Category Archives: Series Review

Shugo Chara!

shugo-charaWhatever happened to the magic girls?  During the 90s, there were more maho-shoujo anime than you could shake a stick at – from Sailor Moon, Magic Knight Rayearth to Cardcaptor Sakura.  But unfortunately, this happy go-lucky, idealistic, friendly, clumsy and sweet type of girl who was granted magic powers became generic, and soon entered into only appearing in parodies.

Shugo Chara breaths some fresh life into this genre, creating a lead, Ayu Hinamori, who is nothing like her predecessors.  Ayu has transferred to a new school and is finding it hard to fit in and be herself, due to people thinking she’s a “cool and spicy” punk-type girl, due to her mothers take on her school uniform.  As rumors begin to circulate about Ayu’s punk-attitude, Ayu suddenly feels upset that she can’t be herself, and wishes for some guidance.

The next morning, Ayu wakes up to see three eggs in her bed.  The eggs gradually hatch into Ayu’s three guardian characters, Ran, Miki and Su, who represent Ayu’s potential in what she can become.  Unlike Ayu’s usual stubborn and more reserved personality, her Guardian Characters each have completely different personalities, from the hyperactive Ran, moody Miki and ditzy Su.

Ayu soon learns that the four guardians at her new school, “King’s Chair” Tadase, “Queen’s Chair” Nadeshiko, “Jack’s Chair” Kukai  and “Ace Chair” Yaya, also have Guardians like hers, and is invited to join them to protect other children’s unhatched guardian eggs from turning into “X Eggs” and “X Characters” – the corrupted dreams of their child holders.  She reluctantly joins as the “Joker”, but soon befriends the guardians and learns how each of their Shugo Chara help them become the person they want to be.

However, Ayu’s world is now not all fun, as Easter, an evil Organisation, are accelerating the rate that the X Eggs are appearing in search of the Embryo, an egg which can grant wishes, using pop singer Utau and her brother Ikuto, who both hold Guardian Characters, to find the Embryo, and holding them under their clutches until they do so.  As Ayu becomes involved with the brother and sister team, she discovers that both have twisted personalities, yet cannot work out if they’re really as evil as they seem to be.

From it’s format, Shugo Chara isn’t that different from other magical girl shows – there’s the typical transformation scene, a monster or objective of the day, and a strong theme of friendship.  However, Ayu is the entire reason Shugo Chara stands out.  Having someone who isn’t typical of the maho-shoujo stereotype is a little refreshing, and the show deals with more than simply making friends, falling in love and fighting enemies.  The biggest difference is Ayu’s growth as a character – and learning not to depend on her Guardian Characters, but rather to work on building her personality to grow as she wishes.  It’s similar to creators, Peach Pit’s, other title “Rozen Maiden” in creating super natural characters which help the lead develop emotionally.

Although there are the obvious love interests in Tadase and the twisted, Ikuto, the Ayu’s only goal in life, unlike, say, Usagi of Sailor Moon or Ichigo in Tokyo Mew Mew isn’t to fall in love and get married, but rather, a goal which all viewers can take and apply to themselves: aiming to be the person she wants to be.  Ayu isn’t the only person working towards her goal, with each Guardian character being almost a complete opposite of their owner.  Shugo Chara also manages to save itself from stereotype by also not depending on an almost full female cast, and balances out by including male characters with similar powers to Ayu.

So after just watching 16 episodes, I was quite taken with it.  It’s probably not the best anime that you’ll ever watch, but it’s entertaining enough to give it a go, especially typical Shoujo heroines annoyed the hell out of you!

Code Geass R2: Lelouch of the Rebelion – Series Review

code_geass_r21After a gripping cliff hanger at the end of last series, Lelouch seems to have lost his memories, and is once again enjoying life at Ashford Academy with his brother Rolo… wait, who’s Rolo?

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Busou Renkin – Series Review

busourenkinHave you ever wondered what a cross between Fullmetal Alchemist and Bleach would look like?  Well wonder no more!  And more to the point, be surprised because it’s quite good!

Kazuki Mouta is an optimistic High School Student who one night stumbles into a fight between a monster and a high-school girl.  Kazuki throws himself between the monster and the girl taking a fatal wound to the chest… but when he wakes up in his dorm the following day, he wonders if it was all a dream.

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Vampire Knight – Series Review

vampire_knight_animeThere’s nothing like a bit of self-indulgent, reverse harem shoujo every now and then – but, believe it or not, there’s enough storyline going on to make this a decent anime!

Yuki Cross is the adopted daughter of Cross Academy chairman Kaien Cross, brought to him by Pure Blood Vampire Kaname Kuran after a vampire tried to attack her.  Together with fellow orphan Zero Kiryuu, who lost his parents and twin brother to vampires, the two are prefects at the academy, preventing the day class of normal students interacting with the night class of Vampires.

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Nodame Cantabile – Series Review

nodamecantabileIt’s rare these days to see an idea that hasn’t already been exhausted when it comes to anime.  Whether it be high school drama, supernatural facing demons, medieval witches and wizards, no mater how original we think the series must be, we’ve always seen some of it, be it the characters, situations, or settings, before.

So while the concept of Nodame Catabile might not seem that interesting or brilliant, it provides a vibrant story and characters who we’re not familiar with, facing situations and challenges which are amazingly self involved, but also unique.  It’s the first show I’ve seen where I’ve found it difficult to draw parallels between characters from other shows.

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