Review: Death Parade

The premise is that the show takes place in a limbo/purgatory-esque place where people go after they die for judgement, and they play games or other such things to further that end. The architecture of said non-necessarily-real space is very bendable and over-the-top, but it makes for some great visuals. All the staff of this place are interesting visually and character design wise, and I’m very amused at the awesome and interesting hairstyles of the people ultimately deciding the fate of souls! So yeah, overall a fun visual experience and I think it was excellent art and animation. fun touches of the surreal here and there!

The tone of the show at first was very much like Jigoku Shoujo (Hell Girl), but this show isn’t a series of vignettes, and intersperses the focus between the actual death arbiters and the dead people, which I SUPER appreciated.It kept it from being maudlin and depressing, and I love a good back-and-forth from the serious to the more lively tone.

And how can you not enjoy the pointing in the opening sequence? images

So much pointing. And Air Hockey FOR YOUR LIVES!

Anyway, they present interesting questions about humanity and emotions and such, but nothing shoehorned in there or terribly some weird gross preaching. The end (no spoilers) wraps things up that were ongoing, but does leave a little hanging in a room-for-a-sequel-y way, and also implies that certain things just keep going in a machinery of these characters way. But overall I liked and felt there was a good wrap-up to an overall great show that I really enjoyed. I think everyone who thinks it sounds interesting should watch it! In North America it’s streaming on Hulu and available through FUNimation.

Yay adult show with adults living hard lives and interesting speculation about life, death and meaning!

Anime from the Fall 2013 season that were… alright.

Nagi no Asukara – Premise is that all people lived in the sea, but some went onto land and lost the seas-god’s blessing that lets them breathe water. The world building seems off, since sea life is exactly the same as land life and that seems wrong (down to electricity use), and the characters are archetypal and unoriginal, though well played out. The whole first 13 episodes move way too slow and were barely interesting to me, though plot kicks in mid-season and it gets way more interesting character and plot wise. Hasn’t’ ended yet, but so far it’s a B show, with a warning of the slow, boring school parts of the first half.

Gingitsune: Messenger Fox of the Gods – I wanted to like this show, it was cute and happy, and fluffy, but it was just too boring. It’s the kind of slice of life that just reminds you how very boring watching security cameras actually is. The Kitsune were cute and fun, the humans were well intentioned and living their lives, but I just felt disappointed by the storylines emotional payoff (nothing like Natsume Yuujincho, which this show wishes it could be), and relatively little character growth. A solid C show.

Magi: the Kingdom of Magic – 2nd season. Still enjoying this, though it’s problematic regularly. I still think the setting is unique enough, and the world and magic and characters are interesting. A solid C+ of a show, it’s a nice entertainment but nothing spectacular. Good for passing time.

Beyond the Boundary (Kyoukai no Kanata) – This show is about how if a boy fetishizes and is interested in a girl, that is a great and interesting thing and romantic and awesome. SERIOUSLY, that is the primary take-away message from episode one till the very last moments. Ignoring that disgusting and affronting and plain stupid aspect, it’s an interesting and well animated show about demons living among us, and those who fight them off. The plot has a nice pacing and development, and ends decently. The characters, for the most part, fulfill roles (such as mastermind, maid, info lady, fetish-object, fetish-haver), and don’t really have much characterization beyond that other than their tragic backstories. Overall it makes for an entertaining watch, with interesting settings and plot and magic and fighting, but with squick out moments of CREEPY EW EW EW NO OFFENSIVE ASS BULLSHIT that you have to gloss over. A decent time waster.

Kyousougiga – It’s got an interesting premise, of a man with supernatural powers making a happy and perfect world for himself and his family, but the disjointed presentation of the story and the mind-bending antics just didn’t interest me. None of the characters were particularly compelling, though they seemed at least modestly original. There were also definitely some interesting world building things going on, and I think this show might actually be kinda good, but it really just wasn’t my thing and I didn’t like it, it couldn’t hold my attention. I’d give it another shot if I heard it built better tension later or ended spectacular or something, but not my cup of tea as it stands.

Meganebu – This is very colorful and stylized anime about a bunch of boys who wear and LOVE glasses. They have silly antics, and that’s what this show is all about – over-the-top foolishness and fanservice. Not that bad, but wasn’t enough to keep my interested, and a little to cracked-out for my tastes. Not for everyone, not my tastes but it’s not bad per se, so I’d give it a B to C range.

Actually interesting anime that I’d recommend from the Fall 2013 season

Golden Time – This is a really interesting drama, where the main plots revolve around characters and character interactions and romance. I had low expectations when I started watching because the opening is really… setting you up for a different, terribler show. But the characters actually were well-rounded, interesting adults with interesting lives and semi-soap-opera problems, and I quickly got sucked into it. It’s still running, so I can’t give you any final comments, but so far it’s one of my favorite shows that’s running and definitely in the A range!

Log Horizon – I had low expectations for yet another show about how now an MMORPG is FOR REALZ. There was nothing especially interesting about the first few episodes, but I didn’t have issues with the treatment of the female lead, even though she’s lusted after by other characters, and there was something mildly interesting that kept me watching and I’m not sure what. And though slow to start, this show has become one of my favorites after it hit mid-season that I am currently watching. There are super interesting world-building and setting things, character growing, learning about their new lives and how to deal with their situation that I think is crazy interesting and original. Haven’t finished, but so far, An A show!

Yowapeda: Yowamushi Pedal – This is a sports/guts show about an anime Otaku who just wants to make friends in high school, but turns out he has a talent for biking, thanks to his hoofing it to Akihabara every weekend. He ends up joining the ultra-competitive and impressive biking club, and ACTION! BIKING! RACES! GAINING SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH PHYSICAL ACCOMPLISHMENT. It’s super fun to watch and I heart it. Hasn’t finished yet, but it’s a solid B (It’s crazy fun, but the characters and plot just don’t lift it to an A).

Valvrave the Liberator – I actually enjoyed this series. It has a plot that rushes forward and lots of action and plot-twists/turns. The characters have mostly differentiable personalities. It’s a fun action ride if that’s what you’re looking for. Unfortunately, it’s trying way to hard to be as interesting and awesome as Code Geass and failing, plus the ending is less resolution and more deflation. It’s also really calling upon the tropes of the Mecha genre (which I do not like) and so at best I’d rate this anime a B-, maybe C+.

Review: Tamayura

This show is a warm-hearted, slice-of-life anime that focuses on the daily life of the main character, Sawatari Fu.  She moved back to a lovely town that her dad grew up in five years after his death.  She took a shine to photography, something she used to share with him, and uses his 35 year old camera a lot.  She is and is surrounded by other quirky characters, and together, they live quiet, peaceful lives filled with glowing warmth and pokapoka pikuniku (pokapoka is like the feeling of basking in sunlight, pikuniku =picnic).

The title is referenced several times in the show, at least once per episode.  The first episode explains Tamayura as little white balls of light that appear in photos and are supposedly good things, the children of light.  The mother’s shop is also named Tamayura, etc. There is some sort of weird fluffy pink thing wandering around that the main character really wants a good picture of, and its the only unusual thing there but it isn’t remarked upon or explained by the characters and it’s bugging me.  What is up with that thing! Want to know…

The show’s art style has the characters drawn using a simplistic style, with naturalistic coloring, whereas the backgrounds are realistic and fairly detailed.  The animation is also fairly high quality, with only a few mouth-flap issues here and there.  They switch into SD and other drawing techniques, like using flashing manga marks for startles and realization and things like that.  The direction is also nicely done, though nothing earth shatteringly brilliant. There are occasionally really interesting shots though. It works along side the story to keep a quiet, peaceful feeling.  I sorta want a little less SD, but only because sometimes I feel like it’s trying too hard to be cute/funny.

Overall, this is a great show.  It’s a lovely, low-key type of entertainment. Like a warm smile of a show. The quirkiness of the characters is interesting and fun, they have a great dynamic, and the development of their friendships and adventures together unfold in a slow, but sunny lazy picnic loveliness that is enjoyable.  It doesn’t really end, because there isn’t any sort of over-arching story to tie together, but that’s kinda okay because there is a TV show as a sequel airing now.  It’s short, only four episodes, so it’s not even like it’d take a lot of your time.  So I’d recommend most everyone watch it.  The only issue is that if you’re not in the mood for low-key entertainment, or you want some sort of intrigue and thoughtfulness, this is not the show for you.  Wait till you’re in a different mood and then try it out.

If you liked this show, it reminds me kinda of K-On! so you might also like that, though that one is based on a comic and is straight up a comedy show.

Also, Kamichu! is sorta similar in the lovely warm-picnic-feeling show, but Kamichu also has some supernatural interest going on that I really enjoyed. It would be worth while to check it out if you liked this, and alternately, if you liked Kamichu to try out this.

Review: Chu-Bra!!

Yes, the show is a comedy about Bras, as in undergarments.  Specifically, the main character, Nayu, is obsessed with the fashion and practical benefits of women’s undergarments.  Her brother and grandmother are also underwear designers, so it’s in the family and she has good reasons to demo her brother’s products for him.

This has led to her having a less-than-flattering reputation, mostly started by a jerk-girl squad in her class.  And throughout the show haters gotta hate. Though the evolving bad reputation, from a prostitute to a lesbian etc., is pretty entertaining.

She meets two friends, they are weirded out, but eventually accept her love of underwear. They try to start a club, and they add some more characters throughout the show.  Each character has a different perspective on underwear, since they have different personalities and interests, and they all get together to have fun times together. Underwear tends to show up, though they do have interesting interactions outside of that.  The show makes a lot of good points, for example the fit of a bra is really important to it looking and feeling right, and certain cuts of bras are much better for different sizes and kinds of busts.  And there is something lovely about fashion and looking and feeling good about yourself.  So I like that about this show. But it’s seinen, so it’s for men and utilizes the male gaze rather regularly when actually showing shots of undergarments.

But!  Even though it’s an ecchi comedy made for men and there are panty shots galore, the way that it’s done isn’t really offensive or problematic to me.  Firstly, the premise and subject matter are underwear a lot.  Having them shown is not just thrust in there for perving, its mixed in with the story and characters.  Rarely if ever are panties shown to the viewers that are not shown to the characters. It doesn’t have a predatory POV or even a character that is like that. Second, they talk about and show how this objectification and sexualization of clothing affects the characters, both male an female.  For example, the episode where they go to the beach and the male character, Komachi, has a really revealing swimsuit that he’s too embarrassed to wear, but gets seen in anyway, as well as the characters shopping for a swimsuit for the teacher, many of which were similarly embarrassing.

Third, they actually make a point of showing that even though he gets all hot and bothered by things, that this too isn’t always pleasant for guys.  There is a real sense that although some of the exact details of the girls versus boys experiences with underwear and also sexuality are different, in general its very similar, human experience that they’re growing into, and I find that lovely and fascinating.  And watching women’s fantasies about men is always fun and nice for a change, so go Mizuno-sensei! And the episode with male bras?  AMAZING!  Perfect ecchi entertainment!  And non-squicky ecchi comedy, BANZAI!

The end is an ending that just shows that the good times will keep on rolling, pretty common in anime, but this one’s happily realistic, where the whole thing isn’t neatly wrapped up so that life can go on exactly like it is.  I really liked that.  There is something really good about the timing and set up of the last two episodes that really helps create and relieve/resolve some good tensions without just making the whole plot points of angst that started it all magically disappear. The characters grow and change, and that’s good stuff right there.

The character designs and art overall are nothing to shout about, and the animation has some bleh moments and otherwise is really a non-entity.  The directing, likewise, is par for the course, standard.  Nothing to scream about in rage but also nothing to scream about in amazement.  Occasionally it does some interesting things with borders and patterns.

Overall, I think this is a wonderful anime, chock full of easily enjoyable lighthearted comedic fun that anyone can enjoy.  Granted, if you’re not into things about school-aged characters or you’re not a fan of any ecchi comedy or something, this won’t be for you.  But I think that it will even appeal to people who aren’t big ecchi comedy fans, nearly anyone.  There are a lot of issues that hold it back from being a three-star masterpiece, but good entertainment is good!

P.S.  The Shoujo Kakumei Utena references in the latter half of the show?  WONDERFUL!  So exciting! BRAVO! The thrown in Evangelion one?  Made my nerd heart so happy!

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: Yoiko

So I wanted to do an anime I can’t recommend to pretty much anyone, since I haven’t done enough yet and I’m starting to feel like Fuuma just likes everything anime. which is only kinda true…  So from the bowels of 1998 I bring you Yoiko!

The premise of the show is extremely simple and follows the same thought process of the underwear gnomes: Step 1) Fuuka-chan, the protagonist, is an extremely developed 5th grader; Step 2 ) ???; Step 3) Hilarity. Most of the entertainment value is in it’s sex jokes and immense fan-service.  I didn’t really appreciate either most of the time.  I mean sure, from time to time the HILARITERRIBLENESS of Fuuka showering at the beginning of the episodes, or doing something relatively licentious seeming would make me crack up, but it didn’t really have enough going on to be so bad it’s amazing, and the stuff it was “shooting” for *wink wink* fell flat with me.  Perhaps I am just not into 2-D enough as an Otaku…  I did really enjoy the Oniichan’s constant praying to the god of masturbation and getting cock-blocked.  I thought that was hilarious in it’s own right, the poor bastard.

Fuuka is an innocent bystander in most of the antics, and just kinda wants to live out her childhood.  She makes friends in class who she enjoys time with, and they are also relatively innocent and want to live their lives as kids.  They are constantly accompanied by their desperate and single OL teacher, who serves as a chaperone for their antics, and also occasionally tries to use Fuuka’s adult charm to her own advantage. The show ridicules her for being unattractive and single, which I don’t enjoy, though her drunken antics were occasionally funny.

In general, there are times this show is offensive (the oogling and general sukebe-ness of people’s reactions to Fuuka got bothersome to me from time to time), times it’s just ecchi and silly fun, usually it’s plot points are all about misunderstandings and the main appeal is sex jokes.  At the very least, it doesn’t condone pedophilia, and that is a strong plus with a premise like its.  If that means BANZAI! to you, sure, why the hell not watch it.  Otherwise, don’t touch this show with a ten foot pole.  Go watch B Gata H Kei instead (unless you’re THAT kind of person and the female POV distress you and you need more objectification with your ecchi fun.  In that case, go watch Ladies Versus Butlers or something.).

Review: Blood-C

The Blood franchise started off with a terrible movie, which spawned a very enjoyable, long anime series (Blood+), which has spawned a second series, this time in collaboration with CLAMP and so was named Blood-C.  Since I really enjoyed Blood+ and have a long-standing love of CLAMP, I had really high expectations from this show.  I will say right up front that overall, I was disappointed, but not so terribly that I hated it.  I still enjoyed watching the show, though I found it problematic and had a lot of bleh moments.

First, the premise is similar to all the other Blood titles.  The main character, always named Saya, is a dark-haired school girl whose eyes turn red when she goes all vampire-esque powerful, who spends the show violently and often grotesquely killing with a sword the monsters who attack her and other humans. In this particular version, she is a cute and Pollyanna shrine maiden (CLAMP sure does like them) who spends most of her time enjoying the company of friends at her school, the two love interests vying for her affections, breakfast at a cafe across the street from the shrine, and after school violently hunting and killing “the old ones” who eat people.

The animation was interesting and well done, backgrounds and movement clearly have good production values, with typical contemporary CLAMP character designs (so the proportions are a little odd and lanky, and the coloring dark and flat, similar to xxxHolic), and the sheer number of bleep-bars over grotesque visuals were noteworthy in this show.  Nothing as awesome as Gantz, mind you, but gory nonetheless. I adore the opening song and visuals, though they’re a bit sexier and more powerful than the main character’s personality and actions can really account for in the show itself.  The episode ending is dull, but the song alright.

The plot reminds me A LOT of M. Night Shyamalan movies, where the writer clearly has a twist in mind that they’re trying to build up to, trying to create a foil between what things seem and what things are,  but exactly like Shyamalan sometimes it’s great (like in The Sixth Sense) but sometimes, it’s really bad, and gets old and bad fast (like The Happening and the Village). Blood-C isn’t quite as bad as The Happening, but it’s pretty down there. The directing is terrible.  Not in a shot-for-shot way (which is rather well done, actually). Someone needed to look at the storyboards for the big picture and say “hey, this is not a good progression. The tension is weak and predictable– the characterization is lacking and the episodes need more originality.”  So blame rests with the writers as well, sadly. They also use a cryptic voice-over and cuts to a dark room filled with Galileo thermometers to try and establish the intrigue and to foil Saya’s seemingly bright shiny everyday life, and to try and foreshadow the dramatic end, but they waaaaaay overused it and relied too heavily on it.  Also, cryptic, vague, musing voice-overs are not good storytelling, and get old fast.  They happen all the time, give us absolutely no information, are extremely repetitive, and frankly, I thought they made the show drag and felt heavy-handed.  Personally, I feel like it would have build up much more suspense if the viewer was in on the twist far sooner than the protagonist, because it seemed confusing and unbelievable the way it was all jam crammed in the end. There were vague hints that something was up, and that was interesting, but I think they could have done a much better job with a lot of things, overall.

Nifty thermometers + abstract voice overs /= good anime

Speaking of the end, it doesn’t.  The show leaves off on right after a CLAMP-tastic moment (it’s all fun and games until CLAMP…) that seemed like a bad knock-off of the tokyo arc of Tsubasa to me, and then the end is suppose to come in a movie to be released later.  Overall, the show seems like CLAMP recycled a lot of characters and plot points from their previous work and barfed them out, then some foolish executives/editors okayed them (though I will say I clapped and squeed when I realized the crossover, I was SO VERY excited).  I smelled Kobato remix straight off and did not like that. Alternately, CLAMP was  creatively stifled by the constraints of working within an existing genre, and it didn’t make for the lovely synthesis that I hoped for.

Anyway, speaking of Kobato, it’s similar in quality and plot progression were Kobato more gory than X. If you like CLAMP, you’ll enjoy Blood-C.  If you don’t have very strict plot demands, you’ll be able to enjoy blood-C.  If you’re interested in blood and gore and fighting chicks with swords, you’ll enjoy Blood-C.  If you just really like the Blood franchise, watch this.  If these things don’t apply to you, as I think will be the case with the majority of people, it probably isn’t worth your time to watch Blood-C. It’s one big lost opportunity, though I am looking forward to seeing the movie and the ending, though this time I have no hopes and so can’t be disappointed.

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.