is simple: the African-Americans trying to become important in the US Army. They basically fly around at first, missing all the good bits of action and trying to be heroes. They have the old planes that are out of date, though still flyable and have decent guns. The main crew consist of nine or ten African-American men who aspire for greatness. They go on missions, though none of them bring them any type of greatness,when they get a great mission to accompany the white pilots on a dangerous mission over Berlin.

Now, the plot sounds decent right? It sounds like that it would be a good movie, and the best part: it has some truth behind it, right? Wrong. The movie was bland in my mind, the best part being the explosions. The story barely moves at all, besides the fact that thtey get new and better fighter jets, but other than that, the story moves at 5 Centimeters per Second. Also, the side of the love story is almost unneeded, though it give some characters more depth, not much though.

The acting in this movie is where I will tear this movie apart. It was horrible! The African-American actors were awkward and stiff at best. The white fighter pilots' acting horrible due the fact that it was bland as heck. The lines were also generic, and the execution of said lines was horrible. Also, writing of all the lines was horrible.

Honestly, I wish they had shown more, such as the basic training of the soldiers and perhaps more of the racial tension between the white men and the African-Americans; there was almost none, except two scenes, and that's it. At this time, as you may know, the racial tension in the military was heavy as hell, and the white men shouldn't have been so accepting as there were in the movie, because we all know that they encountered problems with integration in services. The white men were not all hunky-dory with the African-Americans joining the unit in real life like they were in the movie.

There is one last think I would like to offer towards the movie: If you're going to subtitle the German in the movie, why not the Italian? Granted, the meaning behind the Italian was very easy to understand due to it being basic Italian, but still? Were they trying to show us what one of the American Characters had to go through in order to date the chick or what? And on the subject of the Italian, which brings up the Italian chick the pilot was trying to get: Why was the love story there? It added nothing to the plot and I honestly came to this movie wanting explosions and war and such, not some love story that felt like it took up half the time.

Overall, for what I was expecting, the movie was terrible. I was expecting something great, something epic, and I got some watered down version of history. Overall, I would not recommend this movie to anyone except perhaps kids who need to learn about a part of military history, and even then, no. It had some explosions, but not enough, and it had some romance, but too much. If you want to go see this, I'm not stopping you, but you will probably regret it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

RIP Megavideo

As you all may know, piracy around the internet is a hot issue now-a-days. With the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and other such bills, the media sharing age may have come to an end. Although it hasn't passed, that still hasn't stopped the federal government from cracking down on piracy sites.With this mind, I have sad news to report:the government has shut down the popular media sharing site MegaUpload and the sister video streaming site MegaVideo.

Now, in case you didn't know, MegaUpload was a site where user could upload files to share with the world, basically a peer to peer (P2P) site. It limited downloads to one download at a time, and had a wait time for those with only the free access, although for premium user, you could download multiple files and no wait time. It was popular for sharing anime, music, and other such files with the world, even with its stipulations. Megavideo, like its sister site MegaUpload, allowed users to share files, though MegaVideo streamed videos rather than allowing users to directly download the file directly. It too had stipulations, such as if you watched 72 minutes of video, you had to wait, usually 54  minutes. Even though with these stipulations, people made bypass sites that didn't have the 72 minute limit, and it was useful for watching anime because anime episodes on Megavideo were not as often taken down like they are on Youtube, and people could upload full episodes, movies, and basically what ever they pleased.

The news came Thursday to me in the form of a chat room, with people buzzing about how Megavideo was shut down. I also noticed how one of my videos that was supposed to be from MegaVideo was not working. Curious, I started looking around as to the exact cause of the shut down.

The reasoning for shut down: If you guessed piracy, you guessed right. The US Federal Government shut down the site, claiming that the site was making money off pirated material. True, users could pay for premium accounts in order to watch how much video they liked, with no time limits.Also, the prosecutors that the copyright holders could have caused over half a billion dollars in sales loss. But the employees at MegaUpload have been estimated to have made as much as 42 million dollars off the site, and when the federal government raided the founder's house in New Zealand, they took 8 million dollars that were in a case, cars, artwork and guns. Though most of the site was hosted in New Zealand, prosecutors are starting to investigate that there are servers in Virginia and all over the world.

So who is in the wrong in my mind? As a user of the site, and as it allows free downloads and streaming for those who are seriously broke, I honestly have to say both parties are wrong. Don't get me wrong: I am grateful for the free videos and all, but the way it was conducted was sort of illegal. The copyright law is a strange thing; it says that all right go to the copyright holder, and it cannot be reproduced with out the owners permission. However, in the internet age, it has been ifferred that yes, you can reproduce it, but only if you are not A:Taking credit for it or B: making profit off of it. MegaUpload did the latter half by making people pay for unlimited downloads or unlimited streaming. However, the site should have realized this, and had unlimited bandwidth and not had a problem with this in the first place. Also,I do not like how the government feels that it can take down sites just because of online piracy, especially those hosted mainly in other countries. It would be one thing if it was hosted all in Virginia, but all the way in New Zealand, that's ridiculous.

But, overall, it is a sad, sad day for those craving free online T.V. Shows and movies. All I'm going to say is that I hope that they do not try and shut down other sites, because the Government has already taken many other file sharing sites off the web, including Napster and Limewire. In all honesty, I can see how somewhat, the entertainment industry thrives on these sites because with out them, who would know what's out there, and potentially buy them?

On one last note: I hope that this isn't the end to free movies, music, and file sharing all together. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko

Some anime are gems. Some of them are just a bit strange. Some of them are random, but also you can make sense of them. Denpa Onna to Sieshun Otoko is mostly all of the above, for its wit, beautiful art, and inspiring story. It randomness will take you on a journey to outer space like you've never experienced it before.

The story follows Niwa Makoto, a young boy who is to move in with his aunt, Upon arriving at his aunts house, he finds that their a strange thing in the entrance of the house: a young girl wrapped up in a futon. She then claims to be an alien, though really she is his cousin, Touwa Erio. As the story progresses, you start to find out that there is something more to her, and Makoto's journey growing up.

For a start, I will admit, the first thing that drew me to this anime was the fact that it had SHAFT studio written all over it. As any anime fan would know, SHAFT has a unique way of telling the story:they use pictures and word on the screen to reference what they are talking about. Wanting that effect, I picked up this anime. Although they didn't do it in traditional SHAFT style, due to the fact that it was a collaboration between SHAFT and Starchild Records, it still felt like an all around SHAFT production, it still felt like something unique.

The story in the anime is actually pretty alright. Niwa Makoto comes to live with his aunt, and it's basically his adventures from there. However, I wish they would touch more on one important thing: Why does Erio think she's an alien? We do know that she went missing for a while and she came back thinking she was an alien, but I want to know why. Also, the interactiong between Makoto and the other girls in the cast in my mind subtracts from Erio's story, and even the other girls are not too well developed.

The characters in the story were alright as story goes. Our male lead, Makoto was kind of bland; he looks just like every other harem male lead, even though this is not technically a harem, and even though he is trying to Erio, he is just, flat. Next we have Mifune Ryuuko, though everyone calls her Ryuushi due to the way he name is spelled; she is the hyper active one, and in my mind, the anime could have easily gone on with out her, or at least give her less screen time. In other words, everything about her character annoyed me to some extent. Also, we have Touwa Meme, Makoto's aunt, who is very eccentric her self, just lounging around and doing what ever she pleases. She looks like shes in high school, acts like she is in high school, but she's actually forty. Next in our little "harem" is Maekawa, who just calls Makoto "Transfer Student" due the fact she cannot remember his real name. She also wears bizarre outfits, such as a fish outfit, and thus make her one of the most interesting characters in the cast. Last, but certainly not least, we have Towa Erio, self proclaimed alien, and is often wrapped in a futon. She has lost all her memories in an accident, and is often alienated from the rest of the cast due to her eccentric-ness.

SHAFT did an excellent job on the art work. It was fluid, eye-catching, mezmorizing, and yet had a ting of something special to it. If you have seen anything produced by SHAFT, then you know that they will use creative imagery to convey meanings, and that the color pallette is unique, using bold colors. The way that everything is drawn is also unique in a way that I cannot describe with out it loosing meaning. True, in this production, it had a bit of a shuojo like feel to it, for example the sparkles in Erio's hari blowing in the wind, and the girls being way prettier than the men, but over all, still a very shaft like production.

In my mind, this anime is a very good watch if you want a slice of life with a bit of the super natural. Erio can provide some cute parts, and the rest of the cast is enjoyable. I say learn the language and launch your self into outer space, and if you can do that: at least attempt to fly with a bicycle, and pick up this anime. It's worth all twelve episodes, and then some due to the fact I am praying for a second season.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Transmitted Through Radio Waves

Sometimes, the radio can be a much more entertaining source of media than even a computer, especially when you have a radio that can get not only FM and AM station, but also some foreign stations. When my friend and I started tuning the radio to not only local stations, we discovered that perhaps in America, we think we might hear everything, but in actuality we don't.

When scanning the foreign stations, the sad part is that fac they are kind of hard to find, and when you do, they have a lot of static. However, when you find a radio station that is clear enough to actually know it is a radio station, it a feeling of joy that you cannot describe. It feels like that there are other radio stations in the world beside the ones that we know locally.

Several times, my friend and I pick up British Stations, and even though they are static-y as heck, it is still amusing to hear what is going on in the world. Though they are mostly news, we will still attempt to tune in to these stations.

Also, several times (to my amusement), we have found the Spanish stations. Where they are based, I honestly  hae no idea, and even sometimes I cannot understand them, even though I do try. I blame it on Spanish being on of these languages that if you come in the conversation in the middle, you will be lost to be honest. However,, I actually look forward to finding more of the Spanish stations, and improving on my Spanish.

Along with Spanish stations, we once found a Japanese station. It was quite amazing hearing the story, though sadly I only understood bits and pieces. It was amusing to know that even though its a couple thousand miles away from I live, it can still reach on the radio waves.

The radio is actually quite amazing. Did you know the government can send things through radio waves? True, while it maybe beeps and blips, it is still amusing to know that they can actually send things through the radio. And although it maybe unintelligible to human ears, to the ear of a computer, it can be most anything, from pictures to official government documents.

It's amazing what the radio can do. It can give us news, music, and, with the right type of radio, there are endless possibilities to what you could tune in to. So, grab your radios, and have fun.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Fan Request 1:Bamboo Blade

As an anime fan, I'm usually open to any sort of anime recommendation, from ecchi, to shounen. Last month, one of my friends asked me to watch the anime Bamboo Blade, and to be honest, I was kind of skeptical on it,due to the fact that I don't often watch anime such as this, though once I started watching it, I couldn't help but to fall in love with it, and perhaps Kendo.

The story starts really serious, with a guy mentioning assembling the five warriors for his team. Though the real story is about Kojirou, a man down on his luck, assembling a kendo, or sword fighting, team in order to win championships, due to a bet with a rival school teacher. The only problem is that there is only one active member of the kendo club. As Kojirou gathers members, the anime follows not only the progression of the girls' skill, but also the girls' interactions with each other and their competition.

For the cast, you have my favorite, Kawazoe Tamaki, or Tama-chan for short; she is the best in the club, and usually wins all her matches. Also, the reason why I like her is the fact that she is an anime fan. She is obsessive over the anime series that is present during the Bamboo Blade series, Blade Braver, and thus is her inspiration for practicing kendo. My other favorite girl is Azuma Satori, a ditzy girl who comes in about half way in the series. She has terrible grades, and thus tried to study as hard as she can in order just to be average. But, she was convinced by a fellow club member to join, and that her grades would improve if she did. Although she is a dtiz when she isn't fighting, when fighting she can actually hold her ground pretty well. The only girl in the club at the beginning is Chiba Kirino, another sort of ditzy girl who is the club captain. She is a second year high in school, and is the "heart" of the club. Also, we have Kuawara Sayako, or Saya, who is a flighty person, who quits the kendo club repeatedly to pursue different careers, though just wind up returning to the club. Last of the girls is Miyazaki Miyako, Miya-Miya for short. She is a seemingly ind girl, with a dark streak. Also in the cast, you have the two guys of the club, Yuuji and Danjuuro, or Dan. These two really sometimes omitted as being vital, but they are in their own little way.

The story of this anime was actually alright for me. The gathering of friends to compete in tournaments is actually pretty cool, and along the way, each character was developed along the way. Each girl got their own little but, and when one girl started getting too much in the story, they shifted over to another girl. The story was also a bit of slice of life, because people do not just grow in tournaments, they grow outside them.

The voice acting was actually pretty good. From the quiet Tama-chan, to the loud, obnoxious Kirino, the cast is well done. The only thing that annoyed me was Dan-kun's voice, and especially when he said Miya-Miya, it just irked me so badly. (Yes I watch the Japanese with subtitles on it.) Besides the fact that Dan-kun's voice annoyed the hell out of me, the voices seemed to fit every character very well.

The animation was also decent for this anime, even though the chibi effect happened a lot. Each girl was distinguishable from another, and even the opponents were distinguishable from each other most of the time. Also, the art was mostly consistent in quality.

Also, one thing I would like to say about this anime: This is NOT a harem. Yes, there is a bunch of girls, and yes, there are hardly any guys, but this is not a harem. The girls are not all attracted to one guy, like for example, Miya-Miya is dating Dan-kun, and though Tamaki is kind of attracted to Yuuji, the other girls don't display any obvious sort of affection for either one of the guys. It just simply a bunch of girls being in a club, and competing in tournaments. So basically, it's like K-On, except with more exciting club and more humor and less Moe. 

Over all, this anime was a good watch. I learned a little bit about Kendo, and had a few laughs along the way.  Each character was well developed, and they made the whole anime an amusing watch. So, grab your shinai (the kendo sword) and head to your local dojo and donn't hesitate to pick up this anime!