November 20th, 2009

kodama

Finished series: Amatsuki

We've finished watching Amatsuki. My first episode review is here.

High-school student Tokidoki failed his history exam, and to prepare for the re-sit, he has to join an excursion to an exhibition hall that uses VR goggles to recreate life in the Edo period. Tokidoki wanders off and gets attacked by a demon of some sort. At first he thinks it's a neat VR trick, but when he loses his glasses and the sight in his left eye, the demon is still there! During the attack, Tokidoki is transported to the past!

He finds himself in some sort of mythical Edo period, where magic, spirits and gods are very real. Tokidoki teams up with his classmate Kon, a hot-head who got transported during a demon attack as well -- he has lost all sensation in his right arm, but that does not stop him from getting in all sorts of fights. There is also Kuchiha, a girl who is a master swordfighter. She is possessed by a dog spirit, so everyone shuns her. This merry band of misfits gets involved in demon hunting, prompted by the priest of the temple where they're staying.

It turns out that three demons are trying to break free from the Net of Heaven, where everything has already been pre-ordained. And to do that, they need to manipulate someone to become the new head god of the world of Amatsuki -- but that can only be someone who has not been 'caught' in the Net. And sure enough: Tokidoki fits the bill! Because he was born in another world, his destiny wasn't foreseen, and so he is suited to become something outside of the system.
But of course, his demon hunting friends have a certain opinion about the nefarious plans of the demonic trio, and some high priestesses with magical powers get involved. Also, there's some youkai that have a grudge against humans who are more than happy to support the demons, so it all comes down to a large confrontation at the end!

If I had one word to describe this series, my choice would be 'bland'. The story, while full of potential, is so-so. The characters are all quite flat, and the main character is a total dweeb. Couple that to mediocre animation and second-grade voice acting, and you have something that's quite forgettable. The series is more than a year old, and still the list of episodes on Wikipedia hasn't been completed -- everyone seems to think it's a forgettable series.

As for good and bad points, there aren't many. There's nothing really toe-curling bad, but there are no moments where it shines either. Mediocre, bland and forgettable. I'll give it a 5.
Bishoujo squad!

Finished series: Yozakura Quartet

We've finished watching Yozakura Quartet. My first episode is here.

There's this city in Japan where youkai (supernatural creatures) and humans peacefully co-exist. The city is surrounded by the trunks of seven enormous cherry trees -- the wall between the youkai and human world is thin here. It all works out quite nicely, but sometimes evil youkai appear to stir up trouble. It then befalls to Akina, the last in the line of a family of 'tuners' to send the youkai over to their own world.
Akina is the nominal head of the 'Hiizumi Life Counseling Office', and he is assisted by three girls: Hime, a dragon-girl and mayor of the town, Ao, a mind-reading psychic and Kotoha, who can conjure up objects by talking about them. The four of them are the Yozakura Quartet -- but there's many more creatures that help them out when the going gets tough.

It has all the signs of a 'monster of the week'-series. Coupled with the dynamic of one guy (who is relatively weak) having to work with three girls with their own personalities and powers, the whole concept could get very old very quickly. Luckily, that does not happen. Before boredom sets in, the Grand Plot kicks in!
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Even though it has all the trappings of a harem anime, it never gets to that mushy stage. The females are all quite independant, and there's a lot of intrapersonal character development. Even thought the series is only one season, you have a good feel for the characters by the mid-point -- the characters develop through the plot, which is a nice change of pace as opposed to the customary "character of the week"-approach that is taken in some other series. On the other hand, there is a large supporting cast that does not get all the attention they deserve...
Visually, the series is done in a very appealing style. Designs are attractive, but not too moe. The digital effects deserve a special mention too.

Good points:
- Interesting premise;
- Good plot;
- Lots of character development through the plot.
Bad points:
- Supporting cast too large for a series of this size.

All in all, a good mid-class anime with a nice mix of action and drama. I'll give it a 7.5.
WTF!?

More fabric madness

So I sent a mail to Hoffman Fabrics suggesting to them that they should make a cross-reference chart/page to show which fabrics are in which collection. I actually got a reply, which contained only a single line. It directed me to a webshop that had more information on their products than they have themselves on their website. Both that fact and the reply itself does not make me feel Hoffman Fabrics has it's shit together. At all.

Anyway, with some browsing I found this page that shows a bit more of the fabrics we've ordered. I think the E-numbers are the designs, and the words are names for the colors that are used -- but none that I've tried (I gave up after two) can be found on Hoffman's own site.

The sites and the information on them are all of a breathtakingly low quality. Dissapointing.
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    disappointed disappointed