With summer almost upon us, you know what that means: CONVENTION SEASON! This past weekend we rocked out our first EVER live streaming show at FanimeCon in San Jose! We will had some amazing guests coming through, from this amazing guest: special guest 1 to this special guest 2! Convention season is far from over, so let us know if you city will be having a convention and we will try and roll on through!
Let's face it: we don't need another harem show. The idea, itself, is somewhat outdated and has been pretty much shot to pieces by big names like Ken Akamatsu, and even budding light novel writers alike. Even the "reverse harem" idea is somewhat passé, oozing with fangirl fantasies to the point of becoming borderline yaoi. No less was there any doubt in my mind that Astarotte no Omocha would be any different - a show about a young succubus coming to speed with the fact that she needs to form her own male harem in order to consume their semen if she wishes to maintain her youth and vitality.
Thankfully, I was wrong.
So wrong that I should probably call myself "delightfully mistaken". Astarotte no Omocha is far from being "another harem anime" - because it isn't. If you were one of the people who thought the show was just another lame excuse to combine the words "10-year old" and "semen" in the same sentence (left to the imagination of the reader), then be in the dark no longer. In fact, the show has little to nothing to do with harems at all! There is no semen involved, no in-your-face-what-the-heck sexual innuendos, and little to no fanservice, whatsoever.
If it's none of these, then what could it possibly be about?
The show features Astarotte Ygvar, a 10-year old succubus princess and daughter of the Queen of the kingdom of Ygvar. At such an early age, she is pressured by her retainers to pursue building up her harem of men in preparation for the day she would have to consume their semen for sustenance. The idea, however, disgusts Astarotte, who has a strong dislike towards men. In hopes of outsmarting her retainers, she slyly agrees to do so under the condition that her first man be a human male - a creature the likes of which has not been seen in their world for over hundreds of years. Much to her dismay, a human male is indeed brought into their world - a human by the name of Naoya. Given the position of "Astarotte's Toy" in Astarotte's court, Naoya remains with the princess and slowly learns to understand her more as she opens up her heart little by little.
Okay, so we have a Mr. Too-good-to-be-true and all-around perfect house-husband-type character Naoya playing the role of "get the tsundere to like me". We've seen this before, and most of you probably think it's absurd for any man in their right mind to act so selflessly as to try and understand the feelings of a 10-year old succubus who just so happens to dislike "sucking". Regardless, it makes way for an engaging and somewhat relevant plot that some people may be able to resonate with. Instead of a show trying to pair Mr. Perfect with Little Miss "Get away from me~baka!", Astarotte no Omocha focuses on an imperfect heroine stumbling through the obstacles of puberty: understanding men and her own sexuality; making friends in a new school; and even dealing with an absentee mother. All of this is seen through the perspective of an inquisitive man who isn't out to win her heart or accidentally fall in love with her. He's simply curious.
But this is over-analyzing it. In the end, we have a rather "different" mix of elements than what we're used to, and the result is an engaging story sprinkled with enough comedic banter and moe to keep you both entertained and fulfilled. Besides the interesting plot and setting, you may find yourself greeted by familiar references to elements of Norse mythology that are woven throughout the show. One such reference includes the tree of the Yggdrasil and the realm of Alfheimr, the world where the story takes place. Such elements give the watcher the feeling that the story was, in itself, well thought out, which lends to it a certain amount of intrigue that compliments rather than drives the story forward. In addition, the art is both colorful and bubbly, which lends to the mellow nature of the series.
So much for harems, semen, and lolis. In the end, the show talks about a search for something beyond the popular pursuits of romantic love. Instead of spoiling us with blatant fan service, we're given something a little more meaningful. For what it's worth, it's a welcome change of pace that sets the stage for a good watch, indeed. It's nothing epic, make no mistake - but realizing what the show ISN'T about is a delightful surprise. I'll say it again: I was delightfully mistaken - may you be so, as well.
First love: it’s a phrase that haunts, colors or overshadows many other experiences—real or animated. There are countless anime whose subject matter is the overwhelming sensation of first love and its life-changing effects, for good or ill. What sets “Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi” apart from other anime with this theme is its powerful simplicity; from the first moment Ritsu Onodera sees Masamune Saga, the viewer knows he is completely and irrevocably in love with his senior classmate. There is only a sharp intake of breath, a reddened face, and a swell of music, but the truth is plain. Although the anime continues on with some typical “first-love awkwardness” humor, there is something in the way Ritsu does not speak to Masamune, preferring to enjoy the other boy’s silent presence in the library from afar, that makes what could have been a cliché something deeper.
Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi is a yaoi/shounen-ai anime from the same creator of the well-received “Junjou Romantica”, Shungiku Nakamura, so expect a similar pattern of multiple stories interwoven by a common thread. In this case, the thread is the hectic life of an editor in the manga publishing industry. This was a nice behind the scenes look for manga fans or editorial enthusiasts who are trying to break into the business: the publishing world is no picnic. The main character, Ritsu Onodera, is the only son of a publishing mogul, and decides to quit his job as a literature editor to prove that he’s not being given special favors by his family. He is hired—to his dismay—by Marukawa Publishing in their shoujo manga department; a subject he knows nothing about. To make things worse, Ritsu’s experience of “first love” during high school left him scarred, and he remains disdainful about romance into his adult years.
At this point, the show has begun to move on to the side characters’ stories, some of whom are fellow editors and others who are the manga artists themselves. The supporting characters shown so far do well in flushing out the relationship between an editor and a manga artist, but so far their romantic relationship lacks the emotional depth of the main characters. However, the promise of more angst in the future remains, and while there is a good amount of fluff throughout the story, the animators have done well to retain the tension between characters. The show holds on to its simplicity throughout, emphasized by a well-chosen soundtrack for tense or tender moments. Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi has been able to paint a picture of what happens when first loves never really end, with maturity and tension, while managing to include comedic relief. While much of the storyline has been heart-wrenching so far, there is hope that redemption lies in the dream of first love.
Much can be said about time: We as humans, and even other creatures of the Earth, depend on time as a means of going about our life. Time dictates everything we do. We start our day at a certain time; we schedule our appointments at a certain time. Even animals migrate and hibernate at a certain time. Just as it is an internal instinct, time is also an intangible controller of all things.
But what exactly is time?
On one such occasion during the lab’s test with Okarin’s microwave phone invention, the experiment concludes in an unexplainable outcome that both stuns and frightens all present, including Makise Kurisu, a young genius scientist. Why the shock? This particular experiment validates Okarin’s belief that time travel is possible and obtainable. Mere particles can somehow warp through time—past, present, and future—but what does this mean for society?
Needless to say, all great things come at a price. Okarin and his crew’s discovery inflates their curiosity and they continue with their endeavors, digging deeper and closer to understanding time travel. However, their curiosities lead them into shady terrain and conspiracies. The world of time travel and its inexplicable secrets are contained within a secretive organization known as SERN. Responsible for much of the world’s scientific advances, SERN’s researchers won’t tolerate any compromises in their efforts, so what Okarin uncovers will most certainly not bode well with them. Danger is at the Future Gadget Lab’s doorway.
A tour de force, Steins;Gate will mesmerize the scientists in each and every one of us. It is a mystery, at times violent, and a story of a universe that has a beginning but no end. It is comedy (Daru: “Don’t think I’m strong just because I’m fat.”) and tragedy. There is a thin line between life and death. Consequentially, time travel blurs the reality and the relativity of what can be perceived.
Chad encounters Renji’s Reigai while searching for Nozomi, and a battle ensues between the two. Meanwhile, Unohana grows suspicious over the events surrounding Kyoraku’s arrest, and begins to conduct her own research. In the process, Unohana learns that Kageroza is the mastermind behind this incident.