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    Shiawase no Okojo-san episode 1 was pretty fun, and pretty funny. For those not familiar with it, it's a show about a quiet and typical college student who adopts an abandoned okojo, an animal similar to a weasel or ferret. The okojo has the beligerant personality of a Japanese bosozoku biker thug and instantly begins making demands and asserting his ownership over everything in site, but in animal language that only the neighbor's pet mouse can understand. The comdey comes from the humans thinking Okojo-san is doing cute pet tricks while Okojo-san thinks he's running the whole show.

    Misha and Shia of PitaTen episode 7 are just too cute! From the next episode preview I can't wait to see Misha in a rabbit suit.

    Tokyo Underground episode 7 seemed to excel in employing utterly ridiculous logic. I won't go into excessive details, but how does it make sense for the heroes to simply walk in to the enemy base, even fight monsters, and not realize that the enemy knows they're there. Furthermore it doesn't make sense for the villains to not want the heroes in, yet take virtually no steps to keep them out, then continue to do virtually nothing to hinder them.


      I spent a few hours too many playing Dynasty Warriors 2 last night, so as a result didn't watch too much anime and went to bed much too late.

      King of Bandit Jing episode 2 was just as much fun to watch as the first episode and continued to reveal a little more info about Jing himself. After only two episodes I already really like this series a lot.

      I thought that the first two episodes of Abeno Bashi Mahou Shoutengai (which I'm henceforth going to refer to as "AbeSho") were wonderful and a bit strange. Episode 3 simply went off the deep end and was one of the most bizarre single anime episodes I've ever seen. I can't really mention any specifics because absolutly anything specific about this episode is a spoiler, but suffice it to say that the Gainax tradition of fan service was in full force, and this episode actually topped even FLCL OAV 5 in sheer number of parodies and in-jokes. Episode 3 was, in a word, great.


        A brief trip up to JACON this weekend took up a lot of my anime watching time, but I did pick up some nice old 80s anime books out of a bargain bin at the con.

        Bible Black Gaiden OAV 1 is the debut of the second Bible Black anime series. This one is a prequel to the 5 (?) episode first series. The production quality is just as good as the first series, but there's less sex in this new episode, and what is included is much less kinky than the first series.

        I also took in the NuTech DVD version of Karen. I find that I actually prefer the anime character design over the original manga chara design in this H anime. Beside the entire term paper on sexism and sex roles that this OAV could spawn, it's a little better than most H anime, but nothing outstanding either.

        Juuni Kokki episode 5 continues to impress me. The plot turn that occured in this episode was predictable, but handled well enough to still be interesting.

        Chobits episode 9 was the re-cap episode. I don't think I've ever come across an anime series that inculded a summarization episode as early as this show did.

        Between Galaxy Angel first series episodes 13 & 14, episode 14 was quite nice- focusing on Forte. I wonder why Forte is the only one of the girls that consistently gets back-story episodes devoted to her alone.

        Happy Lesson 7 was a bit more silly than usual.

        Ai Yori Aoshi episodes 4-6 are quite strange. In one way the series seems to want to be another Love Hina, complete with a little Liddo-kun seen in flashback, yet at the same time there are hints of very dark and serious undertones appropriate to a serious romantic drama. Somehow, virtually in spite of itself, it all seems to work, possibly because it seems to take itself seriously and seemingly has confidence in its story and characters.

        Abesho episode 4 continued to prove that this series is, moreso than even anime like FLCL and Project A-ko, an anime made for anime fans. Again, I can't say anything specific about it without giving away spoilers, but I can say that Abesho has more in-jokes and anime parodies than possibly any anime I've ever seen before, and second consistenly causes me to wonder, "Can they really show that on Japanese television?" This is definitely turning into this year's Excel Saga.

        PitaTen episode 8 was again honto kawaii! Misha and Shia in panda and rabbit pajamas are the cutest thing since Lain's bear suit.

        Siawase no Okojo-san episode 2 was again, very fun and fast paced.


          Again, I spent a couple hours playing Dynasty Warriors 2, so didn't squeeze in much anime. (I know that I'm a little out of date because I'm playing Dynasty Warriors 2 instead of 3, but used copies of 2 are a whole lot cheaper than 3.)

          One Piece episodes 101-104 were great as usual. As I watch, I can't help but think of Episode II. Crocodile seems to be the Darth Sidious of One Piece, orchestrating a war between neighboring cities with only Lufy's crew (similar to a small band of Jedi) stuck in the middle trying to sort everything out and prevent disaster. And without giving away too big a spoiler, I have to say that I've never seen Lufy loose a fight before, but when it finally happened, it happened in spades.

          La Blue Girl Returns (sorry, don't know the actual Japanese title) OAV 3 was quite nice, as far as hentai goes, because it spent a great deal of time just concentrating on Miko, Fubuki and Yaku acting like normal teenage girls. And I must say that Yaku is so much prettier with long hair. This episode was a bit different from typical La Blue Girl because it had much less sex and weirdness than usual for the series, and also because when the nastiness did occur, it was treated with a serious tone much darker and more dramatic than usual for La Blue Girl. I'll need to watch episode 4 tonight to see what happens to Miko and Fubuki, as episode 3 ended on a cliffhanger.

          And rounding out my night of hentai, NuTech's DVD version of Rancou Choukyo had its good and bad points. I'm beginning to conclude that at some point in the past couple years the hentai anime industry raised itself up a level. In the late 1990s, when I was watching a lot of hentai anime, most of it was garbage with occasional decent productions. Releases within the past 2-3 years seem to be mainly shows with decent production values and only occasional stinkers. Rancou Choukyo had decent animation and character design, and was quite graphic and hardcore- all a plus. On the downside the story is a painfully simply male wish fulfilment fantasy with so little plot or depth that it's barely worth watching the first time, much less repeat viewings. I'm not disappointed that I watched it, but I can't shake thinking that I could have done something more productive with my 30 minutes. The subs on this DVD also had a disturbing number of grammatical errors in them, which is a bit unusual for NuTech's hentai DVDs and disappointing from a commercial release.


            I finished Dynasty Warriors with a second character, and as a result didn't get through too much anime.

            I'm still not completely happy with the Urban Vision DVD release of Strange Dawn. I watched disc 2 last night. I may have been tired, but it seemed as though the subs were incomplete or still in a rough, literal translation stage prior to revision to standard English. And I'm still very annoyed by the subs using the girls' first names when they clearly only refer to each other by last name. Their use of family names is an intentional decision, and the subs using their given names is neither a "translation" of what's actually said nor an interpretation of what the dialogue means. As far as I'm concerned it's simply a poor translation decision prioritizing marketing instead of faithful translation of the meaning of the dialogue. If the girls meant to call each other by first name, they'd use first names. They intentionally don't call each other by given name, but the subs totally disregard this fact. And I also can't stand the original ending theme music that disc 2 used to replace the original Japanese ending theme. I'm also once again confused over Urban Vision's decision to try to market this series as a children's show. It simply makes me wonder if they've actually watched it. Political class struggles, sexual innuendo, bloody murders and civil wars don't seem like the stuff of children's animation to me. So far I like Strange Dawn, but I still can't get over my reservations about the American DVD release.

            Rizelmine episode 7 introduced a new character, so perhaps the series will finally develop some semblance of a plot.


              Again, I didn't get around to as much last night as I'd hoped to.

              I remain unimpressed with .hack//SIGN episode 9. I'm not sure why I keep watching it, and I really can't figure out why it seems to be so popular. It just seems so pointless and underwritten. I can only guess that I keep watching it because its so simple and intellectually non-taxing that it's easy to simply veg-out and watch. Even light comedy, drama and action series like Chobits and Full Metal Panic have at least some decent characterizations and personality that require the viewer to care about the characters and at least pay attention to what's going on. .hack continues to suggest that there is some massive conspiracy going on under the surface, but it seems to have so little impact on the characters and so little visable consequence that it's difficult to care about. The entire show simply seems to revolve around characters standing around and complaining that "something" is going on, but this "something" doesn't seem to affect anything and the characters don't seem to do anything about it. It's just episode after episode of characters (albeit fairly nice looking ones) standing around doing nothing but complaining that something somewhere is not right, with nice background music. This could be interesting if it was existential musing about the meaning of life and the universe, but all of this occurs inside a PC game, so even that possibility is rendered moot.

              Tokyo Underground was a typical action oriented episode with little particularly memorable about it and little to say.

              In fact, the same could be said of Full Metal Panic episode 20. I did notice, though, that for a couple seconds the art quality took a massive nose-dive during the sequence when Gauln's mecha is running after Sousuke's when Sagara is leading Gauln back toward the building. I'm also somewhat disappointed by Sagara suddenly suffering combat trauma when the prior 19 episodes have never hinted at him having this kind of emotional problem during battle. It's an over-used cliche employed as a shortcut for better characterization or writing.


                I had some friends come to visit yesterday, so I had little time for viewing.

                King of Bandits Jing episode 3, especially early on, was absolutely beautiful to look at, showing equal parts influence from Trigun and Cabinet of Caligari. This was the first part of a multi-part story, so I'm looking forward to seeing where this story goes.

                My special order copy of the R2 DVD of Versus arrived today! So tonight I'll be watching the movie again for the dozenth time.


                  This weekend was my rest and recover weekend, so I spent more time than usual napping and sleeping in.

                  My R2 Special order copy of Versus arrived Friday in AnimeNation's latest shipment of import books, DVDs and CDs, so I watched it again as soon as I got home. You know you love a movie when it's just as appealing the 8th time you watch it as the second time. (Nothing compares to the first time you watch Versus. It's like watching The Matrix for the first time.) I can't wait till Media Blasters releases this. I'd love to see it in a theater with an fresh audience.

                  AbeSho episode 5 wasn't as rife with in-jokes as previous episodes, but its setting didn't allow it. This episode was a bit more subtle with its humor, but no less wacky and bizarre.

                  Through the first half of the new Nakoruru OAV I thought that its only reason to exist was to show off some fan service, but eventually it did begin to show some depth. I've never understood the point of turning a fighting game into dramatic anime. It's great in concept, but rarely works in reality. Fighting game fans want to see fighting! I also don't understand why Nakoruru is so different in her anime incarnations than she is in the Samurai Spirits games. In the games she is a devoted earth maiden. In all of the animation she seems to be unwilling to accept her role as earth maiden and always struggles against fighting. This new OAV turned out to be reasonably interesting after all, but still nothing spectacular.

                  I'd watched Galaxy Angel episode 15 untranslated a long time ago and didn't quite get it. It made much more sense fansubbed.

                  PitaTen episode 9 is again more of the (cute) same.

                  After sitting on the tape for weeks, I finally watched untranslated Inuyasha episodes 61-64. I continue to watch the series because it's nice to look at, but it just seems so pointless to me. I admit that I may be missing a lot due to not understanding the dialogue. Inuyasha simply seems to be surrounded by ineffectual and useless characters who exist only to add personality. Unlike other long series like Rurouni Kenshin and Dragonball and One Piece, which move in story arcs, Inuyasha simply seems to keep going on and on and on, never really getting anywhere. The Inuyasha and Kagome golems a'la Slayers Great that appeared in episode 63, though, were just ultra kawaii! The best part of these epsiodes, though, was actually the "new" Shonen Sunday TV commercial that had characters from Arms, Inuyasha, Detective Conan, Tenshi na Konamaiki and several other Shonen Sunday manga series all having a cook-out at what was probably the World Cup.

                  After months of sitting on them, I finally watched Hakaima Sadamitsu episodes 7-10 to finish off the series. This is a really interesting show for adding a lot of characterization and story to what is ostensibly a bosozoku genre show. It's interesting that for an action series there's more emphasis placed on story and characterization than action. Solid entertainment.

                  I was worried that 5-Card would be an awful hentai series because NuTech didn't include any screenshots on any of the DVD packaging. I watched the first 2 episodes and determined that it's what I consider average quality hentai. This is better than I expected, so I'm pleased, but not really anything to be proud of. Again, the concept of a schoolteacher obviously lusting after several of his students yet hypocritically condemning the school principal for doing the exact same thing in a more aggressive way would send shivers down the spine of Gloria Steinem. This one is hard to defend, so I won't. I wasn't disappointed, but that doesn't mean that this is anything special.

                  RahXephon is simply one of the most fascinating series I've ever watched. Sunday night I sat through episodes 9-12. Evangelion, it's not, but neither is it trying to be (although there are noticeable Eva influences, perhaps homages). The concept of giant robots being instruments to be performed rather than machines to be piloted is interesting and original. The visual design of the show is consistently striking and arresting. The multitude of character relationships and secrets and conspiracies and plots is overwhelming, but never off-putting. There's still no telling where this show is going, but it's an immensely interesting journey.

                  Azumanga Daioh episode 5 is again simply wonderfully comedic in a subdued, pleasant way. I just love this show!

                  Tokyo Underground episode 9 was easy enough to watch- meaning fast paced and not particularly challenging. I still have to wonder why, if Company rules Underground with an iron fist, Company continues to let the heros run around free.

                  Kanon episode 7 and the first half of episode 8 made me almost hate the series' writing, but a single revelation in the second half of episode 8 regarding Mai turned everything around and suddenly made everything make sense. I usually don't like life-sims. I've never been thrilled with Graduation or Sisprin or Memories Off or One or With You, but I can see why Kanon is so popular, because it focuses on character development moreso than odd, slightly supernatual settings and circumstances.


                    Full Metal Panic episode 21 turned out to be a bit more violent and tension filled that I'd anticipated. It was quite a solid episode due to good characterization from even minor characters.

                    I finally finished off Aquarian Age by watching episodes 11-13. As I was first impressed with the first episode, I'm still surprised that the staff managed to make such a good show out of an adaptation of a CCG. I would have liked to have seen a bit more magic than what we got, and I'd have liked to have gotten a bit more clarification of exactly who some of the bit players were and what their relation to the rest of the characters were, but the bulk of the story was quite well written. I don't really like indecisive, weak willed characters like Kyouta, but his strong supporting cast in Aquarian Age, and Yoko's exceptional characterization helped immensely in making Kyouta a worthwhile protagonist.


                      I started off the night by experiencing ("experience" is a more appropriate word than "watch") Shogo Ishii's live action film Electric Dragon 80,000 Volts. I'll let Midnight Eye's review speak on my behalf.

                      Bandit King Jing episode 4 was again wonderful. I've heard the show called unoriginal, and I won't deny that. What I find so entertaining about the show is its exuberance and simple sense of fun. It's also wonderful each episode to try to guess what trick Jing will pull or what he will do to defeat his latest foe.

                      Juuni Kokki episode 6 was a bit conventional, but still quite interesting. Sugimoto received poetic justice, but I still want to root for her because her honest, heartfelt delusion seems undeserving of punishment. It's also a sign of good storytelling that Yoko's personality has changed due to her experiences, yet now I want the old Yoko back. This is really a very solid, very high quality anime.

                      Chobits episode 10 was once again very cute, and very simple and mundane.


                        I'm almost ashamed to admit that as a hardcore fan of horror movies I finally just got around to watching Dario Argento's Opera last night. It reminded me in a lot of ways to his more recent Stendhal Syndrome- exceptional beginning and middle with a very weak ending. In the "making of" documentary Dario refered to Opera as his most "ferocious" film. I can definitely agree with that, as the shocks are cruel and sadistic. However I don't think that this is the maestro's strongest work. The cinematography was perfect, vintage Dario the like of which only horror directors like Dario and Sam Raimi and get away with. I happen to like Tenebre, Phenomena and Sleepless a bit more than this film, though. Opera seemed to me on par with Deep Red and Stendhal. (I think I really need to re-watch Susperia as it's been a while and I don't think I got as much out of it the first time as I could or should have.)

                        On a completely different tack, Azumanga Daioh episode 6 finally introduced Kagura, although she didn't do much. Since I don't know much about the manga I don't know if she's actually a major character or not. Again, all I can say is, I love this show!

                        And I rounded out the night with a new hentai OAV called "Taxi" (because I couldn't translate the full name.) I usually don't mind the Shusaku style blackmail into sex genre, but this example was excessive enough to even somewhat offend me. At least Shusaku and its clones involve a little bit of fantasy and a little bit of story. They are definitely mysoginistic, but they are still clearly intended to be fantasy and are produced in such a way as to dismissed as pure fiction. Taxi established a plot so utterly superficial and unbelievable that even the suspension of disbelief usually relied upon by hentai anime can't salvage it from being anything more than a vicious depiction of sexual violence against women without any sort of artistic merit or fantasy titilation value. I'm not positive that the text warning at the end of the episode said something to the effect of "Rape is bad. Don't do this in real life," but with my very limited ability to read kana, I have a suspicion that this is the case. If this hentai OAV really had such a label, you have to wonder why such a thing got made and released in the first place.


                          I wasn't disappointed with Windtalkers, but I didn't go into it with particularly high expectations. Having seen both Bullet in the Head and Heroes Shed no Tears, it was hard for me to watch Windtalkers without thinking about what John Woo could have done with the film if he'd had more creative control, even considering the fact that he intentionally wanted to make this film unlike the work he's most famous for. Every time the film looked like it was about to get dramatic or deal with tough questions, it cut away to another scene or offered an easy way out. The film simply lacked the raw emotional power it could and should have had, but I blame that on the script rather than the director.

                          The Time Stranger Kyoko OAV was very short and very cute. It's a 15 minute adaptation of manga by Tanemura Arina, creator of Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne. I wonder who ifluenced who, as its star is a little catgirl named Chocola that could have steped right out of Di-Gi-Charat, and Koge Donbo's illustration collections are titled Chocola 2000 and Chocola 2001.

                          I Wish You Were Here, the sci-fi/action anime series from Gonzo originally created for streaming broadcast on the internet, was one of those shows that's great as long as you don't think about it. At all. The series consists of 12 mini segments in 4 episodes and deals with soldiers that can create Bubblegum Crisis style body armor around themselves at will to battle an invading alien virus that infects and mutates humans. It's a love story, in case you couldn't tell. The biggest problem lies in the fact that although humanity seems to have the technology to create nanomachines, humans still haven't developed any weapons more advanced than machine guns and flame throwers and ballistic missles. The series also has a terribly dissapointing ending that isn't a cliffhanger or an unresolved ending. It just simply ends, as though the staff simply lost interest in it and decided suddenly to just end the series right where it was at.

                          I watched episode 5 of Synch Point's DVD release of Tenshi ni Narumon because that's the cute volleyball episode and because that's the episode when Sara... I've seen all of Sachi's great fansubs, so I didn't watch the whole disc. I have only two complaints. It's disappointing to get the American title screen when the episode titles and next episode preview screen are the original Japanese versions with subtitled kanji. I'm also not sure it's necessary to translate English words in the subs phonetically, as in translating "leisure" in the subs, "rejya." But I'm nitpicking because this is so close to what I consider perfection. I'm simply thrilled with the "alternate" subtitle track which is very, very "Japanese." My belief is that this is the way all anime should be subbed. If you don't like having to deal with Japanese in the translation you shouldn't be watching Japanese animation in the first place. And on DVD the show simply looks gorgeous. The show had beautiful animation (for a TV series) and lush coloring and great character design (especially Sara. Ah, Sara.) Please buy this DVD! Sales have been very poor. This release deserves more support than it's getting. I'm also thrilled with the multiple pages of translation notes that actually serve as footnotes and explanations for the subtitles and dub instead of being like AD Vision's translation notes for Steel Angel Kurumi which, for example, just let you know that Kurumi's trademark "-desu" has been intentionally edited out of the translation.

                          SoulTaker DVD 3 wasn't quite as groundbreaking as the first 6 episodes, but still a very enjoyable time. It's difficult going from the amazingly literal subs of Tenshi ni Narumon to the very mainstream, coloquialized sub translation from Pioneer.

                          Pata Pata Hikousen no Bokuen episodes 2 & 3 still just don't seem like anime. (I've heard this series titled "Secret of Cerulean Sand," but I can't figure out where that name came.) This show seems like nothing so much as a combination of contemporary Warner Bros. and Disney styles. If it were dubbed I'd be hard pressed to be certain that it was originally anime. For being a "Ghibli-esque" show, it simply has no "heart" or warmpth or emotion. There was a big deal made about it late last year, but it's simply not very good.

                          AbeSho episode 6 was again not quite as gag-filled as episodes 3 & 4 but still quite interesting and very fun to watch.

                          Rizelmine episode 8 was again the same as episodes 1-7.

                          I'd seen Galaxy Angel episode 16 in raw Japanese last year, but watched it fansubbed yesterday. Strange, and fun.

                          Ajimu- Beach Story OAV 2 is exactly the type of romantic life-sim that I don't like, so I don't know why I bothered to watch it. I'm sure there are some people that like this kind of anime, and there's technically not much wrong with it, but it just doesn't interest me much. I have to admit that this episode was better than the first, in which the main character really was a stalker, but was forgiven for stalking and harassing Ajimu because he had innocent intentions.

                          I rounded out Sunday night with the second Zatoichi (1963) movie that I picked up at Best Buy on DVD. I've seen several Zatoichi movies before, but none as early as this one. (Best Buy didn't have any copies of movie 1 or I'd have picked it up too.) This early movie wasn't quite as action oriented, nor as superhuman as the later movies, but was beautiful to look at, and very fast paced. For fans of samurai movies, you can't go wrong with these DVDs at $15 each. The Razor movies were Katsu-Shin slumming. Zatoichi is the good stuff. Shintaro Katsu's swordplay is amazing. The speed of his draw is incredible. If you've only seen anime parodies of a superfast samurai draw his sword, slay three opponents and send the sword back to its saiya before the slain opponents fall to the ground, the Zatoichi movies will show you, in part, where this tradition came from. Now that I've seen this one, I have every intention of buying all 17 discs that Janus is going to release.


                            Hikaru no Go has been at the back of my mind lately, so I finally made myself get around to episodes 10-12. And like most shows, I forget how good they really are if I don't watch them for a while. It's easy to see why this series is one of the highest rated in Japan. The characterizations are varied but all interesting without being annoying. Hikaru himself is engaging because he is optomistic, persistent, and outgoing, yet still polite and humble. He represents a well-adjusted, happy Japanese teen that still conforms to and represents the ideals of mainstream Japanese culture. The episodes themselves are fast paced, and engaging because we want Hikaru to succeed in spite of knowing his inexperience, and we want Touya to overcome his fears and progress toward his goal, even though he is Hikaru's rival.

                            After watching these episodes I had to pull out my R2 DVD single of Dream's music video for Get Over, the Hikaru no Go theme song.

                            While I was playing R2 DVDs, I watched the Final Fantasy XI opening from the DVD that comes with the FF XI Limited Edition Soundtrack, for the fourth time. All I can say is, "Wow!" I don't want to spoil it for everyone, so all that I'll say is that if you thought the game graphics rendered opening sequence of FFX, when the characters are all sitting around the fire, was impressive, the FFXI opening will leave your jaw hanging agape. It's difficult to be honestly impressed with CG anymore, especially after what we've seen in everything from Final Fantasy 9 to Attack of the Clones. Standards are just so high now. However, to see that quality come from on-the-fly rendered game graphics is simply incredible.


                              Cosmo Warrior Zero episodes 5-8 at least maintained decent production quality, however the occasional bits of humor introduced, and Harlock doing flips in the air seem distinctly out of character for Harlock animation. The love relationship that got introduced in episode 8 also seemed a bit contrived as it was revealed essentially out-of-the-blue with no prior hint or introduction.

                              I also finally managed to crack open FUNimation's Blue Gender DVD 2. I really hate characters that have a problem with recognizing and adapting to the circumstances they find themselves in. I always want someone to simply slap them and shout "Wake up! Take a look around yourself!" Thankfully this DVD finally shows Yuji recognizing that the world he's in doesn't adjust to him, so he finally adjusts to it. The production quality remains watchable, but less than impressive. I do have to say that I find the uncompromising brutality of the series refreshing. It adds a tremendous degree of authenticity and integrity to the series.


                                My anime watching has been reduced lately because a power surge a few days ago seems to have made my home PC a bit "buggy" and apparently partially burned out my TV's picture tube. Now that the weekend's here I have to spend this evening re-formatting my PC (again) and spending money I didn't want to spend on a new TV and surge protectors and a battery back-up.

                                Slayers Premium was quite enjoyable. For being the first new Slayers anime in years, it didn't miss a beat and does nothing out of character or outside of established form for Slayers anime. At the same time it shows a bit of clever wit to play with established Slayers conventions and even give fans a bit more of Lina's relationship with Gourry to chew on. The film is also a great example of the strength of anime to show viewers things that can't be done in live action. The film utilized a handful of simply wonderful camera angles and beautiful shots, in addition to an obligatory Matrix reference.