Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Series Review #1 - Lovely Complex

I'm going for a change of pace here (I'll post another blog entry in a couple of days - the one I was planning on doing), and so what follows is a non-spoiler review of the anime series Lovely Complex. Even if you haven't seen it yet, I hope this review inspires you to check it out. It's really quite good. Also, it's my first review of anything - ever! - so please be gentle with me....


As I sit here contemplating my life, looking back on my many missed opportunities and my many regrets - I think about the bitter-sweet memories of what it was like being a teenager. The turning point of many people's lives begin here in these awkward formative years.  The first kiss, a failed exam, establishing friendships, dating, breaking up, or even crashing one's car into another car that's parked right out in front of a police station (I can at least say that one happened to me! Police response time was awesome, by the way).

The point being, is that life as a teenager is never an easy journey. This is especially true when one falls in love, which oh so complicates matters does it not? However, more complicated still, is when there are many things (both spoken and unspoken) that are deemed the socially accepted norm when forming relationships. And so things like girls dating shorter guys, or dating with insurmountable age differences, or dating country and western singers - are often frowned upon.

And with that in mind, let me introduce the leading lady, Koizumi Risa, who - at a height above that of the average Japanese girl - often feels awkward among her peers. Adding to her discomfort is the fact that she is the only one in her circle of close friends without a boyfriend - and so hanging out with them makes her feel even more out of place.

risa otani

Problems ensue when she meets Atsushi Otani, whom she supposes - because of his short stature - is her natural born enemy. And indeed, much conflict results, often to the amusement of the surrounding classmates and teachers. However, it isn't long before a common interest is discovered and their initial relationship as rivals turns into friendship - and to their closest friends they appear to be perfectly matched. It is unfortunate then, that both feel insecure with their height, and can't see themselves as anything beyond friends or rivals.


The story proper begins then, when Risa realises that she is forming feelings for Otani. But what will she do about it? And will Otani feel the same way? Cue the tissues, prepare for the emotional roller-coaster ride, and tune those vocal chords in readiness for yelling in frustration at the two leading characters! LOL  (and yes, I cried dammit! hehe)


Lovely Complex is now my fourth High School based anime that I've seen (the first three being Azumanga Daioh, Minami-ke, and Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya), and for a fourth time I found myself enthralled and captivated by the slice of life that are the school years.

However, this would be my first anime I've seen involving romance (unless you count 5 Centimeters Per Second), and so I wasn't sure what to expect. I really like it that the lead characters aren't your typical flawless male stud and big-breasted blonde cheerleader types. Risa with all her insecurities was a goofy, funny character, and allowed for much emotional range. Oh, and boy, does she have the most malleable face in all the history of anime, or what? LOL She is hilarious, and ultimately, you form an attachment to her that lasts the duration of the series (and beyond!). Which is a good thing, because most of the story is related from her perspective.

risa_cute copy

Otani, while more popular with the opposite sex, was also a fun character I grew an attachment to. The chemistry between himself and Risa was undoubtedly fascinating to behold (even though most of the time he was probably getting beaten about the head, or called an idiot. I sure did my fair share of yelling at him. LOL).

But what an emotional roller-coaster! Probably more so too because I watched it in about 2 days. I laughed, I cried, I shouted, and I ate pizza. When a series can get me out of my chair slapping my forehead and shouting "You IDIOT!" or bawling like a baby, then it's done a remarkable job. If ever I felt sad at seeing the end of a show, then this one would be up there.

Just a few more asides before I give my final score - the opening theme song for Lovely Complex is definitely one of the most catchiest tunes I've heard, and among my list of favourite anime songs (not counting the change midway through the season), and the closing song is appropriately melancholic and reflective for the way the episodes generally end. Voice acting in this series is sensational, and especially perfectly suit the leading characters.

I give it my Gold Seal Award of Excellence.

9.5 out of 10.

You will be missed Risa and Otani.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Grandpa and the 50 Foot Otaku Dress of Doom

Good day dear readers!

I begin today's entry with a heavy heart. Two reasons, really...

yamamoto Firstly I feel really old. At the ripe old age of 33 (or 34 - see I can't even remember anymore!), I am already garnering comments of "Grandpa!" and "Crumbly-bum!" from the young whipper-snappers frequenting anime forums. They look at me wide-eyed with their skateboards and through shiny dental braces (which blind my aging eyes!) they announce "Yo man!! You're freakin' old!". And I feel like taking out my teeth and biting their smarmy asses!

It is therefore more than a passing curiosity of mine to notice that in anime forums, the average Otaku age appears to be around 18-20 years old. I know of only a few people above 30 years old, and even less still over 40.

Now, this could mean one of three things (that I can think of anyway):

  1. The first is that as one gets older one loses an interest in anime. The thought quite frankly shocks me, but I have seen a couple of people who have said they have no time for it anymore. And just like that, they wake up one day and simply haven't the excitement for it that they once did. I would hope that Haruhi or Faye Valentine still excite the fruits of my loins even in my twilight years.
  2. Real life intervenes. As with everything, one can only stay in la la land for only so long. As soon as one leave's the nest of home, or the comfort of college; bills must be paid, jobs must be sought, and partners must be satisfied. It is most likely possible that, even though an interest in anime is still maintained, that these people drop off of forums and out of the Otaku limelight. I find it difficult myself, for sure, managing real life with my Otaku desires. But there are those out there that can multi-task something chronic and never cease to amaze me. They can often plate spin too!
  3. Old farts can't use computers. Okay, I'm well aware that most of you probably didn't grow up in the 80's. You just caught the tail-end of it, pooped your pants, and then entered the 90's, the new dawn of the Internet Age. So while many old fogies may still be around, brought up on the old school anime, it may be likely they don't even know how to turn on a computer. And since they can't connect to the rest of the world their existence is largely unknown to us.

Another thing that interests me about the age of the Otaku, is that does this mean that in 20 years time, that the trend of the average Otaku age will still be 18-20 years old? Would it be naturally expected that most of you who would have grown up by then, will still be around the forums? Or do Otaku's age poorly, and end up losing interest and pass beyond the veil into unknown space, only to be replaced by a new batch of 18-20 year olds...

Anyway, it's just something I think about from time to time when I'm out for my daily Grandpa walk.

Okay, the second thing that depressed me was the thought that I probably generated too much anticipation with my closing comment in my previous entry as to why female Otaku don't wear dresses. And so before the anticipation becomes too much for people to bear, and reaches Lord of the Rings proportions, I figured I'd let everyone down gently.

I got nothing.

(hmmm, am I overestimating the importance and success of my blog or what? hehe)

Despite thinking about it for some time now, I thought I could come up with a reason why. However, I have since been informed by numerous sources out there, that female Otaku do indeed wear dresses! Some even look really, really good in them!!!

It's just that all the female Otaku I've talked to - and I've done intensive research on all two of them - lol - dislike wearing dresses. They would rather wear jeans and t-shirts. Does this mean that to be female and to be into anime that you must be a tom-boy too?


On a related note, I think the number of guys who cosplay women (eg. Man-Fayes!) must somehow restore the balance in the Otaku universe somehow... by making up the numbers lost by women not wearing dresses.

And if any one out there of the female persuasion reading this blog, who do wear dresses - please don't hesitate to contact me. I would like to see photographic evidence! LOL

Right, so I've gone on for ages now, and yet parted no interesting insight and relevance to Otakudom in general. lol, and so on a closing note, doesn't the figure below look sooo cute! I don't know what anime it's from, but dang - I want that car!


Anyway, thanks again for taking the time to read, and cheers for all the comments on previous entries. I promise to write something of at least mild Otaku relevance sometime soon! hehe

Friday, June 13, 2008

Blogger's Walk and Otaku Fly

Long time no write!

Well, for the past 4 days I've really had nothing much to write about - my muse had left me, dear readers! And I've tried looking everywhere for inspiration too, including square watermelons and Japanese loincloths.

Though I must admit that the loincloths almost did do it for me.... and I'm not entirely sure which of the objects in the two pictures below are the squarest.

squarewmelon loincloth

Anyway, I decided to get some fresh air and get out for a walk, to clear my thoughts, and to see what would come to me as I take in the wonderful scent of car exhaust and industrial pollution...

As I contemplated my Blogger's Block (sounds like some form of constipation!), various random thoughts were coming to me. They came with reckless abandon; there one minute and gone the next. I grasped onto a few ideas; latched onto them desperately like a small child tugging on his mother's skirt, trying to find meaning and understanding in such an uncertain world. I dismissed many ideas, contemplated few, and in the end held up the thoughts I had filtered for keen inspection. I knew my blog entry had to be cutting edge. Something that would make people sit up and take notice (and something that didn't involve breasts).

So, what were the fruits of my labor? An hour walk, and 4 days of sleepless nights and making endless excuses to my fellow readers this is what I came up with:

Well, I vaguely considered what it would be like to be a fly.

I wondered what it would be like to be a fly (only having a limited life span, of say, a day - not those uber ones that last 2 weeks) and just having discovered anime. What would a fly watch? How much reasonably good anime could you fit into a 24 hour period?fly I figured (with a break of 5 minutes between each series in order to land on someone's face and annoy the crap outta them), that if I had Death Note, that would take up at least 14 hours of the day, and then maybe Azumanga Daioh, say about another 9 hours. And then I could watch 5 Centimeters Per Second, just to finish off the anime marathon. And the best thing is, I wouldn't have time to feel depressed after watching 5 Centimeters, cause I'd be dead!

Now, to bring this into context for discussion in today's blog (yes, there is a point! lol), I kinda feel like Otaku Fly. Well, my life span is alot longer (hopefully), but as I continue to see my "Want to Watch" list grow to even more epic proportions (with many thanks to fellow anime lovers out there making so many awesome suggestions), I can sympathise with Otaku Fly when he has just discovered anime, and yet has so little time in his day to watch it all.

I browse forums and more often than not see 18-25 year olds having watched 300+ titles, and I'm thinking - whoa!, do these guys have a job? Do they go to school? Is there a real life outside of anime for them? How is it possible? They must have been Cowboy Bebopping in the womb or something. lol

Epic Sadness vs Epic Greatness!

sadstats wow

Can you guess which are my stats? lol Needless to say, I envy these people. I haven't actually completed a series in a while. I find that after I start watching one, I then hear about another cool series, and then start that one too. And so I end up with a lot of unfinished series, but nothing that can increase that golden watched total.

So I guess my round-about lengthy dissertation of fly life spans and interests basically comes down to a simple final set of questions? What are your viewing habits? Do you watch multiple series at a time? Or do you just finish off one to immediately go onto the next? Do you frequently have all-nighters to finish a series? (hehe, spell check wanted to change it to nighties or nightwear). How often would you watch anime in a week? How do you manage real life (work, school, partners, friends, social activities, sleep) around your viewing habits?

I want to learn the secret of getting that watched total up to Otaku greatness! lol

As a fly (or even as an aspiring Otaku wannabe) I can see why managing one's time to fit in as much anime as one can before death, is a little depressing. Such is the addiction of anime!

If my post ended on a depressing note, I leave you all with this alternative thought:


Stay tuned for next time when I hypothesize why female Otaku's don't wear dresses.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Weird and Wonderful World of Women II

"I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way." - Jessica Rabbit

Well, it's my 5th blog entry, and for a third time already I find myself talking about women.

I don't know why I would speak of them so much; it's not as if I have any worldly experience with them or anything. I guess people enjoy talking about the unknown. Kind of like Stephen Hawking is with black holes, I'm the same with women. Like Hawking, I can write about them, hypothesize and look at them through telescopes, but would dread ever approaching one in fear of being smashed into a tiny pulp. (Yes, the woman from the previous story did my psyche no favors). :-(

This post comes about because I simply have so many more favorite female characters that wouldn't have been reasonable to contain in a single entry. Oh, and for the ladies, I do have some favorite male characters too, so keep an eye out for that in a future post; I do not wish this blog to be a disservice to all woman-kind!

Oh, and please note that because the number of titles I have seen so far number less than 20, I only have a limited character pool to choose from. There are obviously many MANY great female characters I haven't yet even encountered, but rest assured that as I watch more, I will expand further on the topic of women and all their wonderful wacky ways.

It might also be interesting to find out from fellow readers, based on the types of characters I like, what types of anime that I might find a good watch. Yes, I'm just attention seeking for comments now. Sad is my life. LOL

I will leave you now with my next 3 favourite characters....

Sayako "Saya" Kuwahara (Bamboo Blade)

Saya is another impulsive and spontaneous character much like Tomo and Kana from Part One of this post (though not as extreme as those two!). It would seem then that I like unpredictability in my female characters. I admire their brashness, their cheeky nature to poke fun at anyone or anything, and an ever present "I wonder what she'll say next!" type of aura about them. Saya never seems settled, and will often change hobbies and interests. Her life goals always seem to waver, which I guess I can very much relate to.

Osaka (Azumanga Daioh)
Normally I don't have any interest in really dumb characters, but there is something about Osaka that is just so adorable. See, in the picture on the left, she is catching bubbles with her eyes. lol -- what is not to like about that?! hehe. Some of the stuff she says is kind of out there too, so in that respect, that is maybe why she appeals so much, since she has the same "I wonder what she'll say next" type of thing going that Tomo and Kana both have. She is also absent minded and a bit of a daydreamer, much like myself.

Eva Heinemann (Monster)
Just thinking about Eva makes me go all funny inside. She's a very flawed character; shallow, spoiled, spiteful, bitter, and an alcoholic too. But she has legs that go all the way up to her eyebrows, and I know just somewhere deep inside there is a flower ready to blossom. And when it does, I'll be there for you Eva! I liked her character because she wasn't perfect. I love flawed anime characters in that their own worst enemy is themselves. I just had to feel sorry for her. And did I mention the legs?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

How dare you blow your nose in front of that nice Japanese lady!!

Story time!

A brief forum post I just made got me recollecting the day I once spoke to a woman.

It was 10 years ago now, and I was going out to dinner with a couple of friends of mine and their female cousin who was visiting them. She was 19, brunette, tall, and leggy. She was the epitome of beauty. The very essence of a young man's deepest desires. I hadn't seen her since she was in pig-tails, but she had now blossomed into the 8th Wonder of the World - full of heavenly possibilities.

Well, naturally, I wanted to impress. So I went all out on looking the part, and loaded myself with the most expensive aftershave I could find.

When they picked me up, Laura, for that was her name, turned around to me in the back seat and said "You smell really nice, Kiah". I was taken aback. I stammered some response, and she giggled at me, and in a cute voice she said "You are too funny, Kiah!".

Cheerleaders in my head were doing triple somersaults! "GO KIAH!!"

When we arrived I opened the car door for her, and similarly hurried over to the restaurant entrance and opened the door for her there too (and yes, my two friends were rolling their eyes the entire time, lol). She smiled back at me and said, "Thanks Kiah, that's very sweet of you". Three cherries on a slot machine went off at once in the small recess of my mind, and I heard the wonderous sound of jackpot music. I was on a roll!

But when we sat down at the table there was an uncomfortable silence.

As my friends left to get drinks, I found I was in the most precarious situation a nerd like me could ever happen to be placed in. Alone with a girl. It was like having the most delicious pizza ever created sitting right in front of you, but not knowing the physical means necessary to be able to eat it.

As I pondered this thought, I played with my cutlery, folded and unfolded my napkin, and generally looked as out of place as one could be without nudity and crocodiles being involved. I found that I couldn't even look at her. My heart was racing and I could sense the golden slot machine in my head being smashed to pieces, never to chime for me again.

The silence had grown to painfully distressful proportions, but my mind was forever racing for something to say. I wanted to tell her what a beautiful woman she had grown into since I had seen her last, and so in a last ditch effort to salvage the situation, I tried to form those words, but instead blurted out:

"You're a lot more endowed than when we last met."

As I was looking at her chest (but not looking really; just avoiding her eyes), the intent of my statement took further reinforcement, and she started to frown. The frown then turned into a scowl, and the beautiful woman before me transformed into the bitch queen from hell. I was only trying to say how beautiful she was - it just came out wrong! I've never even used the word "endowed" before! She immediately stood up yelling words along the lines of "That's all you guys think about!", and stormed off, somewhat ironically, into the area where they housed the slot machines.

I never saw her again. But if I did, I'm quite sure she would be a lot more endowed than when we last met. heh.

Now, there is no moral to this story, and there is nothing there to do with anime, and quite frankly I've forgotten the original reason why I wrote it in the first place. hehe

Oh yes, this entry is supposed to be about Japanese manners and etiquette. Okay it's an extremely slim connection, but originally this was going to be a pretty short post. lol

So now for the actual intent of this entry:

Japanese Etiquette.

I am quite sure that I would somehow have violated a least 50 rules of Japanese etiquette with the above story (ding! see there's the connection! lol), and would be a nervous wreck in Japan if ever I visit. Because after just half an hour of researching Japanese etiquette, it seems there are enough customs (both spoken and unspoken) to fill an entire university course syllabus. lol

Firstly, let me list a few of them which I found intriguing. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of these claims though, so perhaps if anyone familiar with Japanese customs is reading this, can let me know if they find anything incorrect. :-)
  • It's impolite to lick your fingers in front of others.
  • It's impolite to pour your own drink in the company of others.
  • Don't use chopsticks to point at people.
  • Do not tip anyone in Japan. It's considered an insult.
  • It's considered rude to count your change after paying for something.
  • Don't blow your nose in public.
  • Do not stand in the middle of escalators or on the right hand side.
  • Wear a kimono with the left side over the right. You do the opposite at funerals.
  • It's polite to initally refuse an offer of help.
  • It's polite to belittle the value of food or gifts that you offer to someone else.
  • Do not unwrap a gift immediately upon receipt unless you ask for permission first.
  • Slurping noodles in a restaurant shows you are enjoying it and is considered polite.
  • Avoid eating while walking and on the go.

(Evil Lemon is not amused!)

So there you have it. There is definitely alot more research I will have to do if ever I were to holiday in Japan, but I suspect that most Japanese would be used to "ignorant" foreigners stepping all over their customs, let alone mangling their complex language. hehe

Hmmm....I just read some info on Japanese loincloths and Japanese baths. But that's an entry for another time (oooh, and perhaps another story too! haha).

Until next time fellow readers!

The First Ones

Just a quick entry today, folks!

I've been busy messing around customizing the blogging experience for you. How do you like the banner at the top of the page (complete with fictional city names too - the things I do to enrich the experience for you, eh? hehe). Oh, and it's definitely Haruhi this time too. I checked at least 6 times. LOL

Well, so far all my anime watching has been on the cheap. I've been lucky thus far to be able to borrow DVD boxsets from a fellow anime friend of mine. The one who initially tried in vain all those months ago to get me to watch Full Metal Alchemist. LOL. Well I've also been able to hire DVDs by the dozens from video stores, and also - of course - was able to find my anime fix online. However, the number of anime titles in my collection was currently at a big fat zero. This made me very sad indeed.

The natural progression now was to step up to the plate as wannabe Otaku, and start supporting the industry....

I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of days in Adelaide (South Australian capital city) recently, and had been looking forward to the 4 hour drive to check out all the places one might find anime (and possibly manga too - cause I wanted to begin my obsession with that as well). Oh and for the record, I found the best places to buy anime in Adelaide were JB HiFi and EzyDVD, and for manga it was Borders (though I didn't end up getting any manga cause I was too confused with all the choices hehehe I was a bit stupid not having done any research first). There may have been other places, but those were the only ones I went to in my limited time there.

So, it's with great pleasure I present to you my very first ever anime DVD purchases, and my complete anime collection as of the time of this writing:

The first volumes of each of Planetes, Gunslinger Girl, and Ergo Proxy.

And yes, on reflection this was probably a bit of a silly purchase - not the titles themselves, but solely for the fact that if after seeing Planetes Disc 1, for instance, that I'm surely hooked - there's no disc 2 to put in, cause I didn't buy it. :-( The same goes for Gunslinger Girl. (I have already seen Ergo Proxy when it was showing on Australian television last year).

I would have been better off getting a complete boxset. Now I'll have even more unfinished anime in my "watching" lists. lol, I should just learn to watch one series at a time - but I can't help myself. hehe.

Anyway, that's it for today's observations. Just thought that I had to mark the monumental occasion of one's first anime purchase with it's very own blog entry.

See you in blogging land soon!

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Weird and Wonderful World of Women

This is a celebration of all things women, and their contribution to society.

Today's blog entry came to me when I was reflecting on my favourite anime characters. It occurred to me a few weeks ago that practically all of them are female. I did not understand why this was the case, but I am dedicating this entry to discover just what attracts me to women (anime women, I mean! Oh I guess maybe the real ones too....)

For this purpose, I have selected 5 of these gorgeous specimens for further study, and I will try to explain why they make me squeal with delight everytime they appear on screen. Oh and I've avoided any spoilers for those who have not seen the shows in question.

Tomo (Azumanga Daioh)

Tomo is hilarious.

Sure she's full on, and an in-your-face character, but the situations she places herself in when she frequently acts without thinking makes her even more endearing to me. She is totally the polar opposite personality to mine - she's so loud and impulsive - and if I were faced with her in real life, I would not have a clue how to handle her. But on the safety of my television screen, she's cute, funny, and adorable.

Mental note to self: So I like cute, funny, and adorable. But in-your-face women scare me.

Kana (Minami-ke)

Kana is Tomo's long lost twin.

For exactly the same reasons as above, I also find Kana cute and adorable. She is equally as impulsive as Tomo, and also finds herself in situations she might not have gone into had she thought it through first. Frequently incurring the wrath of her younger sister, Chiaki, for her "dumbass" ways, she is nonetheless another hilarious character. And the stuff she comes up with sometimes is.....waaaay out there!!! hehe

Mental note to self: So I love hilarious women. I love women who make me laugh. Pig-tails help.

Re-l Mayer (Ergo Proxy)

She has a frown that could blow my pants off.

Completely different from the first two characters, Re-l Mayer is a no-nonsense woman with a touch of snobbery about her. Not one that is tolerant of fools, she appears to lose her patience easily with many of her companions throughout the series. She appears to have been spoilt for most of her life, and assumes too much of people, demanding their respect and unwavering service to her needs. Why do I like her? She is damn sexy and sooo coool. And the contrast between herself and her travelling companions lends for some amusing situations, however unintentional.

Mental note to self: I don't mind getting bossed around, as long as it's by tall women dressed in black.

Haruhi Suzumiya (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya)

Long Live the SOS Brigade!

Well, everyone in the world except my Grandma has probably heard of Haruhi Suzumiya. With much amusement I noticed someone in a forum once refer to her as Miss Bossy-Pants. hehe I guess this is an appropriate summary of her as any, I'll grant that, but oooooooh, she is gorgeous. She can have the serious pouty side of Re-l Mayer, but the impulsiveness and craziness of Tomo and Kana. Perhaps this is what attracted me to her in the first place, this weird composite of my favourite character traits. And like with Re-l Mayer, when you see her softer more reflective side - it just melts your heart. *sigh*

Mental note to self: Bunny Outfits.

Faye Valentine (Cowboy Bebop)

Just look at the picture! I needn't write an explanation, right guys?!!

Ok, Faye Valentine. An extremely flawed character, but sooooooo beautiful. The ultimate in female bounty hunters. She may have excessive gambling habits (to say the least!), but when that tight yellow revealing top and gorgeous hot pants are gracing my screen, I am willing to forgive any character flaws she may have. I was slightly worried a few days ago that the revelation to me of the cosplaying phenomena known as "Man Fayes" might destroy my fantasies of Miss Valentine, but they have not. That is the power of those hot pants for you.

Mental note to self: All female cosplayers take note - dress as Faye Valentine and win my heart.

And there you have it. My 5 favourite anime characters of all time. All women. Many flawed. But all beautiful.

So what have I learned from this dissection. Well, I know I like legs, breasts, and bunny outfits, but most important of all is character.

Hmmm. Naaaah. Legs. Breasts. And Bunny outfits.

I haven't learned anything at all. lol
See you next time fellow readers!