Tag Archives: anime

Anime review: Inspiring Musician Love Story That Starts With a Lie

yourLie1Your Lie in April starts off as a simple boy-meets-girl romance with musicians, but it quickly turns into a intensely emotional roller coaster. Don’t be fooled–this show is a heart-wrenching drama about a friendship that turns into an uplifting commitment like no other.

At first glance, this show moves at a snail’s pace. The first episodes slowly introduces us to a depressed pianist boy, Kousei Arima, who struggles to maintain a normal life after his mother’s death. He was a child prodigy who played at classical music competitions. His mother trained him constantly to become one of the best pianists, but her vicious drills traumatized him to the point where he just couldn’t play the piano anymore.

The girl next door, Sawabe Tsubaki, is Kousei’s childhood friend. She thinks that a girlfriend could raise his spirits and possibly motivate him to play the piano again. She invites Kousei on a date to meet up with their other buddy, Ryouta Watari, and his new mystery date. Little does Kousei know that this meeting would change his life forever.

Ryouta’s new girlfriend is Kaori Miyazono. She’s a virtuoso violinist who often gets criticized for improvising too far from the written sheet music. She invites her friends to watch her performance at a classic music competition in Towa Hall. Kousei is quite impressed with her playing, but he keeps his distance from her. After all, Kaori seems to act as if she likes Ryouta. However, Kaori actually has a big-time crush on Kousei.

yourLie5One day, Kousei meets Kaori on his way home from school. Kaori says that she is waiting for her boyfriend, who seems to be running late. She decides to use Kousei as her new substitute date. Kousei has reservations about this outing, but Kaori clearly wants to know more him. She wants to know more about his life as a virtuoso pianist and why he suddenly stopped playing.

The entire show is focused on the growth in the relationship between Kousei and Kaori. Although they are both amazing musicians with incredible chemistry together, their whole relationship is peppered with personal struggles. Kousei constantly tries his best to deal with his traumatic memories with his mother. Throughout the series, Kaori also has plenty of medical emergencies that force her to more of her time in the hospital.

As the story slowly unravels over the course of the series, we learn that Kaori is struggling through one of the most difficult moments in her life. Although I really can’t reveal anything else about the story, I will say that their relationship is strikingly touching, heartbreaking and emotional.

yourLie4Even if the ending of the story is somewhat predictable, the voice acting in this show is exceptionally poignant. The animators somehow struck a delicate balance in texturing the episodes with just enough tragedy and compassion to make everyone shed tears of joy and sadness. If anyone only has enough time to watch one anime this year, be sure to watch Your Lie In April. It is definitely one of my favorite shows of the year, by far.

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Filed under masterpiece, music, romance, slice-of-life, Your Lie In April

Wonderful Pop Idols Dance in Tear-Jerking Drama

loveLive1 Anime shows about music bands are often big hits, because they combine hip music with impressive animation. Love Live follows this same formula, but it also captures the drama of high school friendships with beautiful, tear-jerking honesty.

Love Live: School Idol Project isn’t the most original anime, but it packed in enough emotional twists to keep me on the edge of my seat.

The plot of Love Live is deceptively simple on the surface. The main character is a high school girl named Honoka Kosaka. Her high school, Otonokizaka Academy, is closing down because fewer people are applying to attend it. Even her little sister would rather attend the futuristic new high school in the neighborhood, UTX High School.

Hosaka decides to visit the school for herself, to find out what makes UTX so special. That’s when Hosaka sees the main attraction–a high school pop group called A-Rise. The group has grown in popularity to the point where they are practically the official spokeswomen for the entire school of UTX. They even give a special greeting message to the new students entering the massive school building, which looks more like a skyscraper.

loveLive2

To be honest, UTX had a lot of high-tech equipment. All the students have smartphones. They all scan their phones into a turnstile, just to enter the school grounds. However, Honoka knows that the school’s pop group, A-Rise, is the main attraction. In order to raise attendance for her high school, Honoka decides to start her own pop idol dance group with her friends. Thus begins a grand scheme to save Otonokizaka Academy through the power of pop music and dancing.

To tell the truth, I don’t think any high school band could actually save an entire school from shutting down. However, pop idols practically rule the entire futuristic world of this anime show. All the idol groups are in constant competition, posting their dancing and singing performances on a special social network for idols. Their main goal is to win Love Live, a championship tournament for pop idols.

The entire story follows a rather redundant format. Honoka and her two best buddies spend the majority of the first season hunting for new recruits to make her group one of the best in Japan. There are plenty of characters who seem all too familiar in these types of shows. There’s a shy girl named Hanayo, who has to muster her courage to join the group. There is a strict student council president name Eli, who thinks that the entire pop group is a joke. All these character types appear a little too predictable after a certain point.

Thankfully, the story picks up steam near the end of the season. I won’t spoil anything, but I will say that the group faces intense pressure in the days before the Love Live tournament even begins. On top of this, one of the members also receives a surprise letter that could change her future forever. The show has plenty of drama and saddening moments. Although the final episode rushed some of the most intense moments a little too quickly, I was still impressed.

loveLive3 The dance numbers also use tons of incredible computer animation with the help of motion-capture actors. The visuals and the music meld together to make this show a dazzling experience. Everyone should at least watch one of the episodes, just to get themselves hooked on the pop idol trends in anime today.

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Video game anime – The Chronicles of Blazblue

The cast of characters from Blazblue

Blazblue melds action anime characters in a stunningly beautiful fighting game.

I don’t usually review video games as part of my anime blog. However, Blazblue fused a fighting game with a anime storyline in such a profound way to revolutionize Japanese animation in games.

Blazblue is more than just a fighting game–it’s also a massive narrative filled with drama, intense action and an impending apocalyptic disaster.

Even though the game has a hardcore edge to it and the difficulty curve is somewhat high, BlazBlue has an unusual story mode that people don’t usually expect. Most of the plot surrounds 12 characters involved in the destruction of the city of Kagutsuchi-13.

The entire story plays out in an endless time loop, where all the characters somehow end up in the same place they started. No matter which path they take, all the characters usually end up dying partly because of an evil cyborg.

Rachel Alucard from Blazblue

Rachel flies through the air on her inflating cat balloon.

Only a few of the main characters are aware that someone is keeping them stuck in the same tragic time loop. Rachel-Alucard is one of those characters who tries to warp certain characters in the past, in order to turn them into cyborgs to prevent the apocalypse.

To tell the truth, most of this silly  story involves trivial vendettas. For instance, Ragna had his arm cut off by his brother, Jin Kisaragi, when he was young. These two brothers now become enemies to the very end. However, the game doesn’t really explain the reasons why Jin cuts Ragna’s arm off, among other things.

Blazblue is still very noteworthy as one of the few games that melds complex anime storylines with an intense style of fighting gameplay. It’s one of the only games that manages to make people feel like they’re playing a part in a shonen action show. It somewhat resembles Soul Eater in its heavy metal music and the gothic clothing style of the characters.

I’m surprised at how closely these fighters resemble a variety of different anime characters. Carl Clover and Rachel-Alucard look like kids from a moe series. Litchi Faye-Ling clearly stands out as the fan service girl with her big breasts. Most of all, Jin and Ragna are the tough guys usually found in a shonen series. Ragna has the long spiky hairstyle of Dragon Ball Z’s Goku in his super seiyan mode and Jin has the blonde hair in the fashion of LeLouche from Code Geass.

In many ways, Blazblue is probably the closest that a video game has ever gotten to emulating the whole anime fighting experience. Much of the story is nonsensical, but no one can deny the charm of each fighter in this battle royale. It’s one of the more impressive fighting games of this current generation of game consoles.

This game is available for the XBOX 360 and the PS3. There’s also a PC version that I haven’t tried out yet.

Images courtesy of photobucket.com

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Filed under action, Alucard, apocalyptic, Blazblue, fighting, moe, shonen, video game