Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Aikatsu(Season 1)

On my quest to find cutesy anime, I thought I hit the tragic end at one point in my life. All that felt like was left was Sailor Moon and maybe one or two that haven't been subbed due to their obscurity. However, through reddit, I stumbled upon a cutesy anime that not only quenched my thirst for cutesy anime, but also was also perfect for my thirst for idol anime.

  Our story starts off with a first year middle schooler ,Hoshimiya Ichigo, a happy go lucky girl who loves food. One day, she and her friend, Kiriya Aoi, a studious girl and the same age as Ichigo, go to see super idol, Kanzaki Mizuki in concert. Ichigo is so mesmerized by Mizuki's performance that she decides to transfer into Starlight Academy, a school known for making famous idols such as Kanzaki Mizuki. After getting accepted into Starlight Academy, Ichigo and  Aoi embark on Idol Activities, or Aikatsu, to help her train as an Idol. Along the way, they meet Shibuki Ran, a model who loves the brand Spicy Ageha, Toudou Yurika, a tsundere girl who likes to pose as a vampire, and Arisugawa Otome, a hyper active girl that loves sweets. Together, they embark on various aikatsu in hopes of surpassing Kanzaki Mizuki. 

The story is pretty typical: you have your happy go lucky main character who has an dream and then you have her best friend that will try her best to talk sense into her. It is almost episodic in nature, however, it does a lot of continuity, which is nesacery to help show that Ichigo is progressing as an idol. At the start of the anime, it shows that Ichigo is unsure of whether or not she wants to be an idol, but as she gets more involved with aikatsu, she grows to love being an idol. Along the way, she meets various friends, all with different personalities and they help her grow as idol. The main progression of the plot is measure by time, i.e various holidays and events. To be honest, for a show aimed at little girls, the plot was not too bad.

The characters had various personalities. We have happy go lucky Ichigo, the studious Aoi, the tsundere Ran as our main three. However, we meet Otome, a eccentric girl in the same year as Ichigo, Yurika, a girl pretending to be a vampire and of course Kanzaki Mizuki, a mature girl who is the schools top idol. The characters are stereotypical I will admit, but I enjoyed them none the less. One thing that does make me sad is the fact during that I couldn't bring my self to get attached to any of the characters due to there was so many rotating in and out around the main cast. Another problem is that the characters of the cast are distinguishable, they feel like they all have the same personality at the base. Otome and Ichigo feel like the same person except for one throws English around in the middle of her sentences.

The art for this anime came in two styles: the regular anime art and the CGI used during the performances. The regular art was great; everything seemed well animated with very little flaws. Each character looked distinguishable, and were most of the time well drawn. The CGI was a bit of a miss for me because while they were dressed super cute for the performances, the girls them selves looked a bit weird. I also felt like the CGI helped with the appeals these girls were trying to make, but in the end, just felt like it was over  done. However the transition into the CGI scenes came as almost a magical girl style fashion.

The music for the first season of Aikatsu was pretty good. The songs used in every episode were upbeat and happy. The opening and endthemes were well done and were even decent enough to be used as performance songs. My only complaint was that the songs did get repetitive but it gets better in later seasons.

Over all, I enjoyed marathoning this anime. I couldn't wait to see what it had in store for me next, and honestly I was not disappointed with the first season of Aikatsu. Was it perfect? No, but don't let that discourage you because this anime is worth watching despite the flaws.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Godzilla (2014)

Although anime might be huge in America today, that was not the first thing that came over from Japan. In the 1950's,there was a Japanese movie the show cased a huge reptile tearing up Tokyo in epic fights against these big monsters called Kaijuu called Godzilla. There have been sequels and even an American remake that most people are trying to forget. However, Americans have tried their hand again in a remake of these Japanese films,and surprisingly, it turned out decently.

Our plot starts out in the Philippines in 1999 where a group of explorers discover a unusual uranium deposit that seemed to stronger once it was exposed to air. Underground, there was a massive  fossil, bigger than any animal known to man but in the fossil held an embryonic sac, which was the source of the uranium. The next scene cuts to Janjira, Japan where its a normal day as always, except the power plant where one of our main characters, Joe, works at starts reporting tremors from inside the earth. Everyone thinks it's just an earthquake, but when the power plant collapses with Joe's wife inside, he is convinced that it was not just a normal earthquake. Our plot after that point jumps to the year 2014 in San Francisco where Joe's son, Ford grew up with out any problems and has come home from a military tour over seas. However, on his first night home, he gets a phone call from Japan from his dad saying that his dad was arrested from going into a restricted area to get the data from fourteen years ago back. After the police arrest him, he meets up with one of his old co workers from the power plant and as it turns out, where the power plant use to be, there is now a pulsating cocoon belonging to the winged creature called muto which feeds off radiation. Switching scenes, there is another cocoon in Nevada which hatched into a bigger, however wingless muto. As the two travel on their way to meet up, the alpha predator,Godzilla is hot on the muto's trail, traveling across the Pacific, to cross paths with the female muto from Nevada for an epic battle over San Fransico. 

I will admit to that I haven't seen any of the Godzilla movies previously. I went in expecting two hours of monster fighting with maybe a little bit of plot thrown in. However, there was substantial lack of of monster fighting in this movie. When Godzilla him self only shows up three times, I felt like this was a movie more about the humans rather that Godzilla.This movie tried to play on the drama side and tried to show the human's side of the story, which did give our main characters a chance to develop. But when it tried too hard to pull the emotional strings a bit too hard. Another thing that irked me about the plot was the fact they pulled too many plot convenience strings, such as Ford falling off a bridge , being knocked out, and waking up just in time when the military troops walk by.   

The movies tried to play up the human character but they honestly came up as bland. Ford, our main character for majority of the movie was our typical marine guy coming home from a tour over seas. There is nothing that makes him stand out, and often times, I feel like if his character was written out, it might have been a little less bland. His dad, Joe, was slightly more interesting because he was that one guy who claimed to have a clue what was going on, but was looked at like he was crazy the whole entire movie. Unfortunately, all of the other human characters ended up kind of bland and forgettable. Godzilla himself only appeared three times but some things were explained, such as he was the alpha predator and the Muto were his prey.

Overall, I was entertained with this movie. Granted it had a generous amount of flaws,but seeing the big monster fight at the end almost made up for the fact that the human "character development" took up more time than it should have. I will say that the experience of going to the movie theater and having people cheer when Godzilla showed up was a blast. I would recommend it if you can over look some plot holes and enjoy colossal monsters fighting over the city.