Shojo anime can either be described as completely amazing or absolutely horrific depending on whom you speak to. For those who don’t know, the shojo (which literally means “young woman”) genre is aimed at teenage girls, and it is usually riddled with romantic, dramatic clichés. It is natural for people who don’t like shojo to avoid the critically acclaimed Skip Beat!, an extremely popular shojo manga and anime series. However, one should never knock something before they try it. Although it is indeed targeted at teenage girls, Skip Beat! features a unique and charming plot, humorous scenes, likable characters and interesting background stories that make it a new and enjoyable experience that any anime fan can enjoy.
The plot revolves around Kyoko Mogami, a girl who moved from Kyoto to Tokyo with her childhood friend, Shoutarou “Shou” Fuwa, to help him realize his dream of becoming a singer. She left her family, friends, and school behind just to take care of him. She even rented out an apartment, got a job, paid for their rent, and did all the housework, while Shou never contributed at all. Kyoko didn’t mind as long as she could see his dream come true. Eventually, Shou became a very popular musical artist, but he accidentally let Kyoko find out that he was using her as a maid, and he never had any feelings of mutual love or friendship for her. Furious, Kyoko vowed to get her revenge on Shou by becoming more famous than him. The plot is fresh and different from any anime out there, but that’s not the only factor that has made Skip Beat! a fan favorite.
Kyoko’s character may at first seem rather bland, but by the fourth episode, she sticks out as a surprisingly strong-willed female character. Kyoko’s reaction to Shou’s true thoughts about her was much different from what anyone would normally expect of a heroine. Her words of revenge were not a lie in the least; she completely changed her hairstyle, bought fashionable clothes, and talked to different talent agencies to pursue a career in acting. She has a deeper, more complex set of emotions than many heroines have shown before, and those feelings begin to show themselves over the course of the series. Kyoko naturally carries an optimistic, almost innocent demeanor to her (until she begins to think about Shou, that is, when she becomes humorously angry), but she as well has her own problems and easily becomes bitter about them. Her likable, but also realistic personality, had people wanting her to succeed and hoping that she would reach the top of the ladder of fame.
What makes Skip Beat! so interesting is not only Kyoko’s character, but the setting of the series. Several anime, especially anime of the shojo genre, take place at a high school. Skip Beat!’s setting is completely different, as it takes place beyond the walls of school and home. To have her revenge on Shou, there are several distinct places that Kyoko must go to for her advancement of her career in acting. These places include acting auditions, different talent agencies, the sets of music videos and movies, and even acting schools, as well as other places. Not only does Skip Beat! have new and appealing settings, it gives insight into the world of showbiz, a world that is not so often nor easily explored in anime.
The proper balance of humor and seriousness of Skip Beat! is definitely a factor that has contributed to its massive popularity. Skip Beat! is known for making people laugh every episode, which only makes the characters all the more likable when their solemn, grave situations arrive. Sometimes, anime can have too much corny and horrendous humor, and then the characters end up seeming pathetic. However, with Skip Beat!, the humor never turns stale, and the warm feelings the audience may feel from laughter changes into sympathy for the characters during the calmer, deeper scenes. With love, hatred, deceit, passion, and jealously, these themes are presented well throughout the more serious parts of the show as well. Combined with the likeability of the characters, these scenes are able to engage the audience and bring out their emotions quite well.
Skip Beat!’s first season, which was 25 episodes, ended on Crunchyroll on March 29th, but still remains as one of the most successful anime on the website. This anime is definitely worth watching for its refreshing story, insights into the showbiz, unique settings, humor, and fascinating characters. More than that, it just has a certain charm to it that will make you smile every episode.
Gankutsuou, a futuristic adaptation of Alexander Dumas’ classic epic Le Comte de Monte-Cristo (the Count of Monte Cristo), is a visual marvel. Utilizing Photoshop textures layered onto digital animation complimented with a classical and contemporary score; Gankutsuou creates a sensory experience unlike any other. Despite its slightly-derivative story, Gankutsuou is far more than a simple retelling, becoming an entirely unique journey for the viewer.
Although altered and modified in order to preserve the series’ distinct and innovative style, Alexander Dumas’ landmark tale is honored by the creative team (produced by Studio Gonzo, and directed by Mahiro Maeda). Gankutsuou takes liberties with the original plot, but conserves the intentions of Dumas, presenting the viewer with a futuristic tale of romance and self-awareness conversely paired with a timeless classic concerning morality and justice.
To suggest that Gankutsuou is complex, is something of an understatement; the viewer must focus intently on what is transpiring in the plot and the interpersonal relationships of the characters, otherwise, they will surely become lost and confused eventually. However, the devotion of attention is most assuredly worth the effort, as Gankutsuou provides the audience with an intellectual, visual and auditory feast.
However, while Gankutsuou commands a powerful and compelling story, with a majestic and engaging score, it is the visuals which garner the most interest, and deservedly so. Gankutsuou is beautiful. There is no other way to describe it. The combination of computer generated art and the classic anime style blend seamlessly and are used to great effect. Occasionally, one finds themselves simply in awe of what appears. An example of this occurs in the first episode, when the Count’s ship is in port. This simple image would have meant little with regard to script, but on screen, it is incomparable in terms of its magnificence. Truly, it is one of the most visually astounding series in anime history.
While the beauty of the visuals in Gankutsuou is something to behold, it can also work against the program. Occasionally, there is so much occurring on screen, it becomes difficult to follow what is transpiring. As mentioned above, the story is paramount, and consequently, when the visuals detract from the plot, problems arise. Sometimes, a scene will appear that is so full of life and color that the dialogue is overlooked completely, forcing the viewer to piece together what they have missed. However, when one considers all that Gankutsuou is, the sporadic periods when the series becomes hard to visually digest, either due to color, franticness or sheer scope, are a tolerable sacrifice for the beautiful art.
On face value, Gankutsuou could be compared to anime such as Le Chevalier D'Eon, due to their similar settings and styles, however after only a few episodes, it becomes apparent that Gankutsuou is something entirely its own. It cannot be fairly compared to anything else, because there is nothing else quite like it, and though it is not perfect, it is most certainly worthy of even the casual anime viewer’s attention. For the Dumas purists, do not expect a page-by-page retelling of the novel, for that will only lead to disappointment. Rather, enjoy Gankutsuou for what it is; a visual treat, and a loving homage to the grand tale that inspired it.
What do anime such as Dragonball Z, Naruto, Gundam, Cowboy Bebop and Trigun have in common? They are all flagship anime series. That means that these anime series have staying power in Japan as well as the rest of the world. These series are gripping, have the ability to spawn multiple seasons, video games, clothing lines and in some cases big budget live action Hollywood remakes. So what is the next series to join the echelons of the most legendary series of all time? For a multitude of reasons: Code Geass.
The first thing that Code Geass has going for it is that it is a giant robot anime series. Giant robot anime series have a staying power and popularity that reaches to all four corners of the globe. Code Geass takes its giant robots a step further with the intelligent design of the Knightmare units. Often in popular giant robot anime series we see the same mechs with a new paint job and different names, so the unique designs of the Knightmare units serve as a breath of fresh air.
Look into the Future:
The world of Geass also serves to set it apart from other anime series. This alternate future of Japan depicts a nation that is not only under martial law, but stripped of its identity and labeled with a simple number. Some of the Japanese go along with this tyranny, others oppose it, but ultimately none of them agree with it. This serves as a great canvas for the Knightmare battles to be played out upon as well as an interesting motivational factor for both the main and supporting characters.
Strength of Character:
Speaking of the characters in the anime, the main character Lelouch Lamperouge is the next great thing this anime has going for it. Lelouch is certainly not your run of the mill anime protagonist. He has a twisted, selfish method of accomplishing his goals throughout the series; he often thinks nothing of sacrificing others to achieve his own victories. He is certainly more of a military strategist and less the reckless hero. Along with this, Lelouch manages to maintain a normal school life as well. He is far more brain than brawn and he uses his intelligence to make deep impacting changes in the ongoing war.
Story to Tell:
Finally, the story telling aspects and art style of Code Geass make it very flagship worthy. Code Geass utilizes one of the greatest story telling tools of all time: the cliffhanger. By storytelling and the flow of the episodes alone, one would think that Code Geass invented the cliffhanger. Just like many of the other anime I spoke of, Code Geass always seems to leave us hanging at the end, causing us to convulsively yell something to the tune of “What the %^& happens next?!” The cliffhanger couples very well with the military influenced storyline. Another thing Geass has going on for it is fan service. I have watched many anime series in my life and even more now thanks to Crunchy Roll.com. Watching these series, personally I have rarely ever found fan service to be in bad taste, but too much can quickly take a series from shonen to eechi. The world of Geass gives us just enough to be sexy without pushing the boundaries of good taste. These, coupled with the CLAMP studio inspired character designs and artwork are more than enough on the storytelling and delivery side to make this a one of a kind flagship anime.
While the above aspects have assisted Code Geass in taking its place among the many flagship anime they are certainly not requirements or a guarantee that it will work in all situations. After all, this show’s popularity could simply be due to it being in the right place at the right time. What are your reasons?
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Finally, Nagihiko and Rima were successful in purifying the "X" eggs through the Queens Waltz. However, the music from the violin steadily increased the number of "X" eggs. Before Amu and her gang proceed, the "X" eggs have gathered enough energy to create a huge dog that's standing in their way.
The saga of Erin begins as we are introduced to the mysterious girl with green eyes, holding a unique and powerful ability...
Word of the Day
イケツラ (ee-keh-tsu-rah) This interesting word dates back to around 2002 in Japan. イケツラ defines a guy who is just an all-around cool guy. However, without knowing the direct origin of the word, the region where it came from or the kanji, it's hard to determine how anyone put together イケ and ツラ to come up with this definition. But there you have it!