Saturday, 29 January 2011

Anime Signatures - Couples

Be they real or made up, anime couples have a certain je ne sais quoi about them. The dynamic is always well thought out and occasionally, as in REC, they show the harsh reality that can come with dedicating your life to another person. Anyways, enough with the mushiness and on with the signatures! As always, please feel free to use those that are posted here, but a little credit is always welcome.

The unbeatable Hale and Guu

Sakura and Syaoran from Tsubasa Chronicles

Maka and Soul from Soul Eater
Rin and Archer from Fate/Stay Night
Kagura and Saiga from Speed Grapher
Arima and Miyazawa from Kare Kano
Ed and Winry from Fullmetal Alchemist

Read more!

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Anime Review - Monochrome Factor (Shounen-ai)

Gotta love the glint in the eyes of the guy at the back...

As a lover of all things perverted, even the seemingly innocuous Monochrome Factor didn’t pass my beady gaze. Initially finding it through a recommendation with Neugami Neuro, I thought it would be a dark humoured amusing romp. However, what it is instead is a weak wristed, shounen-ai flirting that will put off the usual action fans and not contain enough bishies or boy on boy action to placate the fan-girls.

Following the high school delinquent Akira, the story is quick to make our unlikely hero into a good for nothing layabout that leaves his class prefect, Aya, despairing. Throw in goofy best friend/sidekick Kengo, add the flirtatious and mysterious stranger Shirogane and leave the group to fight off the arrival of some red-eyed snakey things and you have yet another generic shounen action flick to add to the list. However, what sets this apart is the use of a doppelganger to disguise Akira’s new job in life. Oh wait, didn’t they do that in Bleach already?

One of the shows "bishies". I shit you not.
Once our hero has been made into an uber demon slaying machine, Kengo and Aya soon find themselves kitted out with magical artefacts (including some gloves that are very similar to those found in Hitman Reborn) and get in on the action. From this point onwards, the story is rinse and repeat dreary filler that drags on episode after episode, with the “loveable gang” meeting someone new and then having to save them from a parasitic demon. The underlying story is drip fed gradually throughout this episodes in a way supposed to be tantalising, but that becomes more frustrating than anything.

Unfortunately, what could have been an earth shattering climax becomes a damp squib of predictable monotony. As the manga is currently unfinished, a messy ending is cobbled together that answers very few questions and will probably leave most viewers scratching their heads. If there was to be a season 2, I would probably watch it (the OCD sadism in me demands it), but only to have a conclusion drawn under the plagiarised boredom. I know of a couple of people who have enjoyed Monochrome Factor, however they watched it early in their anime career when they had no standards to base this by. Maybe a little open-mindedness is needed, but I didn’t have the patience for mindless fluff that gives very little in the way of rewards.

The animation is certainly flaky in places. Like here.
One of the main stumbling blocks for me was the substandard animation. Characters seemed to change subtly frame by frame, and everything feels like it was drawn in a rush. Despite this, the animation becomes marginally better in the second half, but still lacks the va-va-voom that can be found in many shows of the same vintage. Most shounen-ai shows play on their strengths; beautiful bishies flirting with each other is always a pleasure to behold, however the average looking cast of Monochrome Factor caused no stirring of my loins. Shirogane looks creepy with his feminine lips and too pale skin, whilst Akira is only semi-decent when in his shadow form and the potentially delectable Kou is relegated down to a secondary character.

"I... I... never realised they came in XXXL"
Heading up the cast as Shirogane, Junichi Suwabe lends his super sexy vocals initially bestowed on Archer of Fate/Stay fame. Daisuke Ono also makes a star turn as the heroic Akira, standing shoulder to shoulder with a very lusty sounding Ami Koshimizu. Unfortunately this excellent cast is spoilt by the veritable annoyance of Aya as she wails “Akiraaaa” for the hundredth time or grunts through yet another telegraphed sword attack. Musically, I can’t say I was particularly smitten with either the OP or the ED as they both fall into the dull mainstream trap. That said, neither particularly have anything dislikeable about them, they are simply easily skippable.

Flaky, cliché and predictable, the cast of Monochrome Factor feel like better known characters making a cameo in this lesser series. Akira is a typical hot-headed shounen hero that is reminiscent of Bleach’s Ichigo. As a loyal sidekick, Kengo is more than a little similar to Shinji from Get Backers. The list goes on, but I can’t help feel that the characters featured here lack the drive and motivation of the previously mentioned shows.
As close to an up-skirt shot as Monochrome Factor gets.
Although as far from a feminist as you can get (yes, I believe women are generally worse drivers than men), the female faces in the show are either raging nymphomaniacs or overly violent tsunderes. Aya is a disappointing member of the main team and it feels as if she has been looked over when it came to developing her into a more robust figure. Adding youthful innocence to the group, Haruka is a somewhat mysterious and unpredictable character who has some annoying and strange tendencies.

Man it up and make out already!

I honestly thought I might quite enjoy this; instead, I was left feeling disappointed and cheated. To the writers: please either stick to shounen, or go for an all out Junjou Romantica as sitting on the fence between the two isn’t going to win you many fans.

Read more!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Weekly Anime Recommendation - 18th January 2011 - Ikkitousen Sexy Cosplay

They even added a bow to the gift-wrapped goodness...
Apologies to readers for my apparent slacking as of late, but an unfortunate thing called "real life" sadly distracted my usual evenings of uninterrupted bliss sat in front of my laptop. But with a few minutes to spare, I thought I would share my love for another tasty gem hidden amongst the numerous titles in the world of anime. This week is the turn of the lesser known OVA that pays tribute to the curvaceous figures of the Ikkitousen girls in a Sexy Cosplay special!

"My hand slipped?"
For me, Ikkitousen was always the lesser sibling of Tenjou Tenge; not quite delivering the same gripping "storyline", or having the same 5* quality of fan-service. That said, this special OVA delivers a full-on face-full eruption of perversion that will have fanboys wearing out their printscreen function in an attempt to capture the most tempting shots. With no qualms about throwing Mou-chan, Kan'U and Hakufu into maid outfits or barely there lingerie and then making them fight, Sexy Cosplay is the definition of mindless entertainment.

In Ikkitousen-land, butts shine!

With each episode only being a few minutes long, don't expect the overarching storyline to be developed. In fact, don't expect a plot. This is an excuse to strip the buxom babes down to their skivvies and reward dedicated viewers with a tonne of wrist-aching material.
Read more!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Anime Signatures - 14th January (Angels)

Coming in a variety of shapes and sizes, it seems that angels are a favourite in the Japanese entertainment area. From Belldandy to Dokuro-chan, they can be either sexy minxes or violent raging feminists. As always, please feel free to borrow any of the sigs found on this blog, but some credit would be nice!

Read more!

Monday, 10 January 2011

Anime Review - Princess Lover

Mmmm... squishy...

With no title too great or too small, my next epic odyssey fell to the shoujo sounding Princess Lover! Thinking it would either be over the top girly fluff or yet another high class harem, I have to admit I felt relief as it fell into the camp of the latter and played out as a not completely terrible ecchi.

Face down in a maid's lap - the way to solve the
woes of the world
Arima is a young boy living a simple life in a noodle shop when his parents are suddenly and tragically killed. Soon contacted by his super wealthy grandfather who invites the young boy to come live with him, Arima finds himself joining an upmarket school that is home to numerous aristocrats, idols and royalty. Having saved the life of the voluptuous Princess Charlotte, he finds not only her favour but also that of his new fiancé Sylvia (who looks suspiciously like Saber from Fate/Stay Night, right down to the military outfit), his maid Yuu and the feisty Seika. Day to day life in this high-class college isn’t easy, especially whilst trying to learn some social etiquette and the final half of the series is a complete about turn from the predictable fluff that came before it.

My thoughts too
Now, I’m never first in line to complain about breasts in anime, but the combination spectacle of Princess Hazelrink’s, Sylvia’s and Yuu’s breasts take a few episodes to overcome. If I’d been asked to describe the story 2 episodes in, I probably would have muttered something about large, squishy, oversized, sumptuous boobs. Once past that, and you’re into typical harem territory: Arima is the new blood in the school and his kind nature instantly wins him the hearts (and panties) of many of his classmates. The girls are cliché, the plot leaves little to the imagination, but there is something that kept Princess Lover from falling into the lowly realms of mediocre. One scene that jumps to mind is a tribute to the superb Kaiji during the hot springs episode; totally unexpected, and fitting perfectly with the mission of the boys, it really gives a laugh out loud moment to what could have been otherwise dull.

This would have been a great picture if not for the
censoring steam - DAMN YOU!
The surprising twist in the second half turns the atmosphere somewhat darker, and the main focus becomes Arima’s vengeance whilst trying to maintain his role as the knight on a white steed. Be prepared for betrayals and double crossing which causes team “Good Guy” to pull together in a time of need. Unfortunately, politics and harem are two genres that should probably never mix, and the poorly executed scripting goes to prove this point further. Sadly at the end of the day there is no resolution to any of the numerous romances and what started as a fun tale soon degenerates into something disappointingly forgettable.

Boobs. Lots of boobs. And with the look of two puppies wrestling in a sack, I think I can safely say that not only do the laws of physics not apply here, but the girls are going to have some serious back problems in the future.  Despite the obvious obsession with sweater potatoes, the girls are quite cute and sport the typical saucer sized eyes. Unfortunately, any action scenes seem to be hampered by awkward movements that spoil the flow of excitement compared to shows, such as Kara no Kyoukai. Another sticking point is the frequent recycling of material through pointless flashbacks. Seriously, if you can’t remember what happened in the last episode, a quick lobotomy could be in order. That said, the show is still reasonably pretty and the backgrounds sufficiently detailed to keep fans of modern animation happy.

Did someone call for Saber?
Opening with the typical pop-fluff you would expect for a series of this calibre, the cutesy feel continues throughout the majority of the incidental music. The audio during the closing credits is much more to my tastes, with a rousing slow rock anthem that gives a different side to the anime. Featuring the accomplished voice of Ryoka Yuzuki as the ditzy Charlotte Hazelrink and the gruff tones of Megumi Toyoguchi as Sylvia, the entire vocal cast provide a consistently entertaining experience.

Not wanting to overdress for her first date, Charlotte
decided bra-less was the way forward
With their looks taking the forefront, it is glaringly obvious that the characters have been transplanted directly from an eroge; the proportion between breast and brain size certainly attests to that. Charlotte especially has been afflicted by the “vapid bint” flu (H2N2) currently sweeping the globe. A clueless ditz, she has moments when she opens her heart and I think she could be likeable, then she finds herself riding (also known as grinding against) Arima like a pony and asking innocently what is wrong with that. On the other hand, Sylvie is the sword wielding, uptight heroine who keeps herself to herself. Of all of the female troupe, she edges into top spot as the most likeable, and those in agreement can watch the questionable OVA to see just a little more of Lady Van Hossen. 

Even fangirls aren't forgotten with these studly men
Arima himself is much more likeable than most ecchi protagonists. Kind hearted with an occasional compulsion for perversion, he has a difficult decision ahead with so many wealthy women throwing themselves at him. Shining most notably during the vacation episode, it’s a shame that his over-the-top heroic antics seem totally unbelievable and leave him looking like a bit of a berk.

Boobs and upskirt! Double win!

Starting as quite a fun harem show, the mid-twist puts poorly thought out politics at the forefront and what made the series so different before quickly becomes forgotten. With nice looking graphics that are nothing special, and characters that have been seen before, the only thing that I will take away from this, despite the slightly better than average start, are the big and bouncy boobs.
Read more!

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Unfortunate Screenshot - 6th January - Gintama

I know, I know... I've already posted a Gintama screenshot. However, this one is special. This one makes boys go "eww" and girls "squee" with excitement, even though it is a completely innocent scene! In this special episode of the epic Gintama, Sougo has been found exhausted and dehydrated. To bring him round, Kondo offers him something super special to suck on....

It's an ice-lolly, not a penis by the way.
Read more!

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Anime Review - Magical Pokan (Magipoka, Renkin San-kyuu Magical Pokaan)

Noone fangirls more effectively than Liru and Uma
I have obtained much anime over the years; in fact, it comes in quicker than I can watch it. And so, I have a few titles that I have no idea why I would have wanted it in the first place, nor remember who I should blame for the recommendation if I don’t like it. Magical Pokan falls into this category, however the screenshots of an adorable wolf-girl gave me reason enough to fire up what eventually turned out to be a cute, adorable and amazingly funny show.

Following the exploits of four princesses from the Netherworld trying to come to terms with living in the human realm, Pokan tells of the daily adventures of Liru the werewolf, Pachira the vampire, Uma the witch and Aiko the android. Delightfully naive, each girl struggles to overcome their natural urges and conquer their peculiar insecurities. Uma is pretty crap at magic, and only attracts crowds because of her uncanny ability to flash her panties each time she casts a spell. Aiko is terrified she can’t attract a man because of her weight, whilst Pachira keeps burning up in sunlight. Finally, Liru turns into an adorable puppy every time she sees a full moon and can’t resist a serving of Matsuzaka beef.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Pachira's panties!
If it sounds simplistic and easygoing, that’s because it is. Each episode is divided into two shorter tales that fly past quickly and enjoyably with little requirement for thought. There is also a healthy dose of fan-service that sees the quartet frequently in underwear or bathing suits, and that never hurts a series as far as I’m concerned. As a breath of fresh air, these brief glimpses of cleavage or panties are not the main focus of the show nor do they detract from the plot allowing it to carry on unhindered. Sure it is predictable in places, but the overdose of moe is a lot more enjoyable than some of the ecchi shows I have subjected myself to recently.

Liru simply wasn't impressed by the flyby boob-squish.
Whilst not the slickest and up-to-date animation out there, the characters are pleasant on the eye with a gorgeously varied palette used throughout. From the main cast, only luscious Liru is blessed in the cleavage department and the artists are more than happy to display her curvaceous figure in scanty outfits. In fact, the wardrobes used for each of the girls is a pleasant and varied surprise, suiting their personalities perfectly; from Pachira’s upmarket garb to Aiko’s reserved full length dresses to cover her substantial figure, a significant amount of thought has gone into the clothing. My only issue on the animation front is caused by the breasts of the evil scientist, K-ko. Swinging down like oversized udders, the ginormous funbags take over the screen as they jiggle in every shot.

10 points to the first reader to tell me exactly
what feels like pudding...
Opening with a somewhat darker and mysterious track, the opening credits imply the show hidden within is riddled with yuri fan-service. The closing audio is sung in turn by each of the four female leads invoking different nonsensical magical spells accompanied by a catchy tune that will stay with you for days. During the show, the incidental music is much more attuned to the nature of the series giving a playful and fun atmosphere to the show.

Heading up the impressive seiyuu list, the unmistakable voices of Aya Hirano and Hitomi Nabatame take centre stage as Pachira and Liru. The remaining duo, although not as accomplished, certainly serve up a stellar performance as the excessively kawaii and moe Aiko and Uma. As a secondary character, Dr. K-ko is as over the top and flamboyant as her hefty assets and features the frequently recycled evil genius laugh (tm).

Pachira's DFC was the source of amusement for many.
Speaking to the handful of other fans that have seen this show, it seems that Liru is head and wet nose ahead of the rest. Not quite as naive as the rest of the bunch, she usually gives guidance on simple things such as mail delivery. Issues only come in the presence of a full-moon, when all bets are off and the real animal comes out; what makes this even more endearing is that she acts almost exactly the same as my dog, rolling in mud and begging for treats. The rest of the bunch, although adorable, are a little cliché and designed to appeal to specific areas of the anime community. Aiko: the clumsy, moe meganekko who is desperate to please. Pachira: the somewhat amiable tsundere who is obsessed with seducing a slave. Uma: the ditzy, panty-flashing loli idol that rates almost as highly as the untouchable Komugi-chan. But hey, I bet this gets brownie points from most viewers!

Pixel for pixel, each breast is bigger than her head.

Sadly only featuring in a couple of episodes, the despot Dr. K-ko is predictably written but an utter pleasure to watch. Once you get past the oversized mammaries, a realisation will hit that everything about the detestable anti-hero is intentionally over the top and she fits into the crazy cast perfectly.

To that mystery person that recommended Magical Pokan all of those years ago: I thank you. For a mindless bit of fluff and fun, it doesn’t really get much better than this.
Let's hope Liru doesn't catch a cold. On second thoughts,
the sneezing could be a bonus...

Read more!