Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tea Society of a Witch

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Parental Guidance Recommended
Hirameki's age recommendation: 17 and above
2004 Hirameki International Group Inc.

Tea Society of a Witch Game
All other anime DVD games

Cover Description:
Long, long ago, there was a world in which mages and humans existed in harmony. Deep contrasts in their two cultures, however, caused differences that could not be overcome between the two races. The humans feared the great power of the mages, and hunted them, trying to erase their kind from the earth. God felt pity for their plight and created a world of magic for them, which they could go to in peaceful exile. In this way the mages faded from the Earth, and all contact between the two peoples ceased. Each continued on their own paths, the humans that of civilization, and mages that of magic.

A few hundred years have passed since that time, and the mages are hopeful that, once again, the two races can live in harmony together. In the hope of finding a way to bridge their differences, the mages send out their young acolytes for training in the world of the humans. If the younger generations of the two peoples can find a way of connecting, perhaps the acolytes could gain important knowledge that will enable the two groups to live together again. This year three young wizards will cross over into the world of humans... Two of them are elite, and one a total drop out. Can they reunite the two peoples?

Could've been a great anime. >>> by skysenshi
The cover description is not deceiving you. Tea Society of a Witch really has a wonderful story and interesting set of characters that have been developed quite well...except for maybe a character or two. Like many AnimePlay games, this one has loads of beautiful sceneries that support such an intriguing plot.

I have a little bit of a problem, though. See, this has been sitting on my pile for YEARS. I think age has to do with an audience's attention span because I keep getting distracted by other things whenever I try to finish this. I thank VLC media player for the ability to use 16x playback speed because I certainly utilized that till the very end. I could make do with the chipmunk voices just as long as my exposure to Tea Society is fast-paced.

I actually wish for an English version of this so I can do other things while listening. I remember having the same wish for other bishoujo games. This would have been better off as an anime, but I understand budget constraints when I see it. Still illustrators are cheaper than hiring a bunch of key animators and in-betweeners. So if that's the case, this should have been published in print.

Seriously. People like me prefer either highly interactive digital games or paperback novels (even ones without illustrations or photos). With books, one can lie down and read while never wasting a dime on electricity. Tea Society of a Witch comes with a lovely art book -- complete with character descriptions and sketches -- so I can see more possibilities for it if it were a graphic novel instead.

There's one other thing that bothers me. Apparently, this has a version that's more adult-oriented. I already noticed the rather ecchi scenarios, which I find disturbing because of how the characters look like. The art style makes me feel better about my thunder thighs since everyone here has a small body and thighs that are twice the body's size. The entire game is in SD (super deformed) mode. Because some scenes tend to be provocative, I began to wonder if there are eccentric people out there who actually find SD characters sexy.

Player Status:
Difficulty: Easy
Completion Time: Approximately 1 hour
Highest Level Achieved: N/A
Ratings: Gameplay 5; Battle N.A.; Story 9; Visuals 9; Characters 9; Sounds 9; Replay Value 3

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Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

GENRE: Adventure, Romance, Drama
Parental Guidance Recommended
2006 Yasutaka Tsutsui (author), Mamoru Hosoda (director), Satoko Okudera (screenplay), Kiyoshi Yoshida (scoring), Madhouse Studios, Fuji TV, Kadokawa Shoten

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Amazon.Com Description:
Something strange has happened to Makoto Konno. Time has suddenly stopped and moved her backwards. With her newly discovered ability to literally leap backwards in time Makoto finds that tests become a piece of cake, embarrassing situations are corrected and she can have her favorite food anytime she wants. Unfortunately her carefree time traveling has adverse effects on the people she cares for. With every successful leap Makoto somehow alters the fate of those around her. This was not supposed to happen and as she races back in time to fix everything, she notices that her abilities are not limitless but with every successful jump she is one step closer to discovering the most wonderful secret in her young adult life.

Time travel stories are tricky. >>> by

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For a high school thing, the pacing is really slow. I wonder if this would appeal to our information desensitized teenagers who are so used to getting everything instantly.

As the story progresses, Makoto's life gets interesting. Although I don't really want to be in her shoes. It's hella confusing, not to mention, she always ends up getting physically hurt since she just pops in the middle of things. It later becomes evident, however, how an impulsive teenage girl can abuse the ability to leap through time. There are a lot of situations to undo. But you cannot actually have a reset button without repercussions, neh?

I like the way the mystery unravels near the end of the anime despite my problems with plot holes. Like many time travel stories, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time opens so many paradoxes that plot holes can hardly be avoided. I appreciate the storytelling though. Despite having only three pivotal characters, these three are very effective in delivering highly inspiring scenarios. Furthermore, it weaves a good moral lesson without getting preachy.

I wish someone from my circle of friends had watched this. I so want to discuss the paradoxes herein. Truly, this is an interesting piece for long conversations.

Individual Rating: Art/Animation 9; Story 8; Characters 9; Sounds 9

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Metro Comic Convention 2010

This popular arts convention used to be known as Manila Comic Con. This year, they brought in the Filipino comic artists that previously worked for Marvel and the veteran komikeros.

The Metro Comic Con also celebrates DC's 75th anniversary. Other features included Magnavision's character design contest, a cosplay competition and many other treats for attendees.

My COMM311 class (for my PhD studies) attended this event because we wanted to study the communication environment of cosplayers. Since this isn't centered on Japanese animation and games alone (many of the seminar topics are centered on Marvel, DC and Filipino komikeros), I wrote about this event at skysenshi.com. Visit the blog entry for more photos and the rest of our Metro Comic Con experience.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Blade of the Immortal

Genre: Martial Arts/Jidai Geki
Parental Guidance Recommended
2008 Hiroaki Samura (author), Koichi Mashimo (director), Asano Dojo Fukkokai, Bee Train, Production I.G

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Edited Manga Cover Description:
Manji was a master swordsman who assassinated his own corrupted lord. Granted immortality by the 800-year old traveler Yaobikuni, Manji made a deal: he will slay one thousand evil men in exchange for the release of death...

He stumbles upon Rin, the daughter of Asano, head of the Mutenichi-ryu dojo. Both of her parents were murdered by Anotsu and his followers. Now Rin has enlisted Manji's aid to avenge her parents' death...

(13 episodes)

Assassin of the Day. >>> by skysenshi
I have never read the manga, but my siblings -- both Thundersenshi and Darth Paul -- gave it rave reviews. I can imagine that translating it from one medium to another, considering the differences in both the conceptual and design process involved, would entail a lot of modifications. But I'm not going to delve too deeply into that since I haven't encountered it in its original form.

Blade of the Immortal is very violent. As in, blood-out-of-everyone's-guts-and-brains kind of violent. Nevertheless, like many interesting samurai tales out there, the telling is very rich in history. The kind that would keep you watching because you want to find out more about the characters' backgrounds. That's the thing. The manga version is more intricate, more detailed, and obviously more substantial. How they managed to slap all that into a 13-episode series brought up a lot of questions in my head. True enough, my sister confirmed that they cut off many of the interesting subplots.

All these resulted in an anime that featured monster-of-the-day themes. In this case, it's assassin-of-the-day. Manji deals with one killer after another in an almost random fashion even though his only purpose for the entire run is helping Rin get her hands on her parents' murderer. I don't necessarily get why Anotsu's followers keep wanting the duo's heads when Anotsu himself appears to be apathetic. The ending also doesn't seem to be able to bring any closure, though strangely enough, I felt that it was apt. The only thing missing is closure for Manji himself.

I had just read my sister's old review of the manga and it seems like her complaint about the women looking too much alike has been solved. The women in this anime are very distinct. The artwork and animation are likewise still beautifully done.

The Blade of the Immortal series is not so bad but I'm guessing many of the die-hard manga fans might not be too happy about this.

Individual Rating: Art/Animation 10; Story 7; Characters 8; Sounds 9

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Sunday, July 18, 2010


Genre: Shoujo, Drama
1996 Fuyumi Soryo, Kodansha, TOKYOPOP


Mars Manga
Mars Live Action (Sometimes available)

Amazon.com Product Description:
Popular Rei and shy Kira are worlds apart, until one fateful day brings them together. Rei stumbles upon Kira in the harassing hands of her sleazy art teacher and saves the quiet girl from his clutches. And when the jock plants a kiss on a statue of Mars in the studio, Kira finds herself drawn in and even summons up the nerve to ask him to model for her but problems already lurk on the horizon. Vicious upperclassman Harumi has had her sights set on Rei for a long time, and is not about to let go now. One of the most popular teen girl manga series in Japan, Mars is a drama that will meet the demand of the growing female comic-reading market.

Heartwarming, despite the serious overtones. >>> by skysenshi
It's not often that I read shoujo manga these days, unless they're funny like Nodame Cantabile or intriguing...like Mars. If I went by the cover summary, I would not even pick this up. It was my sister's brief (and shocking) summary that captured my interest.

Despite the the high school setting and the young ages of the protagonists, Kira and Rei's histories are very dark. In fact, the artwork itself -- defined by airy and gentle strokes -- contrasted heavily with the theme. The manga starts out very light; the seriousness gets deeper with every volume. It's also quite fascinating to find that Rei isn't your typical bishounen. He's not very smart and his plans for the future are shaky at best. This is not to say that I actually approve of boys like this, but the situation made me curious enough to wonder how this comic book will turn out.

Kira isn't your regular bishoujo character, too. I understand her initial hatred of men. Like I mentioned earlier, her background is very dark. I'm also quite surprised to find myself thinking that she's a strong character, resilient in her unquestioning support of Rei. I don't usually like meek girls, especially one that's as helpless as Kira. Maybe that's one of Fuyumi Soryo's talents, making her characters likable in spite of their flaws.

In a nutshell, Mars could make for a good telenovela. Perhaps this is why the Taiwanese picked it up and made a live action version starring Vic Zhou and Barbie Hsu (both actors are of the Meteor Garden fame).

Individual Rating: Art 10; Story 10; Characters 10

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