Review: Princess Princess

Back to going through all the anime with a “beautiful people’s club” brings me here to Princess Princess! Another BL title, though this one not yaoi or too *wakuwaku*. Back to the fluffy silly fun BL, similar too and even colored and animated similarly to Sukisho. The student council as well as the Princesses are the beautiful people clubs, FYI.

You can tell who are the main characters compared to the mooks and peons, because they all have interesting colored hair, standing out among the sea of browns and blacks. >_<  And the more main, the more brightly colored and monochromatic, even!

The three main Princesses are the protagonist, Kouno, Shihoudani and Mikoto. Mikoto is fun to watch flail around (and in show the characters think so too and rile him for fun all the time).  Also, you can’t help but like Sakamoto-sama.  From the ending it’s obvious we’re meant to pair Shohoudani and Kouno, and frankly, I like that pairing, but in good part because I like Shihoudani and want good things for him.  Though I could enjoy most any pairing in this show, and it’s set up to be that way.

 *sigh* I though I was going to be the seme

The premise is that the main character, due to circumstances at home, suddenly has to transfer to an all-boy’s school, which has a weird tradition of picking out the cutest boys and having them cross-dress for the peons idolizing and to “enrich their lives.” The main characters are these boys (plus the student council and Sakamoto-sama).

Also, like all terribly hashed character driven plots that miss the point of moving plots *forward* the basic plot and main movement of the story is introducing new characters, getting to know them and then the protagonists backstory barfs itself on stage and they sorta resolve it so they can keep things the way you episodically enjoyed them throughout.  In the end the resolution leaves everyone in a state of “yay! non disrupted!” which I’m okay with, because frankly, I enjoyed watching the characters develop and I am content to watch them keep on keeping on.  And frankly, they didn’t whip it out of their asses (like is done sometimes), it actually is foreshadowed in the first episode and then about halfway through, so it’s not like one of those blindsided train-wrecks of a last minute plot attack.  Also, those things are crimes you know?  Not sure why they all don’t just condemn the stalker-crazy and send her to the police.

Overall, the animation is alright, with a lot of close-ups and sketchy or SD reaction shots. The backgrounds are water-colored looking but also smudgy and sketchy and poor quality most times.  As per usual, the first episode has some of the most interesting backgrounds, and they tend to fade into the practical after that.  They also user a lot of SD and close-ups, though it isn’t really distracting from the story, since it most involved character interactions and reactions anyways.

The opening and ending that are so damn catchy and easy to sing along that the whole household has been doing it for years, though the rest of the sound work is pretty mundane, occasionally cartoon-ish since it’s a silly show.

Overall, Princess Princess is nothing to write home about, unless your home LOVES silly and fun BL.  Then, you’re probably going to trumpet to the world.  If you’ve got an itch this show will scratch it fabulously, and so it’s highly recommended.  But if that’s not you, this isn’t going to be your cup of tea.  If you’ve never tried one and you’re not sure if you’d like it, Princess Princess is certainly a good one to give it a shot.  It’s definitely one of those shows that does what it does REALLY well. I would recommend to anyone who likes or is even curious about this kind of show.  Good stuff!

Review: Gakuen Heaven

Clearly, I am still going through what I call “wall of guys” kinda of anime.  You know, when a show literally has a shot of bishi lined up for the camera like in “The Last Supper.”  Well, Gakuen Heaven certainly falls into that category, with 14 main characters, all bishi and all male. And this isn’t the cute and fluffy BL.  It’s the tall, dark, and handsome sweep you off your adorable feet BL.

The premise of the show is that the main character, Keita, is suddenly accepted into the insanely famous and elite Bell Liberty harem School (otherwise known as BL gakuen, *cough cough, hint hint*).  The school sends out acceptance letters only to famous and elite people who are very good at whatever it is they are good at, so middle-of-the-road, not-so-special-but-adorable-and-lucky Mr. Protagonist is rather confused as to why he gets accepted, and even though he questions his qualifications, transfers in.  In actuality, he got in because the chairman has the hots for himis his childhood boyfriend … gave him a special recommendation and overrode the board of directors. Whether or not he is qualified to attend becomes the driving plot point, eventually culminating between and out-and-out, no holds barred challenge between the corrupt Vice Chairman and the Chairman (he does actually have some amazering lucky luck, and this is sorta given as his special skill that got him in and keeps him in. And I suppose it does count as great luck to have run into the chairman as a young boy and won his heart…).

The cast consists entirely of males, and they’re pretty much all bishi, all slashable with one of the other supporting cast, and all slashable with the main character. At one point the main character even comments on the all-male cast, to which the bishi he’s talking to is like “Oh no, females totally exist! I can introduce some to you” and the protagonist is like, “Oh, there’s no need, k thx.”  To which I snorted loudy in amusement.

There are some of the typical BL tropes in the cast but they actual stood apart for me as moderately unique, especially due to the size of the cast and their unique talents.  It’s no Angelique, but the selection of pairables is pretty extensive.  And the show makes a great many overtures to turn your mind down a dirty dirty BL path.  The first few episodes (before some angsty plot kicks in) start of with salacious sounding dialogue between two mostly off-screen supporting characters, only to pan out and show them doing mundane activities (such as paperwork and patching a leak). Which, honestly, I adored!  It was exactly the note I wanted to start a fluffy show like this on, though I am glad it phased out when the tone of the show changed.  Most of the eye-catches were also meant to titillate.

So taken out of the BL context and appeal,  the show isn’t really anything impressive.  The huge cast of characters doesn’t really allow much characterization and relies heavily on tropes, though some of the individual character’s personalities do manage to shine through rather well.  The plot is mainly exploring the fit of Keita to the school, in order to inevitably hook him up with his main love interest, but never really explains to my satisfaction why he belongs there, whether or not he is actually qualified to be there.  It just sorta was like, well you’re a lucky dude, and look at how happy you make all of these extraordinarily talented bishis! Of course you belong here! The Chairman wants to bang you so bad! The directing wasn’t bad, and did what it could on a the typically low BL budget, but I never really saw anything noteworthy to it either.  The art and animation was similarly restrained by lack of money, so talking stills abound and most of the backgrounds are fairly blase at best. The movement was occasionally awkward and bad, and there are a few shots that are bad enough to deserve a facepalm scattered throughout the show.

It confines all of it’s SD silliness to a very, very poorly animated segment at the end of each episode called Hamu Hamu Heaven (which clearly is because it features chibi hamster versions of the main characters).  I enjoyed them, but I wish they had added a little more to the show, instead of being a silly aside that gave a smidgen of characterization.

Overall, the characters are underdeveloped and the cast massive, the plot totally falls flat when you stop and think about it and the tension of the show is mostly sexual and slashy. however, for the most part the show is interesting to watch and feels unique and distinct from other, similar titles.  I especially love the treasury vs student council dynamic (plus I heart the treasury pairing, so…).  I enjoyed this show, though I didn’t love love it, but I like BL.  If you are into BL, enjoy a moderately silly premise, don’t really want to think to much but aren’t in the mood for one of the fluffy, foolish titles (like Princess Princess), this is a great show to just sit back and enjoy the titillating yet serious BL bishi fun. If not, run, don’t walk, away from this show. It will hurt your thinking parts, and if you have them, your homophobic ones, and it won’t even be cracked out or insane enough for it to be so bad it’s good.

Review: Ouran Koukou Host Club

Ouran Koukou Host Club is a great example of a really popular show that’s all about the moe, but isn’t by Akamatsu Ken and isn’t even made for males. All the main cast are bishi, all of the male bishi have many slashable moments (most prominently the twincest done purposefully by the manipulative twins), and they even acquire a character meant to create or highlight any stray moe moments that might happen. It’s also one of the best examples of a “beautiful people’s club” in anime, and I can’t in good faith start reviewing that tag of anime without pointing this one out as the big contender.

The premise is that the protagonist, Haruhi, stumbles into a Host Club at her extravagant illustrious school for the rich (which she has gotten in via hard work and talent, because she is actually poor).  She ends up forced to work there thanks to an accident, and due to her appearance is mistaken for a boy at first, and spends most of the show dressed as one anyway.  They really rush the premise establishing, but I enjoyed the first episode anyway.

Tamaki chooses you!

The show is in great part driven by the antics of Tamaki, the “King” of the host club.  He’s got a huge personality, and a foolish streak a mile wide, but he really manages to drive the fun of the show well.  He really is the thread holding the characters together, which becomes more and more apparent as the show goes on.  Kaoru even starts making overtures about how he must be brilliant to manage to come up with a setting to get them to live happily ever after (and then later bemoans his foolishness for thinking it was anything other that idiocy and luck). The show, by the way, is entirely character-driven.  If you don’t like the cast or watching them fool around then you’re not going to like the show. All of the episodes plots are about the antics of the club, backstory about the characters, or developing relationships between Haruhi and one of the other bishi, including the ending.  Which was a nice ending, overall. It had a really good build up, climax and message.  There is a element of sadness and of happiness and of maintaining the status quo.  Also, I adored Kyoya’s role in it, and how he really whipped out his badassery, and learning gradually about it as the show progressed.  AWESOME! … As you can tell, he ended up being my favorite character, though honestly, I liked them all quite a lot.

The character designs are stylized and simple, and unfortunately I think they occasionally they stick out against the often extravagant and detailed backgrounds. But the movement and overall animation is smooth and well done, though I don’t really understand the decision making process of their opening and ending’s animation. They don’t really exemplify the show at all, and seem almost the cheapest made thing for the first several episodes. Later on when the quality drops a bit they stick out less, but I was never a fan of more than the opening song. From time to time there is some unusual directing, such as the blinking arrows, which I like and find lighthearted and interesting, but again, nothing mind-blowing or amazing.  It occasionally sinks to being cartoon-ish, even adding excessive sound effects and having monkeys and banana peels show up out of nowhere to trip up the cast. Some of it is in good silliness fun and some of it is just low-brow and bleh to me.

Overall, the show is really good at what it does, which admittedly isn’t much.  If you’re looking for complexity, or A’s across the board, this isn’t the show.  But it is an incredibly entertaining watch if you want some light-hearted fluffy shoujo fun, a little eye-rolling, blatant moe , and some well-done characters. From beginning to end the show has a great feel, delivers fun and foolish antics, silly costumes, unlikely situations, and of course, sparkling bishi. It’s a must-see for the genre, but not really for everyone overall.

Review: Suki na Mono wa Suki Dakara Shouganai!! (aka, Sukisho)

So, this is a very, very BL 12 episode anime plus a one episode OVA.  They even let you know right off the bat by making the very first scene one where a main male character feels up the other in his sleep. It’s got everything a good daytime drama has: amnesia, split personalities, brainwashing, salacious implications, suspicious suicide attempts, manipulative villainous smexies, mad scientists, ghosts, mini-me, kaitou, costumes… All sorts of fun! A silly, fun show in it’s genre, but it’s REALLY in that genre, so not likely to be enjoyed by anyone who doesn’t like the genre itself.

The main character is Sora, and aside from his amnesia and split personality, he’s just trying to live a normal life.  The main love interest is Nao, who is in a similar boat, but unlike in All My Circuits, he doesn’t have amnesia.  The show then divides it’s time between ridiculous everyday antics, mostly instigated by their mutual friend Matsuri, and following the more serious plot exploring the main duo’s other personalities.

As is typical of BL titles, the production values are clearly not very high, though they are manageable, and not too glaringly awful.  The directing, art and animation are standard, if a bit pastel. The premise is also silly, but takes itself seriously towards the end. The plot is nearly nonexistent, and practically written by monkeys on crack, but it’s fun if you don’t think about it. The main characters hooked up immediately, and then they spend the rest of the show coming together emotionally and mentally, and physically off-camera.  It also has a fair amount of SD comedy silliness, physical comedy,  fanservice, and other Shounen Ai typical tropes.  It even features several BL common and beloved seiyuu! The main character switches between Midorikawa Hikaru and Koyasu Tahehito! Though that joke/pairing is esoteric, so only the genre-savvy are going to get that. As a matter of fact, it is so heavily invested in the tropes and themes of the Shounen Ai/BL genre, that for people who are familiar with the genre it will seems like everyday fare but for people new to the genre, it would probably be pretty overwhelming and nonsensical. Even for the genre-savvy, this show barely makes sense, especially once the angst-plot kicks in.

As is common to the genre, there is slash fodder EVERYWHERE, and the all-male cast gradually pairs off into gay-teams.  You can probably find some canon basis for almost any pairing you might fancy, though this show does have main canon pairings. I ADORE the secret passageway in ep 2! The handcuffs! Shinichirou and Nanami are adorable together, and I enjoy pairing them, though I usually like the adult couples more than the angsty teen ones.  I accept that they don’t make as entertaining TV most times though. Clearly, Yoru is my favorite character, because Yoru has heterochromatic eyes. ^_~  Though in all seriousness, how can you not squeal over a hot math teacher.  Clearly, Math = lounging in a leather jacket! And the next episode dance is adorable!

However, I really don’t like the way the adult characters break down melodramatically towards the end.  It feels OOC and just like a cheap plot ploy.  Though the whole stabbing thing really shows that the show is about the older couple, and their awesomeness, and the younger pair are just the fluffy co-stars.  I’m okay, but not really happy, with the explanation behind the split personalities. In general, the plot kicked in and kinda ruined the fun of this show, and it didn’t have much going for it before that.

So if you like BL, silly fluffy fun, a crazy premise, the occasional sexy action and an end-of-the-show-attack-of-the-angsty-backstory, then this show was fucking made for you. That’s why I liked it.  But if those things aren’t appealing at all to you, this show is not going to be your cup of tea. Best not to even bother with it. It’s mediocre on all fronts, and lacking in originality and coherent, believable plot.