April 2007


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     Lucky Star 3, starts off with change of uniform day at the girl’s high school, in the Japanese school system the changeover day for summer/winter uniform is set by the school’s administration. Just as Kagami is thinking that Konata will be wearing the wrong uniform to school, her sister walks in wearing the wrong uniform. Then while walking to school the girl spend time discussing the best way to enter contests, handwritten cards vs printed cards, and so-forth. Also on the way to school Konata asks why Kagami and her sister don’t act more alike since they are twins, Kagami explains that she and her sister are fraternal not identical, its a pretty funny skit. On the way to school the girls ride a hot train to school, and one of the girls gives an accidental flash to one of the male riders. How come this has never happen to me?

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     Also, at school, the girls discuss weddings, and a Japanese girls’ dilemma (wedding dress vs kimono), Japanese Cultural Note (in modern Japan many girls wear both, the kimono for the Buddhist ceremony, then a western wedding dress later on at the reception). After school the girls play video games, and talk about Kagami and Tsukasa’s upcoming 17th birthday. Their birthday falls on 7 July, Konata tells them the that day is called ponytail day (an old Japanese folktale). Japanese Cultural Note (this day is also called the Tanabata festival, one of five major traditional festivals held in modern Japan). Later, Kagami and Konata have a discussion at a manga shop on how a collector should properly collect manga. Then Kagami, Tsukasa, and Konata have a talk about guys at a cafe, and if any guys have had the guts to confess to Miyuki, later on at school the girls talk about how Moe Miyuki really is (that’s pretty funny). Then we get the next installment of the fictional show Lucky channel, the Kogami character is quite cute, but can turn into a bitch in a second. My impression of the series so far is that it is a pretty laid back, enjoyable, funny, and innocent little anime. Lucky Star contains plenty of anime homages, and few Moe elements, if you like your anime slow pace, with a touch of Moe then this is your show.

Below are somescreen shots.

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Lucky channel screenshots.

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The following pictures say it all!

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For the love of short skirts.

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And for the love of thigh highs and tights.

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     Towards the Terra 1, in the introduction voice-over, the viewer finds out that in the future the Earth is in ecological ruin, and the people felt cornered, so they develop spacecraft, and leave the Earth in search of a better place to live. Towards the Terra’s opening song is nice, lively, and upbeat. After the mildly downbeat opening voice-over, the upbeat opening song is a nice contrast.

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     The story starts off with a man who is called soldier going into a room, that contains a woman reading tarot cards (haven’t we seen plenty of anime with tarot cards). The one called into the room receives a terrible vision, and screams in terror, at that point he wakes up to a alarm clock going off in his bedroom,  was it a dream, or a vision? Just as he is called to breakfast by his parents, we find out his name is Jomy, and tomorrow will be his 14Th birthday, and he will have to undergo his test of adulthood (or day of awakening).

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      Jomy mother is worried about him being late for school, so he rushes off to school, gets called into the school’s counseling office, and later he tells his friends about his dreams. Jomy then smashes a referee robot during a school soccer match, and gets called back into the counseling office again. The school counselor tells Jomy that this is the first time anyone has ever gotten into trouble twice on the day before their test of adulthood. The counselor then tells Jomy to go say goodbye to his classmates, and he does so in a funny manner. On his way home from school Jomy expresses his doubts about becoming an adult to his best friends, they wish him luck, and say goodbye. Later, at home Jomy and his mother have a very touching moment, he expresses his anxiety about leaving home, but his mother says all humans must become adults, and can’t remain kids forever.

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      Just as Jomy’s mother is preparing for is adulthood party, a group sent from Universal Control receives orders to evaluate Jomy, apparently because of his dream contact with the “mu”. They gas him, and take him away for examination at the medical office, his mother gets very upset, and the leader of the team asks why she’s getting so upset about someone shes not even related to. At the lab they test him for physic activity in very unpleasant ways, they return Jomy to his house. The next day Jomy leaves for his adulthood test, with his parents saying the test will be over before he even knows it. Jomy boards a bus wondering where to go, so he decides to head to dreamworld, a place were he has fond childhood memories. Jomy gets a telepathic message froma animal at dreamworld. The people following him conclude the he definitely is someone called a “mu”, he moves through the park, the group that is monitoring him says he is approaching test station 99, he boards a underground roller coaster and enters test station 99.

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      In the test station he encounters a floating image called Terra computer 5, it tells him it will begin the adulthood test by starting with a memory erasure, he screams for help, and his dream visitor shows up, he tells Jomy to resist in order to keep is fourteen years of memories. At this point, we find out that the dream visitor name is Soldier Blue, a fight with Terra 5 takes place with Soldier Blue defeating the computer, the monitoring team orders the disposal of Jomy. As Jomy is leaving the park the animal that he spoke to earlier breaks out of its enclosure and leaps into his arms, at the same moment the disposal team shows up. The disposal team tells him he will be disposed of as a non-qualifier, the episode ends with that cliffhanger. Well, the ending song is very melancholy and somber, with the music being very low key. The contrasting opening and closing themes, gives the viewer conflicting musical messages. I found the first episode of Towards the Terra  to be quite interesting, and entertaining. The story unfolded at a smooth and even pace with no boring pauses. I felt that the main characters were very pleasant and likable, especially Jomy’s family. This series appears to have been digitally animated, but not in a in your face manner like some anime series, and the colors were done in bright but semi muted-manner. Overall, I think that anime viewers whom like anime belonging to the sifi genra will enjoy this series.

Here are some screenshots of Jomy’s family.

A final thought.

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     The series picks up near the end of golden week. For inquiring readers, golden week is a collection of four Japanese national holidays spread over eight day, starting  with Showa no hi  (Showa day), celebrating the late Emperor Showa on April 29. Next is Kenpo kinenbi  (Constitution Day) celebrated on May 3. The third holiday is Midori no hi  (Greenery day), this holiday celebrates the late emperor Showa birthday, and celebrates his love for nature and the environment, this holiday now falls on May 4. The last holiday in golden week is kodomo no hi (Children’s day), this holiday celebrates Tango no sekkor (Boys day), on this holiday people pray for the future success and health of their sons, this holiday falls on May 5, oh if your wondering Girls day is March 3.

     The first part of the episode shows us viewers the differences between Kagami, and her sister. Later all four of the girls get together of a study session (or a homework copying session for some). The next portion of the show, you get to watch the girls waste money on a crane game at a arcade, after school. The girls get stressed out about their after holiday exams, and how well, or how poorly they did. The fear, and stress of a visit to the dental office is also covered with humorous effect. The big shocker for the episode is that Konata just got an after-school job to help pay for computer festival. The other girls spend to speculation on were she’s working, but they can’t see her succeeding at anything. They finaly ask her were she’s working, Konata replies “a normal costume cafe”, just perfect for her. As I watch more of Lucky Star, I find this series growing on me. I find this Lucky Star quite relaxing, and enjoyable. This series is comprised of quite likable girls that spend most of their time together enjoying each-others company. While this series comes nowhere close to the quality of a series like  Azumanga Daioh, I can still recommend it to viewers whom like school-life/slice of life type anime.

Below are some screenshot from episode 2.

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     This episode starts out with Yukari, and the others returning to the SSA base, Yukari asks the others if they can keep her part-time job a secret from her school, and Satsuki says “No Problem”. The next day Yukari undergoes a battery of physical tests, then she’s told that she is fully qualified to be an astronaut. She says, “no way, impossible” but director Nasuda holds his help in finding Yukari’s father over her, so she agrees.

 

     The next day astronaut training begins, and the training team works Yukari to the point of exhaustion. Yukari is extremely embarrassed when they force her to strip, to take a full body mold, in order to make her spacesuit. As training continues, Yukari is thrown out of a helicopter in the spacesuit, and told to return to base within three days. This is for the purpose of survival training, when Yasukawa hears about it he goes to help her. She lands in the middle of one of the local tribal villages, causing quit a stir. Yukari meets a cute native girl named Matsuri Morita, she takes Yukari to meet her father, who also turns out to be Yukari father (talk about seven degrees of Kevin Bacon!).  Well, lets put it this way the meeting does not go well, Yukari pulls her gun and demands her father returns with her to Japan. He makes a deal with Yukari, when she finishes her job as an astronaut, he’ll return with her to Japan. Matsuri help Yukari return to base, at that point the director notices the slim figure of Matsuri, and asks Satsuki how much does Matsuri weigh, she replies 38.5Kgs, height 153cm, and measurements 85-53-84, Satsuki says she an extremely healthy girl. The director asks her to join the force, and Matsuri agrees.

 

Here are a few screenshots of Yukari’s training.

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Here are a few screenshots of Yukari’s family reunion.

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     I find this anime series to be quite entertaining, the young female characters are quite cute, funny, and likeable. While, the adult characters are lighthearted, funny, and interesting. I think this series is well worth watching.

     Rocket Girls episode 1, well here’s the setup, we have plucky Japanese high school girl Yukari Morita (aren’t they all cute & plucky), setting off to search for her long lost father, whom abandoned Yukari’s mother after their honeymoon. Yukari travels to the Solomon Islands to look for her father. Based in the Solomon Islands is the SSA (Solomon Space Association), which is funded by private corporations, and the Japanese government.

     The SSA has fallen on hard times, their last five launch attempts have all ended in failure, and the sixth attempt is just about to take place. The SSA’s director (Nasuda-san) is given an ultimatum, if failure keeps occurring, their funding will be cut off. Just as Yukari arrives on the island, the sixth launch attempt ended in failure. Yukari finds a Japanese restaurant and gets directions to the SSA base. After the launch failure, a government inspector tells the SSA director that funding will be cut off, and the base closed within six months. The director decides to continue the program using an older less powerful, but more reliable rocket engine.  But using the older engine would require the current pilot (Yasukawa) to cut his weight to 40Kg (about 88 Lbs), the medical/training director (Satsuki), states that Yasukawa would need to weigh less than skin and bones.

     Hearing this, Yasukawa states that they are all crazy, and he takes an armored vehicle, and escapes from the base. While fleeing the base, Yasukawa runs into Yukari, whom is walking up the road. Yukari forces the vehicle to stop, and then she demands a ride to the base, or back to town. After forcing herself into the vehicle, they are chased by base security forces. After escaping the security forces they return to town and are given a room to hide out in by the restaurant owner. This leads to a funny situation, involving the restaurant owner thinking that Yukari and Yasukawa are going to use the room for very personal reasons.  A short while later, Yukari and Yasukawa are sold out by the owner, he states he needs everybody’s business. Yasukawa is drugged by Satsuki and taken away, Satsuki upon seeing Yukari states her vital stats as height 153cm, weigh 38kg, and measurements of 80-54-82, or in English 5’-1’’, 84lbs, and 31.5-22-32.5. Upon hearing this, director Nasuda offers Yukari help in finding her father in exchange for her working part time as a pilot. Well, that’s the basic setup, cute girls in space, can it get any better than that? Or the moral of this tale, never send a professional astronaut to do the job of a Japanese schoolgirl.  

Here are some screenshots.

Left to right, Yukari and friends, Yukari herself, and Yukari at the room.

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 Left to right, director Nasuda, pilot Yasukawa, medical/training director Satsuki.

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 A cute island girl, boy isn’t she just too cute.

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     Well, I just finished watching the Pretty Cure Max Heart Movie 2,  the movie has running time of 110 minutes. Well the whole Max Heart group is back for a second movie adventure. Here follows the basic plot of the movie. The Max Heart crew is taking a short vacation at a ski and snowboarding resort. When a sage from the garden of clouds drops  an egg near were the pretty cure crew is taking their skiing and snowboarding vacation.

     Hikari finds the egg while outside, when she picks it up it hatches reviling a small golden bird she names Hinata. Shortly after that, a pair of villains show up named Freezen, and Frozen, and they start fight with Hikari, and Pretty Cure. Hanoka and Nagisa are less effective during a battle because of a misunderstanding from earlier in the day. But, they still manage to defeat the bad guy’s creation in short order. After they fight they meet the sage from the garden of clouds, and he takes them up to the garden of clouds, where they find out that Hinata is a baby Phoenix, and that they must protect the baby Phoenix or all the worlds will freeze. Shortly, Freezen and Frozen show up and defeat Pretty Cure in short order turning the garden of clouds to ice. After that Pretty Cure chase the bad guys to their stronghold, were Cure White is taken over by the bad guys and forced to fight Cure Black. But, Cure Black won’t fight back, so the bad guys take control of her and force Pretty Cure to fight themselves.

     At the last minute, Hanoka’s and Nagisa’s mutual love and friendship towards each-other breaks the bad guys control over them, but they seemingly fall from the tower of ice to their deaths. Pretty Cure’s fall was cushioned by the clouds, where they wake up and apoligize to each-other, after they make-up they return to the fight, just in the nick of time. Wherethey proceed to get their asses kick for a while, then the villains freeze them. but at the last minute, Hinata gives them a power-up and they proceed to kick ass, destroying Freezen and Frozen. After the fight, Hinata seems to have died from her effort, Hikari and the others give Hinata their powers in an attempt to revive her, and it works. Hikari uses a portion of her power as the queen of the garden of light to fully transform Hinata in to a Phoenix. After the Phoenix melts the frozen garden of clouds, the whole crew returns to the ski resort.

Below a some screen shots of Hinata, bad guys, and the first fight.

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Here are some screen shots of Hikari, isn’t she one of the cutest magic girls?

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Here are some screen shots of Pretty Cure.

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     What I really like about this anime movie is that it has the best qualities of a magic girl show, and a fighting anime like Dragon Ball Z. If you have not viewed a magic girl show in a while give this movie a try.
 

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