Tuesday, December 27, 2011

josei manga short reviews: Hapi Mari, Hotaru no Hikari, Pink Lady

Hapi Mari
A josei manga by Enjouji Maki.
Takanashi Chiwa never had a boyfriend and focuses on working hard to pay the debts of her father (mainly in order to keep the house). One day she's called to the new president (young and good-looking) of the company she's working for - and asked to marry him. There's something in it for both of them (she gets her debts paid and he can stay president of the family company), so she agrees. So far, so WTF.
Of course they don't get along at all at first and of course they fall in love with each other later on. He's the boss not only in work life, but also in their personal life and the virgin woman never really carries through with any of her efforts to get a little freedom on her own. He's violent, nearly raping her several times, but she always comes running back to him. They never talk much with each others, they sulk, and she's trying to be the good wife and no burden to her husband, crying and apologizing for everything even if he's being a huge asshole. Did I mention she's not the brightest? They're constantly fighting and hurting each other but of course they "love" each other.
Pretty much run-of-the-mill josei. The best character is his mother-substitute secretary.
So far there's 27 chapters, it's ongoing. I will not continue reading.

Hotaru no Hikari
Another josei manga, by Hiura Satoru with 31 chapters so far.
Actually, similar to Hapi Mari, Hotaru isn't interested much in relationships - she's a so-called "dried fish" - and she also suddenly comes to live with her boss (secretly). The difference is, he's forty-something and they don't marry. Actually she finds herself a different boyfriend, an furniture designer three years younger than her, but more experienced relationship-wise. The plot is about her struggling to make the relationship work after having been several years "out of the game".
I think I can identify with Hotaru - working at the office, loving to laze around at home, no relationships the past years... So I really like this one.
But I have to say that the drawings sometimes aren't really that good. Apparently there's a TV drama series, too - I think I'll try that one out someday.

TV Tropes

Pink Lady
This one actually is a manhwa - that's the Korean version of mangas or comics. Since it started out as a web comic, it's in colour.
Gyeo-Wul studies art at the university. One day she meets a blunt male co-student whose drawing style is praised by the others. She starts doubting her own skills. Then it turns out she and the young man have already met as children.
There's only about 7 chapters translated, so the plot didn't progress very far. It has a different stlye than what I'm used to, and also it's all in colour - but that's a nice change. Apparently the creator Yeon Woo is an art student, too, so you can notice that they know what they're talking about (there's references to techniques, famous paintings, etc).

The Webcomic (Korean)
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Saturday, December 17, 2011

How to take a science fiction plot and make it into a fantasy bestseller

A young boy lives with his uncle on a quiet and remote farm (he has no knowledge about who his parents are). He finds something round and blue - that turns out to be alive. When he isn't at home one night, the farm gets burned down and his uncle killed. He meet with this one guy... what was his name again? Short and starting with B? Anyway, the old men was supposed to be a strange hermit, but it turns out he had been a member of a long-forgotten group of warriors. He has this blue word and teaches the young boy how to use it and how to do magic. Together the two of them leave the village, but are hunted by the evil empire (who are behind killing the young boy's uncle).
On their flight they get knowledge of a princess who is held captive by the empire (who by chance is the one who actually send the round blue thing to the old hermit in the first place). They also meet another young man. Young farm boy wants to rescue the princess, the other young man is somewhat reluctant. Anyway, the emprie catches up with them, the old man is wounded badly and sacrifices himself so the two young men can escape with the princess. Farm boy has the hots for her and wants to join the rebels, the other guy again is reluctant but accompanies him.
In the course of the later story it also turns out that the young farm boy is the son of the right hand of the evil emperor. And the other young man gets the hots for the woman who is leading the rebels.

Well then, tell me what the name of the story is... Star Wars, right? Or maybe Eragon?

I admit it's recently annoying me again how much praise Paolini gets.
He just fucking stole the whole thing from different sources.
Eragorn sounds similar? Yeah, not only that.

Dragonrides communicating telepathically with their dragons? Dragonriders of Pern
Young farm boy with a mark in his palm getting a blue sword and becoming a great magician? Belgariad
A language only known my magicians in which you can not lie, in which dragons speak and in which everything and everyone have a true name, knowledge of which will bring power over them? Earthsea
Roran is basically Perrin from Wheel of Time, the dwarves are really pretty much 100% like Tolkien's and the elves are not far off either, with Arya being pretty much a copy of Arwen (right down to the falling in love with a mortal human issue).

Why the hell does hardly anyone notice? Is Eragon the only fantasy book you ever read?
And this is not just similarity, in a way that many fantasy books are inspired by LOTR. This is in your face stolen stuff. There's whole paragraphs that are stolen from other books (e.g. Eddings).

After reading the second book, we (me and some girls from the New Murtagh Fanclub) guessed on how Murtagh would end. Since he was based on Han Solo and Anakin Skywalker we figured he'd "do a Dath Vader" and save Eragorn and destroy the evil emperor last minute. Then we weren't sure: either he'd die killing the emperor (like Anakin), or he'd end up with the rebel leader lady (like Han). I haven't read the last books yet, but according to wikipedia we were right.

Here's a blog post who gives some examples (incl. one for a stolen paragraph): Paolini and plagiarism
Another source and blog post: http://aydee.wordpress.com/2006/12/17/eragon/ Read more on this article...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

short reviews: Starry Sky, Stardust Wink, Tactics

And here's the next two short anime reviews, and one manga review:

This is an anime adaption of a so-called otome game, a dating game for girls. That tells you all about the plot: it's non-existent. The female heroine has no character (still of course everyone likes her), but she's also not playing too big a role. The anime focuses on twelve guys, one for each Western Zodiac, portraying each one in two episodes. The episodes are rather short, about 10 minutes each, which makes 20 minutes for each character. I'm sure there could have been a nice plot which explores the relationships between the characters more, their future and the strange abilities some of them have - unfortunately there isn't much of that.
But it's well-drawn and there's lots of bishonen guys. Not a great one, but simple entertainment if you don't want to spend too much time and just need something easy for "in between".

TV Tropes

"Tactics" is an anime set in the early 20th century Japan. Kantarou is a folklorist who can see mythical creatures. He makes a living by writing articles and being an exorcist. Since his childhood he has been friends with "monsters" and searches for the "oni-eating tengu". He finally finds him, frees him, names him Haruka and the tengu comes to live with him and a fox girl. There's also an annoying little girl who fell in love with Haruka and some others who keep constantly visiting Kantarou.
For me the secret star of the anime is Moo-chan, a small monster with very peculiar looks who is married to a tengu. She doesn't speak any words and looks like a cute ...thing... so it's funny to see how she's a married "woman" and actually saves the day once or twice.
Sorry for all the Japanese words, but it's a bit hard for me to distinguish between the different mythical creatures such as youkai (like the fox girl), oni and tengu. The subtitles translate them as monsters, ogres and goblins but those words don't really fit and maybe they should just have kept the Japanese terms.
At first the anime has stand-alone episodes with searching for new creatures and solving new riddles in every episode. A bigger plot slowly reveals itself and is only the main theme in the last few episodes. Be warned: the ending is bitter-sweet.
So far there's 25 episodes, but there's hints to more.
Contrary to what the fan art might suggest, this is neither a yaoi nor a shonen ai anime.

TV Tropes

Stardust Wink
Anna is 14 and always together with her neighbours and best friends since childhood, Sou and Hinata - both boys. Both of the guys are very popular with the girls at school and Anna is asked constantly which one of them she's dating. But they're just friends, right? Until Sou messes things up by confessing to her. She likes him, so they start to date, but things don't go well and they break up soon. They intend to stay friends, but then Anna falls in love with Hinata and... well, it's quite the chaos. Strangely the three of them manage to stay friends, with one of the boys saving the day when there's a tough situation between the other two.
Again the female lead is rather uninteresting, she's a stupid crybaby and the most anyone can say about her personality is that she apparently has no will of her own and just follows the flow without much consideration about other people's feelings. The two guys are more interesting, even though they're the usual hothead/stoic duo.
I don't really know why I read this all through... There's 19 volumes so far.

TV Tropes
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Saturday, November 5, 2011

"How to be alone"?

I saw this video in a forum:
Somehow they always forget to mention the other side. The awkward waiting at the table in a restaurant until your food is served, when everyone thinks you have been ditched. Or the time until the movie starts when around you people are talking, laughing and having fun with each other and you just stare at the empty screen, hoping the commercials start soon. Or the super cheap menues, that are way too much for one person alone. And they way you walk through strange cities and discover nice little things, but there's no one you point them out to or tell about it. And all the "buy one, get one free" stuff, the vouchers that give you one free entry into a museum when you pay one full entry, the "two for the price of one" drinks, etc.
Being alone isn't all terrible, but it isn't all fun and sunshine either.

I have been alone to the cinema, to the fair, to christmas markets, to concerts, to restaurants, to musicals, to theme parks, to pubs, to festivals, to holidays. I have been alone on New Year's Eve.
And there was always at least one moment when I felt lonely, when I wished for someone else to be there with me.

For the past years I have done pretty much everything alone. With the exception for when I visit my parents I live my life alone. Every day.

Tonight again.
But what choice do I have? Read more on this article...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

review: Gokusen

Another great josei manga that isn't available in Germany.

Rating: 5/5 (for the manga)
manga: 15;
anime: 12;
j-drama: 13 (season 1), 11 (season 2), 11 (season 3), one TV special and one movie
Mature content: not really
Genre: Josei

Kumiko Yamaguchi is a high school teacher in her first year - and the heir of a Yakuza family (yakuza are somewhat the "Japanese mafia"). Afraid of losing her job should her relation's occupation become public, she tries to keep it a secret; which isn't easy considering how easily she falls into Yakuza slang, her notion of holding weird passionate speeches about fighting honour and her unusual skill in martial arts.
Luckily her class is pretty dumb. Except for one guy: Shin. He notices right away that there's something strange about her. And he falls in love.
Yankumi - the nickname her class gave to Yamaguchi - is oblivious to that. Even so she comes to rely greatly on the smart student, not only when helping out her delinquent students, but sometimes also in Yakuza matters (since both get mixed up a lot). Mainly she relies on his brains because even though Shin also tries to help her out in fights, he always ends up being beaten up and instead of saving her, he's the one who needs to be saved.

The Manga
Don't expect many bishonen guys in here, there's lots of quite ugly people.
You also need to take certain things not so serious (or overlook them): this is about yakuza, so there's a lot of illegal and violent things mentioned, hinted at or done.
Once you're though this, though, you're in for a very funny, entertaining story, with lots of action. There's Yankumi, a good teacher, a good fighter, but absolutely clueless sometimes. The tough Yakuza guys shed lots of manly tears and fuzz over their "ojou". Overall, even if they're criminals, it's hard not to grow to like them at least a little. Shin's clever and good-looking, but no match for the people Yankumi deals with and too naive or stubborn to realize that at first. As soon as his friends find out that he fell in love with Yankumi, they try "help" him, much to his embarrassement (but he goes along anyway).
The story in the manga starts when Yankumi starts at the school as a teacher and ends when her first class graduates and spans around two years. The bonus chapter about the Demon Temple is quite a nice one, as is the host/fireworks festival chapter. (And the confession at the end is really priceless.)

The Anime
The anime is very much like the manga. The drawing style is similar, of course, so lots of characters look kinda gross. Shin still is bishonen, and we get to see his red hair.
Unfortunately Fuji, Yankumis dog, gets a lot more screentime and I really don't know why. He is mentioned in the manga, too (especially in the bonus chapters), but when reading the manga I already thought it was kinda useless, and his extended screentime in the anime even more so.
Also the anime is extremely shortened and the story is slightly altered, much of the yakuza business is left out.

The J-Drama
Season one more or less follows the story of the manga, but changed quite some aspects. First of all it is very toned down: Shin is a bit older, he's not being taken into casinos and brothels, doesn't wear a fundoshi and gets no host training (bit of a shame, because that's some of his sexiest/funniest moments) and the fights are more tame of course. Most of the Yakuza business is left out here, too. Another big change is that Shinohara-san - who Yankumi has a crush on - is not the Yakuza lawyer of her family, but a police officer she meets by chance. The best difference in my opinion is the additional character of the school nurse; and that most students thankfully don't look as gross as they do in the manga.
The acting is totally over the top most of the time, but that's alright because it's comedy after all. Though sometimes it can be a real tearjerker, too. Season One also has the eye candy of Jun Matsumoto as Shin (without red hair though). I really like Yankumi's grandfather, the Yakuza boss, too; he's the one giving out all the wisdom in the TV series.
The series literally has a "running gag" since in nearly every episode Yankumi and her whole class are running around town looking for some student who got into trouble.
The later seasons get a bit boring, since the characters in the class always seem to be the same again, and the plot also kind of repeats itself.

It's really a shame that Gokusen was never released in German. I don't even know whether it was released in English.
One benefit of Gokusen: Shin's a hottie. He is so in every medium, it even gets commented upon in the story (even his best friend's mother remarks on how good-looking he is!). But there's more to it of course! The plot is entertaining and in a way it's trying to teach honour and morals. Of course the involvement of the yakuza is questionable - on the other hand: who else to teach kids about the traditional values but the daughter of a yakuza family?
If you want to get into it, I recommend the manga and/or the first season of the j-drama.

TV Tropes
J-Drama Wiki
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Sunday, October 2, 2011

short reviews: No. 6, Tiger & Bunny and Loveless

No. 6
I really liked the artwork I saw of No. 6 and many people liked it, so I decided to check it out.
The setting is really interesting. No. 6 is a city in the future. It seems like a perfect place, but there's a tight reign from the government who secretly disposes of "inconvenient" people. All this is only revealed throughout the story though. There is an increase in unexplained deaths that seem to be caused by a kind of wasp that nests inside the people's body.
The innocent and naive boy Sion starts his life as a good citizen, but by helping the wounded fugitive Nezumi loses his status and is gradually revealed to the truth. He is sent to a "correctional facility" but with the help of Nezumi is able to flee and lives with him outside of the city's walls, where a huge "outlaw ghetto" built up.
The overall theme of No. 6 is technology against nature, I guess. There's a hint of shonen ai, but not too much (in my opinion). There's 11 episodes. Although the drawings are sweet, the story isn't, and you have to be ready for quite some gore and blood and generally lots of horror. I got through it though (I'm a bit of a sissy when it comes to those things); now I'm even more afraid of wasps than before.

TV Tropes

Tiger & Bunny
When I first heard the title "Tiger & Bunny" I totally didn't expect this. "Tiger & Bunny" doesn't feature cute tigers or bunnies. It's about super heroes, very similar to X-Men. but these heroes have sponsors and there's a TV show about them. Actually I get the feeling that the sponsors are just an excuse to put lots and lots of advertising in the anime. But - as long as the story is good, I don't care too much. I wasn't too thrilled after the first few episodes, but I went on watching and I'm glad that I did - it definitely gets better.
Pillar of the anime is main character Kotetsu alias 'Wild Tiger'. I don't think that the anime would have any appeal without him. He's an unusual anime hero, too: an "old man" (it's never really mentioned how old he is) and a widower with a 10-year-old daughter. He's rather clumsy sometimes, but he has his heart in the right place - TV Tropes calls this "adorkable". He's not quite as stupid as he seems though, he sometimes has great insight into people's motives and feelings and his experience as a hero helps his intuition.
There's other heroes, too, of course and the story is mainly driven by Kotetsu's partner Barnaby alias 'Bunny' and his determination to find the murderers of his parents. There's good points about the plot the villains - and the heroes - aren't painted in black-and-white, but still... without Kotetsu I don't think it'd be very interesting.
So far there are 25 episodes. I don't know whether there'll be another season.

TV Tropes

Someone on Twitter recommended this to me. He said the manga was better, but I decided to watch the anime, as it's only 12 episodes.
I have to say that sometimes I had to fight and force myself to go on watching, I thought it would get better, it would make sense soon. I was disappointed.
The women in this are again stupid weak characters. All of them, more or less. The main female character is a moron, starts crying easily, is oblivious to the feelings of people around her (except of her love interest, Ritsuka, the main character) and generally acts like a spoiled child. Their teacher isn't much behaving like an adult either. Ritsuka's mother is... not sure, probably having mental problems and frequently abusive. And whoever that other woman is, the main character's therapist or so, she seems to be in love with Ritsuka - despite the large age gap and him being only twelve. And the evil woman not only looks, but also acts like a child, too.
Soubi is arrogant, obsessed, a liar and creepy borderline child molester (and masochistic, but that would make for an interesting character if not for the rest).
Ritsuka is twelve for Pete's sake! Twelve!
Even after watching the complete anime, I still don't know exactly what is going on and why or how people are fighting. Actually it feels like the plot was just abandoned in the middle - I guess there was a second season planned, but never made. There's lots of fighting, suffering and a lack of sympathetic characters. But the ears are really cute.

TV Tropes
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Friday, February 11, 2011

Miscellaneous short anime reviews

I've been ill so I had a lot of time to watch anime. I'm not going into a full review, but just a short overview of each and what I thought about them.

Kaichō wa Maid-sama!
A shojo anime adaption about the Student Council president of a former all-boys school, Misaki, who has to work in a Maid Café. Being ashamed she tries to keep it a secret, but one day the popular student Usui sees her at work.
Misaki shows some development towards not hating all men and accepting her job a bit more. Usui on the other hand is a bit too extreme for my liking: not only is he good-looking, popular, respected and good in virtually everything, but he also gets rather jealous and possessive of Misuki (and is forgiven no matter what he does). But he can actually be kinda sweet at times. Also the story is taking place in different locations, the illustrations are nicely done and the side characters are given a little attention, too (though probably not as much as in the manga). And yes I admit, the maid costumes are cute, and the last scene... d'aww.
So all in all I quite liked it.
TV Tropes

Special A
Another shojo, actually rather similar to Maid-Sama, in my opinion: Hikari is also a girl from a poor family, there's the good-looking top student Kei as her rival and she's just as oblivious to his obvious crush on her. They are both part of class "Special A", the best seven students of this school for rich people, and she tries to beat him at something (anything) since they were kids - in vain.
While Kei maybe is a little more sympathetic than Usui, Hikari is maybe a little less sympathetic than Misaki. I also kinda liked Ryuu, shame his character didn't get more time. Also at the end a lot of threads seemed to still be untied, it felt like something was missing.
Overall I think I liked Maid-Sama a little better.
TV Tropes

Ouran High School Host Club
Well, this one is a bit hard to describe. I guess it could be shojo, in a way, but mostly it's a parody. It's again about a poor student at a school for the super rich. Haruhi accidently breaks an expensive vase belonging to the school's "Host Club" and has to work it off disguised as a boy.
This is more funny than romantic, though it has its moments. I also liked the picture of Kyoya starting to paint outside of the frame. The anime mimics a lot of characters and events you might be familiar with from other series (so you shouldn't watch it as your first or you won't get the jokes and references). One character for example extremely resembles Momiji from Fruits Basket and the Zuka Club have a manic laugh just like Kodachi Kuno from Ranma 1/2, all with the blue-black rose pedals. Also there's a great "Alice in Wonderland" episode and then there's the twins... It's a lot of fun to watch, but the ending feels a bit "unfinished", as if there was meant to be a second season.
Anyway, I can only recommend this one; it's not your typical anime for girls.
TV Tropes

Kimi Ni Todoke
Another shojo, as sweet as it can get. Sawako is feared and avoided by everyone because she resembles a girl from a horror movie. The isolation has made her somewhat socially inexperienced. In comes popular student Shota (who has a secret crush on her) and with his support she gains friends. The second season is still ongoing, by the way.
The drawing style takes some getting used to, but the story progresses naturally. It's got everything belonging to school life: the time spent with friends, bitchy girls from another classes, the feeling at parties when your crush is there, etc.
I liked this one because it reminded me of my youth, the time when I got together with my first boyfriend.
TV Tropes

Gakuen Heaven
Keita changes to a school for gifted people - he doesn't quite know why because he's nothing special. The anime follows him settling into the new school.
It seems the anime is a lot tamer than the game and manga, so there's actually no juicy "boy love" scenes and just one kiss - hardly enough to even call it shonen ai. The plot isn't that exciting (probably because they took a dating simulation game and left out the dating) and neither are the characters interesting - I confused most of them for at least half the series. But at the end of every episode there's "Ham-Ham Heaven" with the main characters as cute little hamsters. Since they took out the sexiness, maybe they just should have done it all in hamsters...
I was a bit disappointed with this one.
TV Tropes
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Friday, January 28, 2011

review: Fruits Basket

This is another one of the mangas I read online and then went to buy for myself in "analog" format (like Death Note).
There is an "Ultimate Edition" released by Tokyopop USA that has two volumes in one book and bonus material. I like those, they take up less room on the shelfes. Unfortunately the third one seems to be sold out - if you find one at a reasonable price, please tell me!

Rating: 5/5
Volumes: 23 (26 anime episodes)
Mature content: emotional and physical abuse (but only little blood is seen)
Genre: Shojo

There's a story about the twelve Chinese zodiacs: Once upon a time "God" (or the Jade Emperor in other versions) called the animals for a banquet. They came and had a good time, and those who attended became the zodiacs: the rat/mouse, the ox, the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the ram/goat, the monkey, the rooster, the dog and the pig. The cat was invited, too, but the rat deceived it, so the cat missed the meeting and is not a part of the zodiac.

Fruits Basket (short: Furuba) is a shojo manga. It's about the girl Tohru Honda. Since her mother died in a car crash she lives in a tent. But then she is discovered by her classmate Yuki Sohma and invited to live with them (he lives with a cousin and they both fail at housework). It turns out that some members of the Sohma family carry a curse: they turn into one of the zodiac animals (including the cat) when hugged by a member of the opposite sex or when being stressed or weak. One after the other Tohru gets to meet all of the "zodiacs" and grows quite attached to some of them. But shape changing isn't the biggest problem that comes with the curse...

The biggest downside of this manga is once again the female lead. I don't know why these kinds of girls are so popular in manga and anime. Tohru is as empty-headed and uninteresting as it gets (even worse in the anime than in the manga), but everyone adores her because she's "cute" and "nice" or something like that. The most intelligent things she's saying is stuff she learned from her late mum, other than that she's mostly just agreeing or saying sorry.
Another strange thing about Fruits Basket is Akito, who is supposed to be the "God" out of the Zodiac legend. Head of family or not, how the zodiacs are treated by him is out of it. In every normal community the police would be called on him. It's not only mindgames, he imprisons them, and abuses them psychologically and physically, quite often ending one of the zodiac up in hospital, and even taking out an eye. But still everyone loves him. There's a major spoiler in the end (in the manga) that I won't give away here, but that doesn't make it any better. I have zero sympathy for that person and I still think he's one of the worst villains and gets off with an undeserved happy end.
Oh, and literally everyone in this story has issues. And most of the parents shouldn't have had kids.

The rest is awesome though. It gets rather angsty at times and is more bittersweet that you'd expect from a shojo. It will probably make you feel glad you were born into your family though and not the Sohma's.

There are many characters, but they are introduced at a pace that's not overstraining.
My favourite characters are Hanajima (one of Tohru's best friend, dressing in Gothic Lolita style and able to sense "waves"), Hatsuharu (the ox) and Rin Sohma (the horse) - I love their Goth/Punk style of clothing - Hatori (the dragon) and Kazuma (who adopted Kyo when he was little). But most of all the cat zodiac Kyo - after all I love cats (and hate leek). He also very much reminds me of someone I know.

The chibis are extremely simple, but after getting some used to it, that's fine.
Everyone has a kind of symbol assigned to them, for the zodiacs it's their animal of course, Tohru a onigiri (riceball), etc. It helps recognizing them and their speech bubbles.
And the animal forms of the zodiacs are just too cute!

I would recommend to read the manga instead of watching the anime. Not only is the anime missing out some of the most interesting characters, the end is also quite different and has a very unfinished feel to it.

Wikipedia Article
TV Tropes Read more on this article...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

review: Bleach

Somehow I got into Bleach. Found the anime somewhere on the web and decided to start watching it - without knowing how insanely many episodes there are.

For those who don't know it: Bleach is a shonen (= for boys) manga series. It started 10 years ago and developed into a huge merchandising, with anime, movies, video games and apparently even several rock musicals. Creator Tite Kubo recently announced that he's about half way through the story, so there's 10 more years to come.

Rating: 5/5
Volumes: 48 (and many more to come)
Mature content: some fights get a little bloody, in the manga more so than in the anime
Genre: Shonen

The story revolves around Ichigo Kurosaki, a teenager who can see ghosts. One day a Hollow (a kind of evil monster ghost) is after him and his family, there's a fight and the Shinigami (or Soul Reaper, a kind of Grim Reaper) who was supposed to kill the Hollow is wounded and transfers her powers to him, so the Hollow can be killed. After that Ichigo, now a "Substitute Shinigami", starts to get to know a whole new world, and gets caught up in a huge Shinigami treachery/Putsch/war.

So what do I like, what do I dislike (warning: this might contain some spoilers).

- It's long. Really long. Really, really long. And not all of it is interesting. Some fights take way too long, stretching over several chapters/episodes. It is shonen, I'm aware, but sometimes it's just too much.
- Speaking of too much: the way certain people gain more power, again and again and again just seems ridiculous. Oh, and please - just kill Aizen already.
- Some of the characters right out annoy me. Mainly Orihime Inoue. She's one of those female manga characters you find everywhere: huge tits, not very bright, naive and more or less useless - but even so greatly liked by all other characters in the story. If you'd cut together the scenes in the anime in which she goes "Kurosaki-kun...", standing on the side, hands clutched together in front of her huge breasts and tears in her wide eyes I bet you'd get several hours of material.
- Since it's so long it's really hard to catch up when you've discovered it later. It took me a few months just to watch the anime episodes.

- Unfortunately in many (most of those I read or seen, maybe with the exception of the josei ones) mangas or animes the female characters seem to belong to one of two groups: they either have huge breasts, are generally stupid and in need of help or they have small breasts, are generally stupid and aggressive. The women in Bleach are different (well, most of them). One of the main female characters, Rukia, while being rather small and sometimes found in a "damsel in distress" situation, is a person to be taken seriously, in battle and outside. Actually some of the strongest fighters are female, Yoruichi being one of them. She's one of my favourites, she really kicks ass. And then there's Unohana: she's never seen fighting, being the Captain of a unit of healers, but everyone (including the strongest warriors, good and bad) shows a great deal of respect to her, sometimes even fear.
- It's not really black and white. The antagonists of the beginning become friends of Ichigo. Some of the "bad guys" are given a back story, and with it sympathy. I'm pretty sure that some of those, like Ulquiorra or Grimmjow, are the most loved among fans (and their deaths much mourned). Some of the "good guys" seem to be rather unpleasant characters. If I had to choose between being a prisoner of Mayuri ("good guy") or Ulquiorra I'm not sure the good side would get my vote... Sometimes it seems like people just happen to be on one side or the other, more by chance than by character.
- In addition to the characters being really well designed also the relationshsips between them are great. Of course the Ichigo/Rukia/Renji trio is awesome with their friendship (or love), trust and humour. There are lots of other deep relationships, like Urahara and Yoruichi (one of my favourite couples), Ikkaku and Yumichika or Kyōraku and Ukitake. Or the relationships the Vice Captains have with their Captain. Not all have been explored to the same amount and much is left in secret or unsaid. For example it is never mentioned that Urahara and Yoruichi are in fact a couple - but it's generally assumed by people. I do like that, in a way. It's very unspectacular and not "in your face". At the same time I know it's very clever, because everyone can interpret things to their liking.
- It's funny (specially the omake/extras).
- The anime has some really good filler arcs.
- I admit there's some nice eye candy and fanservice for the girls.

That's it for my review of Bleach. I will leave you with a few useful links.
And in the comment section I will collect a few fanfiction stories that I like. Yeah, somehow I got into that, too... Most will have mature content, just so you've been warned. Feel free to add your own recommendations.

TV Tropes site on Bleach
Bleach Wiki
Group on deviantART dedicated to the better fanart
Journal with theories and discussions on Bleach Read more on this article...

Friday, January 7, 2011

"If you don't know where you're going, you're probably going wrong."

I've been into the anime Bleach the last few months and I just finished reading "I Shall Wear Midnight" by Terry Pratchett. The blog title is a quote from that book and it made me think.
I have spend my time over christmas and New Year at my parents, doing pretty much nothing, except reading, watching some TV or DVDs and "wasting time" on the internet. I have to go back to work on Monday and frankly I'm not really motivated.

After all this watching Bleach I feel kind of guilty about that. I feel that I should be motivated, that I should try hard to do my best and all that. While my co-workers are struggling to get under 10 hours of overtime, I hardly have any. I really don't have a lot of ambition. I don't want to "have a career", become a manager or something (though I'd like to earn more money some time of course).

People say "follow your dreams" and such. But what if I don't have any? I don't have a lot of ambitions in my job, I don't want to travel around the world, I don't have any great hobbies and I don't want to change the world. I always hated those question in job inteview: Where will you be in 3 (or sometimes 5) years? I really don't know what to say, but I feel like I ought to say something special.
Of course I have some things I'd like to do, some places I'd like to see, some things I'd like to change. But it's nothing big, nothing that would deserve a sentence like "follow your dreams".

A friend told me "many might have some dreams or goals, but many also settle for what they have" - settle. That sounds like a compromise. It has the taste of failure. Surely those people did something wrong, went wrong. They didn't try hard enough, they gave up. Their lives must not be worth much. They can't be happy like this, can they?

But didn't some wise man say "the journey is the destination"?

Let's face it: most of us are going to be average people, leading ordinary lives.
And there's nothing wrong with that. Read more on this article...