2011 Spring Anime Challenge Review: Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens

An art student named Jin Mikuriya carves a statue from the wood of the Kannagi tree only to have the statue come to life in the form of a goddess, who has now taken over the statue. He and “Nagi” work together to destroy the impurities that are gathering in the town.

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Plot:

Kannagi has some tough shoes to fill as a show that is aimed at the hardcore otaku fans, but also attempts to appeal to the non-otaku fans at the same time.  As a show that has to do both it does an adequate job with attempting to please both groups.  There are clichés that most would find in shows aimed at the hardcore crowd.  We have a harem, a cooking contest, the childhood friend who also is a potential loves interest, the otaku who claims he is not an otaku, etc.  Even though these aspects to exist in the series they are not to the degree that they would be executed during the show.   The clichés are touched upon and used but they do not go full head on with any of them.  Even the harem aspect is explained and each girl has a reason to try to be with Jin.  Given that the otaku clichés do exist, those who are not fans of these clichés will be annoyed that they do exists in the show.

In a surprising note, there is some character development present to the main cast of characters.  Each of them has a reason to do what they such as Nagi who as a deity is her job to rid the land of impurities and to determine who she really is.  Given that this is a 13 episode series, this type of development is not usually found in a series that is the length of a standard anime season.

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Spring Cleaning Anime Challenge Poll 4

By now you know the rules.  I’ve got five shows listed below and you have to pick what should I should watch and review next.  Rules will revert back to the standard rules of the first two polls.  The poll open at the time of the posting and will close at 9:00 PM EST on Friday June 17th.

2011 Spring Cleaning Anime Challenge Review: Clannad The Motion Picture

Okazaki Tomoya is a student who goes to school only as a force of habit. He continues to be plagued by nightmares of a world with nothing left, where his existence is a mere conciousness. On the way to school one day, he meets a girl called Furukawa Nagisa, who from then on follows him to school every day, unable to climb the stairs by herself. While helping Nagisa to organize the Drama Club, Tomoya slowly starts to open up and actually enjoy his life again. But the dreams he has might be something more than just dreams..

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Plot:

We all know about the Clannad visual novel, TV series, and the sequel After Story, but did you know that a movie came out a few months before the TV debuted.  Turns out it is not so bad of a film overall.  The biggest difference between the TV series and the movie is how the cast of characters interact with each other.  The story shifts the focus from Tomoya, Nagisa, and the other girls to mainly Tomoya and Nagisa.   Fans of those side female characters will be disappointed to find out that most of the other females present in the visual novel and TV series are removed from the movie version.  The few girls who do remain are changed from the visual novel and even changed from the KyoAni version of Clannad.

Of course, not all changes are bad.  One of the better things the movie does it explains some of the backstory as to what happen with Tomoya, and what happened with Youhei and the soccer team.  Because of the removal of some of the girls and the smaller focus the story becomes streamlined a lot more and removes some of the aspects from the TV series that bog the story down or the supernatural first arc that occurs in the TV series.

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2011 Spring Cleaning Anime Challenge Review: Aria the Animation

On the planet Aqua lies the watery city of Neo Venezia, a tourist hub in which people travel around in gondolas. Professional gondoliers known as Undines are well-revered as they act as tour guides for the people. Akari Mizunashi is a gondolier in training and also an employee of Aria Company. She gets to meet all sorts of people as she takes them on the gondola rides, from friendly mentors to special individuals, all this amidst the beautiful scenic backdrop of the entire city.
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Plot:

We all like watching shows that are nice in general from time to time.  Aria is one if the nicest shows mood wise ever created.  Nothing terrible happens; there is no teenage angst to be found at all in the series.  It just an optimistic slice of life show about a girl living on Aqua (formerly the planet Mars) who wants to become an Undine.  Nothing really happens during the episodes, but this happens in a good way.  Watching an episode feels like a spring day where you look at sky do not a damn thing and feel so good about it after it is all said and done.  Those who like their anime with some pessimism in it will be disappointed to find that there is no pessimism at all in Aria.  So leave your pessimism at the door.

Being that this is a slice of life show the episodes move at a slow, steady pace.  Think of the pace like sipping whiskey or a glass of fine wine, you do not drink it gulp it down, but take it and enjoy it slowly and savor the moment.  Because of the slow pace that Aria The Animation this is not a show that you can marathon in a day or so.  The show is best watched by watching at least two or three episodes a day or to put it in another perspective on DVD a day.

The characters do not get any type of development through the show.  The personalities of the cast members are simple, which there nothing is wrong with that, but nobody is developed past their standard personalities that we are introduced with when we meet the cast members.

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2011 Spring Cleaning Anime Challenge Review: Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Movie the 1st

Takamachi Nanoha is a normal fourth-grader who feels a little useless and out-of-place with no purpose. Then one day, she saves a ferret, who turns out to be a mage from another planet who came to this planet to search for the jewel seeds. Nanoha agrees to help, but this task gets complicated when another girl arrives to steal them.

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(Note: this is a review for a Japanese BD)

Plot:

For those not aware this is an alternate retelling of the first season of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha.  The thirteen episodes of the TV series are condensed and redone into a two-hour movie, and by all accounts, it is not a bad retelling at all.  Some aspects from the TV series are given more detail in the movie and it helps to develop some of the cast members like Fate’s mother and gives her more of reason for the way she turned out.  Gone are some of the aspects from the TV series that gives it the paint by numbers feel that it starts with.  Some events from the movie play out differently than the TV series but they work nicely and do not feel rushed or handled poorly.

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