Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Dr. Who Series One to Three

When you're out and about in the internet, you can't help but notice some fandoms you don't know anything about. Of course, you can't watch everything - and much less like everything - but I get curious anyway. So Firefly is on my list and I watched Avatar and Korra (review coming up) and then there's Dr. Who... One of the reasons to get an Amazon Prime trial was Dr. Who. Luckily you can also watch it in English, though my TV can't do subtitles and the British actors are soemtimes hard to understand.

So, I thought why not write a review and share my impressions.
Amazon only has the revival series though. Which on one hand is good (because it's faster to catch up - imagine having to start in the 60s!). On the other hand it's a bit of a shame because you miss out on the beginning.

In case you don't know what Dr. Who is about: the Doctor (he never gives another name) is an alien from the planet of Gallifrey. His species is called time lords, a very powerful and long-lived species. When hurt badly, they can "regenerate", which completely changes their body and saves them from dying. Despite of this the time lords became extinct in a terrible war; as far as the Doctor knows, he's the last one.
He travels around in his space ship, the TARDIS, which can travel through both space and time. The TARDIS looks like a blue British police box, but is a lot bigger in the inside.
He usually travels with one or rarely more Companions. They seem mostly to be female, though the relationship is not of a sexual nature. They're just a partner to join in on his adventures.

Series 1 - The Ninth Doctor and Rose
I quite liked the outfit of the Ninth Doctor - leather jacket and jeans. Simple. Practical. But I have to say I had some difficulties with his character. He seems so hyper, he was laughing so often, which to me felt inappropriate considering the seriousness of most of the plots. He was acting like he was on a roller coaster ride when it was actually a matter of life and death. So I wasn't too sad when he "died" at the end of series one.

I'm not too sure about his Companion Rose either. She's very down-to-earth but I never could get a real grip on her personality. She was there and she's kinda cool and that's it.
Her relationship with Mikey was one of the things I didn't like about her. He's a cool character, too, brave, loyal and sensible. But I felt like he was treated unfairly.

The highlight of the first series for me was Captain Jack Harkness. Former time agency agent, badass, flirts with everyone. What a joy to watch! He's a bit like Han Solo meets Captain Kirk. I liked how they made him bisexual, it just fits; and it's still rather rare on TV. Plus he got a good bit of characters development, too. While watching I thought to myself "hey, they should give this guy his own show" - only to find out later that they actually did! Another show to put on my list, it seems.

Overall it needed a bit getting used to the cheesiness now and then. On the other hand, some of the episodes were really creepy (like peoples faces turning into gasmasks - nightmare material).
There are some people saying that you shouldn't watch this series and you should start with the second one. I'm not quite sure why, because even though I didn't like the main characters too much, I think you really should start here.

Series 2 - The Tenth Doctor and Rose
It went on with the creepy and there were quite a few double episodes (whcih are too long to watch during the work week), so I feel like it took ages to finish this series. Even though I finally get to see one of the two sexy fangirl-favourite Doctors - that should have been an incentive to watch.

And yeah, David Tennant is good. You know, American heartthrobs look like Chris Evans, but British heartthrobs look like David Tennant or Benedict Cumberbatch. And like so often, I do prefer the British way over the American way in that aspect.
Oh, and did I mention how I love the Chucks? Suit, trenchcoat and Chucks - wonderful outfit.

But still, this series was somehow hard to watch.
I liked the episodes in the past, with Queen Victoria and Madame de Pompadour. And it was really interesting to meet a former Companion.
The season finale didn't touch me as much as it should have - probably because I really don't get Roses character. Most of the emotion in the scene came from watching the face of the Doctor (so hey, kudos to David Tennant).

Series 3 - The Tenth Doctor and Martha
Alright, I have to admit, they finally got me with the first episode of this series because I think the way the Tenth Doctor invited Martha to the TARDIS was damn sexy. I get it now. And once it has been seen, it's hard to unsee.

Anyway, Martha. I quite like Martha. Perhaps she's more relatable to me than Rose. She seems to be an introvert, she's well-educated and clever. I love how when she turned up with the Doctor as a "date" to a party, her sister remarked something like "science geek - should have known"; it says a lot about Martha.
With all that strength of character she's also unfortunately a tragic figure. She falls in love with the Doctor right away. I can't blame her: he's intelligent, he's good-looking and he kissed her in a dangerous situation (science shows that people easily fall in love in frightening situations because of misattribution of the excitement). Plus the way he invited her to their first voluntary space-time-adventure was nothing short of seduction.
And I think that's where Martha was treated unfairly by the Doctor. It felt like he desperately needed someone and he chose her, with little regard towards her feelings and she needed to deal with all his emotional baggage while also having to deal with her own unrequited love.
And I feel like Martha also got treated unfairly by the producers. She's intelligent, but was never quite allowed to show it. She saved the earth from one of the most powerful beings in the universe, saved the Doctor - without any super power, just by herself, a normal human being. But it wasn't actually shown on screen. It's a little unfair, really, to not show any of her badassery. No wonder the fans didn't like her as much.

And then, in the last few episodes - Jack is back! So good to see him again (and the big reveal - wow). Although... The Doctor also treated him badly, at least in the beginning. What is this - the season of the Doctor treating his friends like shit? True, we have been shown that the Doctor can be quite merciless; but usually only to his enemies.

But still, I shed a few tears at the end of the finale, with both Jack and Martha leaving the Doctor and his puppy dog eyes.

That's it for now. The next series will follow later when I have watched them.

Official Website
Wikipedia Series 1
Wikipedia Series 2
Wikipedia Series 3

Read more on this article...

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Summer season 2016 short anime reviews

Fukigen na Mononokean (The Morose Mononokean)
This feels like a mixture between Natsume's Book of Friends and Kyokai no Rinne. Though I thought the latter got boring after a while, I love the former, so I have high hopes for this series. There's this school boy who realizes he can see yokai one day after he's possessed by one. He seeks the help of an exorcist, who happens to be a classmate. To pay for his exorcism, he has to help him.

I have the feeling, this might be my favourite anime of the season. I'm really looking forward to where the realtionship between these two is going. It's seems to start off kind of as a mentorship, but not quite, since their the same age. Also there seems to be the yokai of the week, so I expect we get to see many different creatures.

Hatsukoi Monster
This girl falls in love with a guy and starts dating him. So far it looks like an average shoujo anime. Only that the boy and his friends - even though looking like they're straight out of some idol anime - are primary school kids. They don't look like it, but act like it, complete with "wiener" jokes and all.
I was thinking "WTF" throughout most of the first episode and then dropped it. This isn't only a bad reverse harem, it's worse. It's not even funny in an ironic way. It's just really, really bad. Why does something like this even get produced?

I love Barakamon! It's one of my favourites, both anime and manga. I have to say that my high hopes in the prequel Handa-Kun were a bit disappointed. It's a different genre and not a masterpiece like Barakamon. But maybe Handa-Kun is more suited to be an anime?

High school student Handa-kun thinks no-one likes him. When people do something he interprets their acts accordingly. But in reality people at school admire Handa-kun and they interpret his action as extremely cool and aloof - even if he's just frozen out of fear. And now you know the plot of each episode: one misunderstanding after the other.
Handa-kun is very episodic - extremely so. Actually there's like two or three seperate stories per anime episode. It's just comedy with the same theme to it every time. It's not bad, but... it's just the same over and over again. Maybe the show should be called Confirmation Bias.
The first half of the first episode is some Gintama-like breaking of the fourth wall. I thought it was a little too much, but for some reason it was only the first episode. What I think is a little creepy is how everyone except the main characters has no eyes - they look like Dr. Who monsters or something.
I really like the song in the ending, though.

Amaama to Inazuma (sweetness & lightning)
It seems food-centered anime is all the trend right now. This is another one. It's about a single parent and teacher, whose wife died a few months ago. He works all day and is not good at cooking so his daughter gets only ready-made bento from the convenient store. Until they meet a pupil and daughter of a restaurant owner. They meet up at the restaurant to cook together while the mother is away busy with work at a TV station.
The setting is a bit weird, but the series isn't too bad. It's not great either. It's nice to watch.

I'm a really bad cook, so maybe this will make me want to learn how to cook? On the other hand, some of these food combinations are really a bit... foreign.
Still, definitely one you shouldn't watch while hungry.

This is another short series, with an episode only lasting about 3 minutes. If you thought the other short animes were wacky... this one is about a cat that lives in a banana.
It's kinda cute but really makes no sense at all.

Read more on this article...

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Spring Season 2016 anime short reviews

A young boy with a father who is neglecting his family finds a crystal and gets pulled into a fantasy world where some people can produce huge weapons out of their chests.
Actually this one was so average and un-interesting that I dropped it after a little more than the first episode. There's too many anime to waste your time with the bad or boring ones.

Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge
Tanaka-kun is extremely listless. He makes being lazy into an art form. He has a good friend, a guy called Oota, who takes care of him, makes sure he eats and even carries him around when Tanaka can't be bothered to move. In the second episode Tanaka takes on an apprentice - just because she insisted and it would have been too much work to turn her down. That's how lazy he is.
I know, it sounds kinda boring and it's indeed not very exciting. But it's a funny slice of life piece and so far I really like it.

Seisen Cerberus: Ryuukoku no Fatalités
This anime starts of showing a female with ridiculous clothing and huge tits screaming for help. Yeah, not a good first impression... There's also a great warrior with a huge sword, a magic cat-girl with suspenders, a dragon and all the usual stuff. It was actually rather boring. The character design was... well, not impressive and the quality of animation underwhelming. So I dropped it after about 1,5 episodes.

Flying Witch
Flying Witch starts off like Kikis Delivery Service: Makoto leaves home with her black cat familiar because that's what witches do at a certain age. But because her mothers was too worried about her, she's staying with relatives instead of living on her own.
This sounds really promising and I hope it lives up to that. So far I couldn't make out a bigger plot. Maybe it'll turn out like Natsume's Book of Friends, which would be fine with me. It's got that rural mixed with supernatural feeling to it.

Read more on this article...

Sunday, January 31, 2016

review: Star Wars Rebels

I know there has been a lack of reviews lately. To be honest, I wasn't very thrilled with the last couple of anime seasons. Mostly I didn't like what I saw, I dropped quite a lot of series and the  good stuff were mostly sequels to a series I already reviewed. So not a lot of material for reviews there.
But now I've got a review for you again - though it's not anime.

Recently I've really been into Star Wars. OK, with the release of The Force Awakens everything and everyone has been into Star Wars (even toilet paper). But for me it's been Star Wars Rebels.
I was sick before christmas and there was a Star Wars night on TV, showing the complete first season of Star Wars Rebels. I knew about it before, but this really made me love it

Star Wars Rebels takes place about fourteen years after the destruction of the Jedi Order (Revenge of the Sith) and about five years before Luke sets out to rescue Princess Leia (A new Hope). It's set on a grassland planet called Lothal, in the Outer Rim - a rather remote place - and follows the adventures of a group of five rebels, at a time when the Rebel Alliance against the Empire was just about to become an organized venture.

Main character is Ezra Bridger, a human teen. He's been getting by, living on the streets, since his parents were taken away for broadcasting criticism of the Empire when he was seven. He's been on his own for so many years that he has developed some trust issues. He's also often a typical teenager complete with annoying behaviour and stupid logic. But hey, it's realistic, so you can't hate him for it. It turns out that he's been subconsciously using the Force.

At the start of Star Wars Rebels Ezra joins the crew of the starship Ghost led by Kanan Jarrus and Hera Syndulla.

Kanan Jarrus is - I'm going to spoil just a little bit here - a former Jedi Padawan, one of the very few who survived Order 66 when the Jedi were betrayed and killed. His master did not survive, so he changed his name and gave up the Jedi lifestyle in order to survive. He led the life of a vagabond - in my mind I call him a Rōnin, a samurai without a master - and eventually became part of Hera's crew and a rebel against the Empire. He keeps his Jedi past a secret, but the rebel group greatly benefits from his knowledge, training and experience in war.

Hera's a beautiful, green-skinned Twi'lek - and one hell of a pilot. It's often mentioned that Kanan is the leader of the group, but I think this title belongs to both of them. She owns the Ghost, the starship the rebels live on, and she often gets their missions, especially if they're of the more anti-Empire kind. I think the podcast Coffe with Kenobi once called Hera "the first rebel" - she's in this with all her heart and soul and puts her needs after the greater good she sees in their actions. She keeps the group together and pushes them forward.

The other three members of the group are Sabine, Zeb and Chopper.
Sabine is a young Mandalorian - remember the Bounty Hunter Boba Fett who caught Han Solo? - and she obviously loves two things: graffiti and explosions. She loves to dye her hair, spray paint all kinds of things, she's very good with blasters and even better with all kinds of explosives. The stormtroopers have learned to run and hide when they see her graffiti mark somewhere because it means something's about to blow up.
Zeb is the Chewbacca, the Mr. T, the grumpy muscles of the team. He's also one of the last of the Lasat, a species that was nearly wiped out by the Empire, and wields the traditional weapon of the Lasat  honour guardsman.
Then there's Chopper, an out-dated astromech droid, similar to R2-D2, only a lot less friendly. He doesn't seem to like anyone except for his owner Hera but just like his more famous cousin he saves the day quite a few times.

I like how the crew of the Ghost is very diverse - Star Wars has been criticised for being very white, but Star Wars Rebels definitely isn't. Ezra is very obviously Arabian, he reminded me a lot of Aladdin in the Disney movie in the beginning. Sabine has an Asian look to herself and some have said Kanan looks Latino. But as a rebel group they're very much like a patchwork family.
What I love even more is the portrayal of female characters. They are just normal characters, who happen to be female. It's so refreshing! This should not be such a big issue, but sadly it is.
I think it's a bit of a shame though that Hera didn't get a lot of background yet. I think she's a very important character, but unlike with Ezra, Kanan, Sabine and Zeb, we hardly know anything about her, her past and why she's doing this. Maybe it's because she's often staying behind, ensuring their getaway. I hope we'll have a bit more information soon, but I think for one of the leaders of the group, it's come too late into the story.

A lot of people say that Star Wars Rebels has the vibe of the original movie trilogy. It's not surprising, since timewise it's closest. Also the use of the old music themes emphasises this.
I like how Star Wars Rebels tells another tale, not the "saviour of the universe" tale, not the story of the people who will go on to become legends, but the struggles of the "infantery". To quote Gandalf: "Some belief that it is only great power that can hold evil in check. But that is not what I have found. I have found that it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay." Of course the Lothal Rebels aren't quite ordinary people.
It does worry me a little, though, because I wonder what will happen to these characters. Will they all have to die because none of them are mentioned in the movies that depict the events five years later?

But what I love most about Rebels is - let's be honest here - Kanan. He's my favourite Jedi since Qui-Gon Jinn. There are comics and books about him (which of course I had to buy) so he's the character with the most background. I really like characters who hide how badass they're actually are and I love it when they let it out. I love the Rōnin story of his life, I like how he's so in love with Hera (who puts their mission first) and how he upholds the philosophy of the Jedi without the dogmatic approach that eventually at least partly caused the downfall of the Order. And I love how he's not perfect, how he holds resentments and has his own insecurities. Through the series he bonds with Ezra, the both of them really becoming master and apprentice, and this relationship lets Kanan grow, too.

Star Wars Rebels includes a lot of nods towards the other franchise. People like Bail Organa and Lando Calrissian turn up. Mostly this is very well done, but sometimes they rely a little too much on viewers knowing The Clone Wars (which I don't). But overall you can watch it without having seen the other animated series.
By the way, I also like the Rebels style of animation a lot better, it's less square, more detailed textures.

Star Wars Rebels on Wookipedia
Star Wars Rebels on IMDb

A very special thanks to Amy Ratcliffe who trough her ravings in my Twitter timeline has made me start watching Star Wars Rebels in the first place. Read more on this article...

Sunday, November 15, 2015


I'm not feeling well. I'm not sick.

I can't stop thinking about the attacks in Paris, especially at the rock concert. I've been to so many rock concerts - I love rock conerts. I had planned to buy a ticket for my next one today. I didn't. I imagine the horror, the fear and pain people must have been in. What if that had happened to me? I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have survived. I don't feel like going to a concert. I know I'd be afraid, I couldn't really enjoy it. Maybe some time needs to pass.

But my inability to stop thinking about this horror has raised another concern: What if my depression starts again? Or maybe I'm developing a generalized anxiety disorder?

Some days ago I had a big scare when I couldn't reach my parents for a while. I couldn't work, I couldn't concentrate on anything else, I felt dizzy. I tried to tell myself that probably nothing was wrong, but I still had to think of so many terrible things. It turned out that the phone was broken and the mobile phone turned off.

I often worry about my parents. I greatly rely on them. I spend my holidays there. I feel at home with them. but my mum smokes and my dad sometimes drives recklessly. My grandma died this summer and now the next ones, the next generation to die is my parents. I can't imagine life without them.

And then I'm not feeling happy at work either. I don't like most of the people I have to work with. I started listening to the radio in order not to hear their bullshit talk. I want to look for a new job but during the week I'm too tired and on the weekend I end up doing other things.

I'm pretty fed up with the world at the moment. The climate change, the people at work, the terrorism, the stupidity, the violence. I'm fed up with being angry and being afraid, too.
I want to escape. I wish I had more time to read. Fiction is my escape. Read more on this article...

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Summer season 2015 anime short reviews

Last summer I complained about the season not being a very good one. Maybe I was wrong about that - this summer is worse. Or maybe my standards are just getting higher.

Aoharu x Kikanjuu

The first episode feels like watching some re-make of  Ouran High School Host Club - actually it starts out in a real host club. A girl is mistaken for a guy, breaks some stuff and to repay the damage she gets caught up in a blonde hosts team. Only this guy likes to play "survival games": it's like paint ball but the bullets don't contain paint for some reason.

I liked the setting and the dynamics between the characters are interesting. There's these two guys, the host and the hentai manga artist who think they've found a new member for their team, not realizing it's a girl (they vowed not to let girls into their team). It's interesting to see the three different characters work together.

What's annoying me is the obsession about guns and how it's often overly dramatic. I get the feeling that actually the writer wanted to do real war scenes but for some reason (maybe because the characters shouldn't die or maybe to appeal to a broader audience) changed it all to "war games".

I planned to drop this several times but somehow I'm still watching it. It's only twelve episodes, so at this point I might as well finish it.

Rokka no Yuusha

This is one I really dropped.

Again the setting was promising: a fantasy world, threatened by demons, and a group of six fated heroes setting out to defeat the demon king.
The first character we meet, Adlet Mayer, seems promising, too. He proclaims himself "strongest man in the world" and has a cunning fighting style, using many tools. Unfortunately it goes downwards from then on. The next warrior is a young woman, renown for winning lots of duels - wearing some kind of push up bra and a bunny ears "helmet". Yes: bunny ears. The third warrior we meet is a tsundere girl wearing nothing but a black strip of cloth for a top. You could argue that there's fan service for female viewers, too, as the next warrior is a dark broody knight, protector of the bunny ear princess, whose armour for some reason leaves out most of his torso.

By this time most of the characters are nothing more than clichés and not even the plot twist of there being seven instead of six chosen warriors could keep my interest.

Junjou Romantica 3

Junjou Romantica is probably one of the most famous yaoi series out there. I watched the first two seasons, so of course I started to watch the third one. I vaguely remember that I liked some couples and at least there'd be no jelly-melon tits in this one.

That doesn't mean there's no clichés though. I don't know whether I really got higher standards or whether I got more mature or whether I've just been single for too long - but all the relationships in this series seem warped to me, abusive and one-sided. Usami, one of the main characters is insanely jealous. Misaki, his love interest, apparently likes to be pushed around and hardly ever stands up for his own interests (but complains a lot). Actually this series would be lots better without its main characters. All the guys look extremely similar anyway.
I've been thinking of dropping it and I'm lacking a few episodes behind, but as of now, I'm still watching. I might still drop it, or just take some time, I don't know.

One last note: there's actually no yaoi in this anime series, nothing adult rated so far.

Akagami no Shirayuki-hime

This anime seems to be another one in the tradition of Akatsuki no Yona and Saiunkoku Monogatari. Actually the similarities to the former are pretty strong: a young girl with red hair flees her own country after the local prince takes an unhealthy interest in her. The personalities of Yona and Shirayuki are quite similar, too. But Akagami no Shirayuki-hime focuses a lot more on romance and tends to be a little over-dramatic sometimes.

I like how the series shows Shirayuki trying to get a job and working as a court herbalist (the castle really looks like a nice place to work) but it's not as good as the other two animes I named, not by a long shot. It might suffer a bit from having only 12 episodes, there are a few characters I'd like to see more about.
I find it a bit confusing how everyone makes a big deal out of her red hair. She also seems too perfect, that's a bit annoying; her only fault seems to be that she works too hard (sounds like from a bad job application, doesn't it?). The romantic feelings between her and the prince are quite obvious and it feels like their beating around the bush.

While as I said this isn't in the same league as the anime I named, for me it's the best this season and the only one that'd deserve more than 12 episodes.


This is an ultra-short anime with only two minutes per episode (with the intro taking up 30 seconds).
Murasaki Wakako is a young office lady who likes to go out alone for dinner after work. That's really about it: she eats different dishes each time and drinks different drinks at different places.
For some reason it's kind of peaceful to watch this. Maybe I should do this more often: go out for dinner on my own...

Warning: don't watch while hungry.

Read more on this article...

Sunday, June 21, 2015

short anime reviews: Arslan Senki, Kyoukai no Rinne, Shounen Onmyouji, Chouyaku Hyakuninisshu: Uta Koi

First revies of two animes from the current Spring 2015 season (plus an alternative version to one), then there's two older ones set in the Heian period (794 to 1185).

Arslan Senki (2015 TV version)
At first I dropped this one after I watched the first episode because I was afraid it would be too bloody. But after finishing Akatsuki no Yona I felt like something similar and so took it up again. And it is indeed rather similar. And it is indeed too bloody.

Arslan is the crown prince to the kingdom of Pars, ruled by his father, who is a great warlord, but not so much a great politician. When a neighbouring country of religious fanatics attacks, pride and treason lead to a great defeat in battle. Arslan escapes, but the kingdom falls. Together with loyal legendary warrior Daryun he tries to survive and seeks allies.

Arslan Senki is based upon a popular novel series that started back in the late 80s. So the story is already rather "old" and it seems there have been a few adaptaions already.
Similar to Akatsuki no Yona and Saiunkoku Monogatari it covers political issues as well.
I quite like the characters, especially the friendship between  Daryun and Narsus.

Well, that is to say: I like the male characters.
Like reverse harem animes tend to have their incredibly dull and stupid so-called "heroine", it seems that shounen anime has an equal inability to portray good female characters. The Queen wears unbefitting clothes that show half of her tits and there's another female character who wears such ridiculous clothing that calling her half-naked would be an understatement. I was really disappointed about that.

After episode 6 I got so sick of all the violence that I dropped it. I'm not sure I'll take it up again.

Wikipedia entry

Arslan Senki (90s OVA version)
After getting sick of the gore and tits from the 2015 version, I thought I might try the 90s version.
This series has six episodes that were produced between 1991 and 1995.

It's still occasionally bloody, but as expected it's not as gory. And the women are actually dressed. Falangies looks more beautiful in my opinion, and she has some Xena vibe going on. I think I also liked Daryuns character design a little better.

The art is very nostalgic, Art Nouveau-ish, it reminds me of The Last Unicorn a little. Pars also looks more Persian. Since it's already 20 years old, of course you shouldn't expect high-quality HD animation.

Plot-wise it's unfortunately a lot more rushed. The characters aren't introduced as well as in the newer version and I think I might not have understood what was going on if I hadn't had the more detailed explanations. Later on in the series, this really became a problem for me. The issue of slaves is hardly touched upon, which makes it more black-and-white. The humour isn't as evident and it's not as dramatic.
Suffering most from this are definitely the characters and their relationships, for example between Arslan and Daryun. And I kind of missed the banter between Daryun and Narsus compared to the 2015 version. Gieve is awesome, though.

Kyoukai no Rinne
If you see art from Kyoukai no Rinne you will probably recognize it: it's obviously Rumiko Takahashi. Takahashis Ranma ½ was my first anime, so started buying the Kyoukai no Rinne manga, too. But after 5 books, I somehow stopped. It's not bad, but it wasn't good enough to justify the money and shelf space.
When I saw there's an anime I was curious and decided to try it.

Sakura Mamiya is a high school girl who can see ghosts. It takes her no time to find out that new classmate Rinne is no ordinary boy, though she doesn't quite know what he means when he says he's somewhat a shinigami (you know, like in Bleach and Death Note) and also somewhat human. Rinne is homeless and really poor, his circumstances and background get revealed bit by bit. For some reason Sakura Mamiya gets drawn into quite a lot of his odd jobs - and that doesn't just mean giving him the money he needs for shinigami tools.

Even as an anime it is still a bit prone to getting a little dull, it's very episodic, very monster-of-the-week, but it's fine for some harmless entertainment after a long day at work.

And Rinnes cat familiar is sooo cute!

Chouyaku Hyakuninisshu: Uta Koi
Remember Chihayafuru, the anime about the Karuta card game that's based on one hundred ancient poems? This anime is about these poems, their authors and how they came to be - in a very liberal interpretation.

It's hard to give a plot summary because the plot and the characters change in nearly every episode (though some turn up in several episodes). Some continuity is provided by narrator Fujiwara no Teika, the man who selected the hundred poems for the anthology.
Every episode is about love and romance, but this doesn't result in simple "boy meets girl" stories. The Court affairs and status have to be taken into account, there's duty, friendship, passion, loyalty, ambition, loneliness, restrictions for women. Some endings are happy, but most are not. Despite the episodic character of the series, each story is captivating and you can feel with the characters.
Of course there's also lots of poems and writing.

I was quite surprised at how unreserved some scenes were. Not in a way that there was mature content, but these people obviously had sexual affairs and sometimes were rather open about it. I'd not have expected this in a historical anime (but then again, who knows how things really were back then).
There's also a lot of strong female characters like Ono no Komachi in there - again despite the historical setting. Lots of other animes could learn a thing or two from that (*cough*Arslan Senki*cough*).

One mistake I made: I watched the episodes with too much time in between. The names are complicated, the characters don't look that different from each other, so it was really difficult to remember who was who and did what. It was just so confusing.
Here's the wikipedia entry, in case you need to look up the names of the characters, too.

The one thing that makes this anime really special: The artwork is absolutely stunning! The clothing, the landscapes and buildings, the people... It's one of the most beautiful anime I ever watched. It's hard to describe. It looks a little like paper art collages.
The songs of the opening and ending credits fit, even though they're modern. They fit the atmosphere.

This is a hidden gem - you should definitely watch it!

Shounen Onmyouji

This is an adaption of a light novel series. It is set in the Heian era and centers around Abe no Masahiro, grandson of the famous Onmyōji Abe no Seimei (who according to wikipedia really existed). Onmyōji are civil servants who are professional astrologers/magicians/diviners.
Of course it's not easy being the grandson of such a famous person and Masahiro hates being compared to his grandfather - but at the same time he tries his best to surpass him. Protecting and helping him is Tōda (or Guren), a mystical creature and member of a mighty group of servants of his grandfather called Shinshō. Tōda can transform into a cute little fox-like creature Masahiro calls Mokkun, but hides a dark secret: in the past he was mind-controlled and nearly killed his master Abe no Seimei.

I quite liked the character of Tōda, his troubles and his relationship with Masahiro (besides, he's sexy in his humanoid form and so cute in his beast form). They became such good friends.
It's a bit sad that the anime doesn't take the time to introduce the Shinshō a bit more - it seems to me some of them are interesting characters. I also wish there'd be more about Masahiros family besides his grandfather.
Instead they spend time on this "love interest" of Masahiro, one of the worst cases of a useless annoying female - she might even be worse than Orihime in Bleach.

It took me a while to finish this. It's not really that captivating. But when I felt like something with a little action and some comedy in a historical setting, this was just the right series.
One little warning though: the end is not 100% a happy ending.

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