Category Archives: comedy

Sega Girls Too Hard to Pass Up

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Japan makes anime comedies about all sort of strange topics. Now we have an anime show where three cute girls represent video game consoles.

Sega Hard Girls is a strange collection of hit-and-miss video game jokes. The average anime fan might pass this up, but the beautiful 3D animation makes the show much more enjoyable.

I thought I’d seen every type of anime by this point, but Sega Hard Girls is definitely one of the most unusual shows to date. The show’s full name is actually “Hi-sCoool! Seha Girls,” but most fans just call it by its nickname, Sega Hard Girls. The show has three main characters who each represent Sega video game consoles. Their names are Mega Drive, Saturn and Dreamcast. The game systems in this show are represented in the form of cute anime girls.

These Sega girls are all attending Sehagaga Academy in Tokyo. Their goal is to graduate and become full-fledged video game consoles. Well, at least I think that’s their main goal. For the entire season, I kept wondering what would actually happen to the girls when they graduate. The whole concept is already too strange to comprehend.

segaHard3Thankfully, this show isn’t focused around a serious plot—it’s a comedy based around video games. The main goal of the academy is to earn 100 medals. To earn these medals, the girls have to enter the worlds of old Sega games to perform a specific task. Each episode focuses on funny slapstick jokes that use retro game characters.

The show is a unique mish-mash of 3D anime and video game animation. I’ve seen all sorts of lame 3D anime films where the animation looks incredibly stiff and fake. Sega Hard Girls is the first 3D show where I had an emotional connection with the characters. The brilliant animators of this show took the time to slow the action down and focus on the facial details and expressions of the character models. Because of this detail, the girls look a lot more like humans with feelings and emotional expressions.

The result is a light-hearted cartoon that looks back at the joy and fun of video game characters in the past. Some episodes showed off some really obscure games that were only released in Japan, such as Border Break. Based on the episode I had seen, Border Break looks like a versatile, online 3D shooter with mecha robots. Even if the game’s environment looked a little bland, I really enjoyed watching these girls explore the unique landscape of Border Break.

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The show has plenty of cameos from video game icons, but the funniest parts actually take place when goofy-looking characters wander in from other random Sega games. In fact, Sega Hard Girls is chock-full of visual gags. My favorite jokes took place in episode two, when the girls used martial arts moves against little birds from Flicky, pig men from Golden Axe and a giant beetle from some weird bug game (Mushiking).

Sega Hard Girls is a retrospective of all the funniest moments of early video games. The show is geared for all the anime fans who yearn for the old days of video games, when all the graphics looked a lot more innocent and timeless. Sega Hard Girls also shows off some of the best 3D animation I’ve ever seen.

Sega Hard Girls is available to stream at crunchyroll.com.

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Filed under 3D anime, action, anime streaming, comedy, crunchy roll, fighting

>DVD Review: A Complicated Bundle of Love

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If anyone is struggling to find a decent romance anime, there’s one show that they absolutely have to watch.

Season one of “Honey and Clover” is a powerful love story that is guaranteed to keep everyone emotionally attached until the very end.

It starts off as a simple slice-of-life about a group of art college friends: three guys and two girls. The guys consist of a first-year student named Takemoto, a sixth-year slacker named Morita and a fourth-year senior named Mayama. The girls consist of a young prodigy named Hagumi and a beautiful third-year pottery student named Ayumi Yamada.

At first, the story becomes a simple snapshot of daily life for these college students. As they grow older, they become more and more romantically attached. Yet, they all have a tough time confessing their feelings for each other, because they don’t want their group of friends to break apart.

Although the plot is as simple as a light romance could get, the dialogue is remarkably rich with pent-up emotion. Viewers will immediately get hooked into heartbreaking relationship between Yamada and Mayama. Yamada can’t help falling in love with Mayama, even when he starts to live in the apartment of another close friend named Rika.

The dialogue may seem innocent in the first few episodes. By episode 18, though, Yamada’s emotions get the best of her when she runs away in tears. The entire series is filled with many difficult situations of unrequited love. These characters must wallow through these flooding emotions, struggling to find a new meaning to their lives.


To tell the truth, I can’t believe this group of buddies could ever manage to stay together for two seasons. Thankfully, they never don’t really take these pressing relationships too seriously. The director, Kenichi Kasai, has an incredible knack for making every comedy sequence as epic as possible.

For example, episode eight includes an especially agonizing Twister game. It starts out as an easy game. Near the end, though, all the characters are goofily breaking their bones from playing the game. The animators execute everything in this sequence with quick slapstick timing. They manage to make everything as ridiculously painful as possible, without ever crossing the line of extreme violence.

It’s a bizarre series of wacky humor with unbearable waves of moving emotion. “Honey and Clover” is probably one of the best and most realistic anime love stories ever made. The protagonists are charming. The warm visuals are soothing. The dialogue hits people where it hurts.

As painful as it is to watch, this show is more about the characters’ journeys rather than their relationships. “Honey and Clover” proves that sometimes it takes a little tough love for people to grow into mature adults.

Watch the series at hulu.com.

Images courtesy of photobucket.com

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Filed under comedy, honey and clover, masterpiece, romance, romantic, shoujo

>Abenobashi deserves more critical acclaim

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It’s a shame that Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi passed under the radar of so many anime critics, because it is one of the most original shows of all time.

Every part of this show shines with vivacious energy and animation. The entire span of the series is a big mind trip. In the same way that Paranoia Agent plays tricks on you with its scare tactics, Abenobashi fools you into thinking that this series will follow a tragic turn of events.

Yet, it’s not a series about the tragic human condition, where all people have to die at some point or another. The show is all about a boy’s coming of age. He learns how to turn his best moments into reality.

It certainly takes a while for the main character to fully understand every part of his dream world. However, this show is one of the few pieces of animation that takes you on a joy ride, to try and understand how movies are really supposed to enlighten us.

Somehow, the main characters change their real world into a culmination of shared experiences with faces they love. The Abenobashi characters cannot settle with accepting things as they are–they have to take action in order to turn their best dreams into reality. The final ending is a surprisingly hopeful vision, that we hardly ever see in an anime.

Many other series have tried to follow the Abenobashi formula, but failed. Kyoto Animation tried to pull off a similar storyline in their series, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. This saga, Endless Eight, was a hideous story arc, where the characters kept repeating the exact same events in every episode of the story.

Only Abenobashi truly nailed the endless dream formula. If only other anime shows would follow suit with this show, because it’s just that good.

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Filed under comedy, Endless Eight, Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, slice-of-life

>DVD Classic: Never-ending Adventures in J-pop worlds

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“Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi” will astound anime fans with a journey that literally takes two young kids on a never-ending trip through the Japanese pop culture universe.

This series has had an awkward release history in America. Although it first aired in 2003, it took two years until Geneon released this series in the U.S. Even then, I don’t think this show received the attention that it truly deserves.

Thankfully, ADV Films re-released this series last year. I had the fortunate thrill of seeing it on The Anime Network’s website. To say the least, this is one of the most creative anime shows I’ve ever seen.

The show begins in the Abenobashi shopping district in Osaka. Two teenagers, Satoshi “Sashi” Imamiya and Arumi Asahina, are spending their last summer playing in the empty streets. Their parents’ businesses were forced to close, as part of the redevelopment of the Abenobashi shopping arcade. Unfortunately, Arumi’s family is also planning on moving to Hokkaido, as soon as her grandfather closes his shop.

Their summer of fun takes a tragic turn, when Asahina’s grandfather almost dies after slipping on his rooftop. Asahina’s entire family is planning on moving to Hokkaido as soon as he recovers. This could be the last day that Sashi and Asahina can play together.

On that day, though, the town completely turns upside down. The group of elderly people exercising in the park transforms into mushrooms. The buildings fall apart like cardboard cutouts, revealing a magical role-playing video game world in some European pasture.

Thus, the two children begin their treacherous journey through the magical other-dimensions of Abenobashi.

This series is amazing for its immensely inventive visuals. The show jams in an astonishing load of parodies on video games, robot television shows and martial arts series. Anime fans are bound to laugh at anything and everything.

They’ll especially enjoy the insane antics in the third episode, where Asahina loses her panties to a goblin creature. Near the end of the episode, the goblin somehow turns into the mask for some gigantic robot ship with a demon head. And for some reason, that head still has Asahina’s panties on it.

“Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi” is literally as unpredictable as episode five in FLCL. It is riotously funny, like a hyper episode of Shin-Chan. Yet, there’s also a subversive tone of despair throughout the journey. As much as Sashi enjoys the Abenobashi worlds, the two kids are still trapped inside these wacky J-pop dream worlds with little hope of reaching their home.

I have yet to reach the ending, but this series is truly buried treasure. Unfortunately, I’ve heard that most of the special DVD features are only in the individual volume boxes from ADV. Regardless of which set you buy, you have to see this series. It’s one of the few shows that will make anyone laugh.

Even if the English dubs put in some awkward Western cowboy accent for the main characters, this is series is golden. Check it out at least once, because you won’t regret it.

Image courtesy of photobucket.com

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Filed under comedy, fan service, fantasy, Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, masterpiece

>Streaming video review – Avant-garde moe for the artist’s soul

>If you like watching four really cute art student girls on abstract art backgrounds, you’re in for a treat.

The Anime Network’s newest slice-of-life series, “Hidamari Sketch” turns the anime format into modern art by integrating actual photographs and various forms of modern artwork.

At first glance, this series looks like a low-quality rehash of “Honey and Clover,” a similar show which centers on the romantic lives of everyday art students. “Hidamari Sketch” takes a much simpler approach by analyzing the visual talent of young female art students in their day-to-day lives.

There is visual beauty in every part of this anime. The director of the show did an extraordinary job, by pasting actual photographs into the environment of “Hidamari Sketch” to portray the actual surface textures of wood and paint. There’s even a couple polka dot textures in the pop art style.

The nameplate of the girls’ apartment was created by actual painters. The main character uses tourist photographs, pop logos and anime-styled “postcards” in her photo collage. The crowds of people in the summer festival are abstractly represented by simple peg-like sticks.

Although the anime director’s “art exhibition” approach tends to get a little redundant, no one can deny that this show looks remarkable. The anime has many wonderful sections where each art girl get to discuss her own approach to her work.

The jokes and the dialogue is geared mostly toward young girls, so hardcore anime nuts might pass on watching “Hidamari Sketch.” However, the director of “Sayonara, Zetsubou Sensei” did a incredible job in giving this moe series much more pizazz than I expected. Take the time to at least watch a few episodes, because the visual style of this series is very unique.

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Filed under comedy, Hidamari Sketch, moe, shoujo, slice-of-life

>DVD Re-release – The worst romance story with a naked girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“This Ugly Yet Beautiful World” is one of the most horrible shoujo anime shows ever made, with mediocre dialogue and romantic situations that are bound to make you puke.

It actually starts pretty strong as a romantic comedy, even though there is a lot of fan service. Although this show is not the most perverted romantic comedy I’ve ever seen, it presents plenty of uncomfortable shots of completely naked girls. In the first half of the anime, you’re bound to see at least a girl’s breasts at least once in each episode.

At first, the story of the show holds up pretty well, for all that it’s worth. The anime’s story centers around a lazy high school boy named Takeru Takemoto, who works as a delivery boy for his uncle. One day, he and his friend, Ryou Niyomiya, find a mysterious naked girl in a tree. This girl, named Hikari, looks almost like the dream girl which Ryou drew for Takeru.

When a giant centipede monster attacks Takeru and Hikari with its tentacles, Takeru suddenly transforms into a powerful shonen fighter with big muscles and long hair. After beating up the monster, he swears that he will protect Hikari, no matter what.

This show would have worked well as a shonen battle anime, but that isn’t what the remainder of the series is about. For some reason, all of Takeru’s friends and family members gather around the alien girl to provide clothes and a room for her. You don’t even know how his friends heard about the girl so quickly, or why his friends decided to come together to see the girl. The show eventually turns into a disturbing harem comedy, where even Takeru’s sister fights to win back her brother’s love.

Around episode three, the show introduces another alien girl, named Akari. She strikes up a close friendship with Takeru’s friend, Ryou Ninomiya. Akari’s character is much more relatable, because she isn’t so obsessed with smothering her new boyfriend with love. However, the series wants us to focus on Hikari, the least interesting of the two characters.

And for some reason, all the characters seem interested in Hikari, who wastes time in every episode by talking about the air, the water and the crickets of the Earth. No joke. In every episode, Takeru’s friends and family are always around to gaze at Hikari. They all comment on Hikari’s awkward fascination with the world. I mean, you’d think that after episode eight, these kids would have better things to do than to pay attention to the happy-go-lucky alien girl.

Fortunately, there is a serious story, in which ancient insect-like monsters actually attempt to destroy the world. These humongous, violent monsters awaken when they sense elevated levels of ED in teenagers such as Takeru. However, when you consider that ED actually stands for “Extended Definition,” you’ll find that there really isn’t a good reason for anything in this anime. Sure, there are hints in episode nine about the upcoming apocalypse, but nothing is ever explained thoroughly.

Believe it or not, the series actually turns into an apocalyptic thriller at the end of episode 10. The ending also makes for a touching climax to this show. But by then, most people will get tired of all the redundant sitcom jokes. It’s hard to forgive a repititious series that can’t even manage to teach people to appreciate the boredom of everyday life. Even the conclusion of this series is an underwhelming disappointment.

Unless someone forces you to watch this anime at gunpoint, absolutely stay away from this series. It is possibly one of the worst anime shows ever made. And it is guaranteed to bore you to death, unless you manage to stick with it after the first five hours.

Image courtesy of photobucket.com

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Filed under apocalyptic, comedy, nudity, shoujo, This Ugly Yet Beautiful World, Worst

>Anime streaming review: Fighting demons and living dangerously

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Most of the supernatural anime shows focus on the same characters and the same stories of destroying unwanted undead creatures and spirits. A new show on crunchyroll.com throws some clever twists to the tried-and-true formula.

“Occult Academy” is not just an anime comedy that pokes fun at Hollywood horror–it turns into an adrenaline-pumping show about the frightening dangers of paranormal phenomena.

The show opens as a parody of the horror anime, involving a school which specializes in teaching students about occult spirits and unexplainable spectacles such as UFOs. In a freakish scene that could have been taken out of an old horror film, the school superintendent rises from the dead during a school funeral.

Despite the initial shock, the superintendent’s daughter, Maya Kumashiro, insists that all these spiritual beings do not exist. Kumashiro is a ghost hunter who has a fascination for occult spirits, even though she was neglected by her father as a child. She is an unusually violent protagonist, on a mission to kill the zombies and ghouls who are haunting the Occult Academy.

The show manages to present a wide range of slapstick comedy. In fact, the first episode is a jovial parody of ghost mystery shows. Kumashiro’s friends assemble the classic team of “expert” spiritual mediums, consisting of a fat “dowser” medium with flimsy metal prongs and a janitor who was just invited because he knows how to kick peoples’ asses.

Yet, this show is not a comedy at all. It is a dark series where characters almost die, where the deadly secrets of Kumashiro’s father come to life. When Kumashiro was a child, her father became obsessed with his occult studies. He became so obsessed that he refused to speak to his family. Episode two reveals that her father was actually researching an artifact with incredible power, known as the key of Nostradamus. The key is the one thing that will save the world from destruction in 2012.

Despite the looming devastation of the future apocalypse, the show manages to pull off a pretty humorous sex comedy routine involving a time traveler named Fumiaki Uchida. He was apparently sent to find the key of Nostradamus. However, he doesn’t win any points with Kumashiro when he first appears in front of her, bare naked.

This anime series is an incredible mind trip, involving invisible ghost murderers, doppledangers and the end of the world. It works amazingly well as a blood-curdling thriller and a humorous, romantic school comedy. There’s something for everyone in this hair-raising comedy that pokes fun at the flaws of the horror anime and uncovers the most intriguing, hidden secrets of the undead.

Watch the series for free at crunchyroll.com.

Image courtesy of photobucket.com

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Filed under apocalyptic, comedy, horror, Occult Academy