Friday, December 29, 2006

Maria-Sama ga Miteru: Vacation of the Lambs, OVA 1

In short and with no spoilers, this is top notch Maria-Sama ga Miteru. And as an Original Video Animation (OVA), the quality is even higher than usual:
• Beautiful, detailed backgrounds
• higher frame rate of animation with way more detail
• at 55 minutes or so, much longer than a normal episode
• VERY close to the novel, including dialogue, plot, visual details, and character interactions
• even the sound was improved, probably because it is a DVD rip that was subbed

Let's just say I grinned like a fool throughout the entire thing. The Powers That Be really outdid themselves with this one and as long as MariMite OVAs continue to be made, I kind of hope the story is ONLY released in OVA format if it's going to be this good.

You can read a thorough transcription of the novel here at
Notes from 12th Marimite Novel, pt1
Notes from 12th Marimite Novel, pt2
Notes from 12th Marimite Novel, pt3
Notes from 12th Marimite Novel, pt4

And you can download the actual OVA here:
Lililicious and Otenba team up: - this has a variety of download options, including direct download

My personal response
Yumi is so> gay. ;)
I thought this when I read the novel translations and transcriptions but to actually SEE her reactions and what she focuses in on with Sachiko - particularly when Yumi goes to wake up Sachiko for breakfast the one morning... I just don't think straight girls are like that, are they?

To someone who has only seen the anime and has not read (or read about) the novels, you'd think the interactions between Yumi and Sachiko were TOTALLY upped in comfort level between the two of them. But in reality novel!Sachiko was always much more touchy-feely with Yumi than anime!Sachiko was. So as far as character interactions go, this OVA is the most true to the novels of any of the anime.

I grinned like an idiot through the whole thing. There's something special about having a series you've rewatched a dozen times and know by heart and getting to see a brand new episode (even if its one I already knew the story to). After a year of watching all kinds of random anime, watching "Vacation of the Lambs" really hit home why I love Marimite so much and why I got into anime in the first place. That characters can be so developed and so human...

I thought the new version of the opening theme was pretty good, too. I like that they kept the OP - it really set the tone and the mood and the nostalgic feeling. Even the other soundtrack bits within the story were all tracks from the series. It helped with the comfort level, relaxing the viewer and soothing away any apprehension that they might butcher our beloved characters and story. :P I didn't care for the closing theme - I knew ahead of time that it was a new one. FYI it is by KOTOKO, the gal who did the OP and EP for Kannadzuki no Miko.

9 out of 10

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Lost Room

Well, we all liked it at our house, anyhow. ;) Usually SciFi movies and such scare me off with bad acting and cheezy story/effects - but this had none of those. The acting was really great, most of the characters were fleshed out, but by far the story was really well done.

The story revolves around the key to the lost room (its a motel room) and about 100 other everyday objects that also came from the room, all of which have unusual properties. The key, obviously, can open most doors, taking the user into the lost room. From there the user can go to nearly any other door they can visualize. The comb can freeze time for up to 10 seconds for the user, the pen can electrocute and fry someone, the watch can hardboil eggs, etc. Some are more powerful than others, some have properties left to be discovered, and some temporarily obtain new properties when combined with other objects.

The thing with the room is that each time the key holder leaves the room, the room resets. If the bed was mussed, it is suddenly made, etc. Anything left behind in the room, such as clothes or people, disappears. The only thing that can survive the room reset are objects.

Minor early plot spoilers from here to the cut!
Our protagonist, detective Joe Miller (dude from Six Feet Under) loses his daughter to a room reset (she's played fantastically by Elle Fanning, Dakota's little sister). So now Joe is on the hunt for some way to retrieve her, running across various people and factions of people involved with the mysterious objects.

Maybe that sounded cheezy. It's not - it's really fun to see what different objects can do and why they can do it and who you're gonna find using them. *shrugs*


So apparently it was made in hopes of a series coming out of it, similar to how Battlestar Galactica got its start. I kind of agree with most critics that it may of been better off as JUST a miniseries because as with most things, the magic is lost after however many seasons and they STILL haven't solved the puzzle or whatever. Kind of like what is happening slowly with Lost. Only with the Lost Room, our protagonists will be attempting to put to rest the lost room and in doing so, destroy the objects for good somehow while the Order tries to reassemble them all. The only interesting thing thrown into the mix will be Joe and how he interacts with the objects now that he himself is an object as the replacement Occupant.

Which the Order will probably find out once they take a good gander at that polaroid.

The only big plotholes that bothered me (or story holes or whatever) were Ruby even KNOWING to look for objects or whatever, and Juliana Margules' character and Joe sleeping together so quickly. For the second, I guess if they were only *hoping* to get a series out of this and there was a chance they weren't going to get it they thought, "Well, we'll have them sleep together NOW just in case we don't get a series."

The thing I like most about the Lost Room is that it's the real world with magic properties that are relatively subtle. So they don't have to go over the top with effects and end up being cheezy - because lets face it, to have a realistic outer-space type show, you need some damn fine effects. :D Anyway, it just gets my imagination going.

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Strawberry Panic!

So the last episode of Strawberry Panic! (SP! for short) was released yesterday and I watched it this morning.

Spoilerless Synopsis
SP! takes place at an all-girls school very similar to Lilian of Marimite but with three schools or 'houses' to it, each school having its own uniform. Each school has an elected president and govorning body who work together to do stuff we never see. More importantly, there is an Etoile, a girl who is elected as the star of the school by the student body. She acts as inspiration and a target for admiration for the whole school and works closely with the governing body.

The story follows new girl Aoi Nagisa and a whole huge cast of characters, roughly 3 characters per school plus a few extra. The show is primarily about the relationships the girls forge amongst themselves and the trials and tribulations that go along with that - except most of the time the stories are highly inane or overly melodramatic and end up being laughable or boring. If you watch SP! thinking that it is trying to be Marimite, you will be annoyed to tears. If you watch it as a parody of Marimite, however, you might just find SP! entertaining.

While the "plotless, everyday-feel" element was done artfully in Marimite, the same thing is done horribly in SP!, which is the boring side of the series. And while the inter-character relationships in Marimite are touching and somewhat realistic, the same element in SP! is over-the-top soap opera. What makes it entertaining is the fact that it is unabashidly yuri. Characters are outright obsessed with one another, unrequietedly in love, passionately kissing, or having sex. (Those last two don't happen every episode, unfortunately).

What pisses me off is that there seem to be HUNDREDS of teeny-boppers roaming the net, praising the name of SP!, saying its their favorite anime ever. It disgusts me because they truly think it is high quality. The music sucks, the animation is not so hot, the style is bizarre, the plots can be painfully dull, and it just totally panders to a loser fanboy/fangirl audience.

That aside, it isn't the worst anime I've seen. Iczer One can keep that prize for now. As fucked up as it was, Chikane and Himeko's relationship in Kannadzuki no Miko was far more interesting. But while its animation and, sadly, plot isn't as amusing as that of He is My Master, the character relationships were far more taseteful.

SP! Is pretty hit-and-miss for me. It started out well because the story between Nagisa and Shizuma (the school Étoile) was strong... but episodes devoted to those two grew further and further apart - which is awkward since they're the central characters. The whole thing could of been condensed into 13 episodes rather than 26, but there were good moments between other characters as well which made it worth watching - at least in the name of watching "all that is shoujo-ai related". :D

Manga version
Also of interest, I've been keeping up with the manga scanlations, which aren't near as far along. The story is COMPLETELY different in the manga and, as seems to always be true, the manga is a tad more lighthearted (and better drawn). Another interesting difference is that the anime focuses on the relationships between characters while the manga (which came first) is more about the physical relationships (i.e. kissing and sex).

All in all, I don't plan on ever watching this again. It ranks higher than "Iczer One" and well below nearly everything else I've seen so far.

5 out of 10

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Who Wants to Be a Superhero?

Has anyone with SciFi been watching Who Wants to Be a Superhero?

I know it's super cheezy and kinda low-budget but I like it anyway because unlike most reality shows, these people are encouraged to be at humanity's BEST. Yes, to a stereotypical, ultra-high degree, but isn't that what classic comic books are about? It's nice to see a lack of backstabbing, a lack of taunts, put-downs and emphasis on breast/dick size. It's nice, for once, to see some people who honestly (or at least halfway) try to be good people.

I know not all the contestants have been perfect or ARE perfect, and a lot try simply because that's what you have to do to win, not because they really want to put forth the effort to be really good people. But at least the principle is there. And that's what I like about it - and its something that has been coming out more and more as fewer heroes are left after each elimination.

Sometimes I get really pissed off at the world. Okay, most of the time I am really pissed off at the world. I get really depressed about it and snarky and angry and I can be mean to those closest to me. On the flip side of that, I like to think I'm honorable, I try to be nice, I try not to judge people and I try to give the benefit of the doubt. TRY. Something that brings me down is when I expect the same back from the world and I don't get it in return. I think, either the world is REALLY shitty or I seriously have way unattainable standards and am at risk for living in perpetual disappointment.

What a pessimistic, depressing thought.
I mean, just watch the news or look at global politics. Ugh! Humans are horrible! And I nearly daily read the posts about how rude and awful people can be over at the LiveJournal community customers_suck.

But, at that same community, every few posts, people mention a good customer that gives you hope. Something that maybe gets you through the week. Nothing too huge, just someone sticking up for a cashier who was just harassed by a previous customer, maybe. That little thing might of been the thing to save that person's job that day. That's a hero. And that person doesn't even know it.

So I watch Who Wants to Be a Superhero and I think that maybe I'm not alone in wanting to be better than I am and trying despite my weaknesses. That I'm not the only one who thinks people should be better and expects that before expecting the reverse. Heroes have a thankless job, so when we do things that are nice or if we've tried to be nice to someone who isn't, at least we put forth a good try. Maybe it's overly-hopeful to some folks the way sugary musicals are, but without those hopes and ideals...

Anyway... Just kind of nice...

Monday, August 21, 2006

Kasimasi ~ Girl Meets Girl

Just finished Kasimasi today. It's a romantic comedy about a boy, Hazumu, who is permanently turned into a girl after an alien spacecraft crashes into earth and destroys his original body, and how his friends deal with the change.

Hazumu is pretty feminine for a boy to begin with so he takes to being a girl easily. The first few episodes have humerous moments particularly with his tomboy friend, Tomari, who tries to teach him how to behave properly as a girl (like not spreading ones legs while wearing a skirt. And no, Hazumu is totally innocent about the entire thing - he was very feminine and genuine to begin with and is happy being a girl, so there isn't any of that "boy gets to be a girl so he can use the girl's locker room to get his jollies" or any of that happening.

The series is alllll about shoujo-ai. Yasuna is a girl who cannot see men -they appear as a static grey to her and so she avoids them. Nonetheless she becomes good friends with Hazumu, the two of them having much in common. When Hazumu declairs his love for her, however, Yasuna rejects him. (Which is when Hazumu goes to the mountain where he was hit by the aliens). When Hazumu becomes a girl, however, Yasuna is overjoyed because now she can see Hazumu and fully love her properly. Yasuna is cool, too, because although she seems like this quiet girly-girl - she's really not. She stands up for herself and can kick butt when needed. By far the most original character in the series.

But she's not the only one. Hazumu's childhood friend and protector, tomboy Tomari, struggles with the fact her friend is now a girl and struggles with her feelings for Hazumu now that she's a girl. Also, Hazumu's best friend, a boy named Asuta, suddenly finds himself attracted to his friend.

What is interesting is how the characters each accept Hazumu's love for another girl. Some say that because Hazumu was originally a boy and his personality is largely intact, it is expected that he'd still be attracted to girls. For the most part, though, the consensus is that love is love is love and it doesn't matter who you love.

There's some obnoxious elements - Hazumu's father is a pervert who has always wanted a daughter and you can imagine why. There's this random school teacher who serves NO purpose to the story at all except to constantly pop in saying how she's been single for 35 years, and then pines over one of the aliens who stays behind to observe the earthlings. And lastly, the spaceship was molecularly re-engineered into a humanoid girl who says "puu" all the time. Agh, she was annoying. Luckily they're not around that often. And there's a large "stupid-male" element which got annoying to a degree, too, but I've seen WAY worse so, meh.

The love triangle that forms between Hazumu, Yasuna, and Tomari, becomes very melodramatic but in a very realistic way. And it really keeps you guessing as to how this is all going to work out. Overall, the story (12 episodes) is so fluid that I never noticed the passing of time - it kept me into it and before I knew it, I'd watched it all. *pouts*

Overall, good humour, interesting character development with some realistic character interaction. There's several kisses and none of them felt fan-servicey, they felt genuine (yay!). The animation is good and the music didn't bother me, either. Thumbs up. :D

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Dancer in the Dark [film]

Have you ever seen Dancer in the Dark? "The one starring Björk," is how a lot of people describe it. :D

(no spoilers)
It's the story of a woman, Selma, who dreams of being a dancer in a musical. She is from Czechloslovakia and is a single mother of a 12 year old boy. She works two jobs, one at a factory making ?sinks? and an at-home job putting pins into cards, one crate at a time. She's a dreamer but well loved by everyone. Thing is, she's going blind and won't tell anyone for fear of losing her job and place in a local production of "The Sound of Music". A LOT more happens but it'll spoil the film. The signature of it, though, is because Selma's so preoccupied with musicals, periodically, the sounds of things around her - the factory, a passing train, office scribbling - turn into a Bjorkish industrial musical piece, and everyone breaks into choreographed dance and sometimes help in the singing. Sounds weird but it actually works.

It was a compelling blend of documentary-feel camerawork, a story of humanity, a glimpse into a person's psyche and their view of the world as a musical (hence the musical moments)... Just... At first I thought it was kind of strange (the opening music bit with the never ending frames of random art splatters was wayy too long for me, but very much what musicals used to do), but the characters lives grabbed me. It was shot so intimmately with the hand-held camera work and the grainy film put it firmly in its era, making you really feel like you were back in the day (50's or so) - but still every shot was composed so beautifully... You knew when a musical bit was going to start because the camera became stock-still steady and the framing was super-composed, every single shot could be framed and hung on a wall. Colors and focus became sharper, too.

Be warned, though, as it is an extremely moving film toward the end. There is a violent scene (I dunno how bad - I didn't look) and a super sad segment. But just so artistically well done I am glad I saw it. :D

I thought the acting was very good - I liked Bjork's acting a lot, too. Not something I'd sit down and watch any day or often but if you're a film buff or want to see something new and different, then here you go. :)

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Mai-HiME Soundtracks

I got this weeks ago but didn't say whether or not it was any good.
I actually obtained ALL of the Mai-HiME soundtracks, every single one, and not all of them are by Yuki Kajiura - same goes with the .hack//SIGN soundtracks, by the way. The only soundtracks I'm going to talk about, however, are those by Kajiura.

Chronologically, of Kajiura's soundtracks that I have, Noir is first, then .hack//SIGN, and lastly Mai-HiME. All three come in volumes of two, one for each 13 eps. Both Noir and .hack are very solid for the most part but I found there to be big gaps in Mai-HiME's soundtracks with songs that just... didn't fit.

Mai-HiME does sound like Kajiura's work - it has that ancient/new age/European sound that is especially envoked when the female vocals start in. Examples are "Canta Per Me" (Noir), "Key of Twilight" (.hack), and the "Ensei" songs (HiME), usually sung in either English or Latin. The good songs on the soundtrack are VERY very good. But the not-so-good songs on HiME's soundtracks are very very bad. More so than the other two series there are a lot of filler tracks, probably because HiME was not created by Bee Train - while Bee Train's director gives Kajiura free reign to do what she likes with the music for their anime, she probably had tighter restrictions for HiME.

Also, there is a WAY more lighthearted side to HiME, so there are a lot of those goofy, lighthearted sorts of songs that just don't withstand listening to outside of the anime environment. And perhaps the biggest thing that seperates HiME from Noir and .hack is the battle-tournament nature of HiME. While Noir has a MUCH higher body count, the gunfights were poetry and the music reflects this. HiME, however, serialized the fights and the music also reflects this with intense, heavy beat, electric-charged theme songs for the opponents. Also not quite withstanding listening to outside of the anime environment for the most part.

There are a ZILLION songs on these soundtracks, too! While there are 32 tracks between the two volumes of Noir and 39 between two volumes of .hack, there are 58 songs between two HiME albums. Again, much of it is filler.

What makes this set worthwhile, for me anyway, is the "Ensei" series of songs. I haven't seen HiME in over a year so I can't recall what it is the theme for, but there are 7 distinct versions of it between the two albums. "Ensei ~Omou Kokoro~" fits right in with the Noir soundtrack and indeed when I first started collecting anime music last year, I thought it WAS from Noir. Love this song! MMM! Also nifty is the "It's Only the Fairy Tale" instrumental version, without the awkward Engrish singing of the Alyssa Sears character - which can be endearing at times but sometimes you want to mix stuff together in a serious manner and this verison does the trick well, a classical guitar replacing the vocals.

So there you have it. While I still HIGHLY reccomend Noir above all else for soundtracks and .hack follows close behind, I found this set a bit disappointing for the amount of tracks there were, though there are a few jewels to round out any good Kajiura/anime soundtrack collection.

Thursday, August 3, 2006


No spoilers in this post. But do NOT read the Wikipedia article - it is FULL of spoilers. I will tell you what you need to know.

Basic Info
.hack//SIGN is a fantasy/sci-fi/drama/mystery/adventure made by Bee Train (Noir, Madlax, Tsubasa Chronicles) that ran 26 eps in 2002, followed by three episode-sized OVA's that act as tag-along episodes, from what I can tell. The music is by the ever famous Yuki Kajiura (Noir, Mai-HiME, Mai-Otome), considered by many to be some of her greatest soundtrack work to date.

Basic Story
The entire series takes place in a massive online multiplayer role playing game, sometime in the very near future. The World, as it is called, is extremely immersive that people use virtual reality headsets to play in. Tsukasa, around whom the story pivots, is mysteriously stuck in The World, unable to log out. We mostly follow the actions and conversations of a group of random players who come together over their concern/interest in Tsukasa's predicament. As the story unfolds, we slowly find out more about each character, including a little of their Real Live selves. To what extent is it "just a game" and to what extent do they take responsibility for their actions and for eachother as real humans? And how serious is Tsukasa's plight in The World - for him it's not much of a game as it is a Reality.

Other Commentary, Notes & Comparisons
.hack//SIGN could be the polar twin to Noir. While Noir has very little talking and TONS of action, .hack//SIGN has tons of talking and very little action. For being inside a video game, it is amazing at how little action takes place. Despite that, the element of the story taking place INSIDE a game is pretty novel. The game-slang is there, complete with acronyms (BBS - bulletin boards, PC - player character, etc) and the way people refer to the world around them verses the Real World.

That's probably the most interesting thing to me -- the divide between the game and the Real World. It's not so different from the Net world of LJ and email versus the "Real World". The circumstances between people meeting is different in both a game and the Net in general than from Real Life, but it all boils down to words and people, and that's the same no matter what the environment or mode of communication. This is something I think about all the time and it is a common theme in this series.

The story was a little hard to follow. I think this was largely due to the variety of subs I have in my episodes, though I downloaded all of them in one giant torrent. It may also just be due to the way characters say things in highly philosophical terms - characters in Noir were a little like this, kind of hard to follow in some of the brief things that were said or in how the plot was unfolding. Could just be a Bee Train thing. ;) The gist of it was enough to follow, though, so if you watch it, don't get too stressed out over missing a sentence or not knowing exactly what a character meant by such-and-such.

--Ohh, some fun trivia: one of the main-main characters, Mimiru, is voiced by seiyu Megumi Toyoguchi, our very favorite "Satou Sei" (MariMite) -- also "Meg" of Bakuretsu Tenshi, "Alti" of Simoun, and a ton of things most of us haven't seen. ;) I should of noticed as she uses her "normal" range, the same range she uses for Sei (she was unrecognizeable as Meg).

There is VERY much an underlying yuri theme but it isn't a main focus or a fanservice element at all (there is NO fanservice whatsoever). It just happens to be there. I can't say more as it's toward the middle-to-end and I don't want to spoil. Just know it'll get there eventually. You don't see anything, nothing physically happens - nothing like that. But it is very human and that makes it that much more special. Brought tears to my eyes twice. :')

In case I didn't mention, the soundtrack RAWKS. Miss Kajiura was allowed free rein on .hack//SIGN (and probably for Noir, as well). The director of Bee Train trusts her completely and just lets her compose whatever she wants - even with vocals, which is a rarity among in-episode soundtracks and she's one of the first to really do it, too. The result is that many of the tracks stand alone very well as just beautiful music.

Definetly a memorable anime. A second watch will probably reveal a lot more layers, particularly with the characters themselves moreso than the story. Has a ton of heart; isn't superficial at all or silly and though it can be dramatic it is never heavy handed. Kind of inspiring and uplifting. It's super heavy on the dialogue and light on the action and ALL about the mystery, which kept me hanging til the last second -- finding a place to pause between episodes was killin' me! Most certainly goes into my pile of favorite anime. :D

Sunday, July 30, 2006

He Is My Master

(Make note that I was in a VERY lighthearted, VERY forgiving mood. I almost didn't keep watching this series, the use/abuse of the female characters is extremely terrible most of the time. Honestly, looking back I don't know how I could be so forgiving.)

He Is My Master is a 12-episode ecchi anime, based on a manga of the same name, about this rich perverted boy, Yoshitaka, who hires three girls to be his maids so he can get his jollies commanding them to do menial chores and spying on them with hidden cameras.

Sounds awful, doesn't it?
It was actually sort of funny. There's a lot of fanservice (nearly every ep has a nude bath scene), though not any of the jiggly-boob kind, which is the kind I hate the most. Basically a fanservice situational comedy with lots of ridiculousness humour, the humour making it entertaining enough. I hate to admit I got a few hearty laughs out of it.

The Story
Two sisters, Mitsuki and Izumi, run away from home in order to save Mitsuki's pet alligator, Pochi, from being put down. They end up in the service of Yoshitaka because a) they need a place to stay where Pochi can also live freely and this guy has TONS of land, b) Izumi breaks a bunch of stuff, thus owing Yoshitaka a ton of money so she's working for him to pay him off. Soon, a third girl, Anna, joins the cast as the third maid - originally after Yoshitaka himself, she becomes infatuated with Izumi and gets herself hired as a maid in order to be closer to her, even going so far as to learn Dutch and read up on the Netherlands so she and Izumi can run away there and get married. (This is the yuri content of the series - no, doesn't make it worth it).

Pochi is both disturbing as well as one of the more entertaining part of the series (we're being VERY forgiving). He's this giant cartoony alligator who does not speak. He is completely devoted to his owner, Mitsuki, and absolutely hates men and will protect the girls from them at all costs. Equally, he is obsessed with girls in skimpy clothes, especially Izumi, whom he loves to chase and rip the clothes off of. Which is totally disturbing, but it's funny when he "tastes" someone by chomping their heads/upper torsos. :D

Yoshitaka is obnoxious with his lowlife-ness and lack of decency, but what makes it better is that really, Izumi's younger sister, Mitsuki, the seemingly innocent one, is the person running the whole show. She thinks Yoshitaka's habits are silly and that anything can be fun, no holds barred - so it turns out she's using his inner nature against him for her OWN fun. O_O

The girls' parents are pretty strange. Their mother had Izumi when she was 16 and their dad is a total punk-rock lolicon. But whenever he gets out of control, the mom is there to whack him over the head with this strange statue/idol thing. The mom is strange; she thinks it's fine that the girls are living with a pervert, particularly if Izumi can marry into his money, but encourages Anna, saying to her specifically in one ep: "Anna-chan, love has nothing to do with gender, so go for the gusto, eh?" which is the greatest redeeming factor for the whole series.

Mitsuki is always having contests for things, which I got a little tired of. Izumi's protests at everyone obsessing over her got a little old, as did Pochi trying to rip Izumi's clothes off (which I never liked to begin with). Anna was great, though, in her die-hard chase for Izumi (there's one scene where Izumi tries to distract her and takes off her bra and tosses it, which Anna chases and gets, and we see her on all fours, drawn with dog ears and a wagging tail with the bra dangling from her mouth, all happy... It actually made me laugh).

Definetly not the deepest anime I've ever seen, though oddly definetly not the most shallow. It had brief flashes of heart (which Yoshitaka immediately shatters) but it's mostly about being silly anyway - I mean, it's SO over the top you almost forgive it for the awfulness. I give it 3 stars out of 5 just for Anna and Pochi. And Mitsuki - she was too diabolically kawaii. :D

Friday, July 28, 2006

Fight! Iczer One

So I've been going over and over the Shoujo ai anime list over at Wikipedia, looking for new stuffs to download. Iczer One is one of those that I downloaded. I figured, hey, it's only a 3 ep OVA, so who knows?

Yeeeeeaaaahhhh... it was bad. Mind you, this is basically a rundown of the entire plot. As if you're going to watch it, so it shouldn't matter, right? Anyway, spoilers ahead:

As an anime from 1985, it certainly looks it. Kind of dark since it was all hand-done, lots and lots of lines and details everywhere, cheezy music, cheezy sound effects... it's OLD. One interesting thing, though, is that people are much better proportioned, particularly in the weight department. Our girls have a little meat on their bones - they look HEALTHY.

The anime opens on some spaceship thingey on the far side of the moon. Everyone on board is female and apparently they are all named after colors. Two chicks, Cobalt and Sepia, are in a sci-fi bedroom area talking about a mission to prevent Iczer One from merging with her partner. Sepia tells Cobalt to be careful on her mission, and they proceed to make out. Oh yeah, they're buck naked.

So Nagisa is our main character, besides Iczer One. Nagisa is a schoolgirl, on her way to school when she spots Iczer One watching her from some trees. Nagisa comments to herself on Iczer's bizarre outfit before continuing on to school.

At school, Nagisa starts having daydream/nightmares as she's trying to take a test. This is when I realised this was a horror sort of anime as far s monsters go, something one should not watch while trying to eat squishy food. The kind of monsters with teeth and eyes and tentacles where those items should not be on a body. Really over detailed, slimy, and gross.

Later, Nagisa is surrounded by some masked students on the roof, falls off the roof, and is rescued by Iczer One.

Nagisa wakes up at home and the day starts as if nothing went wrong, except Nagisa's parents turn into those gross monsters like the ones from Nagisa's nightmares. I think the house turned into a monster, too, or something - I dunno, I was busy doing something else when it showed where the giant monster came from. Anyway, Iczer shows up and kills them all. Nagisa goes into a really idiotic fit about her mommy and daddy being dead and demands that Iczer give them back. Because, you know, you can raise people from the dead easy.

We keep getting scenes from on the ship on the far-side of the moon. Apparently, Sir Violet (a green haired woman with a man's voice) is in charge of the ship. She keeps talking to this giant wall of red, pustuley living tissue in the vague shape of a vulva with a really large golden transparent sphere where a clit would be. Inside the sphere is a golden female humanoid curled in the fetal position. Sir Violet does all the talking, we never hear what gold thing says.

As it turns out much later, the gold being is Big Gold (of course) and she, too, has a super deep male voice. She's in charge of this whole ship and all the beings on board. We eventually, excruciatingly, find out that their race are called the Cthulu and are very similar to humans and were apparently once part of earth before they left to... go elsewhere. Their planet is now dead and now they're back, though we dunno why. Big Gold's TRUE form is actually a building-sized super computer, as she is no longer alive. Iczer is a daughter of Big Gold or an artificial being derrived from Big Gold and just called her daughter. Who cares.

So, back on earth, Iczer is running around fighting monsters. She can shoot yellow beams out of her fists and is pretty super strong and agile. She also keeps slipping into Alternate Dimensions. To Quote Iczer, "I'm in an alternate dimension. Oh no!" Which is really pointless and dull.

She keeps trying to convince Nagisa to merge with her and fight to save the planet. Nagisa refuses. Eventually, Iczer calls upon her giant robot, called Iczer Robo, and beams Nagisa inside. While Iczer is in a pilot seat with small pink hoses hooked up to her bustier, Nagisa has to float around in a seperate compartment, buck naked, in some breatheable green liquid, with the same little hoses hooked up all over her body.

Nagisa refuses to fight.

Until Iczer brings up her parents death and suggests vengence. Suddenly, Nagisa thinks this is a hot idea and bOOM, the power of Iczer Robo is complete. By saying yes to fighting, they are now "merged" and fight as one.

And they do. And they win against whatever it was they were fighting. Oh, yeah, they fight Cobalt, who is in another robot. They rip Cobalt out of her robot and crush her.

So Iczer drops off Nagisa in her old neighborhood. The whole country has been overrun with a virus or something that turns everyone into monsters, but somehow Iczer thinks Nagisa will be just fine. Nagisa is suddenly is wearing a flashier, skimpy outfit. She asks Iczer what's up with this outfit and Iczer tells her it will protect her. Yes, of course - less clothes = more protection. Didn't we learn anything from Xena?

On her own, Nagisa goes back to her own house and finds a little girl and her mother, whom she befriends. She goes upstairs to her parents room and finds that the bodies are all gone somehow. But suddenly, monsters come out of the walls and floors and attack with face tendrils, which Nagisa's bracelet fry to a crispy pile of dust. All is saved...
... except back downstairs the mother of the girl is now a bloated monster. Nagisa toasts her, too.

I don't remember what happens next. Sepia is super upset and distraught over Cobalt's death. But the Cthulu have made another Iczer - Iczer TWO, who takes Sepia as her partner. They go down to Earth in a super robot, Iczer Sigma, and fight Iczer Robo. They rip Robo's arm off. Then, Iczer Sigma stomps on the little girl Nagisa was trying to save. With Nagisa horrified by this, suddenly power beyond belief comes to Iczer Robo and they do something amazing and defeat Iczer Sigma.

And it turns out that Nagisa had given her bracelet to the little girl, so she survived after all. So to protect her, they take hte little girl far far away to the countryside to protect her. But while they're there, Iczer Two arrives with Blue and Red and kidnap Nagisa and kick Iczer One's ass.

Back on the mother ship on the far side of the moon, Iczer Two wants Nagisa to be her partner since she's so powerful to Iczer One (who, by the way, seems to be passionately worried about Nagisa all the time). Iczer Two has Nagisa pinned to a wall in a cell and tries to force her to become her partner by having some pod creature at Nagisa's feet sprout tentacles, which menacingly wrap around Nagisa and hover over face in a threatening bukake pose.

Interstingly, with as many tendriled monsters as there are, none of them were sexual at all the way tentacles ALWAYS are nowadays in anime. This was the only scene with even REMOTE "sexual tentacle tension" and it wasn't much at all. Which is fine, as I don't care for tentales, but anyhow.

Also odd, as desperate as everyone is to destroy and stop Iczer, all the monsters always corner Nagisa, the source of Iczer's power, and then just... kinda hover there and watch. They never DO anything! Stupid monsters!

So... Nagisa, threatened by Iczer Two and the tentacle pod. Nagisa says she'd rather die, kill me now. As the tentacles near, she screams out for Iczer One.

Iczer one is unconcious in a field. Iczer Robo appears, beams up Iczer One, who then wakes up and beams to this monolith thingey, destroying Iczer Robo in the process of smashing through the walls. Iczer One is now surrounded by monsters and fights and kicks ass, before Iczer Two appears and brings out Nagisa, who now has glowing green glazed eyes. Telepathically, Nagisa calls out to Iczer and tells her she cannot control her own body -- shoot me before I shoot you and kill you. At first Iczer refuses, she's crying and torn over killing Nagisa. But then she shoots her anyway. Nagisa thanks her, then dies and we see her spirit drift toward Iczer and apparently get absorbed because suddenly Iczer gets her second wind, has super super powers and destroys Iczer Two.

Then Big Gold kills Sir Violet And shows up to congradulate her. Now let's take over the world. Iczer One says, "never!" so Big Gold suggests they fight in their true forms. Nothing happens to Iczer One, so that must be her true form, while Big Gold turns into a gigantic pillar of golden light. Calling Nagisa's name, Iczer surrounds herself with a gold bubble, draws her blue light saber, and flies into Big Gold, which causes Big Gold and Iczer to merge into one being, but technically, Iczer is the dominant personality/apperance/etc.

Stuff blows up.

Iczer is floating around in space or somewhere over Earth, holding Nagisa's body. She's saying now she has the power of Big Gold, she's going to find the Cthulu a new home and watch over them (so they don't go bad again). She's also going to grant Nagisa's wish to put Earth back the way it was. Which she does. Next scene is basically the same scene where we first saw Nagisa, waking up and getting ready for school. And on her way to school, she sees Iczer again but doesn't recognize her, while Iczer stands there with a goofy sad smile and tears in her eyes as Nagisa takes off with her friend to get to school on time.

The end.

Really gross monsters, stupid-stupid dialogue, trite characters with no depth. Hated the animation, hated the music and HATED the sound effects. There was very little yuri. The very brief nude makeout scene at the beginning, and then Nagisa and people are naked often, but that's about it. Nagisa depends on Iczer for protection but doesn't seem to love her or anything, and Iczer is just weird. She seems randomly obsessed with Nagisa the way Najara was for Gabrielle but no good vibes necessarily.

The whole thing is a super drama, no humour at all, and no POINT at all.
There you have it.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Wolf's Rain OST

Wolf's Rain OST I and II

I've got to say, this music is really good IN the anime but outside of it, I really don't care so much for it.

Yoko Kanno is a phenominally talented composer, having done the scores for "Ghost in the Shell" and "Cowboy Bebop". Some songs in the Wolf's Rain OSTs I really like but for the most part, it's just not my cup of tea musically. Jazz-based with lots of accoustic guitar, there are wonderful songs - I can appreciate the technical beauty and style of all the songs... I just... not for me, thanks. The songs I do like are the accoustic guitar instrumentals - those are just... wow. Like "Hot Dog Wolf".

I think Yoko Kanno writes technically more traditional, more complex music than Yuki Kajiura but she definetly writes the music as a soundtrack/score. Meaning the albums don't stand on their own very well, the overall flow feeling disjointed as is my issue with most soundtracks/scores.

Noir OST

I love this set of soundtracks, really just one split into two volumes on two discs. Yuki Kaijura is brilliant - she's done the soundtracks for .hack//SIGN and Mai-HiME as well as many others.

Several of the tracks stand out as songs that don't SOUND like they came from a soundtrack - always a mark of a good composer if the music can stand alone without having to rely on the imagery remembered from the series/film it was scored for. :) These songs exist because the director at BeeTrain asked her to simply write what she wanted - entire compositions, no holds barred, and that he and the animation team would then later work them in as needed. This is opposed to an artist writing a piece that is exactly a minute and some-odd seconds long to fit a certain scene. The result is that her soundtrack work sounds great as stand-alone music - it also shines through as one of the best element in any anime her work appers in.

Kaijura's work often sounds kind of new-age ish though for Noir there is a French tinge in many of the tracks. A mix of sounds smoothed over with the same flavor makes for a dynamic set - and I'm proud to say I own the actual CD's. :D (got them for $10 at a Sam Goody's that was going out of business.)

Years after watching "Noir" I still find myself listening to the soundtracks as stand-alone music. This is significant for two reasons: 1) I rarely like soundtracks and 2) I'm usually into a soundtrack simply as an extension of the movie/series it was from, not for the merits of the music itself.

Haibane Renmei OST

Three soundtracks worth of music, light and airy, countryside kind of music with both middle-European and Japanese influences, accoustic with harpsichord type strings, guitar, flute, tambourine, harp, violin... very light and relaxing, nice to listen to first thing in the morning when you want some tunes but nothing heavy or too driving.

I haven't listened to all of them all the way through yet but I really like what I have heard so far. :D The three soundtracks are called:
Haibane Renmei Soundtrack: Hanenone
Haibane Renmei: Petitnone ~Out Of Tracks~
Haibane Renmei Image Album ~"Sei naru Shoukei"~ (an image album, of course, being songs inspired by the series but were not IN the series... I think.)

The opening theme is, of course, the best but there's a wonderful song called "Wondering" off the first soundtrack that will bring tears to your eyes (well, it will if the anime moved you at all). It's a beautiful, wistfully sad song with Uillean pipes that would go well with Celtic Christmas music. ;)

Bakuretsu Tenshi OST

Bakuretsu Tenshi (Burst Angel)

I FINALLY got this! I had to track down people on some torrent boards and beg them to seed it - crazy.

It's two discs worth on just one OST. It's got a "good, bad, & the ugly" dirty electric guitar western kind of theme but with a modern beat and some futuristic sound effects for ambience. Definetly has a "ride to the sunset" mood. It's funny because I really didn't recall the music from the episodes all that well at all. Then as I listened to the soundtrack, I found msyelf recognizing most of the 46 tracks. O_O; :D

Good background music, fun to listen to. Nice to have but not as much of a keeper as, say, soundtracks by Yuki Kajiura. ;)


Earthquake this morning:
Local Date: Thursday July 27th, 2006
Local Time: 05:18 AM AKDT
Universal Time: 07/27/2006 13:18:00.556 UTC
Magnitude: 4.89 ML
Latitude: 61.1494
Longitude: -149.5856
Depth: 15 miles (25 km)

And it was only 35 miles from here (12 from Anchorage) which is super close for an earthquake. We've had 5's before that didn't feel as strong simply because they were further away. I was so tired, though, from being up half the night in pain that I fell RIGHT back asleep before comitting to memory how the quake had felt. So all I remember is that it was a hard one, that I heard it coming louder than any quake I'd ever heard, and that it happened. lol. My friend Cassandra sleeps through most quakes (they always seem to happen at night) but my family and I must be pretty sensitive because the sound always alerts us enough that we are awake to gauge the severity of the quake (i.e. duck and cover or not) until it is over and we roll over and fall asleep.

If you've never heard an earthquake, there is no real way to describe it. It's vast, mile stretches of hundreds and hundreds, maybe thousands of feet of rock, gravel, dirt, and who knows what, sliding and grinding against itself. But it's SO huge that you hear it where it starts and then as the earth around the epicenter shifts in domino-like fashion, outward like a ripple, you hear the sound get closer and closer, increasing in volume until it hits YOU. And that all happens in less than a second.
Sometimes the vibrations come casually, like a train rolling by, the ground and everything in the house (and the house itself) starts shaking.... dah-dah-dah-dah-dah-dah-dah dah dah dah dah DAH DAH DAH DAH DAH DAH DAH DAH DAH DAH DAH DAH DAH dah dah dah dah dah da da

Or sometimes you hear it and then BAM!!! it hits and everything is shaking in a sneak-attack quake. Sometimes it is so fast that you don't hear anything at all until it hits.

But the sound itself is SO vast and so deep... It's like a sound that you aren't really hearing - you are hearing it with your body, with your skin, and with your 6th sense, not so much with your ears. The sounds are too high and too low. You know how sometimes in good silence, your ears can create roars that are only happening in your head, except that you can TELL they're coming from your head. It's almost like that in that you know you are hearing this sound, that it does exist, but it's not coming from somewhere normal or it's not being picked up in a normal way. And it's SO vast and SO heavy, it's literally the entire world. It is directional, for sure, you can tell where it is coming from, and the oscillation of sound can be different depending on the speed of the quake.

And this quake was particularly loud, probably because it was so close, and maybe also because it was on land rather than out in the inlet like they usually are.

I hate it when they have earthquakes in movies - most TV shows do a good job and I think it is precisely because of the low budget. Movies make the jolting too... I dunno... perfect and crumbly. Yeah things CAN crumble, I'm sure, but they just have the movement all wrong. They're loud but it doesn't seem like much is happening. Everything seems detatched from the sound that is occurring, and even though you're in it and things are moving and you can feel it, it feels like the quake is flowing AROUND you. Like standing in a river - you feel the river, it affects you, it jostles you, but it flows around you. And maybe because it IS -- the vibrations from a quake are directional, they are going by, not happening RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE - and that's how movies always make them seem. Bah. :P

So yeah... earthquakes... :P

Monday, July 24, 2006

Bakuretsu Tenshi (Burst Angel)

In short:
Awesome animation with smoothly integrated cgi, beautiful to look at. Cool character designs and fun spaghetti western genre/mood/palette. Fights can be repetitive but aren't dull and have some cool moves, good music, story could be better but there is a plot throughout (not the best, not the worst), psycho-bezerker killer bounty hunter chick (Jo)

Lots of people think lots of different things about this anime. Here's what it is and isn't:
• It does have an underlying plot throughout the entire series - even if an episode *seems* like a one-shot. Plots are not as twisted as GITS:SAC, but you might not realise they're related until maybe halfway through. There are some very superficial elements and some really superficial stories that, while they DO tie into the major plot, they still seemed kind of pointless. The story overall isn't the most stunning, but it isn't totally boring - and like most anime gets better past the halfway mark.

• It does have lots of fighting, but I found the fights way more interesting than, say, Kannazuki no Miko. Maybe not the most creative fights ever, though there are definetly some cool moments that had me saying, "Oh, wow!" out loud, heh. For the most part, if a battle got dull, I'd just admire the animation.

• The animation is beautiful. They use a lot of CGI but it's so well integrated that it doesn't stand out at ALL. Best integration I've seen so far in any anime. I love the western sunset palette.

• Fanservice: Not quite to a disgusting degree, but some of the female characters do have some amazing breast activity *rolls eyes*, and there are lots of panty shots. Not tons, but enough. Oddly, they manage to smooth it into the whole world so that I wasn't overly bothered with it at all.

• The theme of the series, the mood, is a WESTERN. The way stories unfold, the fights, the clothing - it's a western. And it's FUN. The end of the series is also totally so very spaghetti western in style. I love it. Though don't let me fool you - it takes place in a futuristic Tokyo filled with high-tech gadgetry. The attitude (and tons of guns) and the other things I mentioned make it a western in everything except tumbleweeds, horses, and saloons. Although, there is *one* horse...

• Some things seemed pointless, like Kyouhei, or whatever his name is, the chef. He had no purpose. I think originally he was going to be there for the whole harem-style group of characters with him being the fish out of water norm-boy, but that definetly died a quick death within 3 episodes.

• Music is good. I like the "bad guy is coming, we're gonna fight" theme. :D

• It has humour that isn't obnoxious or over the top. Kick-ass type of humour, not goofy humour.

Yuri content: is there or isn't there?
Ok, I don't know WHAT people are talking about: they say they watered it all down from the manga and hid all the subtext between Meg and Jo. If that's so, then I must have super yuri-goggles because I got a lot more than I was expecting. Sure, there are obvious outright occurences (well, one) but these women live for EACHOTHER and they say as much. Often. Kind of a Xena/Gabrielle type thing where you know they are 100% loyal to one another and live for one another, though you could argue wether or not they are actually in passionate love. More than best friends, less than lovers. Yikes - I do sound like a hardened Xenite, adamant in the relationship. Maybe that's where I get my ability to find subtext. ;)

More yuri than: Noir, ROD the TV, GITS:SAC,
Less yuri than: Marimite, Strawberry Panic, Simoun, KnM

Perhaps less in terms of obviousness, but I say the quality and pervasiveness of it makes it way better than, say, KnM, Noir, and Strawberry Panic.

Meg and Jo
Meg and Jo are the most fun duo since... since I dunno when. Very Xena/Gabby in that Meg is always getting kidnapped and Jo is always going bezerk, killing a zillion people and going through anyone and anything to rescue her, even if its good guys. Gotta love that kind of devotion (otherwise it'll annoy you to tears that Meg gets kidnapped so much). And they go back a little ways, which is what the manga is about (which has been liscenced and will hopefully be available soon as there are no scanlations). Also in the Xe/Gab fashion, Jo is the dark warrior who has obviously seen a LOT whereas Meg is more happy-go-lucky, "let's have fun". (Ok, think early Gabrielle...). Though Meg DOES have the capacity to kick butt (wish we'd see more of that).

Other stuff
Other characters are fun. Sei is cool - her breasts get huge in some eps which annoys the hell out of me, and some people rather hate her reverse-cleavage outfit but I rather like it. Her character gets more interesting as the series progresses but we don't find out enough. I don't think they really plotted her character too deeply though they easily could of. Kind of like Youko in Marimite. Amy is the computer hacker kid and she's so-so. I don't care either way about her character.

Some of the one-shot-ish stories were really fun; I particularly liked the girls school ep. and the obvious backstory eps. :D

All I can say is I want the damn OAV to be released! I dloaded the artbook, too, which has all the episode commercial cut-shot art in it, too. Some good stuff!

Quote that made me laugh: "Those who jump over people's backs don't live very long." -- Jo (it was funny at the time...)

Conclusion: It's a fun series - Watch it for the prettyness and for Meg/Jo slashyness. And possibly the fights, though as far as sharpshooting goes, as good as Jo is, she doesn't hold a candle to Kirika. You may have to leave your brain turned 'off' for chunks of it - it's not a particularly smart anime and is low on character development or deep, emotional plot. In the way that I prefer deep, requires-lots-of-brain foreign films, I do still like to watch fun action flicks. That would be Bakuretsu Tenshi.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Haibane Renmei

No spoilers.

I just finished watching all of Haibane Renmei. Wow.
First off, it's beautifully drawn. If anything, watch it for that.
Secondly, what a wonderful story. Just... It's not goody-goody, but it's not overly dark. Nothing happens beyond reason - as in, there's no drama for drama's sake, so by that I guess I mean it's very life-like. Which is funny coming from me, since I tend to *like* drama. :D

I tell you, though, the first episode right off the bat punches you in the gut. My eyes went wide, "I didn't know Haibane Renmei was like THIS!!??" heh. But nah, that's just... well... you have to watch. Just watch it, dammit!

Anyway, yes. 5 stars out of 5, possibly the best anime I've ever seen - yes, maybe even better than Maria-Sama ga Miteru (gasps, I know, beat me with a stick for saying so!) - but I say that on grounds that Marimite's animation wasn't always evenly done across the board, and it isn't a finite story (yet). But still...

The kind of thing that leaves you not knowing if you want to smile or cry. :')

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Devil Wears Prada [film]

In short:
• good acting
• 3-D characters
• story that could of been ultra cliché was not cliché at all.

First off, Meryl Streep was awesome. Her character is such a bitch but Streep manages to bring humanity to her character. Even though this woman is a complete devil, she's got emotions and she has motivations for the way she acts and you do see it slip out here and there, but not in a cheesy way, either. Very subtle. Streep is amazing to watch anyhow; she can convey so much with just the twitch of an eye, for goodness sakes.

The gal who plays the main character did a good job as well. I had seen her in The Princess Diaries and was afraid she might bring a bubblegum cliché performance to the film but she did not. She was human and she does evolve but while staying true to herself.

Which is what the film is about - staying true to oneself. So many films are about some girl starting out frumpy, heading for sucess, and along the way they're taught how to be fashionable and how to get the cool guy or whatever -- like in films like She's All That or even in the Princess Diaries - and dozens of others. And our main character, Andy, *does* start out frumpy and heading for sucess, and she does learn how to dress fashionably and gets to be cunning at her job. And in the end when she realises that there are limits to what she'll do before she's no longer being herself, it's a realistic realization. There's no huge change -- she keeps what she likes about what she learned, like keeping some of the nicer clothes for instance, but it's toned down. Just... more "normal". And she gets the kind of job she wanted in the first place - she doesn't settle, but she's equally not going out there for some hot-shot position for the status or money of it.

And the romance in the film is treated the same. It's just all very human, with humour, style, and then some. It may not be blockbuster-stuff, but it is a smart film, intelligent, with little trace of bubble-gum, if any. I found myself on the edge of my seat, rooting for Andy. And if a movie can do that, if it can make me really care, then I give it a thumbs up. :D

Thursday, July 6, 2006

3 new anime

So I started in on some new anime today:
• 3 eps of Simoun
• first ep of NANA
• 6 eps of Strawberry Panic!

I read about this at Okazu and have been interested in this series since then. The background on this over at Wikipedia: Simoun (anime) tells a bit about it better than I can. To be very basic, the story happens on a different earth-like world where the people have very different technology from us - very stylized/art nouveauish in a way. Anyhoo, the people of this world are what is left of a very powerful, ancient people and they don't know how to use any of the technology that still survives today. The one kingdom that has all the technology protects it with the use of simoun, an aircraft powered by the ancient technology that is flown by a pair of pilots.

The people of this world, though, are all born female and they do not settle on a gender until they reach the age of 17 at which point they go to this holy spring to either stay female or become male. Due to the technology of the simoun (aircraft), however, only non-adults can be pilots.

I only saw the first three episodes. Basically we learn about the star lead pilot, Neviril, a girl who loses her copilot while attempting an extremely difficult defensive maneuver. The pair were definetly romantically involved - and that is NOT subtext, no yuri-goggles required. The ancient technology is partially powered spiritually -- pilot/co-pilot pairs kiss the green orb that powers their ship before taking off in order to turn the orb on. Neviril and her original partner unintentionally started the trend of kissing eachother before kissing the orb on their simoun craft. So though their kiss was genuine and passionate, not all the other pilot pair kisses are.

So far the series doesn't seem to be *totally* using the yuri angle as fanservice. Everyone is kind of ambisexual all around so there isn't that "service" tension so many other series have. The gender ambiguity is refreshing to me, particularly because even the gender of adults is difficult to determine as female seiyu voice the male characters, who are also drawn rather femininley.

The animation itself is pretty good, though I'm not a huge fan of combining traditional and digital animation unless it is seamless. I like the style as well -- the not-so-technologically-advanced peoples seem to have a kind of 1920's/30's level of technology which is inventive - I'm a sucker for old-fashioned/steampunk technology. :D


NANA is about two girls named Nana who seem to be total opposites whose paths keep crossing, leading the two to become roomates - and most likely eventually friends as well. I only saw the first ep so it's hard to tell.

I'm not sure how much yuri content there is going to be. There's enough for the ol' yuri-goggles as far as the "normal" girl oogling the cool and dark girl but that's all I've seen so far and it's not enough to make a person watch it just for yuri content.

The animation is clean and angular, the music so far is pretty good as well. The opening credits make the series seem like it's going to be much more serious than it is - goofier than Marimite, slightly more serious than Azumanga Daioh. Both Nana's are 20, which is refreshing, although the regular-girl Nana looks younger than she is, which is getting old (WHY can't people be drawn their age?!?)

I only have the first 5 eps out of something like 26 I believe, so who knows. I'll watch the rest and then decide whether I want to bother with the rest. Wikipedia makes it sound like there's hardly any yuri to be had, and while that's not my only criteria for an anime, I certainly relate more to queer characters and I've got enough yuri-endowed anime that I could be watching instead. ;)

Strawberry Panic!
Fun seiyu facts:
"Etoile" Shizuma is voiced by Hitomi Nabatame (Eriko in "Marimite")
Nagisa Aoi (our protagonist) is voiced by Mai Nakahara (Mai in "Mai-HiME") who sings the opening theme

There's good and bad for this series. And mixed, too, I suppose.

First, the main "pair", Nagisa and Shizuma, are a Yumi/Sachiko, Yumi/Sei, Himeko/Chikane, any famous kohai/sempai rip off. Nagisa is like a slightly more mature Yumi but with more confidence and never cries (so far). She, like Yumi, gets chastised for running in the halls, learned piano years ago and can sort of play now, and isn't too sure about her feelings for a certain sempai but is in deep nonetheless.

Shizuma is a perfect cross of Sachiko, Sei, and Chikane. She talks JUST like Chikane from Kannazuki no Miko and has a wild mane of lion-like hair like Sei. She's happy in the presence of Yumi/Himeko/Nagisa but has some kind of sad past, sad eyes, mysteriousness - like Sei and Chikane. Also like Sachiko and Chikane, Shizuma is great at piano and is the star of the school. Similar to Sei (at least in reputation), Shizuma is a playgirl, making out with girls left and right, never keeping one for more than a month apparently.

This, and other elements, lead to total element ripoffs from Marimite. For instance:
• Nagisa's first stunned run-in with Shizuma that leaves her heart blindsided and stunned
• Shizuma fixes Nagisa's crooked tie - ever so Marimitely (except Shizuma tries to kiss Nagisa after)
• Middle-ground in the greenhouse. Just like Yumi/Sachiko in their greenhouse, and Himeko/Chikane in their secluded rose garden.
• Piano duet! Complete with Nagisa messing up her part, just like Yumi
• It's a Christian/Catholic type school, complete with prayers and a Maria-sama statue!

Shall I go on?

Despite the fact that this series is a total rip-off of so many other anime before it, there are elements keeping it interesting. Like, if you ever wanted Yumi to have more guts, then you'll appreciate Nagisa. Or if you wanted Sachiko to kiss all the girls, you'll like Shizuma. There's a ton of "loser-fangirl" service moments, too. Apparently half the school (all-girl, mind you) is sleeping with one another - there's lots of sex in the manga, apparently; the anime focuses more on relationships. But Shizuma tries to kiss Nagisa at least once per the first three or four episodes, sometimes more than once in an episode. With such a strong start, the 4th-6th episodes were boring as hell with the highlight being some of Nagisa's friends cleaning stairs and having a tea party. Yay. (sarcasm)

The animation is similar to Kannazuki no Miko only less colorful. The plot is only interesting when Shizuma is involved (well, for me). A lot of the characters are a little over-the-top -- "ohhh!"ing girls with high pitched voices, a school prince who is VERY Rei-like... It really makes Marimite shine even more in comparison. So I'm going into this focusing on the fanservice, because being shallow is about the only way to make it through this series without melting my brain.

I'll definety watch the four other episodes I have and I'd probably want the rest just so I can see where this thing with Shizuma and Nagisa go, because they're hinting that Nagisa is more than a fling for Shizuma. Perhaps high drama will ensue. Woo.

Edit to add...
Oddly, a bonus for me in Strawberry Panic! is part of the dynamic between Nagisa and Shizuma. Whenever Nagisa catches Shizuma's gaze, she completely freezes, can't talk, can't think, can't move... totally stunned. I used to think this sort of thing was silly until I had the very same experience with a girl myself -- I did the exact same thing around her (well, I could move...). It wasn't any one thing in particular about her. I generally can't shut up around people and can usually speak in an orderly, concise fashion. Not around this girl, however. I'd get around her and I couldn't think of anything to even think ABOUT, I couldn't speak - and when I'd try it came out very badly, and I am uber-concious of my body and movements. Of course, we've since had a very bad falling out and I know she's no good for me at ALL, but I can't help but still feel some of this if I'm around her. Grr. How very Phèdre/Melissande of me.

So, um, yes. Though it pains me, I relate. Shizuma better treat Nagisa right or I'll smack her both sides up and down. XO

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Sky Unwashed

Just got done reading "The Sky Unwashed" by Irene Zabytko. gives this synopsis:
inspired by the true story of villagers who defied the forced evacuation of their Ukrainian town after the nuclear accident at Chernobyl in the 1980s. The narrator is septuagenarian Marusia Petrenko, a hard-working grandmother who lives with Yurko, her only son; his wife, Zosia; and their two small children, Katia and Tarasyk, in a tiny house where only a thin curtain separates Marusia's quarters from the rest of the family's. Like many of the townspeople in Starylis, Zosia and Yurko work at the nuclear power plant in nearby Chernobyl. The drama begins one spring weekend in 1986, when several of the village's men do not return home from their shifts at the plant. One by one, the people of Starylis begin to notice a strange metallic taste in the air and to suffer from itchy, watery eyes. The official word is that there has been "a fire" at the plant, according to the militsiia who round up villagers for evacuation to Kiev. But in Kiev things are not much better. The Petrenko family is eventually separated: Marusia stays with Yurko, who is suffering from radiation sickness, and Zosia takes her children to Moscow in hopes of a better life. Over the months that follow, Marusia battles to reunite her family and to return to Starylis, which has been declared uninhabitable due to radiation. While readers may find the English transliterations of names in both Russian and Ukrainian a bit confusing (the city is Kiev on one page and Kyiv on the next, for example), this is a minor irritation in an otherwise quietly insightful novel about a indomitable individual defying the state in order to return to her home.

I'm generally not a big "normal" fiction reader. But, being fascinated by nuclear disaster and survival stories as well as true(ish) stories, this was a good, quick read that really gave some good insight into the lives of the people directly affected by the Chernobyl accident. And as far as nuclear-survival fan-girlness goes, this gave a nice picture of what it could be like to try to survive in a radiated land, albeit without protection.

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Theatre of Tragedy

Theatre of Tragedy is a gothic metal band from Norway. Interestingly, I found them through another gothic metal/folk metal band called Leaves' Eyes. Leaves' Eyes is fronted by Liv Kristine, who used to be the female vocalist for Theatre of Tragedy. :D

Theatre of Tragedy started out as a gothic doom metal band often credited as the first of its kind to feature dual male and female contrasting vocals, influencing an entire generation of European metal that followed. Another distingushing element to ToT's music was that they originally wrote all of their lyrics in Old English.

ToT's first three full-length albums are completely in Old English and are thoroughly doom/gothic metal. The first two albums are darker and not as well polished as their later work and include harsh male growls and grunts, which I'm not overly fond of. Liv Kristine's vocals are high soprano, fragile and secondary to the male vocals at times.

This all changes with their third, and best liked, album Aégis. Aégis loses the male death grunts and instead Raymond sings in a kind of narrational sort of way. The album has a theme of women of European mythology. The songs are more accessible than their previous albums with more polish, stronger song structure, and choruses you can even sing along to (if you can remember odd lyrics in Old English, that is). They've added string-sounding keyboards, which almost make this album 'symphonic metal'. The result is beautiful, dark, well crafted album that has become one of my favorites of all-time.

After Aégis, ToT went on to evolve their sound, focusing more on keyboards and programming, and dropping the Old English completely for modern English. Their next album, Machine is a kind of techno-rock with some good songs here and there. After that came Assembly where the shift in style is complete. Gone are any hints of metal - this is a pop rock album with heavy synths. "Superdrive" is a perfect example of the shift the band took.

Unfortunately, Raymond's vocals remain front and center for most of the songs, always as a kind of narrator, never actually singing. After a while it gets really old - particularly when Liv Kristine's voice is the best part of the music. She's almost audibly being pushed to the side.

After Assembly Liv left the band to concentrate on her own project, Leaves' Eyes, with her husband - a folk-metal band focusing on Viking and nature imagery. Meanwhile, ToT returned to their metal roots, probably due to the resurging popularity in the genre due to bands like Within Temptation and Lacuna Coil. They hired a new female vocalist who sounds remarkably like Liv and recorded the album Storm.

It's a solid album - the tracks purposely flow into one another in a jarring manner, not too sure what I think about that. Storm takes what was best in Aégis and combines it with the successful polish and structure of Assembly for an updated version of their own metal music. It'd be like Lacuna Coil adding epic keyboard synth strings to their music.

A highly inventive band, for sure. Their successes are strung out across several albums (except for the entirety of Aégis) but in a lot of ways I think other bands took what ToT started and made it even better (Within Temptation, Lacuna Coil..)

Tuesday, June 6, 2006


Ladytron is a 4-person electronica group from England. All four members play instruments (everyone, at the least, plays keyboards) and the two women do vocals, sometimes in an understated, nearly spoken tone. The music is analogue electronica, very beat driven, crunchy, and sheik. Their earlier music is grittier, and much more analogue sounding than their later music, which is more polished with a slightly more pop-tinge to it.

My sister already has their 1st and 3rd albums, 604 and the Witching Hour so it was really cool to finally get a hold of their 2nd album, Light & Magic to see how they got from point A to point B, the 1st and 3rd albums being quite a leap from each other. If you have never heard of Ladytron, read the above Wikipedia article and try to find a few clips to listen to. They are smart and original and really withstand repeated listening. They're difficult to describe beyond that, so if you already know of them, this album is right up there with the other two.

Song highlights:
604: Mu-Tron, Discotraxx, P.A.C.O!, Playgirl
Light & Magic: Seventeen, Evil, Turn It On
Witching Hour: Destroy Everything You Touch, Sugar, Weekend

Lacuna Coil: Karmacode

Lacuna Coil
I already have all of Lacuna Coil's earlier albums (In A Reverie, Halflife, Unleashed Memories, Comalies).

Karmacode is their latest, just came out this year. Their name isn't well known in the U.S. from what I can tell though their music is everywhere - I even heard them one day in Fred Meyers. Their music is in countless movies (like Underworld) and videogames and they grace the shelves of Hot Topics everywhere.

One criticism of LC is that songs on each album run together, sounding too alike. Their sound is so even across the board that you can listen to nearly their entire discography on mix (barring Karmacode) and you'd have a hard time feeling that the songs were from different albums. I do have a hard time remembering which song is from which album but in the instance of LC I like the smoothness and lack of contrast of their songs. I bought all their albums at once *because* I liked the way they sounded - so I consider their "same across the board" style to be a boon to me. There aren't any huge leaps in evolution, so you can mix all their music in any order and it works and feels right - so it's not such a bad thing.

Karmacode, however, is a bit of an evolution. Again, a lot of the songs run together a bit on the first few listens. The sound is a bit more polished and a bit more commercial with less inventiveness but with the same LC sound. This time through there are songs I don't care for and overall only three songs really stand out for me, "Within Me", "Devoted", and "What I See". Oh, and they even do a fun cover of Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence" that I like. So, some good, some bad.

The Gathering

The Gathering
In my search for more goth metal music I came across this group, a Dutch alternative rock band that is actually one of the bands that started and popularised the whole goth metal/doom scene, predecessors to more well known groups today like Lacuna Coil and Evanescence. Perhaps most important of all is that this is the band that originated lead female vocals for the genres.

Their music is very atmospheric - it doesn't thrash; it is metal in that it uses heavy guitars. The "doom" category is actually a label for darker immagery or mood and/or lyrics. They do have a dark mood, but it is not depressing. I often use the word "epic" do describe their songs because the songs could fill valleys with their soaring mood, though the term is more often used for symphonic or power metal, which the Gathering is neither. I find it inspiring to listen to their music outdoors in the mountains - it feels wrong to cloister the songs indoors.

The vocalist, Anneke, has an ethereal alto, flitting between notes like Sarah McLachlan - very talented and in command of the music while also flowing with it. Despite their status of being one of the parent bands of dark alternative rock and despite their major popularity (at least in Europe) they are sadly missing in the United States music scene.

I quickly visited and bought their first, second, and fourth albums with Anneke, Mandylion, Nighttime Birds, and if_then_else.

Mandylion definetly has a metal feel to it but with hints of tribal influence. "Eleanor" has epic, subtle bass walks; "In Motion #1" has a beautiful, soaring rolling gait; "Mandylion" is a tribal drum and vocal piece; and "Sand & Mercury" is an epic tale of a song, the first half of which is instrumental and is possibly one of my favorite goth metal songs of all time.

Nighttime Birds picks up the pace a little. It's songs are slightly less dark, more epic in scale and complex. Highlights include "On Most Surfaces" and "The May Song".

if_then_else is a slight departure. Enter keyboard work and a gritty, industrial feel, more rock than metal but without losing their 'large' feel. Has some tracks making it much slower than the other two albums I listed but they're beautiful songs. "Rollercoaster" is a great rock song and "Saturnine" is by far one of the best epic ballad type songs I've heard, building up to a wonderful string outro.

The Gathering has quickly become one of my favorite bands of all time. Their music is not standard; it's smartly written and simply beautiful.


Collide is, as Wikipedia says, an "electrogoth/industrial" group, fronted by a female vocalist. Their music is dark, edgy, and often kind of erotic/sensual. I already have their album Some Kind of Strange which I totally love but this time I found songs from albums that were released before and after. Some songs were far darker than those from SKoS but for the most part they keep this interesting thread of melody through the darkness. It takes me awhile to get into dark industrial music - it took me a long time to get into Front Line Assembly, for instance. But once I find a hook, that glimmer of warmth, the intimidating factor of the music just kind of wraps around me outwardly, almost protectively. Does that make sense? Anyway, great evening music, I really like them.

Songs I reccomend:

Edgy, gritty, sensual, with a kind of World/India ethereal darkness to it. Electrogoth/industrial is a broad descriptor but that's what they are with spice thrown in. Highly reccomended.

Monday, June 5, 2006

Sonata Arctica

Sonata Arctica: a Finnish power metal band. I don't even know HOW I found this band - they aren't gothic. They weren't listed in with the folk metal bands, though some of their lyrics could be described as such. They are a power metal band and fit that genre to a T and for the most part I really don't care for them at all.

Male vocal lead with a thick Finnish accent, thrashy power guitars, very standard power metal. But I do recognize that they are good, dynamic song writers - I just don't care for power metal at all. I did like two of their songs so it wasn't a total loss:
"Tallula" and "Letter to Dana".

Thursday, June 1, 2006

X-Men 3

In spoilerless short: I liked it, definetly worth seeing in the theatre. I didn't like the switch in directors and it did seem like they tried to cram in too much but as this is an ongoing movie series, each movie does have to set up more stuff for later so in that respect it does feel like part of a greater story.

If you haven't seen it yet, stay til after the credits, too.
Like I said, it did feel crammed.


Jean & the Phoenix Saga
Obviously with Jean disappearing in the last film, the Phoenix Saga had to be addressed. The comic book version is way too sci-fi for the X-men world that the movies take place, in, which tries to make everything more realistic, so in that respect I like how they worked in this whole Jean backstory of her powers and worked it into the Phoenix just being part of her. I thought that was well done. It kind of felt like it was sort of taking too much of a back seat to the Magneto plot, though, with the Brotherhood on the one hand... On the other hand, with the Phoenix being a part of Jean (rather than a giant space opera thing) it would of been a weak film had everything centered SOLEY on Jean.

I thought her powers could of been emphasized a bit more but that could be because I'm an X-Men fan already and I'm used to the REAL Phoenix. I'd like to hear opinions from people wh haven't had much to do with the comic version of the story on this one.

Jean and Wolverine
OMG! Now, I'm a huge Wolverine fan, of course, and I have always been a fan of the relationship between Logan and Jean. I thought they've done a great job with the short span of time in the film (as opposed to the relationshpi taking a little longer in the comics). In the comics, Jean does have an element of reserve toward her own powers - and she loves Scott (Cyclops) because HE is safe and represents control and order. Logan on the other hand is wild and free - he calls to Jeans dark side.

In the film, I love how they did the paralell with Logan's memory blocks to Jean's memory blocks (something that doesn't exist in the comics). It was a fantastic way of further making their relationship a bit more believeable with the short time span. Just - the whole thing was showcased so well without being over the top, particularly with Logan having to be the one to take down Jean in the end - because he's the only one who could survive it with his healing factor compensating.

Speaking of the healing factor -- this film did a great job of showcasing his healing factor more. I'm used to the Wolverine of hte comics constantly being shredded to bits to where no normal person or mutant could survive. And it isn't uncommon for his flesh to give way and expose his bones (with or without adamantium). Also, Logan still feels pain despite his healing ability - and I thought Hugh Jackman did a good job of portraying that, particularly in the scene where he's fighting the dude in the woods who is pulling bone spikes from his body and impaling Logan with them. The whole thing was much more ... realistic in terms of how Wolverine is than, say, the fight between Logan and Yuriko at the end of X-Men 2.

And again, awesome acting on Hugh's part - particularly his body language. Wolverine is strong and confident but moves in an animalistic way. And they did a little bit more to showcase his animal-like senses, though they could of done more.

(For a second, I thought they were going to jump the gun on a Wolverine story when Magneto grabbed Logan by his skeleton. I thought Magneto was going to rip out Logan's adamantium right then and there, giving us a lead into a Wolverine spin-off film.)

They did a great job incorporating more Storm into this film. The character writing and the acting was awesome for the character this time around - much better than the previous films. I like how they incorporated Storm's leadership ability into this film, particularly since she WAS a team leader of the X-Men (dunno if she still is or not). Liked the hair, too.

Other X-Men
I liked the progression in Bobby/Iceman's powers. I like how his abilities finally manifested fully due to his life or death fighting situation with Pyro - that was a great way of working it out.

Angel's plot was only weakly worked in. The first scene of him as a child made me think it was going to link in more with everything else, since it was shown right next to the scene of Jean as a child. There were just SO many mutants in this film that they were showcasing it was *almost* jumbled but not quite. Like Beast being in there - I mean, he was there because he was working with the government and they hint at the fact he used to be an X-man way back in the day. And Angel's father was the one who made the cure, and he made the cure to help his son, not hurt mutants, giving the whole film less of a black-and-white feel, but it was so loosely woven I'm not sure how I feel about it.

Shadowcat/Kitty Pride -- she was awesome! Though she's a teen in the film, I like how they emphasized that she's not a fighter - she has to use her intelligence to defeat the enemy. That's how she was in the comics, too. She probably had my favorite fight/flight scenes of the whole film, too. Heh. Really stole the show from the returing characters.

Magneto and Xavier. I love the backstory on this being brought in and I loved the line, "Charles Xavier did more for mutant kind than you can even imagine". No matter their differences in approach for mutantkind nowadays, they have a healthy respect for eachother - again a great example of the shades of gray rather than black/white.

Mystique - she's an underestimated character, I think. She is very intelligent and mysterious. Kais and I discussed that part of that mystery is aided by the fact she rarely speaks in the film. It isn't because she's the "female bombshell" token character - that's how she is in the comics. With what little she did have to work with, I thought Rebecca Romijn did a good job - particularly after she was shot with the 'cure' and reverted to her original form in front of Magneto. Half of her shock was also in the fact that she's shapeshifted so much she doesn't recall what she used to look like, her past being lost to even herself.

Another point about there being so many characters -- this film has LOTS of them, it's not as isolated as the first two were. Though I'm not sure how it worked out for the movie, this IS how the comics are. A lot of the X comics are SO full of mutants it can be hard to keep track of what is going on. It really is epic - it isn't one hero isolated to one town, like Batman to Gotham. It's a whole planet of mutants struggling to find a place in the world. The first two movies do well to introduce us to the idea of mutants to begin with, and this movie acts to widen the scope.

I think that scope could of been more powerful, though. In the 2nd film, they really brought it home what it's like to find out you are a mutant by paralelling it to coming out as a gay person (the scene where Bobby tells his parents he's a mutant). That was more personal and I thought carried more weight. And when Jean was speaking to the ?senate? in the first film. This film was a bit more... cartoony feeling in that respect.

(oh, I also did like there being more mutants, if to show their teamwork better - like in the danger room scene, particularly with Rogue borrowing Colossus' powers to avoid getting hurt).

Set up for the next film?
I stayed til after the credits and it shows Moira McTaggert working in a hospital when suddenly a patient speaks out to her. It's a whiskered Charles Xavier calling her by name and she gasps and says, "Charles?" So it looks like the disintegrated characters will return (as I thought they might). I'm just not sure how that's going to work out. Did something Charles do save them? Or did part of Jean with her super abilities do something to save everyone she loved right before she died? That is definetly within her powers using the Phoenix force, for sure.

And we know that mutants who were 'cured' are regaining their powers. Before I saw the bit with Xavier at the end, I kind of thought that perhaps when his powers returned, Magneto might return to help lead the X-men like has happened in the comics. In particular it would of been a great homage to the "Age of Apocalypse" alternate timeline in the comics where history is altered because Xavier dies. The world becomes a much darker place and Magneto leads the Xmen in Charles' memory.

And Rogue... Is she going to cross paths with Mystique, the woman who raised her in other versions of things? Rogue is a hugely popular X-Character and I just KNOW fans are dying for her to obtain her invincibility and flying ability. I'm thinking they might work in a storyline where Rogue isn't aware she's got her powers back and accidentally absorbs Carol Danvers' (Miss Marvel)'s powers of invincibility and flight permanently, as happened in the comics.

But as for a greater storyline, I'm not too sure where they're going to go with it. I mean, the Phoenix Saga we all knew had to happen as it's one of the greatest Marvel stories ever told - it's quintessential X-Men. But where are they going next?

So, I loved all the little bits and pieces a LOT. There were lots of great moments. But that's what it felt like overall - little moments losely strung together. The whole thing wasn't as solid as the previous two films and yet it still works. It somehow feels wrong and yet ... not. Weird how that works.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Killer Bunnies

So we finally got a set of the Killer Bunnies card game on Sunday (it's full name is Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magical Carrot). It's a non-collectable card game that is expandable through the addition of many booster decks that add new dimensions to the game. The point of the game is to collect as many carrots as possible through the use of your killer bunnies while trying to slay as many of your opponent's bunnies as you can. At the end of the game, the magic carrot is revealed, but you have to have at least one surviving bunny in order to win (which is the point of trying to kill your opponent's bunnies - if they have no bunnies, they cannot win.)

It's kind of a strange game in that you can have the most carrots and you could of been kicking ass the entire game but when it all comes down to it, winning is a lottery since no one knows which carrot is the winner. Having more carrots gives you a better chance of having the winning carrot but so far, more often than not, someone with just one or two carrots ends up winning. Maybe it's karma. :P

So if you are ultra competitive, that might frustrate you. I rather like it as it means you can also win after having played the suckiest game ever - no matter how skilled you are, it all boils down to luck, which makes it an even game for anyone. So no matter if you win or lose, what you remember are all the bizarre ways you were able to scrape by in the game or annhiliate bunnies.

The cards are humerous and inventive and often outlandishly powerful - like the Nuclear Warhead card which automatically wipes out 5 bunnies (a LOT) or the Ebola Virus, which infects one bunny per round - and to survive, a bunny must roll a 12 on a 12 sided die to live. You cannot get attached to your bunnies as it is nearly guaranteed they will die. More often than not, though, you have to laugh at HOW they die.

Good replayability. Our first morning, Kais and I must've played it 6 times in a row. Because the cards you draw are random, you could have a really powerful game, you could have a game where all your bunnies constantly die, you could have a game where it's difficult to even GET a bunny, or maybe you get one survivor bunny that hangs in there. And of course you can never be sure who is going to win.

The cards are super durable, extra glossy and thick.

The instructions that come with the game are about as clear as mud. We played three games with what we thought were correct rules before downloading a more precise PDF version off the Official Killer Bunnies Website. So if you do get the game, PRINT OUT THE RULES FROM THE SITE!

The game artwork is a bit too simple. The illustrations and the coloring are not very complex and look a little cheap. Although some of the bunnies are hilarious - like the one in the "Containment Suit" card or the astronaut bunnies on the "Black Hole" weapon card.

The cards are super durable, glossy and thick. This is only a con if you get several of the booster decks because you end up with so many cards that it takes a LONG time to thoroughly shuffle them all. And the durability of the cards makes them too thick to use in an automatic shuffler.

All in all, it's a really fun game. Once you have the rules down, it goes rather quick - at least, if I compare it to Settlers of Catan or Zombies!!! (which can occasionally turn into a 3 hour game), so perhaps an hour is an average length game with just the Blue and Yellow decks (the Killer Bunny decks are color coded - blue is the starter deck and each booster must be purchased in a certain order. Yellow is now packaged automatically with the blue cards.)

Killer Bunnies can be played with 2 to 8 players (possibly more with the addition of more booster decks) and is for ages 12 and up. The game is not gorey at all - not a drop of blood to be seen, just slightly violent.