Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Anime Reviews for School

Here are some of the Anime Reviews I have written for my Survey of Japanese Anime class at Boise State University. I have enjoyed this class a lot, and hope that the following reviews will spark your interest!

 (Click here to watch the opening)
Vampire Knight- Episodes 1-4
Chopstick Rating- IIIII
Available through Netflix- DVD viewing only
Basic Observations
With the big vampire craze going around these days, I was at first hesitant to try Vampire Knight. But after watching the first episode, it was made apparent that this story was much more how vampires should be. Of course, in both Twilight and Vampire Knight, the vampires are all very attractive (or supposed to be at least), but as far as glowing in the sunlight, Vampire Knight definitely shines brighter.
The opening song and graphics are very well done and appropriate for setting the overall mood of the anime. The storyline is very interesting, especially with the presence of Zero, the boy who hates vampires (since a vampire killed his family), but is slowly becoming one himself, due a bite he received at the time the family was killed.

The two genres that this anime would fall under are supernatural and romance. The audience expectations for the genre of supernatural are that of action, suspense, mystery, monsters/demons, and perhaps some blood and horror. Vampire Knight of course does an excellent job of fulfilling those anticipations concerning the elements of monsters/demons and blood in the fact that the story revolves around vampires. The prospect of mystery is also well done because of Yuki’s inability to remember her past. Action, suspense, and horror are present as well, although not as prevalent.

In a romance genre outlook, the one attribute that stands out best to me is that of the love triangle between Yuki, Zero, and Kaname. In this love triangle, as with many other romance animes, we see our main girl leaning towards one boy, but then a turn of events leads the viewers to wonder who she will choose in the end.

All in all, I would give a rating of five chopsticks to Vampire Knight. As stated earlier, Zero is especially fascinating, leaving me to wonder what turn of events are in store for him. This anime is interesting, beautifully animated, and very engaging.
Vampire Knight. Viz Media, 2009.

  (Click here to watch the trailer)

My Neighbor Totoro
Chopstick Rating: IIIIII
Available through Netflix for DVD viewing only.
Basic Observations
I knew from the moment the charming into song and credits started rolling that My Neighbor Totoro would be an enjoyable anime. Hayao Miyazaki’s intriguing imagination and attention to detail really make his work, including this one, pleasant and entertaining. The two sisters, Satsuke and Mei, were both adorable and very believable in the fact that they really acted the way children do. For instance, Mei was always following whatever her older sister did and all along the way saying things like, “Me too!” and “Wait for me!” I especially loved the part when Mei is so excited to eat the bento box lunch Satsuke made that she asks her father, “Is it lunchtime yet?” And he replies, “We just had breakfast!” Having the sisters both act exactly how real children do helped to bring out the meaning and semiotics in this movie.
The colors are bright and beautiful in My Neighbor Totoro, most likely because the film is targeted toward children. The sunny sky that is usually present throughout the story implies happiness and a sense of security, while the scene when the rain is falling down communicates worry and anticipation. It isn’t until Totoro comes that the mood is lifted by his playful manner in smiling as he hears the raindrops fall onto his umbrella. Totoro plays an important role in always being there for the sisters when they need him.
Our lead characters are usually happy and curious and have the special ability to be friends with Totoro, since he can only be seen by children. In terms of an ideological analysis, the reason for Totoro only being able to be seen by children could be that children are innocent and have pure hearts. It also communicates how children have strong imaginations and how adults cannot always perceive things the way children do.
Overall, I would give the anime My Neighbor Totoro a rating of six chopsticks. The voice actors for the dub were excellent. The actors seemed to enjoy the work they did more so than what we read in the story Winging It in Schoolgirl Milky Crisis. The anime was enjoyable, heart warming, imaginative, and overall something I find very appropriate for all children to see.
My Neighbor Totoro. Studio Ghibli, 1998. Distributed by Disney.
Clements, Jonathan. Schoolgirl Milky Crisis page 8. London: Titan Books, 2008.

(Click here to watch the {awesome} Japanese trailer)
(Click here to watch the American trailer) 

Romeo X Juliet, Episodes 16-21
Chopstick Rating- IIIIII
Available through Netflix- DVD viewing only
Basic Observations
Upon reading the title of this anime realizing it as a story based off of Shakespeare’s classic well-known tragedy, one would expect to be watching a sappy romance show full of clich├ęs and drama. However, Romeo X Juliet adds so much more depth to the original account along with action and an entirely different way of retelling the story.
The art in this anime is much different than that of what is usually expected in an anime. For example, the large eyes are not present, and neither are many of the usual cultural/media effects, such as oversized sweat drops and exclamation lines. The creators obviously wanted the feel of this anime to be set more in a style of old European Neo Verona, the city in the initial Romeo and Juliet story.
From a feminist analysis, this anime depicts Juliet as strong, active, and a young woman who can usually take care of herself. Perhaps some of this stems from her being forced to dress as a boy to conceal that she is the sole survivor from the night the Montagues killed the Capulet family. She is skilled with a sword and goes around Neo Verona posing as a Robin Hood type of character called the Red Whirlwind. As time passes and her relationship with Romeo blossoms, she does break down emotionally from time to time. Juliet also gets somewhat mushy whenever she thinks of her love, but she always gets back up and fulfills her duties and responsibilities to the resistance.
An economic analysis would reveal that this anime is most certainly artisanal. Besides being loosely based off of one of the most well known plays in the world, the show is full of references to other poems and characters that Shakespeare created.
Overall, I would give Romeo X Juliet a rating of six chopsticks. The art is beautiful, the music is perfect, the story is compelling and creative, and the way that Shakespearean themes are woven into the plot is amazing. The dubbing is also excellently done.
Romeo X Juliet, Funimation Entertainment, 2007

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