Archive for March, 2011

High School of the Dead – Zombies vs. School girls its blood and fan service galore!!!!

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If you love Zombies as much as I do then you will love this great series that follows in the footsteps of the great Romero films and yet has all the quirks of a Japanese anime. This is like an anime version of Walking Dead only the protagonists are High School students. High school of the Dead is set in the present day, beginning as the world is struck by a deadly pandemic that turns humans into zombies, euphemistically referred to by the main characters as “Them” .The story follows a group of high school students, the high school’s nurse, and a young girl as they fight their way to safety through the deadly streets of Japan during a worldwide catastrophic event known as the “Outbreak”. The group sees Takashi Komuro as their leader, in the Anime and the Manga. The local group of survivors consists of six others and a small dog named Zeke, creating a team with one common goal: to survive, to survive by themselves. The authors used role-playing terminology to categorize the specific attributes each character brings to the group. Takashi Komuro serves mainly as the team leader. Rei Miyamoto, Saeko Busujima, and Kohta Hirano are considered fighters because of their exceptional skills with weapons; Saya Takagi described as the wizard due to her intelligence and deduction skills; Shizuka Marikawa assigned the role of priest as she is a licensed physician. The plot is initially concerned with survival and escape from the titular high school and zombies, but as the series proceeds it introduces the additional threats including: societal collapse, in the form of dangerous fellow survivors, technological attacks, using an Electromagnetic pulse bomb, and the possible decay of the characters’ own moral codes.

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Now this isn’t a show for the young as the Zombie action is up there with the best violent, brutal and very gory. There’s all the Zombie action you could ever want, people being eaten alive right, left and centre. The Zombies themselves are great they look and act the part, the writers got all the lore in there, the way they react to sound, lack of pain and insatiable hunger. Of course once your bitten you turn into a Zombie there’s no exception to the rules which means some harsh decision right from the start for these characters. Everything you expect from the Zombie genre is here, swarming undead, very tense moments, suspense, zombie munching, bitten colleges, the breakdown of modern society, social concern being thrown away as well as the blurring of moral codes as basic survival takes centre. This is a series of at first escape, then doing anything to survive and then seeing the bigger picture of continued survival in a new world of madness and death. The series builds up very well to the final conclusion. The initial escape and bringing together of these characters, their need to survive no matter what and what they are going to do in this new world. As with most endings in the Zombie genre the end is really only the beginning as the series concludes on the characters setting out on their own mission into a new world now that they know who they are and what they’ll do to survive. Each episode is exciting and fun the resident evil movies could look to this series to see how old school zombie story telling still is great. I mean all the clichés are here; you know to expect head shots, the “he’s behind you” moment, daring rescues, sense of false security and blood blood blood.
What also makes this series so much fun is the evolution of weapons, at first these are just high school students fighting with wooden kendo swords, baseball bats and a broken mop. But as the series goes on they find weapons of increasingly destructive power so you get some amazing zombie kills. To steal a bit of Zombieland, “Zombie kill of the week goes to Kota from Japan for expertly turning a nail gun into a sniper rifle and consecutively getting head shouts”. Zombies are run over by various vehicles, beaten and shot at. Weapons range from a nail gun to sniper rifles, shot gun and of course swords (it wouldn’t be Japanese if there wasn’t a sword expert in the group. The series is also very well made its smooth and wonderfully edited with great scoring. It feels fresh and fast but sudden and shocking as well. Beautiful and brutal compare with the crisp and fluid style it’s got. Scenes of violence and be sharp and brutal but they also seem to flow with very good sweeping shots and great cinematography. This is shown during the escape from school as the animation acts like a camera speeding towards and away for our characters, chasing up to the zombies and in a fluid motion delivering our characters into the scene of violence and into battle. Even in battle like so much anime it’s very sleek and looks brilliant. There is nothing like watching an expert swiftly cut down and kill a group of zombies with grace and ease.

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The characters all represent the normal clichés of girly and emotional, confident and smart, poised and deadly, the reluctant leader, ditzy and bouncy, weapon savvy and just plain cute. They aren’t too bad as stereotypes though, even being girly doesn’t mean your weak and being the ugly one doesn’t mean you are a loser. All the characters have their strength and they have their convictions, these are a confident and determined bunch and that is how they have survived. There’s also the romance aspect and the Japanese love of having one guy at the centre of all the female attention and which girl is he going to end up with. Now I can’t really talk about this series without mentioning the gratuitous amounts of fan service it has. In true anime fashion they have gone super crazy on the size of the girl’s breast and the amount of panty shots. I mean there’s a panty shot every few minutes and boobs are bouncing all over the place, I wouldn’t be surprized if you could actually take out a zombie with the swing on these breasts, I have no idea how these girls run, its plain insane. I mean the boobs are so big that the recoil from their guns makes there boobs bounce and jiggle like jelly. But it is rather amusing as you get all this amazing zombie action but you still have the girls wearing so very little as if it’s normal, I mean who fights zombies wearing nothing but a black thong and a white kitchen pinnie!!! And of course there’s very indulgent shots of these girls sleeping and prancing about in their underwear as well as group shower scenes and much fondling. I mean the school nurse wonders around naked and has boobs so big I haven’t worked out how she reaches the steering wheel of their jeep. If fan service really offends you then don’t watch it but if you can see the funny side and like me love zombies so much the fact that the girls leave nothing to the imagination and I now know the colour of each characters panties then go ahead treat yourself to this very indulgent and entertaining anime.

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School Days – don’t be fooled by innocence!!!

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I ended up watching this anime in one sitting so intrigued by how it was going to play out. I had seen the character designs and opening sequence and it was nothing I was interested, not my thing at all looked like a high school love drama. It looked all sweet and innocent and it was a romance so of no interest at all, just a big no no in terms of everything I normally like in a drama. Turns out this is a great example of never judge a book by its cover. The basic plot follows Makoto Ito rides the train to and from school every day. However, at the beginning of his second term, he falls in love with a beautiful girl that also rides the train. Unfortunately, she barely knows of his existence. Her name is Kotonoha Katsura, and though they attend the same school, they are not in the same class. In an attempt to catch her eye, Makoto enlists the aid of a close female friend of his: Sekai Saionji. She helps him, despite the fact that she–unbeknownst to Makoto–is in love with him. Thus the three are bound in a love triangle of life changing proportions. Yep it sounds like a boring love school drama but don’t be fooled there’s something underneath this little school life story.
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It starts out all innocent and sweet you find out Makoto has a crush on a girl, Katsura, and his friend (Sekai) helps him get his girl. You soon learn that Sekai has feelings for Makoto too and she tries not to act on them instead offering special training to Makoto on how to seduce his new girlfriend. This is never a good idea playing couple and getting carried away is never going to end well and as things heat up between Makoto and Sekai their training session become something more and Makoto starts having feeling for Sekai preferring her to Katsura who is too shy and reserved to do anything more than a kiss on the cheek. It could have stayed this way but the anime is very good at slowly making things get more complicated and before you know it things have got out of hand and you wonder where the sweet little love triangle has gone. You feel bad for Katsura but Sekai is a nice girl so you’re pleased when Makoto chooses her but instead of doing the right thing he still continues to string Katsura along. This not only confuses the other characters who don’t know who Makoto is really dating but you start getting the feeling that Makoto isn’t as innocent as you first thought. Turns out he’s a real pig but he does it so subtly it’s not until towards the end you realise that he’s actually not as nice as everyone thinks he is and he is in fact a pervert. Once he’s had a taste of sex he seems to just go with where ever he can get it, his feeling for Sekai are based on the fact that he could sleep with her and once he works out that other girls like him he can have sex with anyone he wants.
It doesn’t help that this school has some right bitchy and slutty girls in it and by the last 3 eps you can rest assured that no one is looking innocent and this isn’t a nice little love story. Makoto isn’t all lost and confused he’s just playing all these girls and using their feelings and insecurities to sleep with them with no remorse or consideration for anyone’s feelings. It no wonder things get out of hand by the end he’s juggling about 5 girls, got one pregnant and broken Katsura’s heart and turned her into a zombie wondering around talking to herself as if she’s still dating Makoto. I’m not entirely sure if this series is aimed at girls or boys, there’s a lot of fan service and panty shots galore but I would be a bit disturbed being a guy watching this as it makes a very good tale of caution to all men who cheat. Be careful of breaking girl’s hearts they may turn out to be far scarier than you initially thought. I couldn’t wait to see Makoto get what he deserved from being such a two timing letch and was hooked on every ep slowly watching this drama get more adult and that feeling of something sinister lurking beneath the surface. It came in the last 10 mins of the last episode. It’s only a 12 episode series so it doesn’t get slow and you do get sucked in and then you witness a rather disturbing last ep. I wasn’t entirely sure what was going to happen but not quite the ending I saw. I thought maybe suicide not the bloodshed and rather deranged behaviour of girls who have been used. It was a little shocking but defiantly worth the wait as it leaves a rather bad taste in your mouth at the end. It’s not the most disturbing thing I’ve seen in anime but compared to the rest of the series it defiantly counts are a rather horrific ending. So yes this anime is great well worth a look as it prove two rules:
1: Never judge a book (or in this case a series) by its cover.
2:Don’t cheat you have no idea how someone will react till it’s too late and there’s no going back!!

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Durarara!!!!! – An anime of surrealism and complications that’s very intriguing if a bit weird.

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Just finished watching this which I enjoyed immensely because it was a bit odd. The plot follows Mikado Ryūgamine is a young man who longs for the exciting life of the big city. At the invitation of his childhood friend Kida Masaomi, he transfers to a school in Ikebukuro, Tokyo. Masaomi warns him about people he doesn’t want to cross in the city: a violent man dressed like a bartender, an information merchant, and a mysterious gang called “Dollars.” And to top it off, Mikado witnesses an urban legend on his first day in the city: the “Black Rider,” the supposedly headless driver of a black motorcycle. The narrative follows all of the characters equally, showing how their lives intersect, creating a greater plotline from what each character knows about a common incident.

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At first it’s hard to tell what the plot is really I mean it’s made up of characters that seem to have nothing in common apart from they live in Ikebukuro and how in fact all their lives are inter-linked. Sounds normal enough if it wasn’t for the fact that no one in this series is normal. I mean this is a real genre hybrid at first I didn’t know if it was a high school drama, a supernatural show, a show about hidden powers, gang warfare, romance or mystery but in truth it’s a mix of all these. It’s rather confusing at first but once you sit back and accept all these things and that it’s just how it is you can enjoy it so much more. I had no idea where this series was going to go the first half seemed to be about the nature of the very supernatural character Celty, a Dulahan fairy (headless rider) from Ireland that travels to Japan to get back her stolen head. Needless to say she soon discovers there are more important things than getting her head like where and how she belongs in this modern society and her true feelings. The second half is where the real plot kicks in as it turns out that there is so much more to the three main protagonists as their secrets and alternate lives are revealed and how it affects their new life. I like the animation style of this series plus the character designs there a little more lined and sketchy which gives it an interesting edge. The scoring also helps with how surreal and odd this series is it really adds another layer as it matches the tones as well as the unfamiliar and strange aspects of the series.

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There’s a great cast of characters who all get equal screen time and time to tell their stories and how they fit into the bigger picture. Although don’t expect to know everything about them some things are left unexplained which adds to the mystery of the setting. You don’t need to know everything about a person to know where they stand and how they feel. This series is really about humanity, what it means to be human, how we feel about others, what we do to protect and keep others safe. How our different ideals and thoughts affect those around us, if you hide something to protect someone you could end up hurting them more. What is it we really desire, what are our fears and why we react the way we do and what are we truly looking for in life, what’s our place where do we truly call home. The show is full of these questions it’s about finding ones place and feelings and discovering what truly matter whether your human or not in the case of Durarara. The show has a mix of supernatural mysteries and the misunderstandings of youth strongly combined to complement each other and really make you think. You get very invested in the lives of these characters and want their safety and happiness to be confirmed. The main characters all go on a journey of self-awareness and discovery with the help of older characters who have found their place and have come to understand themselves. It’s actually quite beautiful and sad at times watching the conflicting emotions and trials of these characters and you do want the best for them.

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That’s not to say this series is all drama and emotional back story having a supernatural element also means the fair share of odd goings on and hidden dangers, ranging from a mysterious slasher, hacking their way through the local population to Celty herself who rides a black motor bike wielding a scythe cutting down foes and protecting allies. There’s a fair bit of action as Celty uses her powers freely against those that oppose her and yet she herself is quite a gently and caring person that doesn’t really want to hurt anyone unless they harm her friends. There’s also the amazing character of Shizuo Heiwajima who is my fav character and not just cause he’s hot, tall with blonde hair, it because while being calm and peaceful most of the time he has a very short fuse. He berates himself as someone who hates violence but unfortunately has the temper of a volcano and once he is angered he is a bit mental. Once in a rage and that’s very often he displays superhuman strength and is known as the strongest man in Ikebukuro. He has the ability to bring out unlimited strength and while his weapons of choice are normally vending machines and road signs he is also brilliant in a hand to hand brawl. One of the most amazing scenes in the series is when people are being transformed into slaves of a sword that wants to love humans but can only do so by cutting them. This sword decides it loves Shizou so sends all its victims to attack him and show him its love. What ensues is a brawl between Shizou and about a hundred possessed people which is a brilliant fight scene, he runs across heads, punches people across town, picks up the entire mod at one point and just gets stronger and stronger during the fight, it’s awesome!!!!

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But yes this series has a bit of everything from high drama, to supernatural mysteries, romance, horror, fight scenes and gang warfare. The gang storyline is very important to the series as they way that our protagonists are tied to the different gangs but that’s something I won’t spoil you have to watch to find out how good if a bit weird this series is!!!!

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